2011 NFL Power Rankings – Playoffs

NFL Power Rankings 2011 Pre 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Playoffs

The Packers complete a wire-to-wire run at #1 in our power rankings this season. We’ll see if they can keep it up in the playoffs:

Rank Team Comment
1 Green Bay Packers Despite resting starters and slowing down a notch after the perfect season was lost, the Packers won their final two games and will have an extra week to rest before their second round game. The biggest question is if the defense can do enough to get the Packers back to the Super Bowl.
2 New Orleans Saints The Saints weren’t able to get a first round bye, but enter the playoffs as arguably the hottest team in the league. The road to the Super Bowl will likely feature road games after this first week and New Orleans only three losses on the year came on the road.
3 New England Patriots In both games between the Bills and Patriots this season, the team that lost held a 21-point lead in the first half; this time around, it was New England that stormed back on their way to a #1 seed-clinching 49-21 win. The Patriots now hold home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and get a bye next week.
4 San Francisco 49ers The 49ers locked up a first round bye and wait to see who they will be facing in round two. The 49ers are all about defense and running the ball and that style will likely be but to the test when the (most likely) face the Saints and/or Packers.
5 Baltimore Ravens The Ravens took care of business against the Bengals to clinch the 2nd seed in the AFC and earn a bye week. This is the first time under John Harbaugh that they’ve won the AFC North.
6 Pittsburgh Steelers The Steelers scraped by the Browns, but the Ravens and Patriots won, so they are stuck with the 5-seed and will play at the Broncos on Sunday.
7 Detroit Lions Detroit finally returns to the playoffs, but drew perhaps the toughest card having to play the red hot Saints in New Orleans. But Detroit has shown that they can put up points and if the Lion D can pressure Drew Brees, Detroit could surprise some people.
8 Atlanta Falcons Atlanta avoided a first round matchup with New Orleans and will now travel to New York to take on the Giants. They’ve been an up and down team this year and will rely heavily on the arm of Matt Ryan to move forward in the playoffs.
9 Cincinnati Bengals The Bengals backed into the playoffs but don’t count them out. All of their losses are losses (mostly close ones) to playoff teams, so if things go their way they could make some noise.
10 Houston Texans The Texans were forced to turn to Jake Delhomme at quarterback and ended up falling 23-22 in a game against Tennessee that held no meaning for Houston. The Texans will host Cincinnati next week in the Wild Care round of the playoffs.
11 New York Giants The Giants put the Cowboys out of their misery and probably saved Tom Coughlin’s job on Sunday Night Football. They’ll face Atlanta at home this weekend.
12 Denver Broncos Tim Tebow could not get the Broncos more than a field goal in their 7-3 loss to Kansas City, but it didn’t matter when Oakland lost to San Diego and the AFC West title went to Denver. Now the Broncos face the tall task of hosting the Steelers in the Wild Card round next week.
13 Dallas Cowboys Despite another up and down season, the Cowboys could’ve been division champs with a win against the Giants. They lost to their rival and will be watching they playoffs at home like the rest of us.
14 Philadelphia Eagles The Eagles finished the season on a 4-game winning streak, but it was too little too late. In a down year for the NFC East, this was definitely a huge missed opportunity for Andy Reid’s team.
15 San Diego Chargers The Chargers squared their record at 8-8 with a 38-26 win over Oakland, but they had already been eliminated from playoff contention as of last week. A team this talented should easily win the AFC West every year; hard questions must be asked as to why San Diego continues to disappoint.
16 Oakland Raiders Oakland had a window of opportunity when Denver lost to Kansas City, but they couldn’t overcome the rival Chargers in a 38-26 loss that kept them out of the postseason. The mid-season acquisition of Carson Palmer was costly given the end result.
17 Tennessee Titans Tennessee did what they had to do to make the playoffs with a 23-22 win over Houston, but they couldn’t get enough help to make the postseason. At least, at 9-7, they managed a winning record for the season.
18 Chicago Bears The Bears were having a good season until they lost Jay Cutler and that turned out to be the kiss of death for the Bears. The health of Matt Forte will loom over the offseason in Chicago.
19 New York Jets The Jets self-destructed in Miami, falling 19-17 and seeing meltdowns from Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes. For all of Rex Ryan’s Super Bowl guarantees, this season ends without even a playoff appearance.
20 Arizona Cardinals After starting out 1-6, Arizona turned things around and ended up with an 8-8 record. Kevin Kolb was disappointing and will need to come out looking great in training camp or Arizona will be headed for a QB controversy.
21 Seattle Seahawks A 7-9 season following their playoff run last year was not what the Seahawks were expecting, but they played a tough out of division schedule this year. Tavaris Jackson was not as bad as expected, but he’ll need to improve if Seattle hopes to make a better run next year.
22 Miami Dolphins In Jason Taylor’s last game in the NFL, the Dolphins did just enough to spoil any chance for the Jets to make the playoffs in a 19-17 victory. Miami put together some good performances to end the season, which they’ll hope to build on next fall.
23 Carolina Panthers Carolina finished the year 6-10 and kept a lot of games close and competitive. Cam Newton exceeded expectations and Panther fans have to be excited about that moving forward.
24 Kansas City Chiefs In a “revenge game” for Kyle Orton against his former team, the Chiefs secured a low-scoring 7-3 victory over Denver. Unfortunately–with Kansas City already eliminated from playoff contention–it’s onto the offseason for Chiefs players and fans now.
25 Buffalo Bills A season of ups-and-downs for the Bills ended about as low as possible with a 49-21 loss to the Patriots in a game that Buffalo led 21-0 after one quarter of play. The Bills once again take up residence in the AFC East cellar, pining for what could have been after a strong start to the season.
26 Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville could have thrown their game against Indianapolis to deny the Colts the #1 pick in this year’s Draft, but instead they fought and won 19-13 to end their 2011-2012 campaign. The Jaguars have many questions–except for Maurice Jones-Drew, of course–to address if they hope to contend in the AFC South next year.
27 Washington Redskins The Redskins had another terrible season. The question now will be what they try to do in the upcoming draft, especially at quarterback and wide receiver, positions that ultimately doomed them this year.
28 Minnesota Vikings A forgettable year for the Vikings ended with their star RB blowing out his knee, their starting QB getting banged up, and not losing enough games to lock up the top pick. Jared Allen’s 22 sack season was one of the few bright spots on what was one of the worst seasons in the past fifteen years.
29 Tampa Bay Bucs Tampa Bay had relatively high expectations going into this year and really failed to meet any of them and lost 10 in a row to end the year. The Bucs fired head coach Raheem Morris and will look for a quick turnaround next year.
30 Cleveland Browns The Browns couldn’t come up with 14 points to beat the Steelers on Sunday and found themselves in the familiar position of losing.
31 Indianapolis Colts Indianapolis locked up the #1 pick in this year’s NFL Entry Draft with a 19-13 loss to the Jaguars, all but ensuring that they will be getting their hands on Andrew Luck, heir apparent to Peyton Manning’s legacy. The biggest question for the offseason will be the health of #18 and whether or not he’ll be able to return to the field in 2012.
32 St. Louis Rams St. Louis tied for the worst record in the NFL and was probably the most disappointing team in the league. Sam Bradford had a terrible sophomore year and the Rams are hoping that it was a fluke and not a long term trend.

Commentary breakdown: Alex (AFC North, NFC East), Brian (AFC East/South/West), Pat (NFC North/South/West).

Alex Chalupka - Originally from the Baltimore-Washington area, Alex is a huge Baltimore Ravens and Maryland Terrapins fan who currently resides in Little Rock, Arkansas. He’s also an Orioles fan and follows the NBA and other sports as objectively as possible. He enjoys writing about all sports and is the founder/editor of theSportsGeeks.com. - Follow him on Twitter here - Visit his personal website

Brian Parker - Born in Maine, a state with no professional sports team, Brian Parker is nonetheless a huge statistics nerd and fan of the NFL and NHL, with some passing interest in the MLB. Regional ties see him as a Patriots and Red Sox fan, though a childhood of watching Patrick Roy tend the net as a Montreal Canadien puts him on the opposite side of his fellow New Englanders for that NHL rivalry. Brian has both an M.A. and a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from the University of Maine. - Follow him on Twitter here - Visit his personal website

Pat Lussenhop - Pat was born and raised in rural Minnesota and is currently living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He graduated from St. John's University (MN) with a degree in psychology and went on to get his masters in school psychology at the University of Northern Iowa. He's a lifetime sports fan and follows basketball and football the most. His favorite teams include any team that has "Minnesota" in it's name and he enjoys sports statistics and any good sporting debates. - Follow him on Twitter here

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