Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2012 NFL Power Rankings: First Edition

With the 2012 NFL season kicking off tomorrow night in the Meadowlands, it's time to break out version one of this year's tonyblogs.net NFL Power Rankings, after a one year hiatus. These rankings are based purely on speculation, similar to the preseason college Top 25 poll, and will surely look a lot different next week.

1. New York Giants
The Super Bowl Champions lost Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs through free agency, and two tight ends to injury, but added a running back and receiver in the draft and signed Martellus Bennett away from Dallas.

2. New England Patriots
The Pats loaded up on defense in the draft, improving an already Super Bowl caliber team.

3. Green Bay Packers
The best team in the league for most of the season, the Packers played the worst game of the year in the playoffs against the Giants. One of the favorites to win it all this year, with the late addition of Cedric Benson being particularly promising.

4. Houston Texans
Even with Andre Johnson out most of the year and Matt Schaub out through the end of the season and playoffs, the Texans were one of the most dangerous teams in football in 2011.

5. Baltimore Ravens
The whole gang is back together but will it be enough to get them over the AFC Championship Game hump?

6. Denver Broncos
Add Peyton Manning to a team with a good running game and a great defense then watch what happens when you have someone who can actually throw the ball to Denver’s receivers.

7. San Francisco 49ers
Using the same formula the 49ers are a good bet to win the West and go deep in the playoffs again. With new WR weapons in Manningham and Randy Moss, Alex Smith might have more targets than just Vernon Davis, which could mean a Super Bowl berth for the ‘9ers.

8. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles will probably start playing like the “Dream Team” this year… or else it might be Andy Reid’s last in Philadelphia.

9. Chicago Bears
The addition of Brandon Marshall and a healthy Matt Forte should produce a really scary offense for opponents of the Bears, as long as the offensive line gives Jay Cutler enough time for find his targets.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers
A new offensive coordinator and no movement regarding Mike Wallace brings concerns about Pittsburgh’s chances, especially in a tough division with Baltimore and Cincinnati.

11. Detroit Lions
Health is always a concern with Matt Stafford, who put up big numbers in 2011. The Lions are inching closer to being a threat to the Packers in the NFC North.

12. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are that team that just can't seem to get over the hump. Offensively, Atlanta has the power to get it done and the addition of Asante Samuel should help improve the defense. This could be the year the Falcons win the NFC South.

13. New Orleans Saints
Aside from off-field distractions, the interim interim coaching structure and all the in-season changes that will happen might be too much of a sidebar for the Saints to win the division.

14. Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton and Green should mature together, and the addition of BenJarvus Green-Ellis should keep their running game consistent. The AFC North is a tough division to make headway in, though.

15. Dallas Cowboys
This is the year Tony Romo breaks out and leads the Cowboys to a title! Right?

16. San Diego Chargers
If they could just not lose six games in the first half, it might be an easier road for the Bolts.

17. Kansas City Chiefs
If everyone is healthy, the Chiefs could be a sleeper team in the AFC. If Kevin Boss and Peyton Hillis start playing like they used to, they could be really dangerous.

18. Tennessee Titans
If Kenny Britt comes back healthy and Chris Johnson returns to even ¾ of what he was two years ago, the Titans should be a playoff team.

19. New York Jets
Will the Tim Tebow circus be too much of a distraction for the Airplanes? Will ESPN endlessly talk about Tebow regardless? The answer to both of those questions is yes.

20. Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton took the league by storm in his first season. The offense is strong and the front office made moves to help the defense. Barring a sophomore jinx, Newton and the rest of the Panthers should be better in 2012.

21. Arizona Cardinals
John Skelton gets the starting nod over Kevin Kolb to open the season, which is good news for Arizona since they finished 7-2 last year with Skelton at the helm.

22. Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson will begin the year at the helm of the Seahawks offense, somewhat unexpectedly. If Sidney Rice is healthy and Braylon Edwards returns to the Cleveland Browns version of himself, Wilson should have an easier time transitioning to the NFL game.

23. Washington Redskins
The Redskins finally have their marquee QB. Whether he is as good as advertised in the pro game remains to be seen. Some solid WR additions should help Griffin’s development.

24. Oakland Raiders
A full season with Carson Palmer – and an offseason for him to prepare with the team – might be enough to make the Raiders a playoff team, as long as Darren McFadden stays healthy.

25. St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford should have a better year than last year and new coach Jeff Fisher should help the QB and the rest of the team improve.

26. Buffalo Bills
The addition of Mario Williams has Bills fans buzzing and if Shawne Merriman can ever return to his old form and stay healthy, Buffalo’s defense should be pretty dynamic. But you have to wonder if offensively they can be consistent enough to make the playoffs.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There has been a lot of talk about Greg Schiano and the changes he’s bringing in terms of discipline. We’ll see if that translates to winning.

28. Indianapolis Colts
As bad as the Colts’ 2011 season was, they have a new franchise quarterback and a good, young tight end for him to develop with. Reggie Wayne is back to help young Andrew Luck grow, and the future, at least, is bright in Indy.

29. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikes have a solid defense and a great running back. That’s about it. Who knows what Percy Harvin will give Minnesota and the jury is still out – way out – on Christian Ponder.

30. Miami Dolphins
It's already been an interesting offseason for the Dolphins and it certainly seems to be a complete rebuilding year in South Beach.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars
Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout just ended, but the effects of that will definitely carry into the season. The Jags were going to be terrible with him anyway, so it won't mean much in the overall scope of things.

32. Cleveland Browns
You’ve got a young quarterback whom you just drafted a few years ago so what do you do this year? Draft a 28-year-old quarterback and hand him the starting job, of course.

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