Sunday, July 22, 2012

Preseason Power Rankings: 25-32

Percy Harvin
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers surprised most football fans last season, after a 10-6 record back in 2010, you would think 2011 would not lead to a record of 4-12. Things are looking up for Tampa Bay, who, in the off-season, signed pro bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson, pro bowl guard Carl Nicks, and a brand new head coach by the name of Greg Schiano. Quarterback Josh Freeman (3,592 passing yards, 16 TD's) can throw to Jackson, presumably his number one wide receiver in 2012, or third-year wide receiver Mike Williams. Running backs LeGarrette Blount and rookie Doug Martin make up one of the most underrated running games in the league. Though they spent a lot of time upgrading their offense in the off-season, Tampa Bay has one of the worst, if not THE worst, defenses in the NFL. The Bucs ranked dead last in points allowed, rushing yards allowed, rushing touchdowns allowed, total sacks, and many other defensive categories. Newly drafted safety Mark Barron will not be able to resurrect this defense, and it appears the Buccaneers are several years away from a playoff appearance.

26. Washington Redskins: The Redskins were one of the more unpredictable teams in league last season. In Week 1, they fended off the Giants in Washington 28-14, but in Week 8 they were shut out by Buffalo 23-0. Hopefully, Robert Griffin III can turn around the Redskins organization. RGIII possesses arm strength, accuracy, and speed, the obvious first overall pick in most drafts. Griffin will have a great season statistically, and might even beat out Luck for Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, it will be exactly like the Carolina Panthers; a quarterback with great statistics but still not able to win many games. The Redskins might earn a few extra wins thanks to RGIII, but in no way are do I expect to make the playoffs.

27. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins may top out at 27 on this list, but they are still capable of making the playoffs in 2012. Reggie Bush finally lived up to his first-round-draft-pick potential last season, recording 854 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns in a nine-week span. Unfortunately, this offense lost two key players in the off-season; running back Ronnie Brown and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Chad Ochocinco and Davone Bess will not be able to fill the hole left by Marshall, nor can rookie Ryan Tannehill fix the problem at quarterback. The defense needs several adjustments, where linebacker Cameron Wake appears to be the lone star. Had Marshall and Brown stayed in Miami, the Dolphins would be a serious contender in 2012. However, with them gone, Miami must fight for the slightest chance at a playoff spot.

28. Indianapolis Colts: After many months of scouting reports and analysis, Andrew Luck is a part of the National Football League. Once he slips on the Colts jersey in September, everyone will be watching to see how Luck fares against a professional team. The Stanford alum's best wide receiver is Reggie Wayne, and I'm sure he passes to the veteran receiver throughout his rookie season. Even with Joseph Addai gone, running back Donald Brown has a lot of potential, especially after averaging 4.8 yards per carry in 134 attempts. The defense looked absolutely atrocious last season, ranking in the bottom five in most of the important defensive categories. Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney (if signed) are the two best defenders in Indianapolis, but they cannot do it all on their own. The Colts are several years away from becoming a highly competitive team, but Luck should be able to improve last year's record of 2-14.

29. St. Louis Rams: Entering the NFL draft, St. Louis was hoping to select a wide receiver with their first round pick, preferably Justin Blackmon. Sadly, both Blackmon and Michael Floyd were taken before the Rams had the chance to pick. At the 14th overall spot, the Rams were forced to take defensive tackle Michael Brockers of LSU. Drafting Blackmon would have capped off an excellent off-season for St. Louis, which included the signings of cornerback Janoris Jenkins, wide receiver Steve Smith, and cornerback Cortland Finnegan. The defense in St. Louis should improve thanks to their two new cornerbacks. The Rams' offenensive star is running back Steven Jackson, who is coming off of his 7th straight 1,000 yard season. Sam Bradford needs to improve his game if St. Louis wants a record above .500. Otherwise, you can count on this team looking for yet another big draft in 2013.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars: At the 30th spot, the Jacksonville Jaguars are projected to finish in the bottom tier by the end of Week 17. Maurice Jones Drew is the star of this team, but unfortunately for Jacksonville, running games do not win championships. Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne will never be able to lead Jacksonville into the playoffs, and until the Jaguars sign a top-notch quarterback, the drought will continue. There is not telling if rookie Justin Blackmon can play well along side Zach Miller and Laurent Robinson, but Jacksonville's receiving corp has improved since last season. The defense looked good in some areas, not allowing many yards against opposing teams. If the Jags manage to have another successful draft next April, they could be a serious threat come 2013.

31. Cleveland Browns: Cleveland's long and tiring search for a quarterback continues. Colt McCoy was quickly booted from the starting role, and replaced by the 28 year old Brandon Weeden. Despite their lack of defensive weapons, the Browns faired well when protecting their end zone last season, ranking second in passing yards allowed. This impressive streak will surely come to an abrupt hault by next season, as once again, the Browns finish last in the AFC North. The loss of Peyton Hillis neither helps nor hurts this Cleveland offense, especially after drafting Trent Richardson with the 3rd overall pick. Trent will rush for 700 yards at most in his rookie season, and the Browns organization can not rely on their rookie running back to lead such a weak offense.

32. Minnesota Vikings: When looking at Minnesota's roster, there are several big names with big talents. Jared Allen was just a sack away last season from breaking the single season sack record held by Michael Strahan. His ferocity should carry over into 2012 as he leads one of the best pass rush defenses in the league. Adrian Peterson is a mega star in the NFL, even though injuries affected last season's statistics. After wide receiver Percy Harvin and quarterback Christian Ponder, the talent drops off. The Vikings defense may be talented when it comes to sacking the opposing teams quarterback, but they struggled in nearly every other defensive category. Matt Kalil should be able to protect young Christian Ponder, but the Vikings are many years away from the playoffs.

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