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Eagles Start in Lower Top 10 of NFL Power Rankings: A Fan's Analysis

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The Philadelphia Eagles started last year fairly high up in most NFL power rankings. Eagles fans like myself and most other experts all believed big things, but we were decisively proven wrong. Now as the 2012 season is about to kick off, Philadelphia and the experts have to be a bit more cautious - but the Birds still have a tentative high place on preseason NFL power rankings anyway.

As uncertain as the Eagles look, the potential of what they can be - if everyone is healthy and fewer late leads are blown - is inflating preseason expectations. Nevertheless, placing them on the level of the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants currently seems farfetched - let alone on the level of the AFC elite. Therefore, a safe place to put Philadelphia is probably somewhere in the lower top 10.

Above them, the Packers and New England Patriots have to be put on top as 1-2 in some form. That doesn't mean they will face off in the Super Bowl - in fact, it probably means they will both miss Super Sunday. But preseason NFL power rankings aren't Super Bowl predictions, and on paper, the Packers and Patriots have to be labeled as the best - even if the best regular season teams never win it all anymore.

The Baltimore Ravens were inches from facing the Giants in last year's Super Bowl, so they each have to be included in the top five. The Giants may be overlooked despite their championship, but they do have a chance to make an early statement over the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 5. As for the Cowboys, although both they and the Eagles are huge question marks, Philadelphia appears more likely to dethrone New York in the NFC East - if all goes well.

Meanwhile, the likes of the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions are pegged as sleeper picks, while the New Orleans Saints are down a few pegs after their horrific offseason. Down below, teams like the Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins look to emerge from the middle of the pack - while franchises like the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars appear locked in the basement.

The NFL power rankings look quaint right now, given how different they're likely to be in 17 weeks. They will probably look pretty familiar with a lot of the usual suspects on top, yet there's always one or two surprises among them, like last year's San Francisco 49ers. And there's always one or two highly ranked clubs who tumble down into the middle or worse, like last year's Eagles.

Here are this writer's opening NFL power rankings for Sept. 5, before they and others look pretty misguided on Jan. 5, 2013.

1. New England Patriots

2. Green Bay Packers

3. Baltimore Ravens

4. New York Giants

5.Pittsburgh Steelers

6. Houston Texans

7. San Francisco 49ers

8. Philadelphia Eagles

9. Denver Broncos

10. Atlanta Falcons

11. New Orleans Saints

12. Detroit Lions

13. Chicago Bears

14. San Diego Chargers

15. Dallas Cowboys

16. Cincinnati Bengals

17. Carolina Panthers

18. Tennessee Titans

19. Oakland Raiders

20. Seattle Seahawks

21. Washington Redskins

22. Buffalo Bills

23. New York Jets

24. Kansas City Chiefs

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

26. Minnesota Vikings

27. Arizona Cardinals

28. Miami Dolphins

29. Indianapolis Colts

30. Cleveland Browns

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

32. St. Louis Rams

Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.

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