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Power rankings: 17-32

Peter Schrager

Special to FOXSports.com, Updated 22 hours ago

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17. Kansas City Chiefs

 

Anyone else absolutely psyched for the August 8th premier of HBO's "Hard Knocks"? The 4-week HBO mini-series returns this summer and focuses on the Chiefs. A training camp quarterback battle, Herm Edwards and Gunther Cunningham spitting venom and waxing poetic on the sidelines, and now a plot twist with Priest Holmes? It's gold, Jerry! Gold!

 

TV shows and Seinfeld references aside, Kansas City enters camp with question marks all over. Is the Huard/Croyle combo enough to get the Chiefs back to the playoffs? Will tackle machines Donnie Edwards and Napoleon Harris solidify a previously weak linebacker situation? Is rookie wide receiver Dwayne Bowe ready to produce right away? Probably the biggest issue, though, circles around All-Pro Larry Johnson and his current contract situation. Last season, Johnson set an NFL record with 416 carries. The longer this drags on, the worse for KC. Bad for Chiefs fans; great for those who pay for their reality TV.

 

18. St. Louis Rams

 

I like what the Rams did on defense this off-season, bringing in first-round pick Adam Carriker and free agents Chris Draft, James Hall, Todd Johnson and Mike Rumph. Those additions will be needed. St. Louis gave up the fifth-most points in the league last season and were 31st in the NFL in rush defense. Carriker's the man to watch. A defensive end in college, he'll be asked to play DT in his first season in the NFL. Is he ready? On offense, Drew Bennett joins the already talented receiving corps, Randy McMichael comes in at tight end, and rookie Brian Leonard adds a little depth to the running back position. There's optimism surrounding the Rams this season, but the D will make or break ‘em. A return to the playoffs is certainly a possibility, but far from a sure thing.

 

Also...

Power rankings 1-16

 

19. New York Giants

 

Jerry Reese sure is taking the bull by the horns in his first year as the Giants' GM. In his first few weeks on the job, Reese got right down to business, releasing veterans LaVar Arrington, Carlos Emmons and Luke Pettigout. He then shipped under-achieving receiver Tim Carter out to Cleveland, and ignored the draftniks by waiting until the sixth round to select an offensive lineman in April's draft.

 

With Philadelphia and Dallas considered the class of the NFC East, and the Redskins a vogue "sleeper" pick for '07, the Giants haven't gotten much buzz over the past few months. Of course, knowing the Big Blue fan base, that's perfectly fine with them. As long as the G-men show up ready to play in September, the experts can buzz about whatever else they like.

 

20. Arizona Cardinals

 

Is 20th a little high for a team that won five games last season and a grand total of one playoff game in the past 40 years? Possibly. But while I usually resist the annual July swoon over the Arizona Cardinals, I'm seeing big things out of Arizona in '07. The Cardinals absolutely cleaned up in April's draft. They had five picks and knocked each one out of the park. Levi Brown's the ideal anchor for Russ Grimm's offensive line, second-rounder Alan Branch is already signed and ready to go, and Buster Davis, Steve Breaston and Ben Patrick will all contribute immediately.

 

Poll

 

Roderick Hood and Terrence Holt are nice additions on the defense, while Matt Leinart's got everyone pumped about the O. Arizona, with the least difficult schedule in the NFL this season, should be in the playoff hunt come December. I'd truly be surprised if they're not. Then again, I wouldn't be the first NFL writer to fall for the Cards before Labor Day.

 

21. Buffalo Bills

 

There's lots of excitement in and around Western New York surrounding the local pro football team these days. Yes, despite losing defensive leaders Nate Clements, Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher, as well as running back Willis McGahee in the off-season, expectations are big for the 2007 Bills.

 

Buffalo had a fabulous draft in April, scooping up top collegiate performers Marshawn Lynch, Paul Posluszny, Trent Edwards and safety Jon Wendling. The Bills improved their offensive line via free agency as well, and now feature a four-year veteran at quarterback in J.P. Losman. It's time for Losman to make the jump. If he lives up to the off-season hype and the young defense holds up its end of the deal, Buffalo could be vying for an AFC wil card spot this winter.

 

22. Tennessee Titans

 

Tennessee's been a confusing team to figure out this off-season. The Pacman Jones chaos, the questionable draft choices, the loss of key playmakers on offense (Bobby Wade, Drew Bennett, Travis Henry), and their starting running back showing up to the summer OTAs completely out of shape had fans and media alike scratching their heads.

 

Yes, Vince Young is there. And yes, he's defied the odds before. But who's he handing off the ball to? Who's he throwing to? Eric Moulds is a nice pickup and Brandon Jones has shown some potential, but neither are legitimate number ones at this stage in their respective careers. I'd be shocked if Tennessee matched its win total from last year. Then again, with Vince Young under center, anything's possible.

 

23. Green Bay Packers

 

Green Bay finished the season strong in '06, winning its final four games and finishing the year 8-8. That came as a huge surprise to most considering a host of injuries across the offensive line. But the Pack put it together in December, and the young offensive line held its own.

 

Does the team take a step back, though, in '07? The rushing game, for one, is a definite sore spot. Who's going to carry the load now that Ahman Green's gone and William Henderson isn't blocking? The current depth chart reveals a green, unproven running corps consisting of Vernand Morency, Brandon Jackson, Noah Herron and DeShawn Wynn. Two rookies and a pair of young veterans. Combined, the Green Bay backs have 683 career NFL rushing yards. That's putting a lot of faith in a bunch of untested players. The gamble worked out last year with the O-line. Can it work out again in the backfield? We'll have to wait and see.

 

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

The Bucs revamped their defense over the off-season, bringing in Cato June, former Broncos pass specialist Patrick Chukwurah, and collegiate defensive stars Gaines Adams, Quincy Black, Tanard Jackson and Sabby Piscatelli. Simeon Rice is gone, but his best days might be behind him. Tampa also added some depth to the offensive line, signing former Giant tackle Luke Pettigout. At the quarterback spot, longtime veteran Jeff Garcia takes the reins. Chris Simms won't go down without a fight, but it's Garcia's team for now.

 

Is this the 2006 Eagles stud Garcia, though? Or the 2004-05 Lions and Browns washed-up former star Garcia? Jon Gruden and Co. are banking on the former. Tampa should be better in '07 than it was in '06. But a playoff squad? Probably not. Jon Gruden's not on the hot seat just yet — but come October, let's check back on the status of that one.

 

25. Washington Redskins

 

Jason Campbell showed flashes of being a franchise QB as a rookie. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

 

Jason Campbell's got a nice new mustache and a lot of high praise coming out of Washington. The stat heads will tell you it's warranted. The guys at FootballOutsiders.com are big Campbell supporters, writing recently, "Go back to your Pro Football Prospectus 2006. Read what David Lewin wrote about Philip Rivers. Be amazed at how accurate it was. Look at the projection for Jason Campbell. Note that no recent top QB prospect has both more college starts and a higher collegiate completion percentage than Campbell. Adjust expectations of possible late-season Washington upsets accordingly." Bold prediction, sure. But it's not without merit. Everyone you ask is high on Campbell. Of course, he's also the team's biggest question mark.

 

However, with the Clinton Portis/Ladell Betts duo healthy and ready to go, there's some genuine excitement for the Redskins as they enter training camp. Al Saunders worked wonders with Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson in his backfield back in 2005. Portis and Betts have that 1-2 potential. The defense was a nightmare last season, but should be improved with the additions of veteran performers London Fletcher-Baker, Fred Smoot and Omar Stoutmire. Can Washington compete in the up-for-grabs NFC East? Sure, why not? Crazier things have happened.

 

26. Detroit Lions

 

Jon Kitna guaranteed 10 wins a few weeks back, and the pundits had a field day. But Kitna's not backing down from the comments. With a manageable schedule, a budding offense guided by Mike Martz, and a re-patched defensive line, the Lions will most definitely improve from last year. Ten wins, though? Eek. I don't know. First things first — they need to come to terms with Calvin Johnson. The second overall pick is currently un-signed.

 

27. Miami Dolphins

 

No one seems to be expecting much out of the Dolphins this season. A year after being considered a Super Bowl favorite by several talking heads, the 'Phins are now generally being talked about as a bottom of the barrel NFL team. It's certainly been an odd off-season for Miami. The Saban debacle was followed by the Daunte Culpepper mess, a curious and unpopular draft, and a slew of off-the-field trouble — including problems for receivers Chris Chambers and Kelly Campbell, as well as DT Fred Evans and linebacker Joey Porter. Campbell and Evans were released, but Chambers and Porter remain with the squad.

 

With high expectations, the Dolphins finished the season 6-10 last year. With low expectations, there's hope they'll make a magic run to the AFC wild card. They'd be overcoming a lot in doing so.

 

28. Houston Texans

 

Some really great feel-good stories out of Houston camp all summer. First, Samkon Gado requested and was granted some time off from the Texans to prepare for the MCAT exam in June. New nickname? "The Doctor". Then, Rick Reilly had his piece in Sports Illustrated about Ahman Green and safety Jason Simmons helping the needy through their jersey number change. Really good stuff.

 

What's everyone most excited about, though? The new man under center, Matt Schaub. With a new quarterback, new running back (Ahman Green), new offensive tackle (Jordan Black), and yet another first-round pick on the defense (Amobi Okoye), there's a different kind of feeling coming out of Texans camp this summer. Fans are hoping the season plays out a little differently than usual, too.

 

29. Minnesota Vikings

 

Adrian Peterson gives the Vikings a dynamic ground game. (Scott Schneider / Getty Images)

 

If the Adrian Peterson-Chester Taylor combo performs as expected, and that star-studded Vikings offensive line continues to uphold its end of the bargain, we could be looking at the number one rushing team in the entire league. As for the passing game? Well, who knows? As I discussed in my recent column , both the Vikings' quarterback and receiver situations are enormous question marks. If second-year QB Tarvaris Jackson exceeds expectations, Minnesota could very well be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC. Of course, that could be asking a lot out of a guy with a grand total of two career starts.

 

30. Atlanta Falcons

 

Atlanta, you're on the clock. What else can you say? On top of the hideous Vick situation, Warrick Dunn's injured, the defense is thin, and there's the chance of mass protest before each and every Falcons road game this season. Everyone's sickened by the Vick stuff — but that's just the start of Atlanta's problems.

 

On defense, unit leader Patrick Kerney left for the Seahawks, and there are question marks all along the defensive line. It's just a horrible situation in Atlanta right now. Public relations-wise and football-wise. Bobby Petrino didn't have this in mind when he left Louisville for the ATL back in January. If he can get this team to .500, he'll be coach of the year. Heck, coach of the decade.

 

31. Oakland Raiders

 

The Raiders made news recently by signing former Pro Bowl Jaguars safety Donovin Darius. The signing only further bolsters an already potent defensive squad that ranked as one of the top units in the league last year. Of course, the D wasn't the problem for the Raiders in '06; the offense was. In '06, Oakland averaged a league-worst 246.2 yards per game, a league-worst 4.2 yards per play, and had a league-worst 46 turnovers. They also finished a league-worst 2-14.

 

So in comes the overhaul. New coaches, new running backs, new quarterbacks ("including Daunte Culpepper), new receivers and a new tight end will all learn to gel together on the go in '07. They'll be better than last year's squad, for sure. That said, they'll also more than likely have a top-10 draft pick come April. A return to the postseason is still a few years away for the natives of the Black Hole.

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32. Cleveland Browns

 

Great story out of Cleveland this week, as Browns center LeCharles Bentley, a highly decorated free agent signing from last spring, was cleared to return to the football field for the first time since tearing up his knee on the opening day of training camp last summer. Bentley's injury was complicated by a staph infection. With or without Bentley in the fold, though, it should be another long season for Browns fans. There will be some definite bright spots (Joe Thomas and Braylon Edwards especially), but question marks still dot the roster. Playing in the loaded AFC North, there's little room for error. Cleveland's moving in the right direction; it's just not there yet.

 

 

 

 

 

AINT THAT THE TRUTH

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LOL....Philly and Dallas the class of the NFC East!!

 

Good post jersey.

 

Good post. It's 100% accurate. If the Cowboys are fairly healthy, Dallas fans are not considering the Giants. Not even remotely considering the Giants. Philly, NO, Carolina, and maybe TB and Seattle. And that's a big maybe.

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Good post. It's 100% accurate. If the Cowboys are fairly healthy, Dallas fans are not considering the Giants. Not even remotely considering the Giants. Philly, NO, Carolina, and maybe TB and Seattle. And that's a big maybe.

 

 

That's fine don't consider the Giants. We don't even think about you and your Homo of a QB. This would be the accurate part:

 

 

 

the Giants haven't gotten much buzz over the past few months. Of course, knowing the Big Blue fan base, that's perfectly fine with them. As long as the G-men show up ready to play in September, the experts can buzz about whatever else they like.

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That's fine don't consider the Giants. We don't even think about you and your Homo of a QB. This would be the accurate part:

the Giants haven't gotten much buzz over the past few months. Of course, knowing the Big Blue fan base, that's perfectly fine with them. As long as the G-men show up ready to play in September, the experts can buzz about whatever else they like.

 

 

Have you noticed, jerseygiantfan, that September is usually the ONLY month that the G-men show up ready to play? And if this is perfectly fine with the Big Blue fan base I will once again reiterate that you people have low expectations...

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Good post. It's 100% accurate. If the Cowboys are fairly healthy, Dallas fans are not considering the Giants. Not even remotely considering the Giants. Philly, NO, Carolina, and maybe TB and Seattle. And that's a big maybe.

 

Its never too long before you make yourself look stupid. So youre telling us, that you arent concerned about us, but you are about TB??? :confused:

 

You need to learn a little.

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TB has a QB. :LMAO:

 

 

They also have a life....go get one.

 

I also love when you come around here trying to agitate Giants fans that when some one comes up with the infamous Homo slip and slide or even brings it up you claim you don't know what they are talking about. I will bet the Cowboys fail to produce AGAIN this year. I'm done, I'm waiting til the season actually starts.

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They also have a life....go get one.

 

I also love when you come around here trying to agitate Giants fans that when some one comes up with the infamous Homo slip and slide or even brings it up you claim you don't know what they are talking about. I will bet the Cowboys fail to produce AGAIN this year. I'm done, I'm waiting til the season actually starts.

 

Speaking of avoiding the issue, did you notice that Sept is the only month that the G-men show up ready to play?

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Speaking of avoiding the issue, did you notice that Sept is the only month that the G-men show up ready to play?

 

1-2 last year in the month of September in 06. Research is a key component to offering an opinion as fact, you should try it.

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TB has a QB. :LMAO:

Tampa Bay has 4 QB's (If you wanna count Jake 'the retired' Plummer)

Anyway, why would any Cowboy fan say that TB is more of a threat to the Cowboys than the Giants? You are really crazy or u do this to get a rise.

 

 

If the Cowboys are fairly healthy, Dallas fans are not considering the Giants. Not even remotely considering the Giants. .......and maybe TB

Let's break that down shall we? The Giants and Cowboys are in the SAME division, play twice a year BUT you consider Seattle and TB as a mild threat? Seattle I can understand...it's the team Romo effed up against. Tampa Bay? Tampa Bay hasn't did shit for years and aren't looking like a threat this year either. Which Dallas fans are you talking to?

Let's now talk about divisional records:

Dallas Cowboys 2006 (2-4) in the division and a SPLIT with the team Cowboy fans are not considering

 

So my question is: Why would Seattle, TB and Carolina be on your "list" to consider when yo' team was 2-4 in the East?

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Good post. It's 100% accurate. If the Cowboys are fairly healthy, Dallas fans are not considering the Giants. Not even remotely considering the Giants. Philly, NO, Carolina, and maybe TB and Seattle. And that's a big maybe.

 

And you're a big dope.

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Tampa Bay has 4 QB's (If you wanna count Jake 'the retired' Plummer)

Anyway, why would any Cowboy fan say that TB is more of a threat to the Cowboys than the Giants? You are really crazy or u do this to get a rise.

If the Cowboys are fairly healthy, Dallas fans are not considering the Giants. Not even remotely considering the Giants. .......and maybe TB

Let's break that down shall we? The Giants and Cowboys are in the SAME division, play twice a year BUT you consider Seattle and TB as a mild threat? Seattle I can understand...it's the team Romo effed up against. Tampa Bay? Tampa Bay hasn't did shit for years and aren't looking like a threat this year either. Which Dallas fans are you talking to?

Let's now talk about divisional records:

Dallas Cowboys 2006 (2-4) in the division and a SPLIT with the team Cowboy fans are not considering

 

So my question is: Why would Seattle, TB and Carolina be on your "list" to consider when yo' team was 2-4 in the East?

 

You left the Eagles off your question and they gave the Cowboys two of the 4 East losses last year. Carolina has talent. Seattle has played well in recent years and picked up some decent players. TB was a playoff team I believe two years ago, and Garcia will do well if Cadillac is healthy.

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1-2 last year in the month of September in 06. Research is a key component to offering an opinion as fact, you should try it.

 

I stand corrected. The Giants really don't play well in any given month. Thank you, xxi-xxv.

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You left the Eagles off your question and they gave the Cowboys two of the 4 East losses last year. Carolina has talent. Seattle has played well in recent years and picked up some decent players. TB was a playoff team I believe two years ago, and Garcia will do well if Cadillac is healthy.

Thought you knew about the Eagles....but I'm talkin' TB sunn!

...and you've got to say it with conviction! Not like: TB was a playoff team I believe two years ago, Let's go back two years ago to 2004, TB was 5-11 and DID NOT play against the Cowboys. Now in 2005, TB was 11-5 and LOST in the Wildcard game vs the Redskins. Again TB DID NOT play the Cowboys. The 2007 schedule is out and waallaaa!!! Once again TB DOES NOT play the Cowboys. My question is: where does the 'concern' come from concerning TB???

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Good post. It's 100% accurate. If the Cowboys are fairly healthy, Dallas fans are not considering the Giants. Not even remotely considering the Giants. Philly, NO, Carolina, and maybe TB and Seattle. And that's a big maybe.

 

 

Umm, badegg, you know me. I hate to bring you bad news. But, your statement is not entirely true.... Alot of Dallas fans have expressed how hard its going to be to win this division. They all been saying the Eagle, Giants and Cowboys have a chance at the division crown. Me personally, I wouldn't count the Redskins out either. But that's just me....

 

In fact, alot of Dallas fans are saying that the Eagle are going to win the division again. Why? Well, the Eagles had their fair share of injuries too. And yet were able to win the division. The cowboys however, had only one major injury (Greg Ellis...I know I ask myself the samething. Who the fuck is Greg Ellis?) and still struggle to beat the Giants by 3 (Who had 8 starters out) and got their ass handed to them by Philly twice(They had alot of injuries too. at least 6 starters)by Seattle (their entire secondary was out for the season) and Detroit (I'm not going into that).

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Umm, badegg, you know me. I hate to bring you bad news. But, your statement is not entirely true.... Alot of Dallas fans have expressed how hard its going to be to win this division. They all been saying the Eagle, Giants and Cowboys have a chance at the division crown. Me personally, I wouldn't count the Redskins out either. But that's just me....

 

In fact, alot of Dallas fans are saying that the Eagle are going to win the division again. Why? Well, the Eagles had their fair share of injuries too. And yet were able to win the division. The cowboys however, had only one major injury (Greg Ellis...I know I ask myself the samething. Who the fuck is Greg Ellis?) and still struggle to beat the Giants by 3 (Who had 8 starters out) and got their ass handed to them by Philly twice(They had alot of injuries too. at least 6 starters)by Seattle (their entire secondary was out for the season) and Detroit (I'm not going into that).

 

Not to mention having thier asses handed to them once by the Gmen. :TU:

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I stand corrected. The Giants really don't play well in any given month. Thank you, xxi-xxv.

I know, they were 8-8. Had they been 9-7 which is such a huge difference we could say they played well in all months, because well we all know who went 9-7 :clap:

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