Resident NFL expert Mike Schaedler is back to drop his annual power rankings column. Strap in (or on).
The coming NFL season promises to be an exciting one, as always. The league is entering a new decade. Who are the most exciting new teams to watch? What former superpowers are starting to fade? What stars will carry your team into the 2010s? Did Al Davis actually draft Rolando McClain, a sound decision, or did somebody slip him roofies just before the draft and make the picks for him? All these questions and more are about to be answered.
(Disclaimer: Only some of these questions will be answered, and through pure speculation and nothing else.)
So without further ado, here are my 2010 NFL Preseason Power Rankings for Chef Diesel. They’re divided into groups of four based on overall Dieselness. The season hasn’t started yet, so take these with a grain of salt.
The “Absolute Worst”
32. St. Louis Rams: Ahhh the Rams. $50 million or whatever it was guaranteed for QB Sam Bradford. I’ve never really been sold on the guy. I don’t think he’ll be an absolute bust, but he’ll never, ever live up to that kind of money or his draft position. Not even close. Hey, they can still take the much better QB Jake Locker at #1 overall in next year’s draft and maybe pay him according to a rookie wage-scale. Unfortunately, they’ll stick with their choice and play through the consequences.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The future’s not so bad with Josh Freeman at QB and first round draft pick Gerald McCoy at DT. They’ll get better but right now they’re just severely lacking in talent.
30. Buffalo Bills: I gotta admire Bills fans. They love their team despite its inability to improve. I can’t even say that they’re rebuilding (you have to draft some o-linemen!). It’s tough when they’re having trouble filling a position for head coach because nobody noteworthy wants the job (Chan who?). They are a division rival of the Jets, but I will feel awful for those fans if the Bills move out of Buffalo, as such rumors have been swirling. Life’s not fair, but it just doesn’t seem right.
29. Cleveland Browns: Coach Mangina sure has assembled a breathtaking team of ordinary and mundane talent over there in Cleveland. I heard Lebron James is willing to play on the Browns, but only if they can also acquire Peyton Manning, Andre Johnson, Chris Johnson, Darrelle Revis, Troy Palomalu, Antonio Gates, DeMarcus Ware, Jake Long, Jared Allen, Nick Mangold, Le’Ron McClain, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Willis, Kris Jenkins, and Ray Lewis in his prime.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Another team in rebuilding mode. Matt Cassel might be a bit better with some protection, but man, is he overpaid or what? Picking safety Eric Berry in the draft was a great move. He and Jamaal Charles will provide KC fans with some excitement.
27. Detroit Lions: They’re steadily improving with each draft. QB Matt Stafford will eventually be fantastic and they’ll make the playoffs within the next 2-3 seasons. The D-Line looks a lot better, but the O-line, linebacking corps, and secondary all need major improvements (although safety Louis Delmas is very good).
26. Arizona Cardinals: They lost Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, and Antrel Rolle in the offseason. That’s tough. Matt Leinart may be okay, and Beanie wells will show flashes between injuries, but Hollywood Kerry Rhodes will not be as good as Rolle was for them. Oh well.
25. Denver Broncos: “Hey what’s up, I’m Josh. Okay, the plan is, get rid of my two best players, lose my brilliant defensive coordinator, and have a diesel QB competition between Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn, and Tim Tebow. Oh, and use the 25th overall draft pick on intangibles instead of actual talent, or better yet, both. It’s gonna be awesome.”
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: MJD is still diesel, but they have a below-average QB in David Garrard (he even sounds lame), and nobody else on this team really jumps off the page. They won’t be good.
23. Oakland Raiders: With a non-terrible quarterback behind center, the Silver and Black are no longer the laughingstock of the league. They have a great player on every level of the defense as well. The Raiders are finally starting to improve.
22. Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll has done a good job so far. I guess it’s a lot easier to pay your players when it’s within the rules. Why is Reggie Bush the scapegoat in that whole scandal and not anybody else? Like the Head Coach who was in charge?
21. Carolina Panthers: Their running game is the league’s best, bar none. When you have Jonathan Stewart as your “#2” running back, it says something about your depth at the position. The Daily Show is a beast. Unfortunately, there are major question marks on other areas of the team.
The “Needs Improvement”
20. Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler and Mike Martz should thrive together. They may be dirtbags, but sometimes that just works in the NFL. I think the D will be noticeably better than last year, but Urlacher is getting a little long in the tooth. They won’t be able to compete with Green Bay and Minnesota.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Trading McNabb wasn’t necessarily a bad move, but it’s not good for this year, and it was a very poor decision to trade him within the division. They have a lot of talent, but will lose several games due to the lack of experience of QB Kevin Kolb.
18. Washington Redskins: Hmmm. They may be better than this ranking, but only time will tell. Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb are a good HC-QB combo, and they’ll have a good D. They have ancient RBs though and I just don’t care to hear any more about Albert Haynesworth.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Along with Philly, this is the most likely team to shoot up these rankings as the season progresses. Ben Roethlisberger is a dickhead though, and his own teammates don’t even like him. The talent is there, and they’ll perform if they can sort through all the BS. Thanks for Santonio Holmes, BTW.
The “Decent Teams”
16. Tennessee Titans: Looks like Vince Young will be a pretty good QB after all, and they have the most exciting player in the league in RB Chris Johnson. The D could use some improvement. This is definitely a “decent team.”
15. Houston Texans: QB Matt Schaub has got to be the most underrated player in the league. I guess it helps that he has the clear #1 WR in the league in Andre Johnson. Looks like rookie RB Ben Tate has been injured, so the O will still be very pass-heavy. Decent D that lost a great player in Dunta Robinson.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Everyone seems to think they’re fantastic, but I’m not fully convinced. Matt Ryan is outstanding and Michael Turner will bounce back this year, and Dunta Robinson was a great pickup, but I feel like they’re a playmaker or two short of being a surefire playoff team.
13. New York Giants: Despite their clear jealousy of the Jets, New York’s other team has a good collection of talent on both sides of the ball. My suggestions? Make Ahmad Bradshaw the featured RB, trade Pussy Umeniyora and draft a diesel middle linebacker next April.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Surprise! This is a good team, these Niners. Tough, physical, athletic, and dare I say, a bit explosive? Good moves drafting two O-lineman in the first round, and the D will continue to be fantastic with Patrick Willis calling the shots. Mike Singletary continues to kick ass. Much like the Jets of last year, the 49ers will be this year’s surprise team, and they will do it with a very similar style of play.
11. San Diego Chargers: Good team with an elite quarterback, but I refuse to call them a Super Bowl contender. No team who plays in the AFC West is, bottom line. Every year I hear that they will win it all. Nope. Playing against the worst competition is bound to make you look that way, but come playoff time, they will lose to a team who is better prepared for playoff-caliber ball. I was surprisingly comfortable with the Jets facing them in the playoffs last year. Drafting RB Ryan Mathews was a great move, however, and will improve the balance of their already great offense.
10. Miami Dolphins: A talented team whose success hinges on a young QB. Chad Henne will be a good, no doubt. Brandon Marshall will continue to catch 90-100 balls a year. The defense is young but improving quickly. Despite talent at the position, they should look at RB in next year’s draft. With focus and improvement at key positions, the Fins will make the jump to the next level.
9. Minnesota Vikings: Favre is back, but he won’t duplicate last year’s success. He’ll be very good throughout the season, but is too old to successfully navigate the playoffs and will break down. RB Adrian Peterson will continue to produce but not protect the ball. The injury to WR Sidney Rice is a major blow, but nothing compared to the one Favre probably got from that babe who worked at the Jets to whom he sent sexts of his graybearded member.
The “Really Friggin’ Good”
8. Baltimore Ravens: I would’ve had them higher if not for some injuries to their secondary. Still a solid, well-coached team on both sides of the ball, and Ray Rice can do it all. They’ll probably make the playoffs but will have their hands full with the Bengals. I’m really looking forward to attending the first Jets home game of the regular season against them on MNF. Awesome.
7. Cincinnati Bengals: I actually think that picking up TO was a good move for them. The defense is fantastic and gets Antwan Odom back this year. Cedric Benson will have about 1500 rushing yards and ten TDs, and Carson Palmer now has Chad Ochocinco, TO, Antonio Bryant, rookie TE Jermaine Gresham, and rookie slot receiver Jordan Shipley to throw to. This team is suddenly stacked.
6. New England Patriots: People are starting to write them off, which is silly. Take it from someone who knows the AFC East as well as anybody: they’re not going anywhere. Welker appears to be healthy and the offense is still explosive, although they should have drafted a RB. Despite this, they still had a great draft, and taking two of the top pass-catching tight ends was a brilliant move for their style of play. The D is only going to improve. None of this makes Mike Schaedler happy.
5. New York Jets: Bias because they are my favorite team? Maybe. There are some major questions concerning Gang Green, though. Will Darrelle Revis play the whole season? Yes. Will Mark Sanchez be effective enough to call them an elite Super Bowl contender? We’ll see. Is Rex Ryan an elite coach? As far as I’m concerned, he’s in the top 3 with Sean Payton and Bill Bellichick in some order. The Jets have added a ton of talent to an already talented team. Thank you, Mike Tannenbaum.
4. Green Bay Packers: Great D with the O to match. Very balanced with good coaching. QB Aaron Rodgers will be the NFL’s marquee player of the 2010s and the quarterback of the decade. Green Bay fans absolutely hit the jackpot with this guy.
3. New Orleans Saints: What’s all this garbage about the Saints having a letdown this year? Is it because they won the Super Bowl and are awesome? Oh right, my bad. I forgot that a stacked team with a future Hall of Fame All-Universe Franchise QB who bleeds winning, leadership and tenacity is destined for failure. Oops.
2. Dallas Cowboys: This is probably an unpopular choice here, but Dallas is just loaded. They have a dominant defense and countless weapons on offense (just take a look at their depth chart). Furthermore, they have a very good quarterback (relax, I said very good, not great). They don’t seem as distracted as they’ve been in the past, either.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Unsexy, I know. It’s not that I think Indy has the best collection of talent, I just think that they are the most likely team to win week in and week out. The reason is, of course, Peyton Manning, the best player in the NFL. Even though Jim Caldwell can’t coach and doesn’t have any guts (he got beat by a coach who had enough to go for an onside kick coming out of halftime in the Super Bowl; poetic justice after not going for perfection?), Manning makes up for his shortcomings. It’s too tough to pick against him.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading, and maybe I’ll be back during the season a few times for more if anybody found this entertaining. Comments and criticism encouraged!