The NFL season is upon us. As I watched the NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement last night, I had on thing on
The NFL season is upon us. As I watched the NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement last night, I had on thing on my mind: FOOTBALL. I cannot wait for the Hall of Fame game tonight. Of course the excitement will be ended with the ceremonial flip of the channel after about 15 minutes or so. Every year I am shortly reminded that it is only the preseason and the games are pretty much worthless for anything other than looking for finding fantasy football sleepers and dashing teams’ hopes with injuries. However, this game is important because it officially kicks off the NFL season. So before more injuries change the direction of the 2013-2014 campaign, I am giving you my pre-preseason top 10 power rankings.
Well ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, here goes the rankings:
10. Cincinnati Bengals (Andy Dalton continues to mature and having a top 5 receiver in the NFL helps.)
9. Baltimore Ravens (The Super Bowl champs lost their leaders with the departure of Ed Reed and the retirement of Ray Lewis. Will Joe Flacco be able to duplicate his playoff run?)
8. Washington Redskins (This is all dependent upon RGIII being 90-100% for Week 1. I don’t see anyone in the division stopping the Skins.)
7. Houston Texans (They spent most of last season seeming destined for the Super Bowl. Arian Foster and J.J. Watt anchor a veteran team that keeps coming up short.)
6. Green Bay Packers (With Aaron Rodgers anything is possible. The Packers’ fate may rest in the legs of rookie RB Eddie Lacy.)
5. New England Patriots
It would be almost impossible to imagine a top 5 Power Rankings without the Pats, but I honestly considered leaving them off. It was close between the Patriots and the Packers (sorry Green Bay), but in the end I had to go with consistency. You may ask, how can the Patriots hold it together when Gronkowski is hurt, Hernandez is in prison, Welker is in Denver, and [insert sarcastic voice] Tebow is waiting in the wings to take over for Brady? Even amid turmoil, I still expect the Patriots to win the AFC East and get a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Even when the Patriots lost Tom Brady and replaced them with Matt Cassel they went 11-5 and only missed the playoffs because of a fluke year when 11-5 was not good enough to get in. Look for Danny Amendola to step up and fill the void left by Welker. As for the rest of the depleted receiving corp of the Patriots, Brady has a history of turning marginal players into important players (See Deion Branch, Troy Brown, Wes Welker, etc.). It also helps the Patriots that they play in a very weak division.
4. Seattle Seahawks
The last time we saw the Seattle Seahawks they almost pulled off a miracle win against the Atlanta Falcons in the Divisional Playoffs. However, Matty Ice foiled those plans with a last second drive for the win. The Seahawks did show that they are in fact for real and they will be looking to improve on last year’s performance. The Seahawks made a big splash in free agency by signing Cliff Avril (overrated), Michael Bennett (perennial under-performer), and Percy Harvin (injury prone). Unfortunately for the ‘Hawks, their free agency prize signing Percy Harvin has already gone on the PUP list with a hip injury requiring surgery. Will Harvin play at all in 2013? He will miss at least the first 3 months of the season, but with his history the Seahawks would be foolish to rush him back. Add in Bruce Irvin’s 4 game PED suspension and the Seahawks are going to have a difficult start to the season. I do believe that the defense and Russell Wilson’s pocket presence will be enough to land them at number 4.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Many people will have the 49ers as 2nd in their power rankings, but I have many reasons for putting them third. First of all they lost Alex Smith. Their back up QB is Scott Tolzien. Who??? Exactly. With Kaepernick’s style of play, the Niners will be in bad shape if anything happens to their star QB. Secondly, their secondary has taken some hits. Nickelback Chris Culliver is lost for the season as so is the Niners’ depth at CB. Also, former starting FS Dashon Goldson signed with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Thirdly and most importantly, Michael Crabtree will miss at least most of the season with a torn ACL. There is also a chance he will miss the whole season. Why is this important? Counting the playoffs, Kaepernick had 8 TDs and 1 Int when targeting Crabtree. Kaepernick had 1 TD and 4 Int when targeting other wide receivers (Source: http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcwest/post/_/id/100513/go-to-guy-michael-crabtree-by-the-numbers). That is a very scary stat for 49ers fans. The addition of Anquan Boldin should help move Kap along (and they still have TE Vernon Davis).
2. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were 10 yards from the Super Bowl last year; with zero running game. Michael “The Burner” Turner turned into Michael “Burnt-out” Turner last season. This was the main reason that the Falcons had such a hard time holding onto leads. They just could not grind out the clock when they needed to. The addition of Steven Jackson may be the biggest pick up of the entire off season (NFL.com writer Adam Schein agrees: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000213610/article/atlanta-falcons-steven-jackson-signing-tops-offseason-moves). The loss of John Abraham is negated by the signing of Osi Umenyiora. The Falcons defense is still suspect, but promising rookie CBs Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant are making waves at Falcons training camp. If the Falcons can sure up the CB position and get pressure on the QB from the defensive line they will be unstoppable. Look for another NFC Championship in the Georgia Dome.
1. Denver Broncos
The addition of Wes Welker will take the offense of the Denver Broncos to the next level … and that is a scary thought. The emergence of Demaryius Thomas as one of the NFL’s brightest up and coming receivers last year spelled trouble for opposing defenses. He should continue to get better. The Broncos only have two questions that they bring into the 2013-2014 campaign: 1) Can Peyton get it done in the playoffs? & 2) Will Monte Ball be able to replace Willis McGahee? As for Peyton winning in the playoffs, obviously this is a big concern. But remember, it was not the offense that let them down in Denver against the Baltimore Ravens; it was the defense. The defense got burnt by Joe Flacco. If it was not for one botched play, Peyton may have been hoisting up the Lombardi trophy instead of the Ravens. If Monte Ball can step up and becoming a prominent running back (see last year’s rookie RBs for proof it can be done), the Broncos offense will be dominant. They will also benefit from an AFC that seems to be somewhat down this year.