Pre Preseason Rankings

Finally….the eve of the 2011 NFL season.  I can’t believe it’s finally here, and I must admit that all the way through the lockout, I knew a deal would get done.  There was just too much money riding on it for everyone involved to not get something figured out.  An added bonus of the deal is the length they agreed to, 10 years.  Thankfully, we won’t have to go through another offseason like this for a little while at least!

There is no doubt in my mind this lockout is going to effect some teams heading into the beginning of the season.  A shortened free agency period, combined with no offseason workouts, new coaches not being able to communicate with their teams, coordinators not being able to implement an offense or defense, rookies not being able to get acclimated to the NFL way of doing things…..the list goes on and on.  Some teams are going to suffer because of it, veteran teams who kept their coaching staffs in place will benefit from it.  This definitely has had an effect on my pre preseason rankings thus far, and you will notice by numbers 15-1 that I feel familiarity with players and a system are pretty important.

I tackled numbers 32-16 last week, here is a recap:

32 Cincinnati Bengals

31 Seattle Seahawks

30 San Francisco 49ers

29 Washington Redskins

28 Cleveland Browns

27 Carolina Panthers

26 Denver Broncos

25 Jacksonville Jaguars

24 Oakland Raiders

23 Tennessee Titans

22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

21 Kansas City Chiefs

20 Buffalo Bills

19 Minnesota Vikings

18 Chicago Bears

17 Arizona Cardinals

16 St. Louis Rams

Now to tackle the top 15 in my pre preseason rankings.

No. 15 – Detroit Lions.  I actually had them rated a little higher, but with the recent injuries to Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure, the hype has been cut down a little.  I’m sure Detroit can find a back to help the loss of Leshoure, but the time without Fairley takes an element away from Detroit they were counting on.  If Stafford can stay healthy, this team is going to be exciting come week 8, hopefully they can get off to a good start before they get things together.

No. 14 – New York Giants.  Exactly who is this team?  They didn’t do themselves any favors with free agency, and their first round is injured.  With the Osi saga a potential threat to destroy the locker room, this season could go really bad for the Giants if they are not careful.

No. 13 – New York Jets.  I realize they have gone to the AFC Championship game two years in a row.  I realize they have one of the best defenses in the NFL.  I also realize they are loaded with a pro bowl roster.  They enter this year with tremendous expectations, but I think they are going to fall a little short of those expectations.  They failed to really improve their pass rush, so they are clearly banking on their secondary once again.  No doubt they are good, but good teams adapt and learn to exploit holes in a good defense, and the Jets will face plenty of those good teams this season.  Another year on this linebacking crew may also rear it’s ugly head.  Most importantly, I feel the Jets have lost a step or two on offense.  Losing Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith will hurt more than they think.  Adding Plaxico Burress after a near two year stay is a shot in the dark.  The Jets are also banking on another decent year from LeDainian Tomlinson, another year older.  I see the Jets age start to show this year, and I’m not sure Mark Sanchez is good enough to carry this team on his back.

No. 12 – Dallas Cowboys.  Entering his first year as a head coach, Jason Garrett will have the Cowboys playing better than they did last year.  Tony Romo is healthy, and he still has his favorite targets Jason Whitten and Miles Austin to throw to.  If Dez Bryant can get focused, the Dallas offense should score plenty of points.  The additions and subtractions to the offensive line could make or break Dallas this season.  Their defense is the big question.  They have plenty of talent, but it doesn’t perform in person like it does on paper.  Rob Ryan has a point to prove, and if he does, Dallas will be in the hunt come December.

No. 11 – Miami Dolphins.  I’m not a homer because I have them ranked 11th following a second consecutive 7-9 season, look at the facts.  This defense should be ranked in the top 5 of the NFL.  Several players are now entering their prime, like Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, Cameron Wake, and Paul Soliai.  To go along with players already in their prime in Karlos Dansby, Randy Starks, and Kevin Burnett.  Throw in a couple younger players in Jared Odrick, Reshad Jones, and Nolan Carroll, paired with another year under DC Mike Nolan, and this defense is going to be nasty.  Ever think about how much last year would have been different if a fumble at the goal line against the Pittsburgh Steelers would have gone the other way.  You think the same amount of interceptions will be dropped this year?  I don’t.  This defense will product turnovers this year!  That in itself will win them 2 more games this year.  The main thing that has to happen for Miami to be in the playoff hunt this year is going to be the play of Chad Henne.  I was totally anti-Henne last year, but I’m starting to have a different feeling.  Take a look at this front office.  They are obviously under pressure to win this year, I doubt this is the first time they have been under the gun, especially after coming from the Parcells tree, that guy drove home perfection.  I think they did a good job of handling it.  When I look at Miami’s roster, I see plenty of players that have tons of talent.  Much like the roster that was built in Dallas.  Tony Romo‘s success was helped because he had playmakers in place, and a good running game.  Chad Henne is now in that position.  Tony Romo‘s success was also helped because he took chances and had the ability to change plays, now Chad Henne will have that chance.  His leash has been thrown away, and playmakers are abundant.  Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush, Davone Bess, I’ll even through rookie Clyde Gates on this list because I have a hunch he is going to be big for Miami this year.  All Henne had to do this year is score about 17 points a game, but the potential for 24 is there.  If Henne finally blossoms into the QB this front office envisioned, Miami could battle New England for tops in the AFC East.

No. 10 – Indianapolis Colts.  The only reason they are ranked this high in my book is Peyton Manning.  He will play at some point this season, and this team has the potential to beat anyone when he plays.  People will have to step up this year to win their division, but like always they will at least be in the wildcard hunt.

No. 9 – Baltimore Ravens.  Don’t you just feel like this team has been good for too long now?  This defense has been around for a long time, and any day now they should show their age.  Flacco will be good, and the offense will have the potential to put up points, but an injury here or there will surely put a damper on their season.

No. 8 – Pittsburgh Steelers.  Another AFC North team that seems to be pretty old.  Another defense that has some age to it, but at the same time seems to be set up for another 4-5 years.  With a pretty young offense in place, if Big Ben can stay upright they should be in the hunt for another division title.

No. 7 – New Orleans Saints.  That playoff loss to Seattle had to sting.  I look for Drew Brees and company to be driven to avenge themselves this year.  They got younger in some places, but whether those players are capable of stepping it up are still to be seen.  They will score, but will they be able to defend?

No. 6 – Houston Texans.  They have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.  Their achilles heel has been the defense.  Enter Wade Phillips.  He is a great DC, and I look for the additions of Jonathan Joseph and Daniel Manning to really do wonders for this team.  Wade will free up the DL and LB’s and get to the QB’s, as long as they stay healthy, Houston could be battling for homefield in December.

No. 5 – Atlanta Falcons.  The team with the best record in the NFC last season is poised to make another run to the Super Bowl.  Giving up the farm for Julio Jones seems to be paying off according to reports out of their training camp.  A couple of key additions to the defense paying off will surely be the measurement of success for this team.

No. 4 – New England Patriots.  This offense will score points as long as Tom Brady is at the helm.  Though the line seems to be getting a step or two slower, they will still be good enough to win games.  Their defense is a mystery because of who they picked up, the additions seemed more suited for a 4-3 than a defensive genius like Bill Belichick.  They will surely change the way they play a little, but they have done that a couple times over the past 10 years and still won.  They will be in the hunt for the number 1 seed in the AFC.

No. 3 - Philadelphia Eagles.  No team has made more noise this offseason.  They are loaded, and all they need to do to win it all is gel and stay healthy.  That last part is the only thing that will keep them from winning the Super Bowl this year.  Most free agents are free because they have played through a contract, which usually means they have some age to them.  If Philly stays healthy, they should be the premier team in the NFL.

No. 2 – San Diego Chargers.  Despite their record last year, the Chargers ranked near the top in both offense and defense for most of last season.  They have most of their players back, and with Vincent Jackson and a healthy Antonio Gates, Rivers will have even more weapons to play with.  Ryan Matthews will benefit from having a full year in the NFL, and Tolbert should continue to play well.  Most of the defense remains intact as well.  I think this is the year for Phillip Rivers, San Diego should be the class of the AFC.

No. 1 – Green Bay Packers.  Until they are tossed from the Throne, Green Bay is the team to beat in the NFL.  Aaron Rogers now has the confidence of being a Super Bowl winning QB, and this team returns most of it’s parts.  Even with all of the injuries they suffered last year they still won.  Nothing should stop them from having a chance to defend their title!

There you have it, the pre preseason rankings.  Things will obviously change as time goes on, I will try to update things every week once the season begins.  Until then, enjoy the preseason, and hope the Phins have a few players step up and make a difference, especially Chad Henne.

Phins Up!

BEL

 

 

 

Topics: Aaron Rogers, AFC, AFC East, Antonio Gates, Arizona Cadinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger, Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Brad Smith, Braylon Edwards, Buffaolo Bills, Cameron Wake, Carolina Panthers, Chad Henne, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Clyde Gates, Dallas Cowboys, Daniel Manning, Davone Bess, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Dez Bryant, Dre Brees, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jared Odrick, Jason Garrett, Joe Flacco, Jonathan Joseph, Julio Jones, Kansas City Chiefs, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, LeDainian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, Miami Dolphins, Mike Nolan, Mikel Leshoure, Miles Austin, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFC, NFL, Nick Fairley, Nolan Carroll, Oakland Raiders, Osi Umenyiora, Paul Soliai, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Phillips Rivers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Plaxico Burress, Randy Starks, Reggie Bush, Reshad Jones, Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan, Ryan Matthews, San Francisco 49ers, SanDiego Chargers, Sean Smith, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl, Tamps Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Tolbert, Tom Brady, Tony Romo Jason Whitten, Vincent Jackson, Vontae Davis, Wade Phillips, Washington Redskins

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  • volsforlife

    This is the biggest piece of garbage i have ever seen in my life you homer….. Have you ever watched a NFL game in your life????? Because i know you didnt watch any games last year or you wouldnt be stupid enough to post crap like this…. Do you just pull name out of a hat to figure out your preseason rankings?? you have a team that didnt make the PLAYOFFS as the number two team… Do i need to explain to you what the playoffs are???? I hope not… please before you ever write an article again go to espn or any sports site and read a little bit about sports please because i laughed really hard when i read this and i plan on putting it on my facebook page so everyone else can laugh at it

  • volsforlife

    I just dont see how you clame you took the offseason in to account when you wrote this because the kansas city chiefs and the tampa bay bucs both kept there coaching staff in tact and went ten and six yet you dont have them in the top 15????? and even worst you have the freaking bills in front of them???? haha what is wrong with you dude

  • volsforlife

    I just dont see how you clame you took the offseason in to account when you wrote this because the kansas city chiefs and the tampa bay bucs both kept there coaching staff in tact besides the chiefs who only lost an oc and replaced him with a superbowl winning oc in bill muir who was john gruden’s oc in tampa and picked up one of the best qb coaches in the nfl in jim zorn and went ten and six yet you dont have them in the top 15????? and even worst you have the freaking bills in front of them???? haha what is wrong with you dude it must be that the chiefs have the best running game in the leauge thats why you dont have them in the top 15 or that the bucs have one of the best young qb’s in the NFL they must suck because of that… But the bills look promising they made the playoffs last year…. oh wait thats not right they picked yet again in the top 5 of the draft because they werent very good… Get some facts before you write something next time

  • fins4ever

    I wanted the Fins to get Jim Zorn. I don’t think they even talked to him.

  • mcbruce575

    @volsforlife

    The playoffs are something that 5 or 6 teams make one year, and don’t make the next. Please do post this of facebook! Like I said, these rankings are my opinion, if you want to make me famous in your little facebook world, be my guest, all the traffic will be appreciated! I’m sure I’m wrong about several teams, be sure to save the rankings, because only a true idiot thinks they know how the season will turn out!

  • mcbruce575

    @volsforlife

    Do you really think the Chiefs are going to handle a 1st place schedule really well? They were absolutely man handled in the playoffs last year, and that caliber team is what they will face a lot this year. Like I said, Tampa is too young, they will be without their best defensive player in Talib, and they play in one of the toughest divisions in football. Besides that, who did they beat last year…….no one good! The “Facts” are I don’t think those two teams will have as much success this year as they did last year!

  • notquiterosey

    Not bad Bruce. I would just change a few things up.

    First, as much as I love the Fins and despise the Jets, you just can’t have the Fins ahead of the Jets. Your reasoning for having the Fins so high is for the defense, but the Jets clearly have the top defense in the league, and it isn’t close. Miami certainly has a top 5 unit, but the Jets are clearly number one. The Jets have made the AFC championship two years running while the Dolphins have sat at home. Until the Fins prove something in the season, it just isn’t fair to give the Jets that little respect. And remember, this is coming from someone who truly hates the Jets.

    Second, the Falcons deserve more love. A top 3 team at least, and in my opinion, the Super Bowl favorites. Adding Julio Jones is the icing on the cake and if they stay healthy, they are the team to beat in the NFL.

    And lastly, please check your grammar before posting. Not calling you out here because I know others (including myself) do it too, but it reflects bad on you. “Until they are trown off the Thrown” is my example to you.

    Oh, and the Rams are this years sleeper. If Sam Bradford stays healthy, watch out.

    But honestly, a good article. You did your research. We’ll see how it holds up.

  • crandyman

    I am a bit flummoxed by the placement of some of these teams and the reasoning behind them. Seattle is going to struggle this year, but not so much that they deserve to be that low. Although they have major questions at the quarterback position, they have some good options on offense, including two top-10 TE’s. They are NOT one of the two worst teams though.

    Where I am really left agog is the rankings of the Bills, Chiefs, and Bucs at 20, 21, and 22, respectively. Fitzpatrick showed definite signs of being a top 15 QB but other than that, they have major areas of concern. Their offensive line is a huge question mark and they have no playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. If you were to place an over/under of 24 TD’s from Fitzpatrick, I would have to believe most pundits would take the under. As for the Chiefs– I really don’t see how they can be that low. Yes, their schedule is tough, but they have way too much talent to be ranked 21st overall. On to Tampa; I was skeptical of Josh Freeman last year but he just kept on producing. That being said, much like Fitzpatrick, I don’t see a repeat performance out of him. However, I still believe he will put of solid numbers, say, 20TD/12int. Not elite but very serviceable in winning games. Oh yeah, and if you want to bring the schedule into the argument, the Buffalo Bills have the second hardest lineup in the NFL this year– ahead of the Chiefs, and ahead of the Bucs by a longshot.

    Now on to the big one: The Miami Dolphins. I am always skeptical when a statement begins with an excusatory clause like, “I’m not a homer because…”. It takes credibility away from the argument because it immediately makes the reader think that the author has reason to question his or her own judgment. Anyway, I must admit that I would be ecstatic if I could really believe that the Miami Dolphins were the 11th best team coming in to the NFL season. Sadly though, I don’t have the gall to have such an optimistic outlook. Quite frankly, I just don’t see it. I concur that the defense should be a top 7 or 8 unit with the possibility of being a top 3 if everyone progresses and/or maintains their level of play. I still think the secondary is susceptible to big plays by opposing WR’s but I am not overly concerned with that. Special teams coverage and returns have been atrocious for years in Miami. It is such an understated part of the game and it cost the Dolphins dearly last year with horrible field position on both sides of the ball. Reggie Bush could help if they decide to give him the duty, but Gates, despite his speed, is an unproven commodity.

    The Miami offense last year was painful to watch. Some of it was play-calling, some of it was coaching, and some of it was the unit. It is difficult for me to give my full support to Daboll whom led an abysmal Cleveland attack last year, although their talent on offense was nearly non-existent. I am not against him by any means. I just don’t know how much he is going to make a difference. The running game has made wholesale changes, losing veterans Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown and bringing in Saints RB Reggie Bush and taking KState’s RB Daniel Thomas in the second round. In my opinion, they have probably upgraded slightly. I wouldn’t expect an amazing turnaround in that department. Ricky and Ronnie were not as bad as the offensive line made them look last year. Ahh, Chad Henne. The single biggest reason why the Dolphins will underachieve. Blame Henning all you want (and he WAS bad) but if Tom Brady was magically transported to the signal caller, I have no doubt that the Miami Dolphins would have only lost 4 or 5 games at the most. Now obviously Brady is one of the best quarterbacks but this hyperbole goes to show you how much the QB decides a game. Henne is just way too inconsistent. He has ALWAYS been inconsistent. His days at Michigan were no different. One good game followed by one bad game. Things have been no different in the NFL. I think Henne is a good leader and he knows the game of football but the one thing that will always make him mediocre is his inconsistency. And that, my friends, is not a good sign. I would love to see him turn it around but there is no reason to believe that this year is going to be the year. A new system with limited amounts of time and QB who has yet to “Wow” for any stretch of games makes me think that ranking the Miami Dolphins at 11th is not only unreasonable to fans, but wholly illogical considering the “facts”. The facts are the game logs of Henne’s career– not any off-season changes that were made.

    So I guess I just wrote all of that to say that I respect your opinion, but I completely disagree.

    -Crandyman

  • Phinphanatic

    @crandyman now thats how to disagree!!!

  • crandyman

    @mcbruce575@volsforlife I don’t want to berate someone for opinion, because after all, everything written in the preseason is just an opinion. Certainly the Chargers have the talent and ability to be a top 5 team, and who knows, maybe they will end up that way. But to have them above the Patriots and Eagles seems a bit drastic and perhaps slightly biased. Although I wouldn’t have them that high, I think the case could be made to have them above the Falcons, Ravens, Jets, and Steelers. I still feel they are closer to the 8/9/10 area though.

  • mcbruce575

    @crandyman

    Thank you so much for your opinion! I am in total agreement that these rankings mean absolutely nothing right now. It’s just my opinion on where everyone will finish this year, that’s it. I know i’m going to get about 80% of these wrong, but it does feel good to get everyone’s juices flowing about football!

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