Tuesday is Power Rankings day, folks, and the new phone books are in. Our voters still list the defending champion Packers at No. 1, the Patriots at 2 and the Steelers at 3. Pretty standard stuff -- the two Super Bowl teams sandwiched around the team that won the most games in the regular season. But the new regular season starts this week, as you may have heard, and by next Tuesday our voters are going to have fresh 2011 results on which to base their picks. With that in mind, I present the NFC East teams and their positions in the final Power Rankings before the start of the real games.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (Last ranking: 3)
14. Dallas Cowboys (16)
15. New York Giants (11)
28. Washington Redskins (29)
First glance tells me our distinguished panel has allowed preseason results and performances to affect opinions. As you all know, I discourage that. But the Giants, whose ranking is the most different among our division's teams from the last poll, have suffered a couple of new injuries in the past couple of weeks, and that's the kind of thing that could justify adjusting expectations downward.
My opinion? Why, I'm glad you asked:
-I'd slide the Eagles down one spot and put them in between the Saints and the Falcons. I think the Saints are in for a fantastic year, and while I can't justify moving them ahead of the champs, I'd put them ahead of the Eagles for now. I think the collection of talent on the Eagles' roster is tremendous and could prove to be the best in the league before it's all said and done, but right now I have no issue ranking them behind the teams that have won the past two Super Bowls.
-The Cowboys rank one spot behind the Bears, which would leave them just on the outside of a playoff spot. I have them in the playoffs, so I guess I'd flip those rankings. But I'd probably drop the Bears even further, since I think they're in for a down year after last season's surprise.
-The Giants are one spot behind the Cowboys, and it does seem as though this is a conundrum for a lot of people -- Giants vs. Cowboys and their 2011 order of finish. I don't have an NFC team that's behind them that I'd rank ahead of them, though. (Love what the Lions and Rams are doing, just don't think they're there yet), and again I may rate them ahead of the Bears. Just on the outside looking in at the playoffs, is where I put the Giants.
-And the Redskins move up a spot! The voting did take place before the quarterback decision was announced. You know I don't think the Redskins are going to be this bad. I can make the case for them over any of the six teams directly in front of them in the poll, and I really don't think much of the 20th-ranked Vikings either.
But we'll see. And soon. It all starts so, so soon. I know I'm fired up, and I'm pretty sure y'all are too.
P.S. On a non-division note, as the only one of ESPN.com's preseason predictors who has the Chargers winning the Super Bowl, I enjoyed reading this.