Where the 49ers stand against the Steelers ahead of the season opener

An NFL offseason of seismic changes has finally come to an end, and reigning Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs and preseason favorites the Detroit Lions (yes, you read that right) will open the 2023 season Thursday.

The last six months have had a bit of everything and the landscape of the league has changed unmistakably.

Tom Brady? Retired forever (we think) and then off to try on men’s underwear and sit ringside in prize fights. Aaron Rodgers? Finally forced his way out of Green Bay to the beautiful pastures of East Rutherford, New Jersey, where hype and a stagnant Jets fanbase await. That paved the way for Jordan Love to take over Lambeau Field, where a sane fanbase expects him to follow in the 30-year footsteps of Rodgers and Brett Favre. No pressure, Jordan.

The 49ers added more talent to their defense and cleaned an all-time draft error. The Cincinnati Bengals got Joe Burrow a new left tackle, the Philadelphia Eagles went back to Athens, Georgia, to draft shop again, and Bill Belichick came to his senses and hired Bill O’Brien to direct his offense, driving Matt Patricia into unknowns areas (Philadelphia) sent. .

It’s time to say if all of those steps will pay off, and we kick off the season with the latest edition of my NFL Power Rankings. Feel free to yell at me on twitter, I expect it.

  • Kansas City Chiefs: New characters on the offensive line, Chris Jones’ staying power, and an uncertain receiver group could increase the difficulty for Patrick Mahomes in 2023. Everyone needs a challenge.

  • Philly Eagles: Howie Roseman’s plan to field the entire 2021-22 Georgia defense is proving difficult. Jalen Carter was a wrecking ball last season, and Nolan Smith could very well end up being a first-round bargain in 2023.

  • San Francisco 49ers: Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have to wash the dirt off the Trey Lance disaster, but they have another pressing matter to attend to while they take stock of their win-now roster. bosa? bosa?

  • Cincinnati Bengals: All the talk is about Joe Burrow’s right calf. If the Bengals’ star quarterback is 100 percent healthy, the roster will be in a great position to have another strong run post-season. The lack of quality offensive line depth is a cause for pause, but the Bengals should still rank as one of the best AFC frontrunners after the Chiefs.

  • Buffalo Bills: This version of the Bills will make another attempt at a title before some reshuffles involving Josh Allen. There’s a lot of hype about the start of the Bills’ season again. Has everyone forgotten the violence they threw up with last January?

  • Dallas Cowboys: Dallas has arguably the best defense in the NFL and is strong on offense. So how will the Cowboys screw it up this year?

  • Los Angeles Chargers: The horrific 27-point loss to the Jaguars was enough for Brandon Staley to finally give offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, aka Captain Dink and Dunk, his running papers. If the Bolts underperform again this fall, it will likely end Staley’s time in LA

  • Pittsburgh Steelers: Here’s your first preseason hype, darling. Kenny Pickett looked terrific throughout the show, sophomore George Pickens seems primed for a big leap and a revamped inside linebacking corps should make up for the Steelers’ biggest defensive weakness. First-round pick Broderick Jones not winning the starting left tackle job is an issue to monitor, but I’m buying all Steelers stock early in the first week.

  • Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson got the bag he deserved and some new offensive weapons as a bonus. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken promises to beef up an offensive that has become dull and predictable under Greg Roman. Lamar’s health, a thin outside linebacking corps, and questions at the corner have prompted me to sell my stake in the Ravens as a legitimate Super Bowl threat. Good team, too many questions to deserve a title.

  • New York Jets: Aaron Rodgers and New York kept the suits drooling at The Shield all summer long. The hype train has already gotten out of hand. But the Jets are coming off a brutal first eight games, have real offensive line questions and a 40-year-old quarterback who didn’t exactly rock the world last season. I will not buy a ticket for this ride.

  • Seattle Seahawks: Jaxon Smith-Njigba is injured. The same goes for Devon Witherspoon. The Seahawks also failed to find a starting corner against Tariq Woolen. Did I mention their top central defender is listed at 306? That doesn’t bode well for stopping the run. It could be difficult in the PNW right from the start.

  • Detroit Lions: Are we sure that the Detroit Lions – those Lions – are really going to exist this year? I have to see it first.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence is on the rise and now he has a true No. 1 receiver in Calvin Ridley. But the Jaguars will only be as good as the jump their young defenders – Travon Walker, Devin Lloyd, K’Lavon Chaisson – make this fall dare.

  • Green Bay Packers: There’s no way the Packers found another franchise quarterback, is there? Jordan Love must be a bust, right? Thing is, the Packers don’t need Love to be great in 2023. They are strong defensively and have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. If he’s a touch above what the injured/checked-out Rodgers was last season, they can win a weak NFC North.

  • Cleveland Browns: Cleveland has a well-stocked roster that has a $250 million question mark hanging over its season. Will the 2019 Deshaun Watson return? Or is the guy who secured the spot for six games last season here to stay?

  • Miami Dolphins: Jalen Ramsey’s injury is a blow, but Vic Fangio should be able to weather this storm. The Dolphins have plenty of talent but face a treacherous AFC schedule. If they can pull off a healthy season from Tua Tagovailoa, they can be in contention for a Super Bowl. If not, they wither and die on the vine.

  • New England Patriots: Here’s another team I’m buying shares in. With an active offensive coordinator on the team, Mac Jones should do significantly better this fall. The Patriots have one of the best defenses in the league and completely topped the draft with Christian Gonzalez, Keion White and Marte Mapu. Don’t be surprised if they play Wild Card Weekend.

  • New York Giants: I love Brian Daboll, Mike Kafka and Wink Martindale, but the Giants have a brutal path from the start, and some of the 2022 playoff teams will regress. Here’s one of the better candidates.

  • Minnesota Vikings: Speaking of regression to the mean: Last fall, the Vikings largely lucked out to a 13-4 record. That won’t be the case this year, and there’s a world where the Vikings “competitively rebuilding” stumble out of the chute trying to crash into the Caleb Williams raffle.

  • Tennessee Titans: I swore to myself three years ago that I would no longer doubt Mike Vrabel coached teams, but I rarely take my own advice. This year is different. Vrabel was one game away from leading a 34-player Titans team to the playoffs. They will be there in December and have a chance to win the AFC South. Are always.

  • New Orleans Saints: Dennis Allen is of minor value as a head coach and I’m not a fan of Derek Carr. The Saints could be the best team in a lazy division. Despite my objections, they still let those teams into the postseason.

  • Chicago Bears: The Bears have much more talent than 365 days ago. But there are still questions about both starting positions that could make the jump from three wins to nine or ten extremely difficult. The Bears are raving about Justin Fields’ progress in his second year on offense and there is a strong belief that a big step forward is at hand. Not a huge MVP, but a sizeable leap. If the other parts are usable, that could be enough to make the playoffs in a bad NFC

  • Atlanta Falcons: Bijan, Pitts and London. That’s a damn good group. But Desmond Ridder is not.

  • Las Vegas Raiders: Are the Raiders rebuilding or trying to win? I’m not sure if they know. But hey, at least Mark Davis finally has the money to pay Khalil Mack, Thanks to ticket sales in Vegas. Positive steps for the franchise.

  • Carolina Panthers: I’ve spent the entire offseason talking about how the Panthers could win the NFC North, and I regret every word. They can’t block, have the slowest group of skill people in the NFL and I don’t think Frank Reich is the plus needed to overcome that. This is good news for the Bears’ 2024 draft prospects.

  • Denver Broncos: Sean Payton got all the Wal-Mart money to at least try to fix Russell Wilson. But if Russ is beyond repair, don’t be surprised if Payton goes to see Jarrett Stidham sooner than expected. He has the necessary cache for it.

  • Los Angeles Rams: Matthew Stafford is struggling to connect with his younger teammates. I understand Matthew. I don’t know what the heck TikTok is either.

  • Indianapolis Colts: Just pay JT, Jim.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: As the last remaining resident of Baker Mayfield Island, I’m sorry to say it’s probably going to be downright awful in the Bucs this fall. I’ve already burned down the dock, so there’s no way out for me. We might as well just sit here and enjoy what could be a beautiful disaster.

  • Washington Commanders: Dan Snyder was defeated and Sam Howell looks… good? It really could be a new day in DC, but more evidence is needed before they can be pulled out of this morass.

  • Houston Texans: I believe in DeMeco Ryans, but he’s got a long rebuild ahead of him in Houston.

  • Arizona Cardinals: Has anyone asked Caleb Williams if he has a fire in his stomach? Can Lincoln Riley buy Kliff Kingsbury’s old house if Jonathan Gannon’s dial tone act doesn’t work? I’m just asking questions.

  • Snopx

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