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.
After watching their two toughest competitors in the Eastern Conference make major splashes in the offseason, the Celtics put the full-court press on the free agent they wanted. The C's sent their "Boston Three Party" as well as head coach Doc Rivers to woo Piston free agent big man Rasheed Wallace. If you are a veteran on the downside of your career, how can you say "no" to playing alongside the talent in Boston and a shot at winning a ring? You can't.
That is why Boston and free agent Rasheed Wallace have agreed to what is being reported as a 2-year deal for the mid-level exception which will pay Wallace approximately $5.8 million next season. Wallace was being pursued by some of the better teams in the NBA; Cleveland, Orlando, San Antonio. Instead, Wallace decided to go green, thrusting the Celtics right back into the title hunt.
While the 34-year-old's production has dipped off the past few years, he will be a more than serviceable fifth option in Boston's starting lineup alongside veteran 30-somethings Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and the ever-improving Rajon Rando. Wallace will bring a talented inside/outside game to Beantown, and add to the experience, toughness and depth of the team.
Sure, Wallace has been known to be a major distraction in years past and can sometimes fly off the handle as demonstrated by his 296 technical fouls during his 14-year career, but pairing him up with an already established core of veterans should limit his negative impact on the team. I would imagine guys like Garnett, Pierce, and Allen will have Wallace's respect and they should be able to keep him in line for the most part.
Rivers now has a decision to make as Wallace's acquisition means the newest Celtic either has to settle with coming off the bench or is moved into the starting role while Kendrick Perkins switches to a reserve role. Not a bad problem to have... Wallace also provides some insurance in case Garnett cannot stay healthy or needs to have his playing time reduced to stay fresh throughout the season. On the downside, it is now likely that the Celtics are likely to lose one or both of their younger post reserves, restricted free agent Glen Davis and unrestricted free agent Leon Powe.
The roster could get even older in the upcoming days as Boston is rumored to be interested in Suns free agent small forward Grant Hill. Whatever happens next, Boston seems poised for another run at the title. And hopefully if they win it all again, Garnett can have another brilliant celebratory encounter with Michelle Tafoya.