The problem with most power rankings is that once you get out of the top 10 it becomes next to impossible to distinguish who’s better than whom. I mean, how do you decide between six, fringe, playoff teams (or even worse, 10 non-playoff teams) who are all within a couple of games of each other?
I'll leave that to the experts, like Pete Prisco...
...sorry, I couldn't even type that with a straight face.
I’ll be checking in with a couple more of these before the start of the regular season, but I'm not sure of the schedule as of yet. It depends on how much the list changes between now and the regular season.
Once the regular season starts, I’ll be updating the Power 10 every Wednesday.
1 (-) Patriots 16-0
The Patriots’ signing of top pick Jerod Mayo is big—if only because I expect the rookie to get a ton of playing time in the middle with Tedy Bruschi getting a little long in the tooth. Training camp will be interesting.
If someone from that secondary doesn’t step up, it could be a long season for the back-end of the Patriots’ defense. On paper, the secondary is definitely their Achilles heel.
2 (-) Chargers 11-5
The Chargers have the Colts’ number, otherwise it would be Indy in the two spot. I have to admit, I hadn’t really put much thought into what the loss of backup running back Michael Turner would mean to LaDainian Tomlinson. His early-season workload will be something to keep an eye on.
As last year proved, if LT’s not healthy come playoff time, the Super Bowl dream ends with him sulking on the sidelines.
3 (-) Colts 13-3
Peyton Manning is going to miss the preseason after an oddly-timed surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his knee.
He should return for the season opener, but the question is whether or not he’ll have Marvin Harrison to throw the ball to. Harrison missed most of last season with injuries, and he still has some legal issues hanging over his head since one of his guns mysteriously shot someone (or something like that).
Once healthy, Manning is going to need all of his weapons if he’s going to compete with the likes of the Patriots and Chargers.
4 (-) Cowboys 13-3
I forget where I read it, but apparently Wade Phillips isn’t the only Dallas Cowboy who has a history of losing in the playoffs.
We all know what happened in Tony Romo’s first two playoff games in a Dallas uniform. What you may not know is that when he was in college, his team (Eastern Illinois) lost each of its three first-round games in the Division I-AA playoffs.
So, to recap, the Cowboys have a head coach and a starting quarterback who both consistently come up small on the biggest stage.
My guess is that Dallas isn’t exactly looking forward to January.
5 (-) Jaguars 11-5
I liked the signing of Jerry Porter. It’s easy to second-guess the move considering his lack of production and off-field issues in Oakland.
Then again, I know another WR who had issues in Oakland...and he turned out OK.
The fact that he had to undergo surgery to repair a torn hamstring and is going to miss at least the preseason makes the move look even worse, but the Jags needed offensive help.
Their offense is, at times, slow and painful. They needed a receiving threat to take some of the pressure off the running game.
The Jags might be in the top four in the AFC. The problem is they play in the same division as the third best team in the AFC.
6 (-) Giants 10-6
Talk about a lack of respect. You win the Super Bowl, and in the very first edition of the Power 10, you’re not only the second NFC team on the list, but you’re the sixth overall team.
The Giants still have an erratic quarterback, a defense that lost some key players this offseason, a head coach who’s a complete whack-job when things aren’t going well, and a star wide receiver that is unhappy with his contract situation.
But hey, at least they traded Shockey before the draft for a second and a fifth-round draft pick so they could fill some of those defensive holes this season, right?
They held out for more?
What did they end up getting?
A second next season and a fifth the season after that?
7 (-) Browns 10-6
It’s now or never for the Browns. For the first time since they returned to the NFL, they’re primed for a playoff run. They have good coaching, an explosive offense, a decent defense, and enough talent to keep the Steelers at bay.
Their lone weak spot is the quarterback position.
I’m sorry, but Derek Anderson throws too many interceptions for my liking. When you’re a borderline playoff team in a conference like the AFC, one bad interception may be the difference between playing and watching football come January.
8 (-) Steelers 10-6
I read a preview of the Steelers that claimed their unsettled ownership situation was going to effect the team and could end up costing them in what should be a close race with the Browns.
That’s complete hogwash.
Unless the checks start bouncing, the ownership situation isn’t going to impact anything. Who cares who owns the team?
9 (-) Packers 13-3
It’ll be interesting to see what the Packers get for Brett Favre.
I have no inside information, but I’m going to guess that they’ll have some type of deal worked out before Favre submits his reinstatement papers.
There’s no point in bringing him back as a backup—that would be WAY too much pressure to put on Aaron Rodgers, who’s already in a no-win situation.
It’s amazing that the Packers are fielding a team that’s favored to be one of the better teams in the NFC, yet they currently sit more than $30 million under the salary cap.
10 (-) Redskins 9-7
The Redskins leaped into the Power 10 with their tremendous trade for Jason Taylor. Taylor gives the Redskins' defense a playmaker like they haven’t had in a long time. Their defense is good enough to get them to the playoffs in a weak NFC.
Their offense, specifically their quarterback, is still a problem. But that’s a common theme in the NFC. Devin Thomas going down with a hamstring injury is an ominous beginning for an offense that has everything to prove.
Just Missed: Titans, Seahawks, Vikings
Dropped Out: Nobody
Sean Crowe is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His archive can be found here. You can find everything he writes, including articles for other publications, here.