In early August, when I released my monthly power rankings at the start of the preseason, some of you said it was too early to gauge how the NFL's 32 teams stack up against each other. Too early for power rankings? Psssh. A little premature speculation has never hurt anyone. After all, it's just that -- speculation and nothing tangible.
The real deal starts Thursday night when the Packers and the Saints play in the NFL’s season-kickoff showcase. And on Sunday, the Ravens and Steelers will smash their faces together in the latest installment of the NFL’s hardest-hitting rivalry. But for now, let’s have some fun and do some power-ranking heading into Week 1.
It’s your prerogative if you want to take them seriously. And, as always, feel free to give me your take, too.
1. Packers (preseason ranking -- 2): They would be hyped up more if they weren’t trying to repeat as Super Bowl champions. How does that make any sense? (By the way, it’s not an impossible task.)
2. Patriots (1): Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth stayed out of the headlines in the preseason. We will soon see what kind of impact these two big additions will have on the Patriots.
3. Steelers (5): The Steelers will try to avoid another Super Bowl hangover after getting sacked by the Pack in February.
4. Eagles (3): Michael Vick had an underwhelming preseason, but the Eagles shouldn’t sweat it. He’ll be just fine.
5. Saints (7): The Saints quietly had one of the most productive offseasons around the league. They have gotten better.
6. Ravens (6): The reshuffled offensive line must hold up for the Ravens to earn a statement-making win over the Steelers.
7. Falcons (4): I saw nothing in their 0-4 preseason that made me dock them. Other teams simply showed me something.
8. Jets (9): Good team, but their QB is still Mark Sanchez.
9. Lions (16): The Lions bandwagon is over capacity after another fine draft and an undefeated preseason, or I'd hop on.
10. Texans (13): If the current Texans regime can’t win the AFC South this year, it might not get another chance.
11. Chargers (12): If the Chargers avoid another slow start, the division will be theirs to lose.
12. Cowboys (11): In Dallas, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan gets a chance to become a coaching star like his brother, Rex.
13. Bears (8): I have a feeling the Bears will fall back to the pack -- no, not to the Pack -- this season.
14. Colts (10): No Peyton, no playoffs.
15. Buccaneers (19): Will this exciting, young squad build on their success from a year ago?
16. Rams (20): With Sam Bradford, the NFC West’s best quarterback, the Rams are the team to in the league’s worst division.
17. Giants (14): Preseason injuries are likely to doom their season.
18. Vikings (17): Will Donovan McNabb find the fountain of youth in Minnesota? It seems unlikely.
19. Chiefs (15): Are they a rising contender or a one-hit wonder?
20. Titans (18): All that inactivity during his holdout could result in a slow start for Chris Johnson -- and maybe an injury.
21. Browns (29): It’s a big season for Colt McCoy, who gets a chance to prove that he’s the real deal.
22. Broncos (23): Kyle Orton is the quarterback, but he will have to win some games to keep his job.
23. Dolphins (25): Reggie Bush gets another chance to show he can be more than a situational player and special-teamer.
24. Seahawks (21): Seattle has surrounded Tarvaris Jackson with enough talent to succeed, so it’s on him to sink or swim.
25. Cardinals (26): It’s worth nothing that Larry Fitzgerald was impressed enough with Kevin Kolb to sign that big extension.
26. 49ers (22): Jim Harbaugh looks to mirror the first-year success that his brother, John, had with the Ravens in 2008.
27. Raiders (27): The Raiders think they’ll be better without Nnamdi Asomugha and Zach Miller, which seems ridiculous to me.
28. Redskins (30): Rex Grossman? John Beck? What’s the difference?
29. Bills (31): It should be Andrew Luck or bust for Buffalo.
30. Panthers (28): Going with Cam Newton over Jimmy Clausen is the right move, but they count on plenty of growing pains.
31. Jaguars (24): Cutting their starting QB, one who is a year removed from a Pro Bowl season, before Week 1? Talk about turmoil.
32. Bengals (32): Thankfully for the Jaguars, the Bengals have a monopoly on dysfunction at the moment.