September 4, 2011

2011 NFL Power Rankings (Preseason Rankings)

Ranking the NFL teams from No. 1 to No. 32 is never an easy task, but here at Bang the Book, we’re keying in on all 32 teams in NFL betting action this year. Check out how the teams rank before Week 1 of the season!

1: Green Bay Packers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – It’s hard to really see the Packers falling too far this year, knowing that they are returning the majority of their team. DC Dom Capers is one of the most underappreciated minds in the game, and he has the pieces of the puzzle to make QB Aaron Rodgers and his offense look even better than they already are.

2: New England Patriots (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – The Pats are no joke this year, but they are going to need to become a tougher team mentally to make the Super Bowl again. Cutting S Brandon Merriweather made no sense whatsoever, but we aren’t ones to question Head Coach Bill Belichick and his genius mind. QB Tom Brady is ready to have another great season this year.

3: Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – What’s there to not like about the Steelers? QB Ben Roethlisberger is definitely a Super Bowl caliber QB, and he has the running game and the weapons in the passing game to make them all stand up. Even better is that defense, which is always one of the best in the league. S Troy Polamalu looks healthy as could be, and that’s bad news for the rest of the offenses in the AFC North.

4: Philadelphia Eagles (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – Are the Eagles overhyped this season? Not if QB Michael Vick stays upright they aren’t! This defense was really lacking a second corner to complement DB Asante Samuel, and it picked up two of the best in the league with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha. This team has the ability to score 500 points this year, and if that’s the case, the ‘D’ will make that mark stand up.

5: Atlanta Falcons (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – Is this the Greatest Show on Turf take two? QB Matt Ryan thinks so, and for good reason. Between himself, RB Michael Turner, WR Roddy White, TE Tony Gonzalez, and WR Julio Jones, there might not be enough corners on a team to cover all these guys. The defense has its questions, but there is no doubt that playing this team at the Georgia Dome isn’t going to be fun at all, all season long.

6: Baltimore Ravens (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – The Ravens seemingly fall just short of the Steelers every single season, and this year might not be an exception. You’d hate to say that a Week 1 game is a must-win, but to win the AFC North, beating Pittsburgh in Baltimore might be a necessity. Picking up FB Vonta Leach was one of the most signings you probably didn’t hear much about in the offseason. RB Ray Rice could amass well over 2,000 all purpose yards this year.

7: New Orleans Saints (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – New Orleans was good enough to win the Super Bowl again last season, but it really overlooked the Seahawks and just never had a chance of scoring enough points to keep up with what the defense gave up. There weren’t many changes this year for Head Coach Sean Payton and company, but adding RB Mark Ingram in the first round of the NFL Draft was a coup, even if RB Reggie Bush’s years as a bust in the Bayou are now over with.

8: Dallas Cowboys (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – This might be a tad high for a team that didn’t make the playoffs last season, but we know that having QB Tony Romo in the fold is significantly better than not having him there. Romo should have a field day getting the ball to WRs Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, and TE Jason Witten is 100 catches waiting to happen. Is the defense there yet? Maybe not quite, but the offense is good enough to pull off some magic in “Big D.”

9: New York Jets (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – The Jets have played in back to back AFC Championship Games, but that doesn’t mean that they’re good enough to make it three in a row. QB Mark Sanchez lost three of his best receivers in the offseason, and the team seemed to miss on basically every big free agent out there. Head Coach Rex Ryan has his work cut out for him just to make the playoffs this year.

10: Houston Texans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – And this team might be why. Houston might finally be on its way to the playoffs this year, and we have it checking in as the best team in the AFC South to start the season. Adding DB Danieal Manning and DB Johnathan Joseph was incredibly important for a secondary that resembled Swiss cheese a season ago, and new DC Wade Phillips won’t let this unit rank in the bottom third of the league like it has ever since Head Coach Gary Kubiak took over.

11: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – The Bucs took some tremendous leaps in the right direction this past season, nearly getting into the playoffs. This year, there are still those two given wins against the Panthers, but the rest of the schedule is tough as could be. Still, we like the chances for QB Josh Freeman and company to at least challenge for a postseason bid once again, though we think they’ll fall just short.

12: Indianapolis Colts (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – Have the Colts had it? QB Peyton Manning is dealing with a neck injury, and it’s anyone’s guess whether he’ll play in Week 1 or not. This offense could still be lethal with him in there, but the rest of this team is just not good at all. Indy will be lucky to make the playoffs this year, just like the…

13: San Diego Chargers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – … Bolts… Sorry, San Diego fans. You’re just not that good this year. QB Philip Rivers is great, and he’s got a great receiver in Vincent Jackson and a tight end in Antonio Gates, but just like Manning, that’s about all that he has to bring to the table. The defense for the Bolts was lackluster at times, especially down the stretch in games, and a similar performance this year will once again keep this team home from the playoffs. It’s the best team in the AFC West, but we’ve been saying that for years…

14: New York Giants (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – The G-Men won 10 games last year and missed out on the playoffs, but they are awfully thin in the secondary now that first round draft choice, DB Prince Amukamara broke his ankle. QB Eli Manning might have one of these bizarre seasons in which he throws at least 30 TDs and at least 20 picks, but it might not be enough to save Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s job.

15: Chicago Bears (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – Picking up a pair of Dallas rejects in WR Roy Williams and RB Marion Barber isn’t going to help this team out all that much. QB Jay Cutler’s little crying act on the sidelines in the NFC Championship Game won’t do anything to endear him to the Chicago media. Don’t be shocked if the Bears take a huge step backwards this year and barely even challenge the .500 mark.

16: Kansas City Chiefs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – We’re just not really believers in the Chiefs this year. QB Matt Cassel was incredibly efficient a year ago, but the man tutoring him, OC Charlie Weis is now with the Florida Gators. If the defense for Head Coach Todd Haley can hold teams down to 326 points again this year, this will be the division winner. If not, it’ll be a long season.

17: Detroit Lions (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – On paper, Detroit is a playoff team this year. However, on paper, QB Matt Stafford plays a 16 game season and DT Ndamukong Suh doesn’t get cut block by an angry offensive lineman who just had his quarterback sandwiched into the turf. This team has a great mean streak about it, and it’ll get there eventually. Detroit is still one year away, though.

18: St. Louis Rams (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – The NFC West finally makes a cameo appearance at No. 18 in our poll this year. QB Sam Bradford could be poised to take that jump to the elite status of NFL quarterbacks, especially with Josh McDaniels running the show now. The defense isn’t there yet, but it’s getting there. The rest of the NFC West doesn’t have much direction, but at least St. Louis is headed the right way.

19: Oakland Raiders (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – Does anyone realize that the Raiders finished .500 last season? QB Jason Campbell is back for a second year, and for a change, he should be running the same offense. Head Coach Hue Jackson knows that his team has a problem replacing the departed DB Nnamdi Asomugha, but things could be worse in the Black Hole.

20: Cleveland Browns (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – The Browns are another one of these teams that is definitely moving in the right direction. QB Colt McCoy will be significantly better in Year 2 than he was as a rookie, and his West Coast offense might turn out some more wins than people think. It’s just too bad that this team already has at least three, and probably four losses coming between the Ravens and Steelers.

21: Minnesota Vikings (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – Things can’t possibly get any worse this year for the Vikes than they were a year ago. QB Donovan McNabb probably isn’t throwing 19 picks like QB Brett Favre did, and the Metrodome probably isn’t collapsing under the weight of a bunch of snow. One thing is for sure, and that’s that RB Adrian Peterson is surely going to be in for another monster year.

22: Seattle Seahawks (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – Head Coach Pete Carroll got the Hawks in the playoffs last year, but finishing .500 would be a reasonable goal again. QB Tarvaris Jackson and WR Sidney Rice both came over from the Vikes, and there are high expectations for both men for an offense that needed a lot of work from last year.

23: Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – The Jags reached a ton to get QB Blaine Gabbert in this year’s NFL Draft, and we just aren’t so sure why they did it. QB David Garrard was at least competent under center, and there are just so many more needs for this team than that. This was a .500 team, but Jacksonville will be lucky to even come close to saying that this year.

24: Denver Broncos (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – Call us crazy, but we think that the Broncos could possibly be the real deal this year. Head Coach John Fox is pushing some of the right buttons, and drafting LB Von Miller will help out dramatically. This team shouldn’t have been 4-12 bad last season, but Head Coach Josh McDaniels had lost the squad. Fox won’t lose control and should right the ship. 8-8 is an attainable goal.

25: Arizona Cardinals (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – This team is a huge wild card this year. The Cards might have a quarterback this year with QB Kevin Kolb, and that might make this offense awfully frightening. Still, the rest of the team just looks pretty darn bad, especially since the ‘D’ gave up its best player in DB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. We do love drafting DB Patrick Peterson, but it doesn’t make up for the losses just to get Kolb.

26: Miami Dolphins (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – Miami thinks that it is a playoff team this year. We don’t. The Fins, in fact, will be competitors for that No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft and the right to draft QB Andrew Luck. QB Chad Henne and Head Coach Tony Sparano have seen the end of their time in South Beach, as a 4-12 or 5-11 season just won’t be good enough to keep either one around in 2012.

27: San Francisco 49ers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – Every year is supposed to be the year that the Niners return to respectability, but it just isn’t happening any time soon. QB Colin Kaepernick will take this team over eventually, as QB Alex Smith isn’t one of the best 35 quarterbacks in the league. The defense has been vastly overrated for years. Struggling to score 300 points again won’t cut it. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh probably will wish that he stayed at Stanford like QB Andrew Luck did.

28: Carolina Panthers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – The Panthers aren’t going to be as brutal as they were last year, even though we don’t think the QB Cam Newton experience is ready to take off quite yet. If nothing else, RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are healthy, and both could be 1,000+ yard backs.

29: Tennessee Titans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – You reach that far to take QB Jake Locker, you get what you’ve got coming to you. Tennessee is going the wrong direction and is in a lot of trouble. About the only bright spot is that RB Chris Johnson’s holdout didn’t cost him any games. Goodness knows what type of ill will it caused in the locker room, though.

30: Washington Redskins (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – All this team needs is a quarterback, a running back, and a few wide receivers, and it’ll have a strong offense! Neither side of the ball is all that great for Head Coach Mike Shanahan and company, and there is no doubt in our minds that his team is going to end up finishing as one of the worst in the NFC. QB John Beck and QB Rex Grossman don’t cut it.

31: Buffalo Bills (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – We agree with the Bills that they shouldn’t have drafted a quarterback this year in the NFL Draft to give QB Ryan Fitzpatrick a chance, but we also know that it probably only made for a longer season in 2011. This team will be able to snare QB Andrew Luck next year though, and it’ll all work out in the end.

32: Cincinnati Bengals (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) – The Bengals are bad… really, really bad. QB Carson Palmer retired on them because he was tired of playing for such a dilapidated franchise, and we can’t blame him. QB Andy Dalton has now gotten thrown into the mix at quarterback, and he’s just not ready for this. This team is just too young right now and cannot be trusted, and we just don’t see where more than maybe three wins are coming from.

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Adam Markowitz

is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.

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