Not 1, not 2, but 3 sub .500 teams in the top 10. I know everyone was expecting the Cards, Panthers, and Bengals to be really good this year... but they haven't been. The Cards lost to a really good Pats team, beat a mediocre Bucs team, and got embarrassed by an embarrassing Bills team (that you have ranked in the 20s). The Panthers have a bit more of an excuse as their losses have been to mostly good teams (the Broncos and Vikings) but I am still not buying a #5 ranking for a 1-2 team who's only win came against a horrible 49ers team. Lastly you said it all about how the Bengals have performed so far this year. These are not good teams this year, shouldn't their ranking reflect that?
While your brief analysis of the Panther's Oline has a lot of truth to it, I'm not sure it's yet fair to say that their is a problem in the 2ndary. The rooks are playing pretty well and definitely aren't the problem. Another is that they can't get a pass rush because the QBs are having success throwing the ball for short, quick, Brady esque passes, but when throwing deeper, the interior rush at least is getting there, and the corners have been impressing. While they are no Norman at this point, I can say that they are one of the few bright spots so far. The main problem is that the Oline can't block, and special teams can't tackle.
The MAAC figures to be a two-horse race between Iona and Fairfield this season. The Gaels return their top four scorers and two All-MAAC first-team members to lead the team into the season.
After transferring in from junior college, Mike Glover made a huge impact in his first season with the Gaels. He led the team in scoring and rebounding, finishing second in the MAAC in both of those categories. Glover is the only returning member of a frontcourt that features four new faces after the graduation of Alejo Rodriguez and transfer of Chris Pelcher.
The backcourt has a lot of returning talent including point guard Scott Macahdo. The 6-1 senior finished second in Division I last season with 7.6 assists per game and will once again be the maestro of the offense. Kyle Smith and Jermel Jenkins will give Iona a three-guard lineup. Both players are dangerous outside shooters, while Jenkins also makes his presence felt as a pesky on-the-ball defender. Jenkins is more than capable of handling the point and will likely do so when Machado needs a breather.
The fifth starter spot is up for grabs. If head coach Tim Cluess wants to go bigger, he could look at JUCO transfers Digs Moikubo or Taaj Ridley to start in the frontcourt alongside Glover. Randy Dezourve and Sean Armand both saw limited action off the bench last season and could be options. Dezourve offers a little more size, while Armand is a three-point specialist and would ultimately give Iona a four-guard starting lineup.
Cluess also scored a major transfer in the offseason when Arizona starting point guard Lamont �MoMo� Jones decided to continue his college basketball career closer to home. Jones will sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules, but should serve as a terrific practice opponent for Machado.
Led by Glover and Machado, Iona's top four are very solid. If they can find role players with the rest of their roster, the Gaels will be right there near the top of the MAAC standings and in line to dance for the first time since 2006.
Player to Watch: Mike Glover, F/C
The former Seton Hall commit arrived at Iona after hopping around different junior colleges for a couple of years. Glover eliminated any concerns about his past with an incredible first season for the Gaels. At 6-7, he makes up for his shortcomings with his combination of athleticism and physicality to go along with a terrific feel around the basket. He is the favorite to win MAAC Player of the Year.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/17 vs. Purdue (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/18 vs. Temple/Western Michigan (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/20 vs. Alabama/Maryland/Wichita State/Colorado (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)