Pre-Preseason Power Rankings
Its only June, but everyone wants to know where their team stands heading into the 2007 NFL season. Well, I am here to let you know how your team stacks up in comparison with all the other teams in The League. My list takes last season's performance, the draft, and all other off-season transactions into consideration. Keep in mind, these rankings will fluctuate throughout the season so don't go jumping off the Bay Bridge quite yet (Raider fans)—your team has a lot of time to improve. Then again, don't go popping the bubbly yet either; teams can fall from grace rather quickly (Steelers ring a bell?). So, here it is:
1. Indianapolis Colts-Defending Super Bowl Champs, ‘nuff said.
2. New England Patriots- Made it to the AFC title game last year and added some key players. Randy Moss was a good move but adding the do-it-all defenseman Adalius Thomas is where the Pats will get the most bang for their buck.
3. Baltimore Ravens- Losing the aforementioned Thomas hurts, but defense is still the premier unit in the NFL. Adding Willis McGahee will take pressure off their aging QB Steve McNair. Look for this team to give the Pats and Colts all they can handle in the chase for the Lamar Hunt trophy.
4. Chicago Bears- Defending NFC Champs. Assuming LB Lance Briggs plays, DT Tommie Harris stays healthy, and QB Rex Grossman learned from last season's rollercoaster ride, this team will once again represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
5. San Diego Chargers- Best RB in the NFL—check. Best TE in the NFL—check. Young, efficient QB—check. Starting the season against the Bears and Patriots might have them off to a slow start, though. If new coach Norv Turner doesn't screw things up and somehow gets the secondary to make some plays, the Chargers will be right back in the thick of things.
6. New Orleans Saints- QB Drew Brees is a proven passer (4,418 yds, 26 tds in '06) and RB/WR/KR/PR Reggie Bush showed flashes of what he's capable of doing in the near future. If defense can continue it's better than average play (13th in points allowed per game), this team has a shot at revenge against the Bears.
7. Denver Broncos- It was the best offseason, it was the worst offseason. Worst because the team saw two players meet untimely deaths (CB Darrent Williams and RB Damien Nash), the best because they cleaned up in the free agent market. CB Dre' Bly, RB Travis Henry and TE Daniel Graham will all contribute. Former Florida pass rusher Jarvis Moss will help immediately. Inexperienced QB Jay Cutler only question mark.
8. Philadelphia Eagles- QB Donovan McNabb was on his way to an MVP season before he got hurt. He'll be healthy and playing with a chip on his shoulder. RB Brian Westbrook will have another superb year and the defense might surprise people with the addition of LB Takeo Spikes. This team will be in the playoffs.
9. Dallas Cowboys- Squeaked into the playoffs in '06 but '07 depends on QB Tony Romo. He plays well, this team goes far. He doesn't, they don't. RB tandem Marion Barber and Julius Jones will be tough to stop and defensive-minded new head coach Wade Phillips will use his talented personnel wisely.
10. Cincinnati Bengals- QB Carson Palmer and WR Chad Johnson are the best big-play duo in the NFL. Off-the-field issues ruined everyone's Super Bowl pick last year but look for the opportunistic defense to put Palmer and Co. in position to put up some serious points in '07.
11. Seattle Seahawks- RB Sean Alexander is showing a little wear-and-tear but capable QB Matt Hasselbeck will get the job done. Defense is still good and head coach Mike Holmgren hates to lose. This team will hold off the Rams and 49ers for one more year in the NFC West.
12. Carolina Panthers- Disappointing '06 showing but this team is too talented not to win some games in '07. DE Julius Peppers is unblockable and WR Steve Smith is a threat to score on every touch. A consistent running game is all this team needs to get back on track.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers- A few bad breaks kept this team from making the playoffs. New head coach Mike Tomlin made Minnesota's defense a tough group and will keep the tradition alive in Pittsburgh. How long LG Alan Faneca holds out will deeply affect this team.
14. New York Jets- Made the playoffs last season against incredible odds. Acquiring RB Thomas Jones from the Bears for a 2nd round pick was a steal. Darrelle Revis, rookie CB from Pitt, will start by midseason and QB Chad Pennington will put up some decent numbers.
15. New York Giants- Loss of RB Tiki Barber hurts, but RB Brandon Jacobs will fill in nicely. Injuries plagued this squad in '06; they must stay healthy in '07 because of their lack of depth. QB Eli Manning is improving, but how long can he and the rest of teammates put up with head coach Tom Coughlin?
16. Jacksonville Jaguars- RB Maurice Jones-Drew took the league by storm last season and we can expect more of the same. Head coach Jack Del Rio is a good motivator, but his fatih in QB Byron Leftwich might come back to haunt him.
17. Kansas City Chiefs- RB Larry Johnson was a stud last year and little will change in '07. Trading QB Trent Green to Miami was a huge step backwards for this team. Although new QB Brodie Coyle may develop into in good one, he's not ready yet.
18. St. Louis Rams- Adding WR/KR Dante Hall will provide a little spark, but not much. Rookie DE Adam Carriker (13th overall pick) doesn't thrill me either. RB Stephen Jackson does have what it takes to carry this team on his broad shoulders. This team will be in the division race right up until the end before Seattle pulls it out.
19. Atlanta Falcons- New head coach Bobby Petrino will put an exciting offense together for QB Michael Vick. If the defense can return to their '05 form we might have 3 playoff teams coming out of the NFC South.
20. Tennessee Titans- '06 Rookie of the Year Vince Young showed that he can win in this league. Adding CB Nick Harper will help the struggling defense keep the Titans in a few games. Not quite ready for primetime, but they're on their way.
21. Minnesota Vikings- Rookie RB Adrian Peterson was a great pick at number 7 overall, and the defensive unit had a very productive (yet quiet) season. New safety Mike Doss will make some noise. Banking on QB Tarvaris Jackson is a stretch.
22. Miami Dolphins- Acquiring QB Trent Green was a great move. Defense will be one of the best again, especially after adding LB Joey Porter. New coach Cam Cameron should get RB Ronnie Brown going again.
23. Buffalo Bills- Lost six games by 8 points or less in '06. If they can find a way to win half of those, they're in the playoffs. Rookie RB Marshawn Lynch (Cal) will fill the void left by McGahee. Losing CB Nate Clements hurt, but they were smart not to pay him the salary he sought. Success depends on whether or not QB J.P. Losman blossoms.
24. San Francisco 49ers- RB Frank Gore was a sight for sore knees, but they really reached on CB Nate Clements. '07 is make-or-break for QB Alex Smith. If he shines, the 49ers are golden in '08. If he flops, top ten picks for the rest of the decade.
25. Houston Texans- Will QB Matt Schaub be the answer to all their problems? No. However, other than RB Ahman Green, this team does have some young talent. '07 will not be their breakout season by any means, but I wouldn't bet on teams covering the spread against them.
26. Arizona Cardinals- Every year, this team is supposed to surprise people. I'm not buying it anymore. QB Matt Leinart did have his moments in '06, so I won't completely count them out. They'll win 7 or 8 games in '07.
27. Green Bay Packers- QB Brett Favre is expecting the team to build on the 8 wins they managed in '06. I don't see it happening. Too many holes, too little time. At least the Lambeau Field faithful get to see a Hall of Famer for one more year.
28. Washington Redskins- RB Clinton Portis is good, but nobody else on this team is. QB Jason Campbell will not improve at a fast enough rate to win any more games than they did last season (5).
29. Cleveland Browns- I love the moves this team made this offseason. Drafting OT Joe Thomas and QB Brady Quinn has this team in the right direction. By the end of September, this team might find themselves in the top 20.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- QB Jeff Garcia will generate some offense, but the defense has to improve for this team to get better. LB Cato June will help, but he's only one man.
31. Oakland Raiders- The defense keeps this team from the bottom spot. QB JaMarcus Russell is going to struggle all year, but he might make a highlight reel or two by shrugging off a few sacks. Al Davis knows he'll need to with that O-line.
32. Detroit Lions- It's a shame, really. WR Calvin Johnson would have been a great NFL receiver had he not been drafted by the Lions. As long as Matt Millen is GM, this team will never crack the top 25.