Doc's 2006 Preseason Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo - 08/02/2006
"No matter where you go, there you are."
Confucius said that. He was a fan of total consciousness and the Run-and-Shoot.
No matter where we go, there football is. Training camp. Preseason. Regular season. Playoffs. Super Bowl. Pro Bowl. Offseason training. Draft. May mini-camps. Organized team activities. Training camp. The cycle begins anew, and the season never ends.
Well, that little lesson doesn't just apply to game-breaking linebackers and road-grader guards. It's true for every gambling guru and football fanatic across the land. You can't just forget about The Game after the Super Bowl, pop up around the draft to see who your team grabbed with its first pick, and then expect to be ready to lay the lumber in the opening week.
No chance. You gotta stay sharp. You have to pay attention to the minutia. Who's pissed off about their contract? Who lost a paternity suit during the offseason? Who had that tricky knee scoped? How many starting lineman did your team lose?
Now, I don't expect you to dedicate hours upon end combing the waiver wire in May and scouting the salary cap figures in June. That's what we're here for. It's what we do. I've spent the offseason tracking the 32 teams that comprise our beloved National Football League. And to help get your head straight and help get you on the right path, I've come up with my Preseason Power Rankings.
OK, let's get this straight. These rankings are The Now. Last season is over. These ratings are one part past performance, one part offseason, and one part prediction. Obviously things are going to change. Certainly some big name will blow out his knee and some projected starter will get arrested for aggravated assault with a pair of hedge clippers. These things are bound to happen in any Free and Open society. But we move on. And we'll move on in future Power Rankings.
In the meantime, here's Doc's Sports Preseason Power Rankings (Super Bowl odds from Pinnacle Sportsbook in parentheses. Oh, and don't forget to check back later in the week for my out-and-out 2006 NFL Predictions.):
1. Pittsburgh (+1426) - You gotta respect the champs. And apparently the champs have to respect the danger inherent in 62-year-old women behind the wheel.
2. Carolina (+1379) - The best team in the NFC, but they do have issues. Their rushing average (3.4) was second-lowest in the league, and their linebacking corps is suspect.
3. Denver (+1525) - The defense slipped a bit last year to 12th, but I still see the Broncos as one of the league's most balanced teams. If they pull the trigger on an Ashley Lelie-for-Thomas Jones trade they will be nasty.
4. Washington (+1853) - If Mark Brunell stays healthy this team could make a strong Super Bowl push. But entering his 14th season that may be too much to ask. They shouldn't have let Patrick Ramsey go.
5. Indianapolis (+604) - To me, the Colts are slipping. There's enough talent for double-digit wins, but they lost as much as any club in the league. Especially on defense.
6. Chicago (+1928) - Easy schedule and the league's No. 1 defense. They have stability at quarterback and an outstanding running game. But they also have bad karma and a lot of players disjointed over their contracts.
7. Seattle (+1296) - I believe in the Super Bowl hangover. This team is still highly skilled, but is it still hungry?
8. New England (+917) - This is out of respect. I think they're the same - if not weaker - than last year's club. But their division is horrendous and they have a soft schedule.
9. Baltimore (+2986) - If they had this roster back in 2003 they would have walked to the Super Bowl. It's not 2003. But, if healthy, this is still a very talented team.
10. Tampa Bay (+5697) - They're in the same boat as the Ravens. Remember how good the Jets were in '04, and how far they fell in '05? The Bucs have that potential.
11. Dallas (+800) - I'm not high on the Boys. I think they have discipline problems and have questions on the offensive and defensive lines, the secondary and the backfield.
12. Jacksonville (+3418) - This is a rugged team that won't have the benefit of such a cupcake schedule again. I think they're still stunned by the loss of Jimmy Smith.
13. N.Y. Giants (+1851) - Their 22 starters are as good as anyone's in the league. But they have little depth in key areas and have the league's third-most difficult slate.
14. San Diego (+2463) - For the second straight season they return 20+ starters. Their schedule is manageable and they have an emerging defense. But internal struggles and karma concerns linger.
15. Atlanta (+3580) - Critical year for a lot of people in this organization. Injuries to key offensive players have dropped them out of my top 10, but I really like what they've put together defensively.
16. Miami (+2293) - Is anyone else worried about Culpepper and Ronnie Brown - two fragile players - behind that offensive line? Also, that defense doesn't scare people anymore.
17. Cincinnati (+2195) - Carson Palmer's gimpy and they still have no defense. There's no way they manage a +24 turnover differential again this year either.
18. Kansas City (+2265) - Willie Roaf retired. Priest is out. Trent Green is 36. Casey Wiegmann is 33. Tony Gonzalez and Eddie Kennison are entering their 10th and 11th seasons. The AARP Chiefs are headed to the Happy Hunting Ground.
19. Philadelphia (+2895) - I expect a bounce-back year from McNabb. But he doesn't have enough playmakers and I have doubts about their defensive front seven.
20. Detroit (+10000) - The Lions have averaged four wins a season for the past five years. But they feel like a dark horse to me. That's if the new coaching staff can inject life into a group of underachievers.
21. Minnesota (+7149) - I think the Vikings are dangerous. They seem committed to the run, and the defense has more athletic ability than last season's No. 21 ranking displayed.
22. Houston (+12000) - Eric Moulds was a great pickup. Their switch back to the 4-3, after one atrocious year in the 3-4, will make a tremendous difference for the NFL's second-worst defense.
23. Arizona (+2998) - Can they make The Leap? How much do you trust Kurt Warner and Denny Green? I don't. But I think there's enough talent to win in spite of them.
24. Tennessee (+10545) - Besides Billy Volek and Kevin Mawae, the other 20 projected starters average just three years of experience. They're young, but they're on the right path.
25. Cleveland (+10000) - I feel for the Browns. They made a bevy of strong offseason moves, but are already losing players. They will still be a dangerous team, especially within the division.
26. St. Louis (+10000) - Do not, I repeat, do not sleep on this team. They're like Detroit. The talent is there, but you can't predict how much discipline a first-year coach can instill.
27. Green Bay (+8880) - Favre said this is one of the most athletic Packer teams he's ever played on. He also said that he would retire about three years ago.
28. Oakland (+10000) - Aaron Brooks.
29. N.Y. Jets (+10983) - I think Ramsey will make Jet fans forget all about Brooks Bollinger.
30. New Orleans (+9492) - Somehow, the fact that Reggie Bush bought a $1.8 mil. home doesn't make me feel any better about the team. In fact, it makes me feel worse.
31. Buffalo (+10000) - They have no quarterback, a terrible coach, a suspect secondary and an awful offensive line. They brought back Marv Levy, but forgot Bruce Smith, Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas.
32. San Francisco (+15000) - I heard Lance Bass is auditioning for a spot on the San Francisco Gold Rush. Just a rumor.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.