2012 NFL Power Rankings

My pre-free agency 2012 NFL Power Rankings.

I’m going to eventually use these rankings as the order for my 2013 NFL Mock Draft updates. Follow @walterfootball.

I’ve gone from WORST to FIRST, so if you don’t see reverse numbering (via Javascript), don’t worry; the Rams, Buccaneers and Jaguars aren’t my top teams.

Updated: 2/21

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) – Previously: –.
    The star running back didn’t work out. The star receiver fell asleep during meetings. The head coach didn’t put enough time into film prep. The top cornerback could be heading to prison. The first-round quarterback will be learning a new system. The Buccaneers are the worst team in the NFL.

  2. St. Louis Rams (2-14) – Previously: –.
    The Rams had so many injuries last year. With Jeff Fisher on the sidelines and the talent he’ll be able to bring in (Cortland, Finnegan, Jason Jones?), St. Louis could be a bit of a sleeper to win four, maybe five games in 2012.

  3. Cleveland Browns (4-12) – Previously: –.
    The Browns have to get Robert Griffin. They just have to. I’d laugh at them if they manage to screw this up, but their fans deserve much better than this.

    I mean, seriously, look at what one Cleveland fan wrote on GameCenter: “Browns are going too score…… BEST DAY IN MY LIFE!!!!”

  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) – Previously: –.
    Jacksonville’s defense was solid last year, but the unit will be losing some players to free agency. Plus, it’s unlikely that Maurice Jones-Drew will be fully effective again, given the workload he shouldered. Oh, and then there’s Blaine Gabbert being a lost cause.

    But cheer up, Jag fans – you can attack former players like Hugh Douglas! Check out this heated exchange between Douglas and someone on Twitter:

    I found this amusing, so I tweeted (@walterfootball) at Hugh: “@Bighugh53 Hugh, why didn’t you get 40 sacks like you promised when you signed with the Dolphins!? Everyone was expecting you to!”

  5. Minnesota Vikings (3-13) – Previously: –.
    It’s a slight concern that Christian Ponder regressed throughout his rookie season, prompting many Viking fans to chant for Joe Webb. It doesn’t help that Adrian Peterson may not be available until Halloween coming off a torn ACL. Poor Vikes.

  6. Indianapolis Colts (2-14) – Previously: –.
    Is it a coincidence that the Colts’ next quarterback is named Andrew Luck? Because luck is what it took to have the first-overall pick the same year the best quarterback prospect in at least 14 years happens to be available to continue what Peyton Manning built in Indianapolis.

    I wonder what Taton has to say about this…

    colt need draft r.griffit insted of a.lock. a.lock will not quit throw imcomplete. r.griffit can run ball not throw inturcepcion and impcomplete. best thing p.maning go he was wash up. and byebye cach caswell he lick penas in showor with jim isray!!!

  7. Oakland Raiders (8-8) – Previously: –.
    The Raiders are going to be terrible next year. They’re switching defensive schemes, getting rid of key players and preparing for another season of Carson Palmer. And why do they keep switching coaches every two seconds? I don’t even know who the coach is anymore. Is it still Art Shell?

  8. Seattle Seahawks (7-9) – Previously: –.
    I have no idea what the Seahawks are going to do. They’re in that tough spot, where they’re not good enough to make the playoffs (not happening since the 49ers are great), but they’re not bad enough to land a franchise quarterback. Seattle has gone 7-9 two years in a row now, and I don’t see its win total changing dramatically in the next couple of years.

  9. Miami Dolphins (6-10) – Previously: –.
    Defense certainly wasn’t the problem for the Dolphins last season. So, why are they switching schemes? It makes no sense. Hiring Joe Philbin at this moment was a mistake, in my opinion, and it doesn’t look like he’s off to a good start. We’ll see though. Maybe he’s the right guy for the job, but I have my doubts.

  10. New York Jets (8-8) – Previously: –.
    The Jets are kind of screwed. Their defense is declining, while Mark Sanchez has inexplicably regressed. Oh, and they’re keeping the malcontent receiver who was partly to blame for last year’s late-season implosion. It wouldn’t surprise me to see New York take a major tumble down the standings.

    Rex Ryan attempted to comfort his fans with good news. Suraj L. sent over Ryan’s recent quote to me:

    “Holmes and Sanchez are getting together this offseason to work on their relationship.”

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  11. Buffalo Bills (6-10) – Previously: –.
    If the Bills couldn’t make the playoffs last year, with their easy schedule and roster continuity helping them in a lockout season, they’re never going to make it. They’re cursed. Just give up, Buffalo fans.

    I guess the good news, if you want to call it that, is Ryan Fitzpatrick’s late-season regression was the product of rib injuries, apparently. That’s fine, but more players are just going to get hurt next year. Like I said, the Bills are cursed.

  12. Washington Redskins (5-11) – Previously: –.
    If the Redskins walk away from this offseason without Peyton Manning or Robert Griffin, it’ll be deemed a failure.

    E-mailer Yaser A. lamented giving up too much for Griffin: “It sucks because if we don’t get anyone in free agency, we may have to give up the farm for RG3. It’ll suck to watch the draft in 2013 if we don’t have first- or second-round picks.”

    An easy reply: “It’ll be worth it though – and who cares if you don’t have a pick if you’re selecting in the late teens or 20s because you finally have a franchise quarterback?”

  13. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – Previously: –.
    The Cardinals will soar up these rankings if they land Peyton Manning. Yes, they’ll be instant Super Bowl contenders if he’s at least 80 percent of what he once was. There are just too many questions. Is Manning still any good? Is he even going to sign with Arizona? And if so, can the Cardinals convince his entourage (Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, Dwight Freeney) to come with him?

  14. San Diego Chargers (8-8) – Previously: –.
    I’m now convinced that Norv Turner can do anything and not get fired. He should try whacking off and splooging into the owner’s cereal one morning. He’ll still be the coach of the Chargers if he does that – guaranteed.

    I don’t get it. Why is San Diego content with constant underachievement and mediocrity? If I rooted for the Chargers, I’d be losing my mind right now.

  15. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) – Previously: –.
    The Bengals were 9-0 against non-playoff teams and 0-7 versus postseason opponents last year. That tells you that they were overrated. The good news is that Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham will each be more experienced in 2012. Perhaps they’ll achieve a quality victory.

  16. Tennessee Titans (9-7) – Previously: –.
    Jake Locker better have the starting job next season. Matt Hasselbeck isn’t nearly as good, and I don’t think I could handle another year of Chris Berman exclaining, “THE BEST FREE AGENT SIGNING OF LAST SPRING – AND NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT THIS – IS MATT HASSELBECK. AMIRITE GUYS!?” And then the other analysts have to nod and agree, or else they’ll get fired. Ugh.

    Speaking of the Titans, I forgot about a segment I used to run called Stupid Vince and Senile Bud. Here’s the most recent episode:

    Vince Young: Derrr, hey old guy owner ha, your name Bud is the same name as a beer I have.

    Bud Adams: Weh? Who are you? You seem like you could be a good quarterback. Why don’t you come play for my team?

    Vince Young: Derrr, but mister old guy ha, you tolded me I cannot play for your team no more.

    Bud Adams: Weh? Team? I don’t have a team.

    Vince Young: Derrr, it’s the one with the big letter T on a circle with blue fire comin on the back even though fire only have orange and red colors ha.

    Bud Adams: Weh? What T? You look like you can play quarterback son. Why don’t you come play for my team?

  17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) – Previously: –.
    Great in November, crappy in December, coaches do something stupid, Tony Romo struggles in biggest game, blah blah blah…

  18. Carolina Panthers (6-10) – Previously: –.
    I have high hopes for the Panthers next year. Their defense can’t be any worse, while Cam Newton should be able to develop as a passer. There’s always a chance for a sophomore slump, but he was so great last season that it’s difficult to imagine that.

    Speaking of Newton, I found it preposterous that the NCAA couldn’t find any wrongdoing during his stay at Auburn. Umm… how about checking his bank statements for a $180,000 deposit? I love how the NCAA all of a sudden can’t find anything when it doesn’t want to. They’re such hypocrites.

  19. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) – Previously: –.
    Something’s seriously wrong in Pittsburgh. Owner Art Rooney II is saying that Mike Tomlin wanted Todd Haley. Tomlin is saying that Haley was Rooney’s idea. Big Ben’s pissed off. Haley, meanwhile, will spend most of his times checking for bugs and microphones in his office. Add in the fact that some players will have to be released to get under the cap, and the Steelers could very easily slide down the standings in 2012.

  20. Denver Broncos (8-8) – Previously: –.
    Some may say that I have the Broncos too high. I say that you can enjoy your eternal stay with Satan for rooting against Tim Tebow.

  21. Atlanta Falcons (10-6) – Previously: –.
    Perhaps the ugly, 2-point performance at the Giants was predictable. Someone on GameCenter called it:

    “all im saying is falcons will fall on their faces as usaul.are dont you remember last year?”

    To be fair though, the Falcons have lost to the previous two Super Bowl champions in the postseason. They just need to play a team that isn’t going to make an incredible run.

  22. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8) – Previously: –.
    My dad wants the Eagles to sign Peyton Manning…

    Dad: The Eagles will sign Peyton Manning. I heard it on the news.

    Me: What? They’re not signing Manning. What are they going to do with QB Dog Killer?

    Dad: Trade him. Cut him. I don’t care. He’s horrible!

    Me: They can’t get rid of him because he’s guaranteed like $14 million this year. If they cut him, they’ll take such a big cap penalty that they won’t be able to sign Manning.

    Dad: I don’t care! I want the Eagles to sign Manning!

    Me: But it’s not possible…

    Dad: I. Don’t. Care!!!!!!

    My dad’s going to be sad when Manning signs elsewhere, but as the President of the Tim Tebow fan club, he’ll still be able to cheer for the Broncos.

  23. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9) – Previously: –.
    I’m high on the Chiefs next year. Their defense was amazing down the stretch, and it didn’t even have Eric Berry in the secondary. Jamaal Charles will also be back. The best news, meanwhile, is that Todd Haley is no longer the head coach. He was too much of an ego-maniac who clashed with too many players. Plus, he did creepy things like this:

  24. Chicago Bears (8-8) – Previously: –.
    Hopefully the entire team doesn’t get injured after Thanksgiving again.

    By the way, I love how Mike Martz resigned because of “personal differences.”

    Lovie Smith: Mike, for the love of God, stop having the quarterback take 17-step drops in the pocket. Our offensive line isn’t good enough.

    Mike Martz: No 17-step drops? You’re kidding me, right? The key to success is dropping back 20 yards and then throwing it as deep as possible!

    Lovie Smith: No. I want short, quick stuff.

    Mike Martz: You monster! That’s it – I quit! I can’t work under these conditions!

  25. Baltimore Ravens (12-4) – Previously: –.
    Who’s Joe Flacco to demand to get paid like a top-five NFL quarterback? If he can do that, then perhaps I should demand that FOX pay me as a top-five sports writer when my contract’s up. That’s right – I want some Bill Simmons/Peter King/Rick Reilly money pronto!

    At any rate, I have some concern here. The key Baltimore defenders will be a year older, and you never know what you’re going to get with Flacco.

  26. San Francisco 49ers (13-3) – Previously: –.
    Stupid Kyle Williams. The 49ers will be scary if that add legitimate offensive firepower, but they better be careful because free-agent receivers have a high bust rate.

    Oh, and for the Niner fans who want to jettison Alex Smith, perhaps you should consider this GameCenter quote from the great Migelini:

    “i no i no breez is good but who all theinks is bettir breez or smith for 49s. what all you theink.”

    See? It’s a close call between Smith and Drew Breez.

  27. Detroit Lions (10-6) – Previously: –.
    Now that the Lions have some postseason experience, I think they can make a deep run next January. It’ll be interesting though to see what happens with their free agents. Can they retain Cliff Avril or Stephen Tulloch? It’s a shame that this team might have to break apart after finally breaking its playoff-less streak.

  28. New England Patriots (13-3) – Previously: –.
    I had some mean things to say about Tom Brady in my 2011 Playoff NFL Power Rankings, so I won’t pile on. Same goes for Wes Welker because I listed him in my Top 10 Most Overrated NFL Players page.

    Having said that, the Patriots will be in the mix like they always are. But they really need to do something about that atrocious defense.

  29. New Orleans Saints (13-3) – Previously: –.
    Can we stop it with this “The Saints have a chance to be the first Super Bowl host in NFL history” crap? It’s not happening. Every year, the team hosting the Super Bowl has a chance to be the home team for the NFL’s final game, and every year, that team disappoints for one reason or another. Drew Brees will suffer an injury or get kidnapped by aliens. Book it.

  30. Houston Texans (10-6) – Previously: –.
    The Texans would have been the overwhelming favorites to win the Super Bowl if they had Matt Schaub for the playoffs last year. Even without him, they almost beat the team that almost beat the team that almost beat the team that won it all. I just got a headache reading that sentence.

  31. Green Bay Packers (15-1) – Previously: –.
    If the Packers fix their defense – Nick Collins coming would really help – then they’ll be much better next year, which is a pretty scary proposition. Still, I have to rank the Giants ahead of Green Bay because of the beatdown they were able to put on the Packers at Lambeau. Besides, you can’t be No. 1 if you recently lost to Kyle Orton.

  32. New York Giants (9-7) – Previously: –.
    When Peyton Manning hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after a victory over the Bears, who in their right mind would have thought that Eli Manning would have more Super Bowl rings than Peyton in five years?

    That’s why the NFL is so great. Anything can happen. Well, except for the Bills making the playoffs.

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