Power rankings are meaningless when it comes to determining who wins games. But they are interesting for one simple reason: they give us a view of what the outside world thinks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After a stellar offseason, the Bucs are likely to enter the 2012 season with six new starters: WR Vincent Jackson, LG Carl Nicks, CB Eric Wright, S Mark Barron, RB Doug Martin and LB Lavonte David. Each of those players should represent a significant upgrade over the players they're replacing, although history tells us it's not that simple. The change of regime alone has given Bucs fans hope, as the team seemed to collapse late last season not so much because of a lack of quality, but because players seemed to give up, or lose faith in their scheme.
ESPN isn't convinced we'll see massive improvement, however. They have the Buccaneers listed as the 24th team in their latest power rankings. And, looking over the teams ahead of the Bucs, I'm not sure I see many teams they should clearly be ahead of. The Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals are three teams who I thnik are worse than the Bucs right now - but these are not clear-cut cases.
Ultimately, none of this matters. But it's a good reminder of one thing: it would be foolish to expect miracles in the first season of a new regime.