The Denver Broncos finished the regular season with its eleventh straight victory and thanks to a loss by the Houston Texans, earned the top seed in the AFC. As a result of these accomplishments, Denver also finished the year as the number one ranked team in KP’s NFL Power Rankings at The Wife Hates Sports.
Earning the other bye in the AFC, the New England Patriots finished in second place, followed by the San Francisco 49ers. Surprisingly, the Houston Texans landed in fourth place, while the Atlanta Falcons completed the top five.
Heading into next year, there may be some minor tweaks to the overall calculations of the rankings. Clearly, it does come as a challenge when ranking the NFL, as there are only sixteen games during the regular season. I would like to add in some additional bonuses to teams that earn recent quality wins, such that for example, a team like the Colts could see more of a boost, while a team like the Texans – while strong statistically – would fall more than it did in the season’s final poll.
In the end, here is how teams finished the year, featuring stats, notes and thoughts geared towards why each finished where it did.
KP’s NFL Power Rankings: End of 2012 Regular Season
*Stats, records and information through the end of the 2012 NFL regular season
1. Denver Broncos (300 points)
The Broncos finished the regular season tied with Atlanta for the best record and Peyton Manning and the pass offense finished in the top five in yards per game. What many don’t realize is that Denver’s defense also finished in the top three in both pass and run defense.
2. New England Patriots (281 points)
The Patriots posted the NFL’s best point differential (+226). Also, New England’s offense landed in the top five in passing and top ten in run offense. The run defense also cracked the top ten.
3. San Francisco 49ers (230 points)
The 49ers finished the season ranked fourth in rushing offense, pass defense and run defense.
4. Houston Texans (213 points)
Only Houston’s pass defense received a ranking outside of the top 11 in the league. The Texans also tied for the best road record in the NFL.
5. Atlanta Falcons (212 points)
The Falcons finished tied for the best record in the NFL, but statistically, the team took a hit, especially in the run game, which was ranked in the bottom five of the league.
6. Seattle Seahawks (210 points)
The Seahawks finished with a record below .500 on the road and had a pass offense that was ranked in the NFL’s bottom ten.
7. Green Bay Packers (176 points)
Only Green Bay’s pass offense finished in the top ten in the league and the team’s point differential finished below the 100 mark on the year (+97).
8. Cincinnati Bengals (161 points)
The Bengals were tied for the best road record in the league and was fairly consistent across the board on offense and defense. Its pass defense received the highest grade.
9. Chicago Bears (161 points)
Left out of the playoffs, the Bears still managed high grades in the rankings, especially due to the overall performance of the run offense, pass defense and run defense, which all finished in the NFL’s top ten.
10. Washington Redskins (145 points)
The Redskins received high marks in the run game (on both sides of the ball), as the rushing offense was the best in the NFL and the run defense fell in the league’s top five.
11. Baltimore Ravens (134 points)
The Ravens were actually a pretty steady bunch, receiving a double-digit point grade in all aspects of its offense and defense.
12. Minnesota Vikings (106 points)
No big surprise, but Minnesota’s run offense, led by Adrian Peterson, landed the team second in the league. The pass defense and road record knocked them back a bit.
13. New York Giants (103 points)
New York’s pass and run defense both finished in the NFL’s bottom ten.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (93 points)
The Steelers missed out on the playoffs but Pittsburgh’s defense finished second in run defense and first in overall pass defense.
15. Indianapolis Colts (85 points)
The Colts were the lowest ranked playoff team in the poll, mostly thanks to its defense, which received low grades, especially the run defense, which was in the NFL’s bottom five for the year.
16. Carolina Panthers (63 points)
The Panthers’ rushing offense landed in the top ten and a late season surge pushed the team’s point differential back near even (-6).
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (58 points)
Tampa Bay’s top ranked rush defense gave it a high mark, but the pass defense was dead last, which seemed to even these categories out.
18. Dallas Cowboys (45 points)
The rushing offense, which struggled for weeks without DeMarco Murray, received a very low grade.
19. San Diego Chargers (43 points)
Surprisingly, both the passing and rushing offense landed in the NFL’s bottom ten this season.
20. St. Louis Rams (30 points)
The Rams were right in the middle of the pack in all major categories on offense and defense.
21. New Orleans Saints (26 points)
The Saints finished with the NFL’s top pass offense, but the defense was at or near the bottom both against the run and the pass.
22. Miami Dolphins (7 points)
The Dolphins struggled on the road and its pass offense finished in the bottom ten.
23. New York Jets (-20 points)
The Jets couldn’t move the ball through the air and had plenty of turnovers, coupled with a horrible point differential of -94.
24. Detroit Lions (-26 points)
Detroit’s second ranked pass offense helped move it up a few spots.
25. Buffalo Bills (-28 points)
Buffalo’s rushing offense was solid all year and finished just outside of the top five.
26. Cleveland Browns (-51 points)
The Browns finished in the bottom half in each category rated on offense and defense.
27. Tennessee Titans (-74 points)
The defense was ranked in the bottom ten against both the run and the pass.
28. Arizona Cardinals (-78 points)
Arizona’s offense was ranked in the bottom five through the air and dead last on the ground.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (-78 points)
Statistically, the team was respectable in each of the major categories, but the turnover differential was atrocious throughout the year.
30. Oakland Raiders (-96 points)
The Raiders received solid grades passing the ball, but most of that was due to the fact that Oakland was behind in many of its games.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (-156 points)
Tied for the worst record in the league, the Chiefs had the NFL’s worst point differential (-214).
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (-171 points)
Tied with Kansas City for the worst record in the league, the Jags also fell in the bottom five running the ball, mostly thanks to the absence of Maurice Jones-Drew.
* All stats per NFL.com
The Wife Hates Sports NFL Power Rankings system has a method to its madness, attempting to be different and not just rank by popularity and record. It mixes a secret formula of eight completely different categories, meshed into a points system. The categories don’t just include team results regarding record, but how each team has performed on the road, as well as incorporating some statistics on both a team’s offense and defense, too.