Final 2011 NFL Consensus Power Rankings
With the NFL regular season over, this will be our final Consensus NFL Power Rankings for the 2011 season. From this point, the playoffs determine whether or not the Packers should still be the No. 1 unanimous choice at the top of the power rankings.
Twelve teams have the power to determine their own fate; the other 20 teams can only watch and start rebuilding for 2012 and beyond. And some teams (St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Indianapolis) have already fired their head coach and/or general manager.
Here are some stats on this week's consensus rankings:
- Biggest jump from last week: San Diego Chargers (+4.75)
- Biggest drop from last week: Oakland Raiders (-3.75)
- Team with widest difference between high and low rank: New York Jets and Oakland Raiders (8)
As part of our weekly power rankings, we will feature one question that all four rankers will answer.
Here is this week's question (followed by our responses): Which wild card team has the best shot to get to (and perhaps win) the Super Bowl?
John (follow John on Twitter): I'd love to say that the Falcons have the best chance to get to the Super Bowl as a wild card. They've really come on and have been playing very well down the stretch. However, the NFC is just too strong, and I don't see either Atlanta or Detroit getting through two or possibly all three of the top three seeds (Packers, 49ers and Saints). Realistically, the Steelers are the wild card team with the best chance to go all the way. They have already beaten the top-seeded Patriots and although they have lost twice to the Ravens, historically the Steelers have been very good against them (including knocking them out of last year's playoffs). The Steelers are good offensively and defensively, and they've certainly been there before. If they are healthy enough, they are the wild card team with the best chance to make the Super Bowl.
Sean (visit Sean's website): I am choosing Pittsburgh even without Mendenhall for the playoffs. It was really a process of elimination. The Bengals have only beat one team over .500 this year and that was the Titans. Detroit is playing the Saints, who look really good, and the Falcons (if they win and if the Saints win) have a date in Green Bay next week. New England and Baltimore are both beatable in the AFC.
Dan (follow Dan on Twitter): It seems that lots of wildcard teams have been making moves into the Super Bowl lately, and the team that will have the best shot to get to and win the SuperBowl would be the Steelers. Pittsburgh is battle-tested and they know what it takes to get to and win the championship. All of the AFC teams have question marks, and if there is a team that is built to win three on the road, I trust Roethlisberger and LeBeau's defense over any of the other wildcards.
Kevin (follow Kevin on Twitter): While I don't think any of the wild card teams will actually make it to the Super Bowl this year, the path of least resistance is through the AFC. Along with the Packers last year, the Steelers are the other team in NFL history that has won the Super Bowl despite being a No. 6 seed. If there's a wild card team that can do it, I'd go with the team that has already done it (recently).
See how all 32 teams were ranked in our final 2011 Consensus NFL Power Rankings.
Related: our Consensus NBA Power Rankings