|WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 1||09.09.09 at 9:34 pm ET|
Football is finally here! To mark the start of the season WEEI.com is introducing its weekly NFL Power rankings. Count on the rankings to be posted every Tuesday throughout the season and feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.
1. You’ve got to beat the best to be the best. The defending champs have one of the best defenses in the league, led by 2008 Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison. And, they’ve got a quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger who has proven can win the big game.
2. With the offense the Patriots have they can send 11 rookies out on defense and still outscore their opponent. Who says Brady can’t match his 2007 career year? Joey Galloway compliments Wes Welker and Randy Moss nicely, plus he has a plethora of running backs to keep opposing defenses on its toes. The Patriots defense will need some time to gel, but come playoff time, the Patriots’ D will be a force.
3. Yes, they lost Tony Dungy, but they still have Peyton Manning. It’s also ridiculous that they had to travel to San Diego for their playoff game after finishing the regular season with a better record.
4. Great coach, solid defense and a proven winner at quarterback. The Giants will be a major threat to win the NFC this year.
5. You can mark the Chargers down with a perfect 8-0 record in their division. Plus Shawne Merriman is back. If Merriman can stay on the field and not get distracted by his bisexual girlfriend Tila Tequilla, the Chargers will be a threat in the AFC.
6. If all reports are true Brian Westbrook is healthy and ready to go for the start of the season. It’s going to be a defensive nightmare for opposing teams that have to game plan against Philly’s offense.
7. Kerry Collins won’t put up the same numbers as he did last year and Albert Haynesworth is gone, but they still have a great running game and are returning 10 of 11 starters on defense.
8.With a full season under his belt, Matt Ryan is primed for another great year. Plus, the addition of Tony Gonzalez will compliment Michael Turner and the run game very well. John Abraham is a force coming off the line — he had 16.5 sacks last year, finishing third in the NFL.
9. The defending NFC champs make the Top 10 because of their explosive offense and some key playmakers on defense like Adrian Wilson and Darnell Dockett. Mark them down for 10 wins this season.
10. OK, Bart Scott is gone, but the Ravens still have Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Bill Belichick’s binky, Ed Reed. Any defense with those three guys is going to be solid. Plus, Joe Flacco can only get better after having a very successful rookie season.
11. The Panthers are in a strong division, and have to travel to New York to face the Giants and New England to face the Patriots at the end of the season. They’ll also be playing in 13 straight games, as they are one of the unlucky teams that has a bye in week 4. Still, they’ve got a great run game and speed on the defensive line with Julius Peppers and rookie Everette Brown.
12. The Bears have a relatively easy schedule — they have nine games with teams that finished last season under .500. Jay Cutler seems comfortable, and fantasy owners all know what Matt Forte is capable of doing. The Bears win the division.
13. Jerry Jones finally came to his senses and got rid of T.O. and Pacman Jones. There’s only one more person Jerry needs to send packing — Wade Phillips.
14. Drew Brees and the Saints offense can put up some major numbers this year, especially if Jeremy Shockey and Reggie Bush can stay healthy, but the fact remains that defense wins games. The Saints ranked 23rd in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed in 2008.
15. The Vikings have the best running back in the game, but you can count on Adrian Peterson getting less touches this year because you know Brett Favre is going to try and sling the ball all over the field. Favre throws 25 INTs in 2009.
16. Their defense is very capable of becoming a solid top tier unit in the league with young and talented guys like Aaron Kampman and AJ Hawk. The season will tell how they perform in the new 3-4 defense, and how they respond to their new defensive coordinator (former Patriots assistant Dom Capers.)
17. Matt Hasselbeck appears to be healthy and has a new option to pass to this year in TJ Houshmandzadeh. They’ve also added former Panthers cornerback Ken Lucas to help their secondary.
18. The J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets will miss the playoffs again this year, but they’ve looked good. Mark Sanchez has played well in the preseason and they have a strong running game.
19. The addition of Albert Haynesworth won’t put them over the edge to make the playoffs unless 2-3 NFC teams suffer a huge debacle.
20. The worst team to win the AFC East since 2002 . Plus, coaches will be more prepared to stop the Wildcat this year.
21. Maurice Jones Drew is a stud that can put up great numbers, but their defense is well below average.
22. In a sudden move of desperation and panic, the Bills fired their offensive coordinator Turk Schonert. I do like 11th overall pick Aaron Maybin making a major impact on that defense.
23. Being in a division with the Colts and the Titans doesn’t help. I can’t see Matt Schaub playing in all 16 games without getting injured either.
24. I’ve been waiting for Vernon Davis to have a breakout season for the past three years, but it still hasn’t happened. The 49ers have a great run game and some really talented linebackers, but their passing game will struggle yet again.
25. I admit you could say I’m a little emotionally attached to this team after watching “Hard Knocks” over the past few weeks, but I think they have a lot of potential. I’m anxious to see if Carson Palmer and Chad Ocho Cinco can be dominant again, and I love linebacker Rey Maualuga.
26. The firing of Jon Gruden was a mistake, and the Bu’s seem to be second guessing themselves already with the firing of offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski.
27. I’ve never been a fan of Kyle Orton, and who knows what will happen with Brandon Marshall. Josh McDaniels has his work cut out for him.
28. Matt Cassel is back at practice, but is starting the season already banged up. The Chiefs only registered 10 sacks last year on defense. The number of sacks should grow this year, but not dramatically.
29. Someone please send a memo to Eric Mangini and tell him not announcing his starting quarterback is not going to matter one way or another. The Browns are still going finish in last place in their division. Plus, I think everyone knows Brady Quinn is getting the nod.
30. When your head coach is beating up his assistant coaches, don’t expect more than a four-win season. Jamarcus Russell is still unproven and its looking like there could be a serious problem with DE Richard Seymour still not reporting.
31. What happened to the greatest show on turf?
32. The worst of the worst. Unlike the Steelers — who are proven winners — the Lions are proven losers and rookie QB Matt Stafford has to prove he can win games before they can move up in the power rankings.
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