I've always wanted to write up a Power Rankings, but I'll be honest, it's super intimidating. While thinking about writing one up, I always thought about how hard it must be to write. Man, I was not wrong at all. It's really difficult. Also, I worried about how easy they are to critique. But, I wanted to try and what better excuse than the start of the season.
Since this is my first go at it, please light up the commenting section with constructive criticism. You all are very smart people, and I would love the feedback. I don't know if this will become some sort of recurring weekly thing that I write up (would you guys and gals even like a NN power rankings post by yours truly every week?), but if it does, your input would be instrumental each week.
Well, without further ado...
1) Green Bay Packers: This shouldn't surprise anybody. Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the game right now, and this is a QB driven league. Also, the secondary had a historically bad year last season. I don't think that defense has gotten leaps and bounds better, but I also don't think they will tank so hard.
2) Baltimore Ravens: I'm pretty bullish about the Ravens. If I had to pick an AFC representative for the Super Bowl, I would pick the Ravens. No more ink ought to be spilt extoling the virtues of that defense. The offense is looking darn impressive too.
3) San Francisco 49ers: I tried to do this as objectively as possible. Really. But, even though I moved them from as high as second to as low as seven, I still think this is a bit too high. Oh well, I'm a bit of a homer. Anyway, I think that the big Achilles Heel of the 49ers - the receiving corps - has been readily addressed this offseason.
4) Houston Texans: Another AFC team I'm bullish on. I think all the pieces are in place for a deadly team. The division is also weak. In terms of playoff prospects, one could argue that this is the most well-rounded team in the AFC.
5) New York Giants: Another hard team to place. Their playoff play speaks for itself. But so did their regular season play. I like Eli Manning's progression as a QB and expect it to continue next season. That defense is also pretty stingy upfront.
6) New England Patriots: Does anybody else feel like this is a bit low? In my first draft, I had them at five and the Giants at six. Either way, I do think the defense on this team needs a little more touch up before I am comfortable with putting them in the top five. Counter-argument? Tom Brady.
7) Chicago Bears: If the Bears weren't decimated by injuries last season, I think they do some serious damage down the stretch, perhaps even in the playoffs. The big questions from last season remain, though. First and foremost: can the team stay healthy, particularly at QB?
8) New Orleans Saints: Here's a team I want to instinctively rank lower, to be honest. If Jim Harbaugh has taught us anything (and Mike Singletary for that matter) it's that coaching really counts. The turnover next season will surely wreak havoc on this team. That said, our very own James Brady makes a great point in his infinitely better Power Rankings: "Drew Brews is really, really, really, really, really, really, really good.
9) Philadelphia Eagles: This team may have been the league's most underachieving team last year. I think they do better this year. And for the record, Philly fans are the worst: Andy Reid is a darn good coach.
10) Pittsburgh Steelers: I risk a little bit of familial turmoil with this since my mom and her whole side of the family is a Steelers fan. Whenever I look at this team, though, I see aging players in a tougher division. They still probably get a wildcard spot, though.
11) Atlanta Falcons: Even though I have the Saints higher, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Falcons pass them up for the division this year. A lot of talent that maybe couldn't flourish due to the lockout at last year should break out big time.
12) Detroit Lions: Say, do you think anybody is going to figure out that Matthew Stafford really likes to throw the ball to Calvin Johnson? Oh, they have? Well, that's why they are only at 12. See also: their defense.
13) San Diego Chargers: Much fretting has been done over injuries. Here's the thing, though: Ryan Matthews isn't expected to miss much time. The biggest injury related news is that Antonio Gates isn't injured. Also, people seem to forget that Phillip Rivers is an elite QB. I think he reminds them this year.
14) Denver Broncos: I've got them right under the Chargers because I think one of the wildcards in the AFC comes from the West. I wouldn't be surprised to see these two teams flipped at the end of the season. It's going to be a tight and entertaining race.
15) Cincinnati Bengals: Lasts year's big surprise continues to improve. Really, though, I'm excited about this team's long terms prospects. It's so young. Dynasty in the making? Maybe - just maybe.
16) Dallas Cowboys: Remember, this team was a game away from the playoffs. They can be really good, especially since Tony Romo is a much better QB than people think (now excuse me while I go wash out my mouth with soap).
17) Buffalo Bills: In the same vein as the Eagles, the Bills were also major underperformers last year. I think they can do a bit better this year beating up on the Jets and the Dolphins. I don't see them knocking off the Patriots anytime soon, though.
18) Seattle Seahawks: Aww! Russell Wilson must be so good! Everybody think of him so highly! He's short - must be as good as Drew Brees! Dude's a rookie. If they do well this season it will be because of an impressive defense they are building.
19) Carolina Panthers: Here's another team that tempts me to place higher. I like the potent offense. I also said some not too nice things about Cam Newton before the draft last year. Here's my official apology. Until the team can field a better defense, though, they will remain a bit low.
20) New York Jets: I don't want to feed the hype machine, so I'm not going to say much more than
21) Kansas City Chiefs: I, for one, am not really buying into this whole Chiefs thing. I'm not really sure when people see in the team in general, nor in Matt Cassel. A couple of years ago they preyed upon a really weak AFC West.
22) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Talk about an odd season last year. The Bucs and the Bill should go out for a couple of coffee or something. Both teams just decided to play quite erratically. Can this team be much better than 22? I think so. Let's see them actually produce, though.
23) Tennessee Titans: Anybody else think the key to any success is Chris Johnson? Without him, this team falls flat.
24) Arizona Cardinals: While we all lol at the Kevin Skelton drama going on over there, the Cardinals are quietly putting some sweet pieces into place, particularly on defense.
28) St. Louis Rams: Not going to lie, Sam Bradford still scares me. Even though this team has some massive holes and glaring problems, I won't ever rest easy before playing them. I mean, Steven Jackson alone is scary enough.
29) Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have my vote for the most likable underdogs. Their random good play last year was really entertaining. I don't think much will come of it this year, though.
30) Minnesota Vikings: It's unfortunate that the Vikings play in the hardest division in football. I think this team has a young, solid foundation upon which to build. They can be really good in a few years.
31) Cleveland Browns: Is there any reason to think this team will do super well this year? I see a lot of rookies on a team that may or may not let them develop.
32) Jacksonville Jaguars: Even when Maurice Jones Drew has an excellent season, the team only wins five games. Now, things might change if Blaine Gabbert learns how to throw a football with precision.