NFL Week 0 Power Rankings: New Orleans Saints Are On Top To Begin The Year
The NFL season kicks off this week, giving me one more shot of getting out power rankings before the season starts.
With training camp completed, who are the contenders, pretenders, and the squads in the middle of the pack?
Give me your thoughts in the comment section, and or talk to me/follow me on twitter:
32. Buffalo Bills
What can we expect from the Buffalo Bills this season? Overall there isn't much to be crazy about.
CJ Spiller will provide excitement in the offense. But can the starting quarterback give opponents something to look out for?
Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick don't make me scared, especially with the weak offensive line they have.
There are some bright spots on the defense, but with a new coordinator in town, who knows how long it will take to adjust.
31. St. Louis Rams
Look, we know already that the Rams are in major rebuilding stage.
Sam Bradford has looked good the last two pre-season games, and is showing promise as the quarterback of the future.
But 2010 smells disaster. Bradford's best receiver Donnie Avery is out for the season with a torn ACL. Mark Clayton is brought in from a trade with the Ravens. But Clayton has showed his inconsistency at the pro-level.
Steven Jackson will still be great, but his talent is worthless on a crap defense.
Hate to pile on even more, but this young defense will go through more growing pains in 2010.
30. Seattle Seahawks
The last week has been the downfall for the Seahawks in the power rankings.
Letting TJ Houshmandzadeh ( leading receiver in all categories) doesn't bold well for an offense that was weak as it is.
Injury prone Matt Hasselbeck will have to rely on Golden Tate to step up big as a rookie.
On the defensive side, arguably the fastest and biggest play maker in Josh Wilson was dealt to the Baltimore Ravens.
Being thin already at the corner back spot, I am not so sure the guys they have now, other than Earl Thomas, can help right away in the early parts of the season.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I don't think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will continue the trend of the NFC South division, by going from last to first.
Tampa Bay is relying on a lot of young talent this season. Rookie receivers Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn do seem to have a lot of potential, but it will be tough to see both of them flourish with a young quarterback at the helm of Josh Freeman.
The running game has been the talk around the league, especially in fantasy leagues. This unit will need to carry the load big time if success is in the future.
As for the defense, the Gerald McCoy selection was a good one. However, the rest of the crew either consists of aging veterans, or young talent who hasn't made an impact at the Pro-Level yet.
28. Cleveland Browns
For week one, I like the Browns chances against the Buccaneers. Still, that doesn't mean a whole lot.
Jake Delhomme will have to suck it up and pave the way for the hopeful future quarterback, Colt McCoy.
I can't see Delhomme having to much success. If he struggled in Carolina, a team that had more weapons, who knows what can happen when he faces AFC North defenses.
The Browns defense has a lot of young players who need to grow quickly to make something out of their season.
They will play hard under Mangini, but I don't know if it will be enough to save his job.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
I'll give credit when it's due. The Chiefs did not look to bad in the pre-season. In fact, I predicted that the Chiefs-Chargers opener will be closer than people think.
That doesn't mean there will be growing pains. I am still not satisfied with the protection Matt Cassel is receiving.
Dwayne Bowe needs to show he is focused for a full season, and needs to play like the number one target he was drafted to be.
The defensive side has a lot of young talent, but either had a disappointing rookie campaign ( Tyson Jackson) or just hasn't lived up to the hype of their selection ( Glenn Dorsey).
The running attack of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones will be worth watching though.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars
The overall Jaguars team is under fire in 2010. It all starts at the head coaches spot. Jack Del Rio has lost control of his locker room the last few years, and is feeling the heat early on.
David Garrard is the starting quarterback right now, but doesn't seem to be a long term situation.
Mike-Sims Walker needs to continue to improve statistically to create a more balanced offense.
Speaking of that, Maurice Jones Drew probably isn't 100% from his knee injury.
More importantly, the defense is a sketchy group, especially in the secondary.
25. Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos were hit quite a bit by the injury bug in the overall off season.
No one knows how Ryan Clady will play when he returns from surgery. Pass rusher Elvis Dumervil is out the whole season, making the pass rush a huge question mark.
There is plenty of young talent in the passing game in Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Eddie Royal.
Are all three of these guys ready to make up for the loss of Brandon Marshall?
Josh McDaniels has plenty in store for us, especially with Tim Tebow. Time will only tell if Bronco Nation isn't ready to see him leave by seasons end.
24. Detroit Lions
After the off season the Lions had in 2010, they are becoming more closer to being relevant in the future.
The defensive line is such a feared front right now. Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vandenbosch are going to be tough to stop at the same time for opposing offensive lineman.
The bright spots continue to be on the offense. The shaky offensive line has improved. Tony Scheffler and Jahvid Best are going to be solid weapons for second year starter Matthew Stafford.
More importantly, Calvin Johnson may prove why he arguably may be a top five receiver in the league.
23. Carolina Panthers
This may well be John Fox's last season as Panthers coach. With that, the majority of roster are players that Fox will be viewing for the first time in a regular season game.
Losing Julius Peppers has left a gaping hole for the pass rush. Right now it seems to be a non-factor in Carolina, making the defense suffer as a whole.
On the offensive side, Matt Moore isn't going to catch defenses off guard like he did last year.
The powerful running game will keep this team competitive, especially with the uncertainty of Steve Smith, and how he will play this year coming off arm surgery.
22. Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler, come on man!
Another troublesome season for Cutler, who despite being in Mike Martz's offense has resulted in plenty of turnovers.
Couple that with a weak offensive line, and young receivers, everyone is on the hot seat for Chicago this year.
A hopeful healthy defense led by the signing of Julius Peppers is going to need to carry this team the entire year if they have a playoff run in them.
21. Washington Redskins
I don't know why everyone sees the Redskins as a playoff team. Yes, the defense is good, but we saw how they faded last season due to a struggling offense.
With no Albert Haynesworth in full gear, a set back might be in order.
Donovan McNabb enters a worse situation than he was in Philly. The offensive line is just as bad, and the weapons have weakened. The running game won't keep him save either.
I can only count on Chris Cooley and Fred Davis ( both tight ends) to bring spark to this Redskin's offensive unit.
20. Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders are geared up for the first year with the departure of JaMarcus Russell.
Overall, the offense will be the key. New starter Jason Campbell needs to show signs of improvement under another offensive system.
Receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy need to continue their strides. Combine that with a steady rushing attack of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, the offense will be the difference between a post-season birth.
19. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals gave the starting job to Derek Anderson, and that seems like the right move in the end.
Anderson brings confidence and swagger in the locker room. More importantly, he has a deep ball that will make Larry Fitzgerald, Early Doucet, and Steve Breaston happy.
It is going to come down to the defense, and whether or not they have the ability to stop any team after the key losses through free agency.
18. Philadelphia Eagles
The Kevin Kolb era has faced it's ups and downs in the pre-season so far, which is expected.
Luckily, he has two great young receivers to work with in Jeremy Maclin and Desean Jackson.
The veteran defense of the Eagles must be ready to take on a bigger load, and possibly win some games for Philly to keep playoff hopes alive this season.
17. Tennessee Titans
Many are picking the Titans as this years sleeper, with Chris Johnson being a main component of it.
Whether or not he breaks Eric Dickerson's record, at least 1600 yards should be a given for Johnson. The team also played better down the stretch with Vince Young at quarterback, who will be throwing to his young set of receivers led by Kenny Britt.
The defense has lost plenty of veterans over the past two years. We'll see if Jeff Fisher can put together a good enough of a game plan to get Tennessee back into the playoffs this year.
16. New York Giants
The Giants are considered as a playoff team in the NFC this year. The campaign will have to be led by the Giants passing offense.
Eli Manning needs to continue making strides with his young unit of receivers ( Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham).;
The running game needs to get going with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to create some balance.
Though the struggles last season was because of the defense as a whole, especially the secondary.
Only time will tell if Keith Bullock and Antrel Rolle will propel another run in the NFC.
15. Miami Dolphins
Miami is another dark horse Super Bowl contender analysts are looking out for.
Acquiring Brandon Marshall puts less pressure on the good running game. But it is going to be a determining scale as to whether or not Chad Henne can be an elite quarterback in this league.
The 'Phins are also weak in the pass rush, and some starters are battling injuries in the early part of the season.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers
I am higher on the Steelers than most people this season, thus why they are higher on my power rankings.
Dennis Dixon showed flashes last year against the Ravens of his ability to make plays in the offense.
If he can play the conservative offense and create some action with his speed, it will set up the defense to close out the victories within the first four games of the season.
I need to see Pittsburgh get back to the running game, not only for the first four games but the entire season if they can win the title for the second time in the last three years.
13. Houston Texans
I am high on the Houston Texans for the 2010 season, and right now is no different.
The biggest thing for me is the improved running attack under a new coordinator led by Arian Foster. The passing combo of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson will be even more effective with the balance.
In the end, the young defense will need to avoid the inexperience and make enough plays to mark the first playoff birth in franchise history.
12. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers not only seem a lock to win the NFC West, but can pose as a threat down the road to many of the NFC elite.
The argument is there for the 49ers having the most physical defense in football, led by Patrick Willis.
It will all come down to the offense. Alex Smith needs to give the 49ers more confidence in a contract year. Receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis need to be more focused and ready to play week in and week out.
11. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons seem playoff bound, maybe even division winners in 2010.
Matt Ryan and Michael Turner should return to form after an injury plagued '09.
Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez should be solid weapons at Ryan's disposal.
It is going to come down to the defensive side. Dunta Robinson was added to improve the corner back situation, while Sean Weatherspoon should stop run and create a bit of a pass rush.
10. Cincinnati Bengals
The Owens-Ochocinco flight is ready for liftoff!
Being the defending champion in the AFC North is tough to repeat, especially with the Ravens making off season improvements and the Steelers getting healthy.
We all know Carson Palmer has the weapons to do well. I need to see more success out of him down the stretch.
No more excuses for the Bengals. Despite facing a tough schedule, as Chad Ochocinco said, it is " Super Bowl or bust" for the black and orange.
9. San Diego Chargers
Despite the key holdouts, San Diego should win the AFC West.
How they look against the rest of the leagues elite remains to be seen. Malcolm Floyd will have his opportunity to prove to the coaching staff if he can be a number one target.
Add Antonio Gates and Darren Sproles to the offense, and the Chargers will still be effective.
For most teams, the defense is a question. Antonio Cromartie was traded, and questions loom about Shawne Merriman's impact in the defensive rotation for week one.
8. New England Patriots
Despite being lower than the Jets in the power rankings right now, I still believe they are the team to win the AFC East.
Tom Brady is still one of the elite quarterbacks in football, and has Randy Moss playing in a contract year, along with Wes Welker returning healthy.
Upgrades through the draft were made on the defensive side. Will it be enough to overcome the key injuries the unit has faced the past two months?
7. New York Jets
The return of Darrelle Revis not only brings excitement to Jets fans, but makes Monday Night's opener against the Ravens more interesting.
Reclaiming a top three defense shouldn't be a problem for Rex Ryan's unit.
In the end, it will come to down Mark Sanchez and whether or not he can make enough plays with his improved weapons.
Being that the Jets brought plenty of hype amongst themselves, it is a Super Bowl or bust for gang green.
6. Minnesota Vikings
The return of Brett Favre makes the Vikings a contender in the NFC. Having Adrian Peterson in their corner doesn't hurt Minnesota, especially when he guaranteed to improve his fumble mistakes.
I am curious though how much the Sidney Rice affect will have early on, being he was Favre's favorite target.
The offensive line isn't as feared from 2009, and the secondary is still a huge question mark for me as the upgrades were very light on that side.
5. Baltimore Ravens
General Ozzie Newsome made sure in the past week that the Ravens would be a true contender.
Signing TJ Houshmandzadeh expands the passing game, creating more options for Joe Flacco to work with.
Don't underestimate Ray Rice and the great rushing attack of the Ravens either.
Baltimore also got insurance in the secondary in acquiring Josh Wilson, arguably the best corner in Seattle.
His speed and play making ability is what the Ravens needed on the defensive side of the ball.
In fact, the biggest issue for me is the right tackle position, with the possibility of Jared Gaither and Oniel Cousins missing the game next week.
4. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are one of the many title favorites again, this time it may be for real.
Drafting Dez Bryant was adding the icing to the cake on a great passing offense with Miles Austin and Jason Witten accompanying Tony Romo.
The defense also has a great defensive front, and an improving secondary led by Mike Jenkins.
3. Green Bay Packers
The majority of " experts" out there have the Green Bay Packers representing the NFC, and for good reason.
Aaron Rodgers now has two years under his playoff belt, and the first year of playoff action in 2009.
Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, and Jermichael Finley are great weapons for any quarterback. Couple the fact with the improved offensive line, and the Packers may have the best offense in football this year.
The biggest question mark is within the secondary. Time will tell if Dom Capers can continue to work his magic with the defensive scheme.
2. Indianapolis Colts
As long as the Colts have Peyton Manning, they are a legit contender in the league.
Combine the weapons of Wayne, Clark, Garcon and Collie Manning has, it makes him even more dangerous.
The defense should continue to play solid with a healthy Bob Sanders, as they build on the success Jim Caldwell gave them.
My issue is the offensive line, which is beginning to age. Without that foundation, if teams can get to Manning, they will not win the AFC.
1. New Orleans Saints
The defending champs are number one in my power rankings. The entire offense which was dominant last year returns, led by Drew Brees.
My concern is the defensive side. Can the corner backs play as well down the stretch as they did last year? Losing Darren Sharper does hurt, but the Saints have learned to play without their Pro-Bowl free safety in the past.