CHFF Power Rankings: Post-Lockout, Preseason Edition
Cold, Hard Football Facts Power Ranger
Producing power rankings in the middle of August is a bit like your nephew’s alternative rock band telling everybody “We’re going to make it!”
In other words, you appreciate the enthusiasm, but you know that the words mean nothing.
During the season, we use a secret formula to rank the teams that takes into account a lot of, well, you know, actual football stuff. Since there isn’t any of that to go on right now, consider this a reminder that the season is only a few short days off – and that’s a good thing.
On to the rankings, where the Packers are No. 1 until someone proves otherwise, and last year’s cellar dweller has at least one team to look down upon.
2010 Quality Stats rank in 2010: 1
1. GREEN BAY (14-6 in 2010)
Best post-lockout move: Retaining receiver James Jones. Eleven Packers from the 2010 roster have signed elsewhere, but when Aaron Rodgers lobbies for a guy it’s best to do what you can to keep the QB in his comfort zone.
Week 1 matchup: host New Orleans (Thursday night)
2. NEW ENGLAND (14-3)2010 Quality Stats rank: 3
Best post-lockout move: Signing Shaun Ellis. While Ochocinco and Haynesworth are the big names, Ellis is the kind of consistent, versatile veteran that makes defenses better with no risk.
Week 1 matchup: at Miami (Monday night)
3. PITTSBURGH (14-5)Final Quality Stats rank: 2
Best post-lockout move: Keeping it in house. The Steelers re-signed 11 of their free agents and will look a lot like last year’s Super Bowl runner-up.
Week 1 matchup: at Baltimore
4. PHILADELPHIA (10-7)Final Quality Stats rank: 6
Best post-lockout move: Cullen Jenkins? Nnamdi Asomugha? Getting a king’s ransom for Kevin Kolb? Signing Ronnie Brown and Vince Young as backups? Take your pick; this team did it all.
Week 1 matchup: at St. Louis
5. ATLANTA (13-4)Final Quality Stats rank: 7
Best post-lockout move: Bringing back two-thirds of their free agent offensive linemen. Harvey Dahl (gone to St. Louis) might have been the best of the three, but retaining Justin Blalock and Tyson Clabo at least means they aren’t starting over in Hog land.
Week 1 matchup: at Chicago
6. NEW ORLEANS (11-6)Final Quality Stats rank: 8
Best post-lockout move: The Saints have signed 27 free agents in two weeks, so give Mickey Loomis the award for GM most in need of a nap. Adding tackle Aubrayo Franklin to the defensive line (along with March pickup Shaun Rogers) might be the best of the bunch.
Week 1 matchup: at Green Bay, Thursday night opener
7. BALTIMORE (13-5)Final Quality Stats rank: 5
Best post-lockout move: They’ve been busy, and while they have to be considered a net loser in free agency with so many veterans exiting, bringing in salary-friendly options like Casey Rabach and Bernard Pollard could – and need to – pay off.
Week 1 matchup: vs. Pittsburgh
8. N.Y. JETS (13-6)Final Quality Stats rank:10
Best post-lockout move: Subbing out Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith for Derrick Mason and Plaxico Burress while keeping Santonio Holmes. The Jets’ receivers let the team down repeatedly in 2010, and while they got older they also got better for 2011.
Week 1 matchup: host Dallas
9. SAN DIEGO (9-7)Final Quality Stats rank:4
Best post-lockout move: Signing Takeo Spikes. The Chargers will be starting over at linebacker, with just about the entire crew from 2010 gone. Adding Spikes, one of the league’s soundest and best 30-somethings, was a necessary move.
Week 1 matchup: host Minnesota
10. INDIANAPOLIS (10-7)Final Quality Stats rank:14
Best post-lockout move: Standing pat. For the billionth straight offseason, the Colts had a ho-hum free-agent season with no major moves – even the re-signing of Peyton Manning was as standard an event as you get. But when you’ve made the playoffs 11 times in 12 years, sameness is good.
Week 1 matchup: at Houston
11. CHICAGO (12-6)Final Quality Stats rank:12
Best post-lockout move: The Bears are rolling the dice with some washouts in other cities that once had high potential – Amobi Okoye, Vernon Gholston, Marion Barber, Roy Williams.
Week 1 matchup: host Atlanta
12. N.Y. GIANTS (10-6)Final Quality Stats rank:11
Best post-lockout move: Laugh if you want, but the addition of punter Steve Weatherford gives them a guy who can drop it inside the 20 with the best of them (42 times last year). No more miracle returns for DeSean Jackson against them this year.
Week 1 matchup: at Washington
13. KANSAS CITY (10-7)Final Quality Stats rank:9
Best post-lockout move: Locking up Tamba Hali. Not only did Hali have 14.5 sacks last year, they represented 38.1 percent of the team total. The additions of Steve Breaston to the receiving corps and fullback Le’Ron McClain to the backfield were also major upgrades over existing talent.
Week 1 matchup: host Buffalo
14. TAMPA BAY (10-6)Final Quality Stats rank:13
Best post-lockout move: Hmm. With all the money they had to spend, the Buccaneers still only coaxed a few minor free agents to come to Tampa for the fall. Hopefully for Tampa fans, there’s more to come.
Week 1 matchup:host Detroit
15. DALLAS (6-10)Final Quality Stats rank: 18
Best post-lockout move: More subtractions than additions in Dallas, but keeping tackle Doug Free – and letting tackle Marc Colombo walk – add up to good news for Tony Romo and the offense.
Week 1 matchup: at Jets
16. HOUSTON (6-10)Final Quality Stats rank: 20
Best post-lockout move: You’ve got to like the move to get two good players for the secondary (Danieal Manning and Johnathan Joseph), even if neither knows how to spell their first names.
Week 1 matchup: host Indianapolis
17. OAKLAND (8-8)Final Quality Stats rank: 16
Best post-lockout move: Well, they downgraded at backup QB (Bruce Gradkowski to Trent Edwards) and tight end (Zach Miller to Kevin Boss) and lost Robert Gallery and Nnamdi Asomugha. Other than that, great summer.
Week 1 matchup: at Denver, Monday night
18. DETROIT (6-10)Final Quality Stats rank: 17
Best post-lockout move: Wow. The Lions brought in 14 free agents that played elsewhere last year, including upgraded linebackers Justin Durant and Stephen Tulloch.
Week 1 matchup: at Tampa
19. MIAMI (7-9)Final Quality Stats rank: 21
Best post-lockout move: Reggie Bush got the headlines, but inside linebacker Kevin Burnett helps an already strong front seven (No. 5 Defensive Hogs in 2010).
Week 1 matchup: vs. New England
20. ST. LOUIS (7-9)Final Quality Stats rank:19
Best post-lockout move: The Rams got three of the best players on the market: OL Harvey Dahl, WR Mike Sims-Walker and S Quintin Mikell.
Week 1 matchup: vs. Philadelphia
21. MINNESOTA (6-10)Final Quality Stats rank: 26
Best post-lockout move: Getting Donovan McNabb. When you had not one but three quarterbacks with passer ratings in the 60s, getting one with a lifetime mark of 85.7 makes a lot of sense.
Week 1 matchup: at San Diego
22. JACKSONVILLE (8-8)Final Quality Stats rank: 27
Best post-lockout move: The Jaguars made strides toward improving their back seven with Paul Pozluzny, Dawan Landry and Drew Coleman.
Week 1 matchup: vs. Tennessee
23. SAN FRANCISCO (6-10)Final Quality Stats rank: 23
Best post-lockout move: Possibly picking up Daunte Culpepper, no question. Oh, wait, this isn’t 2004.
Week 1 matchup: vs. Seattle
24. SEATTLE (8-10)Final Quality Stats rank: 30
Best post-lockout move: Keeping defensive line standouts from 2010 Raheem Brock and Brandon Mebane.
Week 1 matchup: at San Francisco
25. WASHINGTON (6-10)Final Quality Stats rank: 25
Best post-lockout move: For all the positives, unloading Albert Haynesworth might have been the best of all. The Redskins’ Chemistry Index status is skyrocketing.
Week 1 matchup: vs. Giants
26. ARIZONA (5-11)Final Quality Stats rank: 29
Best post-lockout move: They paid a heavy price, and it might not work out, but Kevin Kolb at least gives them a chance to win – something they didn’t have in 2010, where a 5-11 season represented overachievement, not underachievement.
Week 1 matchup: vs. Carolina
27. TENNESSEE (6-10)Final Quality Stats rank: 15
Best post-lockout move: Matt Hasselbeck is a bit better than Kerry Collins, so there’s that.
Week 1 matchup: at Jacksonville
28. CLEVELAND (5-11)Final Quality Stats rank: 24
Best post-lockout move: A lot of subtracting going on in Cleveland; running back Brandon Jackson could be a nice complement to Peyton Hillis, but as your best offseason pickup?
Week 1 matchup: vs. Cincinnati
29. CINCINNATI (4-12)Final Quality Stats rank: 22
Best post-lockout move: Bruce Gradkowski is a longtime CHFF favorite; if you’re going to go 4-12 with a miserable Carson Palmer, why not do it with a fiery Gradkowski?
Week 1 matchup: at Cleveland
30. DENVER (4-12)Final Quality Stats rank: 28
Best post-lockout move: Not trading Kyle Orton. His value will be better in Week 4 than it is now, and he’s also a pretty good quarterback if you want to win football games. Isn’t that the goal?
Week 1 matchup: vs. Oakland, Monday night
31. CAROLINA (2-14)Final Quality Stats rank: 31
Best post-lockout move: Keeping Charles Johnson. Yes, he was overpaid, and yes, he had never produced at a high level before, but the Panthers’ defense needed him.
Week 1 matchup: at Arizona
32. BUFFALO (4-12)Final Quality Stats rank: 32
Best post-lockout move: The Bills are basically standing pat from last year. Considering their dead-last rank in our Quality Stats from a year ago, not a good move.
Week 1 matchup: at Kansas City