Around the NFL: First batch of power rankings

Steve Doerschuk

If we knew then what we know now, we’d have:

- Fully understood the Redskins making Tom Brady the No. 2 pick of the 2000 draft, instead of LaVar Arrington.

- Praised the Bears for grabbing Mr. Brady in Round 3 that year, rather than Dez White.

- Seen how the Browns could rationalize Tom-Boy as their Round 6 pick, in place of Spergon Wynn.

Knowing now that we’ll regret half of it by November, we offer our first power rankings of the imminent 2008 season. We wish we could come up with a better name than power rankings, and if you give us one, by golly, we’ll use it.

1. Patriots. When was the last time a 16-0 team went into a sudden slump?

2. Giants. Bill Belichick’s teams tend to be greater than the sum of their parts. Tom Coughlin’s certainly was that and more one fine day in February.

3. Chargers. They tore through the second half at 7-1 and beat the Colts in the playoffs, but what about Shawne Merriman’s torn-up knee?

4. Colts. It’s well past September for Jeff Saturday, 33. Peyton Manning will be 33 shortly after the Super Bowl. Is Obama as old as Marvin Harrison? Time waits for no one.

5. Cowboys. It’s as if Jerry Jones orders America to believe in the Cowboys, and no one asks any questions.

6. Browns. Leading the league in preseason injuries and bruised expectations.

7. Vikings. Obviously, Adrian Peterson can run. Tarvaris Jackson can throw. But (and we’re not talking about his sprained knee), can he play?

8. Eagles. Donovan McNabb is eight years younger than a certain No. 4 now playing up the interstate in New Jersey. Shouldn’t No. 5 have plenty left?

9. Jets. John Elway was only slightly younger than Brett Favre is now when he caught a strong second wind. Favre’s radical change hyperextends that point, but ...

10. Jaguars. Fred Taylor will turn 33 before the Super Bowl. They didn’t have a receiver with as much as 650 yards last year. David Garrard is tough, but something isn’t right.

11. Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger must ascend to the Brady-Manning stratosphere to offset the blockbuster losses of Jeff Hartings, Alan Faneca and Bill Cowher in the last two years.

12. Saints. Drew Brees (4,423 passing yards in 2007) will turn 30 during the postseason. He’ll be working during it.

13. Panthers. The Jake Delhomme-to-Steve Smith connection from that Super Bowl season showed signs of a comeback while the Panthers were pulverizing Washington 34-0 in the first half of preseason Game No. 3.

14. Bears: The defense needs to bring back the best of the Ditka days. Handing Devin Hester a $40 million deal reflects an offense grasping at straws.

15. Seahawks. The big last hurrah Mike Holmgren needs to make the Hall of Fame seems out of reach.

16. Cardinals: Ken Whisenhunt went 8-8 in his first year. The last Cardinals head coach with an above-.500 record during his run with the franchise was Don Coryell in the 1970s.

17. Titans: Will the real Vince Young please stand up? Or will rookie RB Chris Johnson allow him to rest easy?

18. Packers: Aaron Rodgers led Brett Favre 106.0-95.7 in passer rating last year. Favre led Rodgers 4,155-218 in passing yards. What a job, trying to make Lambeau Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood.

19. Bills. Trent Edwards plus J.P. Losman don’t equal Jim Kelly -- and that’s the Kelly who turns 49 next Valentine’s Day.

20. Rams. The Greatest Show on Turf left town, but a healthy Steven Jackson and Torry Holt at 32 aren’t a bad one-two punch.

21. Lions: Rod Marinelli is trying to last a third full season as Detroit’s head coach. If he slips, the Lions could be looking for their seventh head coach this decade.

22. Ravens. We don’t know if Troy Smith can be the Tom Brady of the 6-foot-and-under league, but as Big Ten alums go, he’s three leagues better than Jim Sorgi.

23. Bengals. Marvin Lewis is serious about enforcing rules now. That still puts him behind all the head coaches who were doing it all along.

24. Buccaneers. Jon Gruden’s Super Bowl win in the 2002 season bought some time, but he’s 51-50 as the Big Buc now, and that time is up.

25. Texans. You are convinced Matt Schaub is better than ... which No. 1 QBs?

26. Redskins: A 47-3 loss to Carolina Aug. 23 in which Jason Campbell got sacked silly was not particularly encouraging.

27. Chiefs: Telling Friday headline in the Kansas City Star: “Edwards says he needs to rethink Chiefs roster.”

28. Broncos. What’s the fuss over Jay Cutler? They got outscored 409-320 in 2007. This isn’t the team that put the Patriots out of the 2005 playoffs.

29. Raiders. Even with young Superman JaMarcus Russell under center, you imagine Oakland changing its logo to a T-Rex skeleton with an eye patch.

30. 49ers. Linebacker Patrick Willis is better than most high first-round picks, but few No. 1 overalls have been as bad as Alex Smith.

31. Falcons: Michael Turner is the kind of player who could get Atlanta around a corner. Matt Ryan, as a rookie starter, is not.

32. Dolphins. Amusing headline in Thursday’s South Florida Sun Sentinel: “Sparano’s task: Mold Dolphins back into NFL power.” Reference help: Nixon administration.

The Repository