So, it’s mid-June.
There’s a bit of NFL activity (minicamps, OTAs, arrests, blanket apologies, trial delays, accusations, etc.) but overall it’s pretty quiet.
What better time to roll out OBOD’s first ever power rankings, right?
The NFL odds for the 2010 season have long been up. And about a month ago, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King gave his power rankings (with the Pack being No. 1).
Now it’s time for us to weigh in.
Let’s do that right now, shall we?
As always, enjoy.
32. St. Louis Rams – Positives if you’re a Rams fan: Steven Jackson. Negatives: Everything else, especially the fact that your team is going to be handing out roughly $80 million to a rookie quarterback (Sam Bradford) who’s never played in a pro-style offense. At least you have the Cardinals, right guys? Well, until they get swept in the first round.
31. Buffalo Bills – There’s a really good chance Brian Brohm – yes, that Brian Brohm – will head into training camp as the Bills’ No. 1 quarterback. Is there a way a team can finish worse than 0-16? Maybe -3-16?
30. Cleveland Browns – I sincerely hope Mike Holmgren is in it for the long haul in Cleveland, because it’s going to take at least another year – likely two – to get the Brownies back to legitimacy. In short, there just isn’t a great deal of talent there.
29. Kansas City Chiefs – Kansas City had a good draft this season, no question about it, and a good portion of those players will have chances to start – or at least play significant roles – this season. The downside to that? If you have a lot of rookies playing significant roles, that means the rest of your team isn’t very good. Such will be life for the Chiefs in 2010.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – This is going to sound weird, considering I have the Bucs as the fifth-worst team in football right now, but I like the direction in which they are heading. The team’s very solid draft should provide a young nucleus moving forward and quarterback Josh Freeman has some real upside. That said, you have to take your lumps before you learn how to win and I think Tampa Bay will experience a lot of those this year.
27. Oakland Raiders – The silver-and-black only turned in five wins last season, but four of them came against teams that either made (Cincinnati and Philadelphia) or just missed (Pittsburgh and Denver) the playoffs – so that’s good! Seriously, I do think the Raiders are headed in a positive direction. The JaMarcus Russell experiment has finally ended and the team had a pretty darn good draft. But the team is likely still a year away. Come 2011, though, Oakland could be ready to do some things…if there’s football in 2011, that is.
26. Seattle Seahawks – The Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime in Seattle began with a very questionable move (trading waaay too much for quarterback Charlie Whitehurst). Things improved after that, as the Seahawks turned in a very good draft. Still, there isn’t a whole lot of talent on this team – rookies take time, remember – and I continue to wonder just how good of a coach Carroll actually is. It’s third place in the NFC West again for this squad.
25. Detroit Lions – For the first time in, well, ever, the Lions can hang their hats on their very good offseason. This team will get to the quarterback much, much more than it did in, well, ever, and if Matthew Stafford can avoid getting murdered behind that o-line, he’ll make a nice jump in year two. This team is headed for six-to-seven win territory.
24. Chicago Bears – Jay Cutler will be better in 2010, if only because I’m not sure how he could be worse. That, and an intriguing group of young wideouts, will help Chicago’s cause somewhat. The defense, even with new addition Julius Peppers, is going to be pretty bad once again, though, landing the Bears solidly in the six-to-seven win group with Detroit. Make sure that realtor’s number is handy, Lovie.
23. Washington Redskins – The Donovan McNabb/Mike Shanahan Era has begun in D.C. That alone will help Washington’s cause. However, there’s also this: A weak o-line, a cancerous defensive tackle (Fat Albert) and a Larry Johnson/Clinton Portis/Willie Parker axis of terror at running back. Not good at all.
22. Denver Broncos – Will the real Denver Broncos please stand up? Denver, a team that was the toast of the league for the first half of 2009, ran out of gas faster than a BP oil spill during the second half (look at us – we’re being topical!). Can the Broncos regain that magic? Without Brandon Marshall gobbling up passes, the prognosis seems negative. At least the fans can spend their money on Tim Tebow jerseys instead of playoff tickets.
21. Arizona Cardinals – Hands down, the biggest dropoff in the league has been experienced in Arizona. Kurt Warner has moved on to the next phase of his life, leaving Matt Leinart/Derek Anderson to fill the void (gulp). Anquan Boldin is also gone, leaving no one to take heat off Larry Fitzgerald. The defense suffered some losses, too. Bottom line: The Cards will struggle to win eight games this season. Hope you enjoyed the last few years, Cards fans.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jacksonville seemed poised for the postseason in ‘09, heading into the final month at 7-5. The Jags didn’t win a game the rest of the way, though, and finished a disappointing 7-9. Had the team put together a solid offseason, things could have been fixed for this year. The Jags didn’t get it done. Signing Aaron Kampman will help somewhat – provided his knee fully heals – but they didn’t do much else in free agency and their draft was abysmal. Seven wins sounds about right for this team again.
19. Carolina Panthers – Once Carolina finally pulled the plug on Jake Delhomme, the Panthers got it going, finishing 4-1 with Matt Moore at quarterback. The team still has a lethal running back duo (Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams) and a not-yet-finished Steve Smith. Even though Julius Peppers only showed up half the time, the defense will struggle with him no longer there as Peppers brought a whole lot of attention his way. The Panthers feel like an eight-win team again, but if some things break their way, they could finish better than that.
18. Philadelphia Eagles – The future is now in Philly as the starting QB job is now officially Kevin Kolb’s. Kolb will have his ups-and-downs – not everyone is Aaron Rodgers right off the bat – but should be okay, thanks to a nice corps of playmakers. The defense is going young, though, and will take at least a season to jell. The 2011 season will be when the Eagles arrive…if there’s football in 2011, that is.
17. Houston Texans – The song remains the same for the Texans. The offense will once again be capable of scoring 30-plus points each week, but the defense is still a major question mark (especially with Defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing suspended for the first four weeks). It’s a shame, too, because the defense only has to be average for the Texans to finally crack the postseason. I don’t see that happening this season, though.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers – With Nasty Ben (I’m trying out a new nickname for him – what do you think?) suiting up for all 16 games, the Steelers are much higher in these rankings. But, of course, he won’t be, and with him missing that much time, I’m just not sure how the Steelers can make it back to the postseason. They’re known for their running game/defense, but really, the whole team has centered on Nasty Ben for quite some time now.
15. Cincinnati Bengals – In many ways, the Bengals were the feel good story of the NFL in 2009. They cooled off dramatically as the season wound down, though, and I have doubts as to whether or not they can do it again. Carson Palmer has to be better than he was last year and, really, can Cedric Benson and the defense surprise people like they did last year?
14. Tennessee Titans – I picked the Titans to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl before last season. They paid me back by starting 0-6. Then, inexpicably, Vince Young took over as starting quarterback and the team rallied for an 8-2 finish. Those good vibes, plus the fact that Tennessee has the best running back in football (Chris Johnson), make the Titans a dangerous team heading into 2010. As long as Johnson doesn’t hold out, of course.
13. San Francisco 49ers – Despite the fact that San Fran’s draft wasn’t as good as many “experts” claim it was, I still like the team’s chances this season. The Niners play in the worst division in football, so that alone should equal no less than five wins right there. Alex Smith finally showed some flashes last year and the trio of Vernon Davis/Michael Crabtree/Frank Gore is very, very good. There will be a home playoff game in the Bay this season.
12. Miami Dolphins – Miami owner Stephen Ross went out on a limb recently, saying he thinks his team will reach Dallas in February. I don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Ross, but I do like where the ‘Fins are headed. Chad Henne will make a big step forward, thanks to newly added wideout Brandon Marshall. Miami runs the ball well, plays solid defense and has an underrated head coach (Tony Sparano).
11. Atlanta Falcons – Last year was supposed to be one of greatness for Hotlanta. Then came the season. The Falcons struggled running the ball, Matt Ryan got hurt for a stretch and the defense wasn’t great. Still, I love the way the team played for pride even after being eliminated from the playoffs. That carries over as I feel a bounce back season coming for Atlanta. Ryan’s the real deal.
10. New York Giants – Like the Broncos, the Giants – my preseason Super Bowl champs (double gulp) - were looking like an elite squad midway through last season. A 5-2 record quickly evaporated, though, as Big Blue scuffled to an 8-8 finish. I have a feeling New York will bounce back. The defense will stay healthy and improve and wideout Hakeem Nicks should have a massive year two.
9. New England Patriots – The Pats went young on defense last season, and the growing pains showed mightily at times. That group will be much better this season. Plus, there’s still those guys named Belichick and Brady at the helm, which is nice. If Wes Welker’s knee can heal sooner rather than later, the Pats will be just fine.
8. Dallas Cowboys – Everyone is heaping praise on the Cowboys, some going so far as to say they will be the first team to ever play a Super Bowl in their own ballpark. Dallas is a very good team, no question about it, but it has some holes, namely along the o-line. Plus, to get to a Super Bowl, you have to do well in the playoff games that precede it - something Tony Romo has yet to do.
7. Minnesota Vikings – I love how everyone who makes these rankings says, “Well, the Vikings’ ranking depends entirely on whether or not Brett Favre returns.” Seriously? We all know Favre is coming back. That being the case, the Vikings will be very good once again (with a special assist to some judges here in the Twin Cities). And, yes, I feel sick about writing that last sentence.
6. Baltimore Ravens – Love, love, love what Baltimore has done during the offseason. Adding Anquan Boldin gives the Ravens the big-time receiving threat they’ve seemingly never had. Ray Rice is scary good, an already tough defense was bolstered big-time in the draft and Joe Flacco could very well make “the leap” this season. Don’t be surprised if Baltimore is in Dallas come February.
5. Green Bay Packers – Since this is a Packers blog, I’ll go a little deeper here. As of now, I absolutely love where this team is at. The strong finish to last season, plus the massive comeback against Arizona in the playoff loss, gave us many glimpses of just how scary this team can be. A (mostly) young offense is only going to get better and better and it starts at the top. Aaron Rodgers is right on the verge of becoming a top five quarterback and players like Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings can easily do the same at their positions. The offensive line has (finally) solidified, for the most part, and top pick Bryan Bulaga provides crucial depth. The defense, tops against the run last season, has a full year of the 3-4 scheme under its belt and I fully expect Dom Capers to roll out a few new wrinkles. Questions exist as to the depth at the corner/LOLB spots, but I think someone will emerge at corner (stay healthy, Pat Lee) and Brad Jones should be fine opposite Clay Matthews. Regardless, in the salary cap era, every team has some holes, but the Pack’s holes don’t appear to be crippling. In the end, I just feel like this is the season Green Bay really arrives. Does that equal Super Bowl? I can’t say – but in a slightly down NFC, the rising Packers certainly have a shot.
4. San Diego Chargers – San Diego’s epic choke job in the divisional round loss to the Jets took a great deal of shine off a team that had won 11 straight games during the regular season. The Chargers will bounce back, led by a top-five quarterback (Philip Rivers) and an improved emphasis on the running game, thanks to first round pick Ryan Matthews. Now, if only Nate Kaeding can hit a few kicks…
3. Indianapolis Colts – As usual, Indy has stayed fairly quiet during the offseason. September will come, everyone will remember, “Oh yeah – Peyton Manning is their quarterback, isn’t he?” and the Colts will rip-off another 12-win season. Sunrise, sunset.
2. New York Jets – The J-E-T-S have added a boatload of talent (Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, etc.) that contains a boatload of character issues. Those matters clearly mean nothing to head coach Rex Ryan, though, and the real reason the Jets are No. 2 here is this: A proven formula of great running game plus great defense and a young quarterback (Mark Sanchez) with the potential for a breakout season.
1. New Orleans Saints – The Saints haven’t been that busy this offseason - okay, minus that whole Vicodin scandal – but that doesn’t matter. I’m a firm believer in the theory that the champs are the champs until they are knocked out. No TKOs on account of free agency/the draft. New Orleans still has the best coach-quarterback tandem in the league, which doesn’t hurt its cause, either.
So, what do you think of my rankings? Comment, baby, comment!