It’s that time again. Time to take another look at the rankings for the NFL’s 32 teams as they stand for the month of June. Not a lot has happened this month as teams conduct OTAs and other workouts, and prepare for training camp next month, but a few things have happened including key injuries and some contract issues that may end up hurting some of these teams in the long run.
While free agency is over for the most part, and teams have settled on the players that they currently have on their rosters we now have some clear picture of how each team will head into training camp and who they will head into training camp with. While this doesn’t make it any easier to come up with rankings it does help give some idea of where teams stand heading into training camp at the end of next month.
So, without further delay, here is the June Power Poll as we head towards the end of the month. (Last month's rankings are in parenthesis.)
1. Indianapolis Colts —(1) The Colts may not be at number one for long if contract disputes get in the way of having some of their better players in training camp. Hopefully these issues will be resolved before late July, and the team can head into training camp with no issues and get ready for what they hope will be a repeat of their run to the Super Bowl last season.
2. New Orleans Saints —(2) The Saints may not be able to repeat as champions in the NFC next year, but they will remain one of the toughest teams in the league, and as long as they stay healthy anything is possible. They do have some issues on defense that need to be addressed but this team is still pretty much the same team that won the Super Bowl so expect big things out of them again next season.
3. Minnesota Vikings —(4) The Vikings have quietly had a decent off season and are poised for bigger and better things in 2010 providing they get Brett Favre back again this season. Favre is the big key for this team because of the lack of experience at the quarterback position that would be present if he didn’t return would be destructive. All eyes are on Favre as he makes another big decision for the Vikings and their fans.
4. Baltimore Ravens —(6) The more you look at the Ravens the more you realize that they may indeed be the best team in the AFC when it’s all said and done. They have the defense, and that has always been there, but their offense hasn’t been that good until now. With the additions that they have made on offense it promises to be a good year for the Ravens and it just may include a trip to the Super Bowl when it’s all said and done.
5. Green Bay Packers —(5) If the Vikings don’t get Brett Favre back then it’s possible that the Packers could end up being the best team in the NFC and may end up representing the conference in the Super Bowl next year. They have done a lot to improve themselves and were just a few pieces away from becoming the top team in the NFC, so if they have fixed those issues this team could climb to the top of the mountain and be very good this comings season.
6. New York Jets —(3) The Jets are a team that came out of nowhere last season to come within one game of going to the Super Bowl, and so far their offseason has only gotten this team better. So, it’s possible that they could get to the next level as long as they keep what they had last year going and improve in those areas that need improvement. They could end up being one of the more exciting teams to watch this coming season as well.
7. Dallas Cowboys —(7) This team has so much talent that it’s hard to believe that they won’t be able to do something good in 2010, but we have seen, time and again, the Cowboys consistently underachieve. Will this finally be the year that they make the Super Bowl? What will happen if they don’t? Time will tell.
8. San Diego Chargers —(8) The Chargers traditionally make the playoffs year in and year out but they just can’t go the extra step and make it to the Super Bowl. Will this finally be the year that head coach Norv Turner and his Chargers get to the big game? Or with all of the new faces and turnover on this team, will they take a step back this season? What will happen to Turner’s job if they do?
9. Atlanta Falcons —(10) The Falcons are fully healed and ready to go this season, and barring any injuries during training camp or early in the season, they are the most capable team in their division to overtake the Saints. With a solid running game and additional talent on defense, this team should be able to turn things around and make another run at the playoffs in 2010.
10. New England Patriots —(9) One of the biggest questions for the Patriots this year will be just how well their defense will do. The unit has slowly been on the decline for the past couple of years and unless they get a lot out of some of their latest acquisitions (which they seem to be missing out on lately) then they will probably not win the division in 2010 and may not even make the playoffs.
11. Houston Texans —(13) The Texans have much more talent than a lot of people give them credit for, and if they can put this talent to good use this season then they should easily be playoff bound. Don’t forget that they had the best passing offense in the NFL last season, and as long as key players at key positions can stay healthy (namely Matt Schaub) then this team could finally reach the playoffs.
12. Tennessee Titans —(11) Not knowing what may happen to Vince Young has made it hard to predict what will happen with the Titans this season. They do have a capable but aging backup in Kerry Collins and a great running attack, but what can they do without Young? Also, how will their defense take the loss of Kyle Vandenbosch? This is a team in transition and they could fall before they get back up.
13. Miami Dolphins —(12) The Dolphins have made moves this offseason to help fill some holes on the team, and they haven’t done that bad. Getting former Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall was excellent for their passing game and with some additions on defense, the Dolphins could easily contend for the playoffs once again this season.
14. New York Giants —(14) The Giants are a team that could go either way this season, up or down. Their defense needed a lot of help after failing them in 2009 and with some help brought in through the draft, along with some of their injured players healing, they should be much better than they were last year. The offense needs to be more productive as well, and with their up-and-coming wide receivers, things could get much better.
15. Chicago Bears —(15) The Bears have to be one of the most scrutinized teams in the NFL. One half of the media says they won’t do anything and will fail with quarterback Jay Cutler running new offensive coordinator Mike Martz's offense, while the other half feel that the Bears are legitimate playoff contenders. Expect the Bears to be much better than they were in 2009, with the possibility of a playoff berth a serious reality.
16. Cincinnati Bengals —(17) The Bengals looked pretty bad at the end of last season last and in the playoffs. Hopes are high that they will be able to fix those problems and make the playoffs once again in 2010. Their defense should be better with Antwaan Odom back and healthy, so expect some big things out of Cincinnati in 2010.
17. San Francisco 49ers —(16) The 49ers are hoping that Alex Smith, a former number one pick overall in the draft, will be able to shed his “bust” label and lead them to the playoffs. Getting to the playoffs should be easier for the 49ers this season thanks to rebuilding projects taking place in both Seattle and St. Louis, along with the retirement of Kurt Warner setting the Cardinals back a bit. It’s prime time for the 49ers to take advantage.
18. Philadelphia Eagles —(18) A new quarterback, one that hasn’t started too many games, takes over for Donavan McNabb, and the Eagles will begin again. Just how far back this puts the Eagles we do not yet know. But this team won’t be making the playoffs in 2010, especially if their new quarterback gets off to a rocky start. This is going to be an interesting team to watch next season.
19. Denver Broncos —(19) The Broncos are going to be one of the most watched teams during training camp thanks to some of the moves that they have made to help improve themselves. Their biggest attraction, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, may not start or even play that much right away, but he’s a hit and the team thinks that they have a winner with him. Trading away Brandon Marshall was a possible mistake, but the Broncos will find out what they have left at the wide receiver position early. Will it be a long season in Denver? We will soon find out.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers —(21) Without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as the starter to begin the season, it’s possible this team could lose every game it plays to start, leaving them with not only have an uphill battle when he returns, but most likely missing the playoffs. In order to get through this, the Steelers need to get their defense working and working well. This means that they need all their players healthy and ready to go throughout the season, especially early in the season.
21. Arizona Cardinals —(22) The Cardinals, now featuring Matt Leinart as their quarterback, will take several steps back this season and may relinquish their hold on the division to the San Francisco 49ers. Not only will the loss of Kurt Warner hurt the Cardinals, but the hit taken by the loss of Karlos Dansby will also hurt the defense. This team will probably be in a rebuilding phase for a season or two.
22. Detroit Lions —(20) Yes, the Lions should be much better in 2010, but they won’t be that much better. It still may take another season to get all of the pieces in place, but this team has already helped themselves out a lot on defense, and has gotten some important pieces to the puzzle on offense, so look for the Lions to be much improved and win at least four or five games in 2010.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars —(23) The Jaguars are in a lot of trouble this year not only because they have failed to address some critical holes in their team, but also because they may continue to fail to put fans in the seats, which could prompt a change in location. They still don’t have a top-end wide receiver, and they still have some holes on defense. It could be a long season for the guys in Jacksonville.
24. Carolina Panthers —(25) Some people are predicting that the Panthers are going to take the division this year (away from the Saints) after seeing them finish strong last season. However, there is one huge problem and that’s at quarterback where, despite the fact he wasn’t playing that well anyway, Jake Delhomme is gone and now the Panthers must rely on someone who doesn’t have near the experience (Matt Moore). Couple that with the fact that their new quarterback won’t have their best wide receiver until the start of the season (Steve Smith) it could be a rough start for Carolina.
25. Seattle Seahawks —(24) The Seahawks had a very good offseason in terms of acquiring players both through the draft and through free agency (or trades) and now appear poised to start improving the team in the 2010 season. While they may not make the playoffs this coming season, the Seahawks will have a good start and with a few more pieces added they could become contenders once again in the NFC.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers —(27) The Bucs are well on their way to getting back to being a respectable opponent after making some good moves this offseason. Drafting defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is going to pay this team dividends in the future, and he may end up being one of the best players to come out of the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. They are definitely headed in the right direction, but probably won’t contend until 2011.
27. Washington Redskins —(28) The Redskins have done a lot of work this offseason to make themselves better. They brought in a new coach, a new quarterback, some decent free agents, and drafted a key player at a key position and now appear to at least have the pieces to start putting something together in Washington. New head coach Mike Shanahan is good but not quite that good, and so we will have to wait a year or two before this team becomes a serious contender.
28. Oakland Raiders —(29) The Raiders had a decent offseason and a pretty good draft, and look like a team that has finally gotten serious about winning football games. Gone is their multi-million-dollar mistake at the quarterback position and things are looking up on defense. Now, can they put it all together and turn this franchise around? Perhaps not this year but you can bet that they will be contending in 2011.
29. Buffalo Bills —(26) Anyone need a quarterback? The Bills do. We will find out just how bad their quarterback situation is early and often this season, and hopefully, after not drafting one this year, they will be hurting for one next year. The defense, missing its defensive coordinator from 2009, Perry Fewell, may not be as good as it was, and the offensive line is still a question mark. Is it a rebuilding year for the Bills? It’s probably a tearing down year instead.
30. Cleveland Browns —(31) The Browns ended the 2009 season on a high note and hope to have that same momentum heading into the 2010 season. They no longer have Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn at the quarterback position opting to add Seneca Wallace, Jake Delhomme, and Colt McCoy. That should make things interesting in Cleveland. It’s going to be a rebuilding year and their head coach should get a pass for not making the playoffs again this season.
31. Kansas City Chiefs —(30) Fans would love to see some movement upwards with the Chiefs this year so hopefully Kansas City and start putting things together and get on the right track to winning. They have a lot of young players on the team and should now be set to start making things much better for their fans. If they fall flat on their face again this year, there could be wholesale changes on the team in 2011.
32. St. Louis Rams —(32) It’s going to take a lot of work to get this team back to respectability, but at least they have had some positive things happen to them during the offseason. Quarterback Sam Bradford isn’t going to be a stud in his first year, but he’s going to develop into a great one at some point. The defense still needs a ton of work as well and won’t get much better in 2010. It’s going to be another rebuilding year in St. Louis.