Constructing a power ranking list for the NFL is one of the most difficult things I've had to write. Every team has the potential to play well, but when it comes down to it, somebody has to go in at #1 and somebody has to go in at #32. Keep checking back as I update the power rankings after each week during the 2012 NFL Season.
1. New England Patriots – The defending AFC champs have a rebuilt defense and a new deep threat for Tom Brady. New England should be the cream of a relatively weak AFC crop.
2. Green Bay Packers – A 15-1 team in 2011, the Packers lost almost no players over the off-season and added a few nice pieces to their defense.
3. San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers made some moves on offense, but they live and die with their defense.
4. Detroit Lions – Stafford finally showed us what he can do with a full season, if he improves this year the Lions could be scary good.
5. Baltimore Ravens – This is a coin flip between five and six, but the Ravens are a more complete team right NOW.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers – Pittsburgh might be shuffling their offensive line all year again, but it worked well enough last year for the Steelers to make a playoff appearance. The season rides on Ben Roethlisberger's health.
7. Atlanta Falcons – Atlanta was explosive last year, so if second year receiver Julio Jones makes any step forward, the Falcons should be great again this year.
8. Chicago Bears – A new more balanced offense combined with the acquisition of WR Brandon Marshall should help Jay Cutler, though the offensive line may pose a few problems.
9. New Orleans Saints – Finally playing games instead of talking about bountygate, the Saints will need Drew Brees to put the team on his shoulders more than ever.
10. Denver Broncos – Peyton Manning will make this team's passing game respectable.
11. New York Giants – The defending Super Bowl champs have just as much of a chance of missing the playoffs this year as winning the division.
12. Houston Texans – Schaub, Johnson, and Foster have the potential to be the most potent trio in the league…if they stay healthy.
13. Cincinnati Bengals – Leaning on a steady running game with BenJarvus Green-Ellis should help Andy Dalton avoid the sophomore slump.
14. Buffalo Bills – One of the biggest boom-or-bust teams in the league, the Bills success may depend on the newly revamped defensive line.
15. Kansas City Chiefs – The production of a two headed monster at running back with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis will determine how far the Chiefs can go.
16. Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles need Vick to play all 16 games to have a chance at the playoffs. Vick hasn't played all 16 since 2006.
17. Tennessee Titans – Jake Locker has potential, but must improve accuracy in the pocket. Underrated receiving corps could have an amazing year if he does.
18. Indianapolis Colts – This team is much better than the 2-14 they were last year. New offensive options and a two TE offense should help Andrew Luck make a smooth transition to the NFL. RB Donald Brown could have a big year too.
19. New York Jets – A weak receiving corps, inconsistent line, and two inaccurate quarterbacks might spell doom for Rex Ryan.
20. Seattle Seahawks – Russell Wilson might struggle this year facing one of the toughest schedules in the league.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – They won the free-agency sweepstakes, but need Josh Freeman to bounce back after a bad 2011 if the Bucs expect to improve under first year coach Greg Schiano.
22. Dallas Cowboys – If the Cowboys stay healthy and play consistent across the board, they could win the division. But it's more likely that Dallas underachieves like usual.
23. San Diego Chargers – A fragile running back and fewer weapons for Philip Rivers does not bode well for the Chargers.
24. St. Louis Rams – New head coach Jeff Fisher has rebuilt a defense decimated by injuries last year. If the O-line can protect Sam Bradford, the Rams might be respectable this year.
25. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton's numbers will go down from last year, and the defense is still bad.
26. Minnesota Vikings – The defense outside of Jared Allen is horrible, Christian Ponder will have to engage in multiple shootouts.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blaine Gabbert looked good in the pre-season, but until he shows it when the games count, I reserve my judgement.
28. Miami Dolphins – A so-so defense, rookie quarterback with no receivers, and new system/coach equals a true season of Hard Knocks for the Dolphins.
29. Washington Redskins – Other than drafting RG3, the Redskins have done nothing to improve this team.
30. Oakland Raiders – The defense is OK, but not good enough to survive "Pick 6 Palmer". Difference between bad season and horrible season will be determined by Darren McFadden's health.
31. Cleveland Browns – The Browns are young and have a nasty regular season schedule. Brandon Weeden is good, but doesn' have the receiving corps to carry this team.
32. Arizona Cardinals – Does anybody have any faith in Kolb or Skelton behind an atrocious offensive line? Projected 2013 #1 overall pick Matt Barkley of USC should be afraid for his NFL career right now.
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