The NFL offseason. The time when every fan starts to feel the hunger for their team’s first game of the season. When every fan has butterflies in their stomach, thinking this could finally be their year.
Every time that the preseason comes around, the NFL Power Rankings are sure to follow shortly behind. Some teams are placed too high, some too low. Some are ranked because of past laurels, while others are ranked purely on potential.
As is always the case, there are some teams that should be ranked higher than they are, and others who are overrated considering their current team makeup. This list will take a look at some of the teams who are getting just a little too much hype this preseason from ESPN.
The Saints have been one of the strongest teams over the last few seasons, but I think it is time that the Saints take a step backwards. New Orleans always seems to find the injury bug in their backfield and at the wide receiver position, and I think this season will bring more of the same.
Drew Brees took a step back last season, throwing an alarming 22 interceptions in 2010. I think a lot of his problems will continue because of injuries in the receiving core, seen already through the knee injury to top wideout Marques Colston. Combine this with the fact that they now have a backfield with undersized Darren Sproles, rookie Mark Ingram, and many other injury-prone backs, and it is the recipe for a long season for the Saints offense.
Although the defense looked very solid in the first preseason game, once the season starts it will be a different story. With the loss of players like Randall Gay, Anthony Hargrove and Jimmy Wilkerson, the defense will struggle for continuity. Although I do not think the Saints will be the fourth-best team in the league, they should still be a top-10 team, probably ending up somewhere around No. 8 or 9.
There are a few reasons why I consider the Colts overrated, but there is one obvious question mark leading me to this conclusion: the health of Peyton Manning.
Manning is still not healthy, and will most likely see no action in the preseason. This allows Colts fan to see what life without Peyton is like, and if the first preseason game is any indication, it is not a pretty life.
I think Manning will take a few weeks to get back into the swing of things and be as effective as his pre-surgery self. I am also a little cautious because this is not Manning’s first neck surgery, so he could end up with more problems as the season progresses.
With a healthy Manning, the Colts could finish around the No. 8 position, but without him look for them to finish in the NFL gutter.
This team is one of the most over-hyped teams ever since their Super Bowl victory. Eli Manning is a mid-level quarterback who has trouble being a strong leader on his team. He seems to be on the quiet side and does not command respect like almost every elite quarterback does.
They lost the likes of Steve Smith, who was a very reliable option for them last season. They also had to make some big-name cuts to get under the salary cap, especially on the offensive line.
The other main problems for the Giants stem from their backfield and defensive line. There has been a running back controversy since early last season, resulting in poor numbers for Brandon Jacobs and uncertainty between he and Ahmad Bradshaw in regards to their roles on the team.
On the defensive line, the real problem is Osi Umenyiora’s contract. He has finally reported to camp, but everyone inside and out of the Giants organization knows he either wants a new contract or to be dealt. I think this is a dispute that will drag on throughout the season until he is eventually dealt.
I see the Giants finishing second in their division, and somewhere around No. 18 in the overall power rankings.
The Dallas Cowboys are another team that is overrated year in and year out, and I see another disappointing season in the Lone Star state. As is the case with many NFL teams, the boys in blue will live and die by their inconsistent quarterback Tony Romo.
I have never really been a fan of Romo, and with his injury history, unorthodox motion, up-and-down style of play, and problems in the last few seasons, this year seems like it will be another let down. To me, Romo is a player who can throw a 75-yard bullet down the sidelines on one play, and the next try to throw the ball away and have it land in in the lap of a defender. He is a high-risk, high-reward player, and I do not think that bodes well for Dallas.
The Cowboys also struggled a lot last season, and did not do much to get better. They did play better under the direction of Jason Garrett, and the addition of Bob Ryan will help the boys, but I still do not think that they did enough in the offseason to be ranked as the No. 16 team.
With the losses of some big names, including Roy Williams, Marion Barber, and Marc Colombo, I see the Cowboys taking yet another step back this season and ending up with an overall power ranking in the low- to mid-20s.
The Seahawks' problems will be rooted in the moves they made in free agency, mainly around Tavaris Jackson.
If anyone watched the Seahawks' first preseason game, they know exactly why I am concerned about Seattle's signal caller. He looked lost on the field and spent more time making bad decisions or on the turf than anything else. There is a reason that the Vikings brought in Brett Favre to replace Jackson, and the Seahawks will soon realize they should have done more to try to keep Matt Hasselbeck rather than going in another direction.
The Seahawks did make the playoffs last year (even though they had a losing record) and were able to pull off an improbable upset over the New Orleans Saints, but I do not see this year bringing a repeat performance.
The division they play in is also much improved this year. The Cardinals brought in Kevin Kolb, the Rams will be better with Sam Bradford getting another season under his belt, and San Francisco is bound to be better this year with a new head coach.
Although the Hawks did a great job upgrading their skill positions in the last year, especially with Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Leon Washington, and Marshawn Lynch, they still need more help in the trenches and at the quarterback position. No playoffs are in sight for Seattle this year, and I see them sliding in the power rankings to the lower- or mid-20s.