The 2010 NFL season is nearly upon us and has more storylines then maybe any season in recent memory. Can the New Orleans Saints repeat their magical 2009 season? Are the Baltimore Ravens ready to become an elite team with the addition of WR Anquan Boldin? Will the Arizona Cardinals even be relevant with the retirement of QB Kurt Warner?
Will the Dallas Cowboys be the first team to win a Super Bowl in its home stadium? Will New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis play at all this season? Can Cincinnati Bengals QB Carson Palmer handle both Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens? Can the Atlanta Falcons make some noise with a healthy Matt Ryan and Michael Turner? Is this the year the Houston Texans finally make the playoffs? How will the Pittsburgh Steelers manage without QB Ben Roethlisberger for six games? Will QB Sam Bradford help the St. Louis Rams turn it around?
Last season, the Indianapolis Colts and Saints were 12th and 13th respectively in my preseason rankings.
Hopefully I’ll be a bit more accurate this season, but if not, I am confident that this season’s 12th and 13th ranked teams have the potential to make deep playoff runs.
So, without further ado, here are the 2010 NFL Preseason Power Rankings.
1.New Orleans Saints: The defending champions are a lock to begin this season as No. 1 but likely won’t remain there throughout the season. The offense is still a juggernaut but the defense simply isn’t going to have the same magic they did last year.
Nonetheless, if their offense continues to score 35+ points per game, they have to be considered a favorite to win it all again.
2. Indianapolis Colts: It’s the same question every year for the Colts; can the defense stop the run? The defense in 2009 was good enough to nearly win QB Peyton Manning his second Super bowl. They have many weapons again on offense, and their season will be dictated by how well their defense is able to play.
3. Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens appear primed for a deep playoff run. Adding Boldin to an already solid offense is going to open up a lot of options, especially for RB Ray Rice.
The defense isn’t getting any younger, but you can be sure LB Ray Lewis will be extra motivated in trying to get his defense back to the Super Bowl.
4. Dallas Cowboys: The offensive firepower on this team is going to put up enormous stats. Throw in explosive rookie WR Dez Bryant when he returns from injury and things only get better.
Owner Jerry Jones must be foaming at the mouth knowing his team has a legitimate chance at playing in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. The offense is stacked, and the defense is above average. Barring any major injuries the Cowboys should win their division.
5. Green Bay Packers: In the 2009 preseason, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense absolutely lit it up.
They went on to be one of the best offenses in the league, and racked up 45 points in their playoff game, only to lose in overtime.
In this year’s preseason, Green Bay is once again putting up monster numbers, including 59 earlier this week against the Colts. Their defense still has some question marks and injuries, but they showed last year they are very talented.
This team doesn’t need the defense to be great in order to make a Super Bowl run.
6. Minnesota Vikings: Yes yes, I know, the Vikings went 2-0 against the Packers last season, so how can I have them ranked lower?
I don’t think QB Brett Favre can put up the same numbers as last year. In fact, I am wondering if he is already second guessing himself for coming back for his 20th season.
WR Sidney Rice will miss at least half the season after having hip surgery, and at this point WR Percy Harvin can’t be counted on to be healthy on a weekly basis.
I like the trade for WR Greg Camarillo, but the Vikings definitely have some question marks. They also play a very tough schedule, including a stretch in which they face the Jets, Cowboys, Packers and Patriots, and only one of those games is a home game.
7. New York Jets: I was never sold on the Jets last season, even after their impressive playoff run.
I just am not a believer in their offense. And their defense without Revis, though still very good thanks to the additions of Antonio Cromartie and Jason Taylor, can be scored upon.
I think QB Mark Sanchez needs to take another large step this season, especially because of the tough division schedule he will face.
8. New England Patriots: The Patriots are a tough team to figure out in my opinion.
The Tom Brady-to-Randy Moss combination is still deadly, and if WR Wes Welker can regain his form of the past few seasons, they will continue to put up points.
But the defense isn’t as talented as it has been in years past and could cause New England some problems.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Owens and Ochocinco on the same team? Dare I say, get your popcorn ready.
The Bengals are either in a season to remember, or a season to forget. I don’t foresee any middle ground here.
If they are winning, everything will be good and we may see some of the single greatest touchdown celebrations of all time. If they are losing, well just be thankful you’re not Carson Palmer.
10. San Diego Chargers: The Chargers should be a lock to win their division, but beyond that I can’t tell you much.
Pro Bowl WR Vincent Jackson may sit out the entire season, leaving QB Philip Rivers with not much to throw to other than All-Pro TE Antonio Gates.
Rookie RB Ryan Mathews is expected to produce right away, and could be a sleeper in fantasy leagues.
11. Atlanta Falcons: How many of you fellow fantasy footballers spent a high draft pick on RB Michael Turner last year and came this close to winning your league, if only he hadn’t been injured?
I feel your pain, but don’t let that stop you from drafting him this year. He’s back and ready to go, along with Matt Ryan and the Falcons have a chance to dethrone the Saints, but only if their defense plays well.
12. San Francisco 49ers: I believe the 49ers will surprise a lot of people this year. Hell, they surprised some people last year.
They have a solid defense, and even with Alex Smith running the show on offense, they will put up points.
Having WR Michael Crabtree for all of training camp this year is going to make a difference, and signing RB Brian Westbrook could be one of the best offseason additions of any team.
Their division is weak, but don’t let that fool you as to how much potential this team has.
13. Miami Dolphins: Believe it or not they are still playing football in South Beach.
Personally I was going to ask ESPN if I could have a two-hour television special to talk about the Dolphins for this season, but wondered what I would do for the remaining one hour and 55 minutes.
Anyways, the Dolphins have a lot of young talent and can compete with anyone in the league; don’t be surprised if they are fighting for a division title in December.
14. New York Giants: Giants coach Tom Coughlin will have his hands full this year.
The offense should be able to put up decent points, provided they can find a consistent running attack.
The defense could use a little work, but mostly just needs to stay healthy.
Year in and year out, their division is one of the toughest and this year is no different. If Dallas finds a way to struggle, I like the Giants in this division.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: I haven’t watched QB Kevin Kolb enough to know if this is too high or too low to rank the Eagles.
They have some explosive playmakers on offense, and a solid defense, but I’m not quite sure how Kolb is going to play in his first season as a starter, especially in a rough division.
If the Eagles can get production from their running game, I think it will take enough pressure off Kolb and he will perform as well as can be expected.
16. Houston Texans: I absolutely love this team, and have for a few years, but year in and year out, they let me down.
In fact, I’ve never seen a team lose so many games against one team (the Colts) that they should win. Every single season they blow at least one, and usually both games against their division rival.
Their offense is going to put up points, but the defense is going to have to improve, especially with the loss of Dunta Robinson.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: It’s hard to pick the Steelers as a playoff team this year.
Missing QB Ben Roethlisberger for six games due to suspension, and playing in a tough division is not a good combination.
With a little bit of luck, the Steelers could be 3-3 when Big Ben returns, and they better hope he comes back ready to roll because their season will likely be determined by his first three games; at New Orleans, at Cincinnati, and home against the Patriots.
18. Arizona Cardinals: Boldin. Warner. Karlos Dansby. Antrel Rolle. Arguably four of Arizona’s best five players from last year, are no longer on the team.
Pair that with the fact that Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald is dealing with an injury, and this season has disaster written all over for it for Arizona.
Their only saving grace is a weak division, but if things continue to go wrong for Arizona, they could potentially see themselves finishing third in the division.
19. Tennessee Titans: This might be way too low for the Titans.
After starting off winless in their first six games last year, they ended the season on a hot streak behind QB Vince Young and RB Chris Johnson.
This team doesn’t seem to have a ton of weapons, but Young just seems to find a way to win and that’s enough to give the Titans a shot.
20. Carolina Panthers: Carolina had to be drooling when their first pick of this year’s draft (in the second round) came up and QB Jimmy Clausen was still on the board.
It’s expected that veteran Matt Moore will be the starter, but if he struggles I see no reason why they won’t go to Clausen and give him a chance.
Clausen made a living at Notre Dame of throwing deep balls to WR Golden Tate and it just so happens he has a wide out who is very similar to Tate in Steve Smith.
Those two, along with the best running back duo in the NFL, could make it a very interesting season in the NFC South.
21. Denver Broncos: Last season I predicted that the Broncos would be one of the worst teams in the NFL.
They promptly went 6-0 and I looked like a fool. Nevertheless, I believe again they will be one of the worst teams in the league.
They play in a weak division which could help them, but the loss of WR Brandon Marshall is really going to hurt, and their defense needs help.
I believe six wins is about the best Denver will do this year.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sooner or later they are going to rename this team the Jacksonville Jones-Drews.
How this team is competitive on a weekly basis still boggles my mind. They have a capable quarterback in David Garrard and WR Mike Sims-Walker burst onto the scene last year, but it just feels like this team has very little talent outside of MJD.
Jones–Drew has quickly put a lot of miles on those legs and one has to wonder how much longer he can carry that offense.
23. Chicago Bears: Last season, QB Jay Cutler came close to being benched for too many turnovers.
So far this preseason, he hasn’t improved and one has to wonder how long his leash is. Cutler is easily Chicago’s best option at quarterback, but if he can’t take care of the ball, they will be forced to find someone that can.
They really need third-year back Matt Forte to regain his rookie form, which will help Cutler tremendously.
24. Oakland Raiders: It’s been a while since Oakland has been ranked this "high" in power rankings of any kind, but don’t be surprised if they move up even further.
With a solid defense, and the best quarterback they’ve had in years in Jason Campbell, the Raiders have the potential to beat some good teams.
Don’t forget that even though they only won five games last year, four of those were against the Eagles, Steelers, Broncos, and Bengals.
Oakland could easily be looking at an 8-8 season, and might even make a chase at a playoff spot if they can pull out a couple of unexpected wins.
25. Washington Redskins: With all the Albert Haynesworth distractions, nobody would be surprised if this team struggles all season.
However if they can put that behind them and get quality play out of the defense, they could surprise some teams.
The addition of QB Donovan McNabb will bring excitement and I expect WR Santana Moss to have his best season in recent memory.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll might be the smartest man in football.
People everywhere scratched their heads when he left a top-notch college program for an NFL team that appeared to be going nowhere quickly.
However, regardless of why Carroll left USC for the Seahawks job, the fact is he helped Seattle have one of the best drafts of any team.
If they can get Russell Okung healthy and keep Tate away from donut shops, they might just get themselves back to respectability.
27. Buffalo Bills: The T.O. experiment in 2009 wasn’t a bust, but it wasn’t exactly a success either.
With Owens moving on, the conventional thought was Buffalo might take a quarterback, and with two solid running backs, the last thing anyone thought was that they would draft C.J. Spiller.
But draft Spiller they did, and it appears like he might just bypass both Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson and become the starter to begin the season.
Spiller has dazzled in the preseason and might just be a huge fantasy steal.
28. Cleveland Browns: One-year-wonder Derek Anderson and Notre Dame pretty boy Brady Quinn are both out in Cleveland, while turnover-happy Jake Delhomme and lifelong backup Seneca Wallace are in.
The Browns would suck this year with any of those four at quarterback, so the only reason I can think of to watch a Browns game would be Joshua Cribbs.
Teams will focus on shutting him down on both offense and special teams, and yet I’m still betting he has an even better year this year.
29. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh is going to cause defensive coordinators headaches all season, and will likely cause quarterbacks everywhere different kinds of headaches.
The Stafford-to-Johnson connection is going to continue to get better, and the Lions are going to continue to get better. Unfortunately for them, they play one of the toughest schedules in the league.
Not only do they have to play Minnesota and Green Bay twice, they have to play the Patriots, Jets, Dolphins, and the entire NFC East.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs didn’t do a whole lot in the offseason to make anyone believe they will be overly competitive this year.
RB Jamaal Charles will continue to shoulder the load, and they could squeak out some cheap wins in a bad division, but otherwise expect Kansas City to remain near the cellar for the duration of the 2010 season.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs had a couple nice wins last year but all in all it was a season to forget.
I expect much of the same this year, especially in a tough division. They don’t play an extremely tough schedule outside of the division, but it’s hard to imagine them winning more than about four games this year.
32. St. Louis Rams: The Rams gave first overall pick Sam Bradford more guaranteed money than any player in the history of the NFL. Considering the Rams have only won six games total the past three seasons, there shouldn’t be too much pressure on Bradford.
Losing WR Donnie Avery for the season with an injury won’t help, but RB Steven Jackson is more than capable of shouldering the load.
The Rams will still likely be the worst team in the NFL, but considering they won just one game last year, there’s really nowhere to go but up.