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 Missouri Tigers' program has been all over the radar this offseason; due to conference realignment rumors, new head coach Frank Haith's possible connection to the scandal at Miami, and most recently, a season-ending injury to senior Laurence Bowers. The lattermost of those dropped Missouri several spots in my rankings and means the Tigers enter the season with only eight eligible scholarship players.
The loss of Bowers puts added pressure on a talented backcourt that was likely to carry the load anyway. Returning starters Michael Dixon, Marcus Denmon, and Kim English bring experience and scoring to the lineup. Denmon is a big-time threat since he can stroke it from deep or use his quickness to get to the basket. English briefly flirted with entering the NBA Draft, but chose to return and adds some size and versatility on the wing. Michael Dixon is more of a scoring point guard but also a solid defender.
The Pressey brothers will provide depth off the bench. Phil Pressey started twelve games as a freshman and is more of a true point guard than Dixon. Matt Pressey struggled with his shot in his first season at Missouri after transferring in from a junior college, but will play a bigger role due to the transfer of Ricky Kreklow. The injury to Bowers could also mean Haith will show some four-guard looks with English playing the four.
Extra pressure will be placed on Ricardo Ratliffe inside. He was the Big XII Newcomer of the Year last season and will have to become even more assertive in the middle due to the losses of Justin Safford and Bowers. Ratliffe should play out of position some at center since the team's only true big man, Steve Moore is pretty much a non-factor on the offensive end though he can be a rim protector on D. Redshirt freshman Kadeem Green is a long, athletic, but offensively raw forward who will have to play an immediate role off the bench due to a lack of bodies inside.
George Goode would have helped offset Bowers' injury some and brought added size to the middle. The former Louisville Cardinal was supposed to transfer to Missouri as a grad student and become immediately eligible, but never enrolled for the fall semester. Haith did sign a pair of talented transfer wing players in Auburn's Earnest Ross and Keion Bell from Pepperdine who should help immensely in 2012-13 when the Tigers lose Denmon, English, and Matt Pressey to graduation.
Missouri will probably have a different style of play this season as the team transitions from Mike Anderson's "40 Minutes of Hell" to Haith's new system. A lot of key players are back from last year's team that finished with an extremely disappointing year and with several of them being seniors, they will look to end their careers with a bang, which will be difficult to do since there is not a lot of size or depth inside.
Player to Watch: Kim English, G/F
The 6-6 wing saw his scoring average drop four points from his sophomore to junior season. That made his decision to test the NBA waters rather baffling. English showed his sophomore season that he possesses the talent to make an impact in every aspect of the game and as I mentioned, will have to play bigger due to a lack of bodies in the frontcourt. He must have a major bounce back year if the Tigers are going to avoid another disappointing season.