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Special Team and Team Defense Pre-Season Rankings
Darin Tietgen
August 24, 2006

Special Teams Rankings

  1. Buffalo Bills – Superior return game, good kicking/punting and solid coverage.  Always one of the best. 
  2. NY Giants – Feely’s problems last year were an anomaly.  Great return game.  Always a threat to hit the home run.
  3. Miami Dolphins – Always stellar on special teams coverage. Marcus Vick may be a stud returner. 
  4. Philadelphia Eagles – Akers studly when healthy; always great coverage.  Expect this unit, with the benefit of health, to get back to form.
  5. Cleveland Browns – Anemic offense keeps them busy.  Experienced and accurate kicking game.  Solid, veteran returners. 
  6. New Orleans Saints – Return man Michael Lewis is back and Reggie Bush is there, too.  Could be an exciting year. 
  7. Cincinnati Bengals – Underrated Graham one of the better kickers.  Young and talented coverage teams.  Could use improvement in return game, though. 
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers – The trick plays sometimes work.  Randle-El is gone, but plenty of worthy replacements.  Good, steady kicking game.
  9. Carolina Panthers – Steady kicking game and return game may improve with rookie DeAngelo Williams. 
  10. San Francisco 49ers – Horrible offense keeps special teams busy.  Nedney is solid and they have plenty of potential return men.
  11. Jacksonville Jaguars – Erratic kicking game, but should steady this year.  Rookie Maurice Drew is a huge upgrade in the return game.
  12. Washington Redskins – Addition of Randle-El will improve the unit.  If the main cogs of kicking game can stay healthy, this will be a solid overall unit.

Defensive Rankings (No Special Teams)

  1. Chicago Simply dominant on the defensive side of the football.
  2. Carolina – Peppers & Company will create plenty of havoc.
  3. Pittsburgh Solid front seven and Polamalu will dominate. 
  4. Baltimore Lewis and Reed are back.  Expect this unit to rebound and play solid defensive football.
  5. Tampa Bay Solid veteran defensive unit.  Always one of the best.
  6. Seattle Solid secondary and Tatupu will only get better.  Great schedule.
  7. NY Giants – Bookends Strahan and Umenyiora are sack artists.  Improving secondary; Demps brings veteran leadership. 
  8. Dallas Heavy hitters all over the field.  Young linebackers need to grow up in a hurry, though. 
  9. Jacksonville Solid yet unspectacular.  No big plays, just stuffing the run and solid secondary play. 
  10. Atlanta Addition of Abraham will help.  Young secondary will need to step up.
  11. Indianapolis Unit continues to improve; needs a healthy Bob Sanders to lead the secondary.
  12. Miami Getting up there in age, but Thomas and Taylor are two of the best.

Updated Defensive Rankings (with Special Teams)

  1. Chicago Bears – Solid on defense; good enough on special teams, with big-play threats. 
  2. CarolinaGreat defense, improving special teams.
  3. PittsburghSolid defensive unit, and special teams unit that has several trick plays up its sleeve. 
  4. NY Giants – Defense will improve dramatically; one of the better special team units out there.
  5. BaltimoreUnit will be hungry to improve from last season.  Special teams lost some important ingredients, though.
  6. JacksonvilleQuality special teams and potential cupcake schedule make the Jags a nice defensive sleeper.
  7. Tampa BayThe original Cover 2 still has its playmakers.  Horrible special teams, though.
  8. SeattleSolid front seven will improve this season.  Special teams may improve.
  9. PhiladelphiaStrong secondary and talented special teams.
  10. MiamiSolid special teams play coupled with veterans Taylor and Thomas make the Fins a nice sleeper defense.
  11. IndianapolisAddition of Vinatieri will be helpful to special teams.  Defense will again surprise.
  12. DallasAddition of Indianapolis castoff Vanderjagt will immediately improve special teams.  Young defense is hungry to dominate.