Baltimore's win leaves many to wonder if the Ravens are in fact the best team in pro football. The Powers That Be at NFL.com saw this potential outcome and immediately thought: "Power rankings? Yeeessssss!" Let me show you how you find out you're getting an assignment at my place of work:
It's worth mentioning that I had written some pretty good rot before the power went out in my apartment. Yes, I was dominating Microsoft Word for Mac. To compare it to a football game, I'd say the score was 28-6. But the long delay allowed writer's block back into the fold, so this intro is being cut short.
How do the 32 NFL teams stand today, going forward into free agency and beyond? The answer key lies below. Feel free to pass along any thoughts on these rankings to the usual addy: @Harrison_NFL.
Let the dissension commence on this, the first official Power Rankings of the 2013 season ...
b) San Francisco is an outstanding football team, but the 49ers also had to squeeze past Atlanta, were blown out late in the regular season at Seattle and went 0-1-1 versus the Rams. The Ravens won the Super Bowl fair and square, irrespective of what you might think about the officiating. Yes, there was a power outage, and some folks believe it had a glowing effect on the game. I don't. And anyway, if any team was helped by it, it was the 49ers.
c) It can't be Denver. The Ravens beat the Broncos in their stadium. Denver finally faced a team playing quality football (after hardly doing so for two months) and was beat, making us all wonder about the merit of the club's 11-game winning streak.
d) The Packers have lost two straight divisional-round bouts. No, they've been whupped in two straight divisional-round bouts.
e) Atlanta hasn't been able to close the door. Given the Falcons' mediocre running game, that's not likely to change.
f) We need to see a thicker catalogue from Seattle. Too soon.
g) Houston? Next.
Obviously, the contract situations of Joe Flacco and Ed Reed hover slightly above "relevant" in terms of importance. The Ray Lewis departure is a huge loss in the locker room but a gain on the field. I'll tell you what, though: Having a healthy Lardarius Webb in the secondary will make the defense better in 2013.
1) Can Peyton Manning hold up for 16 games again at age 37? In 1998, a 38-year-old John Elway missed four starts, but Denver went 4-0, thanks to solid backup Bubby Brister. Denver doesn't have that kind of depth at QB right now.
2) How much of the Broncos' season-ending 11-game winning streak was legit? Just two teams beaten during that streak -- Cincinnati and Baltimore -- finished with winning records. And the Ravens, of course, ousted the Broncos from the playoffs.
Can Trestman get more effectiveness from Jay Cutler? More productivity from Michael Bush? How about the O-line? Also, will new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker find a way to create turnovers the way Rod Marinelli's defense did last season? Bears faithful, does the Trestman hire concern you? Hit me up @Harrison_NFL.
New head coach Bruce Arians was hired to work wonders with the NFL's worst offense this side of the Jets. (Is it any surprise these two clubs played a 7-6 barnburner in 2012?) The money is on Kevin Kolb to win the QB job. (Especially considering the actual money spent on Kolb, which usually rules the day when it comes to closely contested position battles.) Regardless of who's under center, the offensive line must improve. Even a Frankensteining Kurt Warner wouldn't be able to accomplish much behind a line that gives up 58 sacks.