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Old 08-24-2005, 05:44 PM  
Mr. Laz Mr. Laz is offline
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Power ranking

NFL Preseason Power Rankings

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Adrian Hasenmayer / FOXSports.com
Posted: 1 hour ago

Ahhhh, football is back and all is right with the world. Sure, it's only preseason, when many starters have only played a handful of preseason series with mostly bland, textbook schemes to avoid sharing company secrets. But each week brings us closer to Kickoff Weekend, and as the cliché says, every team is tied for first.

But nobody wants NFL Power Rankings with 32 teams all crammed together at the No. 1 spot. So how to assess the NFL from top to bottom without one meaningful snap thus far? Should last season's finish be the barometer? Should the spotlight stick more to best and worst off-season moves? Does preseason success make a difference at all?

Let's address the criteria in a nutshell:

1. Last season provides a starting point, nothing else.
2. Off-season moves are key, combined with coaching and scheme changes.
3. Preseason stats mean next to nothing, except in rare cases.

There, not too complicated, right? Time for kickoff.



POWER RANKINGS - PRESEASON EDITION


Rk Team_ '04 Final(Change)
1. Patriots 1st (SAME)


Will the Patriots go 14-2 again? Not with a schedule including seven games against 10-game winners in 2004, in addition to four others against strong contenders (Bills twice, Panthers, Chiefs). Expect 3-5 losses as the Pats transition from an off-season of upheaval with the loss of both coordinators and their defensive heart in Tedy Bruschi. But don't count out a three-peat.

2. Eagles 2nd SAME

Many predict doom for Team Turmoil, as some say they missed their window to win a Super Bowl. But rock solid leadership with the tone set by Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb have calmed the troubled waters, even after the Terrell Owens circus and Brian Westbrook holdout. Together again, Philly's Big Three on offense complements Jim Johnson's loaded defense with seven Pro Bowl-caliber starters and a stable of backups who could start on most teams.


3. Colts 4th (+1)

Expect more record chases for Peyton Manning and his scoring orgy of an offense, but can the Colts "D" up enough under coach Tony Dungy? The front office did its part in the draft by adding defensive rookies known for big-time hits, but the full effects may not be felt until the season's second half. The real mission? Win home-field advantage in the AFC to avoid another January road trip to snowy New England.

4. Chargers 5th (+1)

With Antonio Gates signed for all but Week 1 against Dallas, the Chargers are poised for another Super Bowl run. QB Drew Brees, currently on a one-year contract, is oddly playing for his job after a Pro Bowl year. It helps to have the NFL's most talented back, LaDainian Tomlinson. They need a pass rush, which is where rookie Shawne Merriman comes in. October will be the litmus test as they face the Patriots, Steelers and Eagles over a four-week span.

5. Bills 10th (+5)

Hmm, in the Bills you have a team built around a turnover machine on defense (ranked No. 2 overall in 2004), excellent special teams (five kick/punt returns for TDs last year) and an offense led by a young, mobile QB (second-year J.P. Losman) surrounded by a stellar group of runners and receivers ... all set in a football-crazy city in the Northeast. Sounds a lot like last year's Steelers. If Losman is this year's Roethlisberger, watch out.


6. Jets 9th (+3)


If this team didn't "Schottenheimer" away a playoff game at Pittsburgh (Doug Brien wasn't the reason the Jets lost), the Jets would have replaced the Steelers in the AFC title game — and that was with a QB with an injured throwing arm. Chad Pennington is healthy and has his favorite target wearing green again (Laveranues Coles). Herm Edwards' defense is strong behind Jonathan Vilma and ex-Patriot Ty Law.

7. Panthers 12th (+5)

Only a slew of injuries mixed with a ridiculous first-half schedule kept the Panthers from the postseason in '04. But some positives were derived, like the team sticking together (credit to coach John Fox), Jake Delhomme's continued development and the emergence under emergency of rookie receiver Keary Colbert. IF the defense can keep its key guys out of the trainer's office (notice the big 'IF'), the Cats should win the NFC South.

8. Steelers 4th (-4)

Tough to drop a 15-1 team from a year ago to No. 8 in our preseason poll, but outside of the superb defense and special teams, the cracks are starting to show. At RB, Duce Staley is again battling injury while nearly-retired Jerome Bettis stated very publicly that he can't handle the same load as in 2004. Plus, the Steelers must replace starting WR Plaxico Burress, a free agency defector to the Giants. Suddenly Big Ben's support staff is weakening, which could lead to a sophomore slump.

9. Falcons 6th (-3)

This is a franchise headed in the right direction under heady head coach Jim Mora (he's no Junior), though Michael Vick and Co. remain one year away from the Super Bowl. The Falcons benefited from a major down year for the NFC in '04, but competition and the schedule will toughen this time around. But watch out in 2006, with Vick (another year in the West Coast offense under his belt) throwing to young receivers Michael Jenkins and Roddy White.

10. Ravens 11th (+1)

This defense could be even scarier than usual, with an ultra-motivated Ray Lewis the centerpiece of defensive coordinator Rex Ryan's new '46' defense. And this year, the Ravens actually have some receivers, thanks to free agent signee Derrick Mason and first-round pick Mark Clayton. But the jury is still way out on QB Kyle Boller, who has not given any reason for hope this preseason. The Ravens may need another historic year for the defense.

11. Vikings 18th (+7)

The Vikings will be united by one major cause — to prove they can win without Randy Moss. Daunte Culpepper is poised to prove he doesn't need Moss to be a great quarterback, and his collection of receivers should provide plenty of targets. Mike Tice will likely need to use all of his RBs as Michael Bennett can never stay healthy, but any success depends on an overhauled defense.

12. Chiefs 20th(+8)

The offense should again be unstoppable, as the Chiefs are geared around a machine fueled by one of the NFL's best O-lines, RBs Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson, plus uber-talented TEs Tony Gonzalez and youngster Kris Wilson. This is another team that could score in '04, but couldn't stop a high school squad. Free agent pickups Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight add legitimacy to the secondary, and first-rounder Derrick Johnson looks like a franchise MLB.

13. Jaguars 19th (+6)

The Jags sport a great, young defense that was wasted a year ago thanks to an offense that ranked 29th in scoring. Enter another former USC assistant, Carl Smith, to coach the offense, and budding NFL star Byron Leftwich has already fallen in love with the QB-friendly attack. But can he and running back Fred Taylor, coming off major off-season knee surgery, stay healthy?


14. Seahawks 14th SAME

The Seahawks' front office faced a daunting off-season, with nearly every key player on offense up for free agency. But they weathered a storm that included avoiding a holdout with TD-maker Shawn Alexander. Now No. 1 on the To Do list is repairing a broken defense that cost them a run at the Super Bowl. Rookie LBs Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill added with a healthy secondary will help, but maybe not enough to seriously contend.


15. Cardinals 26th (+11)

The Arizona Cardinals are no longer a punchline. A radical turnaround may be in order, if they can keep new QB Kurt Warner from laying down on the job. Only an iffy O-line can hold back an emerging offense, with second-round draft steal J.J. Arrington set to energize a once-dormant offense. Warner's young receivers might make him feel like an MVP again, but it's the overlooked defense (12th in fewest points allowed in '04) that will make Arizona a player in the NFC West.

16. Saints 13th (-3)

For an organization unable to shake the mediocrity label, this is the perfect spot in the rankings. Will Aaron Brooks be able to shake his maddening inconsistency under Mike Sheppard's "less is more" offense? Can the NFL's worst-ranked defense from 2004 figure out how to stop anybody? Who knows? What we do know is the Saints will field both potential and disappointment, gift-wrapped in another 8-8 season.

17. Bengals 16th (-1)

Bengals fans, feel free to admit you are Bengals fans this season. If the young defense, spearheaded by rookie LBs David Pollack and Odell Thurman, can give the offense a chance, Cincy might be headed for its first winning season since the first Bush administration. Doubters shouldn't stress about Carson Palmer's poor preseason to date, instead look forward to a young offense set to explode.


18. Raiders 25th(+7)

No. 18 is where Randy Moss's Vikings finished in our rankings last season, and it seems the right place to start for his new team. Adding Moss and RB Lamont Jordan will immediately catapult this offense to among the league's elite. All questions in Oakland surround a defense that gave up a whopping 27.6 points per game in 2004.


19. Rams 15th(-4)

First off, how classy is Hall of Fame lock Marshall Faulk by initiating the transition of Steven Jackson from backup to starting RB? This offense seems poised to resemble the production from their Super Bowl years, with Marc Bulger looking even more comfy behind center this summer. But the Rams didn't do enough on defense this off-season to push Mike Martz any higher.


20. Broncos 8th (-12)

This is a major fall from the penthouse for the Broncos. Questionable moves lowlighted their off-season — from using a third-round pick on Maurice Clarett (who may not make the team) to adding four down linemen from the NFL's worst rushing defense in 2004 (Browns). Mike Shanahan owns some talent on offense, but he seems to have missed on his key investments.


21. Lions 23rd(+2)

Matt Millen has been stocking his defensive cupboards with young talent in the last two drafts, and he may be in for a payoff soon. The offense looks promising too, if Detroit can get a full year of RB Kevin Jones and WRs Roy Williams, Charles Rogers and Mike Williams. If Joey Harrington can hold it together against some tough defenses early in the season, the Lions could be in the mix for an NFC wild-card spot.


22. Texans 21st (-1)

David Carr will silence some doubters in 2005, as Carr-to-Andre Johnson will be one of the league's top QB-WR connections. But the Texans failed to address their O-line issues from a year ago, when Houston allowed 49 sacks. The other interesting development is on defense, as the Texans cut loose two of their top three tacklers from last fall (LBs Jamie Sharper and Jay Foreman) in hopes of increasing their quickness.

23. Cowboys 27th (+4)


The Cowboys aren't ready to challenge the Eagles in the NFC East, but if they can protect Drew Bledsoe and Bill Parcell's shift to more of a 3-4 defense works, the Cowboys can again become respectable. It will help to have a full helping of RB Julius Jones, who ran for 819 yards and seven touchdowns in only half a season last year. If by November FOX NFL Sunday is producing features on Roy Williams and DeMarcus Ware, then Dallas will be a wild-card contender.

24. Packers 7th (-17)

How the once mighty have fallen. It's easy to second-guess dropping a team so low with Brett Favre on the roster, but the signs are not positive in Cheesehead Country. Favre is still Favre, and there are no lingering feelings from Javon Walker's threatened holdout this summer. But RB Ahman Green may be on the verge of breaking down and the defense is porous at best. Scary thought: Where would the Pack be if Favre (gasp) actually got hurt this season?


25. Bucs 24th (-1)

Whether or not Jon Gruden is on the "hot seat," the Tampa coach is under big pressure to halt an inglorious slide from Super Bowl champ to last place. The Bucs coach is absolutely giddy with excitement over first-round pick Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, and QB Brian Griese did complete an obscene 69.3 percent of his passes in '04. But an aging defense and dubious kicking situation need some remodeling work.


26. Redskins 17th(-9)

There's no other way to put it: Joe Gibbs' first season back in Washington was a disaster. But the parts are in stock for a rebound, though maybe not a playoff run. RB Clinton Portis is relieved the Skins have adjusted their running schemes to fit his cutback style, and Washington's defense should remain tough to penetrate. But too many questions surround the quarterback situation to give a blessing before the season kicks off.


27. Titans 22nd (-5)

2004 was a snakebit season in Tennessee. In the first half, the passing game was hurt by injuries to QB Steve McNair. In the second half, the entire secondary was wiped out and fell apart in the process. Following a spring salary purge, the Titans still retain talent on offense and added longtime NCAA offensive guru Norm Chow to spice things up. The young defense will alternately make us cheer and cringe, sometimes in the same series. But coaches should keep all sharp objects away from brittle playmakers McNair, Chris Brown and Travis Henry.


28. Giants 29th(+1)

Give the Giants credit for trying to rebuild the right way, constructing a team around franchise quarterback Eli Manning. The problem is they spent so many draft picks in trading for Peyton's little bro that they could only add four draft picks to help the cause. Giving Eli another big target in Plaxico Burress should help, as would a healthy Jeremy Shockey. But can Michael Strahan find the Fountain of Youth?


29. Bears 28th(-1)


You know how every team is supposed to be feeling optimistic before the season? How fired up should Bears fans feel right now, with their starting QB out for the next 3-4 months with a broken ankle, and No. 2 overall pick Cedric Benson still holding out? The Bears' defense should be formidable, especially if it can get a full season out of Brian Urlacher. But why the heck wouldn't the Bears have brought in an experienced backup QB this spring?


30. Dolphins 30th SAME

Nick Saban may have his work cut out for himself, but he already earns an A-plus for delicately managing the Ricky Williams comeback. Now at the very least, the Dolphins should have two strong running backs to give new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan some play-action passes to work with. While coach Saban knows Gus Frerotte or A.J. Feeley will not win a title anytime soon, the offense again has an identity. It's a start.

31. 49ers 32nd(+1)


We now know that rookie 49ers head honcho Mike Nolan can make the tough calls, judging by already making the No. 1 overall pick in the draft No. 2 on his own depth chart. But QB Alex Smith is clearly not yet ready to start, with incumbent Tim Rattay sporting a preseason passer rating 100 points higher than the Utah rookie (141.2 to 40.6) through two games. Expect the 49ers to pull off a few upsets with Rattay this season.

32. Browns 31st (-1)

Romeo, oh Romeo ... much luck to you. Frankly, the Browns were a total mess when Crennel arrived, but they may have chosen wisely in scoring Bill Belichick's righthand man to lead the revival. Kellen Winslow's off-season Evel Knievel impersonation didn't help matters, but rookie WR Braylon Edwards is already using his breakaway speed to fly up the depth chart. Hang in there, Dawg Pound. The healing has begun.

Adrian Hasenmayer is the NFL producer at FOXSports.com and can be reached at ahasenmayer@foxsports.com.
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Old 08-24-2005, 05:46 PM   #2
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I sure am glad we got a franchise MLB in Derrick Johnson.
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Old 08-24-2005, 05:47 PM   #3
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I sure am glad we got a franchise MLB in Derrick Johnson.
Once again, the FO has misunderestimated someone's natural position and moved them. Might as well make him a corner.

Dammit Carl!!!
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Old 08-24-2005, 05:47 PM   #4
Mr. Laz Mr. Laz is offline
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i don't know why they hell they mention kris wilson instead of Trent Green



even the national media has bought into the wilson hype machine
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Old 08-24-2005, 05:49 PM   #5
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I hope Eric Downing has a better year this year.
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Old 08-24-2005, 05:52 PM   #6
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SD is going to be extemely tough this year. Those 2 games should be good battles.
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Old 08-24-2005, 06:14 PM   #7
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Why all the hummers for SD? I see them coming back to the pack with a harder schedule. More like 10-6 or even 9-7

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Old 08-24-2005, 06:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Lane
Why all the hummers for SD? I see them coming back to the pack with a harder schedule. More like 10-6 or even 9-7

Dave
They have one of the best RBs in the game, a respectable group at WR, and, if he can play at a level close to last season, one of the top TEs.

With that group, Brees should also be able to play near the same level as last season.

On paper, they improved their D through the draft.

All of these things added together could equal a tough SD team.
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Old 08-24-2005, 06:25 PM   #9
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The best line in the article, referring to the Jets:

"If this team didn't "Schottenheimer" away a playoff game at Pittsburgh..."
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Old 08-24-2005, 06:30 PM   #10
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Check out SD's won-loss record against teams with winning records last year.....not so good (I think only 2 wins)

Their schedule this year is a bitch with trips to NE, PHIL, and the Jets...and a home game against Pittsburgh. It wont be easy for them to repeat this year.....look at last year's season as an anomaly...kind of like when everything went Super Bono's way and we went 13-3.
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Old 08-24-2005, 06:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SideWinder
They have one of the best RBs in the game, a respectable group at WR, and, if he can play at a level close to last season, one of the top TEs.

With that group, Brees should also be able to play near the same level as last season.

On paper, they improved their D through the draft.

All of these things added together could equal a tough SD team.
Agreed. They will be tough, no doubt about it. Schottenheiner teams always are, (In the regular season) anyways....I see us splitting the season with them.
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Old 08-24-2005, 09:00 PM   #12
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SD is going to be extemely tough this year. Those 2 games should be good battles.
I am going to have to spend the next 5 months avoiding my bandwagoning neighbors.
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Old 08-24-2005, 09:05 PM   #13
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7 of the top 10 are in the AFC.

This seems unfair and unbalanced.
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Old 08-24-2005, 09:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SideWinder
They have one of the best RBs in the game, a respectable group at WR, and, if he can play at a level close to last season, one of the top TEs.

With that group, Brees should also be able to play near the same level as last season.

On paper, they improved their D through the draft.

All of these things added together could equal a tough SD team.
Color me not concerned.

It's a Marty coached team.

Enough said.
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Old 08-24-2005, 09:51 PM   #15
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FoxSports Most Improved Teams:

+11 Cards - cuz they got a defense.

+8 Chiefs - cuz they got a defense.

+7 Vikings - cuz they don't have Randy Moss.

+7 Raiderz - cuz they do have Randy Moss.



FoxSports Most Decomposed Teams:

-17 Packers - cuz they got no defense.

-12 Denver - cuz their defense is now the Cleveland Browns.
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Ugly Duck is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Ugly Duck is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Ugly Duck is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Ugly Duck is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Ugly Duck is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Ugly Duck is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Ugly Duck is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Ugly Duck is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Ugly Duck is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Ugly Duck is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Ugly Duck is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.
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