Welcome to the B&T Power Rankings. The place where we rank the teams on their record, front office actions, and overall craziness. Expect some arbitrary explanations, some in-depth analysis, and your fair share of surprises.
Today we bring you the post-preseason edition. The numbers don’t matter once the season begins, but we can see how a team is looking based on how certain players performed, how coaches acted, and how deep each team is. Rosters are back down to the familiar 53 and it’s almost time for the regular season to commence. To see how teams have moved take a look at the previous rank in brackets and check out our post-draft edition.
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#1.  Baltimore Ravens: With the Ravens debuting a new uptempo offense, the team looks even more deadly. Paired with an opportunistic defense and a brilliant running back, Joe Flacco will be able to slice and dice opposing defenses all he wants. If there’s a team that used the preseason to show that they aren’t afraid of anybody, it was the Ravens.
#2 . New England Patriots: The Patriots have done their traditional jettison of veteran players they no longer feel they need. That’s a good thing if you’re a Pats fan because it looks like they’ll be as strong as ever behind Bill Belichick.
#3 . Chicago Bears: I’ve been saying the Bears are the team to beat in the NFC North for a while and they look like it once again. With Jay Cutler healthy, Brandon Marshall back in town, and an offensive coordinator who isn’t a crazed lunatic it’ll be nice to see the Bears finally able to string together some success again.
#5 . Green Bay Packers: The Packers will be as lethal as ever. I like the Cedric Benson pickup and I definitely think there will be a bit of a chip on the shoulder of the the team since it practically seemed ordained for them to win last year but they fell short.
#6 . Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons still look like a tough team. Matt Ryan and company should find success yet again and I think they may just have what it takes to finally make a splash in the post-season. They’ll have to get there first, but with a strong team that shouldn’t be much of a problem.
#7 . Pittsburgh Steelers: The team has been moving up steadily this offseason. Things look like they’ll come together an the Steelers will continue to find ways to win. The pieces aren’t lacking and they can win with either a stout defense or a strong offense – teams will have to pick what they think are the lesser of two evils.
#8 . Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning will be the man. I continue to have confidence in the defense and I think that the offensive line concerns are being overplayed because of the man taking the snaps. They could get going quicker than anticipated.
#11 . Cincinnati Bengals: Behind a big draft and some quality coaching the Bengals look to be the young stars in the NFL. They’ll be competitive throughout the season and will be looking to make a splash week one.
#12 . Detroit Lions: It’s a good thing the Lions have the AFC South to play this season because the NFC North is going to be a tough gig. They could make a dent or play spoiler, but even a team as talented as the Lions may not be able to put it all together when they need to.
#13 . Washington Redskins: RGIII is the real deal. Would I take him over Luck? Does it matter? The Redskins are a popular pick to compete in a weakened division. They’ll definitely be more competitive than we expect.
#15 . Dallas Cowboys: I’m high on the Cowboys in large part because Tony Romo is going to be pissed through the season and will want to turn things around. Expect that defense to be a bit better and don’t be surprised if the offense is suddenly somewhat terrific.
#17 . Jacksonville Jaguars: What happens when your quarterback develops faster than anticipated, a new receiving star is catching everything his way, and the offensive line learns how to play together? You get really good, fast. The Jags looked strong, don’t believe what every else is saying, see for yourself.
#18 . Philadelphia Eagles: With a need for Andy Reid to win in order to keep his job, look for the Eagles to rebound. Reid says it doesn’t matter to him because he’s going to win anyway. Believe it.
#20 . Cleveland Browns: Still high on the draft, there are definitely some concerns for the Browns, but things could go alright still. Don’t anticipate anything amazing to happen early on, but the development potential is irresistible.
#21 . Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker is not yet a starting quarterback. There will be lumps and the Titans will take them. Locker could learn quickly, but don’t expect a miracle. The kid needs time and not having Kenny Britt for the first game won’t help his development.
#22 . Indianapolis Colts: I’ve been hesitant to place the Colts higher. Andrew Luck is the real deal, but who else is? It’s all new but they could put it together. It won’t be early in the season if they do.
#23 . Buffalo Bills: It took a while, but I think the Bills will be more competitive than they previously showed. Look for some success out of the defense and I’m calling it now: the offense could be for real in 2012.
#24 . Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I’m still loving what Tampa has done this offseason and I think the preseason did little to alter the good vibes. That said, it’s difficult to be successful when your second and third stringers aren’t showing a lot of flashes in the opportunities they’re given.
#25 . St. Louis Rams: The Rams’ premium talent from the draft won’t be doing what we anticipated. Jeff Fisher will be taking a long time to turn this team around. They desperately need Sam Bradford to make a splash early if they intent to compete more in 2012. I don’t think that’s on Fisher’s meticulously planned schedule for development.
#26 . San Diego Chargers: If this isn’t Norv Turner’s last season in San Diego, I’ll be shocked. Phillip Rivers better score a lot of points in the first week, otherwise the doubt that is already creeping around the team will begin to solidify.
#30 . Minnesota Vikings: Getting Adrain Peterson back is huge, he needs to hurry back to the starting lineup. If the team looks put together in week one, expect a big jump for the Vikes. Unfortunately for the Vikes they’re starting Christian Ponder (the poor man’s Blaine Gabbert a year ago) with a rookie left tackle to protect him. Good luck!
- Luke N. Sims