NFL Power Rankings: Giants on top

Call me Pineapple.

I don't think they're trying to rub anything in, but the Power Rankings voters have convened for an offseason edition of our popular feature, and four of the five have the New York Giants ranked at the top. Their reasoning, I have discovered after an unscientific poll, is that the Giants are the defending Super Bowl champs, and barring any major personnel losses, you're always supposed to rank the defending champs No. 1 in the first poll of the new year. I'll buy that, and truthfully there's not another team that I believe has a completely convincing claim on the spot. Sure, they only won nine regular-season games while the Patriots won 13 and the Packers won 15. But there's no reason to think the Giants won't be contenders again for the Super Bowl next season, along with several of the teams in this poll's top 10, and probably a couple in the bottom 10. (Who saw the 49ers coming last year?)

Anyway, as usual, Power Rankings are a harmless debate point, intended to spark discussion, and so I'll let you know what I think and you can take it from there.

1. Giants: As I said, sure, they could be great again. They have the quarterback, and the receivers, and the pass rush. And while there are issues to address on the offensive line and in the running game, they feel good about their ability to address them. And who am I to doubt but a humbled pineapple?

12. Philadelphia Eagles: Obviously, the hopes in Philadelphia are that the 2012 version of the Eagles will finish much higher in the rankings than this. And there's reason to consider them the Giants' strongest challenger in the NFC East. But we've all been burned before, by basically this same group, so it's perfectly understandable for the voters to wait for the Eagles to prove themselves.

14. Dallas Cowboys: They finished in the middle of the 2011 pack, so they start 2012 in the middle as well. It's far too early to know what to expect from the Cowboys, who have made great strides in free agency, but have work to do before they convince us the defense can hold it together for a full season this time. The offense should be fine, especially as long as DeMarco Murray returns. But it's that defense that we just never know about in Dallas these days.

25. Washington Redskins. Optimism in Washington is much higher than such a ranking reflects, and I'm sure Redskins fans are looking as far as 10 spots up the list and thinking their team, behind Robert Griffin III, has a chance to be better than a lot of the teams in front of them. And it does. But the guy's still going to be a rookie quarterback, and that can go either way. Again, it's hard to blame the voters for wanting to see it first.