Welcome to the preseason edition of the Cubicle GM NFL Power Rankings. Each Tuesday, starting in two weeks, you can look forward to our composite rankings, as well as a bit of insight and analysis about each of the 32 teams. Starting with Week One, you can also look forward to analysis on the movements and trends among the teams.
The top of the preseason rankings were nearly unanimous, with defending champion Pittsburgh receiving three of four first-place votes. The New England Patriots received the other, but surprisingly it was from Walker and not Boston-homer Gideon. The bottom of the rankings were easily unanimous, as 0-16 Detroit received 32s from all four of us.
The only consistent theme of the preseason rankings was disagreement. More than half the teams (17) had a gap of seven or more in the rankings, while eight teams had a gap of double-digits. Of those eight teams, seven were in the NFC and seven involved our good buddy Walker:
Green Bay Packers (14) – Mickey 4, Gideon 18
Minnesota Vikings (13) – Walker 4, Mickey 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13) – Walker 14, Gideon 27
Houston Texans (11) – Mickey 11, Walker 22
Seattle Seahawks (10) – Jacob 19, Walker 29
San Francisco 49ers (10) – Gideon 20, Walker 30
Arizona Cardinals (10) – Walker 6, Gideon 16
New Orleans Saints (10) – Jacob 10, Walker 20
On the divisional side, the NFC led the way, with the North ranking first with an average score of 7.81, followed closely by the East with an 8.75 average. The AFC West was in a class all by itself at the bottom, coming in with an average rank of 22.06. Second to last was the NFC South at 18.81.
All the backup data for our rankings can be seen here. Without further ado, onto the rankings...
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. New England Patriots
Tom Brady's return will not be an easy one, as the Pats face five of last season's top 10 defenses this year.
3. Indianapolis Colts
New coaching staff, new faces, same Peyton Manning. Look for the Colts to thrive this year.
4. New York Giants
Eli Manning got a lot of money, but whom is he going to throw the ball to? Giants will still rely on their running game even with the departure of Derrick Ward.
5. San Diego Chargers
A .500 record might be good enough to win this division for a second straight year. Led by the new $93 million man, Philip Rivers, the Chargers should have an easy path to the postseason.
6. Baltimore Ravens
Will quarterback Joe Flacco suffer a sophomore slump? May not matter with a three-headed monster in the backfield.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
Even with the addition of Michael Vick, opponents shouldn't overlook Philly's rookie weapons, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy. This could be a dangerous offense.
8. Tennessee Titans
Will the defense be able to succeed without Albert Haynesworth in the middle? Can the offense make up for his departure?
9. Carolina Panthers
Will Jake Delhomme be able to put that dreadful postseason loss in the rear-view mirror. He might not need to if the Panthers' running backs can stay healthy.
10. Chicago Bears
Da Bears finally have deir quarterback, but he can't do it all by himself. Chicago needs production from its running backs and tight ends to make up for the lack of a wide receiver corps.
11. Arizona Cardinals
Last year's NFC Champs are still getting no respect. Was 2008 a fluke? Only Kurt Warner can say for sure.
12. Minnesota Vikings
Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre. Wait, there are other players on this team?
13. Atlanta Falcons
The addition of tight end Tony Gonzalez should help Matt Ryan improve in his second season. Questions of Michael Turner's durability shouldn’t worry Falcons fans.
14. Green Bay Packers
Will the addition of Dom Capers and a switch to the 3-4 defense be enough to remedy Green Bay's woes? Don't count on it.
15. New Orleans Saints
An 8-8 finish last season gives the Saints a last-place schedule this year. If they can take advantage of facing Detroit and St. Louis, they could make a return to the postseason.
16. Miami Dolphins
Coming off a 10-win turnaround, the Dolphins face a first place schedule in 2009. Will they have enough firepower?
17. Dallas Cowboys
The 'Boys let go of Terrell Owens this offseason, so the biggest newsmaker in Dallas right now is the scoreboard.
18. Houston Texans
Will this finally be the year Houston finishes above .500? Texans are banking on an upgraded defense to do so.
19. Washington Redskins
Owner Dan Snyder spent a great deal of money this offseason. Is this the year the spending actually pays off?
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With a solid defense as always and another three-headed monster at RB, the main question down in Tampa is the quarterback situation. Does Byron Leftwich finally get it together? When do they play rookie Josh Freeman?
21. Jacksonville Jaguars
David Garrard finally has a true No. 1 receiver to throw to. May be a few years past his prime, though.
22. New York Jets
23. Buffalo Bills
Will T.O.'s arrival in Buffalo be any different than his last few stops?
24. Seattle Seahawks
The biggest addition to Seattle this offseason isn't T.J. Houshmanzadeh, but coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.
25. San Francisco 49ers
26. Denver Broncos
New coach Josh McDaniels has dealt with enough drama to last a decade, and he hasn't coached a regular season game yet. Things aren't pretty in the Mile High City.
27. Cincinnati Bengals
Carson Palmer's health is the key to the Bengals' season. That and OchoCinco's foot.
28. Cleveland Browns
Will it be Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson under center? Does it matter?
29. Kansas City Chiefs
Will the ailing Matt Cassel prove to be the answer? Hard to see a great deal of success with no weapons outside of Dwayne Bowe.
30. Oakland Raiders
Even with lots of exciting weapons on offense, the biggest news out of Raiders camp is a fight between members of the coaching staff.
31. St. Louis Rams
The rebuilding continues, and the offensive line is a great place to get started.
32. Detroit Lions
One win in 2009 would be an improvement.
This article originally posted on Cubicle GM.
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