My third 2010 NFL Power Rankings. I’ve used these rankings as the order for the recent update of my 2011 NFL Mock Draft (April 27).

I’ve gone from WORST to FIRST, so if you don’t see reverse numbering (via Javascript), don’t worry; the Rams, Chiefs and Browns aren’t my top teams.

Updated: 4/27

  1. St. Louis Rams (1-15) – Previously: 30.
    Final 5 Games:
    vs. 49ers, Lost 6-28
    at Cardinals, Lost 10-31
    vs. Texans, Lost 13-16
    at Titans, Lost 7-47
    at Bears, Lost 9-17

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: I found it hilarious that before Sam Bradford was chosen with the first pick, everyone on ESPN’s set, excluding Tom Jackson, clamored, “Bradford has to be the pick OMG OMG he’s awesome, Bradford FTW!!!”

    After Bradford went off the board, Steve Young, Jon Gruden and Mel Kiper opined that Bradford needs to sit for a year because he’s not ready to play in a pro-style offense. Jackson incredulously laughed, “This does not sound like a No. 1 pick!”

    I suddenly had flashbacks to 2005 when Alex Smith wasn’t ready to transition from a goofy offense to San Francisco’s West Coast system. Hmm…

    I’m not saying Bradford is going to bust; the Rams had to take a quarterback. But in three or four years when we look back at the 2010 NFL Draft, I think we’ll acknowledge that Bradford shouldn’t have been picked first overall.

    At any rate, I’m only moving St. Louis down because this is going to be a lost year for them. They’ll begin to make strides in 2011.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: Remember when everyone from ESPN had Ndamukong Suh atop their 2010 NFL Mock Draft? Remember when Mike Mayock said there was no chance a quarterback would be drafted No. 1 overall? Those were good times.

    I think Jimmy Clausen should be the No. 1 overall pick, but I have no problem with Sam Bradford. The bottom line was that this selection had to be a quarterback, and not a defensive tackle (which offers no positional value for a No. 1 overall selection).

    For more on why Clausen should be No. 1, check out my article in USA Today’s NFL Draft Magazine, which should be available in most book stores and newsstands (there’s a picture of Eric Berry on the front cover.) I will be posting it on the site soon, but for now, here’s our exclusive Jimmy Clausen interview and an article called Jimmy Clausen is an Alien Wizard, which discusses why the hatred and bias against Clausen is completely unfounded.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Rams general manager Billy Devaney has stated repeatedly that he wants to acquire players who can score long touchdowns. One reason is because of that scoring output (look above). It doesn’t matter how good your defense is; you’re not going to win games scoring 6, 10, 13, 7 and 9. A second reason is because there were more cobwebs than people in the stands of the Edward Jones Dome in 2009.

    The Rams have some nice, young defensive players like James Laurinaitis, Chris Long, David Vobora, O.J. Atogwe, Bradley Fletcher and Ronald Bartell. However, they will continue to suffer until they find some stability at the quarterback position.

  2. Cleveland Browns (5-11) – Previously: 31.
    Final 5 Games:
    vs. Jaguars, Won 23-17
    vs. Raiders, Won 23-9
    at Chiefs, Won 41-34
    vs. Steelers, Won 13-6
    vs. Chargers, Lost 23-30

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: Maybe Browns fans shouldn’t be putting so much stock into Mike Holmgren. He paid $7 million for Jake Delhomme. He passed on Jimmy Clausen twice. And he pulled ranked and drafted Colt McCoy, essentially a miniature version of Kyle Orton.

    Holmgren is a terrific coach, but his track record as a general manager is pretty dubious. In fact, he had to be relieved of his managerial duties in Seattle after numerous poor drafts. Just because you can coach doesn’t mean that you’re good at acquiring talent. Holmgren clearly isn’t.

    APRIL 16 UPDATE: I liked the Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong trade, so I’ve moved the Browns up from No. 32 all the way to No. 31. Progress!

    Cleveland could move up even more if Mike Holmgren stopped doing stupid things at the quarterback position. Holmgren needs to draft Jimmy Clausen at No. 7. If he waits on Colt McCoy, well, at least Browns fans will have fun booing the miniature version of Kyle Orton.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: You know when you have a Madden franchise saved on your Playstation or XBox, and someone like your little brother/cousin/a-hole roommate loads it up, makes dumb trades to screw you over and then saves it just to piss you off? I’m convinced that’s what’s happening in Cleveland right now. Mike Holmgren went on vacation or something, and someone posing as Holmgren has started making all of these idiotic signings and trades. That’s the only logical explanation I have.

    Seriously, I have no idea what’s going on in Cleveland. They trade Brady Quinn and Kamerion Wimbley for peanuts, and yet they give Jake Delhomme $7 million this season? Holmgren is either taking drugs or being replaced by an impostor.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: You really have to commend the Browns for playing well toward the end of the season – Eric Mangini probably threatened to invite the players to his birthday party if they didn’t play hard – but at the same time, winning all of those games took them out of the running for Jimmy Clausen and Sam Bradford.

    Cleveland has a decent foundation with its running game, left side of the offensive line and defensive front, but to win consistently, the team will need to find a franchise signal-caller.

  3. Kansas City Chiefs (4-12) – Previously: 29.
    Final 5 Games:
    at Broncos, Won 44-24
    at Bengals, Lost 10-17
    vs. Browns, Lost 34-41
    vs. Bills, Lost 10-16
    vs. Broncos, Lost 13-44

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: Eric Berry is going to be an awesome player and a perennial Pro Bowler, but I don’t think the Chiefs improved themselves through the 2010 NFL Draft. The same problems remain: They don’t have a quarterback, they can’t protect their quarterback and they can’t get to the other quarterback. An e-mailer summed it up best in a rant I posted in my 2010 NFL Draft Mailbag.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: E-mail from Michael F.:

    What’s up with this? Is it the Chiefs organization, current coaching staff or current front office that you have the problem with? Everything I read on your site the references the Chiefs, you have something negative and/or sarcastic to say about it. What’s the deal?

    My Response:

    I have no problem with the Chiefs. In fact, I’d love to see them be competitive again. It’s fun when the Chiefs are in the hunt because the fans are great. But I’m just calling it like I see it. The Chiefs are doing dumb things, so they deserve to be criticized.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: The good news is that Jamaal Charles is awesome. Charles somehow finished the year with 1,120 rushing yards even though he was seldom used in the beginning of the season because Todd Haley thought Larry Johnson was a better player. Oops.

    The bad news is that pretty much everyone else on Kansas City isn’t very good, including Matt Cassel, who is somehow the third-highest paid quarterback in the NFL. Oops.

    Even with Charles going, the Chiefs were limited to 14 points or less in four of their final six contests. And considering the defense stinks, Kansas City seems poised for another last-place finish in the AFC West.

  4. Buffalo Bills (6-10) – Previously: 25.
    Final 5 (Non-B.S.) Games:
    vs. Patriots, Lost 10-17
    at Chiefs, Won 16-10
    vs. Jets, Lost 13-19
    vs. Dolphins, Won 31-14
    at Jaguars, Lost 15-18

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: How can Buffalo’s front office go back to Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm? How can it sell this crap to its fans? If I’m a Bills fan, I’m boycotting all the games.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: A couple of nice signings this offseason by the Bills; Dwan Edwards and Andra Davis will help Buffalo transition into its new 3-4 defense. Unfortunately, they’ve done nothing to fix their quarterback position. It’ll be hard for the Bills to find a franchise signal-caller if they keep drafting in the 9-12 area every year.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: You really have to like the way Buffalo’s defense finished the year. Excluding Brian Brohm’s only start at Atlanta, the Bills surrendered 19 points or fewer to every opponent they faced.

    Unfortunately, like the Browns, their late-season wins have nullified their chances of getting a quarterback this April. That means the Bills will have to go with Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick or maybe QB Dog Killer as the starting quarterback next year. And unless you’re Bucky Brooks, that’s not a good thing.

  5. Seattle Seahawks (5-11) – Previously: 32.
    Final 5 Games:
    vs. Titans, Lost 13-17
    at Packers, Lost 10-48
    vs. Buccaneers, Lost 7-24
    at Texans, Lost 7-34
    vs. 49ers, Won 20-17

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: I loved Seattle’s draft and even gave them an A+ in my 2010 NFL Draft Grades. Pete Carroll was able to fill a ton of needs in his first draft, including left tackle – a position that Tim Ruskell simply refused to address.

    The Seahawks are definitely heading in the right direction, but they still have a long way to go. Their 2010 season depends largely on how well the enigmatic Charlie Whitehurst plays.

    APRIL 16 UPDATE: I ranked the Seahawks 29th in my previous update. Since then, they lost Patrick Kerney to retirement and Rob Sims in a trade with the Lions. Unless Clipboard Jesus is capable of performing miracles, Seattle is the worst team in the NFL. Aside from the linebackers and tight ends, the Seahawks are hurting at every single position.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: People are saying that the Seahawks are insane to pay Charlie Whitehurst $10 million over two years because he hasn’t played in the NFL yet. I say they got quite a bargain.

    Whitehurst was a second-round prospect a few years ago, so it’s not like he’s some no-talent bum. And consider this: Despite the fact that Matt Schaub threw just 161 passes in his NFL career prior to the 2007 season (6 TDs, 6 INTs, by the way), the Texans gave Schaub a whopping $48 million over six years.

    By those standards, Whitehurst is vastly underpaid as a potential franchise quarterback.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: The Seahawks have more needs than a pregnant wife. I seriously can’t name one thing they do well. They aren’t a good passing team anymore because Matt Hasselbeck is done. They can’t protect Hasselbeck. They can’t run the ball. They can’t stretch the field because their receivers stink. They can’t get to the other quarterback. They can’t stop the run. They can’t defend the pass because their secondary isn’t very good. It’s really amazing how much Seattle has regressed.

    On a positive note, Jim Mora Jr. is gone, so maybe some talented young players (Justin Forsett, Deon Butler) will actually get to play over crappy, washed-up veterans (Julius Jones, Deion Branch). Oh, and maybe the team won’t quit in December like it did last year.

  6. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9) – Previously: 24.
    Final 5 Games:
    at Browns, Lost 17-23
    at Patriots, Lost 7-35
    vs. Colts, Lost 31-35
    vs. Dolphins, Lost 10-14
    vs. Texans, Won 23-18

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: In perhaps the greatest epic fail in NFL history, the Jaguars failed to draft Tim Tebow, yet the opener against the Broncos will be sold out because Tebow is coming to Jacksonville. Forum member Body Burners said it best, “I find it funny they couldn’t sell out a game that mattered for the playoffs at the end of last year but they’re going to sell out one so that people can see the away team’s backup.”

    Why are the Jaguars being so stupid and fiscally irresponsible? E-mailer Molson had a great theory:

    “You know in the movie Major League when the Indians are struggling to make money and the ownership needs the team to screw up to justify moving to a more lucrative market? Of course no team would ever undermine the competitive sanctity of the league… but if they did, they’d probably reach by 1-2 rounds every pick, selecting players from positions that aren’t primary needs. Sound familiar?”

    Ladies and gentlemen, the Los Angeles Jaguars, coming in 2014!

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: I loved the poll that indicated current Jaguars season-ticket holders don’t want the team to draft Tim Tebow. Yeah, OK. Two points have to be made about this:

    1) I’m sure all 12 season-ticket holders provided great feedback. But let’s not forget how many more season-ticket holders there will be if Jacksonville drafts Tebow. Thousands of people camped outside of a store to get a Tebow autograph for $160. The Jaguars’ empty stadium will be packed if Tebow is on the roster.

    2) When is the last time a team’s fan base wanted the organization to draft a quarterback? Prior to the 2008 NFL Draft, most Falcon fans wanted Glenn Dorsey over Matt Ryan. How’d that work out? Prior to the 2009 NFL Draft, almost all Lions fans (according to the e-mails I received) wanted Aaron Curry or Jason Smith over Matthew Stafford. Now those same people support Stafford. Jaguars season-ticket holders may not like Tebow now, but they will once the team drafts him. It’s just the nature of NFL fandome.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Ladies and gentlemen, give a hand to the laziest team in the NFL! The Jaguars try hard in only two scenarios: If they’re playing a divisional opponent or if they’re a big underdog.

    Want proof of this? You got it:

    Divisional Games (6): 3-3 (4-2 against the spread), 24.5 ppg, +1.5 point differential.
    Non-Divisional Games (10): 4-6 (1-9 against the spread), 14.3 ppg, -9.9 point differential.

    Oh, and I must note that six of those 10 non-divisional games were against the Rams, Chiefs, Bills, Seahawks, 49ers and Browns!

    If you go back to 2008, you’ll get the same type of dichotomy. Jack Del Rio is a lazy coach with no work ethic, and his lethargic attitude clearly rubs off on his team (and the fans, who don’t put forth enough energy to come to the games on Sunday).

  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13) – Previously: 23.
    Final 5 Games:
    vs. Falcons, Lost 10-20
    at Saints, Won 20-17
    at Seahawks, Won 24-7
    vs. Jets, Lost 3-26
    at Panthers, Lost 6-16

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: The Buccaneers sure love their troubled receivers. Arrelious Benn drops so many balls he puts Carson Daly to shame; Mike Williams quits on his teams; and Michael Clayton has pizzas delivered to meetings that he’s always late to. In all seriousness, I’m worried about this because the Buccaneers have a young team and an inexperienced coach. The situation reeks of Portland Jailblazers to me.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: I’m shocked. The Buccaneers actually signed free agents this offseason. Sure, they were a couple of one-star guys in my 2010 NFL Free Agents section, but it’s still surprising nonetheless. I mean, here I thought Malcolm Glazer devoted all of his resources to his precious European soccer team, but now my opinion of his frugality has completely changed!

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Josh Freeman was my nemesis in 2009. Whenever I would bet on him, he would crap the bed. Whenever I would take the other team, he’d play lights out. Look at how erratic he was:

    Weeks 9-10, 12, 15-16 (GB, MIA, ATL, SEA, NO): 87-of-145 (60.0%), 1,127 yards (7.8 YPA), 8 TDs, 5 INTs.
    Weeks 11, 13-14, 17: (NO, CAR, NYJ, ATL): 69-of-141 (48.9%), 712 yards (5.1 YPA), 2 TDs, 13 INTs.

    I guess that type of inconsistency is to be expected from a rookie quarterback. The good news is that with more experience, Freeman will have more of those former games. And because the Buccaneers have their franchise signal-caller, they can focus on upgrading a defense that improved as the year went along, allowing just 14.3 ppg in its final six contests.

  8. Denver Broncos (8-8) – Previously: 28.
    Final 5 Games:
    vs. Chiefs, Lost 24-44
    at Eagles, Lost 27-30
    vs. Raiders, Lost 19-20
    at Colts, Lost 16-28
    at Chiefs, Won 44-13

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: “I’m Josh f***ing McDaniels, and I will make Tim f***ing Tebow into a Pro f***ing Bowler, and if I want to draft a f***ing receiver in the first round who can’t f***ing catch the ball or run any f***ing routes, I will because I’m Josh f***ing McDaniels.”

    APRIL 16 UPDATE: Funny Facebook wall post from Daniel S: In a couple of years, Josh McDaniels will write a blog called “How to ruin a franchise in three easy steps”

    Step 1: Trade your franchise QB
    Step 2: Trade your best player
    Step 3: Make yourself the starting QB

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: One of’s top headlines last Tuesday was “Brady Quinn wants to start.” Wowowowowowowow. For more on this, check out the latest Jerks of the Week entry.

    At any rate, the Broncos have done a great job bringing in other teams’ unwanted scrubs this offseason. Josh McDaniels for the win.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: The Broncos literally caught a lucky break in the season opener against the Bengals, and used that momentum to catch fire and start the year 6-0. We know the rest – they finished 2-8, they couldn’t beat the Raiders or Chiefs at home in must-win games, and Josh McDaniels benched his best player and fired his brilliant defensive coordinator. And we all thought things would go well when McDaniels downgraded his quarterback position before the 2009 NFL Draft…

    Great e-mail from Seth S.:

    So it’s come to my attention that the two dumbest people who currently have direct ties to the NFL are both young, cocky, white guys with “Mc” names – the guru of draft stupidity, Todd McShay, and the coach of my favorite team, the “offensive mastermind” Josh McDaniels. I’m trying to decide if this is pure coincidence or a sign of something deeper… something more sinister.

    Both are in their early 30s. Both have strong ties to Massachusetts – McS was born there and McD with the Pats. Both hate certain talented QBs for no rationale reason – McD with Cutler and McS with Clausen. By all accounts, both are huge douches. Both have alienated someone who was much more experienced, older, wiser, and way better at their job – McS with Kiper and McD with Mike Nolan. And both are attempting to ruin football for me.

    So I ask you this – are they some evil coalition set on making me pull out all my hair in a combination of frustration and disbelief?

    Wait…do we have any confirmation that they’ve ever been seen in the same room at the same time? Oh no…

  9. Detroit Lions (2-14) – Previously: 26.
    Final 5 Matthew Stafford Starts (Before Injury):
    vs. Browns, Won 38-37
    at Vikings, Lost 10-27
    at Seahawks, Lost 20-32
    vs. Rams, Lost 10-17
    at Bears, Lost 24-48

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: As I commented in my 2010 NFL Draft Blog, Matthew Stafford’s life insurance went up $1,000 per month when the team selected Ndamukong Suh over Russell Okung. That being said, I really liked Detroit’s draft – especially if Jason Fox pans out. The Lions could be a playoff contender in 2011, especially if Brett Favre is gone by then, thus making their two games against the Vikings a lot easier.

    APRIL 16 UPDATE: Love the Rob Sims trade. Still hate the Ndamukong Suh pick. If you haven’t seen it yet, the 10 Reasons Why the Lions Must Draft Russell Okung.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: I love how no one on ESPN mentions the Corey Williams trade as a possible deterrent for the Lions drafting Ndamukong Suh. Defensive tackle is no longer a need for Detroit, yet it’s like Williams doesn’t even exist.

    I’m beginning to think that ESPN dumbs things down for its audience… but that’s not possible, is it?

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Matthew Stafford needs a franchise left tackle. I know he was hurt on a fluke Hail Mary play, but the pounding he took from Clay Matthews four days later didn’t help matters.

    In the 10 contests Stafford started last year, the Lions averaged 18.6 points per game. He’ll continue to improve, especially if the Lions provide him with a solid No. 2 receiver and better protection. Unfortunately, Detroit’s defense (30.9 ppg) has a long way to go.

  10. Arizona Cardinals (10-6) – Previously: 22.
    Final 5 Real Games:
    at Saints, Lost 14-45
    vs. Packers, Won 51-45
    vs. Rams, Won 31-10
    at Lions, Won 31-24
    at 49ers, Loss 9-24

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: The Cardinals passed on both Donovan McNabb and Jimmy Clausen this offseason. This coaching staff must have a ton of faith in Matt Leinart. I would too if he had an arm and didn’t check down every single freaking play. I just get the feeling that Arizona is really going to regret how it handled this offseason.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: The Cardinals lost their starting quarterback and best defensive player (Karlos Dansby). But everything’s OK because they got Joey Porter! All it took to sign him was $17.5 million over three years even though no other team was interested! Breathe a sigh of relief, Cardinals fans!

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Whoa, Cards at 22? Well, you know the rule that says more than half of the teams in this season’s playoffs won’t make the postseason the following year? This Arizona squad is Candidate No. 1. Kurt Warner announced his retirement, so Cardinals fans need to prepare for the Nick Lachey Hot Tub Offense (i.e. Matt Leinart dinking and dunking).

    With Warner gone, an underrated aspect of Arizona’s offseason is the eventual departure of Karlos Dansby, one of the top linebackers in the NFL. Considering that the Cardinals’ defense surrendered 90 points in its final two games, the team will definitely miss Dansby’s presence.

    Of course, the Cardinals will move up in these NFL Power Rankings if they acquire Donovan McNabb.

  11. Chicago Bears (7-9) – Previously: 21.
    Final 5 Games:
    at Lions, Won 37-23
    vs. Vikings, Won 36-30
    at Ravens, Lost 7-31
    vs. Packers, Lost 14-21
    vs. Rams, Won 17-9

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: Why didn’t the Bears improve their offensive line during the 2010 NFL Draft? I know they didn’t have many picks, but they could have made at least some sort of effort.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: I can understand why the Bears overpaid Julius Peppers. If Lovie Smith and the rest of the front office don’t make it to the playoffs in 2010, they’ll all be fired. But I still don’t have to like the move.

    Peppersis renown for taking games off. Not plays; games. And this was before signing a colossal contract. It’s impossible to work hard when you’re sleeping in silk pajamas; if Peppers was lethargic before, just wait until you see him in a Bears uniform.

    Oh, and if things weren’t bad enough for the Bears, they stooped low enough to hire Mike Martz. Let’s hope Jay Cutler’s bodily organs stay intact this season.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: People love to blame Chicago’s 7-9 season on Jay Cutler. Sure, that’s fair. Let’s ignore the fact that the defense, missing Brian Urlacher, surrendered 23 points or more on eight occasions. Let’s turn our heads away from the fact that Matt Forte was fat and out of shape. Let’s not blame the offensive line for blocking poorly or the receivers for not getting open.

    Cutler made some bone-headed throws, but he had to force a lot of stuff because the team around him was terrible. However, there is good news. On offense, Devin Aromashodu played like a No. 1 wideout in the final weeks of the season, and Chris Williams was solid at left tackle after he displaced Orlando Pace. On defense, Urlacher will be back, and Tommie Harris was brilliant to close out the year. This is the first offseason in eons that Harris won’t be coming off some sort of surgery, and having him back at near-100 percent will be a huge boost.

  12. Oakland Raiders (5-11) – Previously: 27.
    Bruce Gradkowski’s Full Games:
    at Steelers, Won 27-24
    at Cowboys, Lost 7-24
    vs. Bengals, Won 20-17

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: A source of mine in Oakland, the one who assured me that the Raiders would take Darrius Heyward-Bey last year, confirmed my speculation that Al Davis is no longer making the picks – at least probably not during the first two days. Did Undead Al ask for help, or was he asleep by the 7:30 and 6 p.m. start times on Thursday and Friday? Don’t count out the possibility that virgins had to be sacrificed at those instances.

    All kidding aside, the Raiders are now a playoff contender. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: One of my closest friends lost 60 pounds in one year during college by eating nothing but salads and gummy bears. I’m not joking. So, perhaps this is the tactic JaMarcus Russell used to “trim” down to 271 pounds this offseason (replacing salads and gummy bears with Skittles, of course.)

    FEB 21 UPDATE: …And the Raiders didn’t look half-bad in that Dallas Thanksgiving game. Bruce Gradkowski isn’t a very talented quarterback, but he’s accurate and generally makes good decisions. Plus, Oakland played hard for him. Whenever JaMarcus Russell was in the game, the team just didn’t seem interested.

    Gradkowski won’t lead the Raiders deep into the playoffs or anything, but I think an 8-8 finish is possible if he starts all 16 games; Oakland’s defense is decent and the running game can be effective if Michael Bush is used.

    Isn’t this great? I made it through a whole Raiders segment without using any Al Davis goat blood/sacrificing virgin jokes, and I didn’t even mention that Undead Al recently made Sebastian Janikowski the highest-paid kicker in NFL history.

  13. San Francisco 49ers (8-8) – Previously: 20.
    Final 5 Games:
    at Rams, Won 28-6
    vs. Lions, Won 20-6
    at Eagles, Lost 13-27
    vs. Cardinals, Won 24-9
    at Seahawks, Lost 17-20

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: Like the Cardinals, the 49ers were guilty of passing on Donovan McNabb and Jimmy Clausen this offseason. Things won’t be pretty if they’re 2-4 after six weeks, and Alex Smith has more interceptions than touchdowns at that point. I liked San Francisco’s draft overall, but I feel as though this franchise missed a golden opportunity to make a big leap into the NFL’s upper echelon.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: San Francisco’s biggest offseason signing thus far is David Carr. Yeeesh. Then again, I don’t have a big problem with this. There aren’t many quality free agents out there, and the 49ers have two first-round picks, so they can definitely add talent to their roster without overpaying some bums. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the Cardinals lost several prominent starters this offseason.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: I really like the way the 49ers closed out the season, and they have great chance to win a crappy NFC West in 2010. However, I just don’t see Alex Smith taking San Francisco deep into the playoffs. In Smith’s 10 starts, the 49ers averaged 19.7 points per game and were limited to 20 points or fewer on six occasions.

  14. Washington Redskins (4-12) – Previously: 16.
    Final 5 Games:
    at Chargers, Lost 20-23
    vs. Cowboys, Lost 0-17
    vs. Giants, Lost 12-45
    at Raiders, Won 34-13
    vs. Saints, Lost 30-33

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: Trent Silverback Williams? I don’t know if I was more confused by Washington’s pick or the nickname. What the hell is a silverback? And why did the Redskins call Williams a few minutes before he was drafted and ask him if he’s going to come to training camp in shape? What answer besides “yes” could he possibly have given them? “No, I’m going to hang out with JaMarcus Russell and come in at 400 pounds, do ya tink so?”

    APRIL 16 UPDATE: I don’t know what sort of food Mike Shanahan offered Andy Reid for Donovan McNabb, but other teams must take note. How many cheesesteaks would it take to pry away Trent Cole? Fifty? One hundred? It would be helpful if Big Red provided us with some sort of Cheesesteak Value Chart.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: Except for the Larry Johnson addition, I love what the Redskins have done this offseason – which is pretty much nothing. It’s good to see that the frivolous spending on overpriced free agents has stopped with Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen in the building.

    Speaking of overpriced free agents, I love the fact that Albert Haynesworth reported to only one of the team’s workouts last week. That’s great, Albert. Glad you’re getting a $21 million guaranteed bonus in April. (And this, Lions and Rams fans, is one of the many reasons why you don’t pay a defensive tackle an absurd amount of money.)

    FEB 21 UPDATE: What could have been. The Redskins went just 4-12, but suffered a whopping eight losses by eight points or less. And that was despite losing Chris Samuels, Clinton Portis, Chris Cooley, Ladell Betts, Chris Horton, Randy Thomas and the mighty Colt Brennan to injured reserve. That last one really hurt.

    The good news is that Washington is once again offseason champs. Free agency hasn’t even started yet, and Daniel Snyder has already made the biggest splash, hiring Mike Shanahan to be his new head coach.

  15. New York Giants (8-8) – Previously: 17.
    Final 5 Games:
    at Vikings, Lost 7-44
    vs. Panthers, Lost 9-41
    at Redskins, Won 45-12
    vs. Eagles, Lost 38-45
    vs. Cowboys, Won 31-24

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: I was surprised to see Jerry Reese walk away with this boom-or-bust draft class. Reese is usually a smart and safe drafter. I’m not knocking what the Giants did; it just surprised me. That said, JUCO defensive ends have a very dubious track record in the NFL, so Jason Pierre-Paul’s bust rate is incredibly high.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: I know several Cardinals fans. Their reaction to Antrel Rolle leaving: “Yes!!! Finally!!! No more blown coverages and missed tackles!!! Thank you, lord!!!”

    OK, just a SLIGHT exaggeration there. The bottom line: Rolle won’t fix New York’s secondary problems.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: The Giants didn’t feel the need to try hard in the final two weeks of the 2009 season, so I’m not going to try hard here either.

    I will say this though, it’s hard to believe that a team with such a dominant defensive line two years ago had so much trouble getting pressure on the quarterback this season. And if the players sincerely think the new defensive coordinator was to blame, then they’re mistaken. Osi Umenyiora has to stop whining and begin concentrating on football again, and someone needs to tell Justin Tuck to stop doing those awful Subway commercials with Michael Strahan.

  16. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) – Previously: 15.
    Final 5 Games:
    at Cowboys, Lost 14-34
    at Cowboys, Lost 0-24
    vs. Broncos, Won 30-27
    vs. 49ers, Won 27-13
    at Giants, Won 45-38

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: The Eagles lost to the Cowboys because they couldn’t get to Tony Romo and they couldn’t block for Donovan McNabb. First problem fixed. Second problem, not so much. DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff have to be thrilled by Philadelphia’s inability to find an upgrade up front. As my friend Drew, an Eagles fan, asked, “Hey fat a** (meaning Andy Reid), how about drafting a lineman in the second round instead of giving that pick to Dallas?”

    By the way, Awesome Kelly in Arizona texted me with a hilarious message when Reid was being interviewed by ESPN on Friday night: “All I hear coming out of Andy Reid’s mouth is, ‘NOM NOM NOM NOM.'” Awesome Kelly in Arizona is indeed awesome.

    APRIL 16 UPDATE: The Eagles have dropped in these power rankings because they traded away their best cornerback. As for their decision to deal Donovan McNabb to a divisional rival? Andy Reid explains: “Hem, hem… uhh… Donovan… uhh… wanted to go to Washington… hem, hem… if we traded him to Oakland… uhh… he said… hem, hem… he’d take my cheesesteaks away… hem, hem… uhh… time’s yours.”

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: Every Eagles fan I know is very frustrated right now. The team has yet to trade Donovan McNabb or QB Dog Killer. The Eagles released Will Witherspoon and Darren Howard only because they didn’t want to pay their bonuses. And the only sure-fire starter Philadelphia added this offseason was Darryl Tapp, who is great against the run, but had only 2.5 sacks last year. Marlin Jackson was also acquired, but he has missed 20 games in the past two seasons and is unreliable.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Some of the fans were angered when the Eagles signed QB Dog Killer. The rest of the fans were furious when the Eagles were blown out in consecutive weeks against the Cowboys. Mad Philadelphians? Never thought I’d see that.

    Moving forward, the Eagles must trade Donovan McNabb. He’ll be a free agent in March 2011, so this is their final chance to get something for him. They should be able to net a late first-rounder (Arizona), allowing Kevin Kolb to become the starting quarterback of this football team. A trade like that would work out for both parties; McNabb would finally be able to play in an offense that better suits his skills. He is not a natural West Coast signal-caller, and has been trapped in the wrong system for a decade.

  17. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) – Previously: 19.
    Troy Polamalu’s 4 Full Games:
    at Broncos, Won 28-10
    vs. Vikings, Won 27-17
    vs. Browns, Won 27-14
    vs. Titans, Won 13-10

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: Ben Roethlisberger will be out for six games at the very most. However, this doesn’t mean that Pittsburgh can’t make the playoffs. Even without Big Ben, the team is capable of beating the Browns and Buccaneers. So if they’re 2-4 after six contests, they’re not in terrible shape. If the Titans can come back from 0-6 to finish 8-8, the Steelers can definitely go from 2-4 to 10-6.

    APRIL 16 UPDATE: This team is falling apart. Ben Roethlisberger will be suspended and there’s no way he’s preparing for the 2010 season amid all of these allegations. Santonio Holmes was just traded. Hines Ward is threatening to retire after this season. A few months ago, I thought the Steelers had a great chance to reach Super Bowl XLV. That chance is gone.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: I had the Steelers No. 3 in my last update. So, why the big fall? In case you’ve been living under Rosie O’Donnell’s shadow, Ben Roethlisberger could be in big trouble for allegedly sexually assaulting some 20-year-old girl in Georgia. I’d make some joke about Big Ben’s sexual life, but South Park did a great job with that last week. Damn alien wizards causing sexual addiction.

    Even if Roethlisberger eludes prison time – and I doubt he’ll be locked up – he could still face punishment from the league. At the very best, it’s a huge distraction.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: I continuously ranked the Steelers too high in my 2009 NFL Power Rankings because I thought Troy Polamalu would eventually return to the lineup. And by looking at those four results above, you can tell what he meant to Pittsburgh’s defense. The Steelers allowed 13.8 points per game in Polamalu’s five starts (he left early in one of them.) When he was completely out of the lineup, that number rose to 23.2.

    As long as Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger and most of the other core guys are healthy next year, the Steelers should be back in Super Bowl contention.

    All in all, if 9-7 is a bad year for your franchise, you’re doing pretty well.

  18. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) – Previously: 18.
    Final 5 Real Games:
    vs. Jets, Lost 14-24
    vs. Chiefs, Won 17-10
    at Chargers, Lost 24-27
    at Vikings, Lost 10-30
    vs. Lions, Won 23-13

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: Is Carson Palmer done? Or did he just not have anyone to work with besides Chad Ochocinco last year? We’ll definitely find out in 2010. With Antonio Bryant, Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley added to the roster, there won’t be any more excuses.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: Not only is Chad Ochocinco appearing on Dancing with the Stars, he’ll also be hosting a dating show on VH1 this summer. I’d say these distractions would adversely affect the Bengals, but they’re used to these type of circus antics. They were featured on Hard Knocks and still made the playoffs, so this is no big deal.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: The Bengals suffered through the tragic loss of Chris Henry, but they were in a tailspin way before the receiver’s passing.

    Beginning with a loss at Oakland on Nov. 22, Cincinnati was outscored in its final eight games, 168-121 – and keep in mind, four of the final eight contests were against the Raiders, Browns, Lions and Chiefs!

    The Bengals already improved their receiving corps. They signed Matt Jones, so at the very worst, they can snort some cocaine to cheer them up after a loss.

  19. Tennessee Titans (8-8) – Previously: 11.
    Final 5 Games:
    at Seahawks, Won 17-13
    vs. Chargers, Lost 17-42
    vs. Dolphins, Won 27-24
    vs. Rams, Won 47-7
    at Colts, Lost 17-27

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: The Titans had a great draft, but the question remains: Can Vince Young lead this team deep into the playoffs? He came up awfully short in a crucial Christmas game against the Chargers, going 8-of-21 for 89 yards and two interceptions.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: Only one major signing this offseason, but it was a good one. Will Witherspoon is a great replacement for Keith Bulluck, who unfortunately tore his ACL at the end of the year. Unless they get a brutal early schedule like they did last season, they’ll be in the playoff hunt.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: The Titans deserve a lot of credit for battling back from 0-6 to finish 8-8. However, as Emmitt would say, “when push come to shovel, the Titan just couldn’t get over the hump day.” Tennessee faltered against the Chargers and Colts because their pass rush couldn’t get to the quarterback, which exposed the secondary, particularly Nick Harper.

  20. New England Patriots (10-6) – Previously: 14.
    Final 5 Games:
    vs. Ravens, Lost 14-33
    at Texans, Lost 27-34
    vs. Jaguars, Won 35-7
    at Bills, Won 17-10
    vs. Panthers, Won 20-10

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: With Wes Welker sidelined for a while, the Patriots did a good job acquiring weapons for Tom Brady in the 2010 NFL Draft. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are projected to contribute immediately, and Taylor Price is a nice long-term project who will play behind the recently signed Torry Holt. However, the pass rush will remain an issue if Jermaine Cunningham can’t contribute right away.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: Tom Brady is not at New England’s offseason conditioning program. Instead, he’s in California with his family.

    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend time with your family – especially if you have a supermodel wife – but this is not the Tom Brady we knew in the first half of the previous decade. That guy was a gym and film rat. He was the first one at the practice facility and the last one to leave. He was obsessed with winning; obsessed with proving everyone wrong for passing on him in the first five rounds of the 2000 NFL Draft.

    Now, Brady is more of a movie star than a football player. He’s dated supermodels and is now married to one. He’s posed for magazine covers. He’s expressed interest in being a politician. All of this is great for Tom Brady – but not for the Patriots.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: No one took 2009 seriously. Not even Bill Belichick. Belichick traded away Richard Seymour to the Raiders for a 2011 first-round pick (steal), so even he couldn’t have had much faith in the 2009 season. And how could he? With Tom Brady coming off that brutal knee injury and the defense rebuilding, the Patriots weren’t going to win the Super Bowl.

    Everything was going according to plan until Week 17 – when Wes Welker shredded his knee at Reliant Stadium. Even if Welker makes it back for the season opener, he won’t be 100 percent. And we’ve seen Brady struggle without his favorite weapon before.

  21. Atlanta Falcons (9-7) – Previously: 13.
    Matt Ryan’s Final 5 Full Games:
    at Buccaneers, Won 20-10
    vs. Bills, Won 31-3
    at Jets, Won 10-7
    at Giants, Lost 31-34
    at Panthers, Lost 19-28

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: In writing another article for USA Today about which non-playoff teams will be in the postseason in 2010, I came to fully realize how unfortunate the Falcons were in the injury department last year. I knew it was bad, but consider the following: Matt Ryan missed two games and most of a third. Michael Turner was out for five contests and hobbled for others. First-round pick Peria Jerry played in just the first two weeks of the season. Top cornerback Brian Williams stood on the sidelines for 11 games. Left tackle Sam Baker missed a pair of contests. Slot receiver Harry Douglas suffered a season-ending injury in August. And there’s more where that came from.

    If the Falcons can stay healthy this season, they definitely have a great chance to make the playoffs again.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: If the Falcons can find someone to get to the quarterback in the 2010 NFL Draft, they’re going to be a dangerous team next year. They already upgraded their biggest need (cornerback) by signing Dunta Robinson. Of course, there’s no guarantee Robinson will stay healthy; he has a dubious injury history.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Sophomore growing pains for Matt Ryan, but he should be able to move forward with a solid junior year. The Falcons were 9-5 in Ryan’s starts, and played pretty well in their final three road games. Atlanta has had trouble in a visiting role during Ryan’s brief career, so beating the Jets and Bucs, and taking the Giants to overtime was a good sign.

  22. Carolina Panthers (8-8) – Previously: 12.
    Final 5 Games:
    vs. Saints, Won 23-10
    at Giants, Won 41-9
    vs. Vikings, Won 26-7
    at Patriots, Lost 10-20
    vs. Buccaneers, Won 16-6

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: Who needs first-round picks when you can obtain franchise quarterbacks in the middle of the second round? The Panthers had Jimmy Clausen ranked in the top 15 of their big board, so it’s reasonable to guess that they would have picked him had they owned a mid first-round selection. Pretty insane.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: The Panthers will be one of my sleeper teams in 2010. Sure, Julius Peppers is gone, but who cares? Peppers took plays off and didn’t show up in big games. Carolina has Everette Brown, a first-round prospect a year ago, ready to step in at right defensive end.

    More importantly, Matt Moore finally brings some stability to the quarterback position. Good call by John Clayton, by the way, who said that Delhomme would be Carolina’s starter in 2010. Whoops.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: A quarterback can make all the difference. In 12 starts, Jake Delhomme was throwing interceptions left and right, trying desperately to get his son back from the evil kidnappers. At 4-7, the Panthers made the switch to Matt Moore, who was infinitely better. Carolina finished the year on a 4-1 run.

    I couldn’t believe my ears when John Clayton said that Delhomme would be the starter in 2010. I just don’t think John Fox would be that stupid. Consider the numbers:

    Delhomme starts: 4-7, 18.1 ppg, 322.1 yards/game, 1.6 INTs/game.
    Moore starts: 4-1, 23.2 ppg, 351.1 yards/game, 0.6 INTs/game.

    Yes, let’s go with Delhomme! He needs to get his son back!

    In all seriousness, I like the Panthers next year. They have the running game and the defense, all they need is a quarterback who can move the chains and take care of the football. Moore looks like he can be that guy.

  23. Houston Texans (9-7) – Previously: 10.
    Final 5 Games:
    vs. Patriots, Won 34-27
    at Dolphins, Won 27-20
    at Rams, Won 16-13
    vs. Seahawks, Won 34-7
    at Jaguars, Lost 18-23

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: I loved Michael Lombardi’s prediction that Ben Tate will be the Offensive Rookie of the Year by rushing for 1,500 yards. He’s definitely talented and a great fit for Houston’s offense. Plus, Steve Slaton is coming off a cervical fusion. If you’re a man, you just cringed. Don’t worry guys, it’s not what it sounds like.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: Dunta Robinson is gone, but he wasn’t reliable anyway. Wade Smith was the only offseason addition. He’s a solid interior lineman, but Houston needs more help at corner, free safety, running back and nose tackle. They’ll have to draft well.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: The Texans finished the season with a winning record for the first time in franchise history. However, it could have been a lot better. Two losses were the result of a Kris Brown missed field goal in the final seconds. Two more came because the Texans were stuffed at the 1-yard line. Another was the product of a Matt Schaub injury.

    If you think about it, Houston could have concluded the year with a 14-2 record. I know… woulda, coulda, shoulda, but the point is that this Texans team is very talented, and should be able to make a run at the playoffs in 2010.

  24. Miami Dolphins (7-9) – Previously: 7.
    Final 5 Games:
    vs. Steelers, Lost 24-30
    vs. Texans, Lost 20-27
    at Titans, Lost 24-27
    at Jaguars, Won 14-10
    vs. Patriots, Won 22-21

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: I feel like the Dolphins are underrated right now. Everyone is talking about how awesome the Jets are (and deservedly so) or how much better Tom Brady will be with his new weapons, but no one seems to be mentioning the Dolphins as possible division champions. I’ll be looking forward to betting on Miami early in the season. Man, I love being a degenerate gambler.

    APRIL 16 UPDATE: I love the Brandon Marshall trade for the Dolphins. Chad Henne has a big arm, but lacked experience and a legitimate No. 1 receiver last year. The only question is whether or not Marshall can make the adjustment from Kyle Orton’s girly tosses to Henne’s manly throws. It’ll probably take Marshall a month to get used to the switch.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: Karlos Dansby is a huge upgrade for this defense, and Chad Henne will only be better in his second year as a starter. Let’s just hope the Dolphins don’t screw me over again by blowing huge leads as big home underdogs again.

    Great job by Henne, by the way, for making his opinion of Tim Tebow known to the public. Once Henne’s NFL career is over, maybe he can replace Todd McShay as Mel Kiper’s nemesis on ESPN. By that time, McShay’s skin may actually be dark purple.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Miami’s search for Dan Marino’s successor is over. At least I think so. Sure, Chad Henne was inconsistent at times last year, but what first-year quarterback isn’t?

    Henne was great down the stretch. Look at the numbers in his final games: 130-of-202 (64.4%), 1,366 yards (6.8 YPA), 5 TDs, 7 INTs. The interceptions make that look bad, and Henne did make dumb throws on occasion, but remember that he was a first-year starting quarterback playing without his best offensive weapon (Ronnie Brown) and throwing to a bunch of mediocre receivers.

    For the first time in a while, Miami’s major issues are on defense; the team allowed 23 points or more on 11 occasions. The entire linebacking corps needs to be reworked.

  25. Green Bay Packers (11-5) – Previously: 8.
    Final 5 Real Games:
    at Cardinals, Lost 45-51
    vs. Seahawks, Won 48-10
    at Steelers, Lost 36-37
    at Bears, Won 21-14
    vs. Ravens, Won 27-14

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: Loved the Bryan Bulaga pick. He looks like a guy who hunts large game, eats raw meat and goes into bars just to beat people up. I’d want him protecting my franchise quarterback.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: The only thing that happened to the Packers this offseason was losing Aaron Kampman to the Jaguars, but Kampman didn’t really have a spot in this 3-4 defense, so that doesn’t really matter.

    As for this ranking, I had a tough time deciding whether to list Green Bay or Minnesota higher in these 2010 NFL Power Rankings. Though the Packers were a much better team in the second half of the 2009 season, the fact remains that the Vikings swept them. So I really can’t justify ranking Green Bay over Minnesota until the former wins a game over the latter.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Lots to like here: A quarterback who entered elite status last year and has tons of weapons; an offensive line that improved in the second half of the season that will surely see an upgrade this offseason; a defense becoming more comfortable with the 3-4; and lots of momentum after a 7-2 finish. Assuming they do the right things this spring, the Packers are going to be very difficult to beat in 2010.

  26. Dallas Cowboys (11-5) – Previously: 9.
    Final 5 Games:
    at Vikings, Lost 3-34
    vs. Eagles, Won 34-14
    vs. Eagles, Won 24-0
    at Redskins, Won 17-0
    at Saints, Won 24-17

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: NFC East defensive coordinators crapped their pants when the Cowboys obtained Dez Bryant. How are they going to cover everyone? With Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten running routes, Tony Romo is going to have a blast this season.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: The Cowboys neither signed anyone nor lost anyone to free agency, so not much to say here. It was very confusing, however, to see Wade Phillips’ expression at the Combine. During the drills, an NFL Network panel panned to Wade, who looked completely bored. It was the first time in years that I’ve seen Wade not look utterly confused by the situation.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: I posted the following about Wade Phillips in my 2010 NFL Offseason Needs pages: “Wade Phillips is a joke. The Cowboys can’t be considered serious Super Bowl contenders until they find a real head coach.”

    I thought I would get support from Cowboys fans for this statement. Some e-mails like, “You’re right man. Wade Phillips and his 10 chins suck!” Instead, I received about a dozen e-mails from people defending Mr. Turkey Neck.

    I don’t get it. If Dallas fans want to stick with their clueless, bumbling coach who chokes under pressure, then whatever. But I stand by what I said. I don’t think the Cowboys are a Super Bowl contender with Phillips looking confused on the sideline during an important game. But if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

  27. Minnesota Vikings (12-4) – Previously: 6.
    Final 5 Games:
    at Saints, Lost 28-31
    vs. Cowboys, Won 34-3
    vs. Giants, Won 44-7
    at Bears, Lost 30-36
    at Panthers, Lost 7-26

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: From my 2010 NFL Draft Grades, only because Chris Berman repeatedly mentioned why the Vikings wouldn’t pick Jimmy Clausen:

    My only qualm with Minnesota’s draft is that the team passed up on Jimmy Clausen. I know, I know, other teams did too, but it seems like the Vikings’ sole reason for doing this was because they didn’t want to offend Brett Favre. I understand that Favre is fickle, but Brad Childress should have just said, “Brett, this is your job for as long as you want it. We won’t even consider putting the kid in until you decide it’s time to retire. If you’re still playing and his contract is coming up, we’ll trade him. You’re our guy.”

    Favre will probably come back, but what if he suddenly decides that he won’t? The Vikings would then be screwed as opposed to having a great backup option in Clausen.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: The Vikings are secretly very fortunate that they couldn’t land LaDainian Tomlinson. After all, Tomlinson could have taught Adrian Peterson everything he knows about pouting on the sideline when he’s not getting the ball enough.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Why even bother? We all know the Vikings are going to make it deep into the playoffs, outplay the other team, and find some insane way to lose again. Minnesota fans are sadly nodding their heads.

    I have the Vikings a bit low in my initial 2010 NFL Power Rankings because of Brett Favre. Favre was outstanding last season, but he turns 41 in October. How long can he keep playing at a high level? I know I said the same thing last offseason, but at some point, there has to be a sharp decline in Favre’s production, right?

  28. San Diego Chargers (13-3) – Previously: 5.
    Final 5 Real Games:
    vs. Jets, Lost 14-17
    at Titans, Won 42-17
    vs. Bengals, Won 27-24
    at Cowboys, Won 20-17
    at Browns, Won 30-23

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: I mentioned Ben Tate’s fantasy outlook earlier. I also love Ryan Mathews this year. LaDainian Tomlinson dived into a pile repeatedly for 2-yard gains last year, and yet he was a good fantasy back because he scored 10 touchdowns. Some don’t like Mathews, but even they would acknowledge that he can’t possibly be worse than Tomlinson was in 2009. I’ll have rookie fantasy rankings up in my 2010 Fantasy Football Rankings section soon.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: San Diego’s prominent free agents next offseason: Darren Sproles, Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates, Marcus McNeill, Shawne Merriman, Stephen Cooper and Eric Weddle.

    Translation: If the Chargers choke again next January, they’re screwed for good.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Before Nate Kaeding missed all three of his field goals against the Jets, a CBS camera panned to him on the sideline. His face was pale, and he looked like he was overdosing on some of Matt Jones’ drugs. I said to myself, “There’s no way he’s making any long field goals today.” Sure enough, Kaeding choked the game away.

    The Chargers as a whole didn’t play well, so it’s tough to blame one guy. But still, if Kaeding hits his two easy kicks, San Diego moves on to the AFC Championship, where they probably lose to the Colts because of more missed Kaeding field goals.

  29. Baltimore Ravens (9-7) – Previously: 4.
    Final 5 Games:
    at Colts, Lost 3-20
    at Patriots, Won 33-14
    at Raiders, Won 21-13
    at Steelers, Lost 20-23
    vs. Bears, Won 31-7

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: Joe Flacco goes from having Derrick Mason and crap, to Mason, Anquan Boldin, Donte’ Stallworth, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. Oh, and let’s not forget that Ray Rice is coming out of the backfield. I can’t remember a Ravens offense looking this good on paper; it certainly makes the Kyle Boller, Chris Redman era seem like it occurred decades ago.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: A healthy Joe Flacco will be better in his third season, and now he has a dynamic receiver to throw to in Anquan Boldin. That means Baltimore will have a pretty lethal offense to go along with their defense. Scary.

    I still don’t get how the Ravens were able to steal Boldin away for third- and fourth-round picks. Couldn’t the Cardinals have obtained a second-rounder from someone? Why didn’t a team like the Patriots, Bengals or Cowboys give up a second-round selection for Boldin? Do teams not like awesome receivers?

    FEB 21 UPDATE: The Ravens were secretly a very good team all year, so it didn’t shock me at all that they destroyed the Patriots in the opening round of the playoffs. Conversely, they led the NFL in penalties, so it didn’t shock me at all either that they continuously shot themselves in the foot at Indianapolis the following weekend.

    Why were the Ravens secretly good? Five of their seven regular-season losses came by 3, 2, 2, 3 and 6 points – and the teams they lost those games to had a combined 55-25 record.

    Furthermore, Joe Flacco was hurt late in the year. If he stays healthy in 2010 and the front office provides him with a new No. 1 receiver and an upgrade at tight end, this Baltimore team could go the distance.

  30. New York Jets (9-7) – Previously: 3.
    Final 5 Real Games:
    at Colts, Lost 17-30
    at Chargers, Won 17-14
    at Bengals, Won 24-14
    vs. Falcons, Lost 7-10
    at Buccaneers, Won 26-3

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: The Jets came away with great prospects this April, and the best part is that with Kyle Wilson on the team, New York fans won’t have to worry about Antonio Cromartie intentionally whiffing on too many tackles. If he plays like he did in that second-round postseason game in January, he won’t be on the field much.

    And by the way, Kudos to Rex Ryan for dropping 2,000 pounds and actually looking like a single human being for a change.

    APRIL 16 UPDATE: Santonio Holmes for a 5th-round pick? I know Holmes is suspended for the first four games of the year, but there should be 30 NFL fan bases (excluding the Jets and Steelers) wondering why their team didn’t acquire Holmes for a 4th-rounder. Mark Sanchez now has four great weapons to work with – Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery (now coming out of the slot) and Dustin Keller. Oh, and don’t forget Shonn Greene, Leon Washington and that outstanding offensive line. This Jets team is really scary.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: Antonio Cromartie is a bum who doesn’t like to tackle. Most Jets fans are optimistic though; they believe that if Rex Ryan can motivate Cromartie, their team will have two shutdown corners. Yeah, OK. And if my grandmom had three wheels, she’d be a tricycle.

    I’m not a fan of Cromartie, but I like the Brodney Pool signing. Pool has a dubious concussion history, but if he can stay healthy, he’ll be a major upgrade over Kerry Rhodes at free safety. And this, I think, is more realistic than the Cromartie conditional statement.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: I really like this Jets team. What’s scary is that Mark Sanchez and the offense as a whole will continue to improve as the defense stays dominant. If the front office can acquire some pass-rushers through the 2010 NFL Draft – I currently have them taking Jerry Hughes in my 2010 NFL Mock Draft – the Jets should be considered one of the Super Bowl XLV favorites.

  31. New Orleans Saints (13-3) – Previously: 1.
    Super Bowl Run:
    vs. Colts, Won 31-17
    vs. Vikings, Won 31-28
    vs. Cardinals, Won 45-14

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: I’m moving the Saints down a spot only because Drew Brees is on the cover of Madden 11. Why was he so happy in that commercial when he found out he would be the cover boy? I would have freaked out, punched my agent and jumped out of the building to elude the Madden Curse.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: The Saints haven’t signed anyone, and they lost only Scott Fujita, so they’ll have the same team that won the Super Bowl. Two challenges remain: Having the same sort of focus they maintained during the 2009 season, and fending off the Panthers, Falcons and Buccaneers, all of whom figure to be better in 2010 than they were last year.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Years ago, no one would have ever imagined the Saints winning the Super Bowl. An e-mail from David K.:

    Wow. New Orleans picking 32nd. I got down to the bottom of Round 1 of your 2010 NFL Mock Draft and saw the fleur-de-lis and did a double take for how out of place it looked. Yes I watched the Saints raise the trophy but still, after 20-plus years of following the draft, something “Pirates and Indians leading their divisions at the all-star break”-like comes to mind as though I might never see this moment again. Will we ever see a Jaguar, Lion or Buffalo at that spot? Jags and Bills will go extinct and the Lions will never rise to the occasion.

    Great job, Saints. Now let’s see if you can be the first repeat champion since the 2003-04 Patriots.

  32. Indianapolis Colts (14-2) – Previously: 2.
    Super Bowl Run:
    vs. Saints, Lost 17-31
    vs. Jets, Won 30-17
    vs. Ravens, Won 20-3

    APRIL 27 UPDATE: I still can’t believe the Colts landed the consensus No. 1 pure pass-rusher at No. 31 overall. It’s ridiculous how stupid some of these NFL teams are. As I wrote in my 2010 NFL Draft Blog, Roger Goodell should just reverse the order and have the good teams pick first because they end up getting the best players anyway.

    MARCH 22 UPDATE: Indianapolis’ offseason check list:

    1. Re-sign inside linebacker Gary Brackett. Check.
    2. Secure more commercials for Peyton Manning. Check.
    3. Not sign any overpaid players in free agency like some of the less successful teams in the NFL. Check.

    The Colts, Steelers, etc. know exactly how to handle free agency. The front offices of teams that constantly draft in the top 12 should take note.

    FEB 21 UPDATE: Indianapolis’ only key unrestricted free agent is Gary Brackett, who was a major part of the defense’s improvement. Re-signing Brackett will be important, but ultimately, as long as a healthy No. 18 is under center, the Colts will be a Super Bowl contender.

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 12

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 9

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12

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