NFL Nation: power rankings 72610

ESPN.com’s pre-training camp NFL Power Rankings were released Monday.

Here are my thoughts on how the AFC West teams fared in the rankings:

San Diego Chargers

Power ranking: 10

My power ranking range: 5-8

Why: The Chargers took a hit because of the expected holdouts by Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill. That is understandable, but this is still a solid team heading into camp.

Denver Broncos

Power ranking: 23

My power ranking range: 22-25

Why: The Broncos have to prove they can bounce back from a 2-8 finish in 2009, so this camp ranking is fair.

Oakland Raiders

Power ranking: 24

My power ranking range: 24-26

Why: There is hope after a solid offseason that the Raiders can creep away from the bottom of the rankings.

Kansas City Chiefs

Power ranking: 27

My power ranking range: 26-28

Why: The Chiefs may be a team on the rise, but they have to prove it, so this ranking is fair in late July.

Camp power rankings: NFC East style

July, 26, 2010
7/26/10
11:15
AM ET
It wouldn't be the first week of training camp (in some precincts) without a new edition of our ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings. You'll be pleased to know that the NFC East had a higher overall ranking (13.8) than any other division. The AFC South and NFC North tied for second with a 14.8. But our esteemed panelists were all over the map when it came to the Redskins, Giants and Eagles. In fact, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky moved the Redskins up 11 spots since he last voted in April. He apparently loved Mike Shanahan's work in organized team activities. OK, let's take it team-by-team:

NFC East power rankings:

4. Dallas Cowboys -- John "The Professor" Clayton gave the Cowboys their highest ranking at No. 2, but he was canceled out by Kuharsky's No. 6 vote. Paul has the Ravens and Packers ahead of the Cowboys. Dallas moved up one spot in the rankings from April's edition. And the Cowboys were fourth overall in the Week 18 power rankings last January. This sounds about right to me. After what happened in the Metrodome last January, it probably wouldn't be fair to move the Cowboys past the Vikings.

16. New York Giants -- This is where things got a little nutty with our voters. John Clayton obviously believes that Tom Coughlin will get this thing back on track with his No. 11 vote. But Kuharsky, a longtime critic of the Beast, has the Giants at No. 20 overall. I encourage you to flood his "comments" section on the AFC South blog. I think the Giants will bounce back and challenge for a playoff spot, so 20 seems a bit low to me. AFC North blogger James Walker and the NFC West's Mike Sando had the Giants 15th and 18th, respectively, on their ballot. Our panelists had huge disagreements on the Eagles and Redskins and they're currently not speaking to each other.

17. Philadelphia Eagles -- The panel's sudden passion for Donovan McNabb and the Redskins has hurt the Eagles' ranking. Philly fell four spots from April's rankings. Clayton dropped the Eagles four spots from the last time he voted. Perhaps he wasn't pleased with Andy Reid and Howie Roseman's draft. Kuharsky gave the Eagles their highest ranking at No. 12 while Clayton had them at No. 22. That was the biggest disparity in the entire ranking process. In fact, I've asked for a review board to take a look at this situation and see what can be done.

20. Washington Redskins -- At this rate, the Skins will crack the top 15 before the regular season. Clayton continues to be bullish on Mike Shanahan (No. 15), but he was somewhat neutralized by Sando's No. 23 vote. Kuharsky had the Skins at 17 and Walker came in at 19.

Moral of this story: The Cowboys appear to be the closest thing to a lock heading into training camp. No one seems to have a good read on the other three teams, and I'm having the same issue. So where do you guys stand? Did the Beast get a fair shake in the rankings?

By the way, check out these colorful charts that track every team's rankings back to 2002.

Power rankings: Saints No. 2?

July, 26, 2010
7/26/10
11:04
AM ET
Our preseason NFL Power Rankings came out this morning and I’ve got to respectfully disagree with my co-workers.

They have the New Orleans Saints No. 2. The Saints are the Super Bowl champions and haven’t lost a game since. They’ve got the Indianapolis Colts, the team the Saints beat in the Super Bowl at No. 1.

Sure, preseason rankings don’t really mean anything and John Clayton, Paul Kuharsky, James Walker and Mike Sando are the four guys who did the voting. They’re friends of mine, but I’m not going to take any calls from them for at least a day while this one digests.

They’ve got the Falcons at No. 8. The Panthers are No. 22 and Buccaneers are at No. 30.
We've made it! We've finally started a week that will end with real, live, fully-padded football practices! If you didn't realize it before, then surely the arrival of ESPN.com's training camp power rankings will put you in the appropriate mindset. Our four voters -- John Clayton, along with blog colleagues Paul Kuharsky, Mike Sando and James Walker -- pretty much left the NFC North where they found them at the end of the 2009 season.

More than anything, our panel hasn't bought into my suggestion that the Green Bay Packers should be the preseason favorites to win the division. The Minnesota Vikings are ESPN.com's highest-rated Black and Blue team, followed by the Packers, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.

Here is the breakdown:

3. Minnesota Vikings
Final 2009 ranking: 3
Spring ranking: 3
Comment: The Vikings enter camp with enough questions that it's fair to wonder if their two-year reign as division champions will continue.

6. Green Bay Packers
Final 2009: 6
Spring: 6
Comment: Some of us think the Packers caught up to the Vikings during the second half of last season. The specter of their defensive collapse in the playoffs might have held back some voters.

21. Chicago Bears
Final 2009: 22
Spring: 21
Comment: The careers of many, many Bears people are riding on this season. Voters must not like the accompanying pressure.

29. Detroit Lions
Final 2009: 31
Spring: 31
Comment: Thank goodness for the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

AFC East gets some power rankings love

July, 26, 2010
7/26/10
9:33
AM ET
It's never too soon for power rankings.

ESPN's blue-ribbon panel has compiled a list for your consumption as training camps open.

The AFC East generated much respect. Three teams are rated among the top 13.

If the rankings match up with the final standings, then the panel has the New York Jets winning the division, the New England Patriots advancing to the playoffs as a wild card and the Miami Dolphins the first to miss the cut. The Buffalo Bills are rated the AFC's worst team.

A change in the panel since the last power rankings were presented April 30 could help explain discrepancies. The Dolphins climbed nine spots.

This year's crew will be senior NFL writer John Clayton, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, AFC North blogger James Walker and NFC West blogger Mike Sando.

No. 7 New York Jets
No. 9 New England Patriots
  • Final 2009 ranking (regular season): No. 10
  • April 2010 ranking: No. 9
No. 13 Miami Dolphins
  • Final 2009 ranking (regular season): No. 21
  • April 2010 ranking: No. 22
No. 31 Buffalo Bills
  • Final 2009 ranking (regular season): No. 24
  • April 2010 ranking: No. 28
ESPN.com unveiled its pre-training camp power rankings Monday, which also includes the debut of your AFC North blogger on the 2010 panel.

Here is how the AFC North rated:

Baltimore Ravens

Walker's vote: No. 5

Cumulative vote: No. 5

Analysis: There is a lot to like about this year's Ravens. The hype has been significant, as Baltimore should be able to match up with most team in terms of overall talent. Currently, the health of the secondary is the team's biggest concern. Safety Ed Reed and cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington are all possibilities for the physically unable to perform list, which would severely hurt depth to start the regular season. Other than that, there are very few holes on this team, which is deserving of its top-five power ranking entering training camp.

Cincinnati Bengals

Walker's vote: No. 10

Cumulative vote: No. 11

Analysis: Although I’m sure some factions of "Bengaldom" believe their team deserves higher placement -- especially with the Ravens in the top five -- I believe this ranking is about right for now. Personally, I had Cincinnati at No. 10, one spot higher than the final vote. But despite a talented team on paper, I think everyone involved agrees the Bengals have some questions about how they finished last season and their year-to-year inconsistencies.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Walker's vote: No. 17

Cumulative vote: No. 19

Analysis: For me, this was the hardest vote to determine of all 32 teams. How do you rank a good team without its star quarterback for the first month of the season? For example, where would you place the Indianapolis Colts without Peyton Manning or the New Orleans Saints without Drew Brees? I feel the Steelers, minus Ben Roethlisberger, are a middle-of-the-pack team. Overall, there's not a lot of faith in backup quarterbacks Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon.

Cleveland Browns

Walker's vote: No. 28

Cumulative vote: No. 28

Analysis: Talent usually prevails in the NFL, and I just don't see a lot of it in Cleveland. I watched this team closely in minicamp, waiting to see some sort of breakthrough. Maybe Jake Delhomme, 35, would discover the fountain of youth and look like a dominant quarterback again. Perhaps a couple receivers would really step up, or a young secondary would be lockdown. I just didn't see any of it in offseason practices, which raises a lot of questions about Cleveland entering training camp.
I think the Indianapolis Colts are going to be very good again, and based on the health of Bob Sanders and Anthony Gonzalez, they could well beat the Saints in a rematch. Trouble is that rematch right now wouldn’t matter, and Indy lost the game that did matter, Super Bowl XLIV.

Things aren’t so different with the two Super Bowl teams that I am willing to flip-flop them atop my power rankings ballot. The Saints earned the No. 1 spot and keep it until something goes wrong for them in the 2010 season.

But other on the panel felt differently, and the Colts sit No. 1 in our preseason poll.

The rest of the AFC South:

Houston is 14th, Tennessee is 18th and Jacksonville is 26th.

Further down the list, if you object to some movement, I understand.

But when I sat back to do these, I found teams I like that just had to move upwards, particularly Baltimore and Atlanta near the top, and Miami and Washington later on.

While I don’t think Arizona will plummet, I did drop the Cards as well as the Bengals, who I think fall back to third place in the AFC North.

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