A time to rejoice is quickly approaching. For all of us who love football more than life itself, some great news: Training camps are starting! If there is one real good thing about hot mid-summer days, it’s watching the big boys of the NFL suit up and hit the field to get ready for another season. Here we all start 0-0, and everyone is in first place.
What the teams do with it from there is anyone’s guess, and speaking of, here is my educated guess on where all 32 teams currently stand in the power rankings. Let the great debates being as to who does not belong where. It’s all good it’s football, the ultimate forum for who knows more then who about sports. So, as I always say, sit back and relax, read and enjoy, and share your thoughts!
In order from bottom to top (In my opinion I remind you)
32. St Louis Rams: Sam Bradford will learn the hard way how to be an NFL QB, very hard. This team lacks everywhere, but they are building. How does Steven Jackson wake up every morning knowing he comes to this?
31. Cleveland Browns: After many attempts to try and move forward, they have decided to step back, rebuild, and reload. A list of failed QBs come in, and no real threats on either side, with the exception of Josh Cribbs, but it has a future.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman at QB showed flashes last year, but there are a lot of holes to fill. No big receivers and oft-injured runners lead a weak offense. Defense shows flashes, but very quick flashes.
29. Detroit Lions: To be out of the 30’s is an accomplishment. They are heading in the right direction with a good young QB, young backs, and a top 5 receiver. Defense needs to show up, but they do look better. Still 4th best in their division however, and 1 road win would be nice.
28. Buffalo Bills: The years of draft picks that “could pan out” does not seem to be working. Very little certainty at QB does not help. RB spot is also tough with 3 talented guys, but no true leader. The defense plays up at times, but when it is down, it is way down.
26. Kansas City Chiefs: Arrowhead was once considered the toughest place to play in the NFL. So why did the home team go 1-7 there last year? Charlie Weis comes in as the new offensive coordinator, but there is alot to learn with this team, and it is far from great right now. Was Matt Cassel really a good choice at QB? This will be the year to tell.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll takes over a team with some question marks. Some big name players will start camp injured and we have no idea how long QB Matt Hasselbeck can hold up. Who is his backup? Charlie Whitehurst, with zero lifetime passes. Pete may be begging for a college job again soon. Justin Forsett at RB leads a good cast of young guys, but they are still very green.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Yes they beat bad teams, but looked bad against good teams. This team had its fate in their own hands last season, and quietly choked. Still no prime-time WRs, and a slow and weak defense. Maurice Jones-Drew can’t do it all, though he tries.
23. New York Giants: The first of the great debate slots here. This team just got old out of nowhere. Eli Manning forgets who his main targets are at times, and Brandon Jacobs huge size seems to be making him slower and less effective. Injuries, retirements, and player displeasure makes this team a tough sell for me to predict 7 wins. The Giants are a far cry from the Super Bowl team of a few years back.
22. Chicago Bears: Mike Martz may be in at offensive coordinator, but his system takes time to learn. The once feared defense has gotten old, and the leader, Brian Urlacher is always one injury away from walking off the field. They do, however have young, fast receivers, they just need the cocky QB to gain some focus. A lot of off-season money was spent, but not a lot of it was ground-breaking. Only if Peppers can be anything like his old self does any of it matter.
21. Washington Redskins: Very nice to add QB Donovan McNabb, but not so nice to see what he has at WR. Devin Thomas could emerge, but outside of that it’s still TE Chris Cooley and WR Santana Moss, which is not much. They spent a ton on Albert Haynesworth last year, and he has rewarded them by holding out. As always some nice names, but Mike Shanahan may be in over his head here.
20. Carolina Panthers: Young and inexperienced QBs and some big losses on defense hurts. Still tough at RB, but at WR Steve Smith seems to be hurt way more than healthy. Going 0-4 against the AFC does not help a bit either. This may finally be John Fox’s swan song as coach.
19. Tennessee Titans: Having the best RB in the game is a help for sure. Having a mess at QB and no star WRs does not. The Titans have some good players on defense, but the offense is a different story. You never really know which team will show up. Despite a hot run at the end last year, they are still a .500 club.
18. Miami Dolphins: Adding Brandon Marshall is huge to help young QB Chad Henne. Losing LB Channing Crowder for the year is brutal for the defense. This season will tell what we have here, a big time club, or an also-ran. The Wildcat offense could take a step back if Ronnie Brown is not healthy. If anything the Dolphins will be exciting.
17. San Francisco 49ers: Can Alex Smith be a successful quarterback? The Niners have a good group of players coming of age, and a good coach in Mike Singletary. A 5-1 division record sure does help their chances of making the playoffs this year. If this is not the year for San Fran, next year should be.
16. Philadelphia Eagles: The Kolb Era begins, and he has the talent to work with on offense. The defense has some holes but they added some help at LB and the D line. Andy Reid and his coaching staff will prove their worth this year, good or bad. It is a make or break year for the future of this team.
15. Atlanta Falcons: Head coach Mike Smith makes this team work hard and they get good results. Matt Ryan needs to stay healthy and he has good WRs and RBs at his disposal. The Falcons also benefit from a division with some suspect teams. Could easily be another 10+ win season.
14. Denver Broncos: We heard it all about Kyle Orton at QB, no proven RBs etc. but Josh McDaniels is making believers out of his team. The Broncos have an improving defense and can move the ball on the ground. Only question is how smart of a move was it to trade Brandon Marshall? They do have some speed, and will need to figure out how to use it quick.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Kurt Warner may have retired, but this team still has top receivers and improving RBs. Last season the defense showed they can make big plays and score off of turnovers. A lot of the success rest on Matt Leinart at QB, but I think he has enough talent to play a shorter more slow paced offense, and the talent to move the ball.
12. New England Patriots: Still around from the glory days: Tom Brady at QB, Randy Moss at WR and the clever Bill Belichick at coach. Gone from those days is a defense they can trust, and veteran leaders. The defense is younger now, but has some good looking players, but it is not putting fear into many opponents. Moss is in a contract year, as is Brady, which should make it interesting. As always the RB position is a week-to-week guess. They also start the year without Mr. Everything, Wes Welker.
11. Houston Texans: Yes, the Houston Texans! Patience may finally pay off for head coach Gary Kubiak and company this year. Matt Schaub showed that he can run a big time offense. Andre Johnson is the best WR in the game and at RB rookie Ben Tate will help the load. Some good compliments at other skill positions and a nice defense with young playmakers make this the deepest Texans team in the franchise’s history. I don’t feel I’m going out a limb when I say this team should make the playoffs.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers: No Big Ben to start the year at QB does pose a problem, but the Steelers style is going back to the smash mouth ways of old. A big bruising RB in Rashard Mendenhall as well as big tight ends and some speed in WR Mike Wallace make the Steelers look promising. Of course we cannot look past the still very tough defense. Some will pass on this team, but they may be sorry.
8. Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers is looking like the real deal, and they have a great supporting cast. RB Ryan Grant looked more like the Grant of a few years back and found some pep in his step again. Late in the season the 3-4 defense started to find its way, and now will be that much more matured. The Packers will have to find a way to beat the Vikings to have better success, but they look good coming in.
7. Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice proved his worth, and now QB Joe Flacco has a WR worth throwing too in Anquan Boldin. The defense still shows it can find the ball, but safety Ed Reed needs to put contract squabbles behind and be on the field. This looks like a team that will be well coached and the mix of vets and up-and-comers may finally be perfected. This is a AFC championship contender for sure.
6. New York Jets: Adding more pro-bowlers to an already great secondary was huge. They also added talent on offense in Santonio Holmes, but a suspension will keep him off the first 4 weeks. The Jets have arguably the best offensive line in football, which will help new starting RB Shonn Greene flourish. Coach Rex Ryan has this team poised and QB Mark Sanchez showed as a rookie last year that he is ready for center stage. This Jets team looks formidable in the AFC and should take the crown of division champs away from the Patriots.
5. New Orleans Saints. It is always very hard to repeat as Super Bowl Champs, so I knock the Saints down a peg or 2. They still have a great offense and serviceable defense, but everyone wants to take out the champs, so it will not come easy. The health at RB remains crucial to the success of this team.
4. Minnesota Vikings: yes I am basing this on Brett Favre’s return and his ability to play as he did last year. Adrian Peterson now has fresh legs in the big rookie Toby Gerhardt to back hm up, and we all know how tough this defense is. One play either way could have sent this team to the Super Bowl last year, and they have a lot of talent. Only thing in the Vikings’ way is roster certainty. It should be a big year.
3. San Diego Chargers: Even Norv Turner can look like a good coach, huh? They did have another playoff meltdown last year, but Philip Rivers shows he can be a leader. L.T. is no longer here, so now they go back to speed at RB and they have the size at WR. This team needs to play 60 minutes of defense every week to be huge. I have them here at 3, but as always the Chargers are the most capable team of dropping 20 spots easily.
2. Indianapolis Colts: Scary when you think that Peyton Manning may have found 2 more quality options at WR. Reggie Wayne is still tops and now Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie have stepped up. 2 skilled RBs and the game’s best tight end help too. Defense is always the question here, but it still has good speed and does not get killed deep. This team remains the gold standard of the AFC until a team comes around to prove otherwise.
1. Dallas Cowboys: It may not sit well with many, but the Cowboys are ready to field a very talented team. It is hard to find a weakness. Good WRs with speed and size, 3 very good RBs and a defense packed with great players. Owner Jerry Jones has to be thrilled at the possible year this team can have. It mostly lies on QB Tony Romo to play like he has the potential to do, and the sky is the limit. Going into camp this team has to be a Super Bowl favorite, if not really close. It pains me personally, but I think the Cowboys are back!
If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]
Get your NFL jerseys discounted now on Amazon.com by clicking here
Check out the NFL Film Classics – Legends of Autumn, Vols. 1-3 DVD by clicking here.
Join ESPN Insider today for the best sports analysis online, plus ESPN The Magazine!
Your favorite NFL teams and players gone big – Fathead.com
Order the Madden NFL 10: Official Strategy Game Guide by clicking here.