Saturday, July 21, 2012

2012 NFL Preview: Power Rankings and Ratings
Offseason power rankings are a much different animal compared to regular season ratings.  Evaluating the offseason is a very subjective process, my final 2011 power rankings provide a strong base to start from.

From there we have to look at coaching, resigning/signing/drafting key personnel, players returning from injury, ascending/descending player evaluation, coaching/key position continuity, anomalous 2011 stats (turnover differential, special teams, etc) and so on....
In late August I update this list to reflect what went down in training camp/preseason.

With that, let's see which teams are trending where as we head into training camp.


Trending Contenders
If the defense doesn't improve, they will likely drop from the top spot at some point.  Rodgers can only do so much.
I could copy and paste the GB summary here and move on.  NE is putting a lot of trust in their youth on the defensive side of the ball.
This team has a chance to vault above GB and NE if they finally live up to expectations.  The defense will be better, so Vick needs to limit the turnovers.
No Mario? No problem. If the big 3 on offense stay healthy, they will challenge for 1st in the AFC.  Might be the most balanced team in the NFL. 

Trending Playoff Hopefuls
Manning is only part of the story.  A promising defense was overshadowed by Tebow in 2011.  The rest will depend on Peyton's health/efficiency.  
Too many question marks to keep them as contenders for now.  O-line, Flacco, and an aging Lewis/Reed need to prove themselves again.
Like BAL, the Saints come into 2012 with too many red flags.  No Sean Payton is the big problem, but Spags has his work cut out for him too.
No real change with ATL this offseason.  They need to win a couple big games and improve on D before they even sniff contender status.
For the first time in a long time I might have more confidence in PIT's offense than their defense. Polamalu's health is vital.
Stay healthy and grow up.  Have a chance to be special.  Suh needs to return to dominance. 
Hungover and happy.  Another up and down season is on the way.  Will be lucky to get a Wild Card spot.  Won't survive a brutal schedule.
On paper I should have them above the NYG, but it's too early to give the benefit of the doubt.  Have the talent to be a contender.  Time for Romo to man up.
Given how lethal this team is on special teams, they can be downright scary if their offense could become a top 15 unit. Spotlight on pass D and Marshall.
Expectations getting out of control? They've upgraded/developed a nice roster, but let's not forget who drives this bus. Will Fitzpatrick park it in the ditch?
See above. There is so much to like here.  Cassel just needs to play within himself and they'll surprise a lot of people.  A division crown isn't out of the question.
Still not ready to buy into the hype. Offense is simply not good enough.  Won't get as many breaks this year.  Would be surprised if they made the playoffs.

Trending On the Bubble
CIN have a lot of "ifs" attached to their current roster, but the potential is there.  Rookies need to step up and Dalton needs to avoid the sophomore slump.
For 2 years in a row I gave this team the benefit of the doubt.  I didn't think Turner deserved to keep his job this time.  Have the most to prove in AFC.
QB quandary.  CJ seems ready for a bounce-back year.  Secondary has issues.  An overall mixed bag of promise and caution.  Have 8-8 written all over them.
I think this team is ready to implode. Tebow's addition will blow up in their faces.  Sanchez is not the answer.  Insane might be running the asylum. 
Very tough team to gauge. Offense is off the charts.  Big improvements needed on defense and special teams.  They should take a positive step.  Look out.
Flynn needs to fly with a subpar supporting cast.  Really like the defensive side of the ball.  Not a playoff team yet, but they will put the scare in many.
I really like ARI's potential this season. If the O-line holds up they can challenge for the division crown. Possibly Kolb's last chance to prove he's a starter.
RG3 getting a lot of hype. If he's half as good as advertised WSH will win some games they have no business winning. Their defense will give him opportunities. 

Trending "With the 1st pick in the NFL draft..."
I'm not understanding all the hate on JAX.  Does anybody realize how good their D is?  Give Gabbert some Xanax and this team will surprise people.
Conservative bump up the rankings.  Roster is loaded with young talent--especially on D. Will it all come together?  A tough schedule doesn't help.
If Bradford stays healthy, STL can win the division.  I said that with a straight face.  Signing Fisher was huge.  There is bigtime value on this team.
OAK is halfway there.  Strong in the trenches, bad in the air.  McFadden can stay healthy?  Franchise can finally grow in the post Al Davis era. 
I'll be watching MIN with one eye closed.  Too many problems to list here.  Be prepared for a painful season.
This could be a stretch to rank MIA so low, but call me a non-believer.  I think the offense will be brutal and I don't trust the cornerbacks.  
Don't ask me how CLE won any games last year.  I love their pass defense, but the affair stops there.  Holmgren has been a huge letdown. 
Poor Andrew Luck. I'd be genuinely surprised if they won more than 2 games.  Even with generous analysis, they are still the worst team on paper--by a lot.