ESPN’s Power Rankings: Week 1

ESPN’s Power Rankings
Week 1

2009 NFL Power Rankings: Week 1
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The 2009 NFL season does not kick off officially until Thursday, but we’ve already got a rising team — that is, according to the latest poll of our experts.

If the Seattle Seahawks continue to skyrocket the NFL Power Rankings at the rate they’ve been climbing this year, expect them to be our No. 1 team by, say, Week 3.

The Seahawks, 4-12 during an injury-riddled 2008 campaign, are No. 15 in the Week 1 edition of our rankings. So what, you say? In May, the Seahawks ranked 22nd. In our Training Camp edition published in July, the birds in blue were 18th. They finished last season ranked 28th.

Instead of 12 experts weighing in weekly, we have four who will cast their votes. See the glossary below for details.

The first four spots remain unchanged from our Training Camp edition. The San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts flip-flopped the Nos. 5-6 spots.

• More: Voting | Blog takes | SportsNation: Rank ’em | SportsNation: Pick’em | Football Today Listen

(Editor’s note: LW indicates each team’s ranking last week — in this case, in the Training Camp edition Power Rankings.)

2009 Power Rankings: Week 1
1 (1) Steelers 12-4-0 They’re loaded with talent and their coach knows how to maximize it. Can you say “repeat”? (Chadiha)
2 (2) Patriots 11-5-0 QB Tom Brady’s broad shoulders have to carry an aging defense. (Clayton)
3 (3) Giants 12-4-0 The Giants have concerns on defense, but they buy time with solid ground game. (Clayton)
4 (4) Eagles 9-6-1 QB Donovan McNabb isn’t wild about Wildcat, but he’s the Eagles wild card to success. (Clayton)
5 (6) Chargers 8-8-0 Even if the Chargers get caught up in the hype, they will win the division. (Kuharsky)
6 (5) Colts 12-4-0 Left tackle is the one big issue, but they’ll work around it as much as possible. (Kuharsky)
7 (7) Titans 13-3-0 Life gets easier after difficult first six games, four of which are on the road. (Kuharsky)
8 (8) Falcons 11-5-0 A year of seasoning for Matt Ryan should put the Falcons in better position. Coach Mike Smith’s even keel also seems helpful. (Sando)
9 (9) Vikings 10-6-0 Schism or not, Brett Favre makes this team a championship contender. (Chadiha)
10 (10) Ravens 11-5-0 They’re lucky WR Derrick Mason decided to return from retirement. (Chadiha)
11 (13) Bears 9-7-0 I still don’t see how Jay Cutler can play his best without proven wide receivers. (Chadiha)
12 (17) Packers 6-10-0 It all comes down to whether that defense can play better with a new 3-4 scheme. (Chadiha)
13 (12) Cardinals 9-7-0 QB Kurt Warner and key veterans sound a bit concerned after a lackluster preseason. The Cardinals still must prove they can be consistent. (Sando)
14 (11) Panthers 12-4-0 It’s tough to set expectations for this group after so much staff turnover and the way Carolina faltered in the postseason. (Sando)
15 (18) Seahawks 4-12-0 The Seahawks are rising in the rankings after QB Matt Hasselbeck proved he could take a hit during the preseason. LT Walter Jones’ health also key. (Sando)
16 (15) Dolphins 11-5-0 The Dolphins hope to avert the three-game drop that usually hits a team that goes from worst to first in a division. (Clayton)
17 (14) Cowboys 9-7-0 WR Roy Williams is catching everything in practice despite a sore shoulder, but he needs big season for the offense to thrive. (Clayton)
18 (19) Saints 8-8-0 Skepticism seems appropriate until the Saints prove they’ve finally upgraded their defense. Until then, it’s fantasy football with Drew Brees. (Sando)
19 (16) Texans 8-8-0 LB Brian Cushing alone can’t solve the defensive issues that lingered through preseason. (Kuharsky)
20 (20) Redskins 8-8-0 QB Jason Campbell appears improved now that coach Jim Zorn lets him throw more downfield. (Clayton)
21 (21) Bills 7-9-0 Firing offensive coordinator Turk Schonert nine days before the season opener is a sign of total panic in Buffalo. (Clayton)
22 (22) 49ers 7-9-0 Establishing a hard-nosed ground game was the first step for coach Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. Can the passing game catch up? (Sando)
23 (23) Jets 9-7-0 Mark Sanchez continues to appear confident as a starter. He’s seemingly more advanced than most rookie QBs. (Clayton)
24 (24) Bengals 4-11-1 Love this year’s version of “Hard Knocks.” Unfortunately, the Bengals’ playoff hopes can be summed up by Chad Ochocinco’s trademark saying: “Child, please.” (Chadiha)
25 (25) Jaguars 5-11-0 With three division games in first four, the Jags are likely to move down before moving up. (Kuharsky)
26 (26) Buccaneers 9-7-0 A defensive-minded rookie coach plus new starting QB minus the offensive coordinator: I’m not so sure that’s a winning equation. (Sando)
27 (27) Broncos 8-8-0 It has to take a while for team to buy in after all the drama surrounding former QB Jay Cutler, and then WR Brandon Marshall. (Kuharsky)
28 (28) Browns 4-12-0 I just can’t see new coach Eric Mangini turning this team around in one season. (Chadiha)
29 (29) Chiefs 2-14-0 The Chiefs have a chance to climb if they can separate themselves from the Broncos and Raiders. (Kurharsky)
30 (30) Raiders 5-11-0 Will QB JaMarcus Russell start to quiet critics or give us more fodder? (Kuharsky)
31 (31) Rams 2-14-0 The schedule makers did new coach Steve Spagnuolo no favors by sending the Rams on the road three times in their first four games. (Sando)
32 (32) Lions 0-16-0 New coach Jim Schwartz will make the Lions better. He just won’t do it fast enough to make a difference this fall. (Chadiha)


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