NFL Power Rankings, Review, and Predictions

NFL DIVISION PREVIEWS

NFC West Preview
AFC West Preview
NFC South Preview
AFC South Preview
NFC North Preview
AFC North Preview
NFC East Preview
AFC East Preview

Unless you have been living in an OTC shell the last few weeks, you have doubtless seen some of our NFL Previews, looking at every team and projecting their record for the season. You probably saw a few teams (like the Bears, Lions, and Dolphins) with curious projected records and thought to yourself “there is no way the Dolphins are 6 games better than the Bears or Lions”. Well, you are right. When we project records, we have to look at the schedule, not just at how good we think a team is. I think the Lions are good enough to win 7 games this year, but with their schedule, it could be hard to hit that mark. Same goes for the Bears, but you add to it that I am projecting Mike Martz and Lovie Smith to clash, something completely off the field, and the win total looks unexpectedly low. Well, this is my chance to make my stand on which teams are the best, regardless of what their projected record is.

Same goes for the players who could push their team over the top, or sink their team. Some guys may be better than others, but not get a chance to shine given their circumstances on a team. That is why we have a separate section to make sure that the truth comes out about players, and their success is not falsely attributed to talent around them or vice versa.

Another thing you should keep in mind when reading is that the NFL is unpredictable. EVERY year there are 5 new playoff teams, and it is just impossible to project that looking at a roster. I am not willing to downgrade a team that looks great for an upset just because I need to have an upset. If a team looks like they are on the rise, like the Chiefs this year, I am willing to give them a bump, but not necessarily a bump to the playoffs. My predictions WILL be wrong, There is no doubt about it. It is just a matter of projecting these teams’ seasons to the best of my ability. I only have 2 new playoff teams this year and there will probably be more. a 5-11 team last year will probably win 9 games, but I can’t pick it out. The NFL is unpredictable, so keep that in mind when reading the previews and these rankings.

But, without further ado, I give you the NFL Power Rankings, Review, and predictions.

Power Rankings (Preseason)

Please note, this is not a projection of how they will do in the playoffs, just who is the best right now, before any games have been played. The Playoff business comes later.

1. Indianapolis Colts (OTC Projected: 13-3, Winner AFC South)
2. Green Bay Packers (OTC Projected 13-3, Winner NFC North)
3. Baltimore Ravens
(OTC Projected: 13-3, Winner NFC North)
4. Dallas Cowboys (OTC Projected: 12-4, Winner NFC East)
5. New Orleans Saints (OTC Projected: 11-5, Winner NFC South)
6. New England Patriots (OTC Projected: 10-6, Winner AFC East)
7. New York Jets (OTC Projected: 10-6, 2nd in AFC East)
8. Minnesota Vikings (OTC Projected: 11-5, 2nd in NFC North)
9. New York Giants (OTC Projected: 10-6, 2nd in NFC East)
10. Atlanta Falcons (OTC Projected: 10-6, 2nd in NFC South)
11. Cincinnati Bengals (OTC Projected: 10-6, 2nd in AFC North)
12. San Diego Chargers (OTC Projected: 10-6, Winner AFC West)

This is where the cutoff for the playoffs should be, but the top 12 cannot make it since division winners matter. And yes, I realize I have a ton of teams going 10-6. Most of them probably will not end up at exactly that number, but I am sticking to my projections so far.

13. Houston Texans (OTC Projected: 9-7, 2nd in AFC South)
14. Carolina Panthers (OTC Projected: 8-8, 3rd in NFC South)
15. Tennessee Titans (OTC Projected: 9-7, 3rd in AFC East)
16. San Francisco 49ers (OTC Projected: 9-7, Winner NFC West)
17. Miami Dolphins (OTC Projected: 10-6, 3rd in AFC East)
18. Philadelphia Eagles (OTC Projected: 8-8, 3rd in NFC East)
19. Kansas City Chiefs (OTC Projected: 7-9, 2nd in AFC West)
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (OTC Projected: 6-10, 3rd in AFC North)
21. Chicago Bears (OTC Projected: 4-12, 3rd in NFC North)
22. Detroit Lions (OTC Projected: 4-12, 4th in NFC North)
23. Denver Broncos (OTC Projected: 5-11, 3rd in AFC West)
24. Seattle Seahawks (OTC Projected: 7-9, 2nd in NFC West)
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (OTC Projected: 6-10, 4th in AFC South)
26. Arizona Cardinals (OTC Projected: 6-10, 3rd in NFC West)
27. Oakland Raiders (OTC Projected: 5-11, 4th in AFC West)
28. Washington Redskins (OTC Projected: 5-11, 4th in NFC East)
29. St. Louis Rams (OTC Projected: 3-13, 4th in NFC West)
30. Cleveland Browns (OTC Projected: 3-13, 4th in AFC North)
31. Buffalo Bills OTC Projected: 3-13, 4th in AFC East)
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(OTC Projected: 3-13, 4th in NFC South

Explanation Time

In their natural habitat, the Lions and Bears will be better than their record.

Naturally, I will not be explaining all my projections, as that is what the actual previews are for. However, I think there are some rankings in there in need of explanation.

21. Chicago Bears (OTC Projected: 4-12, 3rd in NFC North)
22. Detroit Lions
(OTC Projected: 4-12, 4th in NFC North)

In all honesty, I probably just gave them too many losses in the preview, but their schedules are brutal, and they are not that great of teams. However, I would take either team over any of the teams below them, despite their low projection. They will both probably get more than 4 wins. For that reason, I have no issues putting them above a team with 7 wins and several with 6.

14. Carolina Panthers (OTC Projected: 8-8, 3rd in NFC South)
17. Miami Dolphins (OTC Projected: 10-6, 3rd in AFC East)

The win disparity does not mean the Dolphins are better. The Dolphins get a somewhat easier schedule than the Panthers this year, so they get more wins, but why do I have a team with quarterback questions above a team with a potential rising star at QB? I think the Panthers are a pretty damn good team this year, especially if that offensive line can stay healthy. The beauty of the Panthers is that they do not need big things from the QB position, and all they really need is for him to manage the game. The Dolphins also have more off-the-field issues to sort out, and I would pick the Panthers head-to-head at a neutral site every time.

23. Denver Broncos (OTC Projected: 5-11, 3rd in AFC West)
24. Seattle Seahawks (OTC Projected: 7-9, 2nd in NFC West)

The big thing here is that I projected the Seahawks while they still had TJ Houshmandzadeh, and without him, I would drop them to only winning 5 games. I probably under-projected the Broncos as well, so given that, this makes a fair amount of sense. I just really think the NFC West sucks.

Review

Here are the Division winners and Wild Cards, as projected during our previews by record. Power Ranking is listed as PR.

AFC

Maybe it is just my Colts bias, but Peyton Manning has been the most valuable player for about 7 years.

1. Colts (13-3) PR: 1
2. Ravens (13-3, virtual tie) PR: 3
3. Patriots (10-6) PR: 6
4. Chargers (10-6) PR: 12
WC 5. Jets (10-6) PR: 7
WC 6. Bengals (10-6) PR: 11

Dolphins out with 10-6 record.

NFC

1. Packers (13-3) PR: 2
2. Cowboys (12-4) PR: 4
3. Saints  (11-5) PR: 5
4. 49ers (9-7) PR: 16
WC 5. Vikings
(11-5) PR: 8
WC 6. Giants (10-6) PR: 9

Falcons out with 10-6 record.

Playoff Predictions

AFC

Wild Card Week: Jets over Chargers, Patriots over Bengals
Divisional Playoffs:  Ravens over Patriots, Colts over Jets
Conference Championship: Colts over Ravens

The Colts just own the Ravens, and I think the Ravens just have the right combination to beat the Pats. I think the Pats would beat the Colts if they met in the playoffs, but it looks like they will avoid each other. This is really a situational pick more than an absolute pick, but it is early, and I am a Colts fan, so those are my excuses.

NFC

He is not quite as good as people are making him out to be, but his numbers will be through the roof.

Wild Card Week: Vikings over 49ers, Saints over Giants
Divisional Playoffs:  Packers over Vikings, Saints over Cowboys
Conference Championship: Packers over Saints

I am not necessarily huge on the Packers bandwagon, but I think this sets up pretty well for them to make a run at the Super Bowl. Are they the best team in the NFC? Yeah, I think so, but I am not quite sure if they are really Super Bowl ready. Consider it a situational pick rather than an absolute pick.

Super Bowl: Packers 31, Colts 27

Individual Awards

AP Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers
AP Defensive Player of the Year: Darrelle Revis (now that he is signed, and now that teams are throwing it more, fewer LBs will win)
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ryan Mathews (No Vincent Jackson and lack of another guy to be the every-down back gives Mathews the advantage. Honorable Mention: Jahvid Best, Dez Bryant, Golden Tate [without TJ])
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Eric Berry (Similar logic applies here as it did to Revis above. Honorable Mention: Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Wilson- if he can get on the field enough)
Comeback Player of the Year: Wes Welker (This is a tricky award to deal with. Do they consider Wes Welker a comeback because he had knee surgery, or not a comeback because he played in almost every Patriots game last season? What do they go on? For that reason I went with Welker because I think he will count for the award, even though it is a sort of wishy-washy decision if he is making a “comeback” or not.)
Coach of the Year: Todd Haley (It either goes to a team with like 14 or 15 wins or one that overachieved. I think Mike McCarthy of the Packers has a very good shot at it as well, but I am going with the Chiefs head man for the award)
MVP:
Peyton Manning (Call me a homer. He is far from a shoe-in here, and if I was a betting man, I would have put my money on Aaron Rodgers at 12:1, but I am sticking with the most valuable player instead of the player with the best statistics. Honorable Mention: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Chris Johnson).

One last thing…

For Thursday: Saints 34, Vikings 24

Ready, set....... Coming soon: GO!

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