NFL Power Rankings: Teams That Ended the Regular Season on Positive Notes
The 2012 NFL regular season is officially over, and quite a few teams finished the year in a positive manner.
Some secured playoff spots, while others can use their Week 17 performances to catapult themselves into promising futures.
Of course, not every team will be happy about the way the season ended. But since it's no fun to dwell on the negative, let's focus on the positives in the final power rankings of the regular season.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
Rarely is a 35-point loss a positive, but when it results in you securing the top pick in the draft, you can't be too upset.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
The Jags did their part by losing on Sunday. Unfortunately, the Chiefs were even worse, so Jacksonville will have to live with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
30. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
The Terrelle Pryor era begins! Sure, he completed less than half his passes. And yeah, the Raiders still lost. But the man had his moments. Maybe it won't be all doom and gloom in Oakland next season.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
The Andy Reid era ends! The man was great at times, but Philly desperately needed a change. This team has some intriguing pieces. With a new head coach, they may be able to make some noise next season.
28. Detroit Lions (4-12)
For a team that started the year with playoff aspirations, there's nothing positive about ending the season on an eight-game losing streak. That's just pathetic.
27. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
Going 1-11 to end the season and not getting a top-three pick? Nothing positive about that finish.
26. Cleveland Browns (5-11)
Keep your heads up, Browns fans. At least you're not Cardinals fans.
25. New York Jets (6-10)
Fortunately for Jets fans, the Mark Sanchez era appears to be over. Unfortunately for non-Jets fans, the Mark Sanchez era appears to be over. At least we'll always have that video.
24. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Not a lot of positives from Buffalo's season. Every team they beat finished with a losing record.
23. Tennessee Titans (6-10)
Winning your last game of the season? Good. Dropping several draft spots because of it? Not so much.
22. San Diego Chargers (7-9)
To their credit, the Chargers won their last two games and three of the last four. But when those three wins come against teams with a combined record of 18-32, it's not quite as exciting.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
The Bucs were hoping to reach the playoffs this year, but a late five-game losing streak ruined those dreams. Still, this team has some solid young pieces. They could be definitely reach the postseason next year.
20. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)
Too bad the Rams couldn't just play other NFC West teams all year. Jeff Fisher's crew finished 4-1-1 against divisional opponents.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
A 14-point victory over Cleveland doesn't make up for the Steelers choke job down the stretch. Not at all.
18. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
A 7-9 season is pretty solid for a team with rookie quarterback and first-year head coach. I'm expecting big things from Miami in the future.
17. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
Their head coach was suspended for the entire year, they had the worst defense in the league, and the Saints still finished 7-9. That Drew Brees guy is pretty darn good. This team will be in the thick of the playoff race next season.
16. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
Ditto for the Panthers, who won five of their last six games. That 44-38 win over New Orleans on Sunday was a solid way to end the year.
15. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
I love me some Tony Romo, but the dude is now 1-6 in elimination games. Of course, not all of those are his fault, but that is a horrible record to be attached to.
Add in the fact that damn near every Cowboys receiver was injured during their Sunday night meltdown and there is nothing positive to take away from Week 17.
14. New York Giants (9-7)
Winning your last game, finishing 9-7 and not making the playoffs? That hurts.
13. Chicago Bears (10-6)
Winning your last game, finishing 10-6 and not making the playoffs? That hurts even worse.
12. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Baltimore is in the playoffs, but after losing four of their last five, they sure as hell don't deserve to be. If the football gods truly do exist, this team will get bounced in the first round.
11. Houston Texans (12-4)
A 12-4 record is impressive. Three of those losses coming in the last four weeks? Not so much, especially since Houston is now just 2-5 against playoff teams this season.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
The Bengals have won seven of their last eight, and their only loss was a one-point defeat to Dallas, who happened to be red hot at the time. I don't think this team has a deep playoff run in them, but one postseason win is definitely possible.
9. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
8. Green Bay Packers (11-5)
This is getting tough. Green Bay was my NFC Super Bowl pick as of yesterday. After watching Christian Ponder (Christian Ponder!) throw three TDs against them, I don't think they'll make it out of the first round.
7. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
The Vikings won their last four games, and three of them came against teams with winning records. The other was against a solid Rams squad. I'd call that ending the regular season on a positive note.
Not only that, but this team looks ready to put a scare into the rest of the NFC playoff teams. They already know they can beat Green Bay. If they win that, they'll either play San Francisco (who they beat in Week 3) or the Falcons (21st in the league in rushing yards allowed).
This team could very well move on to the NFC Championship Game. And if they make it that far, anything can happen.
6. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
The Niners beat Arizona on Sunday, but it wasn't quite the emphatic win I was expecting after they got destroyed 42-13 by Seattle in Week 16. They also won just three of their last five games and they finished the regular season 3-2 against playoff teams.
They could still make a Super Bowl run, but I'm not hopping on that bandwagon any time soon.
5. Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
The Falcons played just two playoff teams all season (Denver, Washington). They won both games, but that was before both teams hit their stride. I think this team is ill-prepared for the rigors of postseason football.
Regardless of who they play, I'm expecting Atlanta to lose their first game of the postseason.
4. Washington Redskins (10-6)
Talk about finishing the season strong. After starting 3-6, Washington rattled off seven straight wins to make the playoffs. They won five divisional games during that span and scored at least 27 points in six of those games.
The Redskins have the best rushing attack in the league, and with Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris playing at an extremely high level, this team will be a tough out in the playoffs.
Their first-round game against Seattle could be one of the best Wild Card games in NFL history. And no, that's not hyperbole.
3. New England Patriots (12-4)
New England secured a first-round bye with their 28-0 victory over Miami. They also won nine of their last 10 games, and the lone loss was almost one of the greatest comebacks in franchise history.
Tom Brady is playing like his usual amazing self, their rushing attack is solid and they've beaten three AFC playoff teams by an average of 24.3 points per game. That's why the Patriots are my pick to win it all.
2. Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
A five-game winning streak, terrifying defense, second-best running game in the league and a 4-1 record against fellow playoff teams—just a few reasons why the rest of the NFC is hoping to avoid Seattle in the postseason.
Like I said above, this Washington-Seattle game is going to be a classic.
1. Denver Broncos (13-3)
I think the Patriots will beat the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, but after winning their last 11 games of the season, Denver has to be ranked No. 1 right now.
The Broncos only beat two playoff teams this season, but with Peyton Manning at QB, I don't have any concerns about their ability to prepare and execute in postseason situations.
Denver had the strongest end to the season by far, and you can expect them to carry that momentum into their divisional round game.
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