2010 NFL Power Rankings Preview

So, which National Football League teams will be up next year and which down? What's our prediction and forecast for the 2010 - 2011 NFL playoffs? It's all right here in our brand new 2010 NFL Power Rankings Preview.

1. Indianapolis Colts:

Peyton Manning still leads the NFL’s best team and organization. The Colts lost nothing of consequence in the offseason, added a potential difference maker on the defensive line in Jerry Hughes, and are poised to steamroll the AFC South yet again.

2. Minnesota Vikings: This ranking assumes Brett Favre comes back. If he does, the Vikings are the second best team in the league and the class of the NFC since the Saint’s run was special (dare I say unique) and New Orleans lost a couple of important contributors in the offseason. A Williams-wall suspension could prove problematic though. However, if Favre opts to retire, Marc Bulger would presumably be signed as his replacement and the Vikings would fall to the bottom of the top 10.

3. New Orleans Saints: The Saints will again be one of the top teams in the league and have not lost too much in the offseason. However, will they have the same hunger and drive as last year or be capable of such a unique run?

4. New England Patriots: They got some young blood and filled their holes at linebacker, tight end, and safety, but one has to ask if this team is as mentally tough or as driven as the Patriots’ teams of the last decade. This team looks very solid across the board and absolutely has the talent to make a run….but the Patriots have some work to do before they are again considered the class of the league.

5. Baltimore Ravens: This year, the offense may actually be better than the defense. Not too shabby…all that is holding this team back is the age of some of its key contributors (Mason and Lewis in particular) and the incredible quality of the teams above it. I can't rank them higher right now but I actually see them getting better as the season goes on….much, much better.

6. Dallas Cowboys: Excellent all around though huge holes at left tackle and safety need to be addressed. Their coaching also remains a major concern….Wade Phillips is competent but I would question his ability to win a Superbowl.

7. New York Jets: The Jets had one of the noisiest offseasons; acquiring WR Santonio Holmes and CB Antonio Cromartie in trades. The Jets defense has a chance to be historically dominant and the offense could surprise if Sanchez plays like he did in the 2009 postseason. Nonetheless, I question the decisions to let three pro-bowlers-RB Thomas Jones, OG Alan Faneca, and FS Kerry Rhodes-all go in one offseason and I think the Jets could struggle if the left guard slot is left open and the run lacks the punch it had last season.

8. Green Bay Packers: The Packers are solid at every position, well coached, and have an all-pro QB in Aaron Rodgers. I’m just not sure they have enough true playmakers to go the distance this year. Moreover, their ageing and injury-prone offensive line (even with the draft addition of Bryan Bulaga) could hurt them again and their elderly secondary could become a concern. That said, this is a solid team and their ranking indicates how deep the NFL’s talent level is this season.

9. San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are solid at all positions, have a great quarterback, and could absolutely run away with their soft division. However, the team has defensive limitations, lacks quality playmakers all over the field, and continues to have serious injury concerns (Merriman, Gates, Rivers) at essential positions.

10. Philadelphia Eagles: This team is incredibly young and will contend for years to come. The squad has talent everywhere on the field and should be top five on this list in 2012 or even next year. That said, I can’t see them making a run in Kevin Kolb’s first year….but the Jets almost did it last year so who am I to count them out?

11. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are a very interesting team. They have an incredibly high payroll and added playmakers at key positions-notably MLB Karlos Dansby and WR Brandon Marshall-but they also have big holes (young QB, injury prone running game, secondary issues) that could derail them. On paper though, this team is stacked and will absolutely make a run at the AFC East title and maybe more.

12. Chicago Bears: The Bears are this year's mystery team. On paper, the Bears are a top five squad with no holes on a potentially great defense (FS was addressed in the draft, the Bears traded for SS Chris Harris, and the franchise added DE superstar Julius Peppers in free agency) and an offense that will absolutely produce under coordinator Mike Maartz. However, there are injury concerns and ageing impact players (Urlacher, Peppers, both Tommie and Chris Harris, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Olin Kreutz, and more) all over this group so luck will play a major factor in whether the Bears go 11-5 or 5-11.

13. New York Giants: Last year's late season disappointment added pro-bowl FS Antrel Rolle in free agency and got potential superstar DL Jason Pierre Paul in the draft and should prevent a repeat of last year's debacle. That said, they play in the deepest division (sorry AFC East the Bills pull you down) in the NFL and could suffer from that as a result. Still, bet on the Giants to be right in the playoff hunt….but probably as a wild card.

14. Pittsburg Steelers: The Steelers will suffer without Roethlisberger for their first six games and it could put them out contention. Still, if they survive that gauntlet, the NFL’s black and blue squad could contend again.

15. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons acquired Dunta Robinson to help their secondary and revamped their linebacker corps in the draft, but this team still lacks the depth or impact group to break through. Still, they are young and their progress is encouraging.

16. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers disappointed in 2009, but a lot of that can be blamed on the abysmal play of QB Jake Delhomme. Armed with a new talented young QB in Jimmy Clausen, the Panthers should be able to restore credit to the passing game and enable their power runners to create a productive offense. The defense is a question mark though-can an average group cope with the loss of difference maker Julius Peppers or will they fade away this season?

17. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals continued to add to their pack of talented but troubled players by adding Pacman Jones and drafting Carlos Dunlap. Still, Carson Palmer is one more year removed from injury and this team has talent everywhere so they could surprise everyone again this season.

18. San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers have talent everywhere and would be ranked higher….except that I’m not sold on QB Alex Smith. This team is now fine everywhere else though….if Smith matures they will make the playoffs, if not they can dump him next offseason, acquire a cornerback or two, then take their place in the top third of the league.

19. Washington Redskins: The Redskins enter 2010 as an enigma. The acquisitions of coach Mike Shanahan, QB Donovan McNabb and LT Trent Williams make them better on offense and this defensive group has the potential to be the best in the league. All that is holding them back is uncertainty, lack of chemistry….oh and their divisional rivals are all still better than they are.

20. Tennessee Titans: The Titans roared back with a vengeance in the second half of last season, and haven’t lost much from a fairly good squad. Still, their division and schedule are not easy and they have a number of ageing impact players.

21. Houston Texans: The NFL kings of average should be at it again this season. They swapped Dunta Robinson for Kareem Jackson and added little else to a 9-7 roster so expect much of the same….if Matt Schaub stays healthy.

22. Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals lost four of their best players-Kurt Warner, Antrel Rolle, Karlos Dansby, and Anquan Boldin-and replaced them with Derek Anderson, Joey Porter, Dan Williams, and Kerry Rhodes. You tell me how that’s going to go.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars were an average team last season but they made a few interesting additions including DE Aaron Kampman. Still, I have a hard time buying them as a credible threat for anything beyond a .500 season. They will be the king of blackout games though.

24. Denver Broncos: Josh McDaniels continued to implement his "no talented players" approach to winning by trading away WR Brandon Marshall and TE Tony Scheffler. He also did his best to trade the teams’ best defensive player, Elvis Dumerveil, by offering him a weaker RFA tender. Don’t worry Josh, you can get to him next year. The team’s best players are now….well take your pick since none of them are that great. The Broncos look headed for a half decade around the .500 mark….probably not what owner Pat Bowlen had in mind when he fired Mike Shanahan.

25. Detroit Lions: The award for best new front office in football goes to….the Detroit Lions? Who would have thought? The new management group, led by GM Martin Mayhew, took one of the worst rosters off Matt Millen’s hands a year and a half ago and has transformed it. Detroit will (dare I say it?) field a strong offense next season (with QB Matt Stafford, WR Calvin Johnson, TEs Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew, and a RB duo of Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith) and their defense should prove something less than awful with the additions of impact DT Ndamakong Suh and DE Corey Williams, and DE Kyle Vanden-Bosh. This team is not all that far off from contending for…respectability.

26. Seattle Seahawks: This team had one of the best offseasons in recent history as a new coach and front office added talent at LT (Russell Okung), S (Earl Thomas), RB (Leon Washington and LenDale White) while plugging holes at a number of other positions. That said, this group is rebuilding so don't expect them to contend for anything just yet.

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Ditto for the Chiefs: like the Seahawks they added talent in FS Eric Berry, RB Thomas Jones, and a number of other plug in contributors but are still far away from contending for the division title.

28. Oakland Raiders: For the first time in years, Oakland seems to have direction. They cut perennial Golden Raspberry (NFL style) JaMarcus Russell, traded for a respectable QB in Jason Campbell, added impact LB Rolando McClain, and plugged some holes with very solid veterans. This team could surprise.

29. Buffalo Bills: The Bills are a mess. They still don’t have a quarterback since they inexplicably passed on Jimmy Clausen in the second round, did nothing to address their awful offensive line, acquired no impact players on either side of the ball (hopefully C.J. Spiller wont freeze to death up there) and should be really terrible next season. Bring on the snow!

29. Buffalo Bills: The Bills are a mess. They still don’t have a quarterback since they inexplicably passed on Jimmy Clausen in the second round, did nothing to address their awful offensive line, acquired no impact players on either side of the ball (hopefully C.J. Spiller wont freeze to death up there) and should be really terrible next season. Bring on the snow!

30.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers added talent, including DT Gerald McCoy, in the offseason, but this roster still has holes everywhere. Still, they are moving in the right direction.

31. St. Louis Rams: The Rams have a quarterback. Hopefully Sam Bradford is not the next David Carr. Beyond that, the rest of the roster is a total mess.

32. Cleveland Browns: Mike Holmgren cleaned house this offseason and drafted some interesting players, including CB Joe Haden and QB Colt McCoy, who could contribute in the future. That said, this team has almost no mature talent, is atrocious on both sides of the ball, and should just plain suck next season.

2010 - 2011 NFL Playoff Picks: 2010 - 2011 Playoff Picks:
Colts: 13-3 Vikings: 13-3
Patriots: 12-4 Saints: 12-4
Ravens: 12-4 Cowboys: 12-4
Chargers: 11-5 Packers: 11-5
Jets: 11-5 Bears: 10-6
Dolphins: 10-6 Eagles: 10-6
Winner: Ravens Winner: Vikings

Ravens d. Vikings

A Couple Other Notes:

1. Drew Brees will win the League MVP: He's motivated to put it next to his Superbowl MVP and join the pantheon of greats. Plus, voters are tired of giving it to Manning and watching him lose in the post-season.

2. Julius Peppers will win the DPY: He's surrounded by good players, coached by Rod Marinelli, and in one of the last couple impact years of his career. He knows these next few years will determine how his career is ultimately viewed.

3. Ndamakong Suh will win the ROY: He's just too good and he has more help on that line than you think.

4. Ben Roethlisberger will be traded by the end of next year's offseason: The Steelers are just waiting for the controversy to die down so they can get something approaching full value for the former franchise QB.

Thanks to Paul Grossinger for this great overview of the outlook for the 2010 NFL season.

Check out our Top 2010 Fantasy Football Picks.

What do you think?

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