MR N’s 2013 Preseason Power Poll
1. Baltimore Ravens – Well they won last year so by virtue of that they are the preseason number 1. I don’t actually foresee them making the playoffs let alone winning another Super Bowl but you get the preseason week #1 if you win it all the year before. Last year they caught lightning in a bottle with Ray Lewis doing his retirement tour and spurring them spiritually every game. They were not the best team on the field for the last 3 games they played and won last year. They have lost a ton of key vets and talent and to make matters even better with the loss of TE Dennis Pitta. If they can finish third in their division and win 8 that will be a success for the Ravens.
2. Denver Broncos – Super Bowl or bust. The window is closing on Peyton Manning and the addition of Welker is superb for 2013 but he’s no spring chicken either. The 4 game loss due to cheating by their MLB is a ding but I would not be surprised if the Broncos aren’t representing the AFC in the Super Bowl in frigid NYC this year.
3. Green Bay Packers – For lack of a better option this is my preseason fave for the NFC. You have to admit Rodgers is one of the best and if one of the two RBs they drafted could add just the hint of a rushing attack then Aaron could be even more dynamic. Their D will continue to be streaky great and sometimes not. I think they are the most fundamentally balanced in terms of O that can score and D that can win a game, right now, in the NFC. We will see what playing brings to them but they are my preseason Super Bowl loser to Denver. Late breaking is the season ending injury to LT Bulaga. This may dearly hurt the Pack. A situation worth watching.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – This is a team that seems to be coming on fast. They have lost (and looked bad) two years in a row in the playoff first round. This may be the year they make a bit of hay. Their D is on point, Dalton is a year older and AJ Green is only getting better. They added a great young pass catching TE to bolster their O. If the Offense can hold up their end then the Bengals could be a team running away with their division and a challenger of legit status for the Broncos.
5. Seattle Seahawks – They had made a strong statement that they were ready to take that bold step to being the best in the NFC. The trade for Harvin was a great move. His loss for most of the year doesn’t wipe this team out. They are simply going to be as good as they were last year. They will battle SF for the NFC West and they will likely make the playoffs but they need that one thing that Harvin could provide. A strong team led by the Legion of Boom.
6. San Francisco 49ers – This team could be in 5 too. They are a team that is built to battle and could easily be in another Super Bowl or they could be a wild card if they can’t beat the Seahawks. A great team with a bit of in immature Head Coach.
7. Houston Texans – A team that can win most in the season and lose in the playoffs. They need to make the next step. They did add one player who I think will make a huge difference to their potential success…P Shane Lechler. His punting game could give Houston short fields and with their D led by Watt and their O led by Foster…they could be even tougher to play. A team with a shot to win it all in the AFC.
8. New Orleans Saints – This is the first season post Bounty gate and there is a very high paid head coach back with a big chip on his shoulder. The offense is off the charts as long as Brees can get it done. There are legit questions about whether or not their RB can do it but with Payton back and Ryan brother now coaching the D this team should win plenty of 30 to 20 games and win their division and be back in the playoffs. No Super Bowl here but a feisty team that will get double digit wins.
9. New England Patriots – oh how the mighty have been traded, hurt, cut and arrested. If a tree falls in the forest of New England will there be a decent receiver around who can catch the sound? Doubt it. I only rate them this high based on that fact that Belichick and Brady seem to get it done somehow. The D isn’t awful; they get a lot of turnovers. I think because all else around them suck they win their division by default but long gone are the days of dominance for this fading franchise.
10. Atlanta Falcons – A team a few yards from a Super Bowl and now I don’t see them winning their division. They are a good shot for a wild card. Ryan is well paid for one playoff win and they have great receivers. The loss of Abraham will hurt the pass rush. The D isn’t what people think it is (look at their NFC Championship game loss to SF last year for proof). Not as good as people think they are.
11. Indianapolis Colts – A team that amazed the world last year by making the playoffs may be just a little ahead of the curve. Certainly a team on the rise with a growing talent base. The one problem they will have this year is that their schedule is that of a team that was a wild card and not 1-15. That alone will make it hard for this team to win 8 this year. Still second best in their division and will have to fight to win the wild card.
12. Washington Redskins – My preseason fave to win the NFC East. A tea m that would be rated a lot higher if RGIII had 2 good legs under him. I do like Cousins but this team needs RGIII at 100% to be all it can be. I think they will almost easily win their division and just as easily get bounced out of the playoffs in the wild card round again.
13. Chicago Bears – A new coach and a new offensive philosophy and a seemingly decent offensive line for once could mean the BEARS can score more this year. The D is now suddenly kind of a work in progress and getting old too. I think if everything breaks right they could even win their division. If some break right they could be a wild card. If the injuries of preseason continue then they may be on the outside looking in again.
14. Miami Dolphins – A team that by virtue of being in the AFC East are the second best in their division. I think any success they have depends on Tannehill making strides, Wallace earning at least part of his money and the D stopping lots of people. A contender for the last AFC Wild card but probably just an 8 win team.
15. New York Giants – A team that has won 2 Super Bowls in the last 6 years. They are also older. I think their offense can still score but the Defense isn’t what it used to be and with so many other high powered teams in the NFC, it will be hard for them to be better than 7th in their conference but a push for last wild card isn’t impossible if all breaks G-men way.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Someone has to be the QB and they have to be effective. Can they score enough points to make up for what their D allows? Does Revis have anything left in his tank? I think they are 3rd in their tough division and lucky to challenge for a Wild card.
17. Kansas City Chiefs – A new era, a new QB, a new attitude and I firmly believe that they are finally moving in a positive direction in KC. Doubt they can make the playoffs but 8 wins would be a nice measure of success. They need Alex Smith to continue efficient and Russell to be healthy at RB…they have solid pieces to build a team on…watch this squad.
18. San Diego Chargers – Another AFC West team that cleaned management house and are starting philosophically fresh. They base any hopes this year on QB Rivers finding his old self. That may be asking too much. The offense is still a mass work in progress. They need health and production from RB, decent effort from the wide outs and another year from now aged Antonio Gates. Drafting T’eo may bring more than media attention to their D; he seems like a comer on the field. Battling KC for distant second behind Denver is their end game in 2013.
19. Minnesota Vikings – Can’t argue they have the best RB in the world. Do they have anything else on offense? Jennings used to be a superstar WR but that was a few years back with Aaron Rodgers throwing to him. He now is older and has Christian Ponder tossing the rock. Ponder has to take a big step forward or the Vikings have a very long year ahead of them. They also have a tougher schedule. Could go either way in the twin cities but the line trends down.
20. Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones seems confident that the team that didn’t make the playoffs last year is good enough to do it this year. I don’t know if I share that confidence. Romo is a fine fantasy QB but lacks a certain ‘hey I will win the Super Bowl’ attitude and the only good they have is they will score some. Can they stop enough? We will see.
21. St. Louis Rams – The Fisher era continues and the team is getting better. They need a fully healthy year from Bradford at QB, they need youth to step up at RB now that Jackson is gone and they need the receivers to shine. The D is much closer to being ready to win. A team that is making strides but as bad luck would have it they are in a division with 2 powerhouses. Bubbling in the WC race is all they can hope for.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – They are an energizer bunny running out of battery power. Big Ben is older still and his knee is now officially wonky. The RB mix is a touch messy and they are lacking big play capability from the WR. His TE is coming off major injury and may not be as good as he once was. The D can still have a game or two but sometimes looks just old. Will be a long hard fight to make the playoffs but I think they can easily finish second behind Cincy.
23. Cleveland Browns – This was a year when they could make hay and have a shot at Wild Card but they have done some inexplicable things in the offseason. Full regime change, full change of OFF and DEF philosophy. They are going to take what was an effective D and make it play a role they are not built for. They junked their reliable kicking game and return game. This could be another ugly year by the lake.
24. Buffalo Bills – A team still in transition. They have the advantage of playing the Jets twice a year but that only goes so far. Funny how they are similar to the Jets in that they will probably be lucky to win 6 but if they win 6 with Kolb at QB they are going nowhere and if they win 6 with Manuel under center they are moving forward. Still lack depth to survive the season but could win some they shouldn’t and will lose some they ought not to.
25. Tennessee Titans – How much does anyone believe that Jake Locker is ready to make that next step and that CJ1K.2 is ready to be an elite runner again? A tough division and this team needs to get immediately better with its draftees and its returning vets. I don’t see anything beyond 3rd place and 7 wins for the Titans but Locker’s work will define how far they go.
26. Detroit Lions – Still the worst team in the NFC North. For some unknown reason they stuck with the head thug and that will get them what it has gotten them. Lots of penalties and defensive misplays. Stafford is the least deserving of a huge contract. Megatron is the best but there are significant questions about nearly every other Off contributor. If they win 6 and if Suh doesn’t get suspended for a stupid play I will be surprised.
27. Arizona Cardinals – By virtue of everyone else in their division they look like a 4th place team. It is not impossible that Carson Palmer has one more good year in him and that the D could come together and suddenly they are battling for a wild card. It is probably unlikely but not impossible. A team that projects bad but won’t surprise me if suddenly better.
28. Carolina Panthers – I would love to believe that Cam Newton will suddenly find himself but all the talent in the world can’t equal maturity. They need something out of RB besides injuries. They need another body to catch a pass beyond Steve Smith. The D line has to rush; the DBs have to stop someone. I think 4 wins and ugliness in Carolina is all they can hope for.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – They sorely need MJD to make a full time surge back to stardom. Their best WR is suspended first 4 games. They are weak at QB, WR, TE and on almost all facets of D and special teams. Battling for the first overall pick and a franchise QB (again) next year.
30. New York Jets – Whatever hope a regime change, at least at QB, is seemingly gone with the useless Rex Ryan deciding to keep giving Mark TheButtFumbler a shot. Go with Smith and win 4 and be looking like you are moving forward. 4 wins under the ButtFumbler will just lead down the drain. A bad team, badly led going badly down the road.
31. Oakland Raiders – I truly miss the pride that used to surround the Silver and Black. They have no real QB, a talented but uber brittle RB, no WR, no TE, No D, No punter. It’s Seabass and pray for rain. They had something going at the end of the year in 2011 and McKenzie has gutted the team and brought nothing of note in. Lucky to win 3 in my view.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – They would have been here if Maclin hadn’t been hurt and currently I can’t make them lower than last. They will be beaten pillar to post by every QB in their division and most in their conference. They might score…maybe…but it will be a Sunday massacre. Watch on national TV how Andy Reid brings the Chiefs in and pastes them.
There you have it! As always I welcome thoughts, comments, arguments, agreements…money…preferably tens and twenties!