By Wesley Kaminsky
In the final edition of power rankings before postseason play starts next weekend, I’m ranking teams on their entire body of work for the 2011 season. It was a crazy season, just as it always is, and one of the most exciting regular seasons we have seen in quite some time.
Some of the wild events just to name a few were “Tebow Mania,” the Packers near run of perfection, and Dan Marino’s single season passing record getting broken (twice). We truly have seen the gamut this season.
Now, it’s the best time of the year, the playoffs. Who will be this years Packers? Or will the Packers win back to back Super Bowls?
1. Green Bay Packers (1, 1st in NFC North): 15-1. Aaron Rodgers who? Matt Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in a 45-41 victory over the Lions on Sunday. Huh?
2. New Orleans Saints (2, 1st in NFC South): 13-3. Drew Brees heads into the playoffs as the hottest quarterback in the NFL. Expect a shootout against the Lions.
3. New England Patriots (3, 1st in AFC East): 13-3. Is that defense good enough to help the Patriots get back to the Super Bowl? I wouldn’t put it past #12.
4. San Francisco 49ers (4, 1st in NFC West): 13-3. The most amazing thing Jim Harbaugh did this season was turn Alex Smith into an NFL quarterback. This team has a real chance to come out of the NFC.
5. Baltimore Ravens (5, 1st in AFC North): 12-4. The Ravens owned the Steelers in the regular season, helping them take the AFC North crown. Is Joe Flacco good enough to lift the Ravens to the top?
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (6, 2nd in AFC North): 12-4. The Steelers will have to go on the road for the playoffs to return to the Super Bowl. Their playoff hopes ride on the health of Ben Roethlisberger though.
7. Atlanta Falcons (9, 2nd in NFC South): 10-6. Matt Ryan hasn’t yet found success in the playoffs, as he is 0-2. Will it come this Sunday in New York?
8. Detroit Lions (7, 2nd in NFC North): 10-6. That loss at Green Bay on Sunday cost them a trip to New York as opposed to New Orleans. That’s a big loss.
9. Houston Texans (8, 1st in AFC South): 10-6. Had it not been for injuries, this Texans team had a chance to come out of the AFC. Now, all eyes are on T.J. Yates.
10. New York Giants (12, 1st in NFC East): 9-7. The Giants head into the post-season looking awfully familiar to the ’07 Super Bowl team. This team is dangerous.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (10, 3rd in AFC North): 9-7. The Bengals snuck into the playoffs and drew the Texans, who they should have beaten in week 14.
12. Denver Broncos (13, 1st in AFC West): 8-8. The Broncos backed into the playoffs, scoring just 3 points in Sunday’s loss against the Chiefs. That won’t work against the Steelers.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (15, 3rd in NFC East): 8-8. Had the Eagles made the playoffs, they would have been a team nobody would have wanted to face, not that it means anything. Too little, too late.
14. Dallas Cowboys (11, 2nd in NFC East): 8-8. With a good head coach, the Cowboys would have been in the playoff this season. Jason Garret looked lost out there at times.
15. San Diego Chargers (20, 2nd in AFC West): 8-8. The Chargers underachieve every season under Norv Turner, and yet somehow, he keeps his job. I’m confused. Can somebody enlighten me on the secret?
16. Tennessee Titans (17, 2nd in AFC South): 9-7. The Titans nearly snuck into the playoffs, and next season it’s time to let the Jake Locker era begin.
17. Arizona Cardinals (19, 2nd in NFC West): 8-8. Six of the Cardinals eight wins this season came from John Skelton. So much for the $63 million dollar mystery man Kevin Kolb.
18. Oakland Raiders (14, 3rd in AFC West): 8-8. The Raiders have only themselves to blame for not winning the AFC West crown. Was the Carson Palmer trade worth it?
19. New York Jets (16, 2nd in AFC East): 8-8. The Jets face major question marks this off-season regarding Mark Sanchez. He doesn’t look like a Super Bowl quarterback.
20. Seattle Seahawks (18, 3rd in NFC West): 7-9. The Seahawks equaled their win total of a season ago, but this time it wasn’t enough to get them into the playoffs.
21. Chicago Bears (23, 3rd in NFC North): 8-8. Had it not been for injuries, this Bears team could have been special. Injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte were killers.
22. Kansas City Chiefs (25, 4th in AFC West): 7-9. In an injury plagued season for the Chiefs, they managed to find a coach in Romeo Crennel.
23. Carolina Panthers (21, 3rd in NFC South): 6-10. Nobody, including the Panthers, could have expected that rookie season out of Cam Newton. He’s a star. Look out for the Panthers next season.
24. Miami Dolphins (22, 3rd in AFC East): 6-10. Matt Moore won himself the starting job for the 2012 season. Now the Dolphins need a new head coach.
25. Buffalo Bills (24, 4th in AFC East): 6-10. Sunday’s loss in New England defined their entire season: A red-hot start and followed by breakdowns from Ryan Fitzpatrick and the defense.
26. Washington Redskins (26, 4th in NFC East): 5-11. The Redskins season started off so promising until Rex Grossman showed his true colors. You better believe that Mike Shanahan and Daniel Snyder are going to try to do everything they can to get Luck or RGIII.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (28, 4th in AFC South): 5-11. The Jaguars off-season includes finding both a head coach and a starting quarterback for the 2012 season. Blaine Gabbert is not that guy.
28. Cleveland Browns (27, 4th in AFC North): 4-12. It’s hard to picture the Browns passing on Robert Griffin III when they pick #4 overall in April’s draft.
29. Minnesota Vikings (29, 4th in NFC North): 3-13. The Vikings sour season ended on a sour note, as Adrian Peterson suffered both a torn ACL and MCL.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30, 4th in NFC South): 4-12. If you look up the term “quitting” in the dictionary, the 2011 Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be right there. Raheem Morris lost his team.
31. St. Louis Rams (31, 4th in NFC West): 2-14. Steve Spagnuolo’s tenure in St. Louis ended shortly after that 49ers loss, and the Rams need major help this off-season.
32. Indianapolis Colts (32, 4th in AFC South): 2-14. After a disastrous season, the Colts have a big decision to make: Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck?
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.