It might be too early to take a look at where most teams stand in the National Football League. After all, we are just coming off of one week of preseason football. Talk about jumping the gun.
With that it mind, I am fully prepared to run towards the cliff with a blow-horn and blurt out random names to see if they stick come January. These power rankings will be updated every week.
32. Cleveland Browns (AFC Rank: 16)
The Browns ineptitude on the offensive side of the ball is going to be their undoing. Brandon Weeden is nowhere near being a starter caliber quarterback in the NFL and they don’t have the weapons on the outside to succeed.
31. Minnesota Vikings (NFC Rank: 16)
They looked really bad Friday night against the San Francisco 49ers. I understand it was just the first preseason game, but this team is lacking talent across the board on both sides of the ball.
30. St. Louis Rams (NFC Rank: 15)
That was an embarrassing way to start the Jeff Fisher era in St. Louis. While it is hard to take stock of a team after one preseason game, the Rams have a great deal of work to do in order to compete on a consistent basis on Sunday’s.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC Rank: 15)
Even with Maurice Jones-Drew in the fold, this team wasn’t going to win more than five games. Take him out of the mix and you have the second worst offense in the NFL behind Cleveland. Wont win you many games.
28. Indianapolis Colts (AFC Rank: 14)
Andrew Luck and Co. where might impressive on Sunday against the Rams. Though this should be taken with a grain of salt, you have to be happy about the way this young team looked with the rookie quarterback leading the charge.
27. Arizona Cardinals (NFC Rank: 14)
Kevin Kolb or John Skelton, does it really matter? The Cardinals are so inept at the quarterback position that it makes them look like a Pop Warner team at times. Arizona’s two top quarterbacks have combined for a 19.2 quarterback rating in two preseason games.
26. Miami Dolphins (AFC Rank: 13)
Ryan Tannehill was might impressive, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. He has a tremendous amount of work to do. Miami’s best shot at contention is with either David Garrard or Matt Moore under center. Either way, the lack of talent at wide receiver is going to hurt.
25. Oakland Raiders (AFC Rank: 12)
Even by preseason standards, the Raiders loss to Dallas on Monday night was horrendous. This team couldn’t do anything right, struggling in nearly every aspect of the game. I guess their defense looked good, holding the Cowboys to three points. Something to take out of the performance. It’s going to take some time for this team to gel.
24. New York Jets (AFC Rank: 11)
This team is lacking chemistry and talent across the board, none more than at the quarterback position. Neither Mark Sanchez nor Tim Tebow appear to be the answer. They don’t have the receivers to make plays and lack young talent on defense. Get primed for a down season in New York with the Jets.
23. Washington Redskins (NFC Rank: 13)
Robert Griffin III definitely impressed in his preseason debut and I would love to put the Skin’s higher, but I just don’t see it. They’re schedule is going to be brutal in 2012, which indicates another losing season in the capital. For Washington, it is all about progression from the youngsters, RGIII included.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC Rank: 12)
It does seem that Greg Schiano is planning on running an offense that fits their talents much better than what we saw last season. The additions of Carl Nicks, Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin will help on the offensive side of the ball. The division they play in coupled with a bad defense leads me to believe this team finishes in the cellar once again.
21. Carolina Panthers (NFC Rank: 11)
Can Cam Newton take the next step? If he does, will the Panthers make the postseason? While I am happy with what Carolina did in the draft and to an extent in free agency, they seem to be a year or so away from contention.
20. Dallas Cowboys (NFC Rank: 10)
Let’s not read too much into the Cowboys lack of offensive performance Monday night against the Oakland Raiders. They didn’t have a couple healthy bodies on the offensive line and it just didn’t seem like the team was connecting. That being said, Dallas needs to get it together relatively quickly.
19. Tennessee Titans (AFC Rank: 10)
Jake Locker appears to be the favorite to win Tennessee’s starting quarterback job. It really doesn’t matter, both will be able to lead the Titans to postseason contention. It is all about moving forward with the young quarterback at the helm.
18. San Diego Chargers (AFC Rank: 9)
One of the most disappointing teams in recent NFL history, the pressure is definitely on Norv Turner and Co. this season. They need to win double-digit games and make a postseason run. If history serves as an indicator, fans in Southern California will be disappointed once again.
17. Buffalo Bills (AFC Rank: 8)
The Bills will be right in the mix for a postseason spot when all is said and done. Despite a rough preseason debut, this is a team that has talent clear across the board. The additions of Mario Williams and Stephon Gilmore were huge. There success will depend a great deal on the play of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
16. Detroit Lions (NFC Rank: 9)
I will probably receive some flack for having the Lions so low on this list, but let me explain. They’re going to find it difficult to win on a consistent basis without a ground game on offense and lackluster play in the secondary. Couple that with playing in a tough division and this could be a disappointing season in the Motor City.
15. Seattle Seahawks (NFC Rank: 8)
Yet another team that should be in the race for the duration of the 2012 season. Seattle looked mighty impressive in their preseason opener as it seems their quarterback competition has been dwindled down to Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson. Solid play at this position could get Seattle into the second season.
14. Denver Broncos (AFC Rank: 7)
I am not going to buy into the Peyton Manning hype until the future Hall of Fame quarterback proves he can stay healthy during the regular season. If this happens, Denver might end up favorites in the AFC West.
13. New Orleans Saints (NFC Rank: 7)
Again, I will probably get some flack for having the Saints so low. It really is hard to underscore just how much the loss of head coach Sean Payton will hurt New Orleans. You need solid coaching to win consistently in the NFL and without him the Saints just don’t have that.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC Rank: 6)
Pittsburgh has a few different issues to address if they’re going to return to the postseason in 2012. David DeCastro and Mike Adams, both rookies, are going to have to step up along the o-line to keep Big Ben upright. They are also going to have to find someone to be a consistent threat on the ground in the running game.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (AFC Rank: 5)
You can definitely expect Cincinnati to take a step forward in 2012. Both Andy Dalton and A.J. Green has a year of seasoning under their belt. This is going to make a huge difference. Additionally, Cincinnati addressed defensive concerns along the defensive line and in the secondary. Definitely a team on the upswing.
10. Kansas City Chiefs (AFC Rank: 4)
Tell me that the Baltimore Ravens would have succeeded last season if they were without Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Ed Reed for a majority of the season. This is the situation that Kansas City found themselves in last year. With a fully healthy roster, they are the clear cut favorites to win what promises to be a competitive division.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (NFC Rank: 6)
Again, I am not going to buy into the hype here. Though Philadelphia has one of the most talented rosters in the league, they need to start putting it together on the football field. Additionally, Michael Vick is going to have to show he can stay healthy for an entire season if the Eagles are going to win the NFC East.
8. Chicago Bears (NFC Rank: 5)
One major concern as it relates to the Bears is pass protection. They didn’t do much to address this issue in the offseason and saw their quarterbacks sacked six times in the preseason opener. The weapons are there on the offensive side of the ball with Michael Bush, Brandon Marshal and Alshon Jeffery. It is all about putting it together and keeping Jay Cutler upright.
7. Baltimore Ravens (AFC Rank: 3)
The loss of Terrell Suggs for what promises to be the majority of the 2012 season is going to hurt a great deal. You don’t lose the reigning Defensive Player of the Year without taking somewhat of a step back. Baltimore needs Joe Flacco to step his game up if they’re going to be serious contenders for the conference championship.
6. Atlanta Falcons (NFC Rank: 4)
Boy, the Falcons first-team was impressive in their preseason opener against the aforementioned Ravens. No, this isn’t the reason why I have Atlanta rated higher. Instead, it seems they are going to have one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL this season. Couple that with an improved defense and you have the makings for a possible Super Bowl run. It is all about winning in January, something Matt Ryan has been unable to do.
5. Houston Texans (AFC Rank: 2)
Houston didn’t really have a great offseason. The losses of Eric Winston, Mike Brisiel and Mario Williams is definitely going to hurt. That being said, this team has the talent on both sides of the ball to compete for the AFC Championship. Again, we are looking at injuries. They need Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson to play the duration of the season for this to become a reality.
4. Green Bay Packers (NFC Rank: 3)
How can a team that won 15 regular season games the year before not be in the top three? Well, if that team is the Packers extended expectations are not needed. Green Bay laid an egg in their first postseason game and finished as one of the two worst defensive teams in the league. We all know about Aaron Rodgers and Co. on offense, but youngsters need to step up on the other side of the ball is this team is going to win the NFC.
3. New England Patriots (AFC Rank: 1)
They did a great job adding players at need positions on both sides of the ball. Brandon Lloyd is going to play the part of a serious receiving threat on the outside. He teams up with Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch to form an elite passing game for Tom Brady. Chandler Jones, who was impressive in his NFL debut against the New Orleans Saints last week, should help the defensive out a great deal. Definitely the frontrunners for another trip to the Super Bowl out of the AFC.
2. San Francisco 49ers (NFC Rank: 2)
This team is absolutely stacked. Trent Baalke and Co. did an amazing job adding talent where it needed to be added in the offseason. Their offense promises to be vastly improved from a pedestrian 2011 campaign, while Alex Smith seems like he is ready to take that next step. San Francisco also returns all 11 starters from one of the most dominating defenses in the league. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 49ers brought home their sixth Super Bowl Championship in New Orleans in February. In fact, they should be considered favorites to do so.
1. New York Giants (NFC Rank: 1)
Do I believe the Giants are the best team in the NFL? No. In fact, I think it is going to be hard for them to even make the postseason in the tough NFC. That being said, the defending Super Bowl Champions need to be ranked No. 1 until they lose a football game. This is my philosophy and I will NEVER change it.