ESPN released their final NFL preseason power rankings before the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints kick off the 2011 NFL season this Thursday. The Oakland Raiders are ranked No. 22 while the San Francisco 49ers are ranked No. 26. The Raiders actually rose a spot from the previous preseason power rankings. While both teams had their moments in the preseason, they both also had enough struggles that bottom third of the league projection is probably a safe starting point.
There were only five voters this week (we'll blame Labor Day weekend) so you can only take so much from the votes, but it is interesting to see how they each voted. The Raiders high vote was 17 by Paul Kuharsky while their low vote was No. 29 by James Walker. The 49ers high vote was 24 by Kuharsky and John Clayton, while their low vote was 28 by Ashley Fox.
There is only so much one can take from any sort of power rankings, but this does seem to show there is less certainty about the Raiders. They are coming off a non-playoff year in which they also swept their six divisional games. They lost one of their biggest defensive weapons in Nnamdi Asomugha and will have to figure out a way to compensate for that.
On the other side of the Bay Area, the 49ers have a ton of question marks as well and are coming off a brutal 2011 season. It really is a season of question marks for Bay Area football.