Mike McCarthy

Despite the lack of hype, the Packers are still viewed as the top team.

As it should be, the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers come into the 2011 season as the top-rated team, at least according to an NFL.com panel.

Now, if you read this blog regularly, you know exactly what we think of preseason rankings, “expert” panels and opinions, and premature predictions.

Nothing.

The game has never been played on paper and it never will be.

That being said, we find this particular group prognostication interesting for one reason. Said group consists of nine members hired by the NFL to give their “expert” opinion for the league’s web site and TV network.

They were each asked to rank every NFL team from first to 32nd.

All nine of them chose the Packers first, despite all the hype surrounding the already-crowned paper Super Bowl champion [intlink id="374" type="category"]Philadelphia Eagles[/intlink].

In fact, the New England Patriots finished second, capturing five second-place votes. The remaining four second-place votes were split between the [intlink id="386" type="category"]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] and [intlink id="234" type="category"]New Orleans Saints[/intlink].

The Patriots were second in the overall rankings, followed by the Steelers, Saints and the [intlink id="127" type="category"]Atlanta Falcons[/intlink] at No. 5. The Eagles were sixth.

Not that we’d disagree, but this says a lot about this particular poll. The second-highest ranking [intlink id="527" type="category"]NFC North[/intlink] team is the [intlink id="126" type="category"]Detroit Lions[/intlink] at No. 14, which I’m sure will send Chicago and, for no reason other than their inferiority complex, Minnesota fans into a rage.

Obviously, the rankings are based on potential.

Thankfully, the Green Bay Packers still have a shitload of it.