NFL Power Rankings: Teams That Won't Live Up to Early Hype in Season Opener

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 11:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys is sacked in the New York Giants end zone by  Jason Pierre-Paul #90 of the New York Giants for a safety at Cowboys Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Hype can be a dangerous thing.

Too much hype can lead to unrealistic expectations being placed on a team, expectations that destine them for failure in the eyes of their fans and media when they fail to reach those lofty goals.

But that doesn't stop us from hyping up teams based on what we see on paper. These expectations rarely come from preseason action, where we see very little of a team's starting unit on either side of the ball—certainly not enough to make an informed decision about their merits on the field.

So it's that piece of paper that really gives fans, the media and sometimes the team itself a false sense of security, believing that they are as good as people say they are.

Like Chuck D and Public Enemy said: "Don't Believe the Hype."

Let's take a look at which teams are poised to be the biggest disappointments in Week 1.

3. Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil isn't confident in his team's ability to emerge as Super Bowl champions this season. He's certain of it, taking out a full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer back in July echoing those sentiments.

With Cam Newton under center, it's understandable why Kalil feels that way, and many prognosticators believe the Panthers are a team destined for big things in 2012. A victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to open the season is a foregone conclusion.

But Newton doesn't play defense, and therein lies the issues for the Panthers.

Against the Buccaneers, Carolina's linebackers will need to be quick to plug the holes that running back LeGarrette Blount will look to burst through—something that is easier said than done.

With Jon Beason already dealing with injuries and the uncertain future of Thomas Davis' surgically repaired right knee—no player has ever successfully come back from three torn ACLs before—rookie Luke Kuechly could bear the burden of keeping Tampa's backs from reaching the Carolina secondary.

Speaking of the secondary, only Chris Gamble is a sure thing. The rest of the group have promise but are either unproven rookies or players who took a step backwards in their development last season. Josh Freeman is sure to look to exploit that group, especially with the explosive Vincent Jackson now one of his weapons on the outside.

Carolina might leave Tampa Bay victorious, but it won't be in impressive fashion, providing far more questions than answers as to how Carolina's 2012 season will play out.

2. New York Jets

Forget the fact that the team only scored one touchdown in the preseason—like I said in the beginning, I don't put much stock into preseason statistics.

The New York Jets, as is par-for-the-course under Rex Ryan, will once again have a formidable defensive unit, one led by All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis.

But they are a mess offensively. Santonio Holmes is the only real weapon that quarterback Mark Sanchez has at his disposal.

Dustin Keller is a solid tight end, but his ability to break off big plays in the mold of Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez is grossly overstated.

Shonn Greene has never shown the ability to be an every-down back, and whether their offensive line can open holes for him to run through remains to be seen. The argument could be made that Tim Tebow, is in fact, the best running back on the roster.

With an improved Buffalo Bills defense led by Mario Williams and an explosive weapon out of the backfield in Fred Jackson, this has all the makings of a trap game for the Jets to start the 2012 season.

Expect Sanchez to be hit early and often and the Bills to win the turnover battle, forcing Ryan and company back to the drawing board in Week 2

1. Dallas Cowboys

Every season we hear about how the Dallas Cowboys are poised to take control of the NFC East, and every year they fall short.

Going up against the defending Super Bowl champions on Wednesday night, the Cowboys will look to get off to a fast start against a team that has only one of its expected starters at corner on the field.

With a healthy Dez Bryant and Miles Austin at his disposal, Tony Romo will look to exploit the Giants secondary early and often. And he might succeed. But he'll do so while paying a price, as the Giants' formidable pass rush will hit him early and often.

That's not to say that Dallas won't get to Eli Manning because DeMarcus Ware is a force of nature and simply not stoppable by one man alone.

But the Giants will disrupt Romo's game far more than Dallas will disrupt Manning's, and that will lead to a disappointing start to the Cowboys' season and another blow to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' ego.

Week 1 Power Rankings

1. Green Bay Packers

2. New England Patriots

3. New York Giants

4. San Francisco 49ers

5. Baltimore Ravens

6. Houston Texans

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

8. Atlanta Falcons

9. Philadelphia Eagles

10. Chicago Bears

11. New Orleans Saints

12. Detroit Lions

13. Dallas Cowboys

14. Denver Broncos

15. San Diego Chargers

16. Kansas City Chiefs

17. Cincinnati Bengals

18. Buffalo Bills

19. Tennessee Titans

20. New York Jets

21. Seattle Seahawks

22. Carolina Panthers

23. Washington Redskins

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

25. Arizona Cardinals

26. Oakland Raiders

27. Miami Dolphins

28. St. Louis Rams

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

30. Minnesota Vikings

31. Indianapolis Colts

32. Cleveland Browns


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