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2006 Unit Rankings

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JetNation.com -- look at them beans!By Nick Ferraro

Offensive Backfield
1. Seattle – Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Mack Strong
2. Kansas City – Trent Green, Larry Johnson, Ronnie Cruz
3. Cincinnati – Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson, Jeremy Johnson
4. NY Giants – Eli Manning, Tiki Barber, Jim Finn
5. Miami – Dante Culpepper, Ronnie Brown, Fred Beasley

The Seahawks have the MVP, a bulldozer in Mack Strong, and a more than capable QB in Hasselbeck.  The loss of Tony Richardson at FB keeps KC from the top spot.  Palmer’s health is the only question for the Bengal offense.  Is anyone more valuable to his team than Tiki Barber?  Culpepper appears to be ready, and Ronnie Brown should take a big step forward this season.

Receiver/TE
1. Arizona – Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Eric Edwards
2. Indianapolis – Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark
3. Dallas – Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn, Jason Witten
4. Cincinnati – Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Reggie Kelly
5. Oakland – Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, Courtney Anderson

The Cards don’t score big points here for TE, but it doesn’t matter with two number-one receivers.  The Colts Harrison is a first-ballot hall-of-famer, and Dallas Clark is just another headache for defenses.  If T.O. stays on the straight and narrow, Dallas will have no trouble scoring through the air.  The Bengals wide receiver tandem is as productive as any in the league.  Oakland gets the slight edge over St. Louis as long as Porter is still on the roster.

Offensive Line
1. Indianapolis
2. Denver
3. Minnesota
4. Pittsburgh
5. Seattle

Peyton Manning takes few shots, faces little pressure, and enjoys a productive ground game behind the line in Indy.  Denver is the model for the rest of the league.  Minnesota boasts the best left side in the league with the addition of Steve Hutchinson.  The Steelers have perhaps the league’s most underrated group.  Losing Hutchinson will hurt Seattle, but not as bad as people think considering the talent that remains.
 
Defensive Line
1. Carolina
2. Chicago
3. Indianapolis
4. NY Giants
5. Atlanta

The Panthers have the best end tandem with DT Kris Jenkins to control the middle of the field.  The Bears need Alex Brown’s shoulder to heal by week one.  If it does, they’ll continue to spend most of the game in the opponent’s backfield.  Colt DE Robert Mathis is one of the league’s most underrated players.  Strahan has plenty left in the tank in NY, and Umenyiora is a budding star.  Atlanta steps up with the addition of John Abraham. 

Linebacker
1. Chicago – Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Hunter Hillenmeyer
2. Pittsburgh – Joey Porter, Clark Haggans, Larry Foote, James Farrior
3. Denver – D.J. Williams, Al Wilson, Ian Gold
4. San Diego – Shawne Merriman, Donnie Edwards, Steve Foley, Randal Godfrey
5. Tampa Bay – Derrick Brooks, Shelton Quarles, Ryan Nece

Everyone knows what Urlacher can do; Lance Briggs makes the Bear’s linebackers the league’s best unit.  The Steelers win games because of the play of their linebackers.  Denver has the league’s fastest group.  Shawn Merriman is unstoppable, and most teams wish they had San Diego’s backups as starters. Derrick Brooks is still one of the league’s best, and Shelton Quarles is an unknown stud for the Bucs.

Defensive Backs
1. Denver – Champ Bailey, Darrent Williams, John Lynch, Nick Ferguson
2. Chicago – Nathan Vashar, Charles Tillman, Danieal Manning, Chris Harris
3. Dallas – Terrance Newman, Anthony Henry, Roy Williams, Marcus Coleman
4. Washington – Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers, Sean Taylor, Adam Archuleta
5. Philadelphia – Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard, Brian Dawkins, Michael Lewis

Denver was near the bottom of the league in sacks and QB pressures last season, but it didn’t matter with Bailey and Williams locking up the wide receivers.  Chicago lost talent at safety through free agency, but Vashar and Tillman are excellent.  Dallas has the right mix of speed on the corners and strength up the middle with Williams.  The Eagles secondary got scorched last year while getting little support from the front seven.  They will return to dominant form with a healthy set of lineman and linebackers in Philly.

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