ESPN.com's Offseason Power Poll
Bucs remain in No. 1 spot
ESPN.com's Power Poll
The rankings are determined by a poll of ESPN.com's NFL staff -- senior writers John Clayton and Len Pasquarelli and editor Peter Lawrence-Riddell. Click here to send in comments on the first rankings of 2003.
The regular season is more than four months away. But as any NFL fan knows, there's no offseason anymore. From the moment the 2002 season ended with the Bucs hoisting the championship trophy, teams have been busy building toward 2003.
With the draft finished, we decided it was time to see how the NFL's 32 teams stack up.
Unlike last offseason when people still doubted the Patriots, the Buccaneers appear headed into 2003 as the clear No. 1 team. With the core of their Super Bowl team returning, there's no reason the Bucs shouldn't be considered favorites.
Since optimism tends to be overly rampant in the offseason, we've listed why each team should be optimistic heading into 2003. However, it wouldn't be any fun -- or particularly accurate -- if we listed only the positives, so we've included reasons to be pessimistic for each team, too.
Team ESPN.com says
1. Tampa Bay Bucs
Optimistic: Core of Super Bowl team returns intact.
Pessimistic: There's nowhere to go but down. Warren Sapp's contract status could also be a distraction -- you know Warren won't keep quiet about it.
Optimistic: Team only seems to get better with age.
Pessimistic: Can Gannon, Rice and Brown continue last season's form?
Optimistic: They still have Donovan McNabb and he'll keep them near the top of the NFC.
Pessimistic: Hugh Douglas' production won't be replaced by a rookie or anyone else on their roster right now.
Optimistic: While Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland are improving, the Steelers are still the class of the AFC North.
Pessimistic: Anyone want to wager on Tommy Maddox having the same success in 2003 he had in 2002?
Optimistic: Steve McNair just seems to win and 2003 should be no different.
Pessimistic: Eddie George isn't getting any younger -- 3.4 and 3.0 yards per carry the last two years is not good.
Optimistic: Offseason additions should improve defense.
Pessimistic: Running game is still a big question mark.
Optimistic: Two words: Michael Vick
Pessimistic: But can he follow up 2002 with a step forward?
Optimistic: Ricky Williams was everything the Dolphins hoped for and should be just as good in 2003.
Pessimistic: Until the Dolphins find a way to win late in the season, who cares?
Optimistic: Brett Favre is coming back, which is all Packers fans need to hear.
Pessimistic: Will talk of Favre's future be a distraction?
Optimistic: With Deuce McAllister and Aaron Brooks, offense should continue to improve.
Pessimistic: They'll still find a way to stumble down the stretch.
Optimistic: Chad Pennington emerged as a star last season and should continue to improve.
Pessimistic: But will his lack of arm strength catch up to him?
Optimistic: If defense can improve a little, they'll be dangerous.
Pessimistic: Priest Holmes' health status sure doesn't sound good.
Optimistic: With Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and a healthier Edgerrin James, Colts have offense to win.
Pessimistic: We're still waiting to see Manning win a playoff game.
Optimistic: Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens will keep the 49ers in contention.
Pessimistic: Tai Streets came on last year, but this team is still too reliant on Owens.
Optimistic: Offseason additions on defense should help one of the league's most porous defenses.
Pessimistic: Despite the improvements, they're still probably the No. 4 team in their division.
Optimistic: The Rams still have the talent and with improved health, should return to top form.
Pessimistic: Kurt Warner might never return to the level of an elite QB.
Optimistic: Mike Shanahan will turn Jake Plummer into an above-average NFL QB.
Pessimistic: Plummer is what he is and not even Shanahan can change that.
Optimistic: Jeremy Shockey should continue to get better, meaning the whole offense will be better.
Pessimistic: Still not sure they have enough to stay with the Eagles.
Optimistic: Won last three games and enter 2003 believing they've turned a corner.
Pessimistic: Defense still doesn't look like a playoff-caliber unit.
Optimistic: Matt Hasselbeck emerged as No. 1 QB and Koren Robinson emerged as No. 1 WR.
Pessimistic: Defense is still shaky and counting on Hasselbeck might be risky.
Optimistic: After making the playoffs last season, 2003 should bring even better things.
Pessimistic: The Browns were lucky to make the playoffs last year and actually took a step back with offseason losses.
Optimistic: With a healthy Ray Lewis expected back, defense should be better than average.
Pessimistic: It won't matter how good the defense is if the offense can't find the end zone.
Optimistic: Offseason additions -- especially Laveranues Coles -- will make 'Skins better.
Pessimistic: Can second-year QB Patrick Ramsey avoid Steve Spurrier's quick hook.
Optimistic: Addition of David Boston gives Drew Brees much needed weapon.
Pessimistic: He might have been old, but the Chargers will miss Junior Seau.
Optimistic: Team took a big step forward in John Fox's first season.
Pessimistic: Despite some additions, offense will still struggle.
Optimistic: Anthony Thomas is apparently in great shape.
Pessimistic: Kordell Stewart is not the answer at QB in Chicago.
Optimistic: Marvin Lewis has things on the right track.
Pessimistic: It's too easy to say, but Mike Brown is still in charge and they're still the Bengals.
Optimistic: The day he walked in the door, Bill Parcells made the Cowboys a better team.
Pessimistic: They have three years to win, because that's about as long as Parcells will be around.
Optimistic: Surprisingly active in free agency, Hugh Douglas and Mike Peterson will help on defense.
Pessimistic: Mark Brunell might not have enough left in the tank for another playoff run.
Optimistic: Steve Mariucci should be good for at least a few wins.
Pessimistic: A two-game improvement would still make Detroit just 5-11.
Optimistic: More weapons and experience should make David Carr happy.
Pessimistic: They're still going to struggle to score points.
Optimistic: At least Emmitt Smith will sell more tickets.
Pessimistic: Losses of Jake Plummer and David Boston would be hard for a good team to overcome -- and this team wasn't good.
[Edited on 5/7/2003 by pakowitz]
ESPN.com's Offseason Power Poll
Pak sorry i missed your post. I should\'ve known you had this posted already ;)
ESPN.com's Offseason Power Poll
u know me... always on top of everything
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