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Posted June 1, 2009
Matt McGuire's 2009 NFL Power Rankings - June 1
New York Giants (12-4)
The Giants have one of the best defensive lines in the past decade - that's how good it is. They added Rocky Bernard, who
can generate a pass rush up the middle especially in a rotational role. Chris Canty was one of the best signings in free
agency as he will rotate between left and and tackle. They also get back one of the best in the game in Osi Umenyiora. I'm
not that concerned about the lack of receiving options because they also have the best offensive line in the NFL. If this team
doesn't win at least 11 games, I'll be shocked.
Pittsbrugh Steelers (12-4)
Super Bowl Champs end up at No. 2 on my list as I wish they would have added more talent on their offensive line in free
agency. I really see no reason to doubt a quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger, and this running game should be more potent
with the return of 2008 first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall, assuming he doesn't fumble the football as much as last year.
One can make the case New England should be above Pittsburgh, but nobody is going to doubt that Pittsburgh's pass rush is superior.
Their defense is still the best in the AFC.
New England Patriots (11-5)
I didn't foresee any team having a better free agency than New England had. They turned their biggest weakness into
one of their biggest strengths in terms of their defensive backfield. They added Leigh Bodden in free agency, and he is one of
the most underrated corners in the game. Shawn Springs will be a solid nickel in New England. They added my No. 1 cornerback
in the 2009 NFL Draft in Darius Butler. I can't fault them for drafting Patrick Chung with their first pick. I love this team, but I have
doubts about their pass rush outside of Adalius Thomas.
Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
I realize this is much higher than most people expect, but quite frankly what is there not to like about the Ravens?
Pass rush. Check. Run defense. Check. Offensive line. Check. Running game. Check. Quarterback. Check. Looks like the Ravens
have all the bases covered to finish with double-digit wins. Watch for Cam Cameron to let go of the reigns on Joe Flacco, and it
will be interesting to see how he responds if he is asked to throw for more attempts.
Arizona Cardinals (9-7)
If it wasn't for the selection of Chris Wells, I wouldn't have the Cardinals so high in my rankings. Wells
will have an Adrian Peterson-type effect on this offense. He will revolutionize their running game and take
this offense into a different dimension.
Washington Redskins (8-8)
The Redskins are probably the biggest shock of my power rankings. When you sign one of the most dominant defensive
tackles of the past decade, it makes your entire team better. Washington will now have a better pass rush, run defense and pass defense. This improves field position and turnover rate. However, don't miss the offense. Clinton Portis
is one of the best backs in the NFL and his offensive line is solid. I think Washington is going to really surprise some people
next season and make the playoffs.
Tennessee Titans (13-3)
Despite losing Albert Haynesworth, I still expect the Titans to win 11 games next season. Chris Johnson will take on a bigger role offensively
and Kenny Britt brings a legit receiving option next to Justin Gage. I really can't hate on the Titans and expect them to not make the playoffs
when you consider just how dominant their offensive line and rushing attack is. Haynesworth completely changes a defense and he will be missed, but
there is still talent on this team in the defensive backfield and front seven. Plus, they have arguably the best coach in the NFL in Jeff Fisher. I'm
not doubting Tennessee again in 2009.
New Orleans Saints (8-8)
This ranking is all predicated that the Saints defense takes the next step. I predicted them to win the division last year, but the defense just didn't
live up to expectations. However, Sedrick Ellis is entering in his second season and I expect him to be very productive. Malcolm Jenkins will make
his presence felt in the defensive backfield whether it is at nickel, starting cornerback, or free safety. This team also signed Darren Sharper and
Jabari Greer, which should improve their coverage. Losing their starting defensive ends early hurts, but this offense can put up a ton of points and I think
the defense will step up in 2009.
Philadelphia Eagles (9-6-1)
I really am not very confident in saying the Eagles are the third-best team in the NFC East. It is really a toss up between Washington and Philly in terms
of who will get the wild card out of the East. Haynesworth changes everything, and I am just not sold on the Eagles offensive line upgrades just yet.
This defense will always be dominant and they seem to always develop young talent (Trevor Laws, Stewart Bradley, Joselio Hansen) to go along with productive a
veterans. Donovan McNabb had to love the draft pick of Jeremy Maclin, though I don't expect him to make any significant contributions until his second or third
year in the league, if any.
LeSean McCoy should make an early impact, but a lot of how the Eagles perform really has more to do with how tough their opponents are on their
schedule as opposed to how good they are. The Eagles are a very good team, and we all know that, but do they play the right teams at the right times or the wrong
teams at the wrong times? This dictates a team's record just as much as how good a team really is, if not more.
Carolina Panthers (12-4)
I believe the NFC South is a two-horse race between Carolina and New Orleans, and I think Atlanta is one of the most overrated teams in the NFL. Like Walter
has mentioned, everything went perfect for Carolina last year and they still didn't step up in the playoffs. I have a hard time seeing this team be so healthy
and so productive for another season. This is tough to do with a mediocre quarterback. I love this offensive line and I love the defense, so it
should be a tough race between the Panthers and Saints.
Houston Texans (8-8)
I really hope Texans fans get their hopes up as opposed to expecting the worst because I really think this is their year. Houston fans have gone through a
lot including busting in the MLB playoffs and having to face the Lakers this year without their two best players, and still nearly
beat the Los Angeles Kobes. Mario Williams will get Defensive MVP honors and this defense will simply go to another level in being a solid unit.
Matt Schaub will lead the most underrated offense in the country as long as he can stay healthy. It is a complete joke this team only
got one night game because I would consider Houston to be one of the most exciting offensive teams in the NFL to watch up there with New Orleans
and New England.
Chicago Bears (9-7)
When you bring in the best young quarterback in the NFL, most of the time that should be regarded as a very good thing. By the way, I am completely
sick of idiot football analysts on television saying the Bears gave up a lot in this trade to get Jay Cutler because they didn't. They gave up a few mid-round
picks and a future first-rounder... that's it? Was it worth a future first-round pick to get multiple division championships over the next 10 years? I think so,
but don't tell that to the "experts" on ESPN.
New York Jets (9-7)
It really makes me sick to hear people nitpick Mark Sanchez over his first three practices in the league. What did you expect? He only had 16 career
starts and 487 career pass attempts at USC. I guess I am just getting sick and tired of knee-jerk analysis by the media, which I consider to
be very amateurish. I don't think Sanchez will be good this season; he should be very inconsistent with his inexperience, but this team will win because
of its defense and special teams. If anyone can get Vernon Gholston to play to his potential, it's Rex Ryan. If Gholston busts, it won't be because
he didn't have good coaching or a scheme that didn't fit his talents.
Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
If I think the Titans offensive line, rushing attack, and coaching is too good not to make the playoffs, and this is the Texans year, then the Colts
must be left out of the equation. The defense is still a weak point and didn't get much better in the 2009 NFL Draft. The offensive line is overrated, and I am not
sold on Anthony Gonzalez being on the outside as opposed to the slot. I expect the Colts to notch 9 or 10 victories, but still miss the playoffs this year. Sorry,
San Diego Chargers (8-8)
The defense will get back to dominant form with the additions of Shawne Merriman and Larry English. However, the schedule is much tougher
as they face the NFC East as opposed to the NFC South. Let's be honest here, the Chargers will win this division by default. I think seven
games can win the West because that's just how bad it is. Philip Rivers is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL and he has an underrated
receiving corps. I wish there could have been bigger upgrades on the offensive line, but the Chargers will once again make the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers (6-10)
Despite what I previously thought, I think the transition to the 3-4 in the long term can be successful in Green Bay. They have the prototypical nose tackle
in B.J. Raji, but a lot of the defensive success will hinge on Clay Matthews career. This team needs a pass rush and we aren't sure if Aaron Kampman
can provide that as a linebacker. I love this passing game, though the offensive line and running back corps does worry me slightly. Aaron Rodgers
will cement himself as one of the top signal callers in the NFL this year, and by the way, the only coach in the NFL that wants Brett Favre is also one of
the worst coaches in the NFL. I'd say Ted Thompson made a damn good decision just as I predicted a year ago.
Seattle Seahawks (4-12)
So many of the moves this offseason by Seattle have been lateral and I really don't see how we can say they will be that much better on defense. The defensive
line should get better as Lawrence Jackson goes into his second year and with the addition of Cory Redding, but the move from Julian Peterson to Aaron
Curry doesn't improve this team at all. You hope Curry can become what Peterson already is. The offense will obviously be better with the addition sof T.J. Houshmandzadeh
and Max Unger, but I just don't understand how this team has not upgraded Julius Jones.
Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
I'm simply not sold at all the Falcons will make the playoffs next year. The media is offensively driven. Everybody thought Jeremy Shockey was going to
be a massive improvement for New Orleans, but I am not saying Tony Gonzalez is Jeremy Shockey. All I am saying is this defense has some major holes.
Mike Peterson wasn't even good enough to start at MIKE in Jacksonville, so all of a sudden he is good enough to play outside in Atlanta? Stephen Nicolas
has nothing to speak of in his career though he has potential. Who is replacing Domonique Foxworth? Von Hutchins and Chevis Jackson? Please. Jamaal Anderson
has been nothing other than a bust for his first two seasons in the league and there is inexperience at safety. I am simply not buying the Atlanta Kool-Aid
this offseason. Plus, the schedule is much tougher. Look for Atlanta to falter.
Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
This franchise is a complete joke. Why is Brad Childress still with this team? I don't like his offensive philosophy (run when you are behind, throw when you
are ahead) and he doesn't know anything about quarterbacks. Trading for a turnover-prone quarterback is exactly why this team will not make the playoffs. Sage Rosenfels
will do nothing on this team, though Percy Harvin will make plays regardless of who is the quarterback, though he will likely be out of the NFL in four years as I think
he is the next Pacman Jones. The defense is dominant and the offensive line is improved with Phil Loadholt, but I think Green Bay wins the division because of
efficient quarterback play and an improved rush defense.
Miami Dolphins (11-5)
I just don't see Miami replicating 2008's success for many reasons. One, I don't see Chad Pennington putting up 7.7 YPA again with an unimproved receiving
corps. Two, the defense lost arguably its best player in Andre Goodman. Three, how does Joey Porter put up 17.5 sacks again without Andre Goodman? Four,
last year they were third in defensive turnover percentage and second in offensive turnover percentage, which is pretty much impossible to duplicate.
Five, the Wildcat will fail as it is an overrated
scheme even with Pat White. Six, Tom Brady is back. Seven, both wild cards will come out of either the AFC North and/or South. Eight, Buffalo won't be swept
with by Miami with T.O. I hope eight reasons were enough.
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
I think the Jaguars had a great offseason in releasing Fred Taylor, adding Tory Holt and Tra Thomas, and drafting both Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton.
This offense is set up for the future because of their potentially elite offensive line. However, I still have my reservations about where their pass rush
will come from and their No. 2 corner opposite Rashean Mathis.
Buffalo Bills (7-9)
I love the addition of T.O, but I just can't vouch for Buffalo again like I did in 2008. I don't see any major improvements on the offensive line or
defensive line. Aaron Maybin reportedly hasn't looked good in OTAs and that should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody if you understand talent.
Maybin was a one-dimensional pass rusher and a one-year wonder. I think Trent Edwards is in line for a breakout season and I truly expect Steve Johnson
to finally make a name for himself, but this division and conference is really tough overall and Buffalo will need the dominoes to fall their way as the season
Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)
"Let's draft a lethargic right tackle at No. 6 overall because that's how you win championships!" The Bengals have an improved defense, but the pass protection
still is not where it needs to be, and I don't see much of a running game to speak of with Cedric Benson. I am also joining the bandwagon that Chad Ochocinco
simply isn't the player he used to be, but we will find out this season. I think Baltimore and Pittsburgh are simply head and shoulders above the rest of their division,
and Cincinnati won't factor into the playoff race.
Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
Here is to the most overrated team in the NFL. Wade Phillips is the worst head coach in the NFL; they will not match T.O.'s production in any shape or form;
Tony Romo can't even spell leadership; this defense can't be better with the loss of Chris Canty; and every other team in the NFC East is better... including Washington.
Every year it is the same old store with the Cowboys. They do great in the regular season, then they make their excuses over the summer as to why the next
season will be any different. Same song, different verse. The Cowboys need to actually do something and stop talking about how great they are. I could go on
and on why I think the Cowboy swill be drafting in the top ten in the 2010 NFL Draft, but I will let the results on the field speak for myself.
St. Louis Rams (2-14)
I think it can be said that every team in the NFL is "two years away," but the Rams really are. They have put together two very strong drafts in my opinion.
They finally got a big leader for their defense in James Laurinaitis and I love the upgrades on their offensive line, though putting Jason Smith at right
tackle really worries me. St. Louis will show sparks of improvement and Steven Jackson should be dominant, so I think it is safe to say the Rams are a sleeper to
be a seven-win team in 2009, which is a huge improvement.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
I just don't see how anyone can get behind the Chiefs. The only real talent on the front seven of their defense is Tyson Jackson.
Matt Cassell is very overrated as he has a weak arm and holds onto the ball way too long. Don't believe me? The Patriots
sack percentage jumped from 3.51 percent to 6.14 from Brady to Cassell with the exact same offensive line. I don't see a weapon outside
of Dwayne Bowe, though I think Jamaal Charles is a big-time sleeper in fantasy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
The Buccaneers are in for a long year, though the future looks very bright in Tampa with the drafting of Josh Freeman. They
FINALLY have a franchise quarterback, which they haven't been able to say since Trent Dilfer. The defense is in for a long year because
they can't rush the quarterback or stop the run up the middle. The offense will be more explosive under Luke McCown, but he will
also throw more interceptions than Jeff Garcia. This should be an interesting year in Tampa as they look to start a new
generation with Freeman in 2010. Tampa will draft defense next year early, namely a defensive tackle.
Detroit Lions (0-16)
I think the new Lions regime will be much better than the last one, but I wish they would have drafted Michael Oher
to protect Matt Stafford. The reason the new Lions will be better is because at least Martin Mayhew is drafting for value
as opposed to completely reaching like Matt Millen. The Lions have serious issues on defense and on the offensive line, so they probably
will be picking in the top 10 again in 2010.
Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Is any coach trying to implode his own team more than Eric Mangini? Trading away Kellen Winslow, and trying to get rid of Brady Quinn and
Braylon Edwards was the icing on the cake for me. I like the draft pick of Alex Mack, but not with Chris Wells on the board. Why all of a sudden
is Mangini moving down Eric Steinbach on the depth chart? I have no idea what Mangini is doing, and it wouldn't shock me if he was fired after this season.
San Francisco 49ers (7-9)
I think San Francisco is one of the more overrated teams this season, and it all comes down to their offensive line
and defense. I am simply not sold on their offensive line. Marvel Smith was a mediocre pickup and Joe Staley didn't have
an amazing season in 2008. I don't like the interior offensive line, though Chilo Rachal has potential next season. How well
will Shaun Hill do in a non-Martz system statistically? I really don't see that much talent in terms of a pass rush
either. Parys Haralson is solid, but Manny Lawson has never done anything. The defensive backfield has a few weak points, and I think the
other teams in the West got much better in the offseason than the 49ers did, including the Rams.
Denver Broncos (8-8)
Josh McDaniels has two years max left in Denver. He traded away the best young quarterback in the NFL. He is making a transition
to the 3-4 defense with Mike Nolan that I really disagree with. He doesn't have a clue how to draft (Robert Ayers, trading
away the 2010 first-rounder for a nickel). With Kyle Orton at the helm, expect a declined offensive line play with the loss
of Jay Cutler's mobility and more interceptions. I love Knowshon Moreno and I defend that draft pick, but this defense is absolutely horrendous at nearly
all levels except cornerback. The Broncos will be contending for the No. 1 overall pick in 2010... which will then be traded to the Seahawks. Can you imagine
the Broncos trading away Alphonso Smith for Sam Bradford? I feel sorry for Denver fans because they don't deserve this mediocrity.
The Raiders are the worst team in the league without a doubt in my mind. They have a fat quarterback who doesn't care about football
and is reportedly doing horrendously in offseason practices. They have a highly paid No. 4 overall pick at running back who was third string
at the end of last season. Their defensive line is in shambles. The offensive line is very weak on the right side.
The No. 1 receiver can't catch the football or run routes, and was hardly productive in college. The Raiders are a candidate to only
win one or two games next season, which is pretty sad in the worst division in football.