The season is over, the excuses are gone. With another season come and gone, it's time to look at the final Power Rankings of 2015. I apologize for the one week gap in my rankings (I know, I'm sure you all were just heartbroken when they didn't come last week), but getting stuck in an airport for 12 hours, before pulling the plug and driving halfway across the country kind of made it difficult. But have no fear, put your minds at ease, I'm still around with my gloriously perfect power rankings.
32. Tennessee Titans (3-13, Previously #32) - After a great week 1, the rest of the season was a bit of a letdown for Tennessee. Still, there were some real positives to look at going forward, not the least of which is the talented young man at the quarterback position.
31. Cleveland Browns (3-13, Previously #31) - Cleveland finishes another season with more questions than answers. This is a bad football team in every aspect, from ownership down. The good news is, the Browns will be picking at #2 in this year's draft, the bad news is... well, to whomever they pick.
30. Dallas Cowboys (4-12, Previously #30) - Yea, it was a bad season, but Cowboys fans can take solace in knowing that their team was far from their top form for most of it. When your franchise QB only plays 4 games, a 4-12 season isn't really out of nowhere.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11, Previously #27) - All in all, the Jaguars had a pretty soft schedule, and still finished with just 5 wins. However, looking past their record, Blake Bortles seemed to make some decent progress in his second pro season, which gives the Jaguars a foundation they haven't had in a long while. And it has been so long that it's worth reminding, the Jags will get 1st round draft pick Dante Fowler next year, after losing his rookie season to injury.
28. San Diego Chargers (4-12, Previously #25) - Another "wasted" year of Philip Rivers is in the books. If that was the last season for the Chargers in San Diego, it was a woeful one... at least they won their final home game?
27. San Francisco 49ers (5-11, Previously #28) - The offseason from hell predictably led to a sub-par season for the 49ers. With questions at several key positions, as well as head coach, the 49ers could be in store for another long one.
26. Baltimore Ravens (5-11, Previously #29) - Sure the Ravens can use injuries to Flacco and Forsett as excuses for their poor season, but the truth is, they were already on their way to a down year before those happened. They have a good head coach and some good pieces, but probably need some youth on defense and a little extra help for Flacco at WR.
25. New York Giants (6-10, Previously #17) - After another disappointing season, Tom Coughlin is finally out at head coach. With a very talented offense led by a capable QB and stud WR, the Giants should have no shortage of coaches knocking at the door vying for the gig.
24. Atlanta Falcons (8-8, Previously #24) - This is probably the hardest team to rank. They started the year out 5-0, but then went 3-8 to finish out the season. However, during their bad stretch, the Falcons still managed to beat the #1 team, but also lost to them 38-0. It was the first year under a new coach, so some road bumps were expected. If they go 8-8 or worse next year, then there may be a problem.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10, Previously #21) - Lovie Smith had the Buccanneers playing better during his second season as head coach. Not a small part of that was thanks to competent QB play from #1 draft pick Jameis Winston. The Buccaneers have good young talent on both sides of the ball and should be a team to watch in the upcoming years.
22. New Orleans Saints (7-9, Previously #23) - A 1-4 start saw that the season never really got the chance to get started for New Orleans. A team that played very well at times, and frustratingly horrible at others, the Saints have a solid foundation to build around (at least on offense). The biggest question mark clouding this offseason is the questions surrounding Sean Payton and his possible trade.
21. Miami Dolphins (6-10, Previously #26) - Looking at preseason predictions, the Dolphins were a big disappointment this season. A popular pick to push the Patriots for the AFC East crown, the Dolphins ended up finishing dead last. They'll be in the hunt for a new HC during the offseason, after Dan Campbell failed to impress during his interim stretch.
20. Chicago Bears (6-10, Previously #16) - The Bears started the season off looking like one of the worst teams in the league, then they went on a little run to fight back into playoff contention. Unfortunately, they went back to early season form to finish things off, dropping 4 of their last 5 to end the season with a whimper.
19. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9, Previously #15) - Hey now, hey now, Chip's dream is over. After an offseason filled with roster missteps lead to an uninspiring season, the Eagles decided to part ways with Chip Kelly. DeMarco Murray was a major bust, and Sam Bradford didn't pan out in the way that Kelly was banking on. Philadelphia has some work to do.
18. Indianapolis Colts (8-8, Previously #20) - Regression and injuries at the QB position (as well as free agent pick ups not panning out) limited the Colts success this season. Despite failing to win the softest division in the NFL, Chuck Pagano's past accomplishments were enough for Irsay to give him another year.
17. Detroit Lions (7-9, Previously #22) - After a great 1st season, Jim Caldwell looked to be on his way out the door with a horrible start to 2015. However, a 6-2 record in the second half of the season may have saved Jim's job, as well as renewed hope in the QB-WR tandem of Stafford and Johnson.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-9, Previously #18) - It was an up and down season for the Rams, with Jeff Fisher yet again failing to break the .500 mark. Todd Gurley looks to be an absolute beast, and Alec Ogletree will hopefully bounce back from his injury. The biggest question marks for this team come at the the two biggest spots, Head Coach and Quarterback.
15. Buffalo Bills (8-8, Previously #19) - After going 9-7 last year, the Bills replaced HC Doug Marrone with Rex Ryan. They were rewarded with defensive regression and an 8-8 record, along with somewhat disappointing play from free agent acquisition LeSean McCoy. If nothing else, Rex can feel good about being the final reason why his former employer didn't make the playoffs.
14. Oakland Raiders (7-9, Previously #14) - At times, it looked like the Raiders may have finally turned the proverbial corner, but ultimately came up short yet again. Their is plenty to be upbeat about, especially on offense with 2nd year QB Derek Carr still looking like a long term answer at QB, and first round pick Amari Cooper becoming the first Raider to break 1000 receiving yards since Randy Moss.
13. Houston Texans (9-7, Previously #13) - The Texans are back in the playoffs, mostly thanks to a 5-1 AFC South divisional record. The Texans have momentum on their side, going 7-2 to end the season, with nice wins over the Bengals and Jets.
12. Washington Potatoes (10-6, Previously #12) - After mostly an up and down season, Washington finished the year with 5 wins in 6 games to secure the NFC East divisional crown. Kirk Cousins has settled in during the course of the year, taking the heat off of Jay Gruden's choice to bench Robert Griffin III.
11. New York Jets (10-6, Previously #11) - They had a very good first year under Todd Bowles, but in fitting fashion, just missed the playoffs thanks to a loss at the hands of Rex Ryan. Their is talent on both sides of the ball, but not a lot of it is young talent. The CB's are no spring chickens and neither is Brandon Marshall nor Ryan Fitzpatrick... this is a team that could age overnight.
10. Green Bay Packers (10-6, Previously #4) - The Green Bay Packers have been a solid team, with all of their losses coming to NFL division winners and/or NFC North division rivals. While the offense has struggled at times, Aaron Rodgers gives these Packers hope for a playoff run. As far as playoff opponents go, they got the lucky draw in Washington.
9. Minnesota Vikings (11-5, Previously #10) - Adrian Peterson is back, and so are the Vikings. The Vikings have been very tough this year, with 4 of their 5 losses coming to fellow playoff teams, and only one of those by more than 7. While they may not be flashy, the Vikings' ability to run the ball and play stout defense can cause problems for any team, which makes them a sneaky sort of dangerous.
8. Seattle Seahawks (10-6, Previously #8) - The defending NFC champs rebounded nicely after a sluggish start to the season. Winners of 8 of the last 10 (including a routing of the Cardinals in week 17), the Seahawks are rolling. In the first round, they play the Vikings... a team that the Seahawks beat by 31 points just a month ago.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6, Previously #5) - Much to the chagrin of the the Bengals, the Steelers did just enough to make the playoffs. Playing without LaVeon Bell for most of the season, the Steelers hardly skipped a beat, thanks to DeAngelo Williams and his fountain of youth.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5, Previously #9) - After a 1-6 start and losing Jamaal Charles for the remainder of the year, the Chiefs' season seemed all but finished. 10 consecutive wins later, the Chiefs are the top AFC wild card team and the hottest team in the NFL.
5. New England Patriots (12-4, Previously #3) - The Patriots started the year off at 10-0, but have limped into the playoffs, posting a 2-4 record in their last 6 games, with both wins coming against AFC South opponents. The Patriots have a first round playoff bye to try to get things back on track... if any team can do it, it's them.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4, Previously #6) - The Bengals may be playing without QB Andy Dalton, but that doesn't mean they are dead in the water. The Bengals have a talented defense, to go along with one of the best wide receivers in the game, AJ Green.
3. Denver Broncos (12-4, Previously #7) - No matter who lines up at Quarterback for the Broncos, they will have a great defense supporting them. Somewhat limited by offensive line issues, the Broncos have the talent to make the final push... but will they have the time?
2. Arizona Cardinals (13-3, Previously #2) - The Cardinals phoned in the last game of the season and were thoroughly beaten, but don't let that game fool you. The Cardinals are a team that is very good on both sides of the ball, and as long as Carson Palmer stays healthy, they have as good of a shot as anyone at taking home the big prize.
1. Carolina Panthers (15-1, Previously #1) - The Panthers defied preseason expectations and overcame a season ending injury to their top wide out, going 15-1 and winning the regular season NFC title in the process. Ron Rivera has been the coach of the year and it really isn't that close.