I have to admit I am still a little sore after that Dallas/Philadelphia, game but football is upon us and you can't keep a football addict down forever. College football is nice, but quite frankly, the pros and a playoff system are nice.
I'm not pulling any punches here, I will make an impact with this! I've just about had it to here with Googling myself and the only results that show up are from that stupid Hockey player on the Carolina Hurricanes. I know, you don't care, so I'll stop taking up space. Here are my rankings for every NFL team from best to worst:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers- The offensive line is still an issue, but then again, this is coming from the same guy who said proclaimed that the Pittsburgh Steelers were not a Super Bowl contender last year after their Week 16 loss to the Tennessee Titans, so what do I know? With a healthy Willie Parker and a surprisingly easy schedule, expect the Champs to earn another first round bye.
2. New York Giants- After seeing Eli Manning and the New York Giants falter down the stretch and in the playoffs, people have been questioning the Giants passing attack and wondering whether it meant that it was the Eagles turn to take the NFC East. Then to make matters worse...David Tyree was cut!
Oh yeah and Plaxico Burress is now gone too. I have faith though, lets not forget that the Giants losses at the end of the season came to two talented division rivals in must-win situations (Eagles and Cowboys) as well as to another talented team in a must-win situation in the Minnesota Vikings.
The Giants will still have one of the best running games in football and with Osi Umenyiora back and the acquisitions of Chris Canty, Michael Boley, and Rocky Bernard they will have one of the best defenses, too. That will win games when the weather gets cold.
3. San Diego Chargers- They've been a sexy pick in the AFC the last couple years and haven't quite lived up to the billing. However, with a healthy Merriman, Chris Chambers, and a potential bounce back year from LT...I don't see how they could possibly blow it in that division.
4. Philadelphia Eagles- I don't trust Westbrook enough to stay healthy for the whole season to make them my pick to win the East but as long as he is healthy when January rolls around they can run the table. There are no weaknesses in sight.
5. New England Patriots- The offensive line that gave up the fifth most sacks in the league last year has to be somewhat of a concern but the New England Patriots have so many play-makers on offense anyway that they will be a nightmare for defensive coordinators regardless.
6. Green Bay Packers- Switching to the 3-4 on defense has to be somewhat concerning but they had so many injuries last season that on paper they should be better regardless, plus I have faith in Dom Capers. Aaron Rodgers silenced critics last season and with more experience I expect him to start winning a lot of those close games that he lost last season.
7. Indianapolis Colts- Marvin Harrison was on his last leg last season, Joseph Addai and Bob Sanders had trouble staying healthy, the offensive line had injury problems, Peyton Manning was recovering from knee surgery, and they played in one of the toughest divisions in Football...So how in the world did they win 12 games last season?
The now three-time MVP Peyton Manning pulled out game after game for them. We are watching truly a special player and until further notice I will never doubt the Colts chances of making the playoffs.
8. Minnesota Vikings-The schedule gives the Vikings a good chance to win at least four of five games to begin the season. Favre's shoulder is a concern as the season goes on, but I believe the Vikings will not collapse the way the New York Jets did due to their fine due to their running game, defense, and also due to the fact that Favre is now throwing in a dome instead of the cold and windy Meadowlands.
A Super Bowl appearance may not be in the cards for the Vikings, but they'll be glad that Brett Favre finally decided to show up.
9. Houston Texans- I hate to make this pick just because it feels so cliched at this point so say 'Whoa, watch out for the Texans', but if Matt Schaub stays healthy this really does feel like it a winning formula. Schaub is blessed without a lot of talent around him like Steve Slaton, Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, and Owen Daniels.
Their secondary is shaky but their front seven should actually be really good acquiring Antonio Smith to line up opposite Mario Williams on the line and also Cato June at linebacker.
10. Baltimore Ravens- Former GM and current columnist Michael Lombardi was on an ESPN Podcast talking about the effect that the hard-nosed head coach John Harbaugh has had on the Baltimore Ravens.
The comments he brought up from a variety of players he talked to has me convinced that there is no chance of a let-down this year and that their 'aging' defense is going to be just as scary this season.
11. New Orleans Saints- Speaking of special players, Drew Brees threw for over 5,000 yards with 34 TDs and 17 INTs. The 5,000+ yards was easily first in the league, the TDs were tied for first with Phillip Rivers and he also had the fourth highest QB rating in 96.2. All of this without much of a running game and Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, and Jeremy Shockey missing significant time.
All of those receiving threats are healthy and the running game should be better with Pierre Thomas getting more carries. The defense still isn't very good but it should be better with Charles Grant and Will Smith healthy, and good enough to take the NFC South.
12. Dallas Cowboys- Dallas' SB shots are not over, but there needs to be a stronger commitment to the running game than in the past and Kyle Kozier's health is a necessity.
13. Cincinnati Bengals- Shh...The Cincinnati Bengals defense ranked 12th in the league last year in YPG. They are far from the joke of a defense they once were, Carson Palmer is healthy and Chad Johnson's (Will not call him Ochocinco) ankle should be fine. The Bengals will be playing meaningful Football games deep into December.
14. Arizona Cardinals- Super Bowl Loser Curse, Super Bowl Loser Shmurse. Even a year older it's hard to imagine that the Cardinals passing game still won't be prolific with Kurt Warner behind center. Even without Antonio Smith, the defense is not as bad as people think loaded with talent in the secondary like Adrian Wilson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Antrel Rolle, and newly acquired Bryant McFadden.
15. Atlanta Falcons- Tony Gonzalez was a move they needed to make but even still I expect Matt Ryan to fall of a little in his sophomore year, Michael Turner is somewhat of a concern after hitting the 370 mark in carries his first year starting and the defense is sub-par.
16. Chicago Bears- Jay Cutler has a cannon of an arm but he showed to have a tendency to turn the ball over throwing 18 INTs. He is in a new offense with a considerable drop-off in offensive weapons to work with and the defense is not as good as in years past.
Bears fans legitimately do have a prolific thrower but they may need to wait a year before they really reap the benefits.
17. Tennessee Titans- The Tennessee Titans will seriously regret the day that they let Albert Haynesworth bolt to the nation's capital. More attention will be paid to Kyle Vanden Bosch and if he fails yet again to stay healthy, the Titans may struggle to get a decent pass rush with an old Jevon Kearse.
It took an incredibly hot start for them to leave Kerry Collins in as the starting QB and if they struggle at all out of the gate, the itch for youth in Vince Young may start to get scratched.
18. Washington Redskins- Overpaid perhaps but I like the Albert Haynesworth signing, I really do. The Redskins desperately needed help rushing the passer, Haynesworth showed himself in the last couple years to be unblockable when motivated and he will open things up for Andre Carter on the end who had double-digit sacks in 2007.
What I don't like is the odds of Clinton Portis staying healthy. His numbers dropped off considerably in the last five games of last season.
Portis is now 28 years old and has had 340+ carries in each of the last five years, there does not appear to be a quality back-up plan in case this is the year he falls off. Playing in the NFC East doesn't help their cause either.
19. Carolina Panthers- Here's a prediction for you; Jake Delhomme won't get the chance to murder the Carolina Panthers in the playoffs. He will benched somewhere around Thanksgiving, with him will go their playoff chances.
20. Seattle Seahawks- It was comical last season how many injuries they suffered on the offensive side of the ball. Matt Hasselbeck appears to be healthy and he also will be working with as good of a wide-out as he has ever had in TJ Houshmandzadeh (Houshmazzilli as I prefer to call him). They still did not address the running game though and the defense is on the decline.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars- If you believe Fred Taylor's comments from last season, Jack Del Rio lost this locker room. I've always greatly respected the man but he is officially on the hot seat. That said, the offensive line is healthy and even at 33 year old Tory Holt is the best wide-out David Garrard has had to throw to in the last couple years so they will be better. Playing in the AFC South doesn't help though.
22. New York Jets-Rex Ryan has the defense heading in the right direction but their starting QB will not only be a rookie but one that started only 16 games in college. Laveranues Coles is gone, Chris Baker is gone too which means Dustin Keller will be less of a receiving threat and used more to block.
Thomas Jones is now 31 years old and before Brett Favre showed up he rushed for just 3.6 YPC in 2007. The Jets potentially will have one of the worst offense in the league.
23. San Francisco 49ers-A division crown certainly would not surprise me with the way last season ended. Mike Singletary seems to have the makings of a great NFL coach but there's just too many questions on the roster from the subpar pass rush to the talent of on the offensive side of the ball outside of Frank Gore for me to make the pick.
24. Miami Dolphins- Joey Porter is not afraid of the Miami Dolphins much tougher schedule in 2009, but maybe he should be. Going from playing both of the West divisions to the South divisions means a falloff for the AFC East.
I expect Chad Pennington's noodle of an arm and the Dolphins lack of a pass rush to hurt this team and for the Dolphins to have a drop-off similar to that of the Dallas Cowboys in their second year with Bill Parcells.
26. Oakland Raiders- The Richard Seymour trade was enough to move them ahead of the Chiefs and Bills, ultimately though the potential of coaches slugging it out on the sidelines may still be more interesting than the product on the field.
27. Buffalo Bills- The return of Aaron Schoebel should boost what was virtually a nonexistent pass rush at the end of last season. The schedule is going to hurt them though much like it will with the Dolphins. With Marshawn Lynch out to start the season and an opener against the Patriots that has blow-out written all over it, we shall see how happy a camper Terrell Owens is this season.
28. Kansas City Chiefs- Seeing Tyler Thigpen's development as a QB in the second half of last season makes the trade for Matt Cassel feel unnecessary. Regardless, the Chiefs are heading in the right direction with Scott Pioli as the new GM and Todd Haley as the head coach and are a more talented team than their last season record indicates. However, the defense will prevent them from being a contender in 2009.
29. Cleveland Browns- Gone are Donte Stallworth for the year, Kellen Winslow Jr. for good, and Braylon Edwards hands left the season before. Couple that with a pitiful defense and there doesn't appear to be much of an upside for the Cleveland Browns 2009 season.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- In rebuilding mode after the departures of Jeff Garcia, Derrick Brooks and Cato June among others. Byron Leftwich looked pretty good when filling in for Ben Roethlisberger last year, I'm not buying him for a full season.
The once scary Monte Kiffin defense is a thing of a past and the Buccaneers should expect a year of looking up at fellow NFC South foes.
31. St. Louis Rams- Steven Jackson is a stud when healthy and they hired a great defensive mind as the head coach in Steve Spagnuolo, regardless this roster appears to be among the thinnest in the league.
32. Detroit Lions- Trying hard not to make an 0-16 joke...Trying really hard...Ah, let's just move on.
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