Article Written By: Julian Beck
With the regular season in the books, it is now time for the best part of the New Year, the playoffs. Many teams clinched their playoff berth a few weeks back while the Chargers needed some help by the Ravens and Dolphins in week 17. With the playoff tree set, it is time to “power rank” the 12 teams that made the playoffs.
#12. San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers and Mike McCoy have created a killer tandem. McCoy awoke Rivers and the offense this season.Rivers threw for 4,478 yards with 32 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. Philip has always been able to throw the football though, the most surprising player this year from the offense was running back Ryan Mathews. Mathews has been injured most his career or has been very unproductive, but this season Ryan proved to everyone that he was worth a first round pick in 2010. Mathews rushed for 1,255 yards and 6 touchdowns. 3rd round draft pick Keenan Allen put up numbers that put him in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. Allen took advantage of the injuries to the receivers and shined, putting up 1,046 yards and 8 touchdowns. The defense has been middle of the road most the season and has done enough to hold teams back and allow the offense to score. When the offense has a balanced attack to the offense then this team can be dangerous. Coach McCoy shouldn’t change much from what he was doing this season and allow the team to play as relaxed as they have the past 5 weeks.
#11 Indianapolis Colts
Colts looked good some games, but they also made you scratch your head some games. Reggie Wayne was the heart beat to this offense but once he went down this offense struggled a little to find it’s tempo. With Andrew Luck under center he is able to produce with whomever is playing wideout. Before the Wayne injury the Colts traded their first round pick to the Browns for Trent Richardson in return. Experts believed that would make this offense take off but all it did was wake Donald Brown up and turn his season around. Luck relied on TY Hilton and Colby Fleener throughout the season. Robert Mathis carried this defense, leading the league with 19.5 sacks, winning the Deacon Jones award. Luck, Brown, Hilton, Mathis and Fleener made enough plays to turn their season around after Reggie got hurt. With Luck under center and Pagano calling the shots, the Colts should be able to make a run in the playoffs.
#10 Philadelphia Eagles
Once Nick Foles took over as QB this offense took off and didn’t look back. Michael Vick was producing under center but he was turning the ball over too much. Foles only threw 2 interceptions in 13 starts. Nick didn’t look back and took advantage once he become the starting QB, throwing for 2,891 yards and 27 touchdowns. The heart and soul of this offense was LeSean McCoy. When McCoy is tearing defenses apart then the passing attack is unstoppable. LeSean put up MVP type numbers, 1,607 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns. DeSean Jackson also had a great season, making many big plays. Jackson had a quiet season to many fans because Foles and McCoy took all the shine but he was able to put up 1,332 yards with 9 touchdowns. The defense was playing bad during the start of the season but was able to turn it around and force turnovers, allowing the offense to take advantage of them. The Eagles are on a hot streak and will be dangerous in the playoffs.
#9 New England Patriots
Patriots didn’t have Gronk for most the season, Aaron Hernandez is on trial for murder, Wes Welker signed with the Broncos, and Ridley had butterfingers all season, but Tom Brady was still able to produce wins and make those around him good. Brady relied on different receivers all season; Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Julian Eldelman, Danny Amendola, and Gronk when he returned from injury. Last season the Pats relied heavily on the running game, allowing the offense to have balance. This season Brady was relied on and the running game came when the passing game was rolling. Ridley and Blount had identical stats, both rushing for 770 yards and 7 touchdowns. Stevan was supposed to be the work horse but he kept putting the football on the floor and allowed Blount to come in and take over as the starter. New England’s D was pretty stout all season, recording sacks and playing physical at the corner back position. If the defense is able to create turnovers and allow Brady to score off of them then the Pats will be able to get an early lead and rely on the running game.
#8 Green Bay Packers
When Aaron Rodgers is under center this offense is unstoppable. Rodgers is the heartbeat of this offense, when Flynn was quarterback this team looked lost and depressed. Aaron makes it look easy when he escapes from pressure and finds his wideouts down the field. What makes this offense scary is that they finally have a reliable running back in Eddy Lacy. Lacy is the front runner to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, rushing for 1,178 yards and scoring 11 times.Once Rodgers went down with a broken collar bone, Eddy became the main focal point of the offense, and he didn’t disappoint. Cobb was the leading receiver when healthy but once he went down with a broken leg the team relied on Jordy Nelson. Cobb was still able to receive for 433 yards and 4 touchdowns but in only 4 games. While Nelson was able to lead this team in receiving with 1,314 yards and 8 touchdowns. As long as Rodgers is under center then anything is possible for this team.
#7 Kansas City Chiefs
Look what a team is able to do in just one year. After going 2-14 last season the Chiefs were able to finish with a 11-5 record. All they needed was a new quarterback and head coach. Alex Smith and Andy Reid were those answers to turn this team around. Smith fits into the offense perfectly, relying on short passes and not turning the ball over. Dwayne Bowe was supposed to take off this season with Smith as quarterback but he is more of deep threat then anything, so at about week 10 he was able to work around the corners and start making plays using the short routes. The main focal point of this team is Jamaal Charles. Charles is able to do everything out of the back field, rush and receive. Charles led the team in both rushing and receiving; 1,287 rushing yards,693 yards receiving totaling 19 touchdowns, enough to led the league. In the beginning of the season the Chiefs D was forcing turnovers and recking havoc on the quarterback, scoring touchdowns and giving the offense good field position. Jamaal Charles is able to beat a team single handily, but if this defense is able to cause turnovers then this team can be dangerous, causing havoc on any offense.
#6 Carolina Panthers
Ron Rivera was able to turn the team around after a disappointing season last year. Rivera made the right decisions in the draft and was able to create one of the best defenses in the league. Allowing only 86 yards rushing a game and 214 yards passing. Luke Kuechley led the team with 156 tackles and 4 interceptions. Luke has a nose for the ball and rarely misses any tackles. Cam Newton was able to produce on offense and produce wins with an offense doesn’t have much talent. The running game can be dead at moments, Steve Smith is looking old, and the other receivers disappear most games. The only reliable target he has is Greg Olsen, but teams are starting to take him away in the offense and forcing Cam to throw to his other wideouts. Newton was able to put the offense on his back; throwing for 3,379 yards and 24 touchdowns, and carried this team to the playoffs.
#5 Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have now made the playoffs 4 years in a row but still haven’t got out the first round for the 1st three years. Dalton had a career year, throwing for 4,296 yards and 33 touchdowns. Dalton found a couple new weapons in Marvin Jones, Mohammad Sanu, and Giovani Bernard. The rushing attack of Green-Ellis and Bernard opened up this offense to new level and took stress off of Dalton. Green-Ellis was able to rush for 756 yards and Bernard rushed for 695 yards. When the run game was productive then the Red Riffle was able to find AJ Green down the field. Green had another productive year, putting up 1,426 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. The defense was stout as usual. Stopping the run and playing physical football in the secondary. Vontez Burifict led NFL in tackles, racking up 171. When the running game is producing then this offense can score 40 or more points at home.
#4 New Orleans Saints
The Saints missed Sean Payton last year. In his return to the helm this season he was able to coach them to the playoffs. Payton is an offensive mastermind and Drew Brees is proof of that. The Saints once again didn’t have much of a rushing attack this year, but Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles are explosive weapons receiving out the back field. Brees carried this offense all season and didn’t disappoint. Drew relied on Jimmy Graham all season, putting up 1,215 yards receiving and an eye popping 16 touchdowns. Once teams started double teaming Jimmy Marques Colston was relied upon and produced down the stretch. He didn’t surpass 1,000 yards rushing or 10 touchdowns for the first time in his career but he was able to be clutch when called upon. Rex Ryan was able to turn this defense around and coach this team into a sack creating machine. Junior Galette racked up 12 sacks while Carmon Jordan totaled 12.5. Rex Ryan and Sean Payton did a great job with this team and will do the same this Saturday against the Eagles on the road.
#3 Denver Broncos
Peyton and his offense were able to put up record breaking stats. Manning threw for 5,477 yards and record breaking 55 touchdowns. Peyton started this year on fire and didn’t look back, proving everyone that age his age didn’t slow him down. His favorite targets Thomas and Decker once again had career years; Thomas receiving 1,430 yards with 14 touchdowns while Decker produced 1,288 yards and 10 touchdowns. While Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas produced 10 and 12 touchdowns. Knowshon Moreno didn’t let Monte Ball take his starting position and racked up great numbers this season. Rushing for 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns while receiving for 548 yards and another 3 touchdowns. This team solely on its offense and the more points they score the better chance they have of winning since their defense isn’t a threat.
#2 San Francisco 49ers
The 49er’s offense started clicking at the right time and started taking stress off of Kaepernick. When Crabtree is in the starting lineup then this team has a very balanced offense since he opens up the passing game. Colin had a good year relying on his arm all season; 3,197 yds/21 tds. Teams were able to stop the read offense so Kapernick proved all the non-believers wrong showing that he is a pocket passer. While Crabtree was out with his injury Colin relied on Vernon Davis and Boldin. Boldin receiving over 1,000 yards and Davis being the touchdown machine, catching 11 touchdowns. The heartbeat of this offense is Frank Gore, when he is producing then the passing attack opens up and allows Colin to have clear passing lanes. Gore once again was the work horse and produced a stat line of 1,128 yards and 9 touchdowns. But this defense is one of the scariest in the league, just eating offenses alive and causing havoc to anything that gets in their way. When this defense forces turnovers then this offense is able to take advantage of the field position and able to put points on the board.
#1 Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have the most complete team in the league. They have depth at all positions and the coaching staff did a good job that you can’t even tell they are back-ups. The heart and soul of this team is their defense. This defense is an offense killing machine. No offense is able to produce much against this monster. But when they cause turnovers or give the offense good field position then Russell Wilson is able to produce points. Wilson never turns the ball over and always makes great decisions under center. Russell was able to pass for 3,357 yards and 26 touchdowns. He is able to find all the open receivers but his favorite target is Golden Tate. Tate is one physical receiver and was able to produce 898 yards receiving with 5 touchdowns. With all the injuries to the receiving corp Golden was relied upon to carry the passing game. Lynch is the focal point of the team, rushing for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns. When ‘Beast Mode’ is running physical and opening the passing game this team can put up points against any defense even though they are limited on offense.
Where do you have these teams ranked? Share down below in the comment sections.