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Bwana
07-22-2008, 04:48 PM
After what seems to have been an eternal offseason packed with player movement, off-the-field legal issues, coaching hires and fires, and bizarre media circuses in both New England and Green Bay, it's finally time for some actual football. Yes, real, live football! Well, sorta. Camps open up around the league this week. Before we get down in the trenches, let's check out our first edition of the 2008 NFL Power Rankings.


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1 New England: The Patriots have no doubt had a tumultuous offseason. Aside from lingering Spygate fallout, there have been the Nick Kaczur, Kevin Faulk and Willie Andrews arrests and a host of key contributors from the '07 team lost to free agency. That said, the Pats bring all the majority of their big dogs back most importantly Randy Moss and will be playing with a vengeance in '08. On paper, they have the easiest schedule in the entire league this season. Vegas currently has the Pats listed with 15-1 odds to go undefeated in 2008. It's not a bad bet. New England could be as good as they were last season. This time, they're looking to end the year with a win. Camp: Foxboro, Mass.

2 New York Giants: It looks as though everyone's crowning Dallas the preseason favorites in the NFC East. Nonsense. The Giants, despite losing Jeremy Shockey and Super Bowl stars Kawika Mitchell, Gibril Wilson and Michael Strahan this offseason, are primed to repeat not only as NFC champions, but Super Bowl kings. Lineman David Diehl told me a few weeks ago, "A lot of people had us picked last in 2007. Where they are picking us now is really nothing new to us. Nobody picked us in the playoffs or the Super Bowl. But we always had high expectation for ourselves. Everyone is committed and dedicated to putting in the hard work it takes to prove ourselves again." In short, this is an angry team, ready to show the world that last year was no fluke. You've got to beat the best to be the best. And until Dallas does that -- New York gets my nod as the NFC favorites. Camp: Albany, N.Y. <STYLE>.moreTeamsDiv { position:relative; float:right; padding-right:10px;}.moreTeamsHdr { background-image:url(/fe/img/Story/moreTeamsOn_header.gif); background-repeat:repeat-x; background-position:top; height:35px; color:#000000; font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:12px; padding-top:4px; padding-left:4px; font-weight:bold;}.moreTeamsLinks a:link, .moreTeamsLinks a:visited { color:#1266a4; text-decoration:none; padding-top:4px; padding-left:4px; padding-right:4px; padding-bottom:4px;}.moreTeamsLinks a:hover { text-decoration:underline;}.moreTeamLinks { font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-decoration:none;}.storyPoll { padding-bottom: 5px; float:right;}</STYLE>
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3 San Diego: While discussing FOXSports.com's fantasy football last week, I chatted with LaDainian Tomlinson about the MCL injury that kept him out of the majority of last year's playoffs. He says he's healthy and ready to go. He better be. Backing up L.T. is no longer big-play threat Michael Turner, but rather, a hodgepodge of rookies (Jacob Hester) and unproven backs (Darren Sproles, Marcus Thomas). Lorenzo Neal's gone too, being replaced by fifth-year man Andrew Pinnock. A 100 percent L.T. or not, the Chargers are loaded across the board and start the season with games against five teams that finished under .500 last year. The AFC West isn't quite the division it used to be, either. Unless Denver puts it all together sooner than expected, San Diego should cruise into the playoffs as AFC West champions this season. Camp: San Diego, Calif.

4 Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning's out for 4-6 weeks, Marvin Harrison's future is a bit murky and longtime guard Jake Scott is now with the enemy Tennessee Titans. Reason to worry? Nah. Indy's won five straight AFC South titles and they're going to be near impossible to beat at home in their new stadium. Despite injuries across the board, the defense still ranked tops in the league in '07. As long as Dungy's on that sideline and Manning's under center, the Colts aren't going anywhere but the postseason. Book them for their sixth straight AFC South title and at least one playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Camp: Terre Haute, Ind.

5 Dallas: For a franchise that hasn't won a playoff game in 12 years, the media sure has a lot of confidence in the Cowboys this off-season. Everywhere you look, pundits are pegging Dallas as the NFC East favorites and the Super Bowl frontrunners out of the NFC. In truth, Jerry Jones did some nice things in the off-season, plucking both Zach Thomas and Adam Jones for 40 cents on the dollar, and re-signing Ken Hamlin to a long-term deal. Wade Phillips is Marty Schottenheimer Lite, though, having never won a playoff game, himself. Anything less than a conference title will be seen as a great disappointment in Big D this season. Is this squad up to the challenge? We'll have to wait and see. Camp: Oxnard, Calif.
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6 Jacksonville: If you listen to everyone, this is the year Jacksonville's going to end Indianapolis' reign of terror over the AFC South and become the first division champions other than the Colts since 2002. After all, the Jags drafted two top flight pass rushers in Derrick Harvey and Quintin Groves, scooped up Troy Williamson and Jerry Porter via free agency, and bring back the majority of last year's wild-card squad. David Garrard's the quarterback, there are no questions there, and the Jags are certainly poised to return to the playoffs. Don't be shocked if they win 10-12 games in '08. But until they beat Indianapolis on the road, I'm not handing them the AFC South crown. Camp: Jacksonville, Fla.

7 Seattle: Mike Holmgren's last season has a legitimate chance to end with glory. Of course, there are question marks all over. Are Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett going to serve as upgrades to Shaun Alexander at running back? Will losing D.J. Hackett hurt Matt Hasselbeck more than everyone's letting on? Are Patrick Kerney,32, and Julian Peterson, 30, going to be able to stay healthy and turn in the Pro Bowl caliber seasons they did last year all over again? What's up with Bobby Engram's contract and Deion Branch's health? Seattle should be able to defend their division crown in the soft NFC West, but there's not much room for error or injury. To contend for an NFC title, they'll need to be all systems go for 19 weeks. Camp: Kirkland, Wash.

8 Cleveland: Everyone's going ga-ga over Cleveland this summer, and with good reason. The Browns, despite missing the postseason, were the surprise of the 2007 season, winning 10 games -- about six more than anyone expected. Over the off-season, they beefed up their defensive line with Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams, and scooped up a first-round talent at linebacker in UNLV's Beau Bell on the draft's second day. Donte Stallworth adds even more big-play ability on an already sizzling offense. The catch? That schedule. It's a nightmare. Anything less than a postseason berth will be a disappointment in Cleveland this season. Camp: Berea, Ohio.

9 Pittsburgh: Big Ben got big money this off-season, but he also lost his steadiest protector, Alan Faneca. In a seven-week span starting in late October, Pittsburgh takes on the Super Bowl champion Giants, the NFC wild-card qualifying Redskins, the AFC South champion Colts, the AFC West champion Chargers, the rival Bengals, the AFC champion Patriots, and the NFC East champion Cowboys. All in a row. It's the toughest schedule in the league, and arguably the toughest I've ever seen. Pittsburgh's good, but I'm not sure they're good enough to survive that slate. They'll battle Cleveland for the AFC North title this season. It won't be easy. Camp: Latrobe, Pa.

10 Washington: Everyone's talking about Philly, New York and Dallas in the NFC East, but it's Washington that returns 21 starters from last year's NFC wild-card team. Add in six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor from Miami, free agent Erasmus James from Minnesota and gritty safety Stuart Schweigert and a hit-or-miss defense from a year ago suddenly becomes one of the league's most dynamic. On offense, Jim Zorn brings a new offense and a new philosophy, and the bevy of new receiving options selected in April's draft give Jason Campbell some receivers above six feet to pass to. Want to talk sleeper NFC champion contenders? Look no further than the 202. Camp: Ashburn, Va.

11 Philadelphia: Don't look now, but the Eagles a squad that didn't make the playoffs last year are legitimate Super Bowl contenders in '08. The addition of Asante Samuel gives Philadelphia a shut-down corner to put up against the Plaxico Burress' and Terrell Owens' of the world, while Donovan McNabb seems to be as healthy as he's been in years. Lightning rod receiver/return man DeSean Jackson should contribute right away as well. One potential issue? Unhappy cornerback Lito Sheppard, who just fired his old agents and replaced them with ... Drew Rosenhaus. Camp: Bethlehem, Pa.

12 Minnesota: The offseason's biggest winners acquired the NFL's sack leader in Jared Allen via trade from Kansas City, arguably the best deep threat in the game in Bernard Berrian and a hard hitting young safety in Madieu Williams. The offensive and defensive lines are probably tops in the league and no one would doubt that the running game is among the league's most lethal. But the quarterback spot is still a lingering question mark. How many weeks will the Minnesota fans give Tarvaris Jackson before calling for rookie John David Booty as the new starter? The over/under is five. And that's generous. Camp: Mankato, Minn.
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13 Green Bay: Umm ... yeah, so about the Packers. Anyone have any idea on how to handicap these guys? Anyone? Yeah, I didn't think so. In truth, regardless of who's playing quarterback, holding the clipboard on the sideline or delivering the pre-game locker room speeches this is a 13-3 team from a year ago that returns the majority of its starters on both sides of the field. They'll be competitive and in the thick of the NFC North title hunt. There are just too many unanswered questions to get a good feel for the Pack in late July. Camp: De Pere, Wis.

14 New Orleans: After a disappointing 2007 season, New Orleans added several pieces to its defense, including former Jets star linebacker Jonathan Vilma and rookie Sedrick Ellis. On offense, 2007 first-round pick and rookie nightmare Robert Meachem is apparently healthy and back at his ideal playing weight. The kid's getting rave reviews out of Saints camp. Jeremy Shockey joins Sean Payton's offense, as well. Reggie Bush aside from a few appearances on that absurd Kim Kardashian reality show has been noticeably quiet this offseason. That's good. I expect huge things from him and Drew Brees this season. Don't be shocked if the resurgent Saints run away with the NFC South this season. Camp: Jackson, Miss.

15 Tennessee: Despite what seemed at times to be a downright anemic offense, the Titans knocked off 10 teams en route to a playoff trip in '08. Vince Young didn't have quite the sophomore season Tennessee fans had hoped he would, but he still managed to do what he does best win games. Tennessee lost two key players on their defensive line via free agency (Antwan Odom, Travis LaBoy), but picked up the still-hungry Jevon Kearse when the opportunity knocked. The AFC South is as strong as it's ever been, but who are we to bet against Jeff Fisher, the longest tenured and arguably best coach in all of football? He's done more with less 100 times before. Camp: Nashville, Tenn.

16 Tampa Bay: A lot has been made of Brett Favre and Jon Gruden's friendship and a potential reunion down in Tampa Bay this season. That's not exactly fair to 38-year-old Jeff Garcia, a guy who revived a career on life support with a magical '07 campaign. Working with a patchwork offensive unit, the nine-year veteran led Tampa to a division title and a home playoff game last season. Ancient wideout Joey Galloway is back for another run at it and prehistoric running back Warrick Dunn joins an already solid backfield. The defense, which ranked third in the league in '07, could be even better. Yet, whether it's Garcia, Favre or any of the other 11 quarterbacks on the Tampa roster under center this season history is against the Bucs in '08. No team has ever won the NFC South two years in a row. Camp: Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

17 Houston: In 2008, Houston will be as competitive as they've ever been as a team. Yet, the odds are still against the franchise's first playoff berth. With Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Tennessee all coming off postseason trips the AFC South is as tough as it's ever been. Add in the fact that Houston plays four playoff teams in its first five games, and it won't be an easy start to '08. That said, Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson was arguably the best 1-2 combo in the league before injuries derailed each players' seasons last year, and the defense is one of the most promising young units in the entire league. Houston can very easily be either a 6-10 or 10-6 squad this season. Alas, neither record will likely be good enough in the loaded AFC. Camp: Houston, Texas.

18 Denver: I prematurely pegged Jay Cutler as my preseason pick for MVP last season, insisting the second-year man would lead Denver to the postseason and past the Chargers for the AFC West crown. In truth, Cutler had a fine sophomore season, but was by no means an MVP candidate, with the Broncos finishing a disappointing 7-9 and missing the postseason. Denver should be better this year, but there are definite question marks on defense. Jim Bates is gone as coordinator, though, and highly regarded Bob Slowik takes over. Expect big things from second-year men Jarvis Moss and Marcus Thomas. Both former Gators are going to need to perform if Denver hopes to return to the postseason for the first time since 2005. Camp: Englewood, Colo.

19 Cincinnati: Talk about an absolute wild-card of a team. In what could be coach Marvin Lewis's final year, Cincy could be a variety of teams: The AFC North champions they were in '05, the mild disappointment they were in '06, or the absolute disaster of a team they were in '07. In truth, Lewis needs his defense to perform or the Bengals have no shot at anything in '08. Chad Johnson's a distraction, but he's always ready to play come Sundays. The media blows that out of proportion. If the defense stays healthy and rookie Keith Rivers mans the LB spot like past rookie linebackers Patrick Willis and DeMeco Ryans did for their respective teams in their first seasons Cincinnati could contend for a division title. And no, I'm not kidding. Camp: Georgetown, Ky.
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20 Carolina: Two straight seasons have been derailed by Jake Delhomme injuries in Carolina. This year, it may be the last shot for both he and Panthers coach John Fox in Charlotte. After trading future draft picks to secure the rights to mauling lineman Jeff Otah in the draft and spending big bucks on free agent receivers D.J. Hackett and Muhsin Muhammad, the expectations are high in Carolina for 2008. The Panthers need to win now. Delhomme's health and specifically his elbow will be key. Camp: Spartanburg, S.C.

21 Buffalo: FOXSports.com colleague Adam Schein is all about the Bills this season, already labeling them as his playoff sleepers and a squad "cooking with gas". Of course, Schein said the same exact stuff about the Niners last year. In truth, Buffalo hasn't made the playoffs since the Music City Miracle game in 1999, and they're still a bit young to be considered legitimate contenders in the AFC. The Marcus Stroud and Kawika Mitchell acquisitions beef up the defense and the drafting of Leodis McKelvin gives Buffalo a top-flight cover corner/return man. The pieces are certainly coming together, but they're still likely a year away from January football. Camp: Pittsford, N.Y.

22 St. Louis: The Rams suffered an absurd amount of injuries last season, losing their starting quarterback, running back and left tackle at different points throughout the season. They're all healthy now, and No. 2 overall pick Chris Long joins a young, but promising defensive line. It's no secret that coach Scott Linehan is on the hot seat, though, and the Rams' schedule is no walk in the park. In September and October alone, St. Louis plays the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Eagles, Patriots, and Seahawks. The Rams started the season 0-8 last year. There's no guarantee that won't happen again. Camp: Mequon, Wis.

23 Arizona: The biggest news out of Arizona this summer involved pictures of quarterback Matt Leinart drinking out of a beer bong with a few college co-eds. On the field, Leinart's still splitting snaps with veteran Kurt Warner and there are question marks across the Cardinals defense. Arizona's always a sexy sleeper pick out of the NFC West, but they haven't won a division since they took down the NFC East in 1975. Arizona's got a shot at the playoffs this year, but they're probably on the outside looking in. So pretty much same old story. Camp: Flagstaff, Ariz.

24 Chicago: In short, I hate the Chicago quarterback situation, am not crazy about the running backs, don't think any of the receivers are legitimate NFL first or second options, and think the offensive line is simply too young to protect. But other than that, the Bears are just fine. This could be a long year for Chicago fans. Devin Hester may need to do even more than he has the past two seasons. That offense will need all the help it can get. Camp: Bourbonnais, Ill.

25 Baltimore: Forget their obvious question marks at quarterback. It's the super young, super inexperienced offensive line that scares me most about the Ravens. Long gone are the days of Jonathan Ogden holding the unit together. It's now a mix of journeymen veterans and recent draft picks doing the heavy lifting. The AFC North is a bit of a crapshoot this season and I'm loving what I've heard about coach John Harbaugh. Baltimore could very well be the sleeper pick to steal the division crown. I just wouldn't count on it. They're simply too young. Camp: Westminster, Md.

26 Oakland: Al Davis was quite generous this offseason. Just ask Javon Walker, Gibril Wilson, DeAngelo Hall, Tommy Kelly, Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden all beneficiaries of Mr. Davis's desperate commitment to excellence. Who can argue with the money he shelled out? The Raiders are a nauseating 19-61 over the past five seasons and haven't sniffed the playoffs in years. I'm actually pretty excited about the Jamarcus Russell-Darren McFadden combo out of the backfield. The SEC meets the Black Hole. Hopefully, with it, come a few wins along the way. Camp: Napa Valley, Calif.

27 New York Jets: The Jets opened up their wallets this offseason, adding several big-money free agents across the board. The offensive line New York's Achilles' heel last season now features four former first-round picks and is one of the highest-paid units in the league. But questions still linger around the quarterback position. Pennington or Clemens? Ugh. The Jets have already gone public saying they have absolutely no interest in Brett Favre. Umm ... why not? Camp: Hempstead, N.Y.

28 San Francisco: Everybody's sexy pick of the '07 offseason fell flat on its face. No one's hyping up the young 49ers this summer. But maybe they should be. Mike Martz brings another new offense for Alex Smith, Isaac Bruce serves as a reliable veteran target, and '07 rookies Joe Staley and Patrick Willis were among the league's best first-year players. With a healthy offensive line, perhaps Frank Gore returns to his '06 form. This is the make-or-break year for Smith, though. Is he a David Carr/Tim Couch No. 1 overall pick? A guy who just never put it together? Or is he a late bloomer, like Eli Manning in New York? Camp: Santa Clara, Calif.

29 Detroit: In every season since Matt Millen took over the Lions in 2001, Detroit has finished under .500, missed the playoffs, and ended the year in either last or second-to-last place in the NFC North. Last season, Detroit's defense gave up more yards and points per game than any team in the entire league, while the squad's quarterback, Jon Kitna, was sacked more than any other signal caller in the league. So, to say the expectations are low in the Motor City for the Lions this year is a bit of an understatement. In truth, Detroit brings in an entirely new offensive gameplan under Jim Colleto, three new starting defensive backs and a new backfield star in rookie Kevin Smith. The postseason isn't likely, but an improvement from last year's dismal November and December output certainly is. Camp: Allen Park, Mich.

30 Miami: The Dolphins aren't doing anything this year, but they won't go 1-15 either. Miami will be a fun team to watch, both young and hard-working, under the watchful eye of first year coach Tony Sparano. Though it's tough to see Jason Taylor leave, he and Bill Parcells were never going to work and the trade to Washington netted a few solid future draft picks. One intriguing player to watch? Our old friend Ricky Williams. What's he have left? And is he going to make it through the year? Camp: Davie, Fla.

31 Kansas City: Despite rave reviews for a strong draft, the Chiefs are still 1-2 years away from even thinking about the playoffs. Sorry, K.C. fans, but after tip-toeing around it for years, the franchise is finally in full blown rebuilding mode and there's officially no turning back. The Chiefs are just too young to be competitive in the AFC. If it's wins you want to see, you might want to check back in around 2010. Camp: River Falls, Wis.

32 Atlanta: The Falcons feature a first-year quarterback, a first-year coach and a first-year general manager. In other words, there's always next year, folks. In truth, the Falcons feature a few nice young pieces, but they are simply too young and too inexperienced to win more than 5-6 games this season. But hey, at least UGA looks good this year. Knowshon for Heisman! Camp: Flowery Branch, Ga.

CrazyPhuD
07-22-2008, 04:50 PM
WOOOO HOOOO!!! We're not last!!!!PBJPBJPBJPBJPBJPBJPBJPBJPBJPBJ

Bwana
07-22-2008, 04:52 PM
WOOOO HOOOO!!! We're not last!!!!PBJPBJPBJPBJPBJPBJPBJPBJPBJPBJ

LMAO

Yeah, but it's not a far fall. Thank God for Atlanta!

Rain Man
07-22-2008, 04:54 PM
How on earth do they have us rated below the Giants?

Ebolapox
07-22-2008, 05:13 PM
why are they apologizing for telling us we're in a rebuild? I'm f*cking stoked about it. screw 8-8, I'll put up with a few years of sh*t for a reasonably good shot at a powerhouse

JuicesFlowing
07-22-2008, 05:16 PM
When is New England going to fade away? (rhetorical question) I can't decide who is more annoying, them or Indy.

Bearcat
07-22-2008, 05:17 PM
why are they apologizing for telling us we're in a rebuild? I'm f*cking stoked about it. screw 8-8, I'll put up with a few years of sh*t for a reasonably good shot at a powerhouse

They're apologizing now, so if/when the Chiefs are 1-1 or 2-1 and people are crying about why we aren't in the top 10 of the power rankings, they can give a gentle reminder.... ;)

Lonewolf Ed
07-22-2008, 06:17 PM
Even though I expected KC to be ranked in the bottom five, it still steams me to see Oakland ranked above them! :banghead:

Bwana
07-22-2008, 06:37 PM
Even though I expected KC to be ranked in the bottom five, it still steams me to see Oakland ranked above them! :banghead:


I hear you. The thing that stood out for me and where reality hit was seeing us ranked below the Lions, the fricking Lions dude! :shake:

Dylan
07-22-2008, 08:27 PM
I hate predictions. How can they rate teams superior to other teams? They all have flaws and teams can take advantage. They’re human beings, and things happen in football.

The only time a team knows exactly where they stand is February. If they win that's great. Yet, when the new season starts in September, they're still level with the other 31 teams. J/M/O




"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face" Mike Tyson

dj56dt58
07-22-2008, 08:27 PM
so....we're not gonna win the Suberbowl this year?

Ebolapox
07-22-2008, 08:31 PM
"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face" Mike Tyson

"I'll eat yo children!"

signed, Mike Tyson

Pasta Giant Meatball
07-22-2008, 08:33 PM
so....we're not gonna win the Suberbowl this year?

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

blueballs
07-22-2008, 08:36 PM
Isn't Indy's 15 minutes about up

Baconeater
07-22-2008, 08:45 PM
When is New England going to fade away? (rhetorical question) I can't decide who is more annoying, them or Indy.

Neither of them are as annoying as America's Bandwagon.

Smed1065
07-22-2008, 08:59 PM
print' em

Dylan
07-22-2008, 11:51 PM
so....we're not gonna win the Suberbowl this year?

No, none of us are going --- I'm ok. I'm not greedy. Really, I'll be fine for another 17 years.

It's the Cowboys every year. That changed. The new prediction is New Aw Leans. Seriously, the press says they're going this year.


Johnny Vilma will lead the New Orleans defense and Jeremy Shockey will lead the offense to a Super Bowl. As soon as the confetti drops in the Big Easy I will take my Browning Nagle jersey from 94, put it on, take my Blair Thomas autographed Jets cap, place it on my head, Tape a picture of Richie Kotite put it near a candle and SLIT MY WRISTS !!!



hey Dimension2112, that's for you! LMAO

Dylan
07-22-2008, 11:56 PM
How on earth do they have us rated below the Giants?

Because we're the Underdogs for life... Wouldn't have it any other way.:D

Smed1065
07-22-2008, 11:58 PM
Safe bet when we picked 5th this year?

Gonna Piss lots of people off when we pick 9th next year...

ROFL

Count Zarth
07-23-2008, 12:01 AM
7-9

Write it down.

JuicesFlowing
07-23-2008, 02:04 AM
Neither of them are as annoying as America's Bandwagon.

Good point. I forgot about them somehow.

Guru
07-23-2008, 02:08 AM
7-9

Write it down.
3-13

Jayhawkerman2001
07-23-2008, 03:48 AM
i see everybody's lovefest with San Diego lives on...

cadmonkey
07-23-2008, 06:10 AM
When is New England going to fade away? (rhetorical question) I can't decide who is more annoying, them or Indy.

New England hands down. The whole f*cking region should just fall into the Atlantic Ocean. I'm sick of their teams winning everything.

Like Rome, Mighty New England will fall!!!!!!