The start of NFL training camp is just around the corner, and teams are getting ready for what promises to be another exciting NFL season. Not a whole lot has changed since our last power poll, except for little movement in signing first round draft picks. Hopefully, teams will be able to get these guys into camp on time and get them fitted into their new teams.
The following is a look at the rankings for all 32 NFL teams heading into training camp at the end of the month. As you can see, there hasn’t been a lot of movement, thanks to the inactivity that has been going on for the past few weeks.
1. Indianapolis Colts-(1) The Colts don’t move from the top spot in this month’s poll and remain the team to beat in the NFL. As long as they get all of their players in camp and happy, they shouldn’t have too much of a problem getting back to the playoffs. But the real question remains, can they win the big game?
2. New Orleans Saints-(2) The Saints remain the team to beat in the NFC for now, and remain pretty much the same team that went to and won the Super Bowl last season. If this team can fix some of the holes that they had at the end of last season and not suffer from the usual “Super Bowl Hangover,” they could quite possibly repeat as NFC Champions. Could we be seeing the start of a dynasty in the Big Easy?
3. Minnesota Vikings-(3) The biggest question of the offseason remains just that, a question. As of this writing, the Vikings are still waiting to see if quarterback Brett Favre is going to return for at least one more season in purple. If he doesn’t, then this could set the Vikings back a little bit in their quest to make the Super Bowl. However, Favre appears poised to be back again in 2010 and could help lead this team to the promised land.
4. Baltimore Ravens-(4) Quite honestly, the Ravens are really looking like one of the better teams in the AFC, and when it’s all said and done, they could end up being the best team in that division. Health is going to be a big factor for this team in 2010, especially the health of their quarterback Joe Flacco, who suffered from numerous ailments in 2009 but managed to play through them. With a stud receiver like Anquan Boldin in the mix, a healthy Flacco should be able to do wonders for the Ravens.
5. Green Bay Packers-(5) The Packers still sit at number five and still look like they could be the team to beat in the NFC North if the Vikings don’t get Favre back, but there are some budding problems here that could bring them down a notch or two. The offensive line is still a little bit shaky, and age in the secondary could end up hurting them. Health is going to be a huge factor for this team next season as one critical injury (especially on the offensive line) could send them spiraling.
6. Dallas Cowboys-(7) The Cowboys move up a spot as we realize that this team is definitely much more talented than most on both sides of the ball. A huge key to their success in 2010 will be the development of rookie Dez Bryant, who could have a major impact on the team this season. The defense remains pretty much the same, and will be one of the most feared pass rushing attacks in the NFL. The question now is, can they put it all together for a run at the Super Bowl again in 2010?
7. New York Jets-(6) The Jets take a step down this month due to the fact that top of the line cornerback Darrelle Revis may or may not hold out, as he desires a new contract with the team (as of this writing, it looks like he will report to camp on time, but that could change). If Revis holds out, it could make things sticky for the Jets. They have the talent to go far in the AFC, but they may not be able to get past both the Ravens and the Colts just yet. A lot of what happens to them in 2010 depends on how well they can put their offense together.
8. San Diego Chargers-(8) Will this finally be the year that the Chargers get into the Super Bowl? They certainly aren’t starting things off on the right foot. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson will miss the first part of the season with a suspension, and this takes away a huge weapon for quarterback Phillip Rivers. Will the Chargers be able to overcome this? They hope some of the new weapons they brought on board will be able to overcome the loss of Jackson (as well as former running back LaDainian Tomlinson).
9. New England Patriots-(10) New England moves up a spot, but only because others below them have faltered. The Patriots have a lot of work to do during training camp, such as shoring up the running back position, getting their pass rush fixed, and making sure that they have depth in the secondary. This will probably be a down year for New England as they reload and get some of their younger players more acclimated to the system. However, next year, they could be right back in it for a shot at the Super Bowl.
10. Atlanta Falcons-(9) The Falcons have quietly had a decent offseason and have added some key pieces (mostly through the draft) that may help them get over some of the problems that they had last season. Having quarterback Matt Ryan healthy will be huge as well. As will making sure that running back Michael Turner will be available for all 16 games. On defense, they will get back some guys who missed time last season. So with that as an improvement, this team should do much better in 2010.
11. Houston Texans-(11) Houston has a lot more talent than a lot of people give them credit for, and this is the year that they should be able to put it all together and get into the playoffs. They do have the proverbial mountain to overcome (known as the Colts), but don’t be surprised if the two teams split their games this season. Houston has been close to beating the Colts before, and this could finally be the season that sees them do it. This is definitely an exciting team to watch.
12. Miami Dolphins-(LW 13) The Dolphins took a tumble last season after a promising 2008 in which they made the playoffs. Now they have retooled for what they think will be another run up towards the playoffs this season. If they don’t make the playoffs, serious questions could be raised about the capabilities of the coaching staff and perhaps even Bill Parcells himself. Things had better improve in Miami, or there could be changes soon.
13. New York Giants-(14) The Giants are a team in a bit of a transition right now, especially on defense. They hired former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to help bring the defense back to respectability, and he should be able to do a good job this year. The offense needs to get a lot of effort out of its wide receivers and running back Brandon Jacobs in order to be successful this season. Tom Coughlin may be worrying about his job at the end of 2010 if his team doesn’t do that well (or even make the playoffs).
14. Tennessee Titans-(12) The Titans defense may be hurting in 2010, and this may keep them from making the playoffs. They let Kyle Vandenbosch go, which will definitely hurt them, and they hope that someone will step up and pick up where he left off. Things are kind of up in the air with quarterback Vince Young at the time of this writing. He may face some punishment from the NFL for his actions this offseason.
15. Chicago Bears-(15) You can bet that the Bears will be one of the leaders in terms of passing yards this year with the new offensive that they are installing courtesy of Mike Martz. As long as everyone is on the same page, and quarterback Jay Cutler gets time to throw passes, the offense should be good. The addition of Julius Peppers will help make their defense even better, and this team could experience quite a turnaround in 2010.
16. San Francisco 49ers-(17) The 49ers are a team that can build its own destiny when it comes to the 2010 season. It’s almost assured that the Cardinals are going to take a bit of a tumble with the retirement of quarterback Kurt Warner, so the 49ers need to strike now. The key to their ability to compete will be with the development of quarterback Alex Smith. If he can turn into the quarterback that the 49ers thought that he would be when they drafted him, then this team has a very good chance at winning the NFC West and making the playoffs.
17. Cincinnati Bengals-(16) This could be a down year for the Bengals, especially with the Ravens looking like the team to beat in their division. We will see just how well their passing game comes back and how their running game looks after their star from last season, Cedric Benson, faces the punishment he is sure to get from the commissioner for an offseason incident. If he misses any time, their offense could suffer.
18. Denver Broncos-(19) Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels may be on the hot seat when the 2010 season is done, as the Broncos have not set themselves up well enough to win during the offseason. Denver will also face a tougher set of teams in the AFC West, as both Oakland and Kansas City should improve this season. They may also see that the loss of wide receiver Brandon Marshall hurts them much more than they thought. It will be an interesting year in Denver.
19. Philadelphia Eagles-(18) The Eagles really need to hope that their trade of Donavan McNabb to the Washington Redskins was the right choice. They will also hope that new quarterback Kevin Kolb is the long term answer at the position. It will also be their first season in awhile without multi-purpose running back Brian Westbrook. Will second year player LeSean McCoy be able to fill his shoes?
20. Pittsburgh Steelers-(20) The Steelers will have a tough time starting without their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. Hopefully they won’t go winless during that four game stretch he. Health will be a key factor for them on defense, as they need all of their key players healthy to make it work on that side of the ball. If you want to see just how injuries can affect a defense, look at what happened to the Steelers defense in 2009.
21. Arizona Cardinals-(21) Some people think that the Cardinals are headed back to the basement once again now that quarterback Kurt Warner has retired. Granted, they will have some problems at the quarterback position, but things may not be as bad as predicted. Getting a lot of good production out of the running game would certainly help them on offense, but their defense, which lost some key people, may hold them back as well.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars-(23) This is a make or break season for the Jaguars and their coaching staff. This team needs to produce in order to put fans in the seats and keep the team in Jacksonville. The best way to do that, of course, is to win games. A lot of experts question just how well the Jaguars did during the offseason. If they didn’t do enough, and they fail to win a lot of games this season, then they might be facing a very tough offseason next year.
23. Carolina Panthers-(24) The Panthers are going to be a little bit better off than some people are giving them credit for, but, keep in mind, they are weak at the quarterback position and don’t have a solid pass rusher to replace Julius Peppers. It’s going to be a down season for sure, but perhaps not as bad as it was last year. It will be interesting to watch how their quarterback battle develops in training camp and who comes out the winner.
24. Seattle Seahawks-(25) Seattle’s good offseason may not be enough to keep them out of the doldrums of the NFC West this year, but you can bet that they are poised for bigger and better things in the future. With new head coach Pete Carroll at the helm, this team should be much improved in 2011 and be possibly contend for the division then. Right now, it should just be a rebuilding year in Seattle.
25. Detroit Lions-(22) This is the year that the Lions will begin to rise out of the bottom of the NFC North and start to compete. They won’t get past the Bears, Packers, or Vikings, but they should win more games this season than they have in the past. A defensive minded head coach (along with the acquisitions that they have made during the past two offseasons) will make their defense that much better, and even feared, in the near future.
26. Washington Redskins-(27) The Redskins are similar to the Seahawks in that they brought in a bunch of good talent this offseason (in addition to a new head coach), but they will probably have to wait until the 2011 season to see any positive results out of their new acquisitions. However, with an experienced quarterback like Donavan McNabb throwing the ball, things could get better in a hurry. Let’s see how they do this season.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-(26) The Bucs are another team that will most likely have to wait until 2011 to be much more competitive. Their quarterback, Josh Freeman, needs another year to grow and develop in the offense, and their defense will take some time getting things together as well. Wide receiver help is needed, and they could be in the market for a new starting running back if things don’t work out. Tampa Bay still has to add a few pieces to the puzzle in order to get back to respectability, but they aren’t that far off. However, they won’t be contending for the playoffs this season.
28. Oakland Raiders-(28) The Raiders have had a decent enough offseason (and draft) and should be able to start contending in their division towards the end of this season or the first part of the next. Their draft was a good one, and they got a lot of good players in the right spots. Getting quarterback Jason Campbell from Washington was another solid move, and he should be able to help this team gain victories in 2010.
29. Kansas City Chiefs-(31) The Chiefs are a much better team than some people are giving them credit for, especially on defense, but there is one key element that could bring this whole team down; that’s their quarterback, Matt Cassell. If Cassell doesn’t get better in 2010, then this team will be right back where they were last season. Will we see a change at quarterback early on if things don’t work out? For the coach’s sake, we better. This team needs to have that element to its game if they plan to win more this season.
30. Cleveland Browns-(30) The Browns will start Jake Delhomme at quarterback next season, and after having one of his worst seasons in his NFL career, the Browns are putting a lot of faith in what may end up a big bust. It’s assured that this team will get better, especially with Mike Holmgren in the mix, but Cleveland fans may have to wait a little while before this team makes the playoffs. Hopefully it’s not too long.
31. Buffalo Bills-(29) The more you look at the Bills, the more you realize that it’s going to be a rough year for them. Buffalo doesn’t have a consistent starting quarterback and didn’t pick up a strong veteran during the offseason. So, with the current crop of quarterbacks this team has, this is going to be a long season for the Bills. Look for them to be grabbing the best quarterback available as they pick towards the top of the 2011 NFL Draft.
32. St. Louis Rams-(32) The Rams will continue to hold down the bottom of the NFL at least one more season while they continue to put things together and build a contender. Their offense still lacks big playmakers at wide receiver, and they still need to build continuity on the offensive line. The defense is also in a state of disarray and will need some work in order to get better. Look for the Rams to start to get better and, with a few more pieces, be a much better squad in 2011.