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Power Rankings: Pats #1.. Jets #14


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Maybe it's the acquisition of Randy Moss, Adalius Thomas and others in a surprisingly active offseason. Maybe it's the proven leadership of Tom Brady. Or maybe it's just that the Patriots are due, having failed to reach the Super Bowl the past two seasons, an eternity in the Bill Belichick era.

ESPN.com's Power RankingsThe preseason rankings were determined by a poll of ESPN.com's NFL staff -- writers John Clayton, Len Pasquarelli, Matt Mosley, Jeffri Chadiha and Mike Sando; Scouts Inc. Insider Jeremy Green; and ESPN.com NFL senior editor Mike McAllister. No matter the reason, the Patriots will enter 2007 wearing the label as the NFL's best team. In the balloting for our preseason power rankings, each of the voters put the Pats atop his respective list, a clear indication that mercurial Moss is expected to toe the line (or at least minimize his distractions) under Belichick.

If Moss does, the Patriots could be celebrating their fourth Super Bowl title this decade. If he doesn't? Well, there are plenty of other championship-caliber teams waiting in the wings, including the defending champion Colts and a Chargers team (and new coach) with plenty to prove.

On the other side of the spectrum, Michael Vick's troubles obviously put the Falcons in a free fall, as our experts moved Atlanta from No. 19 in the offseason to No. 31, just ahead of the Browns.

So how would you rank the teams going into this season? SportsNation gives you the chance.

(Editor's note: LW indicates each team's ranking in the offseason rankings from the spring.)

2007 Power Rankings: Week 1 RK (LW)TEAMRECCOMMENT

1 (1)Patriots12-4-0Now that last year's NFL interception co-leader Asante Samuel has signed, the Patriots really have no excuses not to fulfill the expectations of the multitudes who already have handed them the Lombardi trophy. Right?

2 (2)Colts12-4-0Presumably, Peyton Manning & Co. will be more relaxed this year now that the can't-win-the-big-one albatross has finally disappeared. In fact, Manning has looked very comfortable in the 483 commercials he's appearing in right now.

3 (3)Chargers14-2-0Memo to new coach Norv Turner: Don't screw it up. You have Super Bowl-caliber talent, so if you don't win, only one person gets the blame. Just like your predecessor.

4 (5)Bears13-3-0In the past few years, Super Bowl losers generally haven't fared well the next season. But if Rex Grossman can find consistency in 2007, the Bears could have an easy time in the NFC.

5 (4)Ravens13-3-0Besides having younger legs at RB (Willis McGahee), the Ravens have loads of experience. But the flip side of being a veteran team is being an injury-prone one. Which way that pendulum swings might determine their fate.

6 (6)Saints10-6-0The feel-good story of 2006 hopes to take the next step this season. New Orleans has never been to the Super Bowl, but Saints fans can taste it like the jambalaya waiting for them at home.

7 (8)Eagles10-6-0It's easy to say that as Donovan McNabb goes, so go the Eagles. But their fortunes might rest more on whether Brian Westbrook can continue to run like one of the NFL's elite backs.

8 (9)Cowboys9-7-0Expect new coach Wade Phillips to turn up the tempo on defense, but his legacy in Dallas ultimately will be tied to Tony Romo. And Romo hopes his legacy won't forever be tied to that botched field goal snap last year.

9 (7)Broncos9-7-0Gotta love those lockdown cornerbacks, Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly. New D-coordinator Jim Bates certainly does, as their presence will allow the Broncos to play an aggressive 4-3.

10 (11)Seahawks9-7-0It wasn't always pretty last season, but the Seahawks did make the playoffs. But whether they can recapture the magic of two years ago ... well, that might be asking too much.

11 (10)Bengals8-8-0Remember when the Bengals used to be the league's biggest off-field embarrassment? Thanks to Michael Vick and Pacman Jones, the Bengals now seem like choirboys (yes, it's difficult to say that with a straight face).

12 (14)Jaguars8-8-0Jack Del Rio has never hesitated to make changes to his coaching staff. But if the Jags don't improve on an eight-win 2006 season, the change in Jacksonville could be Del Rio's employment status.

13 (13)Steelers8-8-0Just like when predecessors Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher were hired, new coach Mike Tomlin is young and eager to prove his worth. In Pittsburgh, that requires just one thing: a Super Bowl win.

14 (12)Jets10-6-0Last year, QB Chad Pennington started every game in a season for the first time in his career. Does that mean he's due for an injury, or has that pesky black cloud finally disappeared?

15 (16)Panthers8-8-0If the club's yo-yo record in recent years continues, you should count on double-digit wins in 2007. Don't be surprised if DeAngelo Williams emerges as the feature back.

16 (15)49ers7-9-0Here's your sexy pick to be the breakthrough team of this season. And yes, Alex Smith and Frank Gore make a nice combo. But do the Niners need another year of seasoning?

17 (18)Rams8-8-0Stephen Jackson touched the ball 436 times last season and produced a career year. Now the goal is to get the same productivity in fewer touches.

18 (17)Giants8-8-0Tiki Barber is gone. Michael Strahan might join him. This is a team that's clearly in transition, which would be a perfect time for Eli Manning to step up and truly become this club's leader.

19 (28)Redskins5-11-0Will RBs Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts rush for 1,000 yards apiece this season? As coach Joe Gibbs says, who knows? But you can bet they'll get every opportunity.

20 (26)Dolphins6-10-0A defense led by Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas should keep the Dolphins in most games, but the offense could be spotty. Even so, the future looks promising with the preseason performance of rookie QB John Beck.

21 (23)Bills7-9-0Hey, the Bills are ending their Monday night drought, making their first MNF appearance since 2000 when they play Dallas on Oct. 8. So who's to say they also can't end their playoff futility (no postseason appearances since 1999) this year?

22 (21)Titans8-8-0Vince Young will make this team enjoyable to watch. Making it a playoff contender will be much more difficult. But it's never good to underestimate him.

23 (22)Cardinals5-11-0One thing is certain: Arizona fans will get an up-close view of the Super Bowl this season. Another thing we're fairly certain about: Those fans won't be cheering on the hometown team. But we are pretty certain the weather will be nice on Feb. 3.

24 (24)Packers8-8-0Anytime you write the name Brett Favre, the phrase 'retirement plans' is sure to follow. But if this is it, you can expect Farve to go out slingin'.

25 (30)Lions3-13-0Jon Kitna must be pinching himself. Roy Williams? Calvin Johnson? Any quarterback would love to have that combination, especially a few years from now.

26 (20)Chiefs9-7-0Larry Johnson has returned from his holdout but is not in football shape. And who knows what shape Priest Holmes is in after sitting out 22 months. But at least the QB situation (Damon Huard over Brodie Croyle) is figured out -- for now.

27 (25)Vikings6-10-0Whew! The Kelly Holcomb Sweepstakes are over, and the Vikings are the big winners. And their prize? A journeyman quarterback with 21 starts who'll provide backup for Tarvaris Jackson.

28 (27)Buccaneers4-12-0Hey, Jon Gruden, what you have done for us lately? That's what Bucs fans are asking, and Gruden will need to answer this year to avoid the hot seat.

29 (29)Texans6-10-0Let the Matt Schaub era begin. Don't be surprised if there are growing pains -- after all, Schaub started just two games in his first three years in the league.

30 (32)Raiders2-14-0Does anyone really believe someone other than Daunte Culpepper will be the starting QB in the season opener against Detroit? First-year coach Lane Kiffin may not be proven, but at least he can throw a veteran out there who has skins on the wall.

31 (19)Falcons7-9-0New coach Bobby Petrino will get to prove immediately whether his reputation as a passing game guru is justified. Yeah, the Michael Vick saga was a cruel blow, but if Petrino can make Joey Harrington a star, he'll be the toast of Atlanta.

32 (31)Browns4-12-0Will rookie Brady Quinn start the season opener against the Steelers? Latest reports indicate he won't. That'd be the smart move. No need to rush the QB of the future for a team unlikely to go anywhere this season.

Pumped for game 1, an upset would be incredible. :box:

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Pumped for game 1, an upset would be incredible. :box:

lol, your not the only one whos pumped up for game one. This is a good thing for the Jets of you ask me... Let the Patriot players open the season up thinking they are simply gonna run away with the game and dominate Mangini's Jets... It's gonna be great with Thomas Jones and Leon runs the ball all over NE... And it's gonna be nice when the Jets D Shuts down the Patriots running attack with a L.Maroney who has not seen playing time in quiet some time.

Jets-27

Pats-17

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lol, your not the only one whos pumped up for game one. This is a good thing for the Jets of you ask me... Let the Patriot players open the season up thinking they are simply gonna run away with the game and dominate Mangini's Jets... It's gonna be great with Thomas Jones and Leon runs the ball all over NE... And it's gonna be nice when the Jets D Shuts down the Patriots running attack with a L.Maroney who has not seen playing time in quiet some time.

Jets-27

Pats-17

I'd say more like

Jets 23

Pats 21

With Nuge hitting 3 FG's, one of which are the game winner :character0293:

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1 (1)Patriots12-4-0Now that last year's NFL interception co-leader Asante Samuel has signed, the Patriots really have no excuses not to fulfill the expectations of the multitudes who already have handed them the Lombardi trophy. Right?

Only thing that will hold the Patriots back is that, 9 of the top 14 teams reside in the AFC.

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1 (1)Patriots12-4-0Now that last year's NFL interception co-leader Asante Samuel has signed, the Patriots really have no excuses not to fulfill the expectations of the multitudes who already have handed them the Lombardi trophy. Right?

Only thing that will hold the Patriots back is that, 9 of the top 14 teams reside in the AFC.

Tell me about it... Each and every divison is stacked with solid teams...

The AFC East has the Pats and the Jets who can make the playoffs

The AFC South has the SB Champs in the Colts but also have the Jags and even the Tittans can win come tough games this year.

The AFC West has the Chargers along with the Broncos... Shiit even KC made the playoffs last year and the Raiders cant get any worse

And the AFC North is strong this year with Willis going to Baltimore, Steelers will be the Steelers and the Bengals are an offensive powerhouse.

Im telling you, the AFC is nuts once again. The NFC is getting better... But not even close in my eyes.

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Tell me about it... Each and every divison is stacked with solid teams...

The AFC East has the Pats and the Jets who can make the playoffs

The AFC South has the SB Champs in the Colts but also have the Jags and even the Tittans can win come tough games this year.

The AFC West has the Chargers along with the Broncos... Shiit even KC made the playoffs last year and the Raiders cant get any worse

And the AFC North is strong this year with Willis going to Baltimore, Steelers will be the Steelers and the Bengals are an offensive powerhouse.

Im telling you, the AFC is nuts once again. The NFC is getting better... But not even close in my eyes.

The Wild Card spots and even some of the division winners are going to be very tight this year in the AFC. Should be a fun year of football.

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