Every week, we will rank the top 12 teams in the league. (Let's face it: only 12 make the playoffs.) We’ll compare to ESPN’s rankings, and let's discuss!
mySteelerNation – (ESPN)
I will stand by rating the Packers and Steelers No. 1 and 2 in the rankings for now.
In fact the Packers have a chance at really dominating this year. Last year, they had over 16 players on IR and still won the Super Bowl, making them a clear favorite for 2011-12. No major losses at skill positions has to increase their chances as well.
Pittsburgh holds on to the No. 2 ranking because, well, they haven’t lost anyone significant and drafted really well. Plus, the lockout and shorter offseason favored teams that didn’t have major changes from top to bottom.
The Steelers have a strong front office and a very strong locker-room presence, starting at the top with Tomlin. Locker-room stalwarts like Farrior, Polamalu and Ward help stabilize a roster that could have turned upside-down with all the turmoil this offseason.
It would be foolish not the rate the Patriots No. 3 on this list. They would be higher if they could beat the Jets, but that's a whole other story. As long as Tom Brady is at the helm and Bill Bellicheck is the coach, they will always have a shot at a big year.
I don’t agree with some of the additions they have made, namely Albert Haynesworth, but I do think Chad Ochocinco could give them a different dimension.
The Falcons come in at No. 4 due to the fact that they went out and drafted a big-time WR in Julio Jones to compliment Matty Ice and Roddy White. If that weren’t enough, they end up getting Ray Edwards to shore up their pass rush.
This team is dangerous and could go deep into the NFC.
My surprise pick to round out the top five is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Yes, I said it.
With a very solid young QB in Josh Freeman and a pair of WRs with sticky hands, they’ve finally added an offense that can compete with their defense. LeGarrette Blount really turned it on once he was given an opportunity; look for him to turn in a solid year.
With Talib, Geno Hayes, and Rhonde Barber coming back, its hard to ignore this team.
I have the Eagles at No. 10 because I really don’t think all their moves will jell early on. It will take them a while to play well.
The Texans are in at No. 12 because I really feel as though they will finally step it up and put everything together. With Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Arian Foster, the offense has tons of scoring potential. The defense could step it up this year and make them a playoff contender.
They won’t go far, but will get in.
The AFC South—including the Colts—is weak, making this year a prime one for them to get into the playoffs.