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Times' NFL rankings

As the NFL season begins, Times' pro football writer Sam Farmer ranks the league's teams 1-32:

September 04, 2008|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

1. New England -- If Tom Brady is healthy, Patriots are the team to beat.

2. San Diego -- Even with Shawne Merriman hobbled, this could be Bolts' year.

3. Dallas -- It's Super Bowl or "See Ya" for Cowboys Coach Wade Phillips.

4. Jacksonville -- Jags have the backfield, so it's a step-up year for receivers.

5. Indianapolis -- Losing star center could really hurt Peyton Manning

& Co.

6. New York Giants -- Super Bowl champs have lost bookend pass rushers.

7. New Orleans -- Saints can score; bulking up defense has been the focus.

8. Pittsburgh -- The way he's going, Big Ben Roethlisberger could be an MVP candidate.

9. Seattle -- Once again, the Seahawks won't be tested much in NFC West.

10. Minnesota -- The big question for Vikings: What about the quarterback?

11. Cleveland -- Five prime-time games make for national coming-out party.

12. Philadelphia -- Does Donovan McNabb have another big run left in him?

13. Tampa Bay -- It isn't always pretty, but Jeff Garcia knows how to win.

14. Cincinnati - Pressure is on defense to keep pace with Bengals offense.

15. Denver -- A lot of people are predicting a breakout year for Jay Cutler.

16. Buffalo -- Trent Edwards showed a lot of promise last season. Encore?

17. Washington -- Can Jason Campbell adjust to Jim Zorn's West Coast O?

18. Detroit -- Lions showed some spark in first half of last season before faltering.

19. New York Jets -- Brett Favre makes them better, but by how much?

20. Green Bay -- Interior of O-line has to start protecting Aaron Rodgers.

21. Arizona -- Winning back starting job will be a real test for QB Matt Leinart.

22. Oakland -- Raiders might have next Adrian Peterson in Darren McFadden.

23. Baltimore -- Solid Ravens defense could really help Joe Flacco's transition.

24. Tennessee -- Vince Young had two picks for every touchdown in 2007.

25. Houston -- Matt Schaub was turning around Texans before he got hurt.

26. Carolina -- Was the old Jake Delhomme real or just some kind of mirage?

27. Chicago -- It's OK that Bears have no QB. They have no receivers, either.

28. Kansas City -- Young Chiefs rebuilding, but lots of rookies have been hurt.

29. St. Louis -- Health of O-line is a key concern for reconstructing Rams.

30. San Francisco -- Mike Martz looks to work miracles with moribund offense.

31. Atlanta -- Falcons begin new era with rookie quarterback Matt Ryan.

32. Miami -- Dolphins will bounce back from 1-15 debacle, but how high?

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