Off-season power rankings seem about as useful as a third testicle, but that kind of thing never stopped ESPN before so why should it now? Hell, they’ve got a whole website to fill. Plus, let’s face it, everyone loves a good list. So, without further ado, ESPN’s Off-Season Power Rankings:
"1. Patriots2. Colts3. Chargers4. Ravens5. Bears6. Saints7. Broncos8. Eagles9. Cowboys10. Bengals11. Seahawks12. Jets13. Steelers14. Jaguars15. 49ers16. Panthers17. Giants18. Rams19. Falcons20. Chiefs21. Titans22. Cardinals23. Bills24. Packers25. VIKINGS26. Dolphins27. Buccaneers28. Redskins29. Texans30. Lions31. Browns32. Raiders"
The list would seem to reflect, more than anything else, the conventional wisdom that the Patriots have had the best off-season of all the teams in the league. And a lot of this perception hinges of course on the Randy Moss signing – but it remains to be seen how Bill Belichick plans on using Moss; as a primary receiver or an occasional deep-threat/decoy. Probably the most intriguing ranking is the 49ers at 15. Last year at this time, another NFC West squad, the Cardinals, were being touted as the big sleeper/break-out team – and we know what happened to them. Denny Green says if you wanna crown the 49ers then crown their bleeps.
Our main concern, though, is the Vikings being placed at 25. One behind the Packers – and I thought the Packers were perceived as a team on the rise. Didn’t they have a better-than-expected defense and surprisingly strong offensive line last year? Oh, but they have no running back or receivers (except Driver). Could be a long year, what with Favre being bitter about the team’s failure to trade for the aforementioned Mr. Moss. But back to the Vikings – sadly, I think 25 is about where they deserve to be. This team has more question marks than the Riddler’s dry cleaning. And the primary one is still coach Brad Childress, whose relationship with his players seemed to get testy late last year, and who has yet to prove – to me at least – that he’s the offensive guru he was supposed to have been when he left the Eagles. And there are the personnel issues – receiver (a mess), defensive end (full of doubt), quarterback (unproven Tarvaris Jackson vs. career back-up Brooks Bollinger) – but we have plenty of time to discuss all that in the months leading up to the season.