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Dan Pompei's NFL power rankings

Benson adds new dimension to No. 1 Packers' powerful offense

Dan Pompei

On the NFL

8:58 PM CDT, September 3, 2012

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1. Packers: The addition of Cedric Benson could give the Packers a dimension they lacked.

2. Giants: They are a little beat up at cornerback, but their pass rush should be able to compensate while they get healthy.

3. Patriots: Questions about the running game have not been cleared up heading into the season, but this still is one fine football team.

4. Ravens: The offense should be better than ever, but the Ravens still need to figure out how to replace linebacker Terrell Suggs.

5. 49ers: This team is so solid all-around that it's difficult to envision them not being highly competitive.

6. Steelers: Losing guard Dave DeCastro was a blow for the Steelers, but they have dealt with offensive line injuries well in the past.

7. Texans: Everyone expects them to be good. But with a little luck, they can be better than that.

8. Bears: This team needs Brian Urlacher not only to be on the field but also to play like he did in 2011.

9. Chiefs: The more you see of this team, the more you like it.

10. Lions: Matthew Stafford and the Lions receivers might be able to pass for 800 yards against the Lions secondary, which is both comforting and disturbing to Lions fans.

11. Falcons: This team has flown way under the radar through the preseason, but that might not last long.

12. Saints: With defensive end Will Smith suspended for four games and Aaron Kromer feeling his way as interim head coach, the Saints could get off to a rocky start.

13. Eagles: The heat is on Andy Reid, but he usually responds pretty well in such situations.

14. Bengals: If the Andy Dalton-to-A.J. Green combo is better this year than last, the Bengals will be for real.

15. Broncos: Now that we can be reasonably sure Peyton Manning can still tear the heart out of a defense, there is good reason to believe in this team.

16. Chargers: They have had some tough injuries early, but the Chargers can get through them if their defense plays as well as it can.

17. Panthers: This Panthers offense is starting to look like it can be very scary for opposing defenses.

18. Raiders: It might take some time for new coach Dennis Allen's program to start hitting on all cylinders, but there is some talent here.

19. Titans: Quarterback Jake Locker has looked good so far — let's see if he can keep it up when the games mean something.

20. Cowboys: Tony Romo could be in for a big season — if his offensive line can keep him upright.

21. Jets: Looks like the defense is going to have to be awfully good to offset the shortcomings of the offense.

22. Buccaneers: This team will go as far as quarterback Josh Freeman takes it. Questions remain as to whether or not he can recapture his 2010 form.

23. Seahawks: They are taking a gamble on rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, but they still can turn to Matt Flynn if Wilson struggles.

24. Colts: No question this team could be better than initial projections. Andrew Luck is ready now.

25. Redskins: RG3 looks like he's ready to make plays, but he might not have enough help around him.

26. Cardinals: With John Skelton starting at QB, the Cardinals' ceiling may be limited.

27. Bills: It remains to be seen if Mario Williams can be Reggie White II. The Bills need to pick it up on offense to give Williams pass rush chances.

28. Rams: Early line on the Rams: better, but not yet where they want to be.

29. Vikings: Christian Ponder needs to have Adrian Peterson healthy and running hard.

30. Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew came back in the nick of time, but this team still has some issues.

31. Browns: There is a lot of inexperience on the Browns roster, and that could make for a long season.

32. Dolphins: Trading cornerback Vontae Davis and starting rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill tells you about the direction of this team.

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei