2011 NFL Power Rankings – Preseason/Week 1

NFL Power Rankings 2011 Pre 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Playoffs

We’re back! It’s a matter of hours until the 2011 season kicks off in Green Bay. Because of the lockout-shortened preseason, we’ve still got a lot of unanswered questions about these teams, but that should make for a fun season. Without further ado:

Rank Team Comment
1 Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers is no longer Brett Favre’s replacement but now one of the best QBs in the league. The Packers are bringing back most of their key players plus have some others back from injuries and look poised to defend their title.
2 New England Patriots With the additions of Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth, and Shaun Ellis to a team that went 14-2 last season, expectations are high. However, the window may be closing soon on Super Bowl hopes with playoff futility becoming a New England trademark in recent seasons.
3 Pittsburgh Steelers The Steelers have failed to make the playoffs in the seasons following their last two Super Bowl appearances. They’ll hope to reverse that trend in 2011 with a full season of Ben Roethlisberger.
4 Philadelphia Eagles The Eagles made a lot of noise this offseason, trading Kevin Kolb, bringing in Nnamdi Asomugha, and signing Michael Vick to a huge extension. They’ll be considered favorites to win the division by many, but questions remain about whether or not the defense can gel and, more importantly, whether Vick can stay healthy for a full season.
5 Atlanta Falcons The Falcons entered the playoffs last year with home field advantage and all the momentum in the world. They then got clowned by the Packers by 33 points in the second round. Despite that, the Falcons are still one of the most talented teams in the NFC and should be contending for home field advantage once again.
6 Baltimore Ravens The Ravens shook things up this offseason, cutting veterans like Todd Heap and Derrick Mason, and bringing in youth through the draft and via trades for players like Lee Evans. Clearly, they’re turning the team over to Joe Flacco, and with a defense that’s aging the team will succeed or fail along with him.
7 New Orleans Saints The Saints had a hugely disappointing end to their season, but come into this year looking to regain their Super Bowl form of high octane offense. Drew Brees organized some of the team during the lockout, and that extra preparation should help (at least early in the season).
8 New York Jets One year removed from an offseason where the Jets set the NFL on fire with their acquisitions, coming out of the lockout has New York’s AFC team as a bit of a question mark. Two consecutive AFC Championship Game berths is impressive with a young quarterback, but it’s still short of the team’s lofty goal of the Lombardi Trophy.
9 San Diego Chargers After dealing with a slew of injuries in 2010, Phillip Rivers and company will hope to get back to playoff form in 2011. If they can establish some consistency, they should have no problem winning the AFC West.
10 Indianapolis Colts The status of Peyton Manning’s neck will have Colts fans in fits as they wait for the start of their Week 1 game against Houston. If Manning cannot go–or plays and is anything less than his usual self–then the Colts may be fighting more to stay out of the AFC South cellar than to make the playoffs.
11 Tampa Bay Bucs Despite winning 10 games last year, the Bucs missed the playoffs. QB Josh Freeman is one of the better young QBs, and in a league that is so QB driven, it’s not a bad place for the Bucs to be.
12 New York Giants If Eil Manning can cut down on his interceptions (25 last year), the Giants should be able to put some points on the board. Combine that with a traditionally solid defense, and the Giants should be in the mix for another division title.
13 Dallas Cowboys The Cowboys should have a potent offense this season if they can keep everyone healthy. New head coach Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will hope to make improvements on both side of the ball and contend in what looks like a tough division.
14 Houston Texans Major questions surround last year’s surprise at running back, Arian Foster. If he can be healthy and put in quality time for Houston, this might (finally) be the year that the Texans live up to media-projected potential and make the playoffs.
15 St. Louis Rams Out of all of last year’s surprise teams, the Rams had to be the most surprising going from 1 win the prior year to just missing out on the playoffs the next. Sam Bradford looks like the real deal and if the Rams can get some good play out of their D, they could easily win this division.
16 Chicago Bears The Bears surprised a lot of people last year by getting to the NFC title game and only lost to a hot Green Bay team by 7 points. Cutler was essentially murdered for his collapse/quit in that game, but a lot of that seemed quite unwarranted but he’ll have to have a great year to get the Bears back to the playoffs, let alone the NFC title game.
17 Detroit Lions The buzz coming out of Detroit is loud this year and Lions fans have an intimidating defense to get behind. If the Lions can have QB Matthew Stafford healthy for a full year, you might see the Lions in the playoffs (and I’m not talking about in your Madden franchise).
18 Tennessee Titans With Chris Johnson temporarily satisfied and upgrades at the quarterback position through veteran Matt Hasselbeck and rookie Jake Locker, the Titans could see their fortunes improve this season. Hard to be too giddy about overpaying a player in one of the game’s more fragile positions.
19 Arizona Cardinals Arizona had two goals for the offseason, a) get a new/good QB in order to b) entice Larry Fitzgerald to sign an extension. Both things happened, although Kolb is far from a sure thing considering his limited starting experience. He’s in the perfect division, however, to make things happen as the NFC West was a season long joke last year.
20 Minnesota Vikings As the Vikings usher in another “senior” QB, a lot of questions surround this team. Having Adrian Peterson in their backfield always helps, but if the defense doesn’t return to it’s 2009-10 form, it could be a long season in what looks to be a tough division.
21 Cleveland Browns The Browns look like a team on the rise, with young quarterback Colt McCoy leading the way. They’ll hope to improve on last year’s 5-11 mark, but it will be hard for them to compete with perennial contenders in the Ravens and Steelers.
22 Kansas City Chiefs The Chiefs were a surprising story last season with a worst-to-first switch in the AFC West, but that was against the weakest strength of schedule in the entire NFL. This season sees Kansas City facing the toughest schedule, and chances of a repeat division title seem slim.
23 Miami Dolphins After the wooing of Jim Harbaugh failed and the wooing of Kyle Orton met a similar demise, the Dolphins return inconsistent quarterback Chad Henne and added Saints cast-off Reggie Bush while losing both Reggie Brown and Ricky Williams. Is 2011 the year that Miami takes what it has and succeeds with it?
24 Seattle Seahawks While the Seattle faithful are boasting about their new offensive receiving weapons Sidney Rice and Zach Miller, they seem to forget that someone needs to throw them the ball. Coming from someone who witnessed the majority of Tavaris Jackson games, you’ll be wishing for Hasselbeck by week 4.
25 Jacksonville Jaguars The Jaguars drafted former Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert early to try and challenge David Garrard for the starting job, but it looks like the season will begin with Garrard again in charge. Even with the talent of Maurice Jones-Drew, it’s hard to imagine this year being any more successful in Jacksonville after they choked away the AFC South last year.
26 Oakland Raiders Oakland managed a rare feat last season by sweeping their games in the AFC West while missing the playoffs; the health of Darren McFadden–injured during preseason action–figures to play a large role in whether or not the Raiders will see improvement or disappointment in their 2011 campaign.
27 Buffalo Bills Buffalo got new helmets and uniforms this offseason. They got Brad Smith of the Jets to potentially put in some Wildcat time as well. In a division stacked at the top, it probably still won’t be enough.
28 Denver Broncos When the most intriguing story of the offseason ended up being a discussion over who would be the #2 quarterback behind Kyle Orton, it’s hard to see much promise in the coming season for Denver. That said, the division is still weak enough for them to potentially contend up to midseason.
29 Washington Redskins Washington has cleaned house in the last few months after the failed McNabb and Haynesworth experiments. The Redskins still have huge questions at quarterback with John Beck and Rex Grossman in the mix. If one of them emerges, they could be a .500 team; if not, they could be drafting Andrew Luck at #1 in 2012.
30 Carolina Panthers The Panthers decided to send Jimmy Clausen clip board shopping again by drafting and choosing to start Cam Newton at QB. Cam may have potential, but it takes more than one player to turn around a 2 win team. The Panthers will likely be the cellar dwellers of the NFC South again.
31 San Francisco 49ers In what seems like a recurring theme, the 49ers enter the season with doubts on both sides of the ball including some under-performers on the offensive side. Thankfully for 49er fans, they’ll have a chance to rack up wins in what should be the worst division in football once again.
32 Cincinnati Bengals Less than two years from a division title, the Bengals looks poised to finish last in 2011. With the departures/retirements of Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Carson Palmer looming large, I can smell a rebuilding year in Cincinnati.

Alex Chalupka - Originally from the Baltimore-Washington area, Alex is a huge Baltimore Ravens and Maryland Terrapins fan who currently resides in Little Rock, Arkansas. He’s also an Orioles fan and follows the NBA and other sports as objectively as possible. He enjoys writing about all sports and is the founder/editor of theSportsGeeks.com. - Follow him on Twitter here - Visit his personal website

Brian Parker - Born in Maine, a state with no professional sports team, Brian Parker is nonetheless a huge statistics nerd and fan of the NFL and NHL, with some passing interest in the MLB. Regional ties see him as a Patriots and Red Sox fan, though a childhood of watching Patrick Roy tend the net as a Montreal Canadien puts him on the opposite side of his fellow New Englanders for that NHL rivalry. Brian has both an M.A. and a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from the University of Maine. - Follow him on Twitter here - Visit his personal website

Pat Lussenhop - Pat was born and raised in rural Minnesota and is currently living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He graduated from St. John's University (MN) with a degree in psychology and went on to get his masters in school psychology at the University of Northern Iowa. He's a lifetime sports fan and follows basketball and football the most. His favorite teams include any team that has "Minnesota" in it's name and he enjoys sports statistics and any good sporting debates. - Follow him on Twitter here

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  • Grimsolace

    Proof that these things are so tricky to get right at the start of the year. Fifteen games played and three of the bottom five teams could easily make the playoffs.