Final NFL Regular Season Power Rankings: A New Team Takes Top Spot

Torey ZiskaCorrespondent IIJanuary 4, 2010

SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 20:  Running bck LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the San Diego Chargers carries the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 20, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.    (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Another NFL regular season has come and gone. Fantasy football champions have been crowned, while 12 NFL teams continue their season to win a title of their own.

The San Diego Chargers are the only team that started the season ranked in the top five to finish the season ranked in the top five.

The Atlanta Falcons had the largest drop from preseason to now, dropping 15 spots, while the Denver Broncos had the largest increase, jumping up 16 spots from the preseason rankings to now.

The playoffs are here and so are the final regular season power rankings.

Teams' previous ranking in ( ).

1. San Diego Chargers (2)

Started 2-3, finished with 11 straight wins. That is impressive. How can they not be the Super Bowl favorite?

2. Indianapolis Colts (1)

Running useless plays in a snowstorm simply to get WR Reggie Wayne and TE Dallas Clark to the 100-reception mark was a load of garbage. That said, they’re as dangerous as anyone.

3. New Orleans Saints (3)

They do have the No. 1 overall seed, but they are seriously backing into the playoffs. They have just as good of a chance at winning the Super Bowl as they do of losing their first round game.

4. Dallas Cowboys (5)

Is this the year Dallas actually wins a playoff game? If not, will Wade Phillips be suddenly unemployed?

5. Philadelphia Eagles (4)

Expect a much better performance against the ‘Boys next week. 

6. Minnesota Vikings (9)

A big win is exactly what the Vikings needed. They could be primed for a Super Bowl run. 

7. New England Patriots (7)

Without WR Wes Welker the Patriots become extremely beatable.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (6)

QB Carson Palmer completed two passes: one to his team for zero yards, and one to the Jets. That’s not a good way to win games. Expect a close game in next week’s rematch against the Jets.

9. Green Bay Packers (10)

Smoked the Cardinals in a preseason game and then smoked the Cardinals in another fairly irrelevant game in week 17. A shoulder injury to CB Charles Woodson could be a devastating blow.

10. Arizona Cardinals (8)

It’s amazing how heavily they must rely on QB Kurt Warner. 

11. Baltimore Ravens (11)

You may be able to hand them the Super Bowl trophy if that’s how RB Willis McGahee is going to continue running. Chances are he won’t keep that up, but they’ve proven they can hang with anybody.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (13)

Clearly a playoff-caliber team, but it just wasn’t their season. They will be back in the hunt next season, guaranteed.

13.   Houston Texans (14)

Would have been a treat to see this team make the playoffs, but it wasn’t meant to be. 

14. Denver Broncos (12)

From 6-0 to 8-8. Hmmm, can’t say I didn’t see this coming.

15. New York Jets (16)

Not much doubt they are the "worst" team among the 12 in the playoffs. However, as the old adage goes, "defense wins championships," and the Jets play some serious D.

16. Tennessee Titans (17)

The Titans finished the year winning eight out of their final 10 games. QB Vince Young came into his own and gave the Titans faithful reason for hope next year.

17. Carolina Panthers (18)

Carolina is another team that will be back in the hunt next season. Is there a better backup running back than Jonathan Stewart?

18. New York Giants (15)

Hard to believe this team started the season 5-0 and was considered the team to beat in the NFC.

19. Atlanta Falcons (19)

Injuries and a poor defense did this team in. They’ll bounce back next year but need to add a few pieces to get back to the playoffs.

20. Miami Dolphins (20)

Even after losing the starting quarterback and starting running back, the Dolphins competed to the end and nearly made the playoffs. Don’t be surprised if more teams start trying the wildcat offense on a more regular basis.

21. San Francisco 49ers (22)

Perhaps the team with the most potential heading into the 2010 season.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars (21)

This team always confuses me on how they ever win games. They have virtually no talent outside of RB Maurice Jones-Drew.

23. Chicago Bears (24)

One of a bunch of teams that will likely be in search of a new head coach.

24. Oakland Raiders (23)

I believe the starting quarterback for Oakland next year is not currently on their roster. Your guess is as good as mine as to who it might be, but I don’t see JaMarcus Russell or Bruce Gradkowski (or Charlie Frye) as the starter come September.

25. Buffalo Bills (26)

One of the biggest underachieving teams of the season in my opinion.

26. Cleveland Browns (27)

Is it possible for a team to be a "surprise team" when they lose 11 games? Good chance this team has a new starting quarterback next season, but an even better chance that they have a new head coach.

27. Washington Redskins (25)

There is no speculation when it comes to Redskins coach Jim Zorn. He will be fired after a dreadful season filled with injuries.

28. Seattle Seahawks (28)

Seattle also underachieved this season, but not for a lack of effort—rather a lack of talent.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (31)

They found their running back of the future in Jamaal Charles. Now they just need to find a wide receiver, a tight end, and some defensive players.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (29)

Not a season to remember for the Bucs, but wins against the Saints and Packers were some high notes to build on for next season.

31. Detroit Lions (30)

Well, two wins is a big improvement over zero wins, that’s for sure.

32. St. Louis Rams (32)

Not many of my preseason predictions proved to be right, but I did say the Rams would win fewer games this year than the two they won last year. My next Rams-related prediction is that they will draft Ndamukong Suh, and he will be the rookie of the year. Unfortunately for the Rams, I see them finishing at or near the bottom again next season.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.