Preseason 2012 NFL Power Rankings
The NFL Preseason schedule kicks off in less than a week, and the regular season is a little more than a month away. The AP Pro-32 will be a brand new weekly NFL version of the AP Top 25 that has been around for quite some time in the college game. As we are doing research and preparing for the season, I wanted to take a preseason look at my NFL rankings all the way from #32 up to #1.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars would have been a couple spots higher, but Maurice Jones-Drew is ticked off with the team. Needless to say, this team needs him badly.
31. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck will be a very good quarterback, but he doesn’t have much to work with right now.
30. Cleveland Browns – Can Trent Richardson be the guy that turns this franchise around? The Browns need to get some play makers at wide receiver to be competitive.
29. St. Louis Rams – This team might have a higher upside than some ranked higher than it, but Bradford needs some weapons on the outside.
28. Minnesota Vikings – Minnesota has taken a major turn to the south in the past couple seasons. Adrian Peterson is having a difficult offseason, and this team is heavily counting on him.
26. Tampa Bay Bucs – Josh Freeman has to bounce back in a big way this year if this team is going to be better. They also need some better luck on the injury front.
25. Oakland Raiders – I’m not convinced that Carson Palmer is the answer at quarterback. The Raiders gave up way too much to get him last year.
24. Seattle Seahawks – This team benefits from playing in a weak division, but they don’t have any major strengths on the offensive side of the ball.
23. Washington Redskins – I expect RG3 to be a terrific NFL quarterback, but there will be a learning curve on a team that is less than stellar.
22. Tennessee Titans – Tennessee will struggle to replace Finnegan in the secondary. The Titans need Chris Johnson to have a huge season in the backfield.
21. Buffalo Bills – Buffalo started out red hot in 2011, but they came back to earth pretty quickly. The defense is improved, but they still need to get even better.
20. Kansas City Chiefs – This is an important season for Kansas City. Things went badly for this team due to injuries last year. Can they bounce back with a healthy team?
19. Arizona Cardinals – I like what Ken Whisenhunt is doing with this team. The Cardinals defense has some major play makers (starting with Patrick Peterson). I think this team is on the rise.
18. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton was terrific in his rookie season, and this team will score plenty of points. The defense needs to get more consistent.
17. New York Jets – Where do you rank a team like the Jets? This team could finish 5-11 or they could finish 11-5. The team must develop a consistent running game and a pass rush.
16. Cincinnati Bengals – Cincinnati didn’t beat a team that went to the playoffs last year. The Bengals are on the rise, but they might take a small step back this year.
15. San Diego Chargers – Phillip Rivers should have a better year than he had last season. The drop in production from the defense in 2011 was concerning.
14. Atlanta Falcons – Atlanta’s offense should be good in 2012, but the defense may not be able to keep opponents off the board often enough.
13. Dallas Cowboys – It’s time for Dallas to take a big step forward. Mediocrity won’t be accepted much longer for the Cowboys. Can they become more consistent?
12. Chicago Bears – It will help a lot having Marshall on the outside, as long as he keeps his cool. The Bears should have much more balance on the offensive side of the ball.
11. Detroit Lions – Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the game right now, and the Lions defense has some major stars. Now, if this team could just stop getting in trouble off the field.
10. New Orleans Saints – This year is a major unknown for the Saints. Will the team show up looking to prove a point, or will they simply look lost without their head coach and some key players?
9. Denver Broncos – Denver’s defense is better than most people realize. The pass rush here is tremendous. If Peyton Manning stays healthy, this is a dangerous team. Can Manning make it through the season healthy though?
8. Pittsburgh Steelers – Big Ben has to get some better protection from the offensive line. The Steelers are getting older, and they don’t have many more chances at another title with this roster.
7. Philadelphia Eagles – Philadelphia is really counting on Mike Vick to stay healthy. McCoy and Vick in the backfield is an amazing duo. If this team puts it all together, they’ll be a tough out in the playoffs.
6. Baltimore Ravens – Like their divisional rivals (Steelers); the Ravens aren’t getting any younger. This defense is still very good, but they are past their prime. Joe Flacco needs to take that next step at the quarterback position. Baltimore needs to get Ray Rice the ball as often as possible.
5. San Francisco 49ers – It’s up to this team to prove that last season was simply the first step in a long-term trend to the upside. The offense might not be as good this year, but the defense is so good that it is tough to put this team any lower.
4. Houston Texans – Houston took a major step forward last year, and I don’t think it was a fluke. Andre Johnson is a major play maker on the outside, and this defense is quickly becoming one of the best in football. The Texans have a lot of balance and depth on both sides of the football.
3. New York Giants – The Giants are better than their 9-7 regular season record in 2012, but can they play as well as they did through the playoffs? They need to get started a little sooner this year. The defense needs to step up and become one of the top units in the league.
2. New England Patriots – New England still has a great coach and tons of weapons on offense. The defense should be better than it was a year ago. Remember, this team was only a play or two from winning it all last season. Expect the Patriots to be the most dominant team in the AFC.
1. Green Bay Packers – The Packers are the best team on paper heading into the 2012 season. Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in football, and he has a plethora of weapons all around him. Green Bay’s defense is great against the run. If the pass defense improves, this team should win it all. Look for a terrific season from the Packers.
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