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Old 09-05-2006, 09:44 AM   #1
stlrtruck
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Default Finally a power ranking leaving us where we ended

http://www.cbs.sportsline.com/nfl/story/9637850

Is the Super jinx on? Did those Seattle Seahawks fans, who felt the officials cheated their team out of a Super Bowl victory, put some kind of voodoo hex on the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Just three months ago quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a devastating motorcycle accident, only to fortunately recover enough to take part in the first training camp practice. Now we get word that Big Ben had an emergency appendectomy Sunday, a surgery that will likely keep him out two games.


Questions surrounding Bill Cowher's future might overshadow the Steelers' quest to repeat. (Getty Images)
Add on top of that the chatter of Joey Porter wanting a new contract, the uncertainty about Bill Cowher possibly coaching his final season, and it hasn't been a good offseason for the Steelers.

Now, having said all that, they are still the top-ranked team in the CBS SportsLine.com Power Rankings -- but it doesn't mean they will end the season there.

Hold on, Pittsburgh. Don't spit your IC Light out or choke on that Primanti Brothers sandwich just yet -- although after tasting one last year, I could understand if you did.

The Steelers have earned the right to be at the top for now. But that means nothing come December and January. Topping the preseason Power Rankings is about as meaningful as a Paris Hilton celibacy vow. Yes, she made one.

Even though the Steelers have virtually the entire team back, and can expect Roethlisberger to play at an even higher level in his third season when he does return, they won't be my pick to win the Super Bowl, not even to win the AFC.

Our picks come out Thursday, so I can't reveal the choice to win it all, but it won't be the Steelers. That's why this batch of Power Rankings might be a bit confusing at the end of this week.

It's not right if you don't start the Steelers at the top in any rankings. They have earned it, but it doesn't mean a free pass all the way through. Repeating in the NFL is about as tough as getting a photo op with the Cruise baby (get one and it could be worth more than Roethlisberger).

Starting at the top does mean they will have a chance at the end. The Steelers are a deep, talented team coached by one of the best in football.

But, hey, they didn't even win their division last season.

In compiling this first set of rankings, one thing became quite clear. There are a lot of teams that have a chance to be playoff teams and beyond.

Scratch off all the teams that have little chance to make the playoffs, and you're still left with the majority of the league. Even the St. Louis Rams at No. 22 on our list have legitimate playoff chances.

That means we have 10 teams that don't have a shot.

Is that Pete's Parity, named for the late Pete Rozelle? Or Goodell's Garbage, named for the new commissioner?

Time will tell.

Hidden in the bottom 10 could be a last-to-first team. It happens, which is why doing opening-week rankings can be so tough.

So go easy on me. Don't send off the nasty e-mails just yet. We haven't even played a game that matters, so save the venomous comments for later in the season.

I know they're coming. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Think about it. All the other sites have power rankings, but do any have rankings put together by one man? That takes big cajones with you lunatic (I love you guys) fans.

Just be nice. No more death threats for my cats.

But as I put together this batch of rankings, I did so with an eye on whose fans would be the angriest. My top choices are the fans of the Dolphins, Redskins and Chiefs.

I have the Dolphins ranked No. 12 at a time when some are picking them to win the Super Bowl. I have the Redskins at No. 19 when many are making them a favorite to win the tough NFC East. And the Chiefs are at No. 20, which surely won't make the army in Red too happy.

There will be others who aren't happy, either.

Let's just hope placing the Steelers at the top will appease that bunch for a while -- at least until Thursday when my Super Bowl picks are made official.

Here are the Power Rankings before Week 1:

POWER RANKINGS
Current Team Previous
1 Steelers ? Trends -
They haven't lost much from a team that won it all last year. That's why they start in this spot. As long as their quarterback can stay off the motorcycle, and out of the hospital, they'll be close to the top at the end.
2 Panthers ? Trends -
This is a deep, talented team that made major improvements in the offseason. They are the class of the NFC. They will be a fight every week.
3 Colts ? Trends -
In Vegas, they are still the favorites. That has to mean something. Maybe the tough playoff loss, and the sting of it, will help get this team to the Super Bowl.
4 Patriots ? Trends -
Don't let all the losses the past few years fool you. This is still one of the best teams. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the two reasons why.
5 Broncos ? Trends -
They've added deep speed in Javon Walker, which will help the offense, and Mike Bell looks like another in the line of runners who can get it done for the Broncos. Now it's time for Mike Shanahan to get to the Super Bowl without John Elway.
6 Jaguars ? Trends -
Looking for a rising team? This is it. There is plenty of good young talent and a suffocating defense. If the offense makes a move forward, this could be a Super team.
7 Cowboys ? Trends -
The T.O. issues have hung over this team all summer, but they still have a ton of talent. If Terrell Owens can put out on the field, none of that other stuff will matter.
8 Seahawks ? Trends -
Super losers usually have Super hangovers. Can they avoid it? We'll see. Something says they slide down just a bit.
9 Giants ? Trends -
This is the year Eli Manning breaks out. The Giants face a brutal schedule that will make it tough to repeat last year's record.
10 Eagles ? Trends -
Andy Reid will have this team bouncing back. As long as Donovan McNabb can stay healthy, they should be in the mix to win the tough NFC East.
11 Bengals ? Trends -
Carson Palmer looked great in his return to the field last week, so don't worry about the offense as long he's there. The defense also looks improved, which is a must. But something tells me they won't be as good as in 2005.
12 Dolphins ? Trends -
There are a lot of questions for this trendy team. Getting Daunte Culpepper was a great move, but the line is so-so, the defensive front has age and the secondary is inexperienced.
13 Cardinals ? Trends -
Their offensive line will decide if they can make a playoff run. They have the skill people and the defense is loaded with good players.
14 Falcons ? Trends -
They will be a much better team on defense than a year ago. John Abraham will make that happen. It's now on Michael Vick and the passing game for this to be a Super contender.
15 Buccaneers ? Trends -
This team that will go as far as the offensive line takes it. They have all the parts, but the five guys up front have to play better to make this a division winner.
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