First of all, I want to wish you all a VERY HAPPY FIRST DAY OF TRAINING CAMP DAY!! FINALLY! FOOTBALL IS BACK!!! WOOOOHOOOO!
Even though we've yet to play a single NFL game during the 2012 season, it's never too early to start some good ole' fashioned power rankings. Over at NFL.com, Gregg Rosenthal has put together a Preseason Power Ranking list--in which he divides the team into three categories: Top Shelf, Next Level, Contenders, Not Sold, Searching For Mediocrity, and Bottom Feeders.
After having one of the best offseasons in recent history, the New England Patriots have caught Rosenthal's eye, as he has them rated as a 'Top Shelf' team. The Patriots, along with the Packers, Steelers, and Ravens make the cut:
Half of the NFL's playoff population every season doesn't make it back. And yet we'll be stunned if any team out of this quartet doesn't make it to the tournament. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are stuck together with a dangerous Cincinnati Bengals team in the AFC North, so we shouldn't be that stunned. Green Bay and New England have the best quarterbacks in football along with young defenses that should improve.
With all of the turmoil that they've gone through with Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall, it's hard for me to see the Steelers as a 'Top Shelf' team. As much as the offense struggled down the stretch with Mendenhall out, it's hard for me to peg Ben Roethlisberger and the boys doing a whole lot until they award Mike Wallace a new contract.
But besides the Steelers, I couldn't agree more with the other teams he mentioned as 'Top Shelf' teams. The Packers and the Patriots have to be ranked as the top offenses in their respective conferences, and the Ravens are just a very solid team on both sides of the ball (more on defense).
It's only a preseason power ranking, but it's nice that the national media is showing the Patriots some love here. Just so you know, there's just two weeks until the first preseason game.. Not that anyone's counting..