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Posted May 21, 2010
2010 NFL Power Ranking Tiers
Power rankings are only one way of analyzing the teams in the NFL, but I have thought of another way of how to break down the cream of the crop from the pretenders in the league. I have created five different tiers, and the numbers in parentheses next to each team is where they rank in my overall 2010 NFL Power Rankings.
The (Legitimate) Super Bowl Contenders Tier:
(1) Indianapolis, (2) New Orleans, (3) Dallas, (4) Green Bay, (5) Baltimore, (6) Minnesota and (7) New York Jets.
I will be extremely shocked if some other team wins Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium. In order to be categorized in the (legitimate) Super Bowl contenders tier, the team needs to be very solid on both sides of the football. If the team doesn't have one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL (Flacco, Sanchez), then they need to have a talent level on the depth chart capable of carrying the team to the Super Bowl without an elite passing attack. These teams are the cream of the crop and their fans' dreams of a Super Bowl appearance are very realistic. "Legitimate" is in parentheses because somehow, someway every team is a Super Bowl contender since the season hasn't started yet, but you have to draw a line somewhere.
The Upper-Echelon Playoff Contenders Tier:
(8) Miami, (9) Tennessee, (10) Atlanta, (11) San Diego, (12) Carolina, (13) Philadelphia, (14) New England and (15) Houston.
I feel like these are the teams that will be challenging the (legitimate) Super Bowl Contenders for the divisional championships and remaining wild cards. Obviously, some of these teams could end up winning their division if they are in the same division as the (legitimate) Super Bowl Contenders, but they simply lack either: A very good quarterback or a very talented, well-rounded depth chart to be put into my first tier. These teams are capable of making a run to the conference championships, but they truly lack special qualities to win the Super Bowl.
The "Any Given Sunday" Tier:
(16) Cincinnati, (17) Oakland, (18) Detroit, (19) New York Giants, (20) Washington, (21) San Francisco and (22) Pittsburgh.
These teams are going to be inconsistently competitive next season, and have very little chance of going deep into the playoffs. There are various reasons why each team is in this tier, but they just lack the talent to be consistently competitive (Pittsburgh only in this tier because they will miss Ben Roethlisberger for four games). You can't sleep on these teams because on "Any Given Sunday;" they could surprise and beat a very good opponent when you least expect it. I don't expect any of these teams to be picking in the top-five next season (yes - not even Oakland), but I also don't expect them to make it past the first round of the playoffs if they are lucky enough to get a wild card or are in a weak enough division (San Francisco).
The "Wait 'Til Next Year" Tier
(23) Chicago, (24) Tampa Bay, (25) Seattle, (26) Arizona, (27) Denver, (28) Jacksonville and (29) Kansas City.
These teams aren't going to be threatening to make the playoffs unless they are in the anemic NFC West. They simply lack the talent, depth and/or experience to scare teams every week. However, I don't expect these teams to be picking in the top three or four in the 2011 NFL Draft. Many of these teams have potential, and are one or two years away. If the fans of these teams think they are making the playoffs (and their respective team isn't in the NFC West), then they are completely delusional.
The "Most Likely to Read WalterFootball.com 2011 NFL Mock Drafts in Early September" Tier
(30) St. Louis, (31) Cleveland, and (32) Buffalo.
These teams are absolutely terrible. These are the teams you look forward to seeing game highlights of because it's simply funny to see how bad they will be. These teams are going to have extremely mediocre quarterback play (Sam Bradford won't be good as a rookie - but at least the Rams have a future) and will not put up any points next season.
This is called the "Most Likely to Read WalterFootball.com 2011 NFL Mock Drafts in Early September" tier because their fans are going to figure out early in the season that their team really sucks and will be looking forward to having a high draft pick in 2011. Unless Cleveland or Buffalo find young, franchise quarterbacks in 2011, their organizations will continue to inhabit this tier.