It's all about what you do on the field. What you do on the field is not just based on Sunday's. It's based on what you do during the week, just ask any experienced veteran and they will tell you that. When you make an NFL roster, it is your job to do football. If you don't preform well in preperation, then you won't preform well duiring the presentation.
There are always surprise teams each year in the NFL. Then, on the other hand, there are teams that seem to do good every year with their solid core of base players. About every seven to ten years, a group of the teams that were atop the league seem to fall to the depths of the unknown, and a few teams formerly in the abyss rise to the surface in a seemingly brand new lifeboat.
Every year, several times a year, so-called experts create massive lists of projected fantasy stats and power rankings. At times they hit the nail square on the head. However, all too often somebody comes out of the woodwork, and has a massive year, whether it be a team unexpectedly making a playoff run (see Arizona Cardinals for 2009 version), or a player such as Steve Slaton who was a third round pick by the Texans last year and amassed 1282 yards on an average of 4.8 yards per carry and put up nine rushing TD’s.
I will never claim to be an expert, even if one day via some miracle I should become what others refer to as such. I do like to read these predictions, interpret them, and attempt to develop my own take based on the article writer’s side of things, and my personal opinion.
This is my interpreted attempt at developing my own power rankings list. Some of these predictions will be direct hits. Just as I expect some of these predictions will be extraordinary misses. Altogether, I suspect it will be a fairly accurate guide of the season on the brink. For, while I don’t consider myself an expert, I am and always will be a very passionate fan of NFL football.
This article is a brief breakdown of teams 32-21. I will follow it up with teams 20-11, and then follow that up with my top ten. Any fan input is welcomed, and in fact appreciated. This is my story and I'm sticking to it.
The "cellar dwellar" this year will come out of the weakest division from last year. This team is an utter mess right now. A mess that won't be cleaned up this year. The Kansas City Chiefs have a veteran group of linebackers, a semi-decent offensive line group, and a disgruntled starting tailback.
They are in the process of rebuilding this team. At this point in time, it looks like it may be a long and augurous process. Despite having new GM, Scott Pioli, from the New England Patriots regime, and head coach, Todd Haley, former frontman of the Cardinals top flight passing attack, things don’t look so swell for the Chiefs.
Tony Gonzalez is long gone. Dwane Bowe will be subject to double teams throughout the year. Teams will blitz Matt Cassell constantly, as his passer rating vs. the blitz is 28. They will stack the box to slow down the run, and dare Todd Haley to pass.
Prediction: 2-14, number 1 draft choice in 2010 draft.
The Detroit Lions have historically not been a great contender in the NFL. While they have had their share of pretender teams, I think it is a safe bet to say we will not see much improvement from their dead last finish last season, in which the completed the first ever 16 game winless season.
A new front office and a new head coach will only get you so far. New uniforms will get some of the team pumped, but realistically they are still the Detroit Lions. A seasoned veteran in Daunte Culpepper who insists he still has gas in the tank. A rookie, Matt Stafford, behind him who has a lot to learn.
Calvin Johnson is the bright spot in the Lions dark Matt Millen era. Despite drafting at least four top pick wide receivers during his tenure, Johnson is the one left standing. They have a decent halfback in Kevin Smith, and Brian Calhoun has showed some promise. Star studded linebackers flank the defensive side of the ball, beyond that the team is weak.
Prediction: 2-14. Lose the coin toss for the number 1 pick for the second straight year.
The Carson Palmer era may be at its end in Cincinnati this year. Injuries have plagued Palmer for much of the past few seasons, and this team has yet to get its paws back on the ground. Marvin Lewis hasn’t been able to put together the kind of defensive team he had in Baltimore that led him to this job. Give credit to the ownership here, as they have stuck it out with Marvin for at least one more year. I just don’t see the team getting it done.
Chad Johnson has been lacking in producing touchdowns, while developing grounds for a whole lot of drama. He has been demanding trades, holding out of OTA’s, and basically setting a world class bad example. Head coach Marvin Lewis has said Johnson is not going anywhere. Really, why is that Marvin? You have got to have a head ache the size of the Egyptian Sphinx by this point.
T.J. Housemandzadeh is now a Seahawk. Cedric Benson came on a little bit in the second half of the season last year, but kind of petered out at the end. Laveranues Coles is there to provide some support in the passing game, but has recently had some injury issues with the Jets franchise. Andre Smith will be a project, though he should fare well in the running game. The defense is young, inexperienced and questionable on a good day. Luckily they happen to have the Lions and Chiefs on the schedule this year.
Prediction: 3-13. Third overall pick in 2010.
The St. Louis Rams are leaving their options open this year. They currently have seventeen WR’s on their roster. Countless other positions boast tons of depth on this roster too. You have to appreciate the fact that they are trying to create competition this year in camp, flying under the radar, and giving first year head coach Steve Spagnola some options on defense.
Marc Bulger wooed his way into the Ram’s owners hearts so much so that they released Kurt Warner, their Super Bowl winning MVP caliber QB. Now, he may end up being booed out of the stadium by the fans. The past two consecutive years he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, and has had a rating just above 70 both years. This is another team on the rebuilding side of the coin.
Veterans like Torry Holt, Issac Bruce, and Marshall Faulk are long gone. Starters such as RB Steven Jackson, DE Chris Long, LB Will Witherspoon, and CB Tye Hill have shown signs of a promising future, but I don’t expect this team to turn that corner this year. I’m looking for them to have at least another year at the bottom of the NFC west division.
Prediction: 3-13. Lose coin toss with Bengals, 4th pick in 2010 draft.
Another tail of a new head coach, well new to the Browns at least. Eric Mangini, former Jets frontman takes the helm, and made some headlines on draft day by trading three times in the first round from 5th overall all the way down to 21st, where they selected Cal center Alex Mack. Mangini obviously knows this team needs more help than one top ten pick can provide, and he’s right.
The QB position is still undecided. Brady Quinn has looked brilliant at times, then again the same can be said for Derek Anderson. Jamal Lewis has somehow managed to become a ten year veteran and only be 29 years old??? Still even at 29, you have to wonder how much he has left in the gas tank. We’ve all heard the Braylon Edwards stories, so I figure I don’t have to go there.
They have got some good things going on the offensive line, with starters such as OT George Foster, G Eric Steinbach, OT Joe Thomas, and rookie Alex Mack. Shaun Rogers eats up blockers in the middle of the defense, but has not made light of his displeasure with his current squad. A few veteran LB’s, and some potentially great young guys should make an alright showing at that position, but you can smell trouble at the DE position as well as in the secondary. The fact that they play Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice a year never bodes well for their schedule.
Prediction: 4-12. Fifth overall pick in the 2010.
Expect a return to the bottom of the standings for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To put it lightly, Luke McCown is the projected starter so far this year. The first year head coach Raheem Morris has got his work cut out for him. However, you have to give credit to these guys, as they realized early in the offseason that it was going to be a rebuilding period for them this year and shed some questionable, however necessary, veterans.
The running back crew looks good on paper. Cadillac Williams has had injury issues, but they added Derrick Ward from the Giants in free agency, and the return of Earnest Graham will be much anticipated by his teammates whose respect his has earned via his work ethic. The bad thing for this trio is that they have to run behind a very inexperienced offensive line that boasts no household names.
Defensively, Gaines Adams is a superstar in the making. His motor is constantly turning, and it’s helped him put up 12.5 sacks and 76 tackles in his first two years in the league. Barrett Rudd has showed signs of a promising future at the MLB position racking up 325 career tackles in 5 years. Ronde Barber remains, and is a leader on this defense. He is still very dangerous entering his thirteenth year in the NFL. Too much of this team is questionable at this point to put them higher than this at this point in the year, especially in the NFC south.
Prediction: 4-12. They have a very rough schedule this year. They will pick 6th in 2010.
The Denver Broncos’ have had a “rough waters ahead” sign posted in front of their stadium since an attempted snagging of the most talked about QB from New England since Tom Brady. The trade rumors of Matt Cassell, and the bold faced lie by owner Tom Bowlen to franchise QB Jay Cutler, about keeping his QB coach despite the firing of Mike Shanahan, created a rift as wide as the Colorado River between the star QB and the team.
Now they have become more questionable as a team then their finish to last season was. Brandon Marshall is holding out of voluntary activities in hopes of a new contract, they’ve contracted more running backs than you can shake a stick at, and the defense is planning a transition to a 3-4 scheme with players intended for a 4-3. The bright spot on this team is definitely offensive, with a good group of lineman, a solid receiving core, and good running backs including rookie Knowshon Moreno. The question on the offense is who will play QB?
The transition on defense should be helped out by the fact that they have a ton of competition on the defense heading into camp. Robert Ayers, the rookie DE should be able to play that 3-4 end spot with his size, 6-3 272 lbs. Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins will provide some veteran leadership in the secondary.
Prediction: 5-11 with the 7th overall pick in 2010.
Green bay has had a fairly quiet off season. They brought in a couple good defensive rookie via the draft in BJ Raji, and Clay Matthews. Head coach Mike McCarthy will look turn the last half of last season into a distant memory for Aaron Rodgers. Right now there is more news pertaining to Brett Favre’s retirement part III than there is about the franchise.
While Rodgers is still an undecided in my book, they should have a decent ground game. One of those under the radar fantasy guys I was talking about earlier, Ryan Grant, had a good season which I expect he will build on this year. Brandon Jackson managed an average of 5.5 yards per carry, though he didn’t get many carries. Donald Driver and Greg Jennings return, and TE Donald Lee is a good outlet in the passing game. I think that’s the problem with this team though, everywhere I look I see good, nobody on this team is really great. This could be that team that proves me wrong though as they build chemistry as a team this year.
They have a good secondary, but Charles Woodson and Al Harris aren’t getting any younger. Three good LB’s , A.J. Hawk has a ton of potential, as I believe rookie Clay Matthews does as well, though it will be hard for Clay to get into the starting rotation. The guys in front of him are just good enough to keep their jobs while he’s a rookie. Aaron Kampman is a good, big physical DE with good speed. He is on the verge of great, but maybe has begun to fall off from a monster year in ’06. With BJ Raji getting some time in the middle, and Ryan Pickett there to eat up blockers, they should have a solid DL. The biggest question mark for this team is the OL, and Aaron Rodgers’ inconsistency.
Prediction: 6-10. They’re schedule is fairly balanced. Pick 8th overall in 2010 draft.
I know a lot of people are expecting good things from the Bills this year. I am not sold on them though. They got off to a great start last year, but then they just lost their asses after that. They beat the remaing AFC west teams on their schedule, and lost to everybody else finishing up 7-9. Trent Edwards coaxed the team into bringing in Terrell Owens, in spite of his QB hating track record???
Marshawn Lynch is going to start the season suspended. This is not a good thing for the Bills. Their first game of the year is New England. If you look at the top of their schedule, you see two sure wins in their first twelve contests. Patriots twice, Colts, Falcons, Titans, Panthers, yikes! I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt, however, and go ahead and say they will be competitive enough to match their record from last year. The OL is going to have to prove their worth, as a lot of the starters are not in the vicinity of household names. A good running game, and an under rated QB should keep them in games, until T.O. bursts and starts spewing venom from his fat mouth.
Defense is where this team really shines. With a ton of young and explosive talent on the field, good things should happen for this defense. Names such as Aaron Schobel, Kris Kelsay, Paul Posluszny, Leodis McKelvin, Donte Whitner, Ko Simpson, and Terrence McGee will do a good job for this side of the ball. This defense is loaded, it’s the offensive chemistry you have to be concerned about if you’re a Bills fan.
Prediction: 6-10. Their schedule is brutal. They will pick 9th in 2010.
The San Francisco 49ers are on the verge of something in the league this year. This team is one I expect will finish higher than the ranking I’m giving them. There are always unknowns though. I like Mike Singletary’s take no prisoners attitude. I don’t like that they are so undecided, and perhaps untalented, at the QB position. The WR’s will have a lot to prove this year as well.
Brandon Jones showed last season in a Titans uniform that he has a lot of potential. Issac Bruce is about my dad’s age at this point, but is a very reliable option for a third down conversion. The OT’s are both young and very good building blocks for the OL. Frank Gore is Frank Gore, not much I need to say about him. The hope for the niners has to be that Vernon Davis will stop being Vernon Davis, and start being that guy that they thought they drafted.
On the defensive side of the ball, Justin Smith continues to put up good numbers going into his ninth year. He has played all 16 games for his teams for the past seven years, and year in year out remains consistant. Patrick Willis is a monster in the middle, and I just know Mike Singletary loves it. Manny Lawson is another Singletary has to like, with a tremendous upside. Nate Clements is a solid cornerback, but this team needs some more building blocks before they will really be able to compete in that upper echelon of the league.
Prediction: 7-9, With the 10th overall pick in the 2010 draft.
The Oakland Raiders are coming off the most impressive finish for this team since the Gruden days. Head coach Tom Cable seemingly has them headed in the right direction, in spite of some questionable draft day picks. QB JaMarcus Russell had a solid finish to his season last year in four of his last six games putting up ratings of 149.1 vs. Denver week 12, 85.7 vs. NE week 15, 128.1 vs. Houston week 16, and 98.9 vs. TB week 17.
The running back trio of Michael Bush, Darren McFadden, and Justin Fargas could very well be the best set of backs in the league this year. The signing of all-pro FB Lorenzo Neal will help them develop into a tremendous backfield. The wide receivers are very young, all eyes will be on DHB this year, but Javon Walker is making a name for himself as a mentor this offseason. TE Zach Miller is expected to have a breakout year this year. The O-line is questionable, but with the help of one of the best line coach’s in the league, Tom Cable, they should be able to grow in pass blocking, and have already shown their might in run blocking.
On the Defensive side, they have one of the leagues premiere CB’s in Nnamdi Asomugha. He is quickly becoming a household name for his work on and off the field. The secondary playing beside Nnamdi is young and raw, but very fast and has shown some good stuff in the past. DL is the most questionable place on this squad, but lasts years rookie DE Trevor Scott is coming on strong.. LB’s are solid with Kirk Morrison, and Thomas Howard shoring up two of the three spots, and heavy competition for the third spot. They have to overcome youth and a semi-hard schedule.
Prediction: 7-9 with the 11th overall pick in 2010.
This is a team that if you look at the depth chart you say “wow.” For whatever reason, whether it be a QB thing, or a coaching thing the Redskins haven’t been able to get it together. They had their moments last year, then again, they had some moments that weren’t theirs at all and maybe should’ve been. Head coach Jim Zorn will look to turn around the mentality of a group of talented young players.
Clinton Portis, whether you love him or hate his costumes, is steadily approaching the 10,000 yard rushing mark for his career. I expect him to overcome the hurdle this year after a 2008 campaign in which he proved he can still move. Santana Moss managed to stay relatively healthy last year as well, expect good things from him again this year. Chris Cooley is a household name, a great receiving and blocking TE. Jason Campbell is the end all be all for this offense. The ownership has not made his job any easier for him, with all the trade and draft day rumors.
The defense is loaded with talent. They will have to gel as a team though, as DeAngelo Hall takes over for Fred Smoot, and Albert Haynesworth looks to prove he is worth the massive contract when he is not under the Jeff Fisher regime. That said, Rocky McIntosh is a great young talent, as are Phillip Daniels, Andre Carter, LaRon Landry, Cornelius Griffin, and Carlos Rogers. Again, looking at this roster, you have to say “wow.” Their division won’t make it easy on them though.
Prediction: 8-8 and they will have the 12th pick in the 2010 draft.