NFL Power Rankings by ESPN

ESPN has just released their NFL Power Rankings, training camp edition.


  1. San Diego get ranked 6th by virtue of this:

    "The Chargers could have the easiest path to a division title of any team in the league, and that's just being polite."

    It's embarrassing how bad our division is, but I'll take it. Should I be scared of the Chiefs at all? Cause I kind of am... and the Broncos could be underrated...

  2. As long as Al Davis is in charge of the draft, I am not worried about the Raiders. Until the Broncos get a run defense, I am not worried. Brandon Marshall is the only good thing they have going for them right now. However, I have been slightly worried that the Chiefs have been improving the right way. A couple years ago they drafted in Glenn Dorsey and Branden Albert in the first round. Taking multiple linemen in the first round usually is a recipe for success. Now, with the emergence of Dwayne Bowe, if Matt Cassell plays like he did last year, the Chiefs could be dangerous. They are making smart moves. I don't think they are there yet, but they will be next year.

    That being said, the Chargers have made the single biggest offseason acquisition in the NFL. Better then Albert Haynesworth to Washington, Favre to Minnesota, TO to Buffalo. They are adding a 25 year old ELITE pass rusher who averages close to a sack per game. That's right Shawne Merriman coming back from injury is the biggest offseason addition in the NFL. Adding Merriman to a team that already won the AFC West, where the biggest competitor lost their starting quarterback, puts the Chargers in the position to start printing playoff tickets now.

  3. Quick thoughts around the league:

    The AFC East is going to be incredibly competitive. The Dolphins, Jets, and Bills are all making improvements and the Patriots are the Patriots. New England is a little older and lost a few parts, but they are always making smart draft and free agency decisions. Trading Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel away tells me the smartest coach in football thinks they are washed up, or the very least, overpaid. I don't think the Mark Sanchez or Kellen Clemens led Jets will make the playoffs, but they are building a great O-line and will be dangerous. The Bills have had a decent defense and running game, and if Lee Evans and TO can make Trent Edwards look like a top 10 QB, then I would say the Bills are more likely to make the playoffs than the Chad Pennington/Wildcat led Dolphins. Miami's problem won't be their offense, it's that their defense has dropped from #4 in 2006 to below average and doesn't show signs of getting back into the top ten.

  4. The AFC South looks more competitive than it actually will be. Peyton Manning will lead the Colts to another division title.

    Kerry Collins played above his ability last year, and combined with the loss of Haynesworth and paying Vince Young to pout on the sidelines, the Titans will take a small step back, and will be trying to get a wildcard spot.

    The Texans aren't there yet. They've stopped making stupid decisions, but still aren't making the best decisions for long term success. They are right in the middle and n their record reflects it.

    The Jaguars are the most confusing team in the NFL. They have a lot of talented players, but I would not be surprised if they finished anywhere between 6 and 11 wins. Maurice Jones-Drew can carry the load, their O-line should be pretty good, and their defense has talent and has been strong in the past. David Garrard and the receivers are talented names, but they could still be the weak link in this team. Most pundits will say the season rides on Garrard's ability to play like a franchise QB, but I think they can win even if he is average. It feels like the team has a lot of great individuals that lack cohesion. If a strong leader emerges on the defense, this team can win by running the ball and stopping the run.

  5. The AFC North is the Steelers to lose. Just an incredible franchise all around and Ben Roethlisberger will win at least one playoff game this winter.

    The Ravens are the clear second, but need Joe Flacco to play like he did last year and for a strong running game to continue. Last year they patched it together with Willis McGahee, Le'Ron McClain, and Ray Rice. Neither is a #1 RB, but together they can suffice. The lack of receivers could hurt, but not as much as people think, if the running backs can carry the load. Ray Lewis is getting older, but Ozzie Newsome keeps drafting great defensive players and their defense won't suffer in the slightest. Expect a lot of 14-10 and 10-7 victories.

    The Browns are confused as long as Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn are both on the roster. As soon as Braylon Edwards starts catching the ball thrown from the same QB every time, the Browns could be taking small steps forward.

    The Bengals will be in the top 10 in passing yards, but will also be drafting in the top 10 again next year.

  6. Do you think the distractions for the Steelers, with Big Ben and his rape conviction along with them being a bulls-eye as defending champs, will slow them down at all this year?

    Between them, the Colts, and the Patriots I am very nervous about being in the AFC this season. I just don't think we have the firepower to beat those elite teams unless our defense returns to the form of two years ago (amazing pass rush w/ Merriman, amazing pass defense w/ Jammer and Cromartie).

  7. Sorry, I meant Big Ben's rape allegation not conviction... that would be a MUCH bigger distraction...

  8. I feel like this single year is the best opportunity we have to win the Super Bowl. The Steelers will win the division, they won't be distracted by Big Ben's Tahoe problem. The only thing that may slow them down is the lack of a star wide receiver or running back. However, they have a lot of good players and I think they are our biggest concern. We seem to have the Colts number. We match up REALLY well against them and should be able to beat them in the playoffs once again. The Patriots have taken a small step back, still don't have a great running game and Randy Moss and the defense is a year older (although Jerod Mayo is looking pretty good as a young linebacker).

    For the Chargers, Tomlinson is in his last year at his normal level of productivity. Next year he will have to take on a role similar to Jerome Bettis when Willie Parker joined the Steelers. Shawne Merriman and Philip Rivers are both free agents after this season and it is possible we won't/can't re-sign both. We also have not found a long term replacement for Jamal Williams, whose knees just passed 200,000 miles on the odometer. Without Williams or another STUD nose tackle, the run defense suffers, which means Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips need to identify run vs. pass before rushing into the backfield, making both less effective.

  9. The NFC West is wide open in a bad way. I don't think anyone is going to win more than 10 games, and it wouldn't surprise me if the winner finishes 9-7 again. I'll say that a healthy Matt Hasselbeck will lead the Seahawks to the division title with TJ Houshmandzadeh (TJ Housemanzania...TJ hoosefraba...TJ Who'syourdaddy) and a decent defense.

    The Cardinals will three thousand yard receivers because they will be behind in a lot of games throwing the entire second half. Chris Wells better practice catching it out of the backfield. However, if Warner plays 16 games and they have a 1000 yard rusher, they should have a winning record.

    The 49ers are going to try and use a strong defense and a good running game to win football games. That way it doesn't matter if Shaun Hill or Alex Smith is handing off. If they need to throw more than they run, it won't matter who they use, they will still lose. Unfortunately their defense isn't good enough and Gore can't block for himself. I say that Hill and Smith will each start at least one game this season.

    The Rams have a great running back, a young talented defensive line and a used-to-be-good QB. I am a huge fan of offensive and defensive line play, and the D-line will help the Rams gain respectability in the next few years. This team is going to look a lot like a poor man's New York Giants (good D-line, including the pass rushers, good running game, and a QB with no one to throw to).

  10. I'm going to predict that the Packers win the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers is coming in to his own as an NFL QB, Ryan Grant is good enough to start on most teams in the NFL and he will still have competition with Brandon Jackson and Deshawn Wynn. Donald Diver and Greg Jennings will complete a formidable offense. Their defense has the capability of being in the top half of the league. This balance will keep them in every game, of which I say they win 10-11.

    The Vikings will have the best running game in the division, if not the NFL and their defense will be the better than Chicago and Green Bay, but Tavaris Jackson will make two too many mistakes and they will finish in second.

    The Bears defense is getting by on reputation now and will be great in Madden, but not in the real games. Jay Cutler will have great numbers and will receive a lot of attention for putting up Pro Bowl numbers without a stud receiver, but he will lose more games in Chicago this year than the 8 he lost in Denver last year.

    The Lions have no where to go but up, which actually gives them a lot of flexibility to do whatever they want with Matthew Stafford. In fact, that should be the title of their 2009 media guides: The Matthew Stafford Development Year.

  11. The NFC South is wide open in a good way. Carolina, New Orleans, and Atlanta all have the necessary ingredients to make the playoffs. Those three should have good offenses in different ways and all three will have average defenses. Whoever plays the best defense will win the division, and I'll go with Atlanta.

    The Falcons have great balance with Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White and their defense will provide the balance to help them get through. They won't excel in any particular area, but they won't be lacking either.

    The Saints will ride the arm of Drew Brees until Reggie Bush learns to play in the NFL and the GM drafts a defense. In the meantime, they will be entertaining and competitive and will have to win a game or two they're not supposed to win to get into the playoffs.

    The Panthers will challenge the Vikings for the best running game in the NFL, but will be doing so with two great RBs instead of one Adrian Peterson. If the defense can play like it's 2006, then Carolina could go to the Super Bowl. More likely they finish with 7 wins as Jake Delhomme continues to decline and they look to the draft for their next QB.

    The Bucs have something like a three way battle at the QB position which will send this team to last place, even though the defense may be the best in the division. (Or the defense could be on the field so much they wear down towards ineffectiveness.)

  12. So I left the NFC East for last, because it's going to be incredibly competitive in an ugly way. (you like how I did the good the bad, and the ugly with the NFC West, South, and East, respectively?)

    Most Power Rankings currently have the Giants and the Eagles among the top five teams in football. The Cowboys, along with the Chargers might have the best team on Madden (I am going to use Madden to replace the term, 'best team on paper' because it is a little more realistic, practical and up-to-date). They have talent at every position, regardless of how they come together as a team. And as always, the Redskins are overpaying free agents to try and get into the playoffs. They always overpay for the best players, an if Jason Campbell can develop a little confidence, then they could be dangerous.

    That being said, I called this the ugly division, because they all have some major flaws. The Giants are going to be seriously hamstrung at wide receiver, and it has yet to be seen if Eli Manning can step up and be a great QB. A good QB will get the ball to his playmakers, not make mistakes, and win games. A great QB will make average players look great. They will still run the ball and rush the passer, but they better figure out a passing game. Although I do enjoy how "Shooting yourself in the leg" has replaced "Shooting yourself in the foot" as an idiom.

    Donovan McNabb tends not to get credit for being a great QB, and I think I would vote him into the Hall of Fame if I had a vote. Brian Westbrook keeps getting older and frailer, but I'm not going to count him out yet. The biggest losses were Brian Dawkins, Lito Sheppard, and the late Jim Johnson, their defensive coordinator. The combination of Johnson and Dawkins, meant the opposing offense never had any idea what Dawkins was going to do and that made him incredibly dangerous. We'll have to see how the defense recovers from the loss of one of the greatest coaches in the NFL.

    The Cowboys lost Terrell Owens and Jessica Simpson, probably the two biggest distractors. Tony Romo is probably a great guy to hang out with, but I don't see him or anyone else stepping up and bringing all the parts together to produce something greater than their sum.

    Finally, the Redskins have had the talent to compete for many years, but they do so through free agency rather than the draft. This tends to lead to a lack of depth and the inability to make up for mistakes by the front office and injuries. There are a lot of factors and a lot of things falling into place for them to make the playoffs, but I'll say they are in the exact same boat as the Jaguars, in that the majority of their success will be dependent on their young QB playing better than he has in the last few years.