- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2005

NFL writer David Elfin ranks the teams (last year’s final ranking in parentheses):

1. Colts (4) It’s time for Manning, Dungy to reach the big one.

2. Patriots (2) Will fall just shy of 3rd straight Super Bowl.

3. Panthers (16) Healthy again and ready to return to glory.

4. Eagles (3) T.O. plays, but his persona costs NFC champs.

5. Chargers (5) If Brees repeats, so will Bolts in tough AFC West.

6. Ravens (11) Passing game rockets with healthy Heap, new WRs.

7. Steelers (1) Everything can’t go Big Ben’s way again, can it?

8. Falcons (6) If Vick keeps baffling Carolina, NFC could be his.

9. Vikings (18) D should improve enough to offset loss of Moss.

10. Texans (20) Easy last month puts AFC Cinderellas in playoffs.

11. Jets (8) Will be done in by offense’s aging or ailing stars.

12. Broncos (9) When will Shanahan stop tinkering with personnel?

13. Bengals (17) Offense is playoff—ready if defense can step up.

14. Chiefs (19) Creaky O, retooled D send Vermeil out unfulfilled.

15. Rams (14) They play just enough defense to win weak NFC West.

16. Packers (7) Favre can’t overcome shaky blocking, worse D.

17. Lions (26) Brutal stretch run ruins NFC dark horse’s chances.

18. Seahawks (13) Can’t beat Rams, so they can’t make

playoffs.

19. Saints (15) Spending the season on the road won’t help.

20. Bills (10) Losman will learn this year, but watch out in ‘06.

21. Cowboys (21) It won’t be like old times for Tuna & Bledsoe.

22. Cardinals (25) Green could win NFC West if he had right QB.

23. Raiders (29) They won’t win, but they’ll be fun to watch.

24. Jaguars (12) Too much is riding on Taylor’s ailing knee.

25. Redskins (22) If Gibbs hasn’t fixed O, season will be grim.

26. Giants (23) Eli’s coming, but he and young D are a year away.

27. Titans (28) Remember when Fisher coached feared defenses?

28. Bucs (24) Gruden’s magic is as gone as most of Dungy’s players.

29. Dolphins (27) Frerotte/ Feeley can’t hand off on every down.

30. Bears (30) Rex is hexed. Bears are cursed.

31. Browns (31) Dilfer won title with stud defense. This isn’t it.

32. 49ers (32) Nolan’s team has plenty of heartache to

endure.

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