2012 NFL Power Rankings | Pre-NFL Draft Edition
NFL fans want to know the state of their favorite team at all times. That’s just their nature. It’s especially the case when they came up short for the Super Bowl the previous season. That desire to know if they’re one step closer to glory increases after free agency, intensifies after the NFL Combine, and erupts into a frenzy when the NFL Draft finally begins.
We’re still a few days away from the volcano coming. But even then you won’t have all the answers you’re looking for. No, you’ll still have months and months of waiting, researching, observing, and even hoping.
But for today, Earth Day, no less, we’ll take a look at where your beloved roster of gridiron warriors stand. After all, free agency is a thing of the past and most of the scouting is done. So, for the moment, we know who made up some ground, and who still has their work cut out for them.
Here’s my current take on how each team fits into our 2012 NFL Power Rankings prior to the 2012 NFL Draft:
Note: Records listed from last season (2011).
They were the best team in the league and still are. The brutal truth is they sat their starters in week 16, had a bye, and came in against the Giants half asleep. They’ll remember that all off-season.
I’m not the least bit worried about their offense. It’s making sure their defense plays like it did in the playoffs for all of 2012 is what I’m worried about.
They’re not a regular season team. Get it in your head. And that’s why they’re not number one. They may finish number one every now and then, but they’re not a dominant team for about 75% of the year.
Their passing game was a little suspect, so they added Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. They also held onto Alex Smith, who was pretty darn good for almost all of 2011. But the biggest plus continues to be Jim Harbaugh. This guy really knows what he’s doing.
They’re aging and could come crumbling down at any moment, but as they stand, they’re still true contenders. Adding some fresh legs at linebacker and safety would be a fantastic idea, though.
Who doesn’t love their talent? The problem is, Drew Brees isn’t under contract and Sean Payton can’t talk to his team until next February. It may not cripple them, but it certainly doesn’t help them, either.
Matt Schaub returning to health is great, but losing Mario Williams isn’t. On the docket: finding an extra pass-rusher for the rotation, as well as a quality receiver to take some pressure off of Andre Johnson.
Pittsburgh regressed down the stretch last year and showed their age. They’ll have to add some youth and overall depth at key positions in this year’s draft to avoid missing a beat again.
As long as Matthew Stafford stays healthy, the sky is the limit for this offense. The rest hangs on a defense that should only be getting better.
Atlanta is extremely talented, but I still view them as a very soft team. They belong in the top-10, but you never know how long they’ll actually stay there.
Jay Cutler got a new toy in Brandon Marshall and the Bears signed Matt Forte-holdout-insurance in Michael Bush. A few depth adds on defense, and Chicago could possibly be taking another trip to the NFC title game.
Getting Peyton Manning is a pretty big deal. On paper, they’re title contenders right away as long as he stays healthy.
Philly made DeSean Jackson happy, which is a good omen for the offense in 2012. Now they just have to fix that sloppy defense.
Losing Vincent Jackson definitely hurts, but they added some new pieces and are still one of the most talented teams from an overall stand-point. Regardless, this is Norv Turner’s last chance to make it happen.
Tony Romo stepped away from the golf course and it finally looks like he and his teammates are truly dedicated to making a deep run.
I like the addition of Tim Tebow, but this team is going nowhere if they don’t stick with just one quarterback. Commit to Tebow now, or forever hold your peace.
Cam Newton and this offense are very much on the rise. Whether this team makes any real noise in 2012, however, hinges completely on the defense progressing.
I believe in Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and a balanced defense. I’m not sold on suddenly unproven rushing attack, though.
The defense is ready and willing, and the offense has some nice pieces. It all comes down to Kevin Kolb living up to his insane contract.
I love Jake Locker. He should beat out Hasselbeck and keep the Titans in the mix for a wild card spot for the second year in a row. The real Chris Johnson returning in 2012 wouldn’t hurt, either.
If Mario Williams and Mark Anderson can’t fix this pathetic pass-rush, nothing will.
Their defense keeps rising and Marshawn Lynch is back. If Matt Flynn can prove to be the real deal (and I think he will), then Pete Carroll and co. might contend for another NFC West title.
Love the defense. Love the running game. Intrigued by the talent at wide receiver. Hate the quarterback.
Landing Vincent Jackson in free agency will really open up this offense. At the very least, we’ll see which version of Josh Freeman over the past two years is the one we’re getting for the long haul. Probably.
The defense is OK and the offensive line will allow them to run well again. But no Brandon Marshall and a bunch of average quarterbacks spell an ultimate defeat. They must get their franchise quarterback in this draft.
I like the new regime, but I don’t love their chances of being competitive for the third year in a row. They have some talent on offense, but it’ll be a shock to see 50% of their play-makers stay healthy for most of the year.
They lost Peyton Hillis and they still don’t have a single reliable offensive play-maker. Solving that in the draft could bump them up a few spots.
Is Blaine Gabbert still their starting quarterback? Yeah, that’s what I thought.