Morning Ram-blings: Preseason polling

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The Associated Press released its first 2014 NFL power poll Tuesday with preseason rankings of the league's 32 teams.

The St. Louis Rams checked in at No. 17 on the list, not far from where they finished the 2013 season in terms of actual performance rather than a projection.

Considering no games have been played since the end of the season, it's easy to see why those rankings wouldn't have been altered much, the poll offers a harsh reminder of the work the Rams have to do to catch up in the NFC West division. As though a reminder was needed.

Scanning the rankings, the Rams sitting at No. 17 wouldn't seem so bad were it not for the fact that they are the lowest-ranked team amongst the four NFC West franchises.

The defending champion Seattle Seahawks are No. 1 with the San Francisco 49ers on their heels at No. 2. According to the polling, just 23 voting points separate the two NFC West powerhouses. From there, the Arizona Cardinals check in at No. 16.

Much like college football and basketball, preseason polls don't mean much of anything. And, unlike college football where rankings ultimately factor into who makes the playoffs, the NFL doesn't have to rely on the whims of voters to decide its champion.

The good news for all of us? The real games will begin soon enough and the actual standings will become the only rankings that matter.


A roundup of Tuesday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we opened the day with a look at the possibility of a new league-funded stadium popping up in Los Angeles. ... The Rams rookies reported for duty Monday with their first workout taking place Tuesday afternoon. ... Next, we looked at how quarterback Sam Bradford ranked in a couple of offseason polls. ... Finally, we heard from defensive end Michael Sam as he prepares to participate in his first NFL training camp.


A couple of thoughtful columns on the Sam/Tony Dungy comments:

First, from Dan Graziano, who writes that Dungy's use of the term distraction could only perpetuate it as en excuse even further.

Kevin Seifert posits that there's one surefire way for Sam to quiet Dungy and any other non-believers.

For more context, here's the news story with Dungy's clarification of his comments.

At 101sports.com, Anthony Stalter draws the comparison of Rams defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and Arizona defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.