Because they do this in college, there seems to be this odd, rather silly need to "rank" NFL teams prior to any of them playing actual games. In college, rankings are important, mainly because the college football system is so ridiculous and broken. You gotta love it when a computer decides who plays in a championship game rather than the teams themselves facing off in a playoff format. But that's another argument all together.
Because the NFL does have a playoff system, and because the NFL's top teams are defined by what they win, not how high they run up the score on someone, ranking teams in May makes rankings an exercise in futility.
To cite an example, look no further than Peter King, who used his MMQB article to (sigh) rank all 32 NFL teams.
Of course, Peter ranked the New England Patriots #1. Not the World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Not the Colts (who beat the Patriots last year, again). Not the Miami Dolphins, who won the AFC East. The Patriots. Why did he rank them #1?
What's the difference between the Patriots of 2007 and the Patriots who enter the season in 2009? I'll tell you the biggest thing -- concern about Tom Brady's knee. And if there were any real reason to be concerned, Bill Belichick wouldn't have traded Matt Cassel to Kansas City.
Well Peter, if you followed football a bit more instead of wasting your time tweeting, you'd know that Tom Brady's knee is one of many question marks the Patriots are facing. And let's be honest Peter, there is no way the Patriots were going to enter the 2009 season with two QBs on their roster making franchise QB money. Their cap wouldn't have handled that. The Pats had to trade Cassel (who signed a franchise tender giving him the money averaged by the top 5 QBs in the game), healthy Brady or not.
The Patriots are also without the best veteran LBer, Mike Vrabel, who was traded to the KC Chiefs as part of the Cassel trade. SS Rodney Harrison is gone, as is CB Ellis Hobbs. RB Laurence Maroney is a complete bust, and for the second straight year RB Sammy Morris is recovering from a long season of injuries. LB Adalius Thomas has underwhelmed since signing with NE as a free agent in 2007, and is recovering from a broken
So, taking all that into consideration, it sounds pretty dumb to rank the Patriots #1, especially when the Pittsburgh Steelers (you know, the team that won the championship last year) are returning a healthy team that will add rookie Evander "Ziggy" Hood and second year RB Rashad Mendenhall.
Ranking Indy #5 is fine, I guess. Though, Peter can't help himself from digging up an old, tired line:
As long as Peyton Manning walks, talks and leads the way he does, the biggest question about the Colts is what they do in January, not October.
You'd think that line about January would have been retired after Indy won a Super Bowl two years ago, but no. There's old Peter, digging up that corpse again. I guess it just reinforces the silliness of ranking teams in May.