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Old 06-01-2006, 10:42 PM   #1
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Unhappy NFL off-season power rankings

NFL off-season power rankings


FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS POWER RANKINGS: Off-season
Rk Team W-L Last year

1. SEAHAWKS 13-3 2
Yes, they made a mistake not franchising Steve Hutchinson, but Seattle still projects to be one of the three or four best teams in football, with an extraordinarily easy schedule. This should be the team to break the Super Bowl Losers' Curse and the Madden Curse. If this sounds familiar, it should: it is exactly what we said about Philadelphia a year ago. Uh-oh.

2. STEELERS 11-5 1
The real Steelers are the team that went undefeated in the playoffs, not the 11-5 team that snuck into a wild card spot.

3. COLTS 14-2 3
Obviously, much of this team's success is dependent on Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai, but there's a hidden time bomb here: what if Marvin Harrison starts feeling the effects of age?

4. BRONCOS 13-3 4
Otherwise known as the Ron Dayne Experiment. People keep saying, "If it works this time, maybe Shanahan really is a genius." Can we just say he's a genius already, so he can stop doing crazy things like this? We can't take any more schtick.

5. PATRIOTS 10-6 7
As Mark Twain might say, the rumors of the Patriots' demise have been greatly exaggerated. They may not have a Hall of Fame kicker, but they do have great players under 30 at every position except linebacker. Watch for wide receiver Deion Branch, whose career so far has almost exactly mirrored that of Henry Ellard through 1987. In 1988, Ellard began a three-year stretch where he averaged more than 1,300 yards per season.

6. PANTHERS 11-5 6
Are there enough balls to go around for both Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson? Forget during games -- I'm just talking about signing autographs in the locker room after practice.

7. BENGALS 11-5 8
The reports on Carson Palmer's rehab are excellent, but remember that if he has a setback, this team is facing "Doug Johnson II: Electric Bougaloo."

8. CHARGERS 9-7 14
In the last decade, only 5 of the 14 teams debuting a non-rookie quarterback dropped by two or more wins compared to the previous season. Three of those teams were playing the young quarterbacks due to injury (Brooks Bollinger in 2005, for example). The other two teams were the 1999 Broncos, with Brian Griese replacing John Elway without a healthy Terrell Davis or Shannon Sharpe, and J.P. Losman's Bills, whose defense collapsed. We hereby guarantee that if LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates are injured for most of 2006, Philip Rivers will have a bad year.

9. EAGLES 6-10 19
Some people seem to feel the Eagles cannot win without Terrell Owens. But they made it to three straight NFC Championship games without Owens, then made it to a Super Bowl with him sitting on the bench. As long as the other players heal up, the Eagles will be a serious contender.

10. CHIEFS 10-6 13
For the second straight year, the Chiefs are holding out hope that the defense can put it all together before the entire offense (except Larry Johnson) has to register for Medicare Plan D.

11. BEARS 11-5 9
The entire defense returns, and they now have two quarterbacks who are not Kyle Orton. They look like a team that had a fluke year, but they really aren't. They will win the division again.

12. REDSKINS 10-6 5
Super-hot at the end of last season, they aren't likely to play at that level for all of 2006. But we're rooting for them to go as far as possible so we can get more Clinton Portis press conferences.

13. GIANTS 11-5 11
Would it surprise anyone if all four teams in the NFC East went either 9-7 or 10-6? On the other hand, you can't expect a third-straight career year from 31-year-old Tiki Barber.

14. COWBOYS 9-7 25
The opposite of Washington: they fell apart in the second half of last season, and won't be that bad this year. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, Terrell Owens does not play offensive line.

15. DOLPHINS 9-7 16
In retrospect, the six-game winning streak that ended their season was a bit underwhelming. Counting the win over New England - and the Patriots weren't even trying -- four of Miami's final six wins came by four points or less. Only the upset of San Diego was truly impressive. The combined record of Miami's other four victims was 17-47. The Dolphins will contend for the playoffs, however, and Ronnie Brown is set to be a top-five fantasy running back.

16. BUCS 11-5 12
After years of bad luck and close losses, the Bucs suddenly had a season filled with good luck and close wins. They won't have it so easy in 2006.

17. JAGUARS 12-4 10
This offense is not ready for life after Jimmy Smith. The continuation of life with Fred Taylor will hold them back even more. A dangerous team in 2007, but they will take a step back to take a step forward.

18. FALCONS 8-8 21
It seems like most people soured on Michael Vick at the end of last year, but the Falcons fell apart because their defense fell apart. If the Falcons fix their rush defense, which was worst in the league, they will be back in the playoffs. The addition of safety Lawyer Milloy and return to health of middle linebacker Ed Hartwell should help in that area.

19. RAVENS 6-10 17
Starting Jamal Lewis over Mike Anderson is like a putting on a Broadway production of Macbeth with Ben Affleck in the lead role and Anthony Hopkins as his understudy.

20. VIKINGS 9-7 15
The offensive line will be better, and the rest of the team will be worse. Conventional wisdom says that Brad Childress is a big upgrade on Mike Tice, but teams generally struggle in their first year with a new coaching staff. Last year's turnaround coincided with the move of cornerback Brian Williams into the starting lineup, and he's gone to Jacksonville.

21. CARDINALS 5-11 18
With Edgerrin James, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin, the Cardinals should have an excellent offense. If they do not, maybe we need to start reevaluating Dennis Green as a "great offensive mind."

22. BROWNS 6-10 22
The offensive line additions help, but Charlie Frye still has a lot to learn, Braylon Edwards will miss a good chunk of the year, and the defense isn't quite ready for prime time. They can't really be thinking of Daylon McCutcheon over Leigh Bodden, can they?

23. RAIDERS 4-12 20
They may not score more points this year, but all offensive players will receive a free continental breakfast.

24. RAMS 6-10 27
Our DVOA stats ranked the Rams 16th on offense in 2005, but 25th in the red zone. Will Scott Linehan turn that around? It's not likely -- last year's Dolphins were 21st on offense and 22nd in the red zone, and the year before Linehan's Vikings were third overall on offense, but 20th in the red zone.

25. LIONS 5-11 26
Every year, at least one defense filled with young talent suddenly jells and makes a playoff run. Detroit has a good chance of being that defense this year. But there's nothing to make us believe that the underachieving offense will turn things around, Mike Martz or no Mike Martz.

26. PACKERS 4-12 31
The Packers are a hard team to figure out. They could be back in the hunt for the top overall pick, or they could make a run at a winning record. Most likely they will limp their way to 6-10. Brett Favre will extend his record streak of 221 consecutive starts by 16 more, bask in the fans' adulation for the last time at Lambeau Field on December 21, and head home to Mississippi.

27. TITANS 4-12 29
The other young defense that could take a big leap forward, along with the Lions (the Browns could take a big leap forward but aren't really a "young" defense). The Titans were a candidate to be the surprise playoff team of 2006, but the nasty breakup with Steve McNair just sets them back for another couple years of rebuilding. Stealing LenDale White in the second round almost makes up for last year's phenomenally stupid decision to trade a third-round pick for Travis Henry.

28. JETS 4-12 24
You build your football team from the inside out, and the Jets have taken that axiom to heart. This team is definitely on the right track long-term. Short term, it will be painful.

29. TEXANS 2-14 23
Houston's secondary is Mr. Robinson's neighborhood. Dunta Robinson is a bona fide upper-echelon cornerback, but like Eddie Murphy on the post-Belushi Saturday Night Live, the man desperately needs some help from his teammates.

30. SAINTS 3-13 30
At least one of the FO staffers believes that if Drew Brees is healthy, the Saints can ride his arm, Reggie Bush's legs, and a couple games of emotional home-field advantage to a 7-9 record. The rest of us humbly disagree.

31. BILLS 5-11 28
New leadership is supposed to provide a new direction. Explain again how Peerless Price is a new direction?

32. 49ERS 4-12 32
Could it get better this year? Yes. Can we put them anywhere other than last place before it does? Nope.
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Old 06-01-2006, 10:43 PM   #2
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Default Re: NFL off-season power rankings

Here's how they gathered the results:

We've all gotten used to the topsy-turvy nature of the NFL, where each year losing teams suddenly turn things around and make the playoffs while teams that look solid going into the season collapse. But don't be surprised if the big surprise in 2006 is how few surprises there are.

The NFL is known for parity, but last year had the least parity in a long time. There were good teams, and there were bad teams, and very little in between. (By "very little," I mean "Miami and Minnesota.") Teams naturally drift towards 8-8, and teams that improve one year tend to decline the next, but even if both of those facts turn out to be true, most of the teams that make the playoffs will be the same as 2005.
With that in mind, the two teams that met in Super Bowl XL still stand on top of the FOXSports.com power rankings. The top seven teams all made the playoffs a year ago, and you have to go all the way down to Arizona at No. 21 to find a team that had a losing record in both of the last two seasons.

These power rankings are very different from the ones we do during the year. Usually, the FOXSports.com power rankings are entirely based on objective numbers, using the innovative stats from Football Outsiders. We don't have any stats for the summertime, however, so these rankings are entirely subjective. Each of the Football Outsiders writers ranked all 32 teams based on how they finished 2005 and the off-season moves they've made in 2006, and the rankings below represent the average of our opinions.

The Last Year column represents weighted DVOA rank from the end of the 2005 season, including the playoffs, with teams that missed the postseason ranked no higher than 13th.
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Old 06-01-2006, 10:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: NFL off-season power rankings

Are there enough balls to go around for both Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson?


from a literary standpoint, thats the best line ive heard in a long time. deliciously ambigious.
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Old 06-02-2006, 05:04 AM   #4
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Default Re: NFL off-season power rankings

Interesting that they have the Seahawks at No.1 - its rare to see an NFC team at this position for any length of time.

I prefer power rankings that just look at the team in question and doesnt factor in the schedule and the like - if team 12 plays team 3 - then team 3 should be favorite everytime.

Having said that, I agree with most of the positions and reasoning why they are there - especially Miami.

When you break it down, the only team of note that they beat was the Chargers (who themselves were only 9-7), and they really struggled to put away the Patriots 3rd string, during that 'fantastic' season closing run of victories.

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The Patriots didn't bother with swagger to start this NFL season; they went straight to defiant. Either you're one of them or you're about to get crushed.
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