Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gimmicky NFL Power Rankings

Preseason NFL football is about as interesting as regular season NBA basketball. I don't watch unless I have a very good reason to. The games essentially mean nothing. Sure, guys are playing for jobs and minutes come games that matter, but that's not enough to make me watch. However, one large difference remains. Whereas regular season NBA leads to the NBA playoffs that drag on for weeks and weeks and crown a champion that everyone predicted from before the season had even started, the NFL preseason leads to the ultimate pot of gold: the NFL regular season.

Of course we can't start the regular season without first knowing where everyone stands and who the favorites are. The NFL, unlike any other sport, has massive turnover with playoff teams. Every season a handful of teams hop across that line. Super Bowl runner-ups had been known to miss the playoffs for many years running in fact. It's hard to figure out what an NFL season will have in store. The most effective way to do this would be to examine each team's strengths and weaknesses, as well as their schedule and injuries and factor everything in to a large matrix and come up with an output. The easiest way to do this, on the other hand, is to do a gimmicky power rankings list. I have chosen the latter.

Writing gimmick columns is common practice. Bill Simmons is known for it. Hell, his most famous type of column is a mailbag where he lets all his readers write half the info and Bill fills in the blanks. ESPN's other big name, Matthew Berry, is a great gimmick writer as well. Rather than simply have a bland column of facts being listed or stats being listed, he labels them "10 Lists of 10" or "You Heard Me" to make them sound bold and eye-catching even if they aren't. It works. They are great reads. The key to a gimmick article is to know when you need to fill in for a lack of body. And, most importantly, you have to do the same type of post again at some point, otherwise it'd just be a dumb column. Doing that dumb column religiously makes it fun and gimmicky.

In honor of English being my first language, the NFL Power Rankings at The Sports Piñata will be a word game, and almost entirely written in English. Por que? Porque I said so, that's why.

32. St. Louis Rams - Sigh.

31. Buffalo Bills - Oh brother.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mature quickly Josh.

29. Cleveland Browns - Remember that LeBron guy?

28. Seattle Seahawks - Holmgren left for a reason.

27. Detroit Lions - I see promise, in 2011 perhaps.

26. Denver Broncos - Talk about catching the injury bug early.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers - Bound to start slow and will not recover.

24. Oakland Raiders - Major upgrade at QB goes well with winning more.

23. Arizona Cardinals - Remember when Matt Leinart was good? Neither does Larry Fitzgerald.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars - They seem to be getting worse everywhere other than running back.

21. Philadelphia Eagles - No McNabb means no conference title loss but no playoff berth either.

20. Carolina Panthers - Will they miss Delhomme? Nah, but the rest of that team a'int great.

19. Washington Redskins - They'll be better but who do they jump? Tough division and aging skill players.

18. Miami Dolphins - Look for Chad Henne to be 2010 Joe Flacco in 2012. If that makes sense.

17. Atlanta Falcons - Good running game with a great wide receiver should help develop a spotty, yet talented quarterback.

16. Tennessee Titans - Maybe Chris Johnson does gain 2,500 yards from scrimmage but playoff hopes rest on Vince Young's shoulders.

15. Chicago Bears - Defense can't be that bad. Jay Cutler wasn't actually terrible. Matt Forte was. The Bears will be average.

14. San Francisco 49ers - Everyone sees them as a trendy pick this year. They will win a terrible division and go no further.

13. Cincinnati Bengals - Owens' impact will be minimal. Same with Chad's. Running and defense will leave them just shy of the playoffs though.

12. Houston Texans - Their year is always 'next year' and 2010 is no different. They'll be on the outside looking in on the playoffs.

11. Kansas City Chiefs - If this doesn't make sense, read my July post 'Making The Leap.' You still might not agree, but will see the rationale.

10. New England Patriots - Can you see Brady, Moss, Welker, Belichick and that defense missing the playoffs? I don't yet. 2011 may be a different story though.

9. New York Giants - Kenny Phillips is the new Bob Sanders. With him healthy, this defense will be spectacular again. Bradshaw starting over Jacobs would help the offense.

8. Baltimore Ravens - I see big things in Mr. Flacco's immediate future. Adding a number one receiver can't hurt a developing QB with a laser for an arm.

7. San Diego Chargers - Bye bye Ladainian. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Oh no, sit down Darren. Come on in Ryan, we've been expecting you.

6. New York Jets - This hinges on Darrelle Revis. If he comes to camp soon, this team will win the AFC East. If he doesn't, they won't. I think he will.

5. Minnesota Vikings - Great run defense, great skill players, and another playoff berth simply hinges on the jerkiness of one rostered player. I'd rather root for Mike Vick than Brett Favre.

4. Dallas Cowboys - Perhaps the best defense in the conference is aided by perhaps the best offense in the conference. One of those 'perhaps' won't come true. That's why they're only fourth.

3. Indianapolis Colts - Eventually, like the Patriots, the Colts will stop winning. It won't be this year however. It seems as though this year's offense will actually be better than last year's version.

2. Green Bay Packers - This offense is great. We know that part. The defense should have been great last year but was ravaged by injury. They'll make up for it by being great this year.

1. New Orleans Saints - The defending champs get 32 words. No preseason rankings list makes any kind of sense if last year's title winner is not number one going in. Bottom line is offense wins championships.

So there you have it. By definition to make this a gimmick, I'll have to do this again at some point. The next Gimmicky NFL Power Rankings will be written sometime before the playoffs. You Heard Me!

(Image taken from

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