1. Colts– They have the best pass rusher in the draft in Jerry Hughes and they have resigned Gary Brackett. They still have Manning and a slew of weapons on offense. Favorites in Vegas.
2. Saints– Pretty much the same team that won the Super Bowl. Two things are working against them: the Super Bowl Hangover and Drew Brees on the cover of Madden. I would like to drop them lower for these reasons, but I simply can’t.
3. Packers– This team has it all going for them. If the O-line can keep Rogers upright, then this team should make a lot of noise.
4. Ravens– Adding Bolden to Flacco and an improved Ray Rice to go along with that defense… wow! Could be another special season in B’more.
5. Jets– They should be the most exciting team and deserve this ranking, statistically, at least. However, my gut feeling tells me this is way too high and the wheels will derail the Jet train. Cohesion in the locker room goes a long way and the Jets appear to have completely ignored this. Oddly, the players appear to love playing for Ryan. The Jets have talent, but the Achilles heel in the locker room is for real.
6. Chargers– As long as Ryan Matthews can be half of what L.T. was circa 2006, this team should go places. Just keep Vincent Jackson away from the bars.
7. Vikings– This ranking is with Favre. Without him they fall about 10 spots. This team is loaded once again.
8. Cowboys– Just like with the Jets and Chargers, on paper, they rock. They finally won a playoff game now it’s time to go a step or two further.
9. Patriots– The Welker situation hurts, but they still keep plugging along. Look for the Brady and Moss of two years ago, as both should be healthy. Moss is also in a contract year.
10. Texans– After years of knocking on the door of the playoffs, Houston finally gets through. Getting through the Colts’ door is another matter. A healthy passing game and potential rookie of the year in Ben Tate keeps the Texans in every game.
11. Falcons– They were riddled with injuries last year and they still managed nine wins. If they can remain healthy, they will make the playoffs and move up in the rankings, possibly challenging the Saints in the NFC South.
12. Dolphins– I’m really high on the Dolphins and had the urge to put them even higher. The AFC East is brutal this year as three teams are legitimate playoff contenders. If Brown stays healthy and Chad Henne plays like he did at the end of the season, then look out!
13. Panthers– Losing Peppers isn’t as bad as some think. Name a big game when he showed up? Really. They will continue to bludgeon people to death running the ball and Matt Moore is an upgrade over Jake Delhomme.
14. 49ers– Someone has to win the NFC West, right? I really didn’t know what to do with them. They are putting the pieces in place to make some noise. It’s just that Alex Smith scares the crap out of me. They could have a sparkling record as they have a very favorable schedule.
15. Titans– As with Alex Smith, Vince Young and his immaturity bother me, although he has proven to be a winner. With Chris Johnson’s holding out, anyone can get to the quarterback.
16. Giants– This roster has way too much talent to be down here. Hopefully the change in defensive coordinators helps. Something is innately wrong with this team.
17. Cardinals– Goodbye Kurt Warner and goodbye to the Cardinals in the playoffs. Losing Carlos Dansby, their best defensive player, doesn’t help either. This team is a prime candidate for a disappointing season.
18. Cleveland– Here is my biggest surprise when I went through and picked every game. They have a favorable schedule and played their tails off at the end of the year. Regular season finales make things happen. The Browns will come through this year.
19. Jaguars– Zero passing game, Mighty Mouse can’t do it all. How they missed on Tim Tebow is beyond me. This team is short-lived in Jacksonville. Horrible offseason. Maurice Jones-Drew deserves so much better.
20. Steelers– Prime candidate number one for a disappointing season right here. The offensive line is still a question mark. Their quarterback divided the locker room and they traded their best WR. People are picking them to be good on name alone. This team was a disappointment as they gave up down the stretch.
21. Raiders– Here is another team that will play better. Jason Campbell isn’t a Pro Bowler but he will seem like one compared to JaMarcus Russell. Once they figure out Darren McFadden is a stiff, they should be able to run the ball with Michael Bush and the defense will be better than expected.
22. Eagles– they will miss Donovan McNabb more than anyone wants to admit. They can’t run, block, or pass block. They proved this with their collapse at the end of the season. The defense isn’t what it used to be. Andy Reid’s days in Philly are numbered and their door for any chance of success is completely nailed shut.
23. Redskins– Washington fans will happily take a couple of wins that McNabb will be good for. Santana Moss will also benefit from finally having a decent QB for once. With the rest of the team, Shanahan still has a lot of work to do around the beltway.
24. Bengals– I think Palmer is done and I think OchoCinco is pondering his next career. I know the Bengals can never put two quality seasons together and always tend to disappoint. This is a total hunch of a pick.
25. Bears– Some people are high on the Bears this year. I’m obviously not one of them. Cutler has a great chance of setting the interception and sack record this year. That’s if he doesn’t wind up in a body cast. Overpaying for Peppers was a desperation move. Pay a man who is known for slacking and give him a truckload of cash. This does not bode well.
26. Broncos– What is going on in Denver? First Cutler, then Marshall, and now Dumerville? If they insist on trading and refusing to pay their best players there is going to be a revolt in that locker room. Losing four of your last five… Then drafting Tebow in the first round. I have no idea what McDaniels is doing, but perhaps he thinks he knows something the rest of the league doesn’t…
27. Lions– Detroit games could be like a basketball game this year. They should be much improved and be able to score. The only problem is they won’t be able to stop anyone either.
28. Buccaneers– They played better at the end of the year, they had a nice offseason and they have a franchise QB. Hopefully the D keep up the solid effort with the new editions and Josh Freeman can get a little consistency. They still have too many malcontents in the locker room and are still at least a year away from doing anything of significance.
29. Chiefs– I can’t believe I have three teams lower than KC. Guess I want to have room to move them down as the season goes on. Enjoy Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry. The rest of the team is devoid of talent. What are this front office and coaching staff doing?
30. Seahawks– They could interchange with the two teams below them but they are above them because they had the best draft. They have decent linebackers but Seattle lacks talent across the board and just doesn’t feel like or resemble a team.
31. Bills– When I went through the schedule I had a really hard time finding a win for this team. No line, no QB, buy hey, we have three RBs!!! Maybe they can steal a win in a blizzard at the end of the year.
32. Rams– I feel sorry for Stephen Jackson. ZERO talent around him and the top pick sits for a year. Thanks for the help guys! Like my mom always said if you don’t have anything nice to say about something…