NFL Powre Rankings – Week of August 7, 2011
I’m a couple of weeks late with them, but I can do that.
A few more transactions last week, although everything is strictly “on paper” right now, there was a palpable shift that will be reflected in the rankings.
1. Green Bay Packers (Last Week: 1).
The Pack have only strengthened their core. They didn’t lose anyone pivotal and are returning a host of players who ended the 2010 season on injured reserve. Their only issue will be complacency, given Aaron Rodgers’ Alfred E. Newman/Allen Iverson approach to training camp thus far.
2. New England Patriots (Last Week: 2).
Since last week, the Patriots have acquired DE Shaun Ellis from the Jets and a couple more players to bolster their team. They’re pretty much doing what the Philadelphia Eagles were doing out of the gate during free agency. Will be interesting to see how the pieces fit, as Belichick is actually a great coach, whereas Andy Reid is not.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 3).
The Eagles haven’t signed as many guys this week as they did during the initial week during free agency, but they did add RB Ronnie Brown and a couple more complimentary pieces. They appear to be Super Bowl contenders, on paper. There’s still a season to be played.
4. New York Football Giants (Last Week: 5).
Addition by subtraction. The Giants caught a break when TE Ben Patrick “lost his desire” to play football, and abruptly retired. He was going to be a mess. WR Steve Smith flew in to East Rutherford on Tuesday, August 9, to have his knee examined by the team and to talk contract. There is an offer on the table. The Giants have a bevy of WRs and depth at every position on defense. Barring injury and a repeat of the aberration that was the turnover game last year, the team that won 10 games last year looks very strong, despite what it appears on the outside looking in. Giants lost rookie CB Prince Amukamara, who had just signed his contract the day before, but Tom Coughlin rarely plays rookies, especially at that position, so when young Prince returns, he can play some nickel and dime packages in Perry Fewell’s system.
5. New York Jets (Last Week: 4).
Jets have a tendency to lowball their veteran free agents, and losing Shaun Ellis to the Patriots is going to hurt (although he will begin the season on the PUP list). The Jets have yet to fully address their defensive line, although most of the rest of their starting holes have been filled. Training camp for the Jets will consist of finding out who the first backups will be when the season begins. They are in decent shape.
6. Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: 9).
The Ravens let RB Willis McGahee walk to Denver, and replaced him with RB Ricky Williams. In tandem with RB Ray Rice, this may work. They have other positions to fill, but they are high on a lot of their young guys and they really needed to get younger at all of their receiving slots (including TE). Their ceiling is much higher now, than it was last season.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: 6).
They’ve stood pat, ALTHOUGH they re-signed stud DE/LB Tamba Hali to a massive deal. Let’s hope he stays healthy. He plays the game the right way and is the anchor for that Chiefs defense that swarms to the football like Marty’s guys used to.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: 7).
Who’s on 1st? What’s on 2nd? I dunno.
Their offensive line is musical chairs.
Is Mewelde Moore returning?
Their secondary, a running joke in the NFL, has not improved. Word is, Troy Polamalu has lost a step, and would get burned even more than he already does, if not for a vaunted front seven that provides him the leeway to freelance. They have nice young receivers and RB Rashard Mendenhall appears to be coming into his own. QB Ben Roethlisberger can be pass happy at times, and given that he’s only slightly above average as a QB, the Steelers are better off running the ball more than passing. This approach compliments their defense much better.
9. Detroit Lions (Last Week: 8).
The Lions were dealt a couple of blows last week. They lost RB Mikel Leshoure (“out for season”) with an Achilles, and did not get Ricky Williams. RB Jahvid Best can’t stay healthy and RB Kevin Smith has already run up a hefty insurance bill with his injuries. This, coming after RB Kevin Jones, of former Lions fame, couldn’t stay healthy and is now an afterthought in NFL circles.
10. San Diego Chargers (Last Week: 19).
The Bolts retained both WR Malcom Floyd and WR Vincent Jackson. They are employing a two-RB set, especially with 2nd year guy Ryan Mathews’ inability to come into camp in shape — already with the oft-injured tab affixed to his name. The Chargers led the NFL in both offense and defense last year, as many of you know. They haven’t lost much off those teams at all. They had the same Special Teams/Turnovers/Injury woes that the Giants did, and you figure that those “feats” won’t be replicated.
11. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 12).
As long as Peyton is fine, they will be alright. They allowed LB Clint Session to walk, but they are high on LB Pat Angerer. The Colts just need reliable defensive backs who can remain healthy, along with Joe Addai. Neither of which has been proven effective the past 4 seasons. But again, as long as Peyton is fine, the Colts will be also.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 10).
Give them credit for not buying into the free agency hype like most armchair fans do, but they need to make sure they keep LB Barrett Ruud (unless they plan to trade him to the Giants for Osi Umenyiora). They have some young guys who can really ball, and one of them is a personal favorite of mine, RB LeGarrette Blount.
13. New Orleans Saints (Last Week: 11).
They acquired RB Darren Sproles, yes, but they haven’t done much to convince me that their defense will be stout this year.
14. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: 15).
They’ve managed to keep most of their guys, and sign their stud rookie WR. They are loaded, but there is something that appeared to be fluky about 2010’s team. We will find out soon enough if this team is legit by early October.
15. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: 17).
They have QB Cam Newton in camp, it appears that QB Jim Clausen will get the nod as the starter, as he should — for the first time behind a halfway decent offensive line, and well… actual NFL TEAM, unlike last year. Overpaid all their internal free agents, but they kept their core intact and that was their goal.
WR Steve Smith has already gotten his annual/obligatory training camp injury out of the way, so it’s full speed ahead from here.
16. Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: 14).
Same old story with Dallas, except no big named, loudmouth free agent signings this year. Ed Werder has done his annual “There’s Trouble in Cowboys’ Training Camp” as of 10 days ago, so it’s just a matter of the Cowboys proving that they can trot out that porous defense of theirs (especially the secondary, which is not improved). Also difficult to gauge the status of QB Tony Romo until he gets hit. He just better hope it is not an NFC East opponent again.
17. Houston Texans (Last Week: 13).
They’ve signed CB Johnathan Joseph, but outside of hearing that DE Mario Williams is moving to LB (???) I’m not sure what the Texans’ plan is defensively. That’s their major hole, obviously. And most of us can agree when someone asserts that RB Arian Foster will not come close to the numbers he registered last year.
18. Oakland Raiders (Last Week: 21).
They need to re-sign RB Michael Bush.
19. San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: 18).
What’s the status of Frank Gore? They also allowed DB Dashon Goldson to talk to New England. After cutting bust CB Nate Clements, you have to ask what are they doing?
20. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: 16).
I personally think Don is done, but if he can replicate what Randall did after leaving Philly under the same scrutiny/situation almost verbatim, them he will have 2-3 more years left. But early reports from Vikings training camp are that Don is still making the same mistakes and ugly passes that he did in Philadelphia and last year in Washington. Young Christian Ponder dumps off to his hots more than most 11 year olds playing Madden on All-Madden level for the first time.
21. Tennessee Titans (Last Week: 20).
Only because I am required to put them on the list.
22. Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: 26).
Pete Carroll may be a snake oil salesman, and well, just a snake in general (do realize he left USC when he did WITH REASON, ye who are naive), but he believes in what he’s selling, and apparently — and most importantly — his own guys do, also.
23. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: 27).
24. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: 22).
They pilfered QB/WR Brad Smith from the Jets, but if your Special Teams is better than your offense and defense COMBINED, you are… well…
25. Cleveland Browns (Last Week: 30).
Although to be fair, the Browns have made a couple of nice moves and have a few young players entering their 2nd and 3rd seasons, but their Special Teams are their best weapons.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: 24).
Just thinking about this team causes me to make that face that you make when someone just says or does something asinine, and you appear to have this puffiness under your eye while squinting?
Yeah, that’s Jacksonville.
27. Washington Redskins (Last Week: 25).
When your punter is an illegal immigrant with an expired Visa (watches half of Harlem and Washington Heights scatter like roaches at the mere mention of those words) who you had to fly around the world to retain, well, you know your front office is a joke. The only bigger joke is how their ex-personnel/GM guy, Vinny Cerrato, about as adept at evaluating talent as J. Lo is on American Idol, keeps getting jobs, well… EVALUATING TALENT of other teams, no less.
28. St. Louis Rams (Last Week: 29).
Spags’ guys have to make that jump this year or he may be on borrowed time. The Rams have not been patient with coaches since Mike Martz left.
29. Chicago Bears (Last Week: 28).
Their stratagem? Play on a choppy surface that resembles most lawns in post-WWII Germany, and hope to slow down the fast teams that routinely leave skid marks on their defense, while their pedestrian “offense” basically plans to play the Wishbone in today’s NFL?
30. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 23).
AGAIN… DEAR GOD.
When your supposed starting QB is literally in tears because the fans (wait for it) are “hurting his feelings”, well, you know you are in deep doo-doo.
And the guy that the fans were clamoring for is a bum also, so then again, that should make him and the rest of us cry that the Fins have their sights set so lowly.
31. Denver Broncos (Last Week: 31).
32. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 32).
Just sell the team, Mike.