NFL Power Rankings: Training Camp edition
Training camps are opening. Rosters are bursting at the seams with prospects, each hoping to make that final cut before Week 1.
Why not wait until Week 1 to consider the league's hierarchy? This has been one of the busier offseasons in memory. Here we are with your ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings: Training Camp edition.
We've streamlined operations this season. Instead of 12 experts weighing in weekly, we have four who will cast their votes. See the box for details.
Little has changed from the top of the May 2009 Offseason Power Rankings, when the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts owned slots No. 1-5, respectively. Our panelists are counting on the likes of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Philadelphia halfback Brian Westbrook to overcome their respective offseason issues.
The symmetry ends at No. 6, where the San Diego Chargers displaced the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens, now ranked 10th, plunged in the aftermath of wide receiver Derrick Mason's unexpected retirement this month.
ESPN.com's Power Rankings
The rankings were determined by a poll of four voters on ESPN.com's NFL staff: writers John Clayton (AFC East, NFC East), Jeffri Chadiha (AFC North, NFC North), Paul Kuharsky (AFC South, AFC West), and Mike Sando (NFC South, NFC West). They voted on all 32 teams, and their last names are logged after their comments about the respective divisional teams.
On the upswing: the Minnesota Vikings. In anticipation of Brett Favre's signing with the Vikings -- as we write this, the former Green Bay Packers and New York Jets quarterback still was undecided -- our voters moved Minnesota up five spots to No. 9 overall.
Other teams receiving significant promotions include the Seattle Seahawks (up four spaces to No. 18 overall) and San Francisco 49ers (also up four places, from No. 26 to No. 22, Seattle's old slot).
Nothing much has changed at the bottom of the rankings, where the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions occupy slots No. 30, 31 and 32, respectively.
Look for our next edition of the offseason rankings just before Week 1.
(Editor's note: LW indicates each team's ranking last week -- in this case, in the May 2009 Power Rankings.)
2009 Power Rankings: Offseason
RK (LW) TEAM REC COMMENT
1 (1) Steelers 12-4-0 They won the Super Bowl. What else do you need to know? (Chadiha)
2 (2) Patriots 11-5-0 Tom Brady won't throw for 50 TDs, but he has too much firepower to throw for fewer than 30. (Clayton)
3 (3) Giants 12-4-0 So who is Eli Manning's go-to WR now that Plaxico Burress is gone? Maybe Michael Irvin can offer to make a reality show out of that search. (Clayton)
4 (4) Eagles 9-6-1 The Eagles' ownership did the right thing giving Donovan McNabb a contract extension. (Clayton)
5 (5) Colts 12-4-0 Reports of the Colts' demise are exaggerated. Bill Polian and Peyton Manning remain in place. (Kuharsky)
6 (7) Chargers 8-8-0 The Chargers could have the easiest path to a division title of any team in the league, and that's just being polite. (Kuharsky)
Titans 13-3-0 The second year of Mike Heimerdinger's offense can provide the jump needed to offset their defensive losses. (Kuharsky)
8 (11) Falcons 11-5-0 With a healthy line, this offense should know no bounds with Tony Gonzalez joining Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Co. (Sando)
9 (14) Vikings 10-6-0 They're ranked this high in anticipation of Brett Favre joining them. (Chadiha)
10 (6) Ravens 11-5-0 The Ravens lost OLB Bart Scott, WR Derrick Mason and D-coordinator Rex Ryan. Expect a decline. (Chadiha)
11 (10) Panthers 12-4-0 Power rankings voters are still trying to shake visions of Jake Delhomme tossing all of those INTs in the playoffs. (Sando)
12 (9) Cardinals 9-7-0 The defending NFC champs barely crack the top 12 and that came only with an assist from their generous divisional blogger. No respect. (Sando)
13 (12) Bears 9-7-0 Jay Cutler can't do it alone. The Bears need to show they have legitimate WRs before they enter the top 10. (Chadiha)
14 (13) Cowboys 9-7-0 Tony Romo dumped Jessica Simpson. Jerry Jones dumped T.O. Maybe the Cowboys can concentrate on football. (Clayton)
15 (15) Dolphins 11-5-0 Many teams that go from worst to first experience a three-game drop the next season. The Fins are fighting the odds favoring an 8-8 record this fall. (Clayton)
Texans 8-8-0 The Texans have made defensive upgrades, but the secondary remains a concern. (Kuharsky)
17 (17) Packers 6-10-0 A lousy defense in 2008 is switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 this fall. Don't expect a quick turnaround. (Chadiha)
18 (22) Seahawks 4-12-0 Matt Hasselbeck's back held up through minicamps and OTAs, the first small step toward Seattle moving up in the rankings. (Sando)
19 (16) Saints 8-8-0 One of the NFL's oldest teams needs better luck with injuries to rebound and contend for the division crown. (Sando)
20 (19) Redskins 8-8-0 The Redskins made the best free-agent signing in DT Albert Haynesworth. They need a better offense to make the playoffs. (Clayton)
21 (21) Bills 7-9-0 T.O. should be good for double-digit TDs. Trent Edwards must cope with double-digit headaches and one-sided shouting matches. (Clayton)
22 (26) 49ers 7-9-0 First-round draft choice WR Michael Crabtree gets a training camp crash course after rehabbing a foot injury. (Sando)
23 (20) Jets 9-7-0 New coach Rex Ryan will make the defense better, but expect the offense to struggle as the Mark Sanchez era begins. (Clayton)
24 (23) Bengals 4-11-1 Big question: Can Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco become a dangerous duo once again? (Chadiha)
25 (24) Jaguars 5-11-0 The Jags made good strides in adding youth and character, but that will take a while to translate into victories. (Kuharsky)
26 (27) Buccaneers 9-7-0 The Bucs have fallen faster than any team this offseason, but they don't have to be this bad. Steady play at QB would fix a lot. (Sando)
27 (25) Broncos 8-8-0 Maybe the Broncos' changes actually are ingenious and they're on the upswing, but it's hard to see it. (Kuharsky)
Browns 4-12-0 The same Rob Ryan who did a dismal job of running the Raiders' D is in charge of the Browns' unit. This can't be encouraging. (Chadiha)
29 (29) Chiefs 2-14-0 It's hard to forecast a quick turnaround, but it's happened before when there's good leadership in place. (Kuharsky)
30 (30) Raiders 5-11-0 The Raiders seem dysfunctional on many levels, but Denver and K.C. might be in their range. (Kuharsky)
31 (31) Rams 2-14-0 The Rams' projected starting O-linemen earned the highest average Madden 2010 ratings in the division. Hmmm. (Sando)
32 (32) Lions 0-16-0 The Lions lost every game last season. What else do you need to know? (Chadiha)