See that big, chubby, jolly guy to the left? Ya, that guy has done a thing or two to contribute to the league we all know and love.
Sure, we all admired and adored him as a coach and NFL broadcaster. But we will all remember him in the long run as the man who's last name graces the cover of Madden each and every year.
He is literally a household name. Walk into any house and you'll likely find at least a dusty copy of Madden stored in the back of the closet.
Every year a fresh new game of Madden comes out around the middle of August. The game always has new features and stupid upgrades like new goalposts, but the primary reason for getting the new Madden game for some people is the roster updates and team overall updates.
Every once in a while during the season EA Sports will update the roster. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know the season ended last Sunday. So after one last update the Madden team ratings are final until next years Madden comes out.
After this last update, let's see what EA Sports and the Madden Franchise thought the top 32 teams should be starting with...
*All 32 NFL Teams are rated on a scale of 0 to 99.
*In the event of a tie I personally choose who should be higher or lower than the other.
I think we can all agree 100% that the Panthers "deserve" to be number 32 on this list. They were last place by a considerable margin.
The second worst record in the NFC won 3 more games than the Carolina Panthers. That being the Carolina Panthers. The rest of the teams in the NFC had at least 4 more wins.
On paper, the Bills flat out sucked. And in a way, they did. But dig deeper, and not is all as bad as it seems.
Sure, they only won 4 games, but over half their losses were by a touchdown or less. Sure the Bills got blown out of the water some games, but for the most part they played competitive football.
Without a doubt one of the best 4-12 teams ever, and they have a nice core to work with led by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
How the might have fallen.
The Cardinals went from an average of 89 to 92 after their Super Bowl 43 run... to the 3rd worst team in Madden 11. Not really surprising though.
Everything went down hill after they lost Kurt Warner. They still don't know who their quarterback should be and their star wide-receiver Larry Fitzgerald is not happy. A recipe for disaster anyway you look at it.
Not even Tim Tebow could spice up the Broncos, often considered one of the most boring teams in the NFL. The supposed "savior" of the Broncos showed flashes of greatness, but it wasn't enough to get the Broncos out of the top 5 worst teams.
It doesn't really help when the best linebacker on the team goes down before the season begins, and your 2 best defensive backs are above the age of 36.
With the old age on the defense, the loss of Brandon Marshall, and the projected slow-development of Tim Tebow, it's tough to say that Denver will be a contender anytime soon.
The Cincinnati Bengals were smoke and mirrors from the start.
Not looking from an entertainment standpoint. The combination of Chad OchoCinco and Terrel Owens wasn't going to work out in the long run. And it didn't. They averaged only 69 catches each and neither had 1000 receiving yards.
Carson Palmer isn't getting any younger and the defense won't be a team strength for at least the next 3 or 4 years.
Last year, the Lions did something that was statistically impossible.
They went from 0-16 to 2-14. I know, in reality that's a possible feat. But mathematically, the leap from 0-16 to 1-15 is so drastic, so huge, that it was literally impossible to measure in percentage.
Either way, the Lions are slowly advancing in the rankings of NFL teams, a 6 game improvement over 2 years is defenitely a good way to start. Now if only they could keep that kid Matthew Stafford healthy for a full season...
Sure, they may have had a worst record than the Detroit Lions, but the Browns have so much going for them in the immediate future.
The Browns have a young core on the offensive side of the ball in QB Colt McCoy, RB Peyton Hillis, LT Joe Thomas, and WR/KR Joshua Cribbs. Defensively their still developing, but their potential on offense alone pushes them over the Lions.
It seems like every year is "the year" for the 49ers. The year where they come out of their cacoon and blossom into one of the league's finest.
Put that year on hold for at least the next couple seasons. The 49ers have failed to live up to hype for yet another year, and their not showing much promise either. Alex Smith has proven time and time again that he just isn't the one. And for that matter neither has Troy Smith.
Frank Gore is running out of good years, and Patrick Willis is ready to lead a solid defense if given a chance by his offense, which isn't going to happen next year.
It's pretty sad to think that the St. Louis Rams had was in it till the final week of the season despite finishing with a 7-9 record.
The St. Louis Rams showed plenty of potential to be a contender, maybe not next year, but in a few years. The time to compete is now though.
Star running back Steven Jackson only has a couple good seasons left at the ripe age of 28. The Rams can't afford to burn up 2 years developing. By that time Steven Jackson will be long past his prime and the Rams will be back in stage 1 trying to find a quality running back.
The Vikings had quite possible the worst season of any sport in 2010. From the failure to meet hype, to the Brett Favre games, to the Metrodome collapsing, just nothing seemed to go in the Vikings favor.
If it wasn't clear before, it's clear now that Tavaris Jackson just isn't going to be leading the Vikings forth in the future. Who will be quarterback is still up for grabs.
On paper the Vikings look so talented on offense that you'd think they'd be able to win a couple games by ACCIDENT or something, but the Vikings just seemed to have the worst of luck last year.
Of all the things that went horrible wrong during the Redskins 2010 campaign, they at least know who their quarterbacks going to be going forward. That man is Donovan McNabb, who inked a 5-year 78.5 million dollar contract during the year.
Aside from that, nothing really went right, the talent and the veteran leadership is there, but the Redskins have to avoid injuries and make everything click in order to reach the post-season for the first time since 2007 when they lost to the Seahawks in the Wild-card round.
The Cowboys, like the Vikings, had a very dissapointing season as well. Some people thought that the Cowboys could be the first team to play the super bowl in their home stadium.
Well obviously that didn't happen.
The Cowboys finisheed 6-10, but that was like number 27 on their list of things to worry about. Their were other more important things like whether or not Tony Romo can return from his collarbone injury, or whether or not Jason Garrett can win like he did last year.
Stay tuned as these questions as well as others will be answered in another exciting episode of "America's Team".
What state would the Titans franchise be in without Chris Johnson? After such a promising start from Vince Young, things melted down rather quickly. The firing of Jeff Fisher doesn't help much either.
Chris Johnson plays like superman's cousin. But like all great players, he can wear down. The Titans need to find a quarterback that can lead the team in the future and they must find one fast. And no, Kerry Collins doesn't count.
The Texans have used up the "expansion" excuse. The Texans have been in the league for almost a decade now. It's time to get the job done.
The Texans are led by a young core in Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Matt Schuab, Brian Cushings, and Mario Williams. It's not like the talents not there. But it seems like the Texans are 1 or 2 more play-makers away on defense from being a serious playoff contender.
That and a little bit of luck.
Breaking news guys, Al Davis has been dead for about 20 years now, they just bandage him up and put him on strings, boom, he's a walking, talking zombie.
The Raiders had a .500 record for the first time in what seems like forever. The offense was 6th in points scored, despite still being at a lost on who their quarterback is. Part of the reason was because of their depth at running, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush combine for a very nice 1-2 punch.
Right when it seems like the Raiders are ready to contend, some guy named Nnamdi Asmomugha leaves. Oh well, shouldn't make that much a difference.
The first in the 80's. I honestly believe they Jaguars still would've been a 70's OVR team had it not been for that out-of-this-world catch by Mike Walker. I could watch that all day.
The Jaguars finished 8-8. But had it not been for that miracle catch, the Jaguars would've lost 5 of their last 6 games.
But the miracle catch did happen, so the team is 80 OVR, and they didn't lost 5 of their last 6 games.
It's almost a crime that the Buccaneers didn't make the playoffs at a very worth 10-6 record.
Josh Freeman showed that he can be "The Man" in Tampa Bay for the next decade or so. He can thank 4th round pick rookie Mike Williams for 65 of those receptions. Williams is a guy that can be Freeman's true no. 1 for a long time.
Rodne Barber will continue to be the face of the Buccaneers franchise till he retires. Despite the Buccaneers youth movement on defense, he has stuck around.
The Dolphins are one of those teams that are kind of just chilling in the middle. There not going to go backwards anytime soon, but there also not sure whether or not they want to take that next step to elite status in the NFL.
The dolphins intend on bringing back Chad Henne despite a dissapointing 2010 campaign. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall definetely lived up to hype with his 86 receptions and 1000 receiving yards.
If the Dolphins want to win with Ronnie Brown, they'd better hurry up. He is currently 29 and has already shown signs of decline. He only averaged 3.7 yards-per-carry last year.
Had Seattle lost to the New Orleans, like they were supposed to, they would've been for sure in the mid-70s. But they beat them, and that 1 game bumped them up a whole lot of points.
It's strange how the Seahawks were able to win their division and make it to the divisional round. They have no identity on both sides of the ball. It's simply a bunch of rejects that got together and said, "you know what, we're going to beat the Saints, and ain't nobody going to stop us!"
Had Marshawn Lynch not had that "beast mode" run, he would've been just another mediocre running back rotting in the northwest.
The Kansas City Chiefs were one of the big surprises of 2010. Kansas City won the NFC West over the Chargers. Even though they had a miserable performance in the playoffs, the Chiefs were more than happy with how their season turned out.
While Matt Cassel had a less than stellar performance in the regular season and playoffs. There were several other hurrahs throughout the team.
Eric Berry quickly became on of the top safeties in the league, while young Jamaal Charles ranked 5th in the league in rushing yards. The Chiefs starting offensive line men from right-guard to left-tackle only missed 2 combined starts.
To be honest I'm surprised they gave the Chargers this high of a rating considering they didn't even make the playoffs.
At the beginning of the season I had Ryan Matthews as my top running back sleeper. Boy did that pick blow. He only started 9 games while rushing for a dismal 678 yards.
Philip Rivers and co. had an outstanding season, ranking 2nd in overall offense. They'll have to keep that pace up. Because the defense isn't going to give them any breathing room.
About half-way through the year, Eli Manning and the Giants were looking like the best team in the NFC. They stayed consistently at the top, however fell just short of a wild-card spot, finishing the year 10-6.
The talent's there, they just need a bit of luck; not that ugly Matt Dodge punt to Desean Jackson that netted them a loss.
It's tough to say whether or not the Giants will be competitive next year. However we can say this, they are no longer the best team in New York.
We are now entering the top 10, these 10 teams are pretty much the elite class of the NFL. and we start with the Philadelphia Eagles.
After the Eagles Monday Night routing of the Washington Redskins, in which they scored 30 points in the first quarter, Michael Vick was considered the front-runner for the MVP award. In fact, he looked like the most dominant quarterback in the league, but he faltered down the stretch, and lost out to Tom Brady.
Wether they have an MVP or not, the Eagles will have a very talented team that will compete next year and beyond.
Drew Brees and the golden boys of the NFL got a slap back to reality When the Hawks upset them in the wild-card round.
But does that mean the Saints are going backwards? Of course not! With the talent on the Saints roster, there's no reason why they can't compete in 2011 and beyond, if Drew Brees can stay healthy and not decline, they could very well do it all again.
But that doesn't take away the fact that the Saints are NOT Super Bowl Champions anymore. And they are just like 30 other NFL teams right now. Trying to put out the best product possible to win a championship.
You can rant on the Bears and Jay Cutler all day if you want, the reality is that they were 1 Carolina win from being the no. 1 seed and one step from going to the Super Bowl.
But if the Bears are interested in returning to the NFC Championship, then they need to have a very good off-season. Like upgrading an aging defense and maybe finding a quality no. 2 or 3. receiver for Cutler.
The stars need to be aligned just right for the Bears to make a Super Bowl run this year.
If the Colts can pull the right string next year, they could see themselves playing the Super Bowl in front of their hometown fans, seeing as Indy is hosting the big game next year.
But in order to accomplish that, Peyton Manning can't afford to give off another pathedic playoff performance. He only has so many playoff appearances left before he has to hang it up.
Manning's offense could use a little help from the defense. A defense that ranked 23rd overall last year. I know how the old saying goes, "defense wins championships", but it's true, and Manning needs one if he wants to get that 2nd ring to solidify his career.
The defense is getting up there in age, but it remains one of the elite defenses in the league. The core will stick for another season with Ray Lewis, Terrel Suggs, Haloti Gnata, and Ed Reed. All 4 are some of the biggest play-makers in the league.
The Ravens have always been known for their big D play, that all could change within the next couple of years. The Ravens bolster one of the most talented and deep receiver corps in the league. That along with a solid offensive line, Ray Rice, and Joe Flacco, your set.
The Ravens simply have an incredibly talented and deep team, they just got to click together. A super bowl could be lurking around the corner.
The Atlanta Falcons would've easily been in the top 3 had they just beaten the Packers in the divisionals to advance to the NFC Championship game. Of course that didn't happen and the rest is history.
Luckily for the Falcons, they are young, and remain in the top 3 NFC teams until further notice. They have a bright future ahead.
Last year I said that the Falcons were too afraid to make that next big leap to elite status, well they certainly accomplished that this year.
The Jets certainly aren't as talented as the Ravens or Falcons, but that doesn't matter. Cause they got to their conference championship, and the other 2 teams didn't. And when it comes down to it, that's all that matters.
They have some of the best young players in the league on both sides of the ball. On any given day they can go toe to toe with any team in the league.
The Jets are for real, the days of 5-11 and 4-12 are long gone. Mark Sanchez, in my mind, is ready to take the team places it's never been.
Personally I couldn't believe that EA Sports thought that the Patriots were a better team than the Jets. But then I remembered they had Tom Brady and it all made sense.
Tom Brady won the 2010 league MVP award, and is pretty much the poster boy of the NFL, although Drew Brees is giving him a run for his money.
All that aside though, the Patriots look to be an elite team entering a new decade, and the era of dominance led by Tom Teriffic and Co. continues.
I am going to keep this short and simple, Ben Rapesberg- I MEAN Roethlisberger is a lock for the hall of fame. Why? Cause any quarterback that starts 3 super bowls deserves to be in the hall of fame, and he is still a young gun in the league, so expect plenty more to come.
Of course, Big Ben has to thank his surroundings. He is surrounded by some of the most talented players in the league. Like, I don't know, the Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu, and the electrifying Hines Ward.
These players as well as others will lead the Steelers to more Super Bowl appearances.
I know you all saw this one coming, heck I did too. And I know you all expect me to devote this column to Aaron Rodgers, and I will not.
The Packers Super Bowl win was a team effort, the offense didn't win this game, the defense didn't win this game, the special teams didn't win this game, the team won this game together.
"I got your back, and I know you got mind." That was the mentality entering the game. And the Packers came out a champion.
Now I'm not going to say anything poetic, I'll leave that to the poets, but I will say, until proven otherwise, the Packers are the best team in football.
You can hate on EA Sports and the Madden franchise all day, but the truth is that their top 32 teams are normally about right, with the hiccup here or there. Of course, you guys love disagreeing, so what do you guys think?
I am going to end the same way I began:
To John, we salute you!