It's that time in the NFL—the remaining 12 teams are gearing up for the playoffs as they compete for the Lombardi trophy. Looking back at the 2009 NFL season, who should be considered the favorite to win it all? Who was the worst in football? Read on to find out...
Cumulative Power Rankings
(Based on entire season)
- Indianapolis Colts (14-2) No Tony Dungy, no problem. The Colts fired on all cylinders for 14 weeks, then mailed in the last two. That could be a potential problem heading into the postseason without momentum, but without question, no one was better than Indy all season long.
- San Diego Chargers (13-3) After a so-so start, San Diego ran off 11 straight victories en route to a first-round bye in the playoffs. Only time will tell if Norv Turner can correct his woeful playoffs record. Phillip Rivers was arguably the second best QB in football this year.
- New Orleans Saints (13-3) For the first half of the season, New Orleans was probably the best team in football. They've lost three straight games, but none of those were meaningful in the standings. Drew Brees ran a high-octane offense, and Jonathan Vilma led a much improved D alongside Darren Sharper.
- Minnesota Vikings (12-4- The Vikings were able to reinvent their offense to a pass-first style once Brett Favre came on board. With Adrian Peterson and first-time Pro Bowler Sidney Rice also playing well, that O proved to be lethal.
- Green Bay Packers (11-5) The Pack attack was nearly perfect the second half of the season, and Aaron Rodgers appears hungry for a third chance against Minnesota. Dom Capers did a great job at improving Green Bay's defense.
- Dallas Cowboys (11-5) The Cowboys shook off all the naysayers and were the first to take down the Saints. They followed that up a few weeks later with an impressive win over the Eagles that gave them the NFC East crown. Tony Romo quietly threw for over 4,400 yards and 25 touchdowns.
- Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) DeSean Jackson has emerged as one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL. His speed, coupled with Donovan McNabb's leadership and Philly's hard-nosed defense helped the Eagles finish 11-5. They have that Michael Vick guy too.
- New England Patriots (10-6) Not exactly an ideal record for the usually top-seeded Patriots, but a three-seed in the AFC is nothing to complain about. The loss of Wes Welker could spell doom for Tom Brady and company next week.
- Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) The Bengals were definitely the surprise team in football this year. Their defense actually played well above average, and Cedric Benson revived his career at RB.
- Baltimore Ravens (9-7) Baltimore gets the nod over Arizona because they played a much tougher schedule, and because their margin of victory was 80 points larger than the Cardinals.
- Arizona Cardinals (10-6- Better regular season than last year, but that NFC West division is just too weak for the Cardinals to not win.
- New York Jets (9-7) Many wanted to count the Jets out, but that defense under head coach Rex Ryan was enough to get New York a wild-card spot. Mark Sanchez had a very up and down rookie campaign.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) No one saw this one coming. The defending champs lost easy games to bad teams, and maybe this proves what many thought all along: Troy Polamalu is the Steelers MVP. The Madden curse continues...
- Atlanta Falcons (9-7) Considering ATL played without Michael Turner and Matt Ryan during some of their most crucial games, 9-7 isn't such a bad record. Expect the Falcons to be a playoff contender next year.
- Houston Texans (9-7) Houston deserves credit for completing their first ever winning season. Still, that running game was atrocious all season long. Steve Slaton may have been the LVP (least valuable player) this year.
- Tennessee Titans (8-8) Chris Johnson was by far the fantasy football MVP for 2009. The Titans' revival was in part because of Vince Young's improved passer rating. Hopefully, Jeff Fisher learned his lesson and won't start 2010 with Kerry Collins at QB.
- New York Giants (8-8) The Giants were off to a 5-0 start, appeared to be Super Bowl contenders, then absolutely collapsed. What happened to that defense? Two straight games allowing 40-plus points is unacceptable.
- Carolina Panthers (8-8) With Matt Moore at the helm, the Panthers didn't look like an average football team. They've got two 1,100 yard rushers and a good offensive line, but Jake Delhomme cost Carolina multiple victories early on.
- Denver Broncos (8-8) Denver's season was a roller coaster ride to say the least. Unfortunately, Josh McDaniels isolated his best player, Brandon Marshall, and may have cost his team a playoff appearance.
- Miami Dolphins (7-9) The 'Phins played like a playoff contender one week, then faltered the next week. They were far too inconsistent to make the postseason. Chad Henne played well, and surprisingly, so did Ricky Williams.
- San Francisco 49ers (8-8) Mike Singletary certainly had his team playing 110 percent every game, but the 49ers need to add a few pieces on both sides of the ball to make it beyond 8-8. Frank Gore and Vernon Davis were bright spots for San Fran.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9) Somehow, the Jags were two games above .500 and fighting for a playoff spot earlier in the season. Eventually, the football gods intervened and brought an average team back to earth.
- Chicago Bears (7-9) Da Bears underachieved all season, and Jay Cutler had a tendency to throw to the other team. Chicago needs to add a legitimate receiver and find a way to get Matt Forte more involved in 2010.
- Buffalo Bills (6-10) The Bills were supposed to have an outstanding passing attack, but that plan faltered without a decent QB to throw the ball. At least they have two great RBs (Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch) to build around.
- Cleveland Browns (5-11) Eric Mangini probably saved his job by running off four straight victories to end the season. Without a true starting QB or much of a defense, it could be more of the same below-average football in Cleveland next year.
- Oakland Raiders (5-11) For some reason, Oakland beat great teams like Philadelphia, and then lost to bad teams like Washington. I guess nothing should surprise me as long as Al Davis runs the Raiders.
- Washington Redskins (4-12) Adios, Jim Zorn. The 'Skins faced front office turmoil for 17 weeks, and were simply a bad football team. They had one of the worst offenses in football, but at least Brian Orakpo was a bright spot.
- Seattle Seahawks (5-11) Seattle played uninspired football all season long, and it shows in their 5-11 record. Perhaps it's time to move on from the Matt Hasselbeck era.
- Kansas City Chiefs (4-12) Matt Cassell probably wishes he still had the Patriots offensive line in front of him. Jamaal Charles was playing out of his mind by season's end though, which helped KC knock out the Broncos.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13) Josh Freeman helped the Bucs avoid a winless season, but Tampa Bay was pretty awful. Still, they had a rookie head coach and a very young team.
- Detroit Lions (2-14) Hey, they won two more games than last year, and Matt Stafford is no Joey Harrington, so that's something to be encouraged about.
- St. Louis Rams (1-15) Congrats on getting Ndamukong Suh, St. Louis.
- MVP - Peyton Manning - Best player on the best team in football.
Runners Up: Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Chris Johnson
- Defensive Player of the Year - Charles Woodson - Woodson was a lockdown defender on a Green Bay team with a completely different defensive scheme. He narrowly beats out Darren Sharper for this pick.
Runners Up: Darren Sharper, Elvis Dumervil, Darrelle Revis
- Offensive Rookie of the Year - Percy Harvin - Harvin was a dangerous weapon that Brett Favre loved to utilize. He had nearly 800 receiving yards and even finished with 15 rushing attempts.
- Defensive Rookie of the Year - Brian Orakpo - Orakpo was seventh in the NFL with 11 sacks, which also led all rookies. He is one of a handful of rookies who will appear in the Pro Bowl.
- Coach of the Year - Marvin Lewis - Lewis took a Bengals team expected to finish third in the AFC North and led them to a division crown.