It feels like the season just began, but like all good things, it is over already. The 2012 NFL season has been crazy and unexpected, unlike these week 17 power rankings. Let’s take a look.
#32 Kansas City Chiefs – At 2-13, I think the Chiefs and everyone surrounding the organization will gladly raise their glasses to better a 2013 and a future first round draft pick.
#31 Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags at 2-13 almost stopped the Pats last week in their tracks. They fought hard and gave Tom Brady a run for his money, but much like the rest of their season, Jacksonville could not finish off a win. *See above glass-raising toast*
#30 Oakland Raiders – Oakland is 4-11 and their season has been awful, at best. Good news for Raiders fans…You get to get a look at backup Terrelle Pryor this Sunday, as the team is giving him his first NFL start.
#29 Philadelphia Eagles – How much disappointment can one team take in a season? Ask the Eagles. At 4-11, Philly started the season with speculation about their head coach’s job, a tragic loss in training camp, a big start to the season, a losing streak for the ages, the loss of the quarterback to injury, a new start with a new quarterback, and still the inability to finish games. It looks like there will be an all new look to the Eagles when they return next season.
#28 Detroit Lions – Same old story in Detroit. The hometown Lions are 4-11 and they play at a high caliber, but get nowhere. Calvin Johnson is the bright spot, though. Hopefully the team can go out with a bang this week.
#27 Tennessee Titans – The Titans lost 55-7; the only reason why they are ranked this high is their 5-10 record. There’s still Jacksonville this week, I guess.
#26 Arizona Cardinals – Arizona is 5-10 and has suffered all season at the quarterback position and felt the wrath of injuries at running back. Their season is over, but can they turn it around in 2013 with or without Whisenhunt?
#25 Buffalo Bills – Another 5-10 team and another team with lots of ability, but seemingly no idea how to get it done. The good news for Bills fans is C.J. Spiller is stepping out and looks to be just what this team needs in the ground game.
#24 Cleveland Browns – What a year for the Brownies; the youngest team in the NFL and one of the teams with the brightest futures going forward. Their 5-10 record isn’t an accurate portrayal of their season. They have stood up to teams and put a fight week after week. Is this just the start of greatness in Cleveland?
#23 New York Jets – Sometimes I am tempted to put the Jets behind the Chiefs in the rankings, but at 6-9 that just wouldn’t be fair. This team is a mess and has been a mess all season long. There seems to be no discipline on the field and just a lot of big talkers. Now, even backup quarterbacks are requesting to be released from the grips of the franchise. What is the answer here?
#22 San Diego Chargers – The Chargers are 6-9 heading in to week 17. They are coming off of a win against the Jets and just two weeks ago a win against the Steelers. Maybe this successful end to the season will be enough to save Norv’s job.
#21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Teams are supposed to peak at this point in the season, however it has been just the opposite for the 6-9 Bucs. The, once playoff contender, has dropped their last five and are heading into a take-two matchup against the Falcons. There is always next year!
#20 Carolina Panthers – The Panthers seemed hopeless at the beginning of the season, but have been able to turn it around in previous weeks, winning four of their last five and bringing their record to 6-9. It may be too late for the playoff race, but it gives hope back to the Carolina natives.
#19 Miami Dolphins – At 7-8, the Dolphins may not be in playoff contention, but they silenced a lot of their critics coming into the season. They have shown a lot of improvement and determination since their televised training camp.
#18 St. Louis Rams – The Rams are 7-7-1 and deserve the most improved award this year. St. Louis has demanded attention this year after a dismal 2012 campaign and that is exactly what they will get moving forward.
#17 New Orleans Saints – The Saints have fought and clawed their way to their 7-8 record. It has been an up and down year for their players and fans, but New Orleans has shown their perseverance weathering another storm. With the announcement of Sean Payton returning next year and Bounty Gate behind them, the sky is the limit for this team.
#16 Pittsburgh Steelers – What a travesty this season has been in Pittsburgh. The 7-8 team has suffered from injury after injury, making their aging team’s issues more blaring. Then, in a time when the Steelers always seem to turn it on, there has been controversy between Big Ben and Todd Haley. I think it may be time for the Steelers to hit the draft hard and go back to the drawing board moving forward.
#15 New York Giants – What is happening to Eli Manning and the 8-7 Giants? Unlike previous years, they could not escape their up and down season and find themselves with only a glimmer of hope to return to the playoffs.
#14 Dallas Cowboys – The 8-7 ‘Boys have rode the wave of injuries and uncertainty all season long. However, in the end of the season the team has gone on a run behind Tony Romo that no one thought was possible after earlier struggles. Now they face their biggest matchup yet on Sunday night. The outcome will determine their postseason fate.
#13 Chicago Bears – Chicago has struggled at the end of the season and looks to possibly be playing themselves right out of playoff contention. At 9-6, they are hitting the road to face the Lions who are desperate for a win for their city.
#12 Minnesota Vikings – Minnesota is 9-6 and no expected them to still be in the playoff talks this late in the season. They have won four of their last five, but face a big matchup at home against the surging Green Bay Packers.
#11 Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens are 10-5, but do not deserve to be ranked above the other two 9-6 teams at this time. They won their division, but have lost three of their last four matchups and are heading to Cincinnati to face a tough divisional matchup against the Bengals.
#10 Washington Redskins – At 9-6 the Redskins are making a playoff run behind the most talked about rookie of the season, RGIII. They have won their past six games and will be waiting to trounce on the Dallas Cowboys this week to seal the deal on the division and a playoff berth.
#9 Cincinnati Bengals – Believe it; we are still talking about the Bengals in the playoffs after a tumultuous middle part of the season. Now they have done the unthinkable, ousting the Steelers from playoff contention and have sealed up the last playoff spot in the AFC.
#8 Indianapolis Colts – This team has been great through adversity this season. They took a chance on releasing a Hall of Fame quarterback for a young rookie and had a coach go down to illness. Now with rookie vying for the NFL MVP and an interim head coach, Indianapolis 10-5 and making their way to the playoffs.
#7 Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks are 10-5 and just keep finding ways to win, whether by tricking the replacement refs into believing an interception was a reception, or by manhandling teams. Also run by a rookie quarterback, this team has been ready to go all season long.
#6 San Francisco 49ers – They took one on the chin to the 49ers last week, but had their way against the Pats the week before. This team has looked good all season, no matter who is under center and at 10-4-1 will be a force to reckoned with in the post season.
#5 Green Bay Packers – The Packers turned it on last week winning by a score of 55-7. Aaron Rodgers has led his team to a 11-4 record after the replacement ref controversy early on in the season that stole a win from the Pack. They are knocking on the door again in the postseason. Could this be the year they pull it together and return to the big dance?
#4 Houston Texans – They have been phenomenal all season long, but have faltered in their last few games, including an annihilation at the hands of Tom Brady in front of a national audience. If they want home field through the playoffs, they will have to beat the Colts this week.
#3 New England Patriots – New England is 11-4 and ready poised for another playoff run, but they won’t get very far if they play like they did last week against the Jags.
#2 Denver Broncos – Who knew Peyton Manning still had it in him? At 12-3, you can believe it. The Broncos are surging and Manning is back to form as the Broncos get ready to head into the playoffs with a first round bye.
#1 Atlanta Falcons – Roddy, Roddy, Roddy! Roddy White had huge game last week, cementing the 13-2 Falcons back in to the position on the power rankings where they started the season; number one.