No, this isn't ESPN's, NFL Network's or Vegas' power ranking for which team is most likely to win the Super Bowl, it's simply mine.
1.) Green Bay - I am sorry, I know their D was horrible last year and they imploded vs. NY (I called that one), but before they got "off kilter" they were destroying everyone with ease. Even when NYG tied them up, late in the season, with 30 seconds left, GB easily drive the field for a go ahead TD like it was nothing. The year they won the SB, they barely made the play offs (see Pgh circa 2005), but last year they were insanely potent on offense until they lost momentum. GB losing in the post season was nothing but a timing issue; you can't stay at top form all season long, it's just too hard. Unfortunately for them, they hit their snag late in the season and were out of sink come play off time. How many dropped passes did they have? If that was the GB team hitting on all cylinders, they win that game and the Super Bowl. You may point out how bad their D was, but a lot of those #s were due to GB getting up on opponents so big, forcing the teams to have to air it out and go aggressive on offense just to try to stay in the game. GB's D will improve this season as will their running game (not that at needs to with such a prolific passing attack, but it will nonetheless). If GB just manages the ebb and flow of the season better, they could be unstoppable come the post season. Of course, like any team, they will need to avoid key injuries (even though they had a boat load in 2010 when they won a ring).
2.) Houston Texans. I doubt anyone will agree with me here, but I believe the Texans are the next strong contender and will be grouped with the elite. You never know when a team goes from seemingly never gaining ground to a contender, and it often seems like it happens overnight. They made a strong run in the play offs with 3 of their very best players off the field (Williams, Johnson, Schaub). They not only were missing their quality starting QB, they were down to their 3rd string, ROOKIE QB come play offs and still hung in their rough vs. a Baltimore team that outplayed eventual AFC champ Patriots team. What if the Texans had Schaub and Johnson playing in that game? Yea, I know: If buts were nuts, if my auntie had bullocks she'd be me uncle. But the reason I have them so high is because they are built on a very solid foundation; when we lost to them it was no fluke; they out-manned us in the trenches all day. It was no fluke that we couldn't stop their rush; they punked us all day long. Not only is Foster the real deal, but their O line is one of the best there is in all of football, if not THE best. The other strong component they have: defense. They are solid at every position and won't miss Williams, as they didn't have him all last year. Watts is for real. Add in that they have the best play maker at WR and you have a very tough team.
3.) Philly Eagles. It's just a hunch, but I believe all the talent they added last year, that didn't have time to gel, is going to form chemistry this year and be the sum of their parts. I know, I know, some are going to say that Mike Vick won't ever be a champion QB, but I think that could change this season. He has, for the first time in his career, put the work in. He is hungry to win, and will not put his body at as much risk as usual. They were coming together as the season turned late last year, beating everyone. They added a ton of good talent in the draft for D and they have tons of play makers to score including one of the best of all backs in the NFL, with former PITT product McCoy, and even Dion Lewis could make some noise. Expect DeSean Jackson to rebound and get back to his mad baller status.
4.) SF 49ers. What a stellar job Harbaugh has done with this team. They are stacked, at almost every position. Their defense is rock solid, as we found it (albeit with a QB on one leg). Their OL is fierce and solid. They have a nice stable of running back, a all pro TE and, now, for the first time, have play makers on offense having added Moss and Manningham. Their QB is not a franchise one, but he looked solid to me and that was with virtually no players to keep the D honest, as they had no deep threat whatsoever. Their D is totally stacked, with the best ILB I have ever seen in Pat Willis. Better than Ray Lewis in his prime, plus the other front 7 guys are all great. Justin Smith went from an unknown Cinci first round pick to one of the best D-lineman in the NFL; he has blossomed on a mad level, some saying the improvement was aided with chemistry, but whatever the reason, he is an animal at this point. SF knew all it lacked was some play makers on offense, and they fixed that area in spades. You might say that Moss is washed up, but put him on a team that wins each week, and you might have the Moss who set a season record for TD catches in NE. Maybe not quite that good, but good enough. Plus, Manningham is no slouch, having grabbed the biggest play of the Super Bowl. Plus they added more help with both WR (A.J. Jenkins) and RB (Jacobs, LaMichael James) in the draft and free agency.
5.) Pgh Steelers. We have already discussed our dudes in another thread. But, I feel this team has provided addition by subtraction, in heaving Arians, dumping Kemo and being forced to end the "Spindenhall" project. The new offense will prove superior than the Bruce Arians back yard football brand of football, where our players even admit defenses usually knew what was coming. Haley has been successful using far less talent than he has here. Just imagine this team using the running backs with a little creativity to add to what Ben already can do, not to mention, an OL that can actually create some hole and give Ben time to throw once in a while as opposed to defenders getting to Ben at the same time as the ball does. Looking at the landscape of the AFC, other than Houston, no team jumps out at me as having any less questions or more strengths than the Steelers.
6.) NE Pats. I don't know how much you can fix a D in one draft, but we will find out. NE's D was pretty bad, no matter how you cut it. Yes, their style has been "bend but don't break" in terms of giving up yards but not many scores, but even under that slant, they were still just soft. Their first 6 picks in the draft were ALL spent on D, adding such players as DE Chandler Jones, stealing Hightower (Damn it, I think he's going to be a beast) after Pgh jumped on DeCastro when he fell to them, addressing their poor safety taking Tavon Wilson, and adding another strong pass rusher in Jake Bequette and then adding two more DBs to shore up a weak secondary. Typically, you can't fix a soft D in one draft, but NE certainly tried and used a bunch of high picks to get there. And, you don't get rich betting against any team with Brady and Belichick. They are going to win their share of games. But, many bring up that since they got busted with spy gate, they haven't won a ring since. Maybe the illegal spying did have something to do with their Super Bowl runs. All that being said, they will probably be a factor in the post season.
7.) Ravens. Yes, they are getting old, in terms of their best players (Lewis, Reed, Boldin) but they are still pretty formidable. They have an outstanding rushing game - one that you have to really address and focus on stopping or it kills you. But that defense is still stout, even while missing their best player in Suggs. Flacco has turned into an above average QB, even though, as Steeler fans, we like to claim he will never be good enough to win a ring. He showed mettle last year and he beat us, in a super pivotal game, coming from behind, in our house, to win the game in the last minute. That proves to me he is not a "loser" QB but one who can get it done. We win that game, we win the div. and get a bye in the 1st round. We had everything to gain by winning it; and we simply couldn't get it done, no matter how you slice it. They did. And, as we all know, having to go play on the road, in week 1, doomed us, even vs. a Tim Tebow. (But, let's face it: that team, in it's state, wasn't going to advance much further in the play offs any how.) The Ravens may have slipped a notch, but they are still dangerous, as they were a dropped pass (and chipped FG) away from making it the Super Bowl last year.
8.) NY Giants. They could easily be argued to be higher on the list, but I have a feeling everything they needed to go their way last season did, and chances are it won't go that way for them again. They are still talented, but I just don't see them getting every break they need again. Kind of like Pgh after the 2005 season; they went from great chemistry to just kind of being lost the next season. Of course, a lame duck Cowher didn't help that cause either.
9.) N.O. Saints. Tons of distractions, missing head coach, etc. but they won't fade away into the night. But they won't prove as good as the best teams either. Brees is a surgeon at QB. Sproles is a fine play maker (best FA pick up of last season), Graham dominant TE. Defense will be just OK. I think all of the turmoil will eventually be their undoing, but they will win their share of games.
10.) Atlanta Falcons. Something just seems to be missing from this team. They can look solid at home but then get biotch slapped every year in the play offs. And they didn't improve much in the daft, especially on D, where they are fairly flat. They even took a full back in the draft before they drafted a single defensive player. Really? They didn't address defense until their second pick in the 5th round. They were giving up 22 point per game and did almost nothing to address the D. I don't know.
Other notables: Lions, Bears, Broncos, Chargers, Cowboys, Panthers
- Buffalo Bills.
- Tampa Bucs.
- Oakland Raiders