Tuesday, January 5, 2010

End of 2009 Regular Season Power Rankings

With the 2009 season over, Power Rankings are finally easy to make. Instead of slamming some teams, I look towards how they can improve in 2010 and beyond. As for the 12 teams standing... It's a new season.

01. San Diego Chargers - They're the hottest team entering the playoffs, and this may be the franchises best chance to get a Super Bowl ring ever. It's going to be hard to beat New England and Indianapolis in back to back weeks.

02. Indianapolis Colts - Consider them and the Chargers 1A and 1B. They have a lot to prove entering this playoffs, and they'll have a favorable first round match up. If they get a ring they'll be put in the same sentence as the 72 Dolphins, 84 49ers, and 85 Bears; that's what matters, not 19-0.

03. New Orleans Saints
- They fizzled, then fizzled some more. Luckily this team has a week to regroup and home field advantage to get to the Super Bowl. The only trouble they can run into is if they run into a team like Philadelphia or Arizona who have been there before.

04. Minnesota Vikings - Their Super Bowl hopes have diminished somewhat, but they're still in the hunt. I'm not sure if Brett Favre has three playoff wins in him, especially since he'll likely have to go toe-to-toe with players like Warner, McNabb, Manning, Brees, or Rivers to get a ring.

05. Dallas Cowboys - The team no one in the NFC wants to see. This team may run into some luck in the playoffs, if they do watch out. If they're one and done, expect a new coach and for Tony Romo to be right back where he started at the beginning of 2009. This team has "super" aspirations.

06. Arizona Cardinals - Don't read anything into week 17. This is the same team that at the beginning of the 2008 playoffs looked like the worst playoff team ever. They're going to give Green Bay a run for their money, and every other team they run into.

07. New England Patriots - I was in Boston the day after the Colts forfeited their perfect season in favor of health; all of the region people were making fun of Caldwell and Polian's decision, and criticizing the Colts organization. After losing Wes Welker on Sunday, do you think Patriots fans feel the same way? (You would figure they would already after the way the offensive line and defense slowed down in Super Bowl XLII against much younger Giants units)

08. Philadelphia Eagles
- From two seed to six seed in one loss. Possibly the best six seed in NFL history, but Reid and McNabb may have thrown away yet another shot at greatness.

09. Green Bay Packers
- This is Aaron Rodgers first playoff run, so Packers fans shouldn't expect much, but let's not forget this is a team that went to overtime in the NFC championship game only two years ago. They can get to the Super Bowl.

10. Baltimore Ravens - They may have lost to the Bengals twice in the regular season, but this is the post-season. The Ravens are a lot more dangerous than the Bengals are, and they went into Miami, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh last year and played well. There's no place the Ravens can go into this year that can match the intensity mixed with climate that Tennessee and Pittsburgh bring, so don't expect this team to be scared of New England, Indianapolis, or San Diego.

11. Cincinnati Bengals - They have a battle at hand with the Jets, and a win in that game and 2009 was a success that the franchise can build off of. I can't see this team getting past Indianapolis or San Diego.

12. New York Jets
- With a rookie Quarterback, this team should be happy just to be in the tournament; but they're not. Expect the Jets to be highly motivated entering every game expecting to win. If this team is hot watch out; They opened their season with wins over Houston, New England, and Tennessee.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers - The defending Super Bowl Champs are out of the playoffs for the first time since 2006; the last time they were defending champions. If Big Ben had played that SNF game against the Ravens this team might be in the playoffs right now, and the Patriots, Colts, and Chargers would be scared. Very, very, very scared.

14. Carolina Panthers - They finished their 2009 regular season hot, got all the way back to .500, and once again salvage what could have been a very poor season. It seems as though John Fox will be back in 2010, posing the question "who will be their quarterback in 2010 and beyond?"

15. Tennessee Titans - How this team ended at .500 is beyond my comprehension, and a testament to how much of a winner Vince Young really is. It looks as though Jeff Fisher will be back; let's hope Chris Johnson can stay healthy now.

16. Houston Texans
- 9-7 and out of the playoffs. This team won't get over the hump until one of two things happen; either A. they get an elite level quarterback, or B. Peyton Manning retires. With Vince Young, and potentially Tim Tebow as the other two quarterbacks in the AFC South, their division is going to be fun to watch for everyone besides Texans fans.

17. Miami Dolphins - We expected them to fall of in 2009, but 7-9 isn't all that bad considering Ronnie Brown and Chad Pennington missed the bulk of the season. Chad Henne is the real deal, and this team is very close to being Super Bowl caliber. With the Patriots coming down to size and the Jets building perhaps the leagues best defense, expect the three-way rivalry to be even better in 2010.

18. New York Giants
- From champions to a mess in only two seasons. Luckily, messes are easy to clean up when you have a top tier franchise quarterback. What Eli did with that receiving corps in 2009 solidified his spot in the top 10 Quarterbacks in the league.

19. Atlanta Falcons - The 9-7 record was good, but overall this team was too inconsistent to be considered "better" than Houston, Miami, or the Giants; at least with those three teams we can pin-point what they need to do to develop into champions. The Falcons need to upgrade at a lot of positions, but they'll compete in 2010.

20. Denver Broncos
- The Broncos 2009 collapse makes the Giants collapse look like nothing. At least the Giants had the excuse of a tough schedule. The Broncos don't deserve to be in the playoffs, and this team is going to start missing both Mike Shanahan and Jay Cutler pretty early next season. If Broncos fans were unhappy with their first decade A.E (After Elway), the forecast doesn't look too good for the next.

21. San Francisco 49ers
- If Alex Smith can progress next year this team will win the division in 2010. Of course Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, and Vernon Davis need to stay healthy, but this team has hit on a lot of it's draft picks, and it's time for this team to take the next step. Things might get Super pretty soon.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars - The 7-9 finish opens the door for Tim Tebow and a new franchise identity. Of course Gerrard should be given the keys for 2010 to let Tebow develop his game, but he's going to do well as a pro, and why not revitalize northern Florida football again?

23. Chicago Bears
- 2010 is starting to look like a promising year for the Bears. If Urlacher can be 100%, and Jay Cutler can get a weapon or two, this team will be in the playoffs.

24. Cleveland Browns
- Eric Mangini should get another year. He had his team motivated to play those final four weeks, and he beat a few teams that were actually trying their hardest to beat them.

25. Buffalo Bills - It's going to be interesting to see where this team goes entering 2010, they need pretty much everything. They're at least a year away from competing in what has become a very competitive division.

26. Oakland Raiders
- 2010 is an important year. They need a good coach, but the players are (excluding QB) there.

27. Washington Redskins
- New coach, new QB, but enough talent there to do damage in 2010. 2009 was a mess from day 1.

28. Seattle Seahawks
- If there was one team I'd call an absolute mess in 2009, it was this one. They'd win a good one one week, and get clobbered the next. It's time for this team to take the next step, and a new QB for the future may be what they need.

29. Kansas City Chiefs - They made their bed, no they have to sleep in it. A lot of questions surrounding this franchise, and unfortunately the questions are about their fundamental players and key executives. Ouch.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Expect more of the same in 2010, only worse. This team is going to unload some of it's valuable commodities this offseason.

31. Detroit Lions
- Though 2009 was really bad for this team, it was an improvement on 2008. If they can improve in 2010, I'd imagine they'd be in good shape for years to come. If not, watch out.

32. St. Louis Rams - If they draft Ndamakong Suh they're going to have a "can't-miss" defense to be reckon with in the 2010's. They'll need a cool new "on turf" nickname though.

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