Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NFL Week 1 Power Rankings

Power rankings are a silly thing, but they're something that we as sports fans have come to love. We like to rank things, mostly because it gives us something to debate. Though some things on here will be debatable, the method behind my power rankings is that I'm trying to predict who will win the Super Bowl in a 1-32 order.

So here are our first rankings of the actual season. Elite are the teams I think have a real shot at going to or winning the Super Bowl. The Very Good are the teams I think have some shot, but are probably not going to the Super. Hanging In There are the teams who aren't quite eliminated, but in likelihood won't even go to the playoffs. And The Dead speak for themselves, they have no shot.

The Elite

01. Green Bay Packers -
The Packers beat the Saints on Thursday night and once again Aaron Rodgers made the quarterback position in the NFL look too easy. This team has a great shot to repeat as Super Bowl champions as long as Rodgers is under center. I can't say enough about how good Rodgers is right now, besides saying he's the best quarterback in the league right now. This team is going to need that bye if they want to repeat.

02. New Orleans Saints - Sure they lost this week, but their effort against the Packers in Green Bay showed that this team is for real. The road to a division title shouldn't be too challenging for the Saints, and I think they're looking forward to a rematch vs Green Bay, it doesn't matter where. If Rodgers is the best quarterback in the game right now, than Brees is a close second. He does the most with the least to work with.

03. Philadelphia Eagles -
The Eagles looked good against the Rams on Sunday, but this is a team that needs to simply stay healthy and win their division. It's going to take another two months before this team gels, so the focus needs to be on keeping their division opponents an arms length away.

04. San Diego Chargers - On one hand the Chargers had a sloppy win against an inferior opponent. On the other hand the Chargers got a win in September. The way this team has started their seasons in the Norv Turner era, I think you take the win and move on to the next one at New England. This could be a real statement game for Rivers and company.

05. New England Patriots - The Patriots offense looks scary with their tight ends, though the running game still leaves much to be desired. They're the AFC's version of the Saints, and if these guys can get a first round bye then they may get back to the Super Bowl. Brady is right up there with Brees and Rodgers and can get anything done.

06. New York Jets - They showed heart and character in their come from behind win over the Cowboys. Some people want to say the Cowboys gave it away, and that may be true, but the Jets kept trying. Romo doesn't fumble or throw the interception if Rex Ryan doesn't have his team playing at 100%.

07. Baltimore Ravens - It may have been a Week 1 win by a quarterback with four road playoff victories, but that was the biggest win of Joe Flacco's career. If the Ravens can stay healthy then they will win this division and probably get a first round bye. They can beat any team in the league when Flacco plays well.

08. Chicago Bears - I wrote this team off in the preseason and I may have been terribly wrong. The Bears embarrassed the Falcons in a way that the franchise hasn't been embarrassed since Joey Harrington was the quarterback. If the Bears are going to win the NFC they're going to need to follow the Ravens mold and win because they have a great defense with a potent offense. They played the Packers well last year in the NFC title game, with a healthy Cutler a rematch might go the other way.

09. Houston Texans - Don't look now but the Texans have a real shot to go deep into the AFC playoffs. Their schedule plays out where they can afford to lose the tough games and still compete for a first round bye. Wade Phillips 3-4 defense looked great on Sunday, all be it against a beaten Colts team. The real strength of this team is that they may have the best offensive line in the NFL that no one knows about. They're a team that New England, Baltimore, and the Jets wouldn't want to see in January.

The Very Good

10. Detroit Lions - This team can win the Super Bowl. I wrote it in my pre season rankings and I'll write it again. This a young team though, and they'll likely make enough mistakes throughout the regular season to prevent themselves from going to the playoffs.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers -
The Steelers will bounce back from their loss to the Ravens, but this team doesn't look like the sort of team that can get back to the Super Bowl.

12. Atlanta Falcons - I'll write their week 1 loss off for now, but if they lose to the Eagles then this team will need to look inward, and Matt Ryan will need to finally get the criticism he's deserved for two years.

13. Washington Redskins - I may later feel stupid for reading into their week 1 win over a poor Giants roster, but the Redskins have a shot to get back to the playoffs. Rex Grossman isn't a joke, though he is prone to boneheaded mistakes.

14. Dallas Cowboys - The key to the Romo and Garrett era's will be bouncing back from that painful week one loss. Jason Garrett coached a good game and I think he'll have the Cowboys ready to go week two.

15. San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers took a big step in getting back to the playoffs by winning the opener to the Jim Harbaugh era. This division is made up of four equal teams and if the '9ers want to win it they're going to have to win games like they did Sunday.

16. Oakland Raiders - Their division win streak continues. The key to this teams season is going to be going 5-1 in their division and going 5-5 elsewhere, if they can do that than the Raiders will play their first playoff game since Super Bowl XXXVII this January.

Hanging In There

17. Buffalo Bills - This may be the highest the Bills get in the power rankings this year, and their week 1 mauling of the Chiefs may have taken the Bills out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Still, the NFL is better when the Bills are relevant, and hopefully they can give the Jets and Patriots tough games this year.

18. New York Giants - This has to be the lowest the Giants will fall this season, right? Probably not. This roster is bad and it's time for a serious overhaul in New York this offseason. The GM is overrated, the coach has lost his control of the team, and the media needs to start placing blame on the quarterback. Eli's mistakes are becoming inexcusable.

19. Jacksonville Jaguars - The division is within reach. Not much else to say about this team other than even if they do make the playoffs they'll have no shot at going anywhere. I expect things to fall apart at some point in October for this franchise.

20. Arizona Cardinals - They may have won their game against the Panthers but they let a rookie QB who looked average at best in the preseason throw for over 400 yards on them. If Cam Newton can do that in week one, what will Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Michael Vick be able to do in January? Kevin Kolb looks adequate and this team can win the division.

21. St. Louis Rams - I wouldn't say a loss to the Eagles in week 1 ended their season because it didn't. It's up to Sam Bradford to take this team as far as he wants to take them. Is he ready yet? I doubt it. The rest of the division got better.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Bucs lost a tough one to the Lions, but fortunately for them every other team in their division lost. I still expect a step back year for this team considering that they're no on the rest of the leagues radar.

23. Cincinnati Bengals - A big win over the Browns. A few more wins like this and the Bengals will find themselves out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes and Andy Dalton will continue to have a starting job in the league. If you didn't watch the game, Dalton had little to do with the win.

24. Carolina Panthers - We'll find out what this team is all about this week. I'd love to think that the game against Arizona was a sign of things to come, but the Cardinals defense is atrocious. This is a team thinking about next year, but it's good to see them on the right track.

25. Minnesota Vikings - I thought this was a playoff team but they did everything possible to lose on Sunday. Their season, and McNabb's respect around the league, are on the line against the Bucs this week.

26. Tennessee Titans - This is a team that has a shot to go to the playoffs if everything falls their way the rest of the season. The division isn't great but this team is bad. They'll probably end up third in their division.

27. Seattle Seahawks - It was a tough loss, but the division is still wide open. Things could get ugly in Seattle really soon. There may be a Carroll/Barkley reunion in Seattle on the horizon.

28. Miami Dolphins - I know they got embarassed by the Patriots, but the final score is misleading of the actual game. The Dolphins aren't that bad, nor are they that far away from contending for the playoffs. That being said, this is a team in transition and the fans understand that; Hence they probably won't sell out many games.

29. Cleveland Browns - Their season is on the line against the Colts this week. An easy 2-0 has quickly turned into doom for this franchise that simply can never catch a break. They can't protect Colt McCoy and that should make for an interesting matchup against the Colts All-Pro defensive ends. The loser starts thinking about next year.

The Dead

30. Indianapolis Colts - If Peyton Manning isn't the most valuable player in the history of the NFL then I guess I forgot my NFL history. This team is awful without Manning, who has been the heartbeat of that franchise since 1998. A loss on Sunday and Caldwell, the Polians, and the great Donald Brown will start putting their homes up for sale, and Gruden and Fischer will start bidding on who gets to coach Act III of Manning's career.

31. Denver Broncos - The Broncos season looks over. Orton's red zone offense issues have continued. John Fox is too conservative and uncreative to go with Tim Tebow, but if anyone in Denver could raise the dead, it'd be Tebow.

32. Kansas City Chiefs - I knew they'd be bad, I just didn't know how bad. They're first overall pick bad.

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