FanPost

2009 Power Rankings - Totally Meaningless but Interesting Nonetheless

Power Rankings: Brady buoys Pats, but Philly's coming fast

 

Updated May 4

Which is the most-improved team heading into the 2009 NFL season?

Hint: It's a trick question.

Think. It's really easy. It's the New England Patriots. For one reason: Tom Brady is back.

Even the Dalai Lama thinks the Patriots are No. 1 right now. (AP)  
Even the Dalai Lama thinks the Patriots are No. 1 right now. (AP)  
That's why the Patriots sit atop my latest batch of the CBSSports.com Power Rankings. They have a deep team, but with Brady back from a torn ACL they go from a good team to a great one and the Super Bowl favorite.

OK, so it was a trick question. Let me ask another: Other than the Patriots, which is the most-improved team?

Hint: It's a team in green.

Yep, the Philadelphia Eagles. I love what they've done in the past three months. They've added key veterans like left tackle Jason Peters, right tackle Stacy Andrews and corner Ellis Hobbs and added speed to their offense in draft picks Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy.

The Eagles are loaded. And let's not forget that they were a team that played in the NFC Championship Game last season, losing to the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals were a surprise team to many last season. But they were on my radar for a couple of years as a possible playoff contender.

Two teams fall into that category as we sit here in May, non-playoff teams that I think have a chance for a playoff push.

One is the Houston Texans and the other is the Cincinnati Bengals. The Texans have stockpiled a lot of talent while the Bengals get back Carson Palmer. When he's healthy, he's one of the best.

When he was at his best, carrying the Bengals, the defense wasn't any good. Now the defense is improved and he's back.

Could the Texans or Bengals be this year's Cardinals?

It's early, but they're on my radar.

The next batch of CBSSports.com Power Rankings will come just before camps open in July. There probably won't be much change, but you never know.

Heck, Brett Favre might be back playing. That's bound to drop down any team he joins.

Here are the post-draft Power Rankings:

Power Rankings
Current Team Previous
1 Patriots · Trends 11
They get Tom Brady back. They have the deepest team in the league. Oh, and they have the best coach. Add it up, and it's no wonder they are Super favorites.
2 Steelers · Trends 1
The champions are loaded again and will be in the thick of it come playoff time. They didn't do much to improve their offensive line, though, which has to be a concern.
3 Colts · Trends 7
Peyton Manning is back healthy again, so they are a real contender again. The addition of Donald Brown to the running game will give it more explosiveness. The key will be the return to health of major defensive players.
4 Cardinals · Trends 2
They've done some nice things in the offseason, including adding corner Bryant McFadden and drafting Beanie Wells to carry the football. They will be a playoff team again and maybe they'll finish in Miami.
5 Eagles · Trends 4
They've had a wonderful offseason, adding key players like tackles Jason Peters and Stacey Andrews and loading up in the draft with speed and quickness. They will be tough to stop on offense.
6 Giants · Trends 5
They fortified the defense with some key free agents and added a speed receiver in Hakeem Nicks to the passing game. Tom Coughlin will have this team in the playoffs again.
7 Titans · Trends 6
They haven't done a lot, and losing Albert Haynesworth will hurt. The other thing is their division is tough. They also have to get more big plays from their passing game.
8 Ravens · Trends 3
Joe Flacco will be better in his second season as a starter and that defense will once again be among the best. They do have to take their passing game up a notch.
9 Falcons · Trends 9
It's all about the defense for the Falcons. Adding Tony Gonzalez makes the offense complete and the draft was loaded with defensive picks to help the other side. They aren't going away.
10 Saints · Trends 19
This is another team that has improved its defense in the past four months in terms of talent. Now new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has to bring it all together.
11 Chargers · Trends 10
This is still a deep, talented team. If Philip Rivers continues to develop, the Chargers will easily be the class of the AFC West.
12 Texans · Trends 17
The Texans have a lot of important pieces in place. As long as Matt Schaub can stay healthy, they might be ready to make a real playoff push.
13 Panthers · Trends 8
They will be the same team: Run heavy and play tough defense. Is that enough? Jake Delhomme has to play better.
14 Bears · Trends 18
Getting Jay Cutler is the steal of the offseason. He makes them a real playoff threat. Yes, I do believe that.
15 Cowboys · Trends 14
They have talent, but something just seems to be off. I don't think they're as good as the Eagles or Giants in their own division, which is why they are down this low.
16 Bengals · Trends 24
Getting Palmer back makes them dangerous and the defense will be better around him. I like the Bengals as a sleeper team. I really do.
17 Vikings · Trends 13
Quarterback. It's all about the quarterback. Whether it's Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson, that position has to be better. Words of advice: Stay away from that guy named Favre.
18 Packers · Trends 23
The move to a 3-4 under new coordinator Dom Capers will be one to watch closely. If that side of the ball plays better, Aaron Rodgers might get them to a playoff game.
19 Bills · Trends 22
Can Terrell Owens make them a playoff team? That might be stretching it, but they will be better on offense.
20 Seahawks · Trends 28
New coach Jim Mora takes over a veteran team that was hurt by injuries last season. They need to keep Matt Hasselbeck healthy. If they do, they will push the Cardinals.
21 Jets · Trends 16
How long does it take to get Mark Sanchez ready? If he's what they think he is, they will be better than expected. If not, it's a redshirt season and they will win six games.
22 Buccaneers · Trends 15
Who plays quarterback? Whoever it is has to be better than what they had last season. There are also some age concerns on defense. New coach Raheem Morris faces a challenging first season.
23 Redskins · Trends 25
They're the fourth team in a four-team division. That will make it tough to win eight games.
24 Jaguars · Trends 26
They've made some nice moves to fix the offensive line, and now it's time for the offense to do more. The defense also needs young players to step up, especially end Derrick Harvey.
25 Broncos · Trends 20
They're excited about Kyle Orton. I'm not. I think he's OK. They better hope the defense plays better than a year ago or it won't matter who quarterbacks the Broncos. I do like Knowshon Moreno.
26 Dolphins · Trends 12
They are the step-back team this season. But in 2010, look out. I think Chad Henne will take over at some time this season.
27 49ers · Trends 21
It's all quarterback with the 49ers. Can Shaun Hill or Alex Smith get the job done? If not, they'll stay down here all year long.
28 Raiders · Trends 27
It's all about JaMarcus Russell. If he plays an entire season to the level of expectations, the Raiders will be better. I think he can. But they have other issues.
29 Chiefs · Trends 29
They landed their quarterback in Matt Cassel and have added a few players to help, but new coach Todd Haley faces a big task in getting this offense to play like his Arizona unit did.
30 Browns · Trends 30
New coach Eric Mangini will build this team the way he wants it. But one has to wonder if that's a good thing considering his Jets history.
31 Rams · Trends 31
The Rams were a disaster last year. New coach Steve Spagnuolo has a lot of work to do. They're at least a year away.
32 Lions · Trends 32
They have their franchise quarterback to build around, and Jim Schwartz will do a good job, but there's a lot of work still to be done.
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