Updated, Feb. 15
There are 30 weeks until the NFL opens its 2006 season, which is a long, long time spent watching junk sports. We haven't even had the league's combine, let alone the draft.
Free agency is still a few weeks away, and maybe more if it is postponed for labor issues.
|There's no arguing with Pittsburgh at the moment. (Getty Images)|
With so much uncertainty, it's time for another batch of the CBS SportsLine.com Power Rankings.
Why? The boss asked for them. So have many of you.
These rankings are done with a look back at 2005, but with a slight look forward to 2006. The look ahead is tenuous at best. Teams will be making free-agency moves that can change positioning. The draft could impact as well.
Retirements, such as Brett Favre's, will be felt, too.
So don't hold me to these rankings come December. This is just the start, one of many that will take us to the end of the 2006 season.
I know one lesson learned from a year ago: No Oakland Raiders praising.
To refresh: They were near the top of the rankings when the season started -- as well as being a really stupid Super Bowl pick. They flopped, fired their coach and now will turn back to re-tread Art Shell to try and bring back the glory.
Shell has a big job in front of him. For that reason, the Raiders open the 2006 Rankings in the 30th spot, ahead of only New Orleans and San Francisco.
The Steelers get the obvious nod for the top spot. They are the Super Bowl champs and they've got the best roster.
It is a youth-packed group that has a 23-year-old quarterback who hasn't come close to playing his best football. In terms of free agents, they have a couple of key ones (Chris Hope and Antwaan Randle El) but this is a team that always seems to have replacements. And the staff is one of the best.
The Steelers made a magical run as a sixth seed to win a Super Bowl, but they were better than that. If Ben Roethlisberger hadn't been injured, they could have been a 13-3 team. That's coming off a 15-1 season in 2004.
The Indianapolis Colts, the favorites in Vegas heading into next season, are in the second spot. They have cap issues and must find a replacement for James while improving their offensive line, but they still have Peyton Manning and that passing game. They won't be going anywhere.
The first five teams in the rankings all come from the AFC. That says something about the balance of power in the league.
Looking for an early surprise? How about the Miami Dolphins? Nick Saban willed his team to 9-7 last year. If they make a few good moves in the offseason, the playoffs are definitely possible. The staff, with Saban, Mike Mularkey and Dom Capers, is among the best in football.
So here they are, the first CBS SportsLine.com Power Rankings of 2006. They'll be updated a few weeks into free agency and again after the draft. Then we'll have a pre-training camp set and then the first real ones of 2006 the week before the regular season begins.