Teams rise and fall in the NFL quicker than any other sport.
Franchises that seemed to be going nowhere a few years ago like the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions are now elite contenders. The Indianapolis Colts, formerly perennial postseason participants, are now in a rebuilding stage after finishing with the worst record in football.
Sometimes teams can make big differences from week to week depending on the right set of circumstances.
These squads have not been expected to do much, but so far they have shown they have what it takes to surprise the football world.
In limited playing time, rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has already impressed in the nation's capital.
He looks like a legitimate franchise quarterback, and he is part of a team that is slowly putting together the pieces to become a winner.
The defense is anchored by first-round picks Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan as well as the still-effective London Fletcher. On offense, it looks as though second-year player Roy Helu can handle full-time running-back duties.
Even when factoring in potential rookie mistakes for Griffin, do not be surprised if this team can win double-digit games in 2012.
It is easy to pick on the NFC West for being weak, but the San Francisco 49ers will not be able to run away with the division this season.
Seattle had a solid defense in 2011, ranked ninth in yards allowed and seventh in points per game. They also added pass-rushing specialist Bruce Irvin in the first round of the draft to help on third downs.
On offense, the quarterback battle is heating up between newcomers Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson. Either player should be an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson, and each should be able to balance an offense that already features Marshawn Lynch, who finished third in the NFL in rushing touchdowns a season ago.
In a wide-open NFC, the Seahawks can surprise people with a run toward the playoffs.
The Raiders ended last season with an 8-8 record despite losing star running back Darren McFadden for the second half of the year. Still, most are projecting the team to be toward the bottom of the standings.
How is your team rated in the poll?
McFadden is back and healthy, and quarterback Carson Palmer will have had an entire offseason with the team to get on the same page with his young and talented receivers.
The defensive struggled last season, but new coordinator Jason Tarver will try to turn the unit into a group of stoppers.
Even without it, the offense should be good enough to carry the team to a winning record.
|No. 1||New England Patriots|
|No. 2||Green Bay Packers|
|No. 3||San Francisco 49ers|
|No. 4||New York Giants|
|No. 5||Baltimore Ravens|
|No. 6||Houston Texans|
|No. 7||Detroit Lions|
|No. 8||Atlanta Falcons|
|No. 9||Chicago Bears|
|No. 10||Denver Broncos|
|No. 11||New Orleans Saints|
|No. 12||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|No. 13||Washington Redskins|
|No. 14||Philadelphia Eagles|
|No. 15||Seattle Seahawks|
|No. 16||Cincinnati Bengals|
|No. 17||Oakland Raiders|
|No. 18||Dallas Cowboys|
|No. 19||Kansas City Chiefs|
|No. 20||San Diego Chargers|
|No. 21||Tennessee Titans|
|No. 22||Carolina Panthers|
|No. 23||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|No. 24||Buffalo Bills|
|No. 25||Arizona Cardinals|
|No. 26||New York Jets|
|No. 27||Miami Dolphins|
|No. 28||Cleveland Browns|
|No. 29||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|No. 30||St. Louis Rams|
|No. 31||Indianapolis Colts|
|No. 32||Minnesota Vikings|