I've contemplated creating this power ranking ever since the draft ended, but I never really decided one way or another. However, since BBS displayed his hatred toward power rankings in his latest article, that was all the motivation I needed. Thanks buddy!
This is a multi-part series since it contains somewhat detailed analysis of each team. If I were to throw this all together as a one time thing, it'd probably be too long for a lot of people and they would most likely just ignore it. So instead, I'll start off with the top 5 on my list.
Also, before we get down to business, I'd like to point out that out of respect to the reigning champeen of the football world, the Steelers are the unquestioned king of this mountain top, which is also why they are missing from my list. That is until they lose their first game in the regular season, in which they are just as worthless as the rest of the league. I say out of respect because that's what all the Super Bowl champions deserve. I expected the same respect to be given to the Colts when they were the reigning champs, so I see no reason not to do the same for the Steelers. Aside from that, Shittsburgh and the rest of the league can go jump off a cliff for all I care.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Is this a homer pick? You bet your sweet ass it is. But it's not as nonsensical as Patriots fans picking the Pats to win the Super Bowl with their laundry list of question marks going into next season, which I'll get into later.
Any weakness the Colts had last season has been addressed this offseason, and then some. Let's take a look at all of the upgrades and reasons for all the hype going into the 2009 season:
- The interior defensive line has been completely retooled.
- Marvin Harrison and his underperforming in the postseason, extremely expensive, aging self is gone, allowing Gonzalez to take a prominent role in the greatest offense in the league.
- Polian drafted a running back who has proven to be able to carry the load and consistently produce.
- Gary Brackett should come back perfectly fine from his leg injury. But just incase Brackett comes back slower than anticipated, Polian picked up some quality depth in free agency with Adam Seward.
- The defense probably won't be as vanilla in years past with the addition of Larry Coyer.
- The special teams can do nothing but improve with the addition of Ray Rychleski.
- The secondary will be just as good, if not better than last season with Marlin Jackson slowly working his way back into the starting lineup.
- And the biggest reason why the Colts are looking deadlier than ever: Peyton Manning will actually be able to play on both legs to start the season.
There are some cocerns however, since no team is flawless (except the Pats of course). The biggest question mark for the Colts is the offensive line. The success (or failure) of the offensive line hinges on two things: 1) How much the second year players build off of the experience they gained from last season and 2) If Howard Mudd retires. I'd prefer the latter doesn't happen, but if it does, I hope to god the Colts are prepared for that.
Key additions: Donald Brown, Larry Coyer, Fili Moala
Key loss: None
2. Philadelphia Eagles
It was a toss up between the Igles and the Giants, and then I looked at the players the Igles signed/drafted and then it hit me like a ton of bricks to the crothal region. The Eagles had a phenominal offseason. They solidified their offensive line by trading one of their two 2009 first round picks for Jason Peters, arguably the best tackle in the league, and signed Stacy Andrews. And let's not forget that they drafted Fenuki Tupou late in the 5th round. Speaking of the draft, they strengthened their offense with a great running back who can take some of the load off of Westbrook and another receiving threat for McNabb to throw to in Jeremy Maclin. Their offense is pimp stacked going into next season. The Eagles really did nothing wrong this offseason.
The only concern I have for the Eagles is their attitude. The vibe I get from them is they are either really motivated and ready to kick some ass, or they couldn't be bothered to try. A perfect example of the good Eagles is the wildcard and divisional playoff games against the Vikings and Giants. The bad? The NFCCG.
Key additions: Jason Peters, Stacy Andrews, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin
Key loss: Brian Dawkins
3. New York Giants
The NFC has become a very strong conference these last few years. In fact, I'd say the overall quality of the teams in the NFC surpassed the AFC two years ago. An interesting analogy would be like saying the NFC is like the Western Conference in the NBA; they're loaded with talented teams, but in the end, it doesn't matter. Only one team can represent the West in the finals, and none of those teams can or will beat the Cavaliers because they're the best team in the league. A perfect analogy in fact. Why? Because no matter how many quality teams litter the NFC, only one team is going to make it to the Super Bowl, and I don't believe any of those teams can beat the Colts. Nevertheless, the Giants are a pretty good team.
Fortunately for Eli, the Giants are a run first offense and don't have to rely on the pass to win many games. I like Eli and all, but take that miracle pass that Tyree caught with his melon and the machine named Plaxico out of the picture, I'm not exactly the most confident in his ability to take over games when need be. But they did acquire Hakeem Nicks with their first pick, which is a great addition. They really filled in a lot of their holes in the draft as well. They drafted the best blitzing LB in the draft in Clint Sintim, a great complimentary back in Andre Brown, and shored up their secondary depth with a couple DBs in the later rounds. With Osi coming back this season, and the signing of free agent Chris Canty, you could argue their team is slightly better.
Key additions: Hakeem Nicks, Osi returning, Chris Canty
Key losses: Plaxico Burress, Steve Spagnuolo
4. New England Patriots
I feel physically sick having to talk about this team, let alone put them 4th overall (technically 5th but don't worry about it) on my power rankings list. I think the Patriots have more concerns than promise going into the 2009 season. First off, Tom Brady isn't going to be Tom Brady until week 6 at the earliest. If it takes Peyton 7 weeks, not including all the time he had prior to the season to recover, to fully recover from having a bursa sac removed from his knee, I can only imagine what Brady will have to deal with after having reconstructive surgery. Lucky for him it wasn't his plant leg though, otherwise he'd be really screwed. Belichick knows this, which is why he signed Fred Taylor and have a 5 man rotation in the running game. I'd expect to see them rely heavily on the run the first half of the season, slowly but surely working Brady in more and more until the playoffs start. I'd give it a 70% chance that Brady is fine by the playoffs, a 20% chance he struggles all season, and a 10% chance he blows his knee out again.
The second biggest concern for the Patriots this season is their linebacking corps. Adalius Thomas is recovering from a broken arm, Vrabel was traded, I don't even know what happened to Seau (he's not on their roster anymore), Tedy Bruschi is old and slow as hell, and their 3rd round draft pick already blew his knee out. The one and only positive is Jerod Mayo. They have depth, don't be mistaken. But the problem is they are mostly no-name unproven guys. That would scare the hell out of me if I was a Pats fan, but since I'm not, I can be like Nelson from The Simpsons and say, "Ha! ha!"
They've also made some really questionable moves this offseason. I didn't quite understand why they signed Joey Galloway and Shawn Springs. These guys are over the hill and aren't worth the vet minimum in my opinion.
Aside from all of that, it's the Patriots people. These guys are always in the hunt year in and out so I see no reason to blow them off. While I don't expect them to light up the scoreboard like they did in 2007, I still think they'll win the division since Miami is going to take a dropoff and the Bills and Jets will inevitably suck. Must be nice to be in a division that is consistently mediocre.
Key additions: Patrick Chung, Darius Butler, Fred Taylor
Key loss: None
5. Arizona Cardinals
Some people will argue that the Cardinals playoff run was a fluke and I couldn't disagree more. I think their playoff run showed their true potential. If they can keep that mojo flowing that they gained in the playoffs I think the Cardinals could be a pretty deadly team.
The 49ers are up and coming and the Seahawks are poised for a comeback, but I still think the Cardinals are the best team in this division. Their passing game is sick, that is assuming Boldin won't turn into a bitch and hold out. With the addition of Beanie Wells to the running game, they could be considered one of the better offenses in the league. But that's the key here. They aren't going to steamroll teams just trying to pass on them every play. All that's going to do is get you a 9-7 record praying that you can somehow catch lightning in a bottle to win a playoff game. No, they need a running game just like the Colts. Ironically, losing Todd Haley will probably benefit the offense more than anything. If they can find balance in their offense, there's no doubt in my mind they could win 10+ games this season. I'd go as far to say they could wind up with the #2 seed in the NFC. I still think the Eagles and Giants are better though, but only one of those two teams can win their division, leaving the other as a wildcard.
It's not all about offense though. Their defense played really well in the playoffs as well, just ask Jake Delhomme. But what they need out of their defense is consistency. If they can consistently stop the run and put some pressure on the QB it will greatly benefit their offense.
Key addition: Beanie Wells
Key loss: None