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NFL Power Rankings through Season’s End

The Packers were so far and away the #1 ranking all season that Aaron Rodgers didn't even have to play in Week 17. (Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports)

The regular season has come and gone, the playoff field is finally set, but none of it matters compared to where these teams stack up to finish the season. So I lay it on myself to lay it on you, my faithful SoB readers:

I bring you THE FINAL NFL POWER RANKINGS OF THE 2011 SEASON!

Pretend caps lock malfunctions aside, let’s dive into each team’s rank at season’s end, giving more weight to how they finished the season than to the beginning (but still taking the overall picture into account) and who can beat who. It is a power ranking, after all, meaning it is what I want it to be – a completely subjective power trip.

So without further ado (literally, until next year), my season-end NFL power rankings from the foulest to the finest. Until next year, SoBers:

32 (32). St. Louis Rams (2-14)

From NFC West favorites to NFL cellar-dwellers, and not even a No. 1 draft pick to show for it. Welcome to the ranks of the unemployed, Steve Spagnuolo!

31 (31). Indianapolis Colts (2-14)

Let the Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck speculation begin! Oh, that’s right, our 24/7 news cycle already beat that story into a pulp. Never mind.

Let me just say that I desperately hope the Colts exchange the No. 1 pick/Andrew Luck for the opportunity to annually burn $28 million in cap space for the next four years of an aging quarterback who may or may not be able to turn his head.

30 (30). Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

What a difference a year can make. After barely missing the playoffs last season, the Bucs managed to lose its last eight games by a total of 158 points. Kind of like going from a senior in college to living at home without any source of income. I see you, Tampa Bay.

29 (29). Minnesota Vikings (3-13)

I would wish the Vikings fans a happy New Year with a full season of Christian Ponder (whatever that’s worth) and a theoretically healthy Adrian Peterson to look forward to, but even their New Year’s celebration turned out to be depressing.

Plus, it’s Minnesota.

28 (28). Cleveland Browns (4-12)

Their defense managed to stifle opposing quarterbacks, but this Browns team couldn’t scratch out enough offense to win a European football match, let alone a NFL game.

27 (27). Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)

Blaine Gabbert’s hair embodied the Jaguars 2011 season: too long and incredibly ugly. The moral of the story? Cut your hair, Blaine Gabbert. Even Tom Brady went to a barber eventually. (And that’s not a comparison to Tom Brady the quarterback. Trust me.)

On the bright side for the Jaguars, at least it’s a lot easier to have a quarterback controversy surrounding a crappy first-year QB than a sure-fire Hall of Famer.

26 (26). Washington Redskins (5-11)

Kyle Shanahan, who apparently hasn’t watched the play of his own quarterbacks this year, quoted before Sunday’s game against the Eagles: “Hey, about an hour ago, their D coordinator told us, told [offensive line coach Chris] Foerster, that if the Giants would have lost last week, they were in the playoffs. He didn’t mention that they still had to beat us today. F— him, f— these guys, in 2012 the Redskins are gonna be the NFC East champions, and that starts right f—— today.”

The Redskins lost, 34-10.

25 (24). Buffalo Bills (6-10)

The Bills had yet another losing season as the AFC East Whipping Boys (they gave up 49 straight points Sunday en route to a 1-5 divisional record), but at least they locked up their quarterback of the future.

24 (25). Chicago Bears (8-8)

Injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte doomed a once-promising season. I surprisingly found myself feeling sad. Not because the Bears had to watch Caleb Hanie inept his way to five straight losses, but because I ironically couldn’t root for someone to burst through the offensive line and blast Jay Cutler. I like deciding whether his bro-tastic smirk or his pouty lips piss me off more.

23 (22). Carolina Panthers (6-10)

I would say this team has better seasons ahead of it behind Cam Newton, but the Saints and Falcons would seem to be major NFC South obstacles. At least they can look forward to beating up on the Buccaneers.

22 (23). Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)

With two wins against division champions (and one close overtime loss to the Raiders), the question is, will the Chiefs front office become Romeo Crennel’s Juliet?

Aren’t literary jokes just the best?

21 (21). Miami Dolphins (6-10)

How could I not mention the possibility of the ‘Fins hiring Jeff Fisher’s mustache to turn around this team?

20 (18). Seattle Seahawks (7-9)

The Seahawks could almost feel good about themselves if not for San Francisco. Kind of like America in the 1960s.

19 (17). New York Jets (8-8)

I haven’t been able to stop smiling since the Jets missed the playoffs. Bart Scott flipped off the media, Santonio Holmes proved too immature to play hard (let alone be a captain), and Rex Ryan cried over his failed Super Bowl predictions. Now Boomer Esiason says Mark Sanchez is more of a chihuahua than a franchise quarterback.

It’s been like my version of Hannukah, except I get a gift every single day for the entire offseason.

18 (20). Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

After going 7-2 to finish the season, how will the Cardinals deal with the Skelton in the closet? (Ladies and gentlemen, our Power Rankings Pun of the Week!)

17 (16). Oakland Raiders (8-8)

At least they didn’t have to give up another first-round pick for Carson Palmer?

16 (19). San Diego Chargers (8-8)

At least Norv Turner will be back to build on the momentum from this year?

15 (13). Denver Broncos (8-8)

That almighty ability to simply “win” games? Kapoof! Tebow lost 3 straight to end the season, bringing his record to 7-4 as a starter this year. Not so omnipotent now, eh?

14 (15). Tennessee Titans (9-7)

I’m glad the Titans weren’t rewarded with a playoff appearance for beating the Texans by default when Houston went for two just to avoid overtime and any possible injuries.

13 (12). Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

1-4 in your last 5 games? Jason Garrett has to go, Jerry Jones should step down from any role involving personnel moves, they need new cornerbacks… Something’s gotta give.

I’m going to pretend I’m not aware that’s the title of a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton as sexually active senior citizens.

12 (10). Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)

The Bengals won one game all season against a team that finished with a winning record (the Titans). That bodes well for the playoffs.

11 (14). Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)

Where was this Eagles team that ripped off four wins in a row to close out 2011? Oh right, dreaming about being an awesome team without doing any work (I see you DeSean Jackson and Vince Young). Duh.

10 (9). Houston Texans (10-6)

I don’t know whether to pray to the football gods for a Jake Delhomme appearance in the playoffs on Saturday. On one hand, I might have to see him blow up on national TV, a la 2009 (5 INTs, 1 lost fumble). On the other hand, I might get to see him self-combust on national TV, a la 2009. Decisions, decisions…

9 (11). New York Giants (9-7)

Paging Dr. Jekyl, paging Dr. Jekyl. Mr. Hyde is here to see you.

8 (7). Detroit Lions (10-6)

The Lions made the playoffs?! Wow! Too bad they get a rematch against a Saints team already draped in the pelt they skinned off Detroit in Week 13.

7 (8). Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

According to Football Outsiders, Atlanta was the most consistent team from week to week during the 2011 season. Consistency: an inoffensive synonym for mediocre.

6 (6). Baltimore Ravens (12-4)

This team is occasionally dominant, sometimes stupefying, always inconsistent. I just found another synonym for mediocre!

5 (4). Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

Sure the Steelers won, but they have not looked particularly impressive since this slate of injuries struck the team like a plague of locusts. Speaking of locusts and plagues, how fitting that their first-round matchup is the Denver Broncos?

4 (5). New England Patriots (13-3)

Another No. 1 seed, another two weeks for me to whimper and cry like Rex Ryan after an 8-8 season, wondering whether the Pats have a playoff win up their sleeve.

3 (3). San Francisco 49ers (13-3)

From mediocrity to a division title and No. 2 seed in the NFC. Too bad that counts for naught if they can’t win in the playoffs (just ask us Patriots fans). Time to put up or shut up, Alex Smith.

2 (2). New Orleans Saints (13-3)

The Saints reel off eight straight wins to end the season, but two bad losses to the Bucs and the Rams haunt their homefield advantage dreams. Seriously, it’s like Drew Brees and the Saints offense are Tinker Bell in Peter Pan; you have to applaud wildly just to keep them alive.

1 (1). Green Bay Packers (15-1)

Congratulations, Pack. You managed to run the table from start (Week 4, but still) to finish as the top team in the Power Rankings. To make up for the countless compliments I’ve bestowed upon your team all these weeks (okay, it’s probably one for every week, but whatever), I leave you with a slew of insults to balance it out.

Clay Matthews has hair stringier than Blaine Gabbert. Mike McCarthy is one mustache away from being Andy Reid. Jordy Nelson will always be white. Enjoy your stakes in owning the team with absolutely no perks. And finally…

I hope Matt Flynn’s six touchdowns cost Aaron Rodgers the MVP.

That’s right, I said it. In the immortal words of Porky Pig, “Th-th-th-that’s all, f-f-folks!” Happy end to the regular season, and good luck in the playoffs, to whom it applies – Jets fans especially.

About Nick Bohlen - @ndbohlen

Nick is an editor and regular contributor for the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox sections of SoB. (Despite growing up in Vermont, just a short drive from Canada, hockey never really caught on with him.) Follow him on twitter: @ndbohlen

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