NFL Power Rankings: Where Last Year's Playoff Teams Currently Sit

Ralph LongoAnalyst IIIAugust 2, 2012

NFL Power Rankings: Where Last Year's Playoff Teams Currently Sit

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    With NFL training camps in full swing, everyone's wondering who the top teams are going to be and where last season's playoff teams currently are positioned. There's been a lot of movement in the Power Rankings due to off-season moves and draft picks. 

    So, who are the best teams heading into the NFL season at this very moment? Here are the Power Rankings for all 32 NFL Teams. 

     


32. Cleveland Browns

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    Unfortunately for the Browns and their fans, there isn't much to look forward to as the season nears. Cleveland did have a good draft, as they were able to pick up stud RB Trent Richardson out of Alabama, and later grab Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden.

    So while there may very well be a solid future for Cleveland, this isn't going to be a good year for Browns fans. 

    Projected Record: 3-13

31. Indianapolis Colts

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    Much like Cleveland, Indy had an excellent draft, as they were able to select QB Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick out of Stanford, and also picked up his college teammate, TE Coby Fleener. These two should be lighting up the stat sheet for years to come.

    But this year will be a miserable one for Indy fans. The defense just isn't going to be able to stop anyone and the offense won't yet be ready to put up enough points to supplement their defensive deficiencies.

    Projected Record: 3-13

30. Minnesota Vikings

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    Yesterday, Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf said that the Vikings would be division champs in 2012. I don't know what they put in the water in Minnesota, but Zygi better check himself. There's absolutely ZERO percent chance that Minnesota wins the NFC North in 2012. 

    The Vikings just aren't ready to compete yet, and with Adrian Peterson sidelined indefinitely, there's not a lot of hope for Minnesota this year. And there's just no way they can beat out Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago in their division.  

    Projected Record: 4-12

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    The Jaguars made a mistake drafting Blaine Gabbert so highly in 2011. They overreached and I think the Jags and their fans are starting to realize it. Gabbert just isn't developing the way people had hoped, but fortunately for him there's still time for him to come into his own. 

    Gabbert is likely two or three years away from being a "finished product," so to speak. He'll be a little better this year, but not by much. His development is being rushed, which is never a good thing for a QB.  

    Projected Record: 4-12

28. St. Louis Rams

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    St. Louis is a team that actually could surprise a lot of people in 2012. They have talent on offense in Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson, and have a defense that, if healthy, is certainly capable. And with new head coach Jeff Fisher, there's a lot of optimism in St. Louis for the future. 

    This team nearly made a trip to the playoffs two seasons ago, but regressed last year largely due to injuries. If they can stay totally 100% healthy, they'll win some games. But in the NFL injuries are all but guaranteed, so this team will likely have a lot of issues as they lack depth. 

    Projected Record: 4-12

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Bucs went 10-6 in 2010 and made the playoffs, only to have a serious letdown last season. With new head coach Greg Schiano, this team could potentially be pretty good, but not this year. Josh Freeman is just way too inconsistent, and until he proves himself, this team won't be able to thrive. 

    But I wouldn't sleep on the Bucs just yet. Doug Martin could be an offensive spark plug for Tampa and maybe could give them some life on the offensive end. But more likely than not, it'll be a rebuilding year in Tampa Bay

    Projected Record: 6-10

26. Washington Redskins

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    The Redskins got a QB for the next decade when they picked Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL draft. Griffin's almost assuredly going to be an excellent player, but it's his rookie year so fans need to temper their expectations. 

    Griffin is good, but he's not going to turn this team around in one year. Add to that the fact that they're in perhaps the toughest division in the NFL, and you have a recipe for a subpar season in Washington, D.C. 

    Projected Record: 5-11

25. Oakland Raiders

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    The Raiders didn't have a first- or a second-round pick in the draft, which is obviously a big red flag for this team as they weren't able to address their offensive and defensive issues. Hopefully for fans of the Raiders, Carson Palmer will return to his past form and have a big season. 

    Smart money says he won't. Palmer isn't getting any younger, and it's unlikely he'll be able to have more than a decent year in Oakland. But I guess with a veteran QB, you just never know. 

    Projected Record: 7-9

24. Buffalo Bills

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    Buffalo definitely has potential, but the question is, can they put it all together this year and get over the hump? I think that while they have the talent, they just aren't going to be able to win enough close games to get them into the playoffs.

    However, I think that they'll take a big step forward this year and will make it back to .500. They've done a good job in the offseason and should be rewarded with some solid victories. Maybe they'll even surprise everyone and make a playoff run. 

    Projected Record: 8-8

23. Arizona Cardinals

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    Arizona is a team that's a bit of an enigma. They have a ton of talent, but they just can't seem to get it right at QB. Ever since Kurt Warner retired, they've had a shuffle to find their next franchise guy. If Kevin Kolb can get it together, this team could win a lot of games. 

    However, they have a pretty difficult schedule that could make it hard for them to get enough wins to make a playoff run. They'll be good, not great, but will surely be a tough out for everybody they play. 

    Projected Record: 8-8

22. Seattle Seahawks

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    Seattle has a rare three-way QB competition between Matt Flynn, Tavaris Jackson, and rookie Russell Wilson. Whoever ultimately wins the job will determine this team's fate. Whichever way it goes, though, Pete Carroll has an uphill battle on the offensive end. 

    However, on defense Seattle is very strong. They very quietly had a nice defensive season last year and will look to parlay that success into another good year in 2012. 

    Projected Record: 8-8

21. Carolina Panthers

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    Carolina had a better-than-expected season last year, finishing 6-10 largely due to the strong play of rookie QB Cam Newton and the resurgence of veteran wideout Steve Smith.

    Carolina still is far from perfect, but they do have a good team and in a few years could be among the NFL's elite if they continue to improve. But they're just not ready to make that leap yet.

    Projected Record: 7-9 

20. Miami Dolphins

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    The Dolphins have a lot of sleeper potential. They have talent on both offense and defense, but it remains to be seen how they'll actually perform. Fans are happy that Ryan Tannehill has arrived, but he's likely a year or two away from being the full-time starter. 

    So while the future looks bright in South Beach, this year probably won't be a playoff year for Miami. But fans should be optimistic, as Miami should win seven or even eight games and set up future success.

    Projected Record: 7-9

19. Tennessee Titans

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    Tennesee has one of the most explosive RBs in the NFL in Chris Johnson and a budding star at wideout in Kenny Britt. Jake Locker is going to be a really good QB as well, so clearly they're all set on offense.

    What's worrisome about Tennessee is that their defense isn't really up to par. It's going to be hard for them to win games in which the offense doesn't score 21 or more points, which is troublesome for their playoff hopes. 

    Projected Record: 8-8

18. Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Chiefs are actually a pretty good team, but will the (to this point) vastly overpaid and overvalued Matt Cassel finally produce in Kansas City? The Chiefs were very good two years ago, going 10-6 and making the playoffs, only to go 7-9 last year. 

    If Jamaal Charles can rebound from his knee surgery and Dwayne Bowe and Matt Cassell can get on the same page, they'll be pretty good. If they can't, this team has problems. 

    Projected Record: 9-7

17. San Diego Chargers

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    The Chargers have been hyped up season after season, only to fade as the year goes along and disappoint their fans. Philip Rivers is an elite QB, but this team is rapidly aging. Could they finally get it done this year and make a playoff run? 

    They have the ability to do so, but given their past it can't be said with certainty that they will. So they're a potential top-12 team, but for now are relegated to mediocre status. 

    Projected Record: 9-7

16. NY Jets

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    On to the most annoying team in sports, the New York Jets.

    They made an offseason media firestorm when they signed QB Tim Tebow. He won't even be their starting QB, but is getting so much media attention you'd think he was Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas and The Beatles all rolled into one.

    Tebow gets more undeserved coverage than any other athlete in history. Everyone's going to be rooting against the Jets, and they'll have a huge target on their backs week in and week out. Rex Ryan's strategy of hyping his team through the media will ultimately backfire, and they'll have another down year in 2012.

    Projected Record: 8-8

15. Chicago Bears

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    The Chicago Bears are a very intriguing team. The defense is definitely up to task, but can Jay Cutler cut down on the interceptions and stay healthy to lead this team to the playoffs? It helps that Matt Forte's got a brand new contract, as he's happy and he'll be ready to go as the season starts. 

    Lovie Smith is on the hot seat heading into 2012 and he knows it. His team has got the skills to make it to the playoffs, but will they execute when it matters most? 

    Projected Record: 9-7

14. Cincinnati Bengals

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    On to the Cincinatti Bengals. Andy Dalton will look to follow up a very successful rookie campaign in which he led the Bengals to the NFL playoffs. Cincy had a nice draft; they addressed a lot of issues that they had and look poised to have a good year in 2012. 

    The only problem is that they are in a division with the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. With both of those teams looking very strong, it's going to be nearly impossible for the Bengals to win the division, so they'll have to hope to sneak in with a Wild Card berth. 

    Projected Record: 9-7

13. Dallas Cowboys

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    On to "America's Team," the Dallas Cowboys. Although they have a brand new stadium in Dallas, this team still has the same old late-season struggles. Tony Romo and the gang just can't seem to win crucial games late in the season. 

    The playoffs were within their grasp last year, but Miles Austin literally let their playoff chances slip through his fingers by not diving for a ball against the Giants. The Cowboys should make it into the playoffs, they have the talent, but if they actually will is an entirely different matter.  

    Projected Record: 9-7

12. Atlanta Falcons

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    Entering the top 12, we've finally arrived at the playoff cutoff line. The Falcons are sitting in the 12 spot, but could very easily be a lot better come season's end. Matt Ryan is a freak of nature at home, but on the road he's yet to prove he can win big games. 

    And with an aging Michael Turner, a lot of pressure will fall on Ryan's shoulders to carry this team late in the season. If he can do so, this team will have no issues getting into the postseason for yet another year. 

    Projected Record: 10-6

11. Denver Broncos

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    Unless you've been living under a rock the past few months, you know that Peyton Manning is now the QB for the Denver Broncos. Manning's a big issue for Denver, as his health is still in question, although Manning and the Broncos show no concerns publicly, at least. 

    The fact of the matter is that Manning is a 36-year-old QB who hasn't taken a hit in nearly two years. How will he respond when he's hit from his blind side? Will he be fine, or will his neck continue to give him problems? If he stays healthy, this is a playoff team. If he doesn't, they'll have issues.

    Projected Record: 10-6 

10. Detroit Lions

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    Matthew Stafford is coming off a season in which he surpassed 5,000 yards, a special feat for any NFL QB to accomplish. The rocket-armed former Georgia Bulldog will look to repeat that success this season.

    And if they can get their offseason arrests under control, the Lions could be a potential playoff spoiler come the postseason. The Lions have a lot of talent; they just need to get their stuff together off the field.

    Projected Record: 10-6

9. New Orleans Saints

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    The New Orleans Saints are a very tough team to rank, given the uncertainty looming over them. With head coach Sean Payton suspended for the entire season due to the bounty scandal, a lot of pressure is going to fall on Drew Brees to lead this team in his absence. 

    Brees needs to pull this team together and be sure that the off-the-field distractions don't become a problem once the season starts. If they can block all that stuff out, they'll be just fine. If not, they'll struggle. 

    Projected Record: 11-5

8. Houston Texans

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    The Texans were able to make it to the second round of the playoffs last season with their third-string QB T.J. Yates at the helm and numerous injuries to star players Arian Foster and Andre Johnson.

    With Foster, Johnson and QB Matt Schaub, all healthy heading into this year, the Texans are poised to have a great season. If you're looking for a good value bet to win the Super Bowl, this is your team.

    Projected Record: 11-5 

7. Baltimore Ravens

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    What can you say about the Ravens? It seems like they're always competing at the highest level possible and they're always in the mix late in the season and into the playoffs. WIth the absence of Terrell Suggs on defense until at least November and an aging Ray Lewis, could this team finally be slipping? 

    The answer is, probably not—but there's always a chance that they'll have a down year. Joe Flacco should play well enough though to offset any holes in the defense. 

    Projected Record: 12-4

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking very good heading into the season. Ben Roethlisberger needs to stay healthy and not have any lingering injuries as the season progresses. He's been in the league for a decade now, which is kind of hard to believe. 

    When is the last time Big Ben wasn't hurt? He's always dealing with something. Besides his injury risk, there's nothing really stopping Pittsburgh. They'll be battling it out with the Ravens for the top spot in the AFC North, as usual. 

    Projected Record: 12-4

5. Philadelphia Eagles

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    The bottom line with the Eagles is this: If Michael Vick stays healthy for all 16 games, or comes close to it, then this team has a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl. If he plays stupid and gets himself injured, they'll struggle like they did last year when they finished 8-8. 

    The Eagles defense has become a lot more solid, and if they play to their potential they could be a top-5 overall defense. If you're an Eagles fan, just hope that Michael Vick stays healthy; that's basically all there is to be said about this team. If he does, the NFC East title is as good as theirs.  

    Projected Record: 12-4

4. New York Giants

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    The Giants made about as improbable a run last season as any team that's ever won the Super Bowl. They were the first team ever to win the Super Bowl without winning double-digit regular season games. However, they played well when it mattered most, which enabled them to win it all. 

    This year's going to be even tougher for the G-Men, and their chances of repeating are pretty slim. With the Eagles breathing down their neck, the Giants probably won't' even win the NFC East, which is a really tough division. But due to what they did last year, they have earned the right to be ranked this high in the Power Rankings. 

    Projected Record: 10-6

3. San Francisco 49ers

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    The 49ers defense last season was truly amazing. At times it seems like it was impossible for their opponents to move the ball, as any attempts to get the running game going proved to be futile with Patrick Willis spearheading the league's best defense. 

    With new offensive weapons Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, this team could potentially reach the Super Bowl this year. If Alex Smith can continue to improve under Jim Harbaugh, this team will easily win the NFC West and will make a deep run into the playoffs. 

    Projected Record: 14-2

2. New England Patriots

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    Much like the next team on this list, the Patriots' winning formula uses their extremely explosive offense, with weapons Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker, to simply outscore their opponents. 

    The Patriots have a weak defense, at least in terms of giving up yards. If they can plug up some of the holes in the D, they'll have a great shot to get back to the Super Bowl this upcoming season. 

    Projected Record: 14-2

1. Green Bay Packers

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    Who else would occupy the top spot? The Packers are absolutely loaded offensively. Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the NFL at the moment, and as long as he's healthy the Packers have to be the Super Bowl favorites at this point. 

    The one issue with this team is their poor defense, but as we saw last year, and with the Patriots as well, if your offense is good enough a lack of defense doesn't really matter all that much. The Packers are the favorites for a reason; expect them to make a deep playoff run in 2012. 

    Projected Record: 15-1

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