NFL Power Rankings Week 1
Updated September 2, 2012
32. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
I haven’t seen much from the Browns for me to move them up in the rankings. The Trent Richardson situation has to be concerning now. All indications are that he will play in the opener and that is good. However, if his knee is going to be a chronic issue, then all his vast potential will not help this team. Weeden’s preseason performance has been a mixed bag and I still do not have confidence this offense will be consistent.
31. Miami Dolphins (6-10)
I feel even better about having the Dolphins ranked this low following the preseason. The Vontae Davis trade makes me think they know it too. This is officially a rebuilding team under Joe Philbin. With Ryan Tannehill now the official starter, and his receiving core looking more lackluster than ever, I just do not see how this team will score many points this year. Also, when are teams going to get the message ding Hard Knocks is a horrible idea. Seriously what good comes out of that show?
30. St. Louis Rams (2-14)
I had to drop the Rams after the preseason. They have looked inconsistent and, as I said in the last edition, it may take time for this team to adjust and compete. My biggest problem though is that you can now count me among those concerned about Sam Bradford. We are now seeing the term “David Carr syndrome” (defined as a quarterback who has become so used to being hit that he now looks like a deer in headlights in the pocket) associated with Bradford far too often. If Bradford has become too afraid to hang in the pocket and make throws, like what happened to Carr, then it’s already too late for this team.
29. Minnesota Vikings (3-13)
Tisk, tisk, tisk. It seems like the Vikings are intent on rushing Peterson back from his knee injuries. Jerry Rice, who did almost the exact same thing years ago, has cautioned Peterson and the team to not rush this, but they seem ready to do just that. Outside of Peterson the Vikings haven’t looked too bad this preseason, and Christian Ponder had some encouraging performances, but I still am not ready to endorse this team just yet.
28. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
Well, that went well. The Cardinals took a gigantic drop in my rankings and they earned it too. John Skelton is the starter over Kolb, big deal. It was the right call as I have said all along, but wow these guys are in for some trouble. I never thought I would say this but QB isn’t their biggest issue anymore; that would be the offensive line. You can check out my breakdown of the entire Arizona offense for more details. For now, I will just say these guys are not going to be very good and could completely collapse.
27. Oakland Raiders (8-8)
The preseason certainly showed us some things about the Raiders. For one, all the depth concerns with this team are certainly real. They do not have many capable backup players when injuries set in. Carson Palmer also has not looked all that great and maybe he just does not have it anymore. He does have yet another impressive young pass catcher to work with in the emerging Rod Streater. I think this will be a lackluster year in Oakland and maybe that’s good because they may need to draft a new signal caller high next draft.
26. New York Jets (8-8)
Well congrats New York Jets offense, you really took suck too a new level in the preseason. The Jets managed to go three preseason games without a single touchdown and finally scored in the fourth one with a running back who didn’t even make the team. I really think this team could be a disaster to watch this year. I am beginning to question some a Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum’s tactics. I will keep an eye on these guys and let you know what I think.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
. Well MJD finally showed up, without a new contract too. Glad he finally came to his senses. His little holdout was pretty pointless since he lacked leverage from the start. I would still use Rashad Jennings regularly with the offense because that dude can play. Jones-Drew probably won’t be in the best shape to begin with anyways. Gabbert looked pretty good in some games, though the coaches basically just had him throwing short. That’s fine; this team needs to take it slow with him.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
I wasn’t really impressed with this team in the preseason. John Lynch put it pretty well when he said of Josh Freeman "He's been inconsistent. He looks like a QB who looks like he's learning a new offensive system." Freman has not really hooked up well with his newest weapon, Vincent Jackson, yet either. It could be this team starts slow and hits its stride later in the season. Also Davin Joesph suffered a brutal kneecap injury and that potentially dominant o-line took a big hit.
23. Indianapolis Colts (2-14)
Andrew Luck looks pretty good out there. He seems smart and in control of the team. I think this team could be nice little surprise. Not as if they are going to the playoffs or anything, but maybe they can be better than some are expecting. I would say if this team can win about six games,a year after winning two, that would be some nice progress.
22. Washington Redskins (6-10)
I left the Redskins about right where they were. I think that RGIII looked about as good as you can expect. There where times where he showed how dynamic he is and how he will improve this team. However, there were certainly times where he looked like a rookie. He is going to have solid year no doubt though. Kirk Cousins looked like a stud in a few games; maybe he should be the starter. Stop, I am just kidding.
21. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Jake Locker is the starter here now, and that will bring inconsistencies. He will probably look lights out at times and others where he looks likes he playing drunk. In the end, I just think it will take him some time to get comfortable. Also can we say something about Kenny Britt only getting one game suspension? The guy gets arrested every time he farts! If Goodell is going soft the thug4life club will be happy.
20. San Diego Chargers (8-8)
There are a lot of injuries for the Chargers right now and it makes me feel even more confident in this low ranking. Especially concerning has to be Jared Gaither. He has been an enigma since entering the league, despite having a ton of talent. The Chargers signed him to a new contract, but if they can’t count on him, there is going to be trouble. If the Chargers start slow and then pick it up, just wake me up in December, when they collapse every year.
19. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
The Bengals avoided big time disaster when Andy Dalton was not seriously injured in the third preseason game. I am really beginning to wonder if Dalton is going to hold this team, and A.J. Green, back though. His physical limitations really seem to not allow him to maximize a dangerous weapon like Green. If he improves off his rookie year maybe this team will rise to the occasion, but I fear we have already seen the best of Dalton.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Remember when I talked about injury concerns and unreliable players? Man I must be psychic. All three of Romo’s top pass catchers have nursed injuries this preseason and the depth behind them is questionable. I don’t see how anyone can say that this team will finish ahead of the Eagles or the Giants in their own division. They seem to have the looks of an 8-8 team once again despite the attempted defensive fix.
17. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
The Bills didn’t blow me away in the preseason. I dropped them back a bit because of that. I am not saying they wont be better and they could still go to the playoffs but I am not sure if we can call it a definite thing. I am going to just come out and say that I do not believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick. I just do not think he has the tools to lead this team on a consistent level. He also does not have enough weapons. The tight end and number two-wideout position are below average. Frankly, a limited passer like him needs more than that.
16. Carolina Panthers (6-10)
Carolina is another team I didn’t feel compelled to move. They did not show enough to go up or look bad enough to go down. I will say though Luke Keuchly is going to be a total stud. He was a maniac in the preseason and is one of those players who seems to around the ball at all times. Carolina almost always seems to hit on their top picks; it is the guys drafted after that may hold this team back. I will have more to come on this topic later this week.
15. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
Well here is a big rise for the Seahawks. I am totally on board with this whole Russell Wilson thing. He really looks like he can be a star in this league. He played lights out all preseason and even improved against better competition. He really could be a huge hit right away for this team. Also, the Seahawks rid themselves of selfish losers like Terrell Owens and Kellen Winslow. Those players were only going to hold them back. Now I am sure about this team as young squad on the rise.
14. Denver Broncos (8-8)
Manning’s Broncos didn’t really give me a reason to bump them up. He looked pretty great against the vaunted 49ers defense during the preseason. So hey, maybe I am going to look stupid and they will win 12 games and tear up the post season. If they do I will be the first to not be all that surprised. However, I just need to see it first. They have a good test against the Steelers in week one and if they light them up, then I will bring the Broncos in the rankings.
13. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)
Not much to see here. Kansas City looked like the team I expected this preseason and I still feel good about my high expectations for them this season. One thing I will say I am concerned about is week one. Total stud, Tamba Hali, is suspended for that contest and some players in their secondary are not fully healthy. The new look Falcons (more on them in a bit) could tear them apart in the opener. So patience here, we may not see how good they are right away.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)
I had to do this. Thanks a lot Vick, I went out on a limb and ranked them really high and he goes out and blows it up in my face. I stand by all the things I said about how good this team can be. But Vick just cannot stay healthy at all. He left both preseason games he played in with injury. The good news is Nick Foles looked nice in relief of him. They will need him to continue to play well, because they cannot count on Vick in any shape or form.
11. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
Julio Jones, that guy is a baller. He just is a monster out there on the field. Matt Ryan is going to fall more in love with throwing to him and watching him tear apart defenses. This offense certainly looks to make good on its word to not be so conservative and thank goodness. The Falcons passing offense is certainly going to be exciting to watch this year. Lets see if the rest of team can keep up with them.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
So much for that revamped offensive line. Mike Adams has been bumming out in camp and does not look ready to step up. Even worse, David DeCastro did some serious damage to his knee. Luckily his ACL is intact so he could appear late in the season. However, that may not be enough. I worry this team is once again going to have to count on aging veterans. I guess Pittsburgh will have to cross its fingers for another season.
9. Detroit Lions (10-6)
I am still a bit iffy on the Lions. Despite the fact that he will miss the first two games, Mikel Leshoure looks like he could stabilize the running back position. The concern, like all their backs, will be remaining healthy. If I were the Lions, I would call up the Saints and see what it would take to get Pierre Thomas from them. Defensively I don’t know what we are going to get from that secondary.
8. Baltimore Ravens
Bumped the Ravens up over the Pittsburgh. The main reason for that is Joe Flacco. He looked very good this preseason especially in week three. He was just attacking defenses and was confidently marching his team down the field. If he plays like that in the regular season this team could be lethal. The Ravens will need him to step forward, because the more I watch the more I am convinced a step back from this defense is coming.
7. Chicago Bears (8-8)
I am still feeling the Bears even though they had an uneasy couple of games in the preseason. I really believe in the offensive skill position players. Cutler and Marshall look like they haven’t missed a beat and Ashlon Jeffery looks ready to step up. Also, Matt Forte and Michael Bush look like they will compliment each other well in the backfield. The Brian Urlacher situation is one to monitor however. If he is not on the field this defense will take a huge step backward.
6. Houston Texans (10-6)
I thought the Texans looked really good against the Saints in their preseason matchup. They still look to be a swarming and attacking defense, with a few young players even looking like they are ready to take another step. Offensively it does not look like they will be suffering a massive drop off from their previous standards. I think the key will be mixing a little Ben Tate in with Arian Foster. Tate is a really good pure runner, and with a lack of proven guys to be the second wideout behind Andre Johnson, they should pound the rock.
5. San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
I wonder what Jim Harbaugh thinks about how Peyton Manning tore up his defense the other week? Harbaugh consistently denied that he and his team pursued Peyton this offseason, but the evidence does not really look too good for him on that matter. Maybe he wishes he had after Manning tore up his highly praised defense. They better hope that was an aberration, because this team is not ready to have the offense shoulder the load just yet.
4. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Yes, I gave the Saints a big jump up from where they were. My reasoning? I just do not think the whole bounty sanctions will really bother this team that much anymore. The offense is still totally loaded with extremely talented skill position players and the defense should be better than previous seasons. Sean Payton’s absence has to hurt a little, I guess, but Drew Brees knows that system inside and out. It showed this preseason.
3. New England Patriots (13-3)
I bumped the Pats back a spot and it really all lies with Brady’s protection. The o-line did not block well for him in exhibition games and he really got knocked around. If that continues into the games that count, there will be trouble. Brady is 35 and he really can’t afford to take that kind of pounding. If he gets hurt because of it and we have to see Ryan Mallett under center the Patriots are probably cooked. Then again we said the same with Matt Cassel a few years back. It is best for New England that it just never comes to that.
2. Green Bay Packers (15-1)
Hey how about Cedric Benson? He has looked pretty good with his new team so far. He has usually been a very bleh runner in the past but he has looked motivated and fresh since joining the Packers. If he can give them a consistent running threat imagine how good this scoring unit will be. On the other side of the ball, I like the way this new aggressive defense looks. I am with Clay Matthews in thinking that they are back to getting after the passer.
1. New York Giants (9-7)
I feel as if we need to talk about Prince Amukamara. Do the Giants want to ruin this player? The second year corner was publicly humiliated by his teammates and then had the video leaked to YouTube. Then to make matters worse, he injures his ankle and is doubtful for the opener. Things just are not going right for this kid and it makes you wonder about the Giants. The team better remain composed or else they will not reach the level they did at the end of last season.