ESPN’s staff has ranked the 32 NFL teams heading into training camp. Not surprisingly, the Steelers and Seahawks are the top two teams. Readers might be surprised, though, to see how those teams are ordered given how the Super Bowl went.
We’re pretty sure it won’t make Steelers fans happy, but the Seahawks open on top after coming up just short in 2005. These rankings were compiled from seven members of ESPN.com’s football staff. Each of the seven ranked the teams from 1-32, and the average of those rankings was used to determine our offseason Power Rankings. Of our seven voters, three had Seattle No. 1, three had the Steelers No. 1 and one had the Colts in the top spot.
The Seahawks lost some key players in G Steve Hutchinson and WR Joe Jurevicius, but most importantly they were able to re-sign the NFL’s reigning MVP, RB Shaun Alexander. Losing Hutchinson will hurt, but don’t expect it to have too much of an impact on Alexander. He might not be able to match last season’s amazing numbers (1,880 yards rushing and 28 TDs), but he’ll be in the neighborhood.
As for the Steelers, they lost some key players this offseason (Antwaan Randle El, Chris Hope, Kimo von Oelhoffen). But assuming Ben Roethlisberger really is ready when the season starts, Pittsburgh will be fine. Big Ben is the key at this point. All the reports are positive, but he obviously suffered some major injuries to his face, and until he gets back on the field we really won’t know what kind of an impact it might have on his season.
A number of teams made big moves from the last time we ranked them (after Week 17). The Cowboys made perhaps the offseason’s biggest move, signing Terrell Owens, and jumped from No. 16 in our final rankings to No. 7 this offseason. The Dolphins, who finished 2005 on a six-game winning streak, moved all the way up to No. 8 (from No. 14) and look poised to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East. Assuming he’s healthy, Daunte Culpepper gives the Dolphins the top-flight QB they’ve lacked since Dan Marino left town.
The top 10:
What’s particularly interesting to me, as a Cowboys fan, is that, not only is a team that finished last year 9-7 and out of the playoffs listed at #7, that’s the case despite three of the NFC East’s four teams ranked in the top 11 (Redskins #10, Giants #11) and the 4th (the Eagles) a respectable #18. Finishing that strong despite playing against one another would be impressive, indeed.
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