Final Power Rankings Of The NFL Season
1. New England Patriots
The Patriots are on top of the football world once again. I don’t think there is a question right now that Bill Belichick is the best coach in the NFL right now. There’s a slight case that can be made that Aaron Rodgers is better than Brady, however, Brady threw for 307 yards per game and 10 touchdowns in the playoffs this year. New England is the top dog.
2. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks did everything you could do besides win the last game in the final moments of the year. Seattle was able to turn their early defensive struggles around and finish with the number one ranked defense in the league in back-to-back years. The difference between this postseason and the 2013 postseason was Russell Wilson (2013: no interceptions, 2014: six interceptions in three games).
3. Green Bay Packers
A collapse like the one the Packers dealt with is as devastating a way to lose as any for a professional franchise. Passive play-calling in the fourth quarter has been Green Bay’s Achilles heel for the last few years, especially in the playoffs. The Packers have been outscored in the fourth quarter/overtime of their last three playoff losses 45-23. Maybe a coaching change is in order for Green Bay next year.
4. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas was the biggest surprise in the NFL to me this season. The defense completely turned itself around, which made the Cowboys one of the league's most dangerous teams because of their immense offensive balance. After allowing the most yards in the league last year, Dallas was able to move up to the 19th spot in the league’s defensive rankings. The balance on offense was also critical. In a league dominated by passing, the Cowboys were almost divided, 60% passing to 40% running. Dallas can make big strides next year in the playoffs if they bring back Dez Bryant.
5. Indianapolis Colts
For the third off-season in a row, the problem facing the Colts is trying to find a way to surround Andrew Luck with more talent. Statistically the Colts improved on offense and defense in all aspects except turnovers, where they fell from fewest in the league to third worst in the NFL. Andrew Luck threw the ball far too many times this season, which is why he threw almost twice as many interceptions as he did last year. Colts fans need to hope the Luck mega-contract still allows for the team to make moves in free agency because the defense is still weak and the rushing attack has continued to be disappointing.
6. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens’ success came as somewhat of a surprise to me in all honesty. The fact that the Ray Rice scandal didn’t derail this team shows that it is one of the best-run organizations in the NFL. The Ravens’ defense just needs to find their edge once again. 22nd in the league in turnovers forced is not indicative of how good Baltimore’s defense really is.
7. Arizona Cardinals
This is a team that is built on resiliency. 16 players missed at least one game for the team and they still managed to reach the playoffs with an 11-5 record. Once they return with healthy key contributors like Dockett, Ellington, Palmer, and John Abraham, I don’t have any doubt that Arizona will force their way into the postseason again next year.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers could have reached the Super Bowl had Le’Veon Bell been healthy for the postseason. Antonio Brown was the number one receiver in the NFL this year while Bell accumulated over 2000 total yards for his team, nearly 1/3 of their offensive production. Pittsburgh’s defense was down this year, but I don’t expect that kind of outlier performance to be indicative of what this team can really do next year. Watch out for the Steelers in 2015.
9. Detroit Lions
I don’t think it is likely that the Detroit Lions will actually keep both Calvin Johnson and Ndomokung Suh. In this case, I would take Suh because wide receiver production can always be replaced with a rookie or formerly successful veteran. Matthew Stafford needs to make improvements in his numbers for next season. His 22 touchdowns were his lowest total in the last few years.
10. Denver Broncos
The Broncos looked to be limping into the playoffs by the end of 2014. Since week 13, Peyton manning had thrown six interceptions compared to only four touchdowns, which are numbers that would make Manning sick to his stomach. Without the offensive explosion that Manning brings, the Broncos are just a pretty good team. They will make the playoffs, but they will not be a legitimate threat or strike fear into their opponents.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are getting there in the sense that they are making strides and becoming more competitive with winning teams. However, they have lost in the wild card round five of the last six seasons. I understand that it is hard to get rid of the most successful coach your franchise has ever had, but everybody should have a limited number of chances before they move on to somebody that can actually progress the team; I think Marvin Lewis has one more year. If Lewis doesn’t win a playoff game next year, he will be out of a job in 2016.
12. Kansas City Chiefs
I liked the potential of this team to make a splash in the playoffs. The offense is surely becoming more explosive under Andy Reid while the defense continues to excel at harassing quarterbacks. The Chiefs suffered from a tough schedule against the AFC and NFC West. Next year, with another productive wide receiver and the return of a fully healthy Jamaal Charles, I anticipate Kansas City will return to the playoffs, stronger than the 2013 team.
13. Carolina Panthers
The defense faltered from last year to this year. However, the emergence of Thomas Davis and the continued growth of Luke Kuechly make this one of the most unappreciated defenses in the entire league (10th in yards allowed and turnovers forced). The Panthers’ offense still needs work though. The team did finish seventh in rushing yards, but they didn’t have any players that rushed for at least 1,000 yards, so the search for another star on that offense continues this offseason.
14. Philadelphia Eagles
This team got hit with the injury bug and folded the minute it happened. Mark Sanchez was exactly what you expected him to be as a backup. Sanchez threw for over 250 yards/gm and even managed to rack up a few wins. However, the defense allowed the second most passing yards per game in the league and the offense had the most turnovers in the NFL. Chip Kelly needs his healthy starters to correct those mistakes next season so that they aren’t on the outside looking in.
15. Houston Texans
The Texans are just the most frustrating team to watch. The defense is one of the best in the league, having forced the most turnovers in the NFL. Not to mention, Houston has the unquestioned best defensive player in the National Football League. The offense is the problem, specifically the quarterback. Without Arian Foster, there’s no hope for this team, but with his return, Houston fans have a lot to be excited about.
16. San Diego Chargers
Here is a team that should have made the playoffs if their injuries hadn’t absolutely dismantled the squad. Then again, three wins against nine teams with winning records proves that San Diego didn’t do enough in the end to deserve a playoff spot. I mean, if you really anted to win the Super Bowl, then you should have beaten Kansas City in the final game of the season. That being said, a fully healthy San Diego can be competitive with any team in this league.
17. Buffalo Bills
If only the offense were just a little better, then Buffa lo would have made the playoffs for the first time this decade. The Bills’ defense limited Manning, Rodgers, and Brady to 231 passing yards per game in three contests while forcing five turnovers. Buffalo’s defense is going to strike fear throughout the NFL now that Rex Ryan is the head coach. If the quarterback was just slightly better, I’m sure Buffalo would have won a playoff game.
18. San Francisco 49ers
An 8-8 49ers team is a lot better than most of the organizations in the bottom half of these power rankings. They fell this low though because of the rift that existed between the people that wanted to keep Harbaugh and those that wanted to get rid of him. The teams’ main defenders were injured for large chunks of the season, but the offense was also just abysmal. San Francisco definitely disappointed this year.
19. New Orleans Saints
The Saints were bad because their guaranteed home-field advantage that worked for so long was de-mystified after five home losses this season. The passing game was typically effective, but the defense dropped 21 spots after forcing 49 sacks last year compared to only 34 this season. The Saints’ coaching staff needed to adjust their perception of the league to make a splash this year, but those results from those changes were never seen on the field.
20. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill has noticeably improved as a passer, which is the first step in the long process that is climbing to the top of the NFL. Tannehill threw for more yards and touchdowns this season while also throwing fewer interceptions. The final step for the Dolphins now is learning to hang with the big boys of the NFL, as they finished the season with a 3-7 record against teams with winning records.
21. Minnesota Vikings
Beyond the Adrian Peterson debacle, this was a great season for the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings look to have found their quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater while Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon provide young explosiveness to the offense. The defense continued its improvements as well. Minnesota finished in the top ten in passing yards allowed too. The Vikings are a young team on the rise, they just got hot too late into the year.
22. New York Giants
It’s interesting that the Giants finished this season with a worse record than last year, but optimism for the team is way higher than it was last offseason. The offense was definitely better than the 2013 version despite the fact that the running back position is still surrounded by question marks. The defense has actually gotten drastically worse, but because the league is based around offense, Giants fans see their team as better than last season. Honestly, this team may be just 8-8 when all is said and done.
23. St. Louis Rams
The Rams have unfortunately failed with the Sam Bradford experiment. In his career, Bradford has missed multiple games in a season more times than he has played all the way through the end of a season. The defense is still very talented though, and the team is chock-full of rookies and young players that can be superstars in this league. Jeff Fisher can turn this team around, the man just needs more time.
24. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were one of the worst defensive teams I have ever seen in 2014. They were dead last in yards allowed per game, and they allowed the most passing yards per game on average. The bright side for this team is the offense. Their receivers were fifth in the league in receiving yards per game, however, in a league dominated by offense, having the league’s worst defense is a great formula for failure.
25. Cleveland Browns
Maybe the Cleveland Browns are a decent team that just constantly loses because of the impossible gauntlet that is their division. The Browns are 4-8 in their division over the last two seasons against their rivals. Then again, ending a season with five straight losses will disappoint any franchise. In conclusion, Johnny Manziel.
26. Chicago Bears
I laughed intensely last year when the Bears re-signed jay Cutler to a monster contract. After a whole year, I am glad to say that I was right to laugh at the decision. Not only were Bears fans calling for Cutlers’ head, but he also managed to throw the most interceptions in the league without even starting every game. Marc Trestman got the blame for the teams’ shortcomings, but the organization will soon realize that the problems start on the field, not in the front office.
27. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders may have finished the 2014 season as the best of the NFL’s bad teams despite the fact that they started the year with 10 straight losses. Derek Carr has a ton of upside as a starter for Oakland after throwing for 21 touchdowns as a rookie. The rushing attack needs to improve though if the Raiders want to become an important team in the NFL once again.
28. New York Jets
The Jets allowed teams to score a fair amount of points, but this injury-riddled defense still placed in the top ten defenses in total yards allowed. The quarterback is still the problem for this team, but with a top ten pick, the Jets can finally make the right moves with their new coach to get back into the NFL’s upper-echelon.
29. Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins weren’t particularly bad in any specific statistical category, but they just made critical mistakes in clutch moments. The inconsistency at quarterback also clearly hurt this team. The most underrated player in the league though does play for the Redskins. Alfred Morris ran for 1,000 yards once again on a team that was so inconsistent on offense that you just have to be amazed by what this young man has done.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers may have had the worst record in the NFL, but I do not believe they finished the season as the worst team. Players like Gerald McCoy and Mike Evans are superstars that make this team not just watchable, but even exciting at times. The problem for Tampa is that their offensive line is just atrocious. Tampa Bay should draft an offensive lineman, but a quarterback is the obvious choice going into the draft.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars lost 10+ games for the fourth straight season. The downside this year is that they finished with one more loss than they did in 2013. The silver lining is that the Jags have another top five draft pick to help build around Bortles. At least the Jaguars aren’t the biggest joke in the NFL in my opinion.
32. Tennessee Titans
Everything that could have gone wrong with this team did. The Titans lost their starting quarterback for the season, the team finished the year on a ten game losing streak, and they finished dead last in their conference. I knew the Titans would not be able to compete with Jake Locker or Mettenberger. If a quarterback is available at the second spot, look for the Titans to pull the trigger.