Just as preseason polls in college football are idiotic, and yet overly affect the true outcome of the season, NFL power rankings prior to seeing teams actually perform on the field are equally pointless. However, as seemingly everyone does one, I will capitulate and put out my own rankings now that I have had a few weeks to digest what teams are. Keep in mind, this list is based on what they are right now, not what they may become. And while I do take in to consideration a team’s ability to overcome their weaknesses (a season-ending injury versus a rookie at a position hurts more), I do not base my thoughts on some arbitrary “they should be better” idea I brought with me into the season. To do so seems narcissistic and dishonest like I am trying to manipulate popular opinion for my own ratings (I’m looking at you, ESPN!). With that preamble out of the way, here’s my thoughts:
1. Atlanta Falcons (3-0) – I give the nod to the Falcons over the Texans merely due to strength of opponents thus far. The “Dirty Birds” appear to be firing on all cylinders.
2. Houston Texans (3-0) – The Texans have looked quite stout early against lesser competition, and having Schaub back could mean a deep playoff run for this team.
3. Arizona Cardinals (3-0) – The only other undefeated team gets more love from me than in most lists, but wins against the Eagles and the Patriots are not flukes. Still need to answer the QB question, but that defense looks stout.
4. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) – As we reach the 1 loss teams, weaknesses become more apparent. The Ravens inability to create pressure on the QB without Terrell Suggs could plague them all year.
5. San Francisco 49ers (2-1) – Despite laying a massive egg in Minnesota last week, the Niners still have the formula to win. They just have to remember that it’s running the ball and defense, not Alex Smith.
6. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) – Two big home-wins against the Cowboys and Packers (though a bit controversial) get the worst uniforms in football to #6. A rugged defense and a learning QB could keep them in contention for the post season.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) – A ridiculous run-to-pass ratio with a QB who is careless with the ball is not a good trend. But an opportunistic defense and a ton of talent when healthy keep Philly in the win column.
8. Chicago Bears (2-1) – If the Bears can keep Cutler and Forte upright and healthy behind a pretty terrible O-Line, they definitely have the defense to make the playoffs.
9. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) – After spending an off-season rebuilding their defense, the Boys look pretty stout on that side of the ball through 3 games. However, using duct tape and chewing gum on the O-Line could cost them dearly.
10. New York Giants (2-1) – The defending champs started behind the eight ball with injuries in the secondary. But if Eli can keep slinging and get his weapons healthy, watch for the late season surge from them again.
11. San Diego Chargers (2-1) – The Chargers took advantage of a soft opening schedule to jump to nice 2-0 start. However, getting steamrolled by the Falcons last week tells you more about this team than the start does.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) – After an ugly opener, the Bengals are starting to find their stride, with tough defense and big plays from the wide receivers. Too bad they look like a one-and-done playoff team right now.
13. New York Jets (2-1) – The loss of Revis for the season is a killer for a team starting with 2 division wins. But a complete lack of skill positions on offense means Sanchez, Tebow or even Namath couldn’t be that successful.
14. Buffalo Bills (2-1) – If the Bills could keep a RB healthy, they might have a chance to live up to all the hype heaped on them this off-season. But the weak-armed Ivy League QB may not be the long-term answer.
15. Minnesota Vikings (2-1) – Despite an impressive win against the 49ers, the Vikings still have a long way to prove this isn’t a fluke. Peterson still slowly gets up to speed and Ponder is starting to finally not suck.
16. New England Patriots (1-2) – These are not your daddy’s Pats, as a very suspect O-Line has Tom Brady a bit nervous and therefore has slowed that high powered offense. Not sure how that gets better.
17. Green Bay Packers (1-2) – Getting screwed by the refs notwithstanding, the Packers are not the same offense as last year. The blueprint appears to be out on them, and it will be interesting to see if they can adjust.
18. Denver Broncos (1-2) – Peyton Manning is clearly not the same guy from Indy, with lesser arm strength and even lesser targets. However, a tough schedule is mostly to blame for the 1-2 start. However, it doesn’t get much better going forward.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) – If you notice a theme with the last four teams, a poor and injured offensive line is to blame for the offensive woes. Being without big playmakers of defense doesn’t help either. Look for this team to move up.
20. Detroit Lions (1-2) – The complete lack of discipline, both on and off the field, can take any talented team down quick. Not sure how this problem gets better short of a complete culture change. And that’s not just the coach.
21. Washington Redskins (1-2) – The early promise of RGIII and an attacking defense made the Skins look scary. But the loss of Orakpo and others on both sides of the ball means a below .500 record looks imminent
22. Carolina Panthers (1-2) – Another team whose only win is against the Saints, the Fightin’ Cams look just like last year’s team: Cam and not much else on offense and a leaky defense. Might be 6-10 like last year’s team too.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) – The Greg Schiano era, complete with the unnecessary kneel-down defense, has made the Bucs much more competitive than last year. But still hasn’t come all together yet.
24. St Louis Rams (1-2) – Jeff Fisher is a great coach and his influence can already be seen on these Rams. However, that just means that this terrible collection of talent will be slightly better than awful.
25. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) – Just riddled with injuries coming out of the preseason, the Chiefs looked just terrible through 2 weeks. But a big comeback win against the Saints could be the turning point for KC. Or not.
26. Indianapolis Colts (1-2) – On the bright side, Andrew Luck looks like he is the real deal. However, he is not without his rookie warts and the rest of the team around him is still 2 solid drafts away from being competitive.
27. Miami Dolphins (1-2) – This year’s Hard Knocks team is about the most unexciting team ever. Reggie Bush finally looks interested in being a RB, but Tannehill is a project without any weapons to make him look better.
28. Oakland Raiders (1-2) – An over-the-hill QB combined with a lack of real receivers, a star running back who can’t stay healthy and has no blockers and a defense that is incredibly inconsistent is how you get to #28.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) – Other than MJD (who they don’t even want to pay), this team has NOTHING! Gabbert is terrible, and anyone who says different is an idiot. Throwing one 80 yard bomb last week does not a QB make.
30. Tennessee Titans (1-2) – The flukiest 4th quarter in the history of the NFL is all that keeps the Titans from the bottom of this list. The Jake Locker Experiment is off to a very rocky start and CJ2K is averaging less than 2 yards per carry.
31. New Orleans Saints (0-3) – Guess what: COACHING MATTERS! The Saints are in a bad way right now, with a bunch of ill-fitting parts with no one to mash them into competitiveness.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-3) – The saddest part about the Browns season is if Colt McCoy starts the year, this team is 1-2 or maybe even 2-1. Richardson looks like a beast but they must go get a big time WR next year.