Welcome to the start of the 2011 NFL season. Just a couple of months ago we were wondering if there was even going to be football and now I am about to release the 2011 pre season NFL rankings.
This offseason has been one of the strangest we have ever seen. A long lockout followed by a flurry of free agent signings in a short period of time. So who is most improved? Which team is in the best position to make a run to the Superbowl? Let's look at our power rankings and try and answer some of those questions.
1. Green Bay Packers - 2010 Super Bowl Champs
The Green Bay Packers are your defending Super Bowl champions and unlike other teams didn't make a big splash in the free agent market. What is scary is they really didn't have to because they are returning so many injured players from last year. Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley and a slew of other players will be back with the team this year. Aaron Rodgers was impressive last year and there is no reason to believe his spectacular play won't continue. This team is at the top and until someone proves they are better this is where they will stay.
2. New England Patriots - 2010 AFC East Champs
Every year that the New England Patriots start the season with a healthy Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as their head coach they have a chance to win it all. Why? Because they have done it three times in the past 10 years. The Patriots did add some big names this off season in Chad Ochocino and Albert Haynesworth although I am uncertain how much those two will contribute. The one issue this team will have will be in their running game. Is Benjarvis Green-Ellis able to carry this team on the ground? Does he need to? We will find out but right now the Patriots are the best team in the AFC.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers - 2010 AFC Champs
Pittsburgh represented the AFC in the Super Bowl last season and should be poised to make another run at it again this year. They return most of their team and have actually signed some of their most important defensive pieces to long term contracts. This team always wins with defense and over the past few years their offense has begun to make strides to be considered high powered. If Rashard Mendenhall learned how to hold on to the ball this off season then the Steelers could be a force to be reckoned with even though their receiving corps might not be the best in the league.
4. Philadelphia Eagles - 2010 NFC East Champs
Philadelphia was definitely the biggest buyers in the off season. Even though I don't agree with the "Dream Team" tag that Vince Young gave to this unproven team during training camp, it is hard to argue that the Eagles aren't the class of the always competitive NFC East. If Michael Vick can stay healthy, and that is a big if, and the defense can come together behind rookie defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, the Eagles have a chance of giving the Packers a run for their money this year.
5. New York Jets - 2010 AFC Championship Loser
The New York Jets are never the favorite on paper but for the last two seasons they have found themselves one win away from the Super Bowl. The Jets lost the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes this year but did manage to pick up Plaxico Burress from jail and sign Santonio Holmes to a multi year deal. I am not sure if they have the offense still to match up with the Patriots but I am not betting against them this year. Could this be the year the Jets finally get over the hump and represent the AFC in the Super Bowl? Stay tuned...
There you have it, the 2011 NFL pre season power rankings by Mole & Meares. Check back each week as we will update our top five teams weekly. Will two of these teams meet in the Super Bowl in February? Your guess is as good as ours!
Make sure to visit us at www.moleandmeares.com to see all of our picks each week!