Ok I've looked at the Training Camp opening power rankings and with the exception of a few, I'm hoping Coach Jason Garrett plays the 'no respect' card and gets this locker room motivated to go out and whup the Giants on NFL opening night September 5th. Of course the Boys should have plenty of motivation and bulletin board material already, and while the whole team probably has heard about Marty B's big fat mouth by now, I doubt they pay attention to getting dissed by pencil necked Eagles fan sportswriters who love to overrate their favorite team, or at least hate on ours.
With that all said, click on the jump to see my Power Rankings...
Looking over at the AFC, I think San Diego with all their free agents and improvements might take the last AFC wild card spot from Buffalo. Hard to see Steelers missing playoffs but with some injuries despite their solid o-line with their D aging it could happen. The Jets seem likely to miss playoffs again barring a miraculous improvement in Sanchez’s play and better pass rush. Broncos should win the AFC West running away with it and Pats beat Broncos to get home field advantage tiebreaker.
Without further hemming and hawing:
THE TOP TIER
1 New England a cut above everybody else until somebody figures out how to stop this two TE monster offense or their Defensive draft acquisitions proves not that great as rookies.
2 Houston Whitney Mercilus will be a beast. Book it. Good pass rush and best running game in NFL. If we had not franchised Spencer I would have been fine with getting Mercilus and running a 3-4/4-3 hybrid D.
3 Baltimore these guys were only one missed kick from the Super Bowl last year. Losing their best pass rusher to an Achilles hurts but they have the secondary to play cover 1 or cover zero and unleash the hounds with LB blitzes Rob Ryan style. I think Ravens QB Joe Flacco is average but all he has to be is average with Ray Rice healthy and Torrey Smith.
4 Green Bay Rodgers is a scoring machine and CB Charles Woodson still has something left in the tank despite this D’s putrid safety play. That OLB they drafted from USC Nick Perry might make Matthews look better.
5 Denver Peyton Manning plus healthier receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas entering their third seasons more than makes up for the suspension of Elvis Dumervil. I think TE Joel Dreessen (spelling?) is an underrated pick up.
6 San Francisco again these guys should have represented the NFC in the last Super Bowl but for two Kyle Williams fumbles and two dropped picks against Eli Manning. I think this is the year Colin Kaepernick takes over from Alex Smith and benefits from better receiver play. I still think we match up better against San Fran than any other top NFC playoff contender. Beating the Niners at San Fran is our most likely path to NFC title game at Green Bay or Chicago.
RISING FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK TO CLAIM THEIR SPOTS
7 Pittsburgh Still better than any team in the NFC East, at this point, with their o-line and Big Ben clicking with his receivers on all cylinders, even if their D is starting to have some serious holes. I see us narrowly losing to the Steelers in December...but the Steelers lose in the wild card round to the Bills. [Note this was written before Ben Roethlisberger's rotator cuff injury].
8 Dallas I have us losing to Ravens, Steelers, Saints, and once each to Giants and Eagles. No way we get swept by both again. In my koolaid vision I see Adrian Hamilton, Anthony Spencer, Sean Lissemore and Tyrone Crawford bringing the pressure this year [already showing up in camp with the pads on] despite our tougher schedule and somewhat shaky interior o-line play versus the NFC East. I see Kyle Orton able to win a game or two even if Tony Romo gets hurt. A better secondary plus a healthier Demarco Murray and Felix Jones keep us contending. Even a New York Times football writer thinks so!
9 New York Giants I think they go 10-6, losing to Niners, Packers, Ravens, Steelers, and once to us and once to Redskins in RG3's big upset (for some reason the Skins D gives Eli Manning fits). The Giants sweep Philly this season by leaning on their running game and punishing Vick. The question is whether we will leapfrog them to 11-5 or settle for a wild card spot behind them at 10-6 due to weird NFC tiebreakers. [UPDATE The injury to Terrell Thomas which is likely to season ending confirms starting the Sper Bowl champions at 9th, no offense to their mental toughness or pass rush, which will have to be darn good given the early holes in the secondary].
10 Chicago The Bears are barely in the top ten, based on improvements to their o-line, the running game impact of Michael Bush and new wide receivers. It is a good thing their tackles are mainly maulers and not the best pass protectors and Julius Peppers might be losing a step -- otherwise I would have them ranked ahead of the Giants! I still see this team as the most likely to maul the Giants and sack Eli Manning four or more times in the playoffs.
11 Atlanta this team [sic] GOT ran over the G-men last year, while beating the Eagles. Much depends on injuries on their defense. I still see Dallas knocking them off at the Georgia Dome and Carolina beating them at least once this year to create doubt about the NFC South until Week 15 or 16, while the Saints fade and the Bucs stink.
12 Buffalo Mario Williams and returning Sean Merriman, plus a healthy Fred Jackson. Should grab final AFC wild card spot.
THE YET TO BE EXPOSED -- BUT TRENDING DOWNWARD
13 Saints still a scoring machine thanks to Brees, in spite of their suspensions/loss of Sean Peyton's coaching. The Saints will contend until eliminated in December, possibly by Dallas beating them like in 2009.
14 Philadelphia they have LeSean McCoy and a dangerous pass rush. But the secondary is overrated, the linebacker group is this defense's Achilles heel, hence teams are going to gash the Wide 9 again this season. Vick will get hurt and miss games again this season, mark my words.
15 Cincinnati The former Bungles have a good running game, QB who makes few mistakes, but mediocre D dooms them in AFC even if they go 9-7 again. They need more pass rush/better linebackers.
16 Detroit they still have Megatron, and their tackles might be better this season, but still no serious running game and a putrid secondary paired with a barely above average pass rush. The Bears will sweep them and knock them out of playoff contention early as this defense looks more ready to melt down than the Saints' after so many off-season arrests.
17 Seattle a dark horse but one I think is going to come on with Bruce Irvin competing for NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. These guys also whupped up on the Iggles last season and ran it down their throats with the immortal Marshawn Lynch.
18 San Diego is just too inconsistent last year for me to rank them higher. If Rivers clicks with his new receivers and D draft picks come on strong they have a shot. Hard to evaluate Norv Turner's teams as they finish strong but choke early.
19 Carolina Cam Newton could be sick with one more stud WR to replace an aging Steve Smith but this secondary is atrocious and pass rush/run D is average to below average. Need to totally draft D studs in 2013 after getting a wide receiver in the first round, most likely one of the studs from Tennessee (if you'll pardon the Johnny Cash reference).
THE SCRAPPY IMPROVERS -- HAVE SOME HOLES, BUT STRONG AT CERTAIN POSITIONS
20 Washington Yeah this drinking the RG3 koolaid but why not? If they were in the NFC West they would be a dark horse for a wild card spot. One more solid draft and some decent free agents away from reviving Skins-Boys rivalry big time. [UPDATE: This team's stock has taken a hit with a rash of o-line injuries in training camp, though they still have time to bring their o-line together and avoid a nasty start for Robert Griffin III in the NFL)
21 New York Jets I like the Rex Ryan defensive philosophy and they killed us with special teams last year too. But I do not see the Tebow miracle gracing this franchise. They still need another pass rusher, a replacement for Santonio Holmes and a younger NT in 2013 draft to get back into contention even if Sanchez improves. The WR they drafted from Georgia Tech this April is still pretty raw.
22 Arizona has a rising Defense, but leaky O-line and questionable QB/RB play.Need to totally draft o-linemen to give Kevin Kolb a chance to avoid bust status. [UPDATE still see this team's stock rising as division remains weak behind the 49ers].
LOOKING TO NEXT YEAR'S DRAFT
23 Kansas City is better than the Oakland Raiders and the teams bringing up the rear. They need another great draft and probably will take Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson in 2013 with a top 15 pick, about where they selected mammoth NT Dontari Poe in this year's draft. Not much fan love for former Patriots backup Matt Cassel in KC.
24 St. Louis is getting better under coach Jeff Fisher and with their draft haul. Still a weak oline and receivers who have not proven anything [except for former Cowboys fan favorite Danny Amendola]. Most likely drafting Steven Jackson's replacement with a top 10 pick and will contend in 2013 with another solid defensive draft.
25 Cleveland is going to play better this year with stud RB and Weeden at QB. Still another loaded draft or more likely two away from contention after Steelers decline in 2014.
26 Tennessee I just have not seen any signs of improvement and wide receiver Kenny Britt has been arrested ten times. Likely taking top pass rusher with a top ten pick in 2013 as they continue to develop QB Jake Locker.
27 Indianapolis No where to go but up with Andrew Luck and a decent draft class. Not much else left on the roster. Could pick up Anthony Spencer [who played college ball at Purdue] and even Marcus Spears next season to contend in 2014.
28 Miami Chad formerly known as Ocho Cinco Johnson cannot replace Brandon Marshall. A top five pick in the 2013 draft, which will likely the best WR on the board. Either that, or these guys snatch Raymond Radway off waivers if we don't IR him and he breaks out Laurent Robinson-style in 2013 alongside former Abilene Christian teammate Edmond Gates.
29 Tampa Bay is still rebuilding and probably moving on from Josh Freeman in April's draft.
30 Almost forgot about this team...oh yeah the Minnesota dinged up Adrian Peterson Vikings. Defense is in total rebuilding mode around aging sack machine Jared Allen. Still need a wide receiver and more defense assuming the CBs they drafted come into their own.
31 Oakland is still dysfunctional, and drafting a QB of the future not Terrell Pryor in April.
32 Jacksonville Sorry Laurent Robinson, your QB will not have much time to get you the ball. Enjoy your new contract!