NFL Powre Rankings – Week of July 31, 2011
These preseason/pre-training camp rankings solely exhibit where teams stand today, with no regard given to the 2010 Season (even though I say this, watch some non-reading lackwit manage to try to make their entire point based off last season). Free agent acquisitions are taken into account, however chemistry trumps loads of signings at times, as well. And with that…
1. Green Bay Packers.
They’re the champs, and as such, haven’t felt the need to go sign several players. They won with who they had, not including several pivotal guys who landed on IR during last season. The guys they either waived or allowed to walk in free agency were indeed expendable, plus they have cap space to sign 2-3 guys at any point during the season if need be. With the big splash moves that other teams have made, they will have the least pressure to repeat than any Super Bowl winning team has had in years.
2. New England Patriots.
Bill Belichick is a sniveling cheat and a weasel, but he is a defensive savant and an overall genius of a coach. He is the only coach going in 2011 who can throw slag together and produce a 14-2 team. And he just acquired two motivated ex-Pro Bowlers and signed all of his draft picks. Chad Johnson is on the decline, but it bears watching in Foxborough.
3. Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles have been major players in free agency, with moves (re)acquiring DE Jason Babin, and signing stalwart CB Nnamdi Asomugha and DT Cullen Jenkins. They are as dynamic as any team offensively (if QB Michael Vick can remain upright and healthy, and they re-sign WR Desean Jackson). The Eagles are getting more than fair consideration at this spot, given how woeful their offensive line is, and how thin and relatively unspectacular their defensive line continues to be — especially in the playoffs (Trent Cole: 7 playoff games, 1.5 sacks). Their linebackers can all run and are young, but are vastly inexperienced. And with the newly acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to go with fellow CBs Asante Samuel and Asomugha, the Eagles have the best BALLHAWKING CORNERBACK set in football, but they have no reliable safeties. So given where they stand on paper, they get the 3rd ranking here. I am sure this will be up for debate from some Jets and Steeler fans.
4. New York Jets.
The Jets have been in limbo regarding signing their internal free agents, and still have yet to decide what they will do with WR Braylon Edwards — although signing WR Plaxico Burress may have answered that question. They are in a state of flux in their front seven defensively, however, and this should not be overlooked. Overall, they are poised to make another deep playoff run.
5. New York Football Giants.
Under the radar, where we belong and want to be. We have only lost one free agent (DT Barry Cofield) along the deepest defensive line in football. As much as I hate to see him go, we have Linval Joseph waiting in the wings and he just throws guys out of the way.
The Giants, never major players in free agency, are focusing on re-signing RB Ahmad Bradshaw (following RB Brandon Jacobs’ restructuring of his own deal), DE Osi Umenyiora, WR Steve Smith and TE Kevin Boss in that order. The only semi-major pieces from last year’s defense who will probably not return are OLB Keith Bulluck and SS Deon Grant. The Giants may pursue WR Braylon Edwards or WR Randy Moss with WR Plaxico Burress signing with the Giants’ lessees, the Jets.
6. Kansas City Chiefs.
You may laugh, but the Chiefs led the NFL in rushing all season last year, a fact NOT lost on me. They added WR Steve Breaston to go with WR Dwayne Bowe, and have a couple of promising young guys coming up who they developed the past two seasons. Add that to a ballhawking defense, this team is on the rise.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers.
Hines Ward is declining. And the Steelers appear to be content to stand pat with their defensive line, which always seems to suffer the loss of at least one guy to IR on an already-thin front. It is tough to find 3-4 guys, so they have no choice. The Steelers must shore up their secondary, because teams have been able to pass on them with alacrity more than at any other point in recent memory. Their young WRs are a good strength and the running game is safe, when they stick to it. The offensive line is in complete disarray and this is why the Steelers dropped from #2 overall, as is fitting for the Super Bowl loser.
8. Detroit Lions.
Laugh if you want, but the Lions have a solid foundation in place. They drafted smartly as Martin Mayhew (FROM?!?!) promised — despite telling the entire NFL who his targets were in the offseason. With Nick Fairley suiting up beside Ndamukong Suh every week, this defensive line is going to be scarier than Stroud/Henderson ever were in Jacksonville and THEN some. Suh can disrupt entire plays by himself in the run AND against the pass (ask Jay Cutler).
9. Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens better find some money soon, because they’ve cut a good portion of their offensive output from last season. They also cut NT Kelly Gregg. They have a lot of work to do. They probably shouldn’t be this high, except the bad teams actually got even worse.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I like how they created mounds of cap space, continued to store up on talent (although MLB Barrett Ruud still might leave) via the Draft and haven’t felt the need to overpay for veteran free agents. They had a decent team last year, and they went for depth at the positions they needed it, instead of big name, big splash moves. Smart.
11. New Orleans Saints.
The Saints have made the right moves, albeit very few. They cut Shockey, let dead weight Reggie Bush go to Miami and kept the key cogs like WR Lance Moore. Their defense is always the question, and they have a ton of youth. Could go either way.
12. Indianapolis Colts.
Questions abound. Will Manning be healthy and 100% to start the season coming off a neck? Will Bunny Addai stay healthy? (Easy money is on “NO”). Can their WRs avoid multiple concussions (Collie) and just stay healthy in general (Gonzalez)? They’ve played musical chairs defensively, losing Clint Session to Jacksonville and rotating guys in like Pat Angerer. Bears watching.
13. Houston Texans.
Every year we declare that “This is the year” that the Texans break through and not only have winning seasons but make the playoffs and make noise there. I’m STILL not seeing it, although the Johnathan Joseph signing was a very good move.
14. Dallas Cowboys.
Tough call on Dallas. They normally buy up players in free agency, but have been sellers — cutting WR Roy Williams, RB Marion Barber (who’s lost THREE steps, Bears fans) and RT Marc Colombo, along with others. Can they build on their finish from the end of last season, or will they be more like the first half Cowboys from 2010?
15. Atlanta Falcons.
Teams saw what you needed to do to contain the Falcons’ predictable offense down the stretch last year. And with a smallish defense, keeping the Falcons’ ball-control offense off the field is an easy way to wear them down quickly. I expect a 9-7/10-6 season from them at best.
16. Minnesota Vikings.
Not really sure what to make of them just yet. They have the best RB in football, but they gave away their only real playmaking WR (Sidney Rice), and signed an underachiever (Devin Aromashadu) to replace him. Not for nothing, but Rice appears to be a Favre creation.
17. Carolina Panthers.
Some will say they overpaid for their players, some will see it is as reward for staying when they could have left sooner.They have a very solid foundation in place offensively. They won’t be as good as this ranking suggests (most likely), but they are making sure that either QB Jimmy Clausen or QB Cam Newton actually has a chance to succeed (and survive) while heading their anemic offense from last year. From the opening gun Week 1 last year when the Giants nearly killed Matt Moore, until the very ending, Panthers’ QBs ran for their lives every game all season. Things appear much more stable with the signings of TEs Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen and retaining RB DeAngelo Williams and MLB Jon Beason.
18. San Francisco 49ers.
They can be good, but not as long as Harbaugh continues to swear by Alex Smith.
19. San Diego Chargers.
Everyone knows the Bolts are my second team, but I won’t be sold on them until they show me that they want to keep WR Malcom Floyd and supplement already-injury prone RB Ryan Mathews, now that they allowed RB Darren Sproles to leave via free agency to New Orleans.
20. Tennessee Titans.
New coach, new (old) QB and not even sure if your only real downfield threat will be allowed to play.
21. Oakland Raiders.
They did good not to overpay for Asomugha, who hasn’t been tested like he will be when the Eagles play Dallas and New York within the division, but they haven’t done anything to replace him. Michael Huff at safety is about as half-assed as they come.
22. Buffalo Bills.
They’re actually SPENDING MONEY to acquire players? Well color me retarded.
23. Miami Dolphins.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars.
I see them making moves, but these are all Class-B players they’re stacking up on. And much like Jags teams, pesky, never-out-of-it, always winning games they shouldn’t, but losing the ones you expect them to win the minute you wager on them… well, another 8-8 season of mediocrity for them.
25. Washington Redskins.
So expected out of the weasel, Dan Snyder. His staff has zero talent evaluation skills. They just overpay to acquire big names and poach both New York teams for their talent by creating a false market in the process (Coles, Moss, Griffin, Armstead, Cofield and now attempting to do so with Bradshaw).
26. Seattle Seahawks.
“Never mistake activity (mounds of signings and trades/cuts) for achievement.” – John R. Wooden.
27. Arizona Cardinals.
Fleecing of the decade thus far, and only to get an unproven and thus far pedestrian at best QB.
28. Chicago Bears.
No idea what kind of thinking these guys do year to year, but they’re the NFL’s Florida Marlins for sure.
29. St. Louis Rams.
Yes, they nearly made the playoffs, but they haven’t done anything to improve their roster, while everyone else in the division has (at least tried).
30. Cleveland Browns.
They’ve made a couple of moves, but not the ones that they needed to make to get over the hump. Only the Bengals will prevent them from being cellar dwellers.
31. Denver Broncos.
Bereft of talent and pressed against the cap is not a pleasant place to be.
32. Cincinnati Bengals.
No one has any idea what they’re doing besides an apparent fire sale for no rational reason. They do know that there is a salary cap FLOOR now, right?