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2009 Preseason NFL Power Ratings

An Archived Record of Our Sports Handicapping Columnists' Week One NFL Power Ratings Prior to the Start of the 2009 NFL Season.

2009 Week One NFL Power Ratings
(Dated Preseason to 9/13/2009)

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1. New England Patriots – Hard to believe the Patriots lost arguably the best quarterback in the league last season and still managed to put together an 11-5 record. Tom Brady will be back this season and that means the offense will return to optimal performance. Wes Welker and Randy Moss both had 1,000 yard seasons and they should both put up even better numbers with Brady back under center. Add to the fact, the Patriots added a load of depth over the off-season and there is just not many holes in this dynasty.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are coming off their record 6th Super Bowl Victory from 2008 and will return another team worthy of making a run at a 7th title. The Steelers defense will again be the difference that puts them over the top. The defense that nearly led every major defensive category last season is poised for another big season. The team returns 20 starters from last year’s championship unit giving promising hopes. The Steelers were able to pull out a lot of close games in 2008, but will the ball bounce their way this season?

3. Philadelphia Eagles – The Philadelphia Eagles offense really exploded at the end of 2008 and that could send up red flags for the rest of the NFC. Drafting Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy makes the offense even better. Can McNabb continue to deliver the way he did at the end of last season? Defensively, the Eagles are perhaps the best in the NFC so there is not much worries. If the Eagles can post big numbers on offense, this will be the year they finally win the NFC.

4. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens were victim of falling to the Steelers 3 different times in 2008. However, they may very well be on the verge of a breakout year. Despite some age concerns on defense, the Ravens top defense should be in for another big year. Joe Flacco will be in his 2nd season after a brilliant rookie year. Will the passing game continue to improve? If that happens look for Derrick Mason to have a huge season. Also before last season, the Ravens had won 4 of the last 6 over their foes in the AFC North.

5. New York Giants – The New York Giants got off to a very promising start last season. However, after the off the field issues with Plaxico Burress the team never got their focus back and really struggled down the stretch. The Giants will return one of the NFC top defenses and perhaps one of the most solid all around teams in the league. However, the loss of off Derrick Ward who accompanied Brandon Jacobs as one of the best running duos in the league is gone. Will the running game be the same? Also another big question is if any receivers will be able to step in and make up for the loss of Plaxico?

6. Indianapolis Colts – Tony Dungy announcing his retirement was a bit of a surprise and so was the departure of Marvin Harrison. There was probably not any other team that made as big a turnaround in 2008 than the Colts. After a 3-4 start, the Colts won their last 9 games of the regular season. Having Peyton Manning at quarterback makes the Colts a concern for any opponent. The team can definitely contend for a championship if they can avoid injuries. However, the dead running game is the biggest concern. Will the rookie Donald Brown be the answer?

7. Atlanta Falcons – How impressive was Matt Ryan in his rookie season? The breakout quarterback who put up 3,440 yards and 16 touchdowns through the air in his first season has Falcons fans optimistic. Michael Turner had a huge season in 2008 as well rushing for 1,699 yards. The addition of Tony Gonzalez only makes this balanced attack even more dangerous. The Falcons could flirt with making a run at an NFC Championship if things run smoothly.

8. San Diego Chargers – If it was not for the way the Chargers played at the end of the season they would probably be down around the bottom on this list. However, the offense exploded at the end of the year behind QB Phillip Rivers and the emergence of Darren Sproles. The AFC West was probably the worse division in the league in 2008. With Cutler leaving Denver, the division got even worse meaning the Chargers should have no problem clinching a playoff spot and racking up some wins.

9. Chicago Bears – There may be no other fan base anticipating the 2009 season more than Chicago fans. Jay Cutler finally gives an answer to quarterback situation that has plagued the Bears for many years. The offense should see vast improvement, but do they really have the playmakers to be one of the best in the NFL? Neither was Denver before Cutler stepped behind center. However, even if the offense can reduce turnovers and move the ball better it should help the defense cut down on the 22 points per game they allowed last year. Chicago should definitely contend for the NFC North in Cutler’s first year behind center.

10. New Orleans Saints – The Saints offense was the best of the NFL last season averaging a lucrative 410 yards per game and an equally impressive 29 points per game. Drew Brees and company will wreak havoc on defenses again this season. The defense was flat horrible last year especially in the secondary. However, expect the additions of Malcolm Jenkins and Chip Vaughn to be steps in the right direction while giving immediate support. Expect the Saints to be a team that could breakout in 2009 if the defense can just pick up their efforts the slightest bit.

11. Tennessee Titans – The Titans were the biggest surprise of 2008 with their 10-0 start to the season. The defense was a big part of that success along with a strong running game from youngster Chris Johnson. However, the defense lost their biggest star in DT Albert Haynesworth. Chris Johnson will be the main work horse for the offense again this season, but they must find a way to score more points. Don’t expect any miraculous starts to 2009 as they will battle Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and New England in the first 6 weeks of the season.

12. Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals shocked the world during the 2009 playoffs nearly pulling off a great underdog story. Kurt Warner put up career type numbers with 4,583 yards and 30 touchdowns. However, will the 38 year old be able to repeat those numbers? We think the entire Cardinals team takes a big step back. The team had some internal issues last season and that may have a balloon affect if they are not achieving equal success this season. Not to mention the defense played fairly bad during the beginning of last year and it will be interesting to see which defense shows up this season.

13. Minnesota Vikings – Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL and perhaps the most exciting to watch. However, the Vikings may have too many questions to pose a huge threat this season. The quarterback situation between Tavaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte is an on going battle plus some concern in the defensive secondary. The Vikings won the NFC North in 2008, but they will not be the favorites this season. Of course, if Brett Farve decides to jump on board that could change everything.

14. Green Bay Packers - The big question that everyone is tired of hearing especially Packers fans is will the new 3-4 defense be perfected this season? The addition of B.J Rahi was huge for the defense, but not sure how long it will take before he really takes over on the defensive front. If the offense can put up similar numbers to last season, then they could be in for a big year. The primary reason that could experience a lot of success is the schedule is the weakest of any NFC team. The Packers will probably climb the list very quickly, but we question how good they will be against the NFL’s top teams?

15. Dallas Cowboys – The troublemaker Terrell Owens is out of town, but that probably will not solve all the issues in big D. The team is very talented, but will they be able to produce the results? Keep a lookout for Felix Jones to make his name known in the NFL this season. This could be the last chance for Coach Wade Phillips. If there are any last season collapses similar to the last few seasons, expect there to be new head coach in 2010.

16. Miami Dolphins – Chad Pennington probably should be given the most credit rather than new coach Tony Sparano in terms to the Dolphins big turnaround. Pennington resurrected the passing game helping the Dolphins offense have the ability to finally put up some points. The Dolphins were a scary 1-15 in 2007 and turned that into an 11-5 AFC North Division winner last season. Will the improvements continue? It will certainly be hard with the revamped Patriots residing in the division. Adding some depth to the secondary should help some of the defensive problems, but the Dolphins most likely will be in for a letdown type year.

17. Carolina Panthers – We are still hesitant to give the Panthers any high praises. Sure the team is very talented and was among the best in the NFC last year finishing the regular season at 12-4. However, after a melt down in the playoffs we wonder what we can really expect this season. One thing that is for sure is the Panthers success will ride heavily on the running game. Jonathon Stewart and DeAngelo Williams give the perfect 1-2 punch in the running game. However, the offense is very one dimensional. Steve Smith is a great wide out and would be even better if there was decent quarterback throwing him the ball. Add to the fact the defense could not stop the run last year, and the Panthers could be in for a big step back in 2009.

18. Houston Texans – The Texans are a team that is frequently overlooked in the NFL, but they are consistently progressing in the right direction. The offense is already where they need to be, but they just need some help from the defense. The Texans added some players over the off season on the defensive side of the ball that should help matters, but it might not be enough to make a huge impact. Steve Slayton gave a boost to the running game towards the end of the year and may be a bigger part of the offensive success this season.

19. Buffalo Bills – Buffalo has high expectations since the addition of Terrell Owens over the off season. Owens along with Lee Evans at wide out should give the Bills some strong options through the air. However, will Trent Edwards be able to get the job done? One major reason Edwards may not get the job done is he may not have any protection. The offensive and defensive fronts throw up all types of warnings here.

20. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals have a lot of potential to turn things around this season. The defense showed big improvement last season going from 27th to 12th in overall defense from their 2007 performance. The return of Carson Palmer should give hope to the offense even though they lost receiver T.J Houshmandzadeh. Chad “Ochocinco” has thrown out the playoffs promise, but they may be too optimistic. However, drafting DE Michael Johnson and ILB Ray Maualuga give the defense a very bright future.

21. Washington Redskins – The Redskins would be much higher on this list if we were ranking by talent. However, the Redskins actually scored fewer points than the Detroit Lions last season. The offense must do a better job of hooking up with WR Santana Moss and allow him to make big plays. Jason Campbell did not exactly live up to the hype after closing out the 2007 season so impressively. Clinton Portis will remain a big part of the offensive movement. The defense will be solid, but the Redskins must score more points in 2009.

22. New York Jets – Brett Farve could only help so much to the struggling passing attack last season and now they will put their faith in the hands of rookie Mark Sanchez. Thomas Jones will be used heavily in what will become a rushing offense after rushing for 1,300 plus yards last year. The defense should be on the upswing behind new coach Rex Ryan. Expect the defense to take a step forward while the offense takes a step back.

23. Denver Broncos – We may never understand why the Broncos gave up Cutler, but they will have to focus now on winning with Kyle Orton. The defense gave the team problems last season and they will have issues again this season. The leading rusher last season was Peyton Hills who was responsible for a measly 343 yards. Knowshon Moreno could be a solid running back, but with size questions he must prove himself. Without any type of running game, Orton must be able to throw for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns to match Cutler’s success. Good luck.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars did an excellent job bringing in two talented offensive linemen. The bulk on the offensive front should make the running game better. However with Fred Taylor out of town, will Maurice Jones-Drew be able to carry the load? The Jags definitely need to find a way to add a big time receiver to the roster in the near future before the passing game shows any signs of life. Look for another similar disappointing season.

25. Cleveland Browns – The Browns have a ton of question marks especially behind center. They made some decent draft picks, but I don’t see anybody making an immediate impact. Cleveland ranked as the 2nd worse offense in the NFL last season and that may be the issues again this season. Which ever quarterback that does get the nod, they must find a way to get more balls to Braylon Edwards or the problems will just get worse.

26. Seattle Seahawks – The addition of linebacker Aaron Curry could officially give the Seahawks the better linebacker groups in the NFL with Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu. Now the defense just needs a secondary and a defensive line to be considered good. Matt Hasselbeck’s return to quarterback after suffering multiple injuries last season should improve the team’s overall success. However, don’t expect there to be any playoff talk surrounding this year’s unit.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Buccaneers have a ton of question marks heading into the season. The quarterback situation will be on-going and a not so friendly schedule will make things very difficult. Derrick Ward was signed from the Giants to help re-establish the running game after Warrick Dunn numbers have been going downhill the last few seasons. The Bucs were able to manage a winning season last year. However, things could take a turn for the worse.

28. San Francisco 49ers – If anyone would have told you the 49ers would be able to steal Michael Crabtree at number 10 in the draft you may have questioned their insanity. However, the 49ers got just that in the draft. The 49ers offense gave up 55 sacks last season so that leads us to worry that they may not have a way to get Crabtree or any receivers the ball. The defense is not worth mentioning as they need a lot more help than a few superstar draft picks.

29. Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs managed to put together the 2nd worse record in the NFL last season in the weakest division in the league. The big addition is Matt Cassel at quarterback. Cassel may not be near as good as the Patriots offense made him look, but at least it could end the quarterback carousel. However, Tony Gonzalez is gone after a 1,000 yard plus season at the tight end position leaving the entire passing attack resting on WR Dwayne Bowe. The defense gave up nearly 400 yards per game in 2008. However, Alex Magee and Tyson Jackson addressed the needs but doubtfully answered the problems.

30. Detroit Lions – The Lions definitely can not get any worse from last year’s nightmare 0-16 record. Matthew Stafford definitely has all the ingredients to be a great NFL quarterback, but the offensive line likely will not be able to protect him. There were a lot of nice moves over the off season to boost the offense and they will show dramatic improvement. However, it’s going to take some time before they can get the players to turn around the league’s worse defense from 2008.

31. St. Louis Rams – Drafting an offensive lineman was priority number 1 for the Rams over the off season. Jason Smith should deliver in the upcoming years and help St. Louis cut back on the 45 sacks allowed in 2008. The Rams must put more focus to the rushing attack behind Steven Jackson since the passing game is non-existent. Even if they are able to find some success with Jackson, the defense gave up the 2nd most points in the NFL last season at nearly 30 points per game.

32. Oakland Raiders – There could be an argument made if the Raiders were really trying to make their team better this off season. After a bad 2008 season, the Raiders did a horrible job in the NFL Draft. The bad draft picks are outside of letting Crabtree slip by, because Heyward-Bey just maybe could be a potential sleeper. The later rounds were just as horrible. However, this team ranked in the bottom 6 in both offense and defense last season. Expect nothing better this season. Fortunately a weak schedule means the Raiders will be able to capture a few wins.

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