Some (very) early power rankings part 1

So the 2012 season has come to a close and as staff of the superdome are just finishing sweeping up confetti and as Jim Harbaugh has stopped gesticulating like a strange hybrid of Kermit the Frog and a hyperactive toddler at a wedding, I thought it was time to make some very early predictions and rank all 32 teams. So let’s start with everyone’s favourite team/ media circus…

32) New York Jets

Last year the NFLs answer to a soap opera brought in Tebow in favour of bringing in any credible weapons. So to teach the head coach a lesson they have given him more power….seriously. The Jets are a train wreck that you just cant keep your eyes off. They have zero faith in QB Mark Sanchez, however will probably have very little choice but to play him. But don’t be surprised if the Jets fans start chanting for Greg McElroy to take his job. Throw into this that Derelle Revis is demanding to paid amongst the top players in the league and you are looking at a nightmare season. Could I be wrong about this? Yes, If the Jets sensibly sign another RB and a couple of wideouts who can pick up some yards after catch, then they could possibly bully their way up the rankings. Finally I think the Jets should take a look at Alex Smith but I can’t see it though. This was meant to be quickfire…..

31) Arizona Cardinals

The Cards last year started the season flying with a 4-o record. How could they not make the playoffs! Yeah, they didn’t make the playoffs and I don’t expect them to make the playoffs again this season. I’m going to be using the term “rebuilding season”, a lot in this post and that will start here. The Cards are a mess. They have a star corner and star wideout but pretty much nothing else. No. 1 priority though is a desperate need for a decent starting QB. SO then you look at the QB market and look at who would fit in, in Arizona. Alex Smith? No, you need a deep passer for Fitzgerald. Alex Smith has 8-8 QB written all over him. So how’s about drafting  Geno Smith? A) You would probably have to move up to get him and B) All the reports say that he needs work and will probably have to sit a year After that there is a mish mash of average QBs none of which look promising. So for me I don’t think there is much they can do this year and should already be looking at the following season.

30) Jacksonville Jaguars

This team is on the verge of being the laughing-stock of the NFL. firstly, last year they were terrible. Secondly the change of logo to a cat that is more of an embarrassing take on a scary cat than Peter Criss from Kiss. Finally it’s never a good sign when you get rid of your head coach after one year. It feels like the Jags are in a constant rebuilding year and this year wont be different. I’m of the opinion that the Jags should stick with Henne and hope that Jones-Drew is fit for the start of the season. For me it’s just about keeping relevant till next years draft or they can pick up a franchise QB in free agency. But what it means is the Jags could be entering another 2 possible rebuilding years as they try to make their team matter. Then if you look at it this way, how much has Jones-Drew got left? Why not trade him away now, either for future high draft picks or for a possible franchise QB.I think whatever happens Jones-Drew wont be playing for Jags team that has a winning season in the next couple of years.

29) Oakland Raiders

I originally wrote this just saying “well they are the Raiders”, but figured I should go into a little depth. So the Raiders offense on paper is pretty damned good. But when you look at what they’ve achieved and what they’ve given up to be a poor team, then it doesn’t look so rosy. For starters, the Raiders have to be looking at replacing Palmer, a player they gave up 1 first rounder last year and a second this year. This trade is looking worse than ever with Raiders fans looking longingly at the picks they gave to the Bengals and thinking they could use them more than ever. Alex Smiths name will come up with a few teams and I think the Raiders would be a pretty good fit. As for backup Terrell Prior, in my opinion he doesn’t have what it takes to be the no. 1. I would like to say that this is a rebuilding year for the Raiders, but it’s not, every year consistently they make head scratching moves that don’t move them up the power rankings. Aside from a QB. the Raiders need to back up McFadden, a player that consistently suffers season ending injuries.

28) Tennessee Titans

Straight off the bat, Locker is not a starting NFL QB, but he has 2 years to prove me wrong with his contract up in 2015. According to the Titans they are exploring using the read option more. This to me is turning up to a party a day after it had finished and just being there to tidy up. In my opinion the read option will take a step back next year as defenses get wiser and figure out what to do when read plays are called. So if the read option takes a step back. This will affect the play of not only Locker, but also Chris Johnson, who picked up his game late in the season. Gregg Williams being hired to the team is a good move and I don’t think it will be long before he takes control of the Defense. The big issue though is the team lacks spirit, which lead to some truly awful O-line play. This year I think the pressure hits Locker. As a player who lacks accuracy, with a poor O-line and reverting to the read option he is looking at throwing a ton of interceptions.

27) Kansas City Chiefs

This time last year the Chiefs were everyone’s favourite to make it out of the AFC West. But after a season where Manning goes to the Broncos and the Chiefs fall way short of their goal, we go into the 2013 season with a very different view on the Chiefs. Now I look at the Chiefs and think they are a decent QB away from a .500 season. They have weapons in Charles, Bowe and Hillis but lack the trigger man to take advantage of this. But even with any of the available QBs on the market this year do they have what it takes to make the playoffs. Would Smith fit here? Yes, no question, if they can get Alex Smith they look like a much more intimidating team, but does Smith have what it takes to lead a team to a better record than the Peyton Manning led Denver Broncos. I should mention that I like the Chiefs defense and it could help them move up the rankings, if the achieve some consistency. Worth remembering also that they have the no. 1 pick and if someone emerges as a clear no. 1 pick that changes a lot, but this year it seems that teams would rather have a dirth of 2nd and 3rd round picks rather than a 1st. Final point to remember is Andy Reid could change everything. He is a great head coach and will be glad to be out of the high pressure job in Philly.

26) Buffalo Bills

Last year was really a lack lustre affair for a team that should have really been playing for the playoffs last year. Mario Williams certainly didn’t play like a $100 million dollar player and lead a team that seemed to lack some serious effort. On the plus side it looks like they have a healthy RB situation in Buffalo so long as they can stay…..healthy. The QB situation hasn’t improved much. A QB competition is generally only any use if the QB’s are decent, the Bills however have a competition between Tavaris Jackson and Ryan Fitzpatrick, two QBs who really aren’t franchise QB’s. For me it seems like the Bills aren’t having a rebuilding year as such, but more of a ‘wait and see year’, there is always the chance that Fitzpatrick has a decent year and the defense plays to their abilities. I wouldn’t have thought the Bills will make a big splash in the free agent market, not after signing Mario Williams last year. Expect mediocrity from Buffalo this year.

25) Detroit Lions

Oh dear Jim Schwartz. So coming up in the next couple of years you have some massive contracts to take care of for Suh and Stafford. Add to that the loss of no. 2 receiver Titus Young (yes he’s an idiot but still a playmaker), still no decent RB, a drastically underperforming defense and a team that struggles keeping its players out of jail and you have what could look like a season that ends with Jim Schwartz updating his CV. There really is very little upside here, they could be very smart in free agency and pick up some ‘one persons junk is anothers treasure’, style players and they could look at reorganising some cap room, but this is still a team with many needs. Difficult season in Detroit.

24) San Diego Chargers

The Chargers of late have become something of a ‘meh’ team. All of their standout players seem to have dropped off. Phil Rivers throws a ridiculous amount of interceptions and falls to pieces when the pressure is on. Antonio Gates has just had a few too many injuries and Ryan Mathews has never really had a chance to become the player we were promised. The defense tends to go to pieces when the pressure is on and the special teams has been nothing more than poor over the last few seasons. There is some hope though. Maybe some serious changes at Head Coach unlock some potential that Norv Turner couldn’t harness, maybe this is the year that Phil Rivers returns to his form and maybe this is the year that Ryan Mathews becomes a top RB, I just can’t see it though. Look for the Chargers to go for a no. 1 receiver either in the draft or in free agency. Also look for the Chargers to pick up the eventual replacement for Rivers, especially if he has another poor season.

23) Minnesota Vikings

So I’m down on a number of the playoff teams this year and I start with a team that really has one player putting the team on their back. There is a good chance that the Vikings ask for the same thing again, this time however Peterson is following on from a season where he missed breaking the single season rushing record by 9 yards which I think even for the strongest player is hard to get over. I expect him to have a good season, but nowhere near as good as the last. Expect Ponder to struggle with a serious lack of weapons especially with the exceptionally gifted Harvin possibly leaving the team. Expect the defense to take  a step back too,as age takes effect on a number of players. Finally I don’t think Ponder is the answer. If AP goes out for an extended period of time, I would imagine this team drops even lower.

22) St Louis Rams

I feel like the Rams are close…every year. Last year they suffered from the same issues as the Chicago Bears of the previous 3 seasons. Not enough decent receivers. Amendola has come from nowhere to be Bradford’s go to guy but that is about it. This year they need to draft and/or pick up from free agency a couple of receivers. If they do that and Bradford still flounders, then it is time to move on. I expect them to re-sign Steven Jackson to considerably less than he has been on as he nears the end of his career. The Rams look great on defense with a talented, young unit, so big strides are needed for the Rams to improve in an exceptionally difficulty division.

21) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Much like the Rams, the Bucs are close. But I still have issues trusting Josh Freeman, who has been consistently up and down through out his career. However he is now backed up by Doug Martin at RB who is looking set to be one of the greats. Throw into the mix a hungry Vincent Jackson and you’ve got an offense that has potential to be explosive. This year the defense needs to step up. If that happens, I may have seriously underestimated this team, I just don’t think they’re good enough yet to topple the Saints, Falcons or even the Panthers.

20) Cleveland Browns

1st of my surprise teams. Last year the Browns were the team that was considered ‘the bad team that played well’, this year I expect them to make massive leaps. Already in place they have: a great o-line, a great defense, a great RB with a so-so WR core. The main issue the Browns have is at QB, do you stick with Weedon or make the move to McCoy. I think the Browns owe it to Weedon to give him a go and see what he can do. It will be difficult for the Browns to topple the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals but I think its close, expect big things from this underwhelming team.

19) Washington Redskins

Yup….I put them this low. Heres why. I don’t think RG3 will be fit for the start of the season, Kirkpatrick on occassions looked good, but did he look a no. 1? I don’t think so. Next, lets see what happens when RG3 comes back. I’d be willing to bet my Chicago Bears teddy bear that he is nowhere near as dynamic and thinks twice about making those long runs. When Rg3 eventually comes back, I think he comes back to some very different looking defenses. After a long summer I would imagine Defensive Coordinators have been planning what to do with the more mobile QBs and there will be a lot less chances to run. My final point is all down to the age of the team. Washington has an old Defense and some Old weapons on offense. This is probably the biggest prediction I have made that will blow up in my face, but I just can’t see them doing as well as last year.

18) Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are close. A lot of good moves from Cam last year as they developed him into a decent pocket passer. I think the RB committee carries on to impress, maybe more DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert heavy than last year. I like the O-line and I like the D-line. Age is once again an issue especially with the receivers. The Panthers need a young no. 1 receiver to replace Steve Smith who will be edging closer to retiring. I like the move to keep Rivera in the job for another year to see what he can bring to this team after a disappointing year. I like the Panthers to improve drastically over the next few years and maybe over take the Falcons in a tight division, but they want to do it soon before they have to sign Newton to a massive deal.

17) Philadelphia Eagles

I just don’t know about this team. I like all of the individual pieces. but I just haven’t seen anything that makes me think they can pull it out of the bag. Add into this issues on the O-line and injury issues on the D-line then you can expect Vick to hit the ground a few more times again this year. However Chip Kellys offense has a chance to come in and change the game. Throw into the mix fantastic weapons that’ll look great in this offense such as Jackson, McCoy and Celek. The defense just looked like they were lacking effort last year, so there is a good chance that carries on through out this season. I think the Eagles stand a chance to be truly awful or one of the best teams in the league….I just don’t know.

So this was meant to be quick fire and short and to the point….that didn’t happen, so I split in 2.