RankingsSeptember 10, 2011

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NFL Rankings: To Be the Champs … - 2 comments

By R.J. White

The Packers “shocked the world” by becoming the most recent Wild Card team to run the table in the playoffs and take home the Lombardi trophy. While an offseason of game-less Sundays may have built the champions up as being better than they actually were, remember that Green Bay barely made the playoffs, winning a tiebreaker ahead of the Giants and Buccaneers for the last spot. I bring this up to say that the Packers clearly had some luck along the way to winning a title, as they finished the regular season in a three-way tie for sixth place in their conference. That being said, the champs looked pretty unstoppable on Thursday night. James Starks is primed to balance the offense a bit with a quality rushing attack, while Randall Cobb gives Aaron Rodgers yet another playmaker to use to carve up defenses. After putting up 42 points on what should be a quality Saints defense this year, it’s hard to rank the Green Bay Packers anywhere but No. 1 in our first 2011 edition of the NFL Rankings. So I won’t. Simply put, this team looks far better than the 2010 group that won the championship. Until someone beats them, the Packers should have no problem being designated the top team in the NFL.

Below you’ll find my initial power rankings for the NFL, from 1 to 32. These are opinions of mine and make virtually no sense if you try to analyze them based on statistics. You’ll see two playoff teams in the bottom five, 5-11 teams over 10-6 teams. However, I’m reasonably certain that your Super Bowl winner will come from the top six teams in our rankings, with teams 7-12 representing darkhorse Super Bowl participants. Feel free to slam the rankings in the comments section; I have thick skin.

RankTeamRecordPreviousWeek 1
1Green Bay Packers1-010-6W, NO 42-34
How do you stop Aaron Rodgers? Could this be the new Patriots of the 2010s?
2Pittsburgh Steelers0-012-4at BAL
The Steelers seem unflappable, and Big Ben looks better than ever. Championship.
3New England Patriots0-014-2at MIA
Last year’s best team according to the win column may have improved, which is a scary thought.
4Philadelphia Eagles0-010-6at STL
The Eagles won the offseason, but will it translate to on-field success? It’s up to the O-Line to decide.
5Atlanta Falcons0-013-3at CHI
The Falcons were one offensive piece and one pass rusher away from competing, so they plugged the holes.
6New Orleans Saints0-111-5L, GB 34-42
Green Bay has an excellent defense, and they couldn’t stop Drew Brees. He could be in for a monster fantasy year.
7San Diego Chargers0-010-6vs. MIN
Can the Chargers avoid an early-season swoon? I’ll have to see it to believe it.
8Houston Texans0-06-10vs. IND
Houston is primed to take over the AFC South with a revitalized defense headed by Wade Phillips.
9New York Jets0-011-5vs. DAL
I’m not sure this is a championship-caliber team; two straight trips to the AFC title game seems like their peak.
10Baltimore Ravens0-012-4vs. PIT
The defense lost talent and has a questionable secondary; I think that outweighs any offensive gains.
11St. Louis Rams0-07-9vs. PHI
Josh McDaniels = great offense. Steve Spagnuolo = great defense. Am I crazy, or is this team a legit contender?
12Dallas Cowboys0-06-10at NYJ
Everything went wrong for the Cowboys last year, but a healthy Tony Romo should lead them back to the playoffs.
13Tampa Bay Buccaneers0-010-6vs. DET
The Bucs are on the cusp of joining the NFC elite, but they need to marinate and find a few more playmakers.
14Detroit Lions0-06-10at TB
I’m not buying everyone’s favorite sleeper, but it’s hard to rank them much lower with their D-Line and passing offense.
15Chicago Bears0-011-5vs. ATL
Expect a free fall for the Bears this year; they have exactly one quality player on offense and an aging D.
16Tennessee Titans0-06-10at JAC
Here’s my favorite AFC sleeper. Great running game, improved QB, solid defense. Could win AFC South.
17Cleveland Browns0-05-11vs. CIN
Here’s another great sleeper, with an emerging young QB and an excellent running back.
18Oakland Raiders0-08-8at DEN
It’s hard to get a bead on the Raiders, but we know the loss of Nnamdi Asomugha is going to hurt.
19Arizona Cardinals0-05-11vs. CAR
Kevin Kolb could be the savior, or he could be Derek Anderson 2.0. Playoffs or bust for the Cardinals.
20New York Giants0-010-6at WAS
The Giants would have ranked much higher if not for having to start third-stringers on defense this year.
21Kansas City Chiefs0-010-6vs. BUF
With the hardest schedule in the NFL, the Chiefs should see the biggest plunge. Losing Charlie Weis hurts big time.
22Miami Dolphins0-07-9vs. NE
Is Chad Henne bad? I’m not quite sure as of yet, but this is a team with some talent at key positions.
23Minnesota Vikings0-06-10at SD
It’s hard to get much worse QB play than the Vikings got last year, so McNabb could turn them around.
24Jacksonville Jaguars0-08-8vs. TEN
Blaine Gabbert, I hope you’ve taken notes this offseason. Prepare to be cut in late August 2014.
25Washington Redskins0-06-10vs. NYG
Despite having no talent at QB, I like this team a little bit as a sleeper. Ryan Kerrigan should make a quick impact.
26San Francisco 49ers0-06-10vs. SEA
Frankly, they should be lower, but I have a feeling Garrard ends up here and saves the offense.
27Denver Broncos0-04-12vs. OAK
They should be better to a degree, but don’t expect miracles in John Fox’s first year.
28Seattle Seahawks0-07-9at SF
With Tarvaris Jackson, this feels about four spots too high, but the defense is credible.
29Indianapolis Colts0-010-6at HOU
It promises to be a long year for a team with a journeyman QB and a terrible defense.
30Carolina Panthers0-02-14at ARI
Cam Newton will definitely take his lumps, and a tough division limits the Panthers’ upside to six wins.
31Buffalo Bills0-04-12at KC
Buffalo always seems to be a team treading water, which is good for playoff contenders but bad for four-win teams.
32Cincinnati Bengals0-04-12at CLE
Can you get much worse on offense with a second-round QB leading the way? Losing Jonathan Joseph is the capper.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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2 Responses to “NFL Rankings: To Be the Champs …”

  1. Hippo45 says:

    My Super Bowl prediction: Falcons beat the Ravens

  2. User avatar Navyseal says:

    You NAILED that Kerrigan prediction! His penultimate go-ahead INT returned for a TD vs the G-Men qualifies as a “quick impact” for sure, and while I haven’t checked, I’ve gotta believe that Ryan’s jersey is now atop all Redskins jersey sales heh heh heh. He looks like THE perfect bookend to Orakpo in the pass-rush game.

    Just a great call R.J., the Skins are STILL flying relatively low under the “radar” as we call it, and they are still my sleeper team to make a lil noise in the NFC, with WC potential IF-IF they can stay relatively healthy on both sides of the ball into Thanksgiving were Washington’s schedule turns into a “murderer’s row” of sorts…

    Keep the good stuff a comin’ Mr. White!


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