Well, the draft is over. There are a few players still on the move, so there will be a few changes before the season starts. Either way I'm releasing my first Power Rankings of the year. I know that I'm going to take some heat for this, and know that as we get closer to the season teams will move up and down the list.
#1- New England Patriots (last season 12-4)
The Patriots were a few catches away from another Super Bowl last year, so they addressed this by adding three very good receivers and Randy Moss (who I personally don't think will make a huge impact). However Stallworth, Walker, and Washington will give Brady plenty to throw to this year. Maroney looks to only get better, and you can't say that the addition of Thomas on D will make the Pats the team to beat in 2007.
#2- Denver Broncos (last season 9-7)
Last season the Broncos had an excellent Defense and had issues putting up points as well as closing out games. They showed that they can play with some of the top teams with wins against the Patriots and the Ravens they also lost a shoot out with the Colts by only 3. This was all in the mists of a QB controversy. This season Cutler is their guy, Henry will add dimensions to the run game, and that great Defense only looks to get better with a new and improved D-line and the addition of Bly. The Broncos did lose Al Wilson, and it will be up to DJ Williams and Gold to step up and fill in for this team to have success.
#3- Indianapolis Colts (last season 12-4)
I know, I know, the Colts won it all last season and they are behind a team that only won nine game last year. Well the Colts are the champs until someone proves otherwise, but they have lost entirely too much this off-season. Addai is not ready to carry the load by his self. This team made it over the hump last season mostly by their Defense, Manning looked a little more like Eli during the playoffs while the Defense showed that they could keep the Colts in games. What does this team do to reward them? Change out the personnel. They are a shell of the Defense that won the championship, but you can never count out this team as long as Peyton is taking the snaps.
#4- New Orleans Saints (last season 10-6)
The Saints won last season on heart and momentum. This year look for that to be replaced with talent and good coaching. The Saints have improved on a team that was already a good team in 2006. The loss of Horn will be missed in the locker room, but on the field he hasn't had a 1,000 yard season in three years and only had 5 TD's in the past two years. I'm starting to think I would have let this guy go too. Look for the Saints rookie back Pittman to slowly take on McAllister's role the next few years leaving this team with a very good and very young tandem at RB.
#5- San Diego Chargers (last season 14-2)
The Chargers were the best team in the regular season last year, but not in the playoffs. The hiring of Norv Turner will change that in a hurry, well it's going to change them from having the best record in football not the losing in the playoffs part. Sorry Chargers fans, while this team has the most explosive player in the game other teams went out and did everything in the off-season to make their teams better the Chargers did everything to make their uniforms better. While they again won't get to the AFC championship game, at least they will look good losing.
#6- Seattle Seahawks (last season 9-7)
No one from the Seahawks has appeared on the cover of any video games this off-season so they already are a step above last year's team. You have to like a team that returns a healthy Alexander, and added a very underrated Kerney to their already formidable Defense. The Seahawks finished last season strong, look for more of the same as the 07 season starts.
#7- Chicago Bears (last season 13-3)
The Bears had QB issues last season, their off-season fix... cut Thomas Jones so now people can focus more on how they don't have a running game either. Chicago should still win what is a joke of a division fairly easily with that Defense that makes players wet themselves in their sleep, but look for the Bears to loose more than one game with neither team making it to double digit points. Defense wins championships, true, but you do have to score somewhere in there.
#8- Baltimore Ravens (last season 13-3)
Baltimore took advantage of their falling division last season. The Bengals spent more time doing community service that on the practice field, and the Steelers had a major Super Bowl hangover that left them realizing that they are a mediocre team that fell into some luck. McNair went back and forth from hero to goat all season long, expect to see a little bit more of the latter this year. The big key for this team is getting McGahee to fit into this offense. He is a completely different style than Lewis, but could be quite an upgrade.
#9- Dallas Cowboys (last season 9-7)
Oh Tony Romo. He is not as good as everyone thought, but he isn't as bad as anyone thinks. Romo will have a ver mediocre season in 07. Look for a breakout year from the Boys' run game, Jones will run like he has something to prove, which apparently he does. The Cowboys could have a great team this year, and with the Brown's #1 next season (which should be a top 5 pick) they could be set for years to come. The only problem I see is that their receiving corps are getting a little bit older. TO has one maybe two years left as an elite receiver (some people would even argue that he doesn't have that.). Unless they can find a fix to that, just look to see them as a one and done team in the playoffs again this year.
#10- Philadelphia Eagles (last season 10-6)
McNabb has to have a good year. It doesn't look so good when you go out and the team goes on a run. The issue with the run that the Eagles made last season is that they didn't put their entire focus on the pass, they let Westbrook run free and he showed that he may be one of if not the most underrated backs in the game. If they can keep a balanced offense and keep getting the production out of their D they could be moving up this list very fast.
#11- NY Jets (last season 10-6)
The cops should have been called when the Jets stole Thomas Jones from the Bears. This deal could really pan out for the Jets. They are the only thing between the Patriots and an easy walk to the playoffs. While I don't think they made enough moves to beat out NE this year they do have a good team and a great coach. Look for the Jets to be a very good wild card team this year.
#12- Cincinnati Bengals (last season 8-8)
The commissioner has set his foot down on the disciplinary issues. That said this could be a very good thing or a very bad thing for the Bengals. They could straighten up their act and be a top team in the league, or they could be playing with their practice squad because almost all of their players are suspended.
#13- Carolina Panthers (last season 8-8)
I give it three weeks until Panther fans start calling for Carr, and three more until the rumors of Cowher coaching the Panthers in 2008 start heating up. Cutting Keyshaun may prove to be costly as there has to be a reason Jarrett's draft stock kept dropping. Steve Smith will have another great season, but I don't know about his supporting cast. There will be too many questions in the locker room for this team to beat out the Saints for the division, and not to mention we always see someone from the NFC South break out every year.
#14- San Francisco 49ers (last season 7-9)
The niners have gotten a lot of hype this off season, but so did the Cards last year. This team has made all the right moves to be a playoff team in 07, but until they show me something they will be right in the middle of the pack. This team does boast a great running game, and I would go as far as to see them as a force in the NFC in the next 3 or 4 years. I just don't think that Alex Smith is going to get it done, at least not this year.
#15- Atlanta Falcons (last season 7-9)
Most Falcon fans were heartbroken when they saw Schaub go to the Texans this off-season. The hope of a team beyond the Vick era is what keeps most of them going. But I wouldn't let your head hand too low, see Doug Johnson who was supposed to be a great QB after backing up Vick, but was cut by the Browns last year. Vick should feel the heat, and if Atlanta is watching the playoffs at home this year look for them to get another signal caller in 08. Horn claims that he built the rookie WR's last season and hopes to lead the Falcons young receiving corps to greatness. I can believe that when I see it. And I don't think that Anderson can immediately fill the hole left by Kerney.
#16- St. Louis Rams (last season 8-8)
The NFC West is going to be very competitive again this year. Unfortunately it will be because no team is really better than average. The Rams will have a shot at the playoffs this year, but only because they are in a weak NFC. The additions of Hall and Bennett will make their passing game one of the best in football, but no D no way they are a top team.
#17- Kansas City Chiefs (last season 9-7)
The Chiefs are heading in the wrong direction fast. Huard had a good season last year, but by no means should be your long term fix at QB. Larry Johnson is in a contract year so he will get well over 1,500 yards, but with no passing threat they won't win too many games. Also look for Larry to get a change of scenery next season if not sooner.
#18- Houston Texans (last season 6-10)
Houston went out and got a new QB and a new RB for next season. Too bad it wasn't Vince Young or Reggie Bush. I hate to break this to Texan fans but your new QB is a slower version of Carr. Look for him to spend more time on his back than a $5 hooker. As for Green they add a "has-been" running back to their "never-was" QB. The Texans are building a decent defense, but by season's end they will be a poor man's version of the Bears.
#19- Miami Dolphins (last season 6-10)
What a difference a year makes. This was SI's team to beat last season. Now they are cellar dwellers. There is no telling what will happen to this team this year. I don't see Culpeper making it back to the class of elite QB's ever again. They pretty much gave away their receivers, but the addition of Ginn could work out in their favor. The Dolphins did add Porter to an already talented defense. What does this mean? We get to hear his mouth every time they win a game. The good news, that won't be too often.
#20- Arizona Cardinals (last season 5-11)
Everyone had this team breaking out last year. Since when does a rookie QB take a team from last place to the playoffs? Matt will have a better season this year, and will use those great receivers quite a bit more. They do have questions on their line, and a RB that I think is quite overrated. James looked good when Manning spread the field and ran him up the middle, but in Arizona they see him coming and he doesn't have the talent to do too much beyond 2 yards a carry. While the cards did make an improvement in the head coaching department I still don't see them winning more that 7 game this year.
#21- Pittsburgh Steelers (last season 8-8)
I'm going to hear about this one I'm sure. While the Steeler Nation thinks that this can be a Super Bowl team every year, I hate to break this to you, but you may want to start cheering for the other team in your state. Big Ben can't carry a team, and while the excuses are rolling out by the dozens last year eventually he will acknowledge that he has always been an average QB on a great team, now he is an average QB on an average team. Losing Porter will take much of the swagger from the defense this year, and not hiring a new head coach in house has players running to Arizona.
#22- NY Giants (last season 8-8)
There are too many issues in NY. There is no telling when they will make a coaching change, or why it hasn't happened yet. While Eli takes too much of the blame look for him to get blamed when Burress doesn't finish routes again this year. They did nothing to replace Barber, don't expect too much from Jacobs and a guy that the Browns didn't want.
#23- Jacksonville Jaguars (last season 8-8)
Byron is still there, so who will be taking snaps for the Jags this year? My next question is does it really matter? The only reason this team wins 8 games is because they get the Texans and Titans for 4 of them this year.
#24- Tennessee Titans (last season 8-8)
The Titans shocked the world with their run last year. Now that that's over they don't really have much of a team this year. Vince Young showed that he has the talent to be successful at this level. But I don't know how much success he can have without his receivers or his RB. They will be deflated to start the season, and look for that to last most all of the season. And lets not forget that the face of this franchise is on the cover of Madden 2008. That can't be good news.
#25- Minnesota Vikings (last season 6-10)
I'm surprised that this team didn't catch more heat for passing on Quinn. The Dolphins took quite a bit, and I don't see a much better situation at that position for the Vikes. They did nab Peterson in the draft which if his college career is any indication the Vikings can count on him for about three good games and then he will break. There is talk that he may already need surgery this year. I just think they could have gotten more value taking Quinn and then getting Bush later in the draft. You know if they are into broken RB's
#26- Washington Redskins (last season 5-11)
Joe Gibbs used to be an elite coach in the NFL. Emphasis on USED TO BE. The Skins are looking at another dismal year. They will heavily rely on the play of Jason Campbell to lead this team. That said look for them to draft a QB in 08. Portis can't stay healthy, and they are starting to really feel like Denver took them to the cleaners as Bailey continues to excel and they traded Bell (the pick the skins gave to the Broncos) for Dre Bly. Ouch I'm thinking the Redskins would take either of those guys about now.
#27- Buffalo Bills (last season 7-9)
A few years ago the Bills ran Travis Henry out of town because McGahee was the back of the future. Fast forward to this year, McGahee is the Ravens back of the future and the Bills are getting questioned for the take of Lynch in the first round. Neither he nor Losman can lead this team anywhere but the ground. The loss of Spikes and Clements makes the Bills defense one that teams will welcome as they run up the score.
#28- Green Bay Packers (last season 8-8)
They lost their running back to free agency, and Farve just won't leave. While he has earned the right to play for that team as long as he wants, just don't expect to win while he wants to play. I just feel bad for Aaron Rogers, he may retire before Brett does.
#29- Cleveland Browns (last season 4-12)
Look for the Browns to be a much improved team from last year. Unfortunately much improved will equal about 6 wins. Quinn may or may not be the answer here, but don't expect too much with him being thrown right out there. He also don't have a veteran QB to learn from either. Lewis will give the Browns a decent running game this year, but that's about all they will have to hang their hats on this year.
#30- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (last season 4-12)
I don't know what this team was thinking this off-season. I know they had QB issues last year, but did anyone tell this team they can only play one QB at a time? The Bucs added June on defense, but the rest of the D is old. They don't have too much going for them this year, maybe Calvin Johnson will be available at #2 next year this time the Bucs won't have to trade up.
#31- Detroit Lions (last season 3-13)
The Lions shocked everyone in the draft by taking Calvin Johnson. How was that a shock, don't they take a WR ever year? Johnson should be a great receiver in the NFL. Now all they need is for Martz to find a way to get Calvin to throw the ball to himself, block and play D and this team is set. Crazy to hear teams were offering 2 1st round picks 1 2nd round and 2 3rd rounds for Johnson and the Lions turned that down!!! They have more needs than just WR, but I guess you can't draft a replacement for Matt Millen, can you?
#32- Oakland Raiders (last season 2-14)
I hope the Raiders liked the spotlight of having the first pick in the draft this year. So much that they will be doing it again next year. Russell is not going to be a superstar, I'm sorry Raider fans. A strong arm doesn't equal to a successful NFL career. Just give Jeff George a call. The only hope they had was having Russell throw the ball downfield and have Moss run under it, but wait they let that guy go. This team knows how to win. At least they have an ok defense, well they look good because they practice against this terrible offense, which went out and spent too much for a team's #2 back again. Do they learn nothing?
Well, that's where I see them right now. Obviously there are things that can change these rankings before the season. And you know someone is coming from the bottom to the top, see the Saints last year.