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The Wilbon Index: Top NFL Teams

Every week, I'll post a top 10 poll for both pro and college football. The NFL is particularly difficult to gauge the very first week, but here goes:

1) Steelers - Why people are picking the Patriots over the defending champs is beyond confusing to me; it's stupid. The Steelers have won two Super Bowls since New England has won it all. The Patriots have lost five key defenders from the team that lost in the Super Bowl two years ago. The Steelers have 19 of 22 starters back to defend their championship. I said last year I'd take Ben Roethlisberger over any and all NFL QBs, and Tom Brady's return doesn't change that.

2) Vikings - Not only does Minnesota have Adrian Peterson but Brett Favre is passing the ball to Bernard Berrian (20.1 yards per catch last season) and the Vikes can work versatile rookie Percy Harvin into the offensive scheme wherever they want. Oh, and the defense is real good.

3) Falcons - History says Falcons can't do it; the franchise has never had back-to-back winning seasons. Michael Turner, don't forget, trailed only Peterson in rushing last year, with 1,699 yards. Like that the team used seven of eight draft picks on defense. NFC South won't be as tough since Tampa and Carolina look to be on the slide. Matt Ryan will get better, having Tony Gonzalez to throw to.

4) Chargers - Most talented team in the league. It all comes together this year and they reach the AFC title game.

5) Patriots - Coming back from a serious knee injury isn't a given, even for The Golden Boy, Tom Brady.Trade of Richard Seymour could suggest superior scouting or incredible arrogance, that whoever the Patriots put out there will be just fine. Careful, careful.

6) Cardinals - I know, I know, I know. Seven of the last eight teams to lose in the Super Bowl didn't make the playoffs the next year. But if this team doesn't have a chip on its shoulder, something's very wrong. Ken Whisenhunt is going to emerge after going to the Super Bowl, strangely enough, as a really top-drawer NFL coach. Cards have the best offense in the NFC and they begin the season knowing everybody thinks last season was a fluke.

7) Giants - Need their Steve Smith and rookies Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden to evolve quickly into big-time pass catchers. They won't be as good as their 11-1 start last year suggested but the NFC East will be tight, very tight.

8) Colts - How much will Tony Dungy's departure hurt Indy? Nothing suggests that Jim Caldwell is going to come in making a bunch of wacky changes. Peyton Manning didn't leave with Dungy, and neither did Dwight Freeney, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Bob Sanders, or most importantly the architect, Bill Polian.

9) Bears - The schedule is too difficult for the Bears to be more than 10-6, with 9-7 more likely. Jay Cutler has no No. 1 receiver. But, he is a legit No. 1 QB, which is rare in Chicago. And a competent offense will take pressure off the defense. Matt Forte accounted for a greater percentage of his team's yards from scrimmage (35) than any back in the league.

10) Eagles - Lot of changes for a conference finalist, some of them unwelcome, including the death of defensive coordinator supreme Jim Johnson. But finally, Donovan McNabb has some worthy targets in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Kevin Curtis, plus tight end Bret Celek.

Next Five: Ravens, Texans, Packers, Saints, Titans.


Michael Wilbon

 |  September 7, 2009; 11:16 PM ET  |  Category:  NFL , Wilbon Index Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: About World Wide Wilbon | Next: The Front Office and the Redskins in 2009


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The love affair Wilbon has with Tony Dungy is amazing. I think Tampa Bay did just fine the year after he got fired there. (Super Bowl win)

Posted by: mschmall625 | September 11, 2009 11:15 AM
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No Ravens or Titans in the top 10? Vikings at number 2? Falcons at number 3?

Tell me with a straight face that in a perfectly health world the Vikings and Falcons would beat the Patriots, Giants, or Colts more than half the time...

Posted by: jhorstma | September 8, 2009 2:45 PM
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Yea, Redskinsfan111, and if he posted the top 32 teams, half would be from the AFC (unless he lists the Bears twice, which is possible). But he didn't! He listed the top ten. And included 6 NFC teams. Them's the facts. The crazy, crazy facts.

(By the way, here's a simple logic lesson. All conditional statements premised on falsehood are true. So in your reply, you say, "If he switched the order of teams, then there would be no NFC bias." This is a true statement because your premise is false. See how that's not a valid rebuttal to my claim? Probably not, I imagine, because you're a Redskins fan.)

Posted by: Boston11 | September 8, 2009 2:45 PM
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What unmitigated B.S. Even the coaches and players don't know, a week before the season starts, who is headed up and who is headed down. This is an exercise in vanity and stupidity, but it does "sell"--or at least generates comments like this one. But the exercise feels pompous, especially coming from a columnist who practically defines "pompous." I look forward to Week 8, when we can all see how far off Wilbon was. Especially Ravens fans.

Posted by: eyestreet | September 8, 2009 1:29 PM
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Atlanta at #3, that's a bit of a stretch. Mike must have missed their last pre-season game against the Ravens. Baltimore's second string offense and defense had their way with the Falcon's first string offense and defense. Either it looks bad for Atlanta, and they don't deserve to be #3 or Baltimore is much better. I think it's both. And speaking of which, how does he leave the Ravens out of the top ten?!

Posted by: paul6554 | September 8, 2009 1:28 PM
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I am a viking fan, but #2? That might be a little high. Maybe 5-8 would be more accurate. Its hard to say though until the live bullets start flying.

Posted by: crabbypatty1 | September 8, 2009 1:19 PM
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Boston11- your allegation of NFC bias is silly. His #1 team is from the AFC. He's got 3 AFC teams in the top 5. If you switched the Ravens and the Eagles (who he has 11 and 10, respectively), it would be a 5-5 split in the top 10. If you consider the top 15, he has 8 from the NFC and 7 from the AFC-- as even as you can get when you are choosing 15 teams.

Argue that Wilbon shows Bears bias if you like, but an NFC bias just isn't supported by the facts.

Posted by: Redskinsfan111 | September 8, 2009 12:03 PM
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Dear Mr. Wilbon:

You neglect to point out that the Redskins have won the Super Bowl in April for the past 10 years and that, personally, I am 62-0 in litigation against season ticket holders.

How can you possibly leave the Redskins out of your top 15. My lawyer will be calling you. See you in court.


Dan Snyder

Posted by: InTheMiddle | September 8, 2009 11:04 AM
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Wilbon - get your perscription changed, or at the very least watch a game or two - without emotional love of certain players.

I don't think you should update this list until week 8, that way you can see how far off you were. There will be some changes based on team health - but of course, I will print your list today and post it back here in several weeks.

Falcons, Falcons, you kidding me Falcons - you have to read this part out loud using Jim Moras tirade about playoffs, but use an english accent to get the full jist of how much a joke this is.

Posted by: J_thinks | September 8, 2009 10:55 AM
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I too am big Wilbon fan, but I have to agree with both Boston11 & Bobeaston... the list is odd, putting San Diego up there that high, the Falcons above the Cardinals and Giants - huh? And as fas as the Vikings - I grew up a Viking fan, admittedly lost some interest as I got older, and now sadly, adding the joke of the league himself (Favre) - I truly can say I hope they lose every game he plays in.

Posted by: mikek728 | September 8, 2009 10:31 AM
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The Vikings are a little high. You can't be sold on Farve, just yet. He needs time.

people still continue to forget the Giants.
Superior defense and a balanced offense.
Remember pretty much everyone in the NFC East beat the Cardinals and Steelers last year.

Posted by: killkobe | September 8, 2009 10:04 AM
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My moniker is decidedly telling, but I come from Steeler stock. I'm also a big fan of Mr. Wilbon. Those comments aside, this is a crazy list. Just crazy. I don't know how to describe it any better than that. Six NFC teams in the top ten, including Mr. Wilbon's Bears. Why not through a sympathy vote for the Redskins too? Maybe just an all-NFC, no-reason list?

This century shows a 7-2 AFC lead in the Superbowl. The AFC is leading the NFL in thinking: best drafting, best schemes, most original application of both new and old ideas. The "coach-trees" of three men (Parcells, Belichick, and quietly, Bill Cowher) dominate the NFL - including Mr. Wilbon's fashionable selection of Wisenhunt's Cardinals. Let's focus on the AFC a bit more, eh?

And finally, I was really hoping this would be the year we'd finally stop saying, "Chargers - Most talented team in the league. It all comes together this year and they reach the AFC title game." It's as omnipresent as a Coke ad. The only place the Chargers are dominant is in puffed-articles in the first week of the new season.

It's a lot easier to tear down than build up, but this is crazy.

Posted by: Boston11 | September 8, 2009 8:59 AM
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...Vikings #2??? Farve will not finnish the season...

Posted by: bobeaston | September 8, 2009 5:19 AM
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