NFL Power Rankings: The Three-Months-Too-Early Edition

The RantCorrespondent IMay 22, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates with the Vince Lombardi trophy after the Steelers won 27-23 against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Alright, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the three-months-too-early edition of my NFL Power Rankings. I was in a good mood, so I decided to spend countless hours making power rankings. I will say not everyone, of course, will like my rankings, but that is fine.

These rankings are due to change in a few weeks after OTA's and training camp. Please check it out!

About the rankings: The Super Bowl Champion Steelers take the top spot due to the fact that they are returning almost the same team, if not a better team, than last season's. The Patriots could easily be No. 1, but it will depend on the health of Tom Brady.

Many teams—such as the Cowboys, Bears, and Packers—have the potential to skyrocket up the rankings, but we will have to wait and see how the 2009 season plays out.


Rank (Prev.)   Team   Record    Comments 

    1 (1)    Steelers  0-0

The Steelers return much of the roster that made them Super Bowl Champions in 2008. Running back Rashard Mendenhall, who missed most of his 2008 rookie season, will be a major addition to the ground game and look for new starting middle linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who has a rare combination of speed and size, to make a huge impact on the leagues top defense.

With Ben Roesthlisberger solidifying himself as one of the NFLs elite, the Steelers appear poised for another Super Bowl run. 

    2 (2)    Giants  0-0

This may be a surprise to some but the Giants have a front seven that keeps offensive coordinators up all night. The Giants had a chance to trade their first round pick for Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards who, despite all his drops, has the potential to be one of the best receivers in the league but instead drafted North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks to fill Plaxico Burress's shoes.

If Eli Manning plays at a consistently high level, the Giants could be the NFC representative in Miami. 

    3 (3)    Patriots  0-0

The Patriots went 11-5 last season with Matt Cassel as their starter. If the Patriots have a healthy Tom Brady, this team has the potential for another 14 win season. The Patriots spent three second round picks and signed cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden in an attempted to address their defensive needs.

The defense will be in question throughout the season as well as the health of Tom Brady but if both go according to plan then the Patriots may have a chance at another undefeated regular season. 

    4 (4)    Eagles  0-0

The Eagles had one of the most impressive offseasons in the league. The additions of Jason Peters and Stacey Andrews will solidify the once aging offensive line while speedy receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy should give Donovan McNabb more weapons in his arsenal.

The loss of seven-time Pro Bowl free safety Brian Dawkins could sting if new safety Sean Jones doesn't play up to his potential. If McNabb can stay healthy the Eagles have the potential to have a better offense than the team that went to the Super Bowl in 2004.

    5 (5)    Colts  0-0  

Peyton Manning is still an Indianapolis Colt which is why the Colts are still in the top five. The departures of head coach Tony Dungy, offensive coordinator Tom Moore and offensive line coach Howard Mudd could create more of a problem than initially thought.

Moore and Mudd have been coaching Manning since Day One and life will take some adjusting but if anyone can handle it, its Manning. The addition of Donald Brown with a healthy Joseph Addai will help get a ground game going that struggled last season. 

    6 (6)      Chargers  0-0  

Philip Rivers and the Chargers entered last seasons playoffs as the leagues hottest team. The Chargers had tough luck losing the first two games last season by a combined 3 points and became the first team in history to make the playoffs after starting a season 4-8.

The Chargers will return sack-master Shawn Merriman and the addition of first round pick Larry English will make the Chargers defense tough to game plan against. A healthy LaDainian Tomlinson and a speedy Darren Sproles will give the Chargers one of the best one-two punches in the NFL. 

    7 (7)    Cardinals  0-0  

The Cardinals appear to be the same old Cardinals, at least in the management department. After a scare by quarterback Kurt Warner flirting with the 49ers, the Cardinals return most of the high-powered offense that got them into the Super Bowl, minus offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Haley's departure may be underestimated due to Haley's brilliant use of route combinations that kept defenses on their heels. The Cardinals did the right thing by not trading disgruntled receiver Anquan Boldin for a second round pick but Boldin is still insisting on a trade.

The Cardinals stole running back Chris Wells at the end of the first round. Wells will join Warner and company giving the Cardinals one of the top offenses again in 2009.

    8 (8)      Ravens  0-0  

The loss of defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and middle linebacker Bart Scott will undoubtedly hurt but the Ravens have enough talent on the defensive side of the ball to not be a top unit in 2009.

Quarterback Joe Flacco showed his ability to manage games without making unnecessary throws. If the offense is able to show a little firepower and provide some production out of the passing game the Ravens could once again be in the AFC Championship. 

    9 (9)    Falcons  0-0 

Quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith aided in the turn around of dismal Falcon franchise in just one year. The emergence of Matt Ryan makes the Falcons instant front-runners in the NFC South.

The addition of Tony Gonzalez should not only help Ryan but will cause defenses to back off receiver Roddy White, who had a career year in 2008.

The Falcons defense took a hit in free agency especially with the loss of longtime linebacker Keith Brooking but the Falcons used all but one of their draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. If Ryan continues the progress he made on his 2008 season, the Falcons will be a forced to reckon with this season and beyond. 

    10 (10)    Titans  0-0  

The Titans added weapons to their offense in first round draft pick receiver Kenny Britt and free agent Nate Washington. With the emergence of the game changing Chris Johnson and power of LenDale White, the Titans offense has much more potential in 2009.

Look for second year defensive tackle Jason Jones, who had 3.5 sacks and three forced fumbles against the Steelers in week 16, to help fill the void left by Pro Bowler Albert Haynesworth. The Titans will only go as far as aging quarterback Kerry Collins will take them.

    11 (11)    Panthers  0-0  

Jake Delhomme signed a five-year extension this offseason keeping him under contract 'til 2014 assuring him the Panthers have confidence in his abilities as a starting quarterback.

Delhomme did not have the best season in 2008 but the much anticipated breakout of DeAngelo Williams along with a strong showing by rookie running back Jonathan Stewart gave the Panthers the potential to run over any team in their path.

The Panthers hope to continue this trend in the 2009 season. Linebacker Jon Beason has established himself as one of the best 4-3 middle linebackers in the NFL. It remains to be seen if defensive end and franchise player Julius Peppers will be in uniform at the start of the season.

    12 (12)    Vikings  0-0  

The controversy of who will be the Vikings starting quarterback for the 2009 season continues; whether it be Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson or even Brett Favre, quarterback play is the only thing keeping this team from being a consistent contender year in and year out. Running back Adrian Peterson has the potential to be one of the best in our generation.

The addition of receiver Percy Harvin will give the offense even more speed causing problems for opposing defenses. The Vikings defense, led by a Pro Bowl studded defensive line, is near the top in the league every year. This team will only go as far as the quarterback will take them. 

    13 (13)    Cowboys  0-0  

Tony Romo can now take a deep breathe as Terrell Owens has now moved on. It will be up to receiver Roy Williams to prove he is worth a first, third and fifth round draft pick.

Look for Romo's favorite target Jason Witten to have another big year along with the two headed monster in the physical Marion Barber and the speedster Felix Jones.

The Cowboy defense will have more depth on the defensive line with defensive end Igor Olshanksy and at linebacker with the addition of Keith Brooking. The Cowboys will be searching for their first playoff win since 1996 but it remains to be seen if Romo and company will be able to deliver.

    14 (14)    Texans  0-0  

Is this the year the Texans finally post a winning record? Matt Schaub must stay healthy throughout the whole season especially with Sage Rosenfels gone.

Running back Steve Slaton proved to be a steal in the third round and will continue to be the Texans leading rusher. Receiver Andre Johnson appears to be making sure the NFL takes notes on his big play abilities.

The Texans have potential on offense to cause some disruptions in the AFC South. The defense led by linebacker DeMeco Ryans and monstrous defensive end Mario Williams are hoping first round pick linebacker Brian Cushing will help the Texans into the playoffs this season. 

    15 (15)    Bears  0-0  

The Jay Cutler era has started in Chicago. The Bears gave up a lot for Cutler but he will prove he was worth the investment. The Bears missed an opportunity to sign wide receiver Torry Holt this offseason and are still thin at the wide receiver position.

Running back Matt Forte, who rushed for over 1200 yards and caught 63 passes in his rookie season, will take some of the pressure off Cutler both in the backfield and in the open field.

The Bears defense has the playmakers to be a top-10 defense but they must play to the level of their abilities. The Bears have the potential to make some noise in the NFC if all goes well in Cutler-town.

    16 (16)    Saints  0-0 

How many more games can Drew Brees win single- handily? Brees had a special year in 2008 and can hope to continue his success. It remains to be seen if running backs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas will be able to handle more carries with the departure of Deuce McAllister.

Bush has been a special player since arriving in the NFL but he has yet to show he can carry a load. The addition of defensive coordinator Gregg William may be the most important offseason pickup. Williams will have the responsibility of cleaning up a defense that allowed 24.6 points per game, 26th in the NFL. 

    17 (17)    Dolphins  0-0  

The Dolphins had a special season in 2008 under first year head coach Tony Sparano. Quarterback Chad Pennington played well and will continue to prove his critics wrong. Second-round pick quarterback Pat White is the ideal fit for the wildcat offense, giving Sparano more options at his disposal.

Joey Porter and company can thank The Tuna for bringing back Jason Taylor and using a first round pick on cornerback Vontae Davis, who should provide immediate dividends. The Dolphins have the toughest schedule heading into 2009 so it remains to be seen if they will have the same success as they did last season.

    18 (18)    Jets  0-0  

Head coach Rex Ryan will bring a new style to a defense that has potential. Ryan will use players in a way they have never been used before, turning small players into superstars. New addition middle linebacker Bart Scott will bring toughness to a defense that includes stud cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Second-year player Vernon Gholston should be the biggest beneficiary of Ryans arrival. First round quarterback Mark Sanchez may be the missing piece that the Jets have been looking for. If running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are happy and playing to the best of their abilities, the Jets can be a sleeper team in the AFC. 

    19 (19)    Packers  0-0  

The Packers had one of the best drafts after stealing defensive tackle B.J. Raji and linebacker Clay Matthews. The conversion from the 4-3 to 3-4 will be closely monitored and much of the success of the team will ride on the defense buying into the switch.

After last season's Brett Favre fiasco, the Packers are ready to move on for good. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed he can be a special player in his first season as a starter. If Aaron Rodgers continues his progression as a starting quarterback and the defense buys into the 3-4 then this team will be playing in January. 

    20 (20)    Redskins  0-0  

Year two of the Jim Zorn era might not be what owner Daniel Snyder is looking for. The Redskins added the prized possession of free agency in mammoth defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, but will he really be worth $100 million? The addition of Brian Orakpo will help get some pressure on the passer but it might not be enough.

The offense is loaded with talent but it hasn't translated on the scoreboard. The Redskins struck out looking in their attempt to get Jay Cutler. Quarterback Jason Campbell has been more than professional with the media this offseason but he could be on his way out of town by seasons end.

    21 (21)    Bills  0-0  

Oh Buffalo, did you really think the addition of Terrell Owens would help the progression of Trent Edwards? Yes Edwards now has more weapons at his disposal and the consistent double teams on wide receiver Lee Evans will back off but is Owens worth the headache?

The Bills drafted center Eric Wood and offensive lineman Andy Levitre to help sooth the losses of tackle Jason Peters and guard Derrick Dockery. The Bills defense played well last season and the addition of first round defensive end Aaron Maybin will only help.

    22 (22)    Broncos  0-0  

The Broncos have been under the microscope all offseason. New head coach Josh McDaniels has all eyes on him in the locker room after trading away Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton and draft picks.

First-round draft running back Knowshon Moreno will provide an immediate impact to a position that was down to its seventh-string last season.

The defense struggled mightily last season but will benefit with the additions of first round pick Robert Ayers, and free agents Andra Davis and Brian Dawkins. 

    23 (23)    Seahawks  0-0  

It's hard to believe Mike Holmgren is gone but the show must go on with head coach Jim Mora. The addition of wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh will help a passing game that ranked 29th in pass yards.

The defense was atrocious last season but the Seahawks brought some youth to their team especially with linebacker Aaron Curry, who was the top rated player on many teams boards. The Seahawks have the potential to be be contenders in the NFC West but they must stay healthy, especially quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

    24 (24)    Bengals  0-0  

The success of the Bengals hangs on the shoulders of former Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer. First round tackle Andre Smith, once thought to potentially be the top pick in the draft, will give the Bengals a solid anchor on the offensive line. The Bengals have upgraded their defense with free agent Tank Johnson and draft picks Rey Maualuga and Michael Johnson.

The character issues still persist in Cincinnati but if head coach Marvin Lewis can keep this team under control and Palmer can regain his once injury-free superstar form the Bengals can be a surprise team this season.

    25 (25)    Jaguars  0-0  

The Jaguars may have missed their chance to make a splash in the AFC but they have made some right moves on offense this offseason using their first two draft picks on tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton.

The Jags also added free agent tackle Tra Thomas as well as receiver Torry Holt while subtracting bust receivers Jerry Porter, Matt Jones and Reggie Williams. The Jaguars might not be a favorite to win the division so coach Jack Del Rio will have to do something to win some games this season. 

    26 (26)    Buccaneers  0-0  

The Buccaneers will be in rebuilding mood in the 2009 season. First year head coach Raheem Morris will have his hands full with an aging defense that will attempt to learn a new system from the old Tampa Two.

Morris released long time fan favorites Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn and let other veterans walk. The drafting of quarterback Josh Freeman in the first round gives the Buccaneers a quarterback but Freeman won't be ready to take hold of the reigns anytime soon.

    27 (27)    Browns  0-0  

Plain and simple the Browns are a mess. With new coach Eric Mangini bringing in a few of his former Jet players, the team still has many questions. The Browns failed to trade wide receiver Braylon Edwards and declined two first-round offers for quarterback Brady Quinn.

The additions of second round receivers Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi should give the Browns a few more options especially if Donte Stallworth is lost for the season due to his legal issues. This team is not very good so Mangini will have his hands full.

    28 (28)    49ers  0-0  

49ers fans rejoiced when two-time Biletnikoff winner Michael Crabtree fell into their laps. Crabtree will give whichever quarterback stars, whether it be Alex Smith or Shaun Hill, a big play receiver week in and week out. 49er fans can't be happier with the team promoting Mike Singletary to head coach.

The 49ers will sure play with more fire on defense under tackle extremist Patrick Willis. If Singletary has his players playing his style of football and the quarterback position is figured out, then this team might be able to surprise some teams.  

    29 (29)    Raiders  0-0  

The Raiders make one smart offseason move by signing head coach Tom Cable, who is tough enough to keep this team in check but again the Raiders made people shake their heads by drafting wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey at No. 7.

The Raiders can only hope that DHB will give quarterback JaMarcus Russell a go to receiver. The Raiders have a solid linebacker core anchored by middle linebacker Kirk Morrison. The Raiders can only hope the work ethic of JaMarcus Russell improves, otherwise this team stays at the bottom of the NFL for another year. 

    30 (30)    Chiefs  0-0  

The Chiefs stole Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel from the Patriots for only a second round pick. The Chiefs drafted 3-4 defensive end Tyson Jackson a little high at No. 3 but new general manager Scott Pioli knows what he is doing from his days in New England.

Head coach Todd Haley will open up an offense that has been poor the past few seasons. Look for wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to have a big season with Matt Cassel throwing him the ball. Pioli and Haley will have this team playing at a very high level, just not this year.

    31 (31)    Rams  0-0  

The Rams are a team that will be rebuilding under new head coach Steve Spagnuolo, who will bring a tough aggressiveness style to the defense. The Rams made two key moves drafting tackle Jason Smith, to ease the departure of Orlando Pace, and drafting James Laurinaitis in the second round.

The Rams will be riding running back Steven Jackson for most of the season. This season will be much the same as last but if Marc Bulger can stay healthy, they may steal a few games. 

    32 (32)    Lions  0-0  

Good news Detroit: The Lions will win more games than last year. The Lions have made the right moves this offseason.

The Matt Mullen era is over now it is time to rebuild. Head coach Jim Schwartz has much work to do this season and beyond. The Lions added linebackers Larry Foote and Julian Peterson to bring some leadership to the team.

The new $78 million face of the franchise Matthew Stafford should sit and learn this season and maybe even next. Schwartz and the Lions have their work cut out for them this season to say the least.


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