2012 Power Rankings: Preseason

With just days until the NFL season starts, now seems as good a time as any to unleash our Power Rankings for 2012. Our four main analysts submitted their ranked ...

| 5 years ago

2012 Power Rankings: Preseason

With just days until the NFL season starts, now seems as good a time as any to unleash our Power Rankings for 2012.

Our four main analysts were all locked in a room and told they were not allowed food or drink until they put down a list of 32, to be sent in and tallied up, giving an average score that would determine where they ended up on the list.

The lack of food and water affected some more than others, so point and laugh away as we show you the individual votes, before giving you the overall score.




1) Green Bay Packers (average rank: 1.75)

They nearly went undefeated in 2011 and our team has tipped them to reclaim the Vince Lombardi trophy. An unrelenting faith in Aaron Rodgers seems to be something nobody is prepared to ignore.

2) New England Patriots (2.5)

They looked untouchable in the regular season, but their dink-and-dunk attack got found out by some better defenses, while their own D wasn’t up to slowing down the opposition. Some major moves in the offseason offer hope for these being fixed.

3) Houston Texans (3.25)

They very nearly got to the AFC Championship game with T.J. Yates at quarterback. With Matt Schaub back and that defense even more comfortable in Wade Phillips’ scheme (plus the relative bonus of playing in the AFC South), our team has them pegged for a top spot.

4) New York Giants (5.5)

It’s hard to win a Super Bowl, it’s even harder to retain one. The ‘team to beat’ returns most of its stars but they’ll need to get hot at the right time to stand a chance of repeating.

5) New Orleans Saints (6.25)

So the Saints have lost their head coach, a host of linebackers and a number of key contributors. Our team says so what, they still have Drew Brees. Throw in some defensive free agents who look like upgrades, and they’ll be there or thereabouts.

6t) Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers (7)

The team was split in their belief of who would win the AFC North, with Pittsburgh and Baltimore again being the hardest of rivalry’s to call. San Francisco joined the fun with all believing they’ll win the NFC West at a canter but struggle to match their 2011 performance.

9) Philadelphia Eagles (7.5)

After the moves they made in 2011, could now be the time they start to reap the rewards? There’s a general feeling that the answer to that question is yes. Though much will depend on how healthy Michael Vick can stay.

10t) Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears (10.75)

This is like home for the Falcons who fall into the category of ‘good enough to get to the playoffs’ and struggle to do much more. Coverage remains the concern, with the middle of the field being an area they still look weak. For Chicago, it’s all about getting Jay Cutler and Matt Forte back. They looked playoff bound before those injuries.

12) Dallas Cowboys (11.25)

The talent is there and if Tony Romo consistently makes plays then there’s no reason they can’t return to the playoffs. The problem is, they have to play in the tricky NFC East, and while Neil Hornsby thinks they’re the fourth-best team in the league, the other analysts don’t agree.

13) Denver Broncos (14)

Are we convinced by the health of Peyton Manning? Not at this time, but if he can keep taking hits and stay on the field all year, this Broncos team could be scary.

14) Kansas City Chiefs (14.5)

The problem with this team remains Matt Cassel. Until he improves, a loaded roster is not being put to good use.

15) Detroit Lions (15.25)

Are we sold on the offensive line? Do we think they have the players in the secondary to succeed in the NFC North? A lot is resting on the shoulders of the Stafford-to-Johnson combination being even more prolific in 2012.

16) Buffalo Bills (15.5)

The moves they’ve made have them as potential playoff contenders in our eyes (well, maybe not in the eyes of Ben Stockwell). The defense has scary potential, but it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick who will need to show the kind of consistency his game isn’t known for.

17) San Diego Chargers (16.75)

You can only cry wolf so many times. The Chargers are often a team you tip, but their inability to turn that into championships has our team souring on them. Which Philip Rivers shows up this year?

18) Seattle Seahawks (17.75)

Are we excited by their potential? You bet. But let’s not forget that as good as third-round rookie Russell Wilson looked in preseason, that a) he’s still a third-round rookie, and b) it was preseason.

19) Cincinnati Bengals (18.25)

For a team that made the playoffs last year, there’s surprisingly little love for the Cincinnati Bengals. Maybe it’s wanting to see more from Andy Dalton, but collectively we feel they’re in for a fall in 2012.

20) Carolina Panthers (18.5)

This team needs to be more than just the Cam Newton show, and that means getting better on defense. Charles Johnson needs to play like he did in 2010, Chris Gamble needs to play like he did last year and, more than anything, they need some defensive tackles to step up and bully opposing offensive linemen.

21) New York Jets (21.5)

Sanchez or Tebow? We’re at the stage where it doesn’t matter. The defense will be as suffocating as ever, but the offense looks like such a mess that you forget this team was in the AFC Championship game in 2010.

22t) Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders (22.75)

There’s a general fear that with Jake Locker in the lineup this team is in for some growing pains. While Oakland has the kind of playmakers on both sides of the ball that will at times make you forget they’re undergoing a major rebuilding job.

24) Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Washington Redskins (26.25)

We just couldn’t separate these three teams, all of whom will (or should) be looking at 2012 as a year to see how their franchise quarterback develops. Andrew Luck already looks the furthest along, but he has the misfortune of one of the weakest rosters in the league surrounding him.

27) Minnesota Vikings (26.5)

A bit harsh on the Vikings? Perhaps, but there are some serious questions they need to answer, namely: how good can Christian Ponder be? And will Adrian Peterson be the same player he was before the injury?

28) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27.5)

The good news for the Bucs is they can’t be as bad as they were last year. They’d need to be actively trying to miss tackles to achieve that level of ineptness. That said, even with some heavy free-agent spending, it’s hard to see them making much noise in the NFC South.

29) Miami Dolphins (28)

A rookie quarterback needs some receivers he can rely on, thus it’s somewhat surprising that Miami will be throwing Ryan Tannehill into the deep end with what they have. We can’t see past that to a successful season as this team rebuilds again.

30) Arizona Cardinals and St Louis Rams (29.25)

The worst of the NFC West and very nearly the worst in the league. The Rams need to fix Sam Bradford before it’s too late, while the Cardinals can only wonder what they heck they were doing giving up so much for Kevin Kolb. That was the kind of move that could get someone fired.

32) Cleveland Browns (31.75)

The sad thing about the Browns is they have some top end talent (Joe Thomas and Joe Haden). But what else do they have? Question marks at practically every position. A continual failure to answer these leaves them so far behind the rest in the AFC North you wonder when they’ll ever get close.


Follow the team on Twitter: @PFF_Sam, @PFF_Khaled@PFF_Neil … and our main feed: @PFF


  • motorcycle

    Why are San Francisco so low? Defensively they return nearly all their players and the teams ranked above them (apart from NYG AND New England) have lost important players on their defence. Offensively, it’s the first full offseason under Harbaugh and their receiving corps is improved. I have heard some discussion that turnover rate is difficult to repeat, but for me, turnovers are down to skill caused by knocking the ball loose or interceptions. Only fumble recoveries are down to chance and therefore unlikely to repeat, whereas turnover ratio is likely to stay about the same.

    Admittedly, teams may be able to gameplan for the new Alex Smith more, but I have San Francisco favourites in the NFC.

    • motorcycle

      A bit unfair for me to criticise without posting my rankings: my top 10 are: NE, NYG, SF, HOU, GB, NO, PHI, PIT, BUF, BAL.

      • http://www.facebook.com/khaled.elsayed.1690 Khaled Elsayed

        Interesting to have Buffalo so high. Sneaky feeling they can sneak into the playoffs

    • http://www.facebook.com/colin.weaver Colin William Weaver

      I am a HUGE 49er fan, but it seems about right to me. Mainly, we won a lot of close games last season that could have gone the other way:
      1) SEA, 2 point lead with 4 minutes left
      2) CIN, 4 point lead with 4 minutes left
      3) PHI, Justin Smith’s FF under 2 minutes preserves 1 point win
      4) DET, Delanie Walker’s TD under 2 minutes (AND Akers’ FG) gets a 6 point win
      5) NYG, Justin Smith’s batted pass under 2 minutes preserves 7 point win
      6) SEA, Akers’ FG with 3 minutes left gets 2 point win
      We only lost 2 that way, DAL in OT and AZ by 2.

      We were good, but also a bit lucky/fortunate. I do think we’re better this year, but we have a tougher non-division schedule after finishing first, and I think STL and SEA have improved a lot (not so much AZ with the injuries, no QB, etc). I still think many of our games will come down to the end, and I don’t think we’ll win 75% of them like last year. It may be more like 25%.

      Just on a hunch, I’m of the opinion the entire season may come down to week 16 on the road in Seattle; but until Russell Wilson is the great QB he might be, I wouldn’t say so for sure.

      • http://www.facebook.com/khaled.elsayed.1690 Khaled Elsayed

        I think this was, for the most part, my thinking. That defense is special but they won a lot of games in a manner similar to how the 2010 Falcons won games. I expect a drop off and divisional title. Still though when in the playoffs anything can happen, just need to get hot at the right time.

        • http://www.facebook.com/colin.weaver Colin William Weaver

          Good to hear from the experts! By the way, I only came across this site in March, but I absolutely love it and I am so excited to go through my first season with it. Love how you had Justin Smith as the #2 player overall… in 2010. Funny how many people came on board once we went 13-3.

  • Bob White

    I thought Oakland at 18 was pretty reasonable. They faced a ton of adversity last season and still managed 8-8, and the defense should be improved simply by getting rid of Chuck B, so how could things not get better?

  • PaulK

    The mark of good power rankings is that they don’t bounce way up and way down, because they were accurate in the first place. Good luck, folks.
    1 gb
    2 ne
    3 no
    4 nyg
    5 sf
    6 dal
    7 bal
    8 det
    9 sd
    10 kc
    11 hou
    12 cle
    13 pit
    14 den
    15 nyj
    16 oak
    17 min
    18 jac
    19 cin
    20 atl
    21 sea
    22 ten
    23 car
    24 mia
    25 chi
    26 buf
    27 phi
    28 was
    29 az
    30 ind
    31 tb
    32 stl