It’s way too early for this, but what the heck. I always enjoy reading the utterly meaningless NFL “Power Polls” you see around the Internet during the season. Sure, they don’t mean anything, but that’s part of the fun. There’s nothing like getting outraged because your team is ranked #27 when they really have to be rated at least #23. “Come on man, we’re way better than the Bengals. This is crap!”
Anyway, throughout the season I’ll be adding to the insane number of power polls out there with one of my own. Sure, a Power Poll this early means even less than the meaningless in-season ones, but it’s all in fun.
And because I’m a ridiculous homer, I’m sure I’ll have the Bills at least five spots higher than they should be. And since (as you’ll see) I have them pretty low…you get the point.
1) Green Bay – I feel that in any poll the defending champions should be number #1 unless there’s a very good reason not to have them there. Not so here. The Packers are loaded and are still the favorites. Aaron Rogers is great and this roster is stacked with young talent.
2) Philadelphia – Speaking of “stacked,” here’s the Eagles. After an amazing free agency period in which the Eagles obtained great talent like CB Nnamdi Asomugha, DL Jason Babin, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DL Cullen Jenkins, QB Vince Young, RB Ronnie Brown, OT Ryan Harris, and others, Philly rightfully has Super Bowl aspirations. But Michael Vick stay healthy and play anywhere near as well as last season? Coach Andy Reid might be the best Monday-Saturday coach in the league, but will his awful clock management doom them in a close playoff game? It might not matter. This team is great.
3) NY Jets – It’s painful to put the Jets this high, but they deserve it. The defense is going to be great. They lost out on the grand prize of Nnamdi Asomugha, but bringing back CB Antonio Cromartie softens the blow. Sticking the franchise tag on ILB David Harris is also big. If they can get enough out of Mark Sanchez, this team is the favorite to win the AFC.
4) New England – They’ll be good as long as Tom Brady is good. And he’s still freaking great. Bringing in Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco could huge. Poaching DL Shaun Ellis from the Jets is nice, though he’s old. However, is this team really any better than last year? Can anyone rush the passer? I just don’t know.
5) New Orleans – The Saints feel like they’re below the radar, but they shouldn’t be. This is an excellent team that’s going to score points. They lost almost nothing from last season except RB Reggie Bush, who wasn’t super important. Watch out for the Saints, especially if they win enough to get the #1 or #2 seed in the NFC Playoffs. The Superdome will not be an easy place to win for a visiting team in the playoffs.
6) Baltimore – The Ravens cut smartly cut some older players (Willis McGahee, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason) who weren’t worth the big contracts they would have commanded in Baltimore. There’s lot of young talent to replace them, and this team will be tough again. This is such a good front office. I’m very jealous. However, I’m still not sold on QB Joe Flacco.
7) Pittsburgh – I can’t decide if this is too high or too low for the Steelers. On one hand, this team always seems to find a way to win games. On the other, they aren’t great at corner or on the offensive line, and there’s the dreaded Super Bowl losers hangover to deal with. My gut says this could be a tough year for them, but my gut is always wrong about the Steelers.
8) Houston – I know people say this every year, but THIS is the Texans’ year! I think new defense coordinator Wade Phillips will upgrade the defense to “bad” (as opposed to “horrific” in 2010) and that will be enough if WR Andre Johnson stays healthy.
9) Atlanta – Probably should be higher, given that they went 13-3 last season and had a good off-season. However, nothing about this team excites me in any way, and I just don’t see a Super Bowl winner here. They’ll win a bunch of games and then lose in the divisional round of the playoffs. Yawn.
10) San Diego – Yeah, they’ll be good. But they’ll blow a bunch of games they should win and will either bafflingly miss the playoffs or lose a playoff in awful fashion. Fire Norv Turner and we’ll talk.
11) Dallas – Too talented to have another awful season like last year. Jason Garrett will get some good results this year before the team gets tired of him sometime in 2013. Tony Romo will be interesting to watch this year – could Dallas decide to go in another direction at QB if he’s not great in 2011?
12) St. Louis – I like the Rams a lot, assuming QB Sam Bradford can stay healthy. Steve Spagnuolo is a great coach, and new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels should help spruce up what was a very boring offense in 2010. The Rams also made a series of nice under-the-radar signings (S Quintin Mikell, WR Mike Sims-Walker, LB Zac Diles) who could be major contributors to a division-winning Rams team this season.
13) Indianapolis – I’m calling it: the Colts finally lose their death grip on the AFC South this season. Fortunately for Colts fans, I’ve been predicting this for at least three years now.
14) Kansas City – Overachieved a bit last year. San Diego really should have won that division. However, don’t count the Chiefs out if the Chargers shoot themselves in the foot a bunch of times again in 2010…which they will. Re-singing LB Tambi Hali was great, as is bringing in Kelly Gregg. This seems like a franchise still going in the right direction.
15) NY Giants – I honestly have no idea how good this team is. Losing Osi Umenyiora certainly won’t be a good thing. Losing two offensive line starters isn’t good either. We could be seeing the end of the Tom Coughlin era.
16) Tampa Bay – The league’s biggest surprise in 2010 – the Bucs were near-universally predicted to suck but found a way to win 10 games – has a tough act to follow. I love QB Josh Freeman and this is a talented young roster, but they’re in a brutal division and did next to nothing to improve via free agency. Look for big things from the Bucs…in 2012. This year could be tough.
17) Detroit – Another team that will probably be very good in 2012. Detroit’s defensive front seven should be great, but the rest of the roster isn’t quite there. Keeping QB Matthew Stafford in one piece will help things along.
18) San Francisco – New coach Jim Harbaugh is going to need more than one season to right this ship, even playing in the league’s worst division. I wouldn’t have them this high, but there’s some talent and the division really does stink.
19) Chicago – Maybe I’m wrong, but I think the Bears’ run to the NFC title game last season was a bit of a fluke. There’s no way this is one of the league’s four best teams. Not even close. QB Jay Cutler is still a pick machine, and the offensive line could end up being very bad. The biggest upgrades to the roster via free agency are former Dallas underachievers RB Marion Barber and WR Roy Williams. …Yeah.
20) Seattle – Speaking of flukes, you won’t be seeing the Seahawks deep in the playoffs again in 2011. I have no faith in coach Pete Carroll at all. And who’s the quarterback of this team? Playing in the putrid NFC West and having an amazing homefield advantage will help salvage a few wins.
21) Buffalo – Yeah, yeah. Way too high. Whatever. The Fitzpatrick-led spread offense is going to be AWESOME, all right?
22) Minnesota – As a Syracuse guy, this kills me to say…but I think Donovan McNabb is done. This team needs to be blown up.
23) Jacksonville – Probably the league’s most boring franchise. They’ll have a record somewhere between 6-10 and 9-7 and coach Jack Del Rio will probably (finally) be released from this NFL purgatory. Ex-Bill Paul Posluszny is a good player, but the Jags will soon discover he’s not worth $7 million a year.
24) Cleveland – The Browns made a lot of progress last year, and QB Colt McCoy could be the long term answer there. But I’m not sure why the Browns didn’t do more in free agency. Plus, it’s Cleveland. The city’s cursed until it proves otherwise.
25) Arizona – I just don’t get the Kevin Kolb love-fest. Is he an upgrade over what they had last year? Oh my god yes. That was embarassing. But does he lead them to the promised land? I don’t think so. We’ll see.
26) Oakland – There’s talent here, but as long as Al Davis is the owner this is going to be rough.
27) Washington – See Oakland, and just replace “Al Davis” with ” Dan Snyder.”
28) Miami – Some people think the Dolphins are going to be pretty good, but I have no idea why.It’s not all bad: I really like the Kevin Brnett signing, and there’s some talent here. But I can’t believe this franchise didn’t blow up the Tony Sparano/Chad Henne coach/QB combo. Maybe they’ll make me eat my words, but Buffalo should be able to beat these guys out for third place.
29) Carolina – The worst team in football last year will be better this year. Their defensive front seven, led by the criminally underrated (but now very well paid) Charles Johnson, is a formidable group. But I can’t imagine this offense is quite ready to fly yet, and the division is brutal. If Cam Newton is the real deal, check back in 2012.
30) Tennessee – What a mess. I can’t believe this team took Jack Locker so high in the draft.
31) Denver – The sins of the Josh McDaniels era will take a while to clense, even in a bad division. The team was bad last season and didn’t do much to improve. The Tim Tebow/Kyle Orton QB battle will be a distraction all season.
32) Cincinnati – A bad team had its franchise quarterback retire and didn’t do much to get any better. (They did bring in former Bill Nate Clements in a move that would have been exciting four years ago.) I like coach Marvin Lewis, but I hope he gets fired. He needs to be free from this football hell.
Think I’m a moron? Let me know in the comments.
Follow BLD on Twitter! @BuffLowDown