Sometimes, people just can’t make up their minds. For instance, we know that a majority of professional football players are fans of the NBA, which is currently in the throes of its first playoff round. The primary argument critics make against basketball is that you don’t have to tune into games until the final two minutes.
But this year, with several opening round games being decided well before the final whistle, the same critics call it boring. You can’t have it both ways.
Call me a traditionalist, but I don’t think the series between the first and eighth place teams in the conference should make it to a decisive Game 7. Isn’t that why they play the regular season?
When it comes to the NFL, Tim Tebow is unlike any other lightning rod that I’ve ever seen. With all that we hear about the lack of “role models” in the pro ranks, you’d think folks would be thrilled to see a man grounded in faith who always has his teammates backs and, oh yeah, wins football games.
Instead, it’s quite the contrary. John Elway was just as excited to rid the Broncos of Tebow as he was to acquire Peyton Manning. And then, shortly after the Jets traded for Tebow, New Yorkers booed him when he was shown on the scoreboard at a Yankees game wearing a Yankees hat. Isn’t that what he’s supposed to do?
I suppose it was a relief to see a few teams know exactly what they wanted during last week’s NFL Draft. The Colts were a lock to take Andrew Luck with the first pick and Washington mortgaged its future for Robert Griffin III. From there, a slew of teams were willing to part with picks so that they could nab the player(s) they were most sure of.
Only time will tell just how much impact the class of 2012 will have on the teams that selected them. For now, this is how PPI ranks the NFL’s 32 teams if the season were to start tomorrow. Stay tuned to www.proplayerinsiders.com/ to view updated rankings throughout the offseason.
(ranking from PPI’s February Power Rankings)
1. New York Giants (1)
Yes, I know they only won nine regular season games last year and, yes, DE/LB Osi Umenyiora could demand a trade – but they’re still the champs.
2. Green Bay Packers (2)
The Packers had a quiet offseason but why shouldn’t they – they won 15 regular season games last year. As long as QB Aaron Rodgers is upright, Green Bay will contend on an annual basis.
3. San Francisco 49ers (3)
Do you think the 49ers’ brass noticed that wide receivers totaled three yards in the NFC Championship Game loss to the Giants? This offseason, they’ve taken a calculated risk on WR Randy Moss, spent considerable money on WR Mario Manningham and used their first round pick to take speedster WR A.J. Jenkins. Somewhere, Alex Smith is smiling.
4. New England Patriots (4)
The Pats still have Belichick and Brady, but last year’s team wasn’t nearly as impressive as we’ve been used to seeing, impressive considering they were a few minutes shy of their fourth championship. Adding pass rusher Chandler Jones and LB Dont’a Hightower should beef up the defense, but WR Jabar Gaffney isn’t likely to solve the offense’s desperate need for a deep threat.
5. Houston Texans (6)
Houston got a taste of what life after DE/LB Mario Williams would be like last year, when they lost him early in the season to a torn pectoral muscle. Still, you have to wonder if the Texans are destined to take a step back defensively, now that the former top pick is in Buffalo. I’m still thinking that with a healthy QB Matt Schaub (no, that’s not an oxymoron), this is a team that should contend for a Super Bowl anyway.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (10)
Pittsburgh was decimated by injuries in 2011, especially on the offensive line late in the season. They responded by nabbing G David DeCastro, potentially the draft’s biggest steal, and T Mike Adams in the first two rounds. Getting the team back to full health will be the Steelers’ top priority, although it will be interesting to see who will start at running back, considering Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is likely lost for the season.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (8)
Losing LT Jason Peters to a season-ending Achilles injury is a significant blow, but the impact will be lessened by the addition of Demetress Bell. Philly was an aggressive in the draft, moving up to select DT Fletcher Cox, who they believe can anchor their defensive line, which was shaky at times last year. The most important offseason development for the Eagles will be getting players more reps in Andy Reid’s system.
8. Baltimore Ravens (7)
Losing LB Terrell Suggs, the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, seems like a massive blow to a team that was this close to the Super Bowl last year. However, Baltimore always seems to shuttle in viable replacements for players once considered irreplaceable. They did it with Chris McAlister and Jamal Lewis. They’ve survived several recent games without LB Ray Lewis. I’m taking the gamble that they can do it again.
9. Dallas Cowboys (13)
The Cowboys have tried desperately to find a true shutdown cornerback and may have finally done so by trading up to get Morris Claiborne (not to mention adding Brandon Carr). There was little doubt that Claiborne was the best defensive player in the draft and Dallas made the bold move to get their man. Expectations will be high (as usual) in Big D.
10. Atlanta Falcons (9)
The Falcons didn’t do much in free agency and were devoid of the first round pick they gave up to get WR Julio Jones last year. Still, the Falcons are loaded and could make some real noise if QB Matt Ryan can take the step forward into the upper echelon of quarterbacks.
11. Detroit Lions (11)
Detroit focused its offseason efforts on keeping a team on the upswing together, re-signing LB Stephen Tulloch and T Jeff Backus, without making any notable splashes. Nabbing T Riley Reiff with the 23rd pick could be a steal, considering Reiff was thought to be in the top-10 on prognosticators’ draft boards.
12. Chicago Bears (16)
Love reuniting WR Brandon Marshall with QB Jay Cutler. Love the addition of RB Michael Bush to a backfield that may or may not include Matt Forte, given his uncertain contract status. Even the pick of WR Alshon Jeffery in the second round, which some pundits have denounced, has the potential to transform Chicago’s offense from pedestrian to powerful.
13. New Orleans Saints (5)
The Saints rallied in historic fashion around the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe in 2010. Can they do the same in the aftermath of Bounty Gate? Coach Sean Payton is suspended for the season. Ditto for defensive leader Jonathan Vilma. Meanwhile, RB Mark Ingram will be sidelined through minicamp and QB Drew Brees is still without a contract. Seems like way too much to overcome.
14. Denver Broncos (20)
Regardless of what I wrote earlier, it’s hard to fault Denver for signing the second best quarterback of the last decade. Manning immediately turns the Broncos into the AFC West favorites and will help a young team accelerate the maturation process.
15. San Diego Chargers (12)
Asking WR Robert Meachem to replace WR Vincent Jackson is a tall request and losing RB Mike Tolbert means San Diego has a lot invested in the shaky health of RB Ryan Mathews. However, the team still has Philip Rivers at quarterback and may have gotten away with the draft’s best pass rusher in Melvin Ingram. For Norv Tuners, it’s playoffs – or else(where).
16. Cincinnati Bengals (17)
Cincy addressed its biggest problem area from a year ago by signing cornerbacks Jason Allen and Terrence Newman, and drafting Dre Kirkpatrick out of Alabama. If QB Andy Dalton continues to mature and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis makes up for the likely departure of Cedric Benson, the Bengals could be dangerous again in 2012.
17. Buffalo Bills (27)
Fans are starting to Bill-ieve again in Buffalo, thanks to an active offseason that has brought the team its best pass rusher since Bruce Smith in DE/LB Mario Williams and the player who was thought to be the second best end on the market in Mark Anderson. Most thought Buffalo wanted safety Mark Barron or linebacker Luke Kuechly with their first pick but corner Stephon Gilmore should provide the team with an upgrade in the secondary. While it was definitely an offseason of positives for the Bills, they still aren’t sure what they have in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
18. New York Jets (14)
It would be difficult to fathom a worse landing spot for Tebow than with the Jets, where locker room turmoil equated to a lost season for Rex Ryan’s bunch. Ryan raised eyebrows (imagine that!) by taking DE Quinton Coples with the Jets’ first pick, but Coples could turn into the type of player that could save Ryan’s posterior, which is firmly on the hot seat.