NFL Power Rankings: Teams That Will Have a Drastically Different Record in 2013

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst IDecember 10, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 02: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens is sacked in the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Pittsburgh Steelers won, 23-20. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Another week is nearly in the books as the NFL season continues to wind down, but we can already begin to tell which teams will have a drastically different record come next season.

Although almost no expert would have picked them to have such an incredible turnaround, the Indianapolis Colts turned from the worst club in the NFL to a playoff team in the span of a year.

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints fall from grace was somewhat to be expected, but not like this.

So who will be the next Colts or Saints for the 2013 season?

It's time to find out.

1. New England Patriots (10-3)

There's no doubt about it: the Pats are for real and are the best team in the NFL. This was decided after Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns on Monday Night Football against the team with the best record in the NFL: the Texans. A 42-14 win is convincing enough to put the Pats in the top spot.

2. Denver Broncos (10-3)

Denver continues to get it done each and every week, this time it was against the Oakland Raiders. After eight straight wins, the Broncos are rolling to the playoffs behind Peyton Manning and their stingy defense.

3. Houston Texans (11-2)

The Texans easily lost their top spot after getting embarrassed by the Patriots on Monday Night Football, 42-14. This loss proved the Texans aren't as good as we thought they were and this will only raise serious questions as to just how good Houston can stack up in the playoffs.

4. Atlanta Falcons (11-2)

They might have the second-best record in the NFL behind Houston, but Atlanta certainly hasn't been playing like it lately. Week 14 wasn't kind to Matt Ryan and company as the Falcons dropped their matchup with the lowly Carolina Panthers by two scores.

5. San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1)

Jim Harbaugh's squad was faced with a trap game against the Miami Dolphins this week, but the Niners passed the test and took care of business in a nice, balanced way.

6. Green Bay Packers (9-4)

Green Bay has now won six of its last seven games and is now in control of the NFC North thanks to the Chicago Bears' ineptitude. The Packers topped the Detroit Lions in what was a tough game for the second time in four weeks.

7. Indianapolis Colts (9-4)

Another week, another comeback win for Andrew Luck and the Colts. This squad continues to prove it has what it takes to be a dangerous playoff team and the sky is the limit for the future of this Indianapolis team.

8. Baltimore Ravens (9-4)

One week after losing to Charlie Batch and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens had their hands full with the talented Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.

Well, that was until RG3 went down to an injury and Kirk Cousins came into the game with an eight-point deficit to make up. So that should have made this a shoe-in victory for Baltimore, right?

Wrong. Cousins went on to complete a late fourth-quarter drive that would tie the game at 28, and eventually the Redskins would win it in overtime with a field goal.

Would the Baltimore defense of old allow a rookie quarterback to orchestrate a late-game drive to tie the score? Absolutely not, and that's why this defense is a shell of its former self and isn't likely to get better. 2013 will see this squad get a year older and slower.

On offense, the Ravens can't get anything going and Joe Flacco will continue to be inconsistent as he is not an elite quarterback in this league. Even the rushing attack has suffered, ranking 23rd in the NFL this season.

This team has major improvements to make at the end of this season, namely on their defense and offensive line. With that being said, if Baltimore doesn't do something fast, it could be looking at a very disappointing 2013 season.

9. Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

One week after beating a playoff-quality opponent in Chicago, the Seahawks returned home to smoke their division rival, the Arizona Cardinals, 58-0. We knew the Seahawks could play defense, but now it appears they can light up the scoreboard on a good day.

10. New York Giants (8-5)

New York desperately needed a win this week in order to stave off the surging Redskins and Cowboys, and they drew the perfect opponent to do that. The Saints couldn't stop a nosebleed on defense and the Giants proved that by dropping 52 points on them.

11. Washington Redskins (7-6)

Washington's victory over Baltimore showed that this team has a lot of guts, both with and without RG3 on the field.

Late in the fourth quarter and down by eight points, the Redskins got a game-tying drive from rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was filling in for the injured Griffin III. Cousins would get the job done by throwing a touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon and later running it in for a two-point conversion.

The 'Skins would go on to win it in overtime, beating one of the best teams in the AFC.

While they are very much alive in the playoff race, Washington should be at the head of the same race in 2013.

Clearly, Griffin III is becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL already and he is just a rookie. RG3 can both pass and run, so that will continue to make things more difficult for opposing defenses.

To complement RG3, the Redskins have Alfred Morris to hand the ball off to and Garcon is a beast at wide receiver. This team's offense will no doubt be elite for years to come and that alone will help them win a lot of games.

Adding to that, the Redskins are now developing a defense that can make stops, namely against the run as Washington is ranked No. 4 in the NFL in that category. Come next season, this could be one of the most complete teams in the NFL and that could lead to a 12-win season if all goes to plan.

12. Chicago Bears (8-5)

Chicago is in a downward spiral of epic proportions as it has now lost four of its last five games. It's been a tough road the past five weeks, but after all that, Chicago is still clinging to a playoff spot with a tough but important game in Green Bay coming up next week..

13. Minnesota Vikings (7-6)

The Vikings are in the thick of things in this year's playoff race, which is a spot nobody thought they would be at the start of the season. Minnesota knocked off the Bears in Week 14, single-handedly helping its playoff chances at the same time.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6)

After an incredible win last week with Charlie Batch behind center, the Steelers expected to improve upon their Week 13 success now that Ben Roethlisberger was back in the lineup. But it wasn't meant to be and the Steelers let the depressing San Diego Chargers get the best of them.

15. Dallas Cowboys (7-6)

The Cowboys find themselves right in the middle of the pack in the NFL and one spot above the Cincinnati Bengals, who they topped on Sunday with an emotional win in Cincy.

16. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)

Cincinnati had a golden opportunity to leapfrog the Steelers with a win over the Cowboys, but in true Bengals fashion, they failed to take advantage of such a chance. Instead, the Bengals remain where they normally do: behind the Steelers and Ravens.

17. St. Louis Rams (6-6-1)

It wasn't pretty, but the Rams did what they needed to do in order to win against the Buffalo Bills.

Head coach Jeff Fisher has this team moving in the right direction as their defense has been the staple this season. With more time working on defense and the potential addition of Gregg Williams to his coaching staff next season, the Rams' defense should be even better than it was this season.

Make no mistake about it: the Rams are where they are today because of defense, not offense.

On that front, the St. Louis needs to make significant changes to their offense next season. Building up the offensive line should be the first and foremost focus for the organization, followed by getting a playmaking receiver in any way, shape or form.

That will give Sam Bradford enough time to scan the field and would give him a reliable receiver to actually throw the ball to. The talent in Bradford is there, now all that's left is surrounding him with the pieces to win.

If St. Louis can do that, Fisher and company should be one of the better all-around teams in the NFL in 2013.

18. New York Jets (6-7)

Rex Ryan's group of misfits needs to run the table in order to have any chance of making the playoffs. Game No. 2 of that quest was successful as the Jets topped the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars to keep their hopes alive.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)

The Bucs looked to keep their playoff hopes alive in Week 14, but instead fell to one of the worst teams in the NFL: the Philadelphia Eagles. It appears the magical run the Bucs were on is now coming to an end.

20. San Diego Chargers (5-8)

All that's left for the Chargers is to play for pride, but it figures they would beat a team like the Steelers when it no longer matters for them.

21. Cleveland Browns (5-8)

If not for a horrific start to the 2012 season, the Browns could be looking at a potential playoff berth this season. After starting out 0-5, the Browns have won five of eight, with wins over the Steelers and Bengals to name a few.

22. New Orleans Saints (5-8)

The Saints attempted to win a shootout with the Giants, but failed miserably as they allowed 52 points to Eli Manning and company. It just goes to show you, no matter how great your offense is, you have to be able to make some stops to have a chance in this league.

23. Buffalo Bills (5-8)

Buffalo put 34 points up on the board against Jacksonville last week, but had a rude awakening against the Rams. In two consecutive weeks, the Bills have seen what it looks like when a team shows up, and when it doesn't. Sadly for the Bills, when that team shows up, it normally means no scoring.

24. Carolina Panthers (4-9)

I guess the Panthers were saving the best for last after beating the NFC-leading Falcons. However, it's too little too late for Carolina, but at least it has something to build off as the season winds down.

Carolina still has one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL in Cam Newton, so they will remain strong and explosive behind center for years to come. The Panthers also have solid depth at running back with the help of Newton on the ground.

The only thing left for this team is to build a defense that can keep them in games.

This is still a very young team with a bright future and it's only a matter of time before they realize that. The Panthers should have been better this season, but instead they lost many of the close battles that could have put them in the playoffs this season.

If the Panthers can make the said defensive improvements and beef up their O-line, this team could see a double-digit win total in 2013 if they figure out how to win those close games, also.

25. Miami Dolphins (5-8)

Two weeks in a row, two very difficult opponents for Miami. Still, the Dolphins were able to hang tough for the most part and should take solace in the fact that they aren't a pushover by any means.

26. Detroit Lions (4-9)

The Lions looked good in the first half, but were absolutely dreadful in the second and could only muster up three points throughout the final two quarters. It's safe to say Detroit can't wait for this nightmare season to be over.

27. Tennessee Titans (4-9)

The Titans were just the latest victims of Andrew Luck's clutch gene. Tennessee had a fourth-quarter lead in this game, but the Colts were able to do what they do best and erase it en route to victory.

28. Philadelphia Eagles (4-9)

The Eagles didn't have much to play for coming into this week other than pride and setting themselves up for next season, but that didn't stop them from crushing the Bucs playoff hopes with a win.

29. Arizona Cardinals (4-9)

Arizona has become a joke in this league and after winning its first four games, the Cardinals have now dropped nine straight games punctuated by a 58-0 bombing at the hands of the Seahawks.

30. Oakland Raiders (3-10)

Did anyone really believe the Raiders would stop the hottest team in the NFL, the Broncos? I didn't, and neither did you, so it's no surprise they are now in double-digit loss territory.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11)

The only thing worse than being one of the worst teams in the NFL is being one of the worst teams in the NFL and losing to the Jets. Just when the Jags thought they were up against a team that was in worse turmoil than they are.

32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-11)

Well, the Chiefs aren't returning to respectability this season, but they are still in line to grab the first pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Hopefully for Kansas City, it will make all this losing worthwhile.


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