Tuesday, September 7, 2010
AFC North Power Rankings analysis
By James Walker
ESPN.com released its Week 1 Power Rankings Tuesday, which is always guaranteed to spark debate.
Here is how the AFC North fared:
Cumulative ranking: No. 6
Walker's ranking: No. 3
Pre-camp ranking: No. 5
Analysis: I'm puzzled how the Ravens dropped one spot with our panel since July. I voted Baltimore two places higher this time after being impressed with this team in training camp and the preseason. Although I still have concerns about the secondary, I do like that cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington are getting healthy. General manager Ozzie Newsome also has been proactive, trading for cornerback Josh Wilson and signing receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The voting for Baltimore was all over the place. I had the Ravens at No. 3 for example, and ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton put them out of the top 10 at No. 11.
Cumulative ranking: No. 12
Walker's ranking: No. 11
Pre-camp ranking: No. 11
Analysis: The Miami Dolphins jumped the Bengals to put them at No. 12 entering the regular season. I dropped the Bengals one spot also -- from No. 10 to No. 11 -- because I've been impressed with the San Diego Chargers this preseason. AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky continues to bring down Cincinnati's average. But he does feel a little better about the Bengals this time, voting them No. 18 when he entered camp rating Cincinnati No. 19. He explained his reasons here. The Bengals will find out how good they are early with back-to-back games against the New England Patriots and Baltimore.
Cumulative ranking: No. 18
Walker's ranking: No. 19
Pre-camp ranking: No. 19
Analysis: I'm not sure how Pittsburgh's ranking went up. From what I've seen in training camp and the preseason, I have less confidence in Pittsburgh's offense without Ben Roethlisberger now than I did six weeks ago. But the Steelers jumped one spot to No. 18. I really like this Pittsburgh team at full strength and would easily vote the Steelers in the top 10. But without Roethlisberger, the offense will be very limited. Dennis Dixon is now the Week 1 starter against the Atlanta Falcons, who come in as the No. 7 team in our rankings.
Cumulative ranking: No. 29
Walker's ranking: No. 29
Pre-camp ranking: No. 28
Analysis: Jake Delhomme's solid preseason didn't do much for Cleveland's power ranking. The Browns dropped a spot from ESPN.com's pre-training camp Power Rankings. Delhomme has eased some concerns in Cleveland by completing 79 percent of his passes and taking care of the football. But he still has to prove himself, starting now in the regular season. The Browns will travel to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.