Power rankings of any kind are, if you really think about it for more than a few seconds, kinda/sorta silly. NFL power rankings are no exception. Think back to last December as the New York Giants were preparing to host the Dallas Cowboys in a game that would decide the NFC East title. I remember New York being ranked outside of the top ten in many power rankings at the time, and we all know how the season ended. Following the 2012 NFL Draft, ESPN had the Giants atop the website's NFL power rankings. This is funny because, just two months after the release of those power rankings, 22 NFL analysts who work for ESPN picked those same Giants to not make the 2012 playoffs.
Who knew so much had changed in two months?
NFL training camps are about to begin, which means it's time to trot out preseason power rankings. The Giants, set to defend their Super Bowl championship, are naturally at or near the top of many preseason power rankings heading into the final full weekend of July. Listed below are a few examples:
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has the Giants at number three. He has the Green Bay Packers atop his NFL power rankings, and the New England Patriots at number two. Bob Glauber of Newsday ranks the Giants as the best team in football. He also claims that starting quarterback Eli Manning is "ready for another big year." Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune has the Giants beneath only the Packers in his power rankings.
The most interesting preseason power rankings I've seen come directly from the league's official website. NFL.com ranked teams in different tiers, with "Top Shelf" representing the best of the best in the league, and the "Next Level" group consisting of teams that are Super Bowl contenders who aren't quite locks to make the postseason. While the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots are all listed as "Top Shelf" teams, the Giants are positioned as a "Next Level" team among the likes of the Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs.
The Giants being disrespected by analysts and opposing fans during the summer is sort of like a New York Mets second-half-of-the-season collapse: You can see it coming a mile away, yet you still get angry when it actually occurs. Maybe I'm just an old fashioned kind of guy when it comes to these sort of things, but the champs are, barring some type of catastrophe such as losing multiple All-Pros to injuries and/or free agency, always kings of power rankings until they at least lose a game. Regardless, I really can't argue anybody putting the Packers atop such lists in late July. Even implying that the Giants are not a top four team heading into August, however, is insulting to a team that's won it all twice since February 2008, a team that also happens to have a two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback who is in the prime of his career.
Another thing Giants fans have gotten used to over the past several years is seeing at least one significant starter going on IR during the preseason. It's not even August yet, though, and no such player has even had a chance to tear an ACL. Big Blue may not be the best team on paper a week and half before the Hall of Fame game. That's OK.
The Giants weren't the best team on paper last January, either.