I'm a masochist.
Why else would I continue to do the CBSSports.com Power Rankings?
You have no idea the insults fans fire at me just for moving a team up or down a few spots or ranking their favorite club way too low.
They take on my Italian heritage, my receding hairline, my gut, my height -- lack of, actually -- and anything else they can rip, all because of where I place them in the weekly power rankings.
Damn, it's good to be important.
So here we go again. It's that time to unveil the first batch of the Power Rankings, or what I think is the grip-it-and-rip it column.
You fans grip tight in anger and then rip me in to let it out. I take more abuse than Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and the peek-under-the-stall Senator combined.
The No. 1 team will bring plenty of rips right at the top. That team is the Indianapolis Colts, the defending Super Bowl champs. Most experts think they've suffered way too many losses, but the reality is they will be an even better team than last year. That's not to say they will win it all again -- we'll officially make our picks Thursday -- but they deserve to open in the No. 1 spot.
By the way, didn't they say they lost too much last year when Edgerrin James and Larry Tripplett and others left?
"We lost a lot of players last year before our Super Bowl run," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "Something was made of it early in losing Edgerrin James, Larry Tripplet and David Thornton. We lost some other guys during the course of the year. That's one of the things that our team understands. You have a 53-man roster. You have eight guys on the practice squad. You have 60 guys that will be willing to play, work and prepare. I think that's one of our strengths. We had some guys in the wings that we thought were ready to go. We drafted some guys that we really believed were going to help us. Some other guys that were here are really improving. We like where we are."
Why wouldn't they? Repeating is tough to do. They say it's tough because each and every week you are the hunted. You think that's any different for Peyton Manning, the player the opponents love to hate? This Colts team is too focused to let any of that stuff impact what happens on the field.
The AFC is loaded with good teams, so it won't be easy staying at the top. The San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens are all strong contenders coming off playoff seasons. And I like the Pittsburgh Steelers with new coach Mike Tomlin.
The top NFC team in my rankings is the Dallas Cowboys. They are a talented team that new coach Wade Phillips should have playing much better defense in 2007 than in 2006. But any number of teams in the NFC can find their way into the top 10 at some point during the season since that conference is wide open.
Somewhere in these rankings sits a team that will be much better than anyone expects. A year ago, it was the New Orleans Saints. They opened the season in the lows 20s and somehow came a game away from the Super Bowl.
So who could it be this season?
Of the teams opening from 20 on down, the one that has a chance to be a surprise is the Green Bay Packers in 21st spot. They still have Brett Favre, they have good, young offensive line and the defense will be stingy. Plus, they play in a bad division.
Keep a watch on the Packers. Maybe by the fourth week, they'll be clawing toward the top.
Until then, I can count on hearing from the Packers fans because they're starting so low. They will not be alone with the insults.
But just to clear something up before we get started this season, I offer this bit of information: My father doesn't own CBS.
Why do I say that? I must get at least 30 e-mails a week wondering if he does and if that's how I got my job. So remember that. It's a big no.
It's time for some new rips. I can't wait to see them.