Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Week 1 Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: September 7, 2013 - 7:08 AM

What would you rather do on a Saturday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

 
CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Broncos (1-0)
I'll throw out two of my favorite overused sports phrases: 1, Peyton Manning is on pace for 112 touchdown passes this season. 2, If the season were to end today, the Broncos would be the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
 
THE REST
2. 49ers. 3. Patriots. 4. Falcons. 5. Seahawks. 6.  Packers. 7. Saints. 8. Giants. 9. Bengals. 10. Ravens (0-1). 11. Colts. 12. Texans. 13. Redskins.
 
THE VIKINGS
14. Vikings: All together now ... "If Christian Ponder (fill in the blank that indicates you don't trust him but have allowed yourself some wiggle room in case he plays well and makes you look like a dufus) the Vikings should be a playoff contender." I'm going to say he'll be good enough to keep the Vikings in the hunt. Stay tuned as to whether he catches anything.
 
THE REST OF THE REST
15. Bears. 16. Cowboys. 17. Steelers. 18. Eagles. 19. Lions. 20. Rams. 21. Chiefs. 22. Dolphins. 23. Bills. 24. Buccaneers. 25. Panthers. 26. Cardinals. 27. Chargers. 28. Browns. 29. Titans. 30. Jaguars. 31. Raiders.
 
WORST OF THE BUNCH
32. Jets: Adrian Peterson isn't the only one who sets lofty goals. The Jets hope to sign fewer than 2,499 quarterbacks this season.
 
THE PICKS
Vikings plus-5 at Lions
Vikings 24, Lions 17
Why: If the Vikings don't let Adrian Peterson hit someone soon, the guy is going to explode. He'll have a big game. And so will the Vikings' defensive line, even without Kevin Williams. Detroit has three new starters on the O-line, including a left tackle who will be getting his first look at Jared Allen. A healthy Jared Allen.
 
UPSET SPECIAL
Bengals plus-3 at Bears: Bengals 24, Bears 21.
Why?: Marc Trestman is a sharp guy who probably will succeed as an NFL head coach. But even favored at home in Week 1, the Bears, I think, will have an adjustment period. For some reason, I just see Jay Cutler not looking real comfortable and happy in a West Coast scheme early on. Two of the riskier teams to put your faith in are the Bengals and Lions. There's talent there but you never really know if they'll be 11-5 or 5-11. But I'll reach on the Bengals this week.
 
THE REST
Patriots minus-9 1/2 at Bills: Patriots by 7.
Titans plus-7 at Steelers: Steelers by 10.
Falcons plus-3 at Saints: Falcons by 6.
Buccaneers minus-3 1/2 at Jets: Buccaneers by 7.
Chiefs minus-4 at Jaguars: Jaguars by 3.

Dolphins pick at Browns: Browns by 3.

Seahawks minus-3 at Panthers: Panthers by 7.
Raiders plus-9 1/2 at Colts: Colts by 14.
Cardinals plus-4 1/2 at Rams: Rams by 7.
Packers plus-4 1/2 at 49ers: 49ers by 7.
Giants plus-3 1/2 at Cowboys: Giants by 7.
Eagles plus-3 1/2 at Redskins: Redskins by 7.
Texans minus-4 at Chargers: Chargers by 7.

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Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 5 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: D. O`Day 3
Milwaukee - LP: J. Broxton 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Holdzkom 4
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda 5
Washington - WP: D. Fister 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: T. Koehler 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 3
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 5 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Cleveland - LP: K. Crockett 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: J. Burton 5
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 10 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 10 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 5
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 15
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Lackey 2
Philadelphia - LP: D. Buchanan 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 3
Texas - WP: L. Bonilla 12 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 3
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: O. Despaigne 5
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 5
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

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