Final NFL Power Rankings: Ray Lewis Goes out on Top
The 2012-2013 NFL season has come to a close—and what a season it was.
Adrian Peterson may have solidified himself as the greatest running back of all time. Peyton Manning had one of the best seasons of his career, coming off four neck surgeries. Calvin Johnson broke the all-time record for receiving yards in a season. Two rookie quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and RGIII, took the league by storm only to get outdone in the playoffs by a third rookie, Russell Wilson.
Speaking of the playoffs, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick set an NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a playoff game as he demolished the Packers defense.
The Baltimore Ravens pulled off one of the most stunning wins of all time when they hit a Hail Mary in the final moments against the Broncos to send the game to overtime.
And, oh yeah, the Super Bowl head coaches were brothers.
Yes, it was another incredible edition of the NFL and the best part is, we get to do it all again in just eight months. But until then, let’s recap the 2012-2013 with the final power rankings.
Teams’ pre-season rankings in ( ).
1. Baltimore Ravens (5): Love him or hate him, you have to respect him. Ray Lewis is one of the all-time greatest players, and he got to do what very few do—go out on top. Oh, and Joe Flacco is about to get paid. And after all the criticism he took all season, good for him.
2. San Francisco 49ers (2): San Francisco fans can’t be too upset. Sure, their football team has lost two absolute heartbreakers in the NFC Championship game and Super Bowl the last two years. But their baseball team has won two World Series in three seasons. I will say this, though: Can you imagine if the 49ers had drafted Aaron Rodgers with the first overall pick instead of Alex Smith? Just sayin'.
3. New England Patriots (4): New England came up just short of yet another Super Bowl appearance. The biggest question now is whether or not they will re-sign Wes Welker.
4. Atlanta Falcons (12): The Falcons had another impressive regular season, and Matt Ryan even got his first post-season win. Will Tony Gonzalez, perhaps the greatest tight end of all time, return for one final season?
5. Green Bay Packers (3): The Packers defense let them down in the playoffs once again. The Packers have allowed 133 points in their last three playoff losses (44ppg).
6. Seattle Seahawks (18): The Seahawks may have been the biggest surprise of the season. Who would have thought that Russell Wilson might be the best quarterback in the 2012 draft?
7. Denver Broncos (13): It’s tough to rank the Broncos because they were the beneficiaries of a relatively soft schedule. Regardless of their opponents, though, Peyton Manning played out of his mind, narrowly missing his fifth MVP award.
8. Houston Texans (7): The Texans came out of the gates rolling, winning 11 of their first 12, but struggled mightily over the final month. Is it time to begin looking at other quarterback options?
9. Indianapolis Colts (31): No team climbed the rankings more than the Colts, starting the season at No. 31 and reaching as high as No. 7. They should be a contender for years to come with Andrew Luck running the show.
10. Washington Redskins (25): You have to wonder how long Robert Griffin III will last with his style of play. Regardless, he might be the most exciting player in the NFL.
11. Minnesota Vikings (28): Adrian Peterson and the Vikings were arguably the biggest surprise in 2012. They could have been a Super Bowl contender if Peterson had any help on the offensive side of the ball.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (15): The Bengals have started to build a consistent contender. It’s time for them to take the next step and make some noise in the playoffs.
13. Chicago Bears (9): You have to wonder what kinds of numbers Brandon Marshall might put up if he had any other decent receivers on his team. Big questions for Chicago include whether or not Devin Hester or Brian Urlacher will return next season.
14. New York Giants (1): The Giants simply were unable to conjure up any late season magic this time around. For once though, Tom Coughlin doesn’t seem to be on the hot seat.
15. Dallas Cowboys (14): The Cowboys were remarkably consistent as far as the rankings go, as they were never higher than 12 or lower than 18. Dallas was consistent on the field as well—consistently inconsistent, that is.
16. New Orleans Saints (11): After the tumultuous offseason they had, it’s hard to say you couldn’t see a tough season for the Saints. And although nobody saw them starting 0-4 or having the worst statistical defense of all time, it’s not a huge surprise they had a mediocre season.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30): The Bucs showed dramatic improvement from the 2011 season and they need to continue to improve at that same rate or else some changes will likely be coming their way.
18. St. Louis Rams (32): Finishing 18th overall is not usually an accomplishment, but when you begin the season dead last, you’ve done some good things. Jeff Fisher had immediate impact and if they can get some weapons around Sam Bradford I expect them to continue to grow.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (8): The Steelers just never really hit their stride. And when Charlie Batch is called upon to start a game or two, you know it’s not going to be the greatest of seasons.
20. Carolina Panthers (16): After the start the Panthers got off to, finishing 20th overall is somewhat of an accomplishment. I expect their 2013 season to more resemble their 2011 season compared to their 2012 season.
21. San Diego Chargers (19): Even in a weak division, the Chargers were unable to get things going. I don’t think Philip Rivers is in danger of losing his job, but if he doesn’t improve in 2013, he will be.
22. Detroit Lions (10): Calvin Johnson could be on his way to being perhaps the greatest of all time. And I don’t care if he is the product of a system or a team that throws a lot. He’s a freak of nature.
23. Miami Dolphins (26): Despite the losing season, I think the decision to draft Ryan Tannehill was validated. He could be an asset if Miami can somehow get him some weapons to throw to.
24. Tennessee Titans (20): The Titans are a tough team to figure out, even after a full season. They seem to have some good, young talent but can’t put it together on a consistent basis.
25. Buffalo Bills (24): After an offseason of money spending, the Bills defense was one of the worst in the league. Their offense wasn’t a whole lot better. It’s safe to say the Ryan Fitzpatrick experiment has not worked and it’s time to find someone else.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (6): It’s safe to say the Eagles fell further than any other team from start to finish, dropping 20 spots. I really thought they could be the team to beat in the NFC this year, which only proves one thing—I’m human.
27. New York Jets (17): It’s hard to see the Jets being too competitive in the next few years. They have no quarterback, no offense in general, and their defense isn’t what it once was. But at least they still have Rex Ryan at the helm. That alone should be enough for some good quotes in the offseason.
28. Arizona Cardinals (21): The Cardinals take the prize for the biggest in-season swing during my tenure of writing rankings. They went from No. 5 overall in Week 4 to No. 29 in Week 14. That’s a swing of 24 spots in just 10 weeks. That alone is hard to do.
29. Cleveland Browns (29): The Browns were the exact opposite of the Cardinals, as they had the smallest in-season swing, never being ranked anywhere outside of No. 28 to No 32. Trent Richardson had a nice rookie season but you have to wonder if Brandon Weeden is really the answer at quarterback.
30. Oakland Raiders (22): The Raiders continue their pitiful performance. Since their Super Bowl appearance in 2002, they have not had a winning season, and have only won more than five games on two occasions.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (27): The Jaguars appeared to show a little bit of life when Chad Henne was given a chance. Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts both had solid seasons and look like they could be a nice wide receiver duo.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (23): The Chiefs expected to have a bounce-back year after an injury-plagued 2011, but it just never happened. The Chiefs have a great running game, but need help at almost every other position on the field.
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