After a year of parity in the NFL, where many teams held the #1 ranking in various sites' power rankings, only one team can finish on top. We were treated to very exciting playoffs that really shook up the picture. The Super Bowl championship ended up needing help from other teams to make the playoffs, but everything ended up falling into place for them. Here are the 32 NFL teams, ranked from worst to best.
That photo was taken at the very beginning of the season, and that's probably about the last time that anyone from the Panthers was happy. Carolina had a disastrous year and they might not be a whole lot better next year. The two quarterbacks that saw significant playing time combined to throw eight TD against 19 interceptions...OUCH. The Panthers need a lot of help at a lot of positions and hope to add some valuable long-term talent in the draft. Don't expect to see them anywhere outside of the bottom 5-7 again next year.
Not much can be said about the Bills this year. They ranked 24th in total defense and 25th in total offense. They need players at most positions on defense and a lot of positions on offense. Not to mention that they play in a division that doesn't look like it's gonna be won by anyone other than the Patriots or Jets anytime soon.
After winning the division in '09, the Bengals were hoping that with the addition of T.O. they would be able to take their team to the next level and win some playoff games. I don't think they really expected what resulted. T.O. had a great year, going for almost 1000 yards and catching nine TD, but the Bengals struggled mightily. Despite the great year from T.O., the Bengals finished at 4-12 which had them go from first to worst in the AFC North.
It's pretty crazy to think that a team that finished only two games out of the lead in their division can be fourth from the bottom in the power rankings. Well, the Cardinals managed to do that. That's what happens when you finish 29th in total defense and 31st in total offense. Even though they only finished two games out, they were never really in serious contention for the division. They were never really even a decent team at any point in the season.
Is that man the future of the Denver Broncos? I'm not sold. He had a decent TD to INT ratio of 5:3 in his three starts, but he completed only 50 percent of his passes. He showed some potential but I still don't think he's a franchise quarterback. The Broncos have more than a few holes to fill on defense, finishing dead last in total defense. Their offense finished in the middle of the pack, so they have some players to build off of, but they probably won't contend next year.
The Titans have a lot of drama going on in their organization right now and that is usually not a good thing. They needed to get rid of their longtime coach or their possible franchise quarterback because of relationship issues between the two. They decided to get rid of both. It doesn't look too good right now for the Titans. Chris Johnson continues to be the lone bright spot on the team, but they need to put some offensive talent around him so that opponents can't just load the box.
After taking a big chance this off-season and acquiring Donovan McNabb from the Eagles, the Redskins really didn't handle him too well. Coach Mike Shanahan pulled McNabb during a two-minute drill in an early December game against the Lions and then had a flurry of bad excuses for it. After a big opening week win against the Cowboys, the Redskins season went straight downhill. They now need to start over at the QB position and have a lot of other holes to fill. It's gonna be a long off-season for the 'Skins.
It didn't take long into this season for me to start regretting my decision of picking the 49ers to win the NFC West. Even with that, they still had a chance to win the division heading into the final couple weeks. The 49ers should probably get a new franchise QB. They'll have to be careful with drafting a QB though, seeing as how bad they missed with their last try at that.
The Browns had some promising moments this year. The reason I have them at #24 is because these are the last power rankings of 2010-11, not really early rankings for 2011-12. I think the Browns have a legitimate shot to finish at .500 next year. They're adapting to the West Coast offense which should actually be a nice fit for Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis ended up being a fantasy football hero this year. If they can add one of the top two receivers in the draft to give McCoy a legitimate playmaker, they can be a good team next year.
That picture was pretty much the scene the whole year, Arian Foster running away from defenses. The only problem was that that was one of the only bright spots of the year for the Texans. In a year that the Texans were projected to do big things and started it off promisingly by defeating the Colts in week 1, the Texans ended up flopping big time. They need to acquire some serious defensive help in the off-season, finishing dead last in the league in pass defense.
It wasn't a very good year for Brett Favre. After being one poor throw away from the Super Bowl in the 2009 season, the Vikings fell flat on their face in 2010. Favre had a very bad year and the vaunted Vikings defense was nowhere to be found. Brett Favre retired again after this and it looks like this time, he might actually stay retired. Oh, by the way, just to add more to his bad year, his ex-team won the Super Bowl.
Two years removed from the first 0-16 season in NFL history, the Lions finished 6-10 and even defeated the eventual Super Bowl Champions in week 14. They greatly improved their defense and it seems like the Lions are finally moving in the right direction. And here comes my first crazy prediction of this slide show: The Detroit Lions will come in Second in the NFC North in 2011. You heard it here first.
The Dallas Cowboys were the pre-season favorites, odds-wise, to win Super Bowl XLV in their home stadium. That didn't last very long. The season wasn't looking very good and then when Tony Romo got injured and knocked out for the year against the Giants, the season was officially over. The Cowboys still have a good team and will probably bounce back next year and compete for the NFC East title.
The Dolphins had a very up and down season. But it ended on a down note, when they were thrashed 38-7 by the Patriots. They finished the season 7-9 and in third place in the AFC East. They are most likely going to lose both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to free agency and they are going to have a lot of holes to fill this off-season. They need to have a very good draft to have even a chance at competing for the AFC East next year.
Although coming in at #18, it was a very good year for the St. Louis Rams. It was also a heartbreaking year. They had a chance to make the playoffs a year after going 2-14 with a win over the Seahawks in week 17 but they were unable to cash in on the opportunity. Sam Bradford looked like a good franchise quarterback and they should be able to build a solid team around him. Look for the Rams to win the NFC West next year, probably going either 8-8 or 9-7.
I know I'm gonna catch some slack for having the Seahawks this low because they won a playoff game, over the defending Champions, no less, but the fact is that the Seahawks were not a very good team. The Saints took the Seahawks for granted and completely overlooked them. Seattle might be in contention for the NFC West crown again next year, but I really don't think that they'll finish with a record better than 6-10.
The Raiders were one of the teams that had a surprisingly good season in 2010. They went 6-0 in their division, but were only able to finish 8-8. The Raiders fired Tom Cable after the season, which came as a shock to a lot of people. But, if they can figure out their quarterback situation, the Raiders can make a run for the division title next year.
The Jaguars weren't talked about too much at the beginning of the season, but as the season progressed, it looked like this might finally be the year that the Jags overcame the Colts and won the division. But at the end of the season, the Jags collapsed once again. Maurice Jones-Drew had another very good season, but the Jags need to add a playmaker at wide receiver and might need a new quarterback. Garrard has been good, but I don't think he's a QB capable of winning a Super Bowl.
If you looked at the team stats, you'd think that the Chargers went 14-2. They were first in both total offense and total defense. The fact that they went 9-7 is remarkable. When you put up numbers like that but finish with that poor of a record, it's hard to figure out what needs to be fixed. San Diego should be able to bounce back and be the favorite to win the AFC West next year.
The Giants season can pretty much be boiled down to one half of one quarter. If the Giants didn't blow a 31-10 lead against the Eagles in the fourth quarter of week 15, they would have made the playoffs and the future Super Bowl champion Packers would have been sitting at home watching. Missed opportunities pretty much sum up the whole year for the Giants
That image took the league by storm this year. LeGarrette Blount leaping over a defender. The Bucs had a very successful year, missing out on the playoffs by only one game. They finished the year on a very positive note, beating the defending Super Bowl champion Saints in New Orleans. Josh Freeman is developing into a very capable quarterback and Mike Williams had a fantastic rookie year. If the Bucs can improve the defense just a little bit and add one more receiving threat, they can have a real shot at winning the division next year.
The Chiefs had a very good year, but weren't able to cash in in the playoffs. They were handled pretty easily by the Ravens. Jamaal Charles had close to a record setting year, almost breaking Jim Brown's yards per carry record. The Chiefs have a young team and will definitely compete for the AFC West again next year. If they can add one more receiving threat for Matt Castle, they can be a threat in the playoffs.
The Saints had a very disappointing year. They finished 11-5, which really isn't bad, but people expected better with them coming off of their Super Bowl win. But then they lost to the 7-9 Seahawks in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and before they new it, their season was over. The Saints still have a powerful offensive team, but they definitely have some holes on defense they need to fill for next year.
The 2010 season was filled with injuries for the Colts. Two injuries really stand out though. Oft-injured safety Bob Sanders once again went down for the year and Peyton Manning's favorite target Dallas Clark also was lost for the year. Despite the injuries, the Colts were still able to win the AFC South and grab the Third seed in the playoffs. They lost at home to the Jets, though, but only because of a last minute defensive collapse. Peyton Manning makes a lot of people forget about the holes the Colts have, but they do have a some, mostly in the defensive secondary.
Michael Vick was one of the biggest stories throughout the 2010 season. The Eagles rode Vick to great success for most of this year. The Eagles get ranked above all of the other first round playoff exits because they lost a tough game to the eventual Super Bowl Champions. The Eagles have locked up Vick long-term and should be back in the playoffs again next year.
The Falcons had a great regular season, finishing 13-3. They went 7-1 at home and secured the first overall seed in the NFC. However, after the bye, they got demolished at home by the Packers, 48-21. The Falcons have a pretty complete team and there aren't really many holes they have to fill. They'll use the draft to add some depth and they'll be poised to make another run at the Super Bowl again next year.
The Ravens had a pretty successful season, finishing the regular season 12-4 and dismantling the Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs. However, the Ravens blew a 21-7 halftime lead in the second round against the Steelers and their season ended in regret. Flacco is proving that he can be good enough in the Ravens' system to take them deep in the playoffs and the defense is always there. If they can learn how to hold 14 point halftime leads, they can make a run at the Super Bowl next year.
This was supposed to be a semi-rebuilding year for the Patriots. Instead, they went 14-2 and got the #1 seed in the AFC. The season ended on a pretty sour note, however, after they were a 1st game knockout for the second year in a row. What makes that worse is that the Jets spent the whole week running their mouths about how they were going to beat the Patriots. Tom Brady has now lost his last three playoff games.
The Bears won the NFC North this year, although it was mostly because of questionable call. Although Bears fans don't want to hear it, the week one call against the Lions was the wrong one and the Bears should have finished 10-6. It was still a year to build on, though, as they weren't expected to do a lot this year and ended up making the NFC Championship game. They lost a heart breaker to the Packers, 21-14. There was a big controversy in the game, as QB Jay Cutler went out injured in the second half and didn't return. He took a lot of heat from other athletes, even when the MRI showed a torn ligament in his knee. We'll have to wait and see what kind of effect all of that has on Cutler for next year.
The Jets did a lot of talking this year, but they backed it up for the most part. They reached the AFC Championship, but lost to the Steelers. They had big playoff wins over the Colts and Patriots. Losing in two straight AFC championship games hurts, but the Jets have a team that has a chance to win a Super Bowl. The only problem with the Jets is that they don't really have any bad holes, but they haven't been able to get passed the championship game in the past two years. We'll have to wait and find out if Mark Sanchez is a quarterback capable of winning a Super Bowl.
The Steelers went 3-1 to start the season with Big Ben serving his four game suspension. They ended up finishing 12-4 and Roethlisberger had a pretty good year in his 12 games. They made a nice comeback against the Ravens in the Divisional round and even though they didn't score a point in the second half, they were able to hold off the Jets in the AFC Championship game. In the Super Bowl, however, Roethlisberger threw a couple costly interceptions, with one being returned for a TD and Polamalu and the devastating Pittsburgh defense was non-exhistant for most of the game. The only reason the Packers didn't hang 40+ on the Steelers was because of a few big time drops by Packers receivers. The Steelers still obviously had a very good season and should be in contention to get back to the Super Bowl next year.
The Packers had an interesting season. They lost back to back overtime games in weeks five and six. They were decimated by injuries all year, but they showed incredible depth and persevered to win the Super Bowl. They dominated the first half in the Super Bowl against the Steelers and after a few more injuries to key players, they were able to hold off the Steelers to win 31-25. Aaron Rodgers had a fantastic Super Bowl, throwing for 304 yards and three TD with no interceptions. With a bunch of starters returning from injury next year, including the starting running back in Ryan Grant and one of the biggest weapons in the NFL in Jermichael Finley, the Packers should be the favorite to get back to the Super Bowl next year.