Updated Sept. 2
That team is in there somewhere, buried among the dregs of the NFL. There might even be two of them.
I call them "The Shockers," those teams that come from nowhere to make the playoffs in the NFL when nobody sees it coming.
As I prepared the first regular-season batch of our Power Rankings -- opening up the season of rip jobs -- I kept scanning the bottom half of the league to try and come up with a team that will shock us all, be better than we thought, and make the usual mockery of this first set of rankings.
It happens to me -- and you -- every season. Why not again this season?
That's the NFL way. It's also a way to ensure the nasty e-mails and comments under these rankings keep coming my way. Nothing I do infuriates you guys like the rankings.
So who is that team? Maybe it's the Buffalo Bills or Houston Texans? Most of you would probably go with the New York Jets, who are 20th in these rankings (Jets fans probably want to throw me off the Empire State Building for that ranking), but I think the Jets are where they will finish -- below the playoff teams.
Whatever that surprise team is, expect to see it come playoff time. It's also a team that will probably do nothing more than make the postseason party, not with the power teams so far ahead of the rest.
In the AFC, the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers are the teams to beat. In the NFC, I'll go with the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and New York Giants.
At least one of those six will make the Super Bowl, maybe two.
They're followed by a mix of teams that have a chance to join them in that elite class, teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks.
So which team is the best? For now, I'm going with the Colts on one condition: Peyton Manning plays like his old self. If he does, the Colts will be better than the 2006 team that won the Super Bowl.
That isn't to say the Patriots or Chargers won't be there with them. There isn't much dividing those three.
Health will be key. That means Manning, Tom Brady (Patriots) and Shawne Merriman (Chargers). All have missed time in the preseason with injuries. All are vital to their team's success, the first two even more so than Merriman.
First one healthy to December wins.
As I finished writing that sentence, I decided to scan the rankings again, one last time in search of the surprise team. The bottom eight teams have no shot to make the playoffs, eliminating them. So that means the surprise team is between 16 and 24, meaning somewhere in that group is a playoff team.
Which is it? I just don't know for sure but I know the team is in there.
Damn it, who is it? Any ideas?