January 3, 2013
THE POINT: To rank each of the NFL’s 32 teams based on performance, perception and potential rather than merely by record.
THE PANEL: Our 10-man committee consists of:
Joe Bendel, 970 ESPN, Steelers Radio Network; Tim Benz, 105.9 The X, Steelers Radio Network; Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 970 ESPN, Steelers Radio Network; Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News; Jeff Legwold, Denver Post; Cole Pepper, Studio Host Jaguars Radio Network; Mike Prisuta, WDVE, 970 ESPN, Steelers Radio Network; Jon Saraceno, USA Today; David Todd, 970 ESPN, Steelers Nation Radio; Matt Williamson, ESPN.com.
THE PROCESS: Each panelist ranks the teams from No. 1 to No. 32. Teams receive one point for their spot in the rankings (the No. 15 team gets 15 points, etc.). An aggregate score is compiled from the 10 ballots and the teams are stacked in reverse order, with the lowest score achieving the No. 1 ranking and the highest score checking in at No. 32.
THIS WEEK’S POLL: The Denver Broncos head to the postseason as the team to beat after finishing the regular season atop our weekly rankings.
Denver collected six first-place votes and was rated No. 2 on the other four ballots. That helped separate the Broncos from the New England Patriots, who captured three first-place votes but were also designated No. 3 twice and No. 5 once.
The only division to have four teams in the final Top 20 was the NFC South (No. 3 Atlanta, No. 17 New Orleans, No. 18 Tampa Bay and No. 20 Carolina).
The AFC West was home to No. 1 Denver but also to bottom-feeders San Diego (No. 22), Oakland (No. 30) and Kansas City (No. 32).
The Chiefs were designated as the NFL’s worst team by nine of our 10 pollsters.
THE STEELERS’ STATUS: Pittsburgh wound up No. 16, between the 10-win Chicago bears and the 7-8-1 St. Louis Rams.
POSITION-TEAM (FIRST-PLACE VOTES)-POINTS
No. 1-Denver Broncos (6)-14
No. 2-New England Patriots (3)-22
No. 3-Atlanta Falcons (1)-33
No. 4-San Francisco 49ers-41
No. 5-Green Bay Packers-49
No. 6-Houston Texans-59
No. 7-Seattle Seahawks-65
No. 8-Indianapolis Colts-91
No. 9-Cincinnati Bengals-99
No. 10-Washington Redskins-101
No. 11-Baltimore Ravens-103
No. 12-Minnesota Vikings-113
No. 13-New York Football Giants-135
No. 14-Dallas Cowboys-142
No. 15-Chicago Bears-143
No. 16-PITTSBURGH STEELERS-157
No. 17-New Orleans Saints-173
No. 18-Tampa Bay Buccaneers-190
No. 19-St. Louis Rams-194
No. 20-Carolina Panthers-205
No. 21-Miami Dolphins-211
No. 22-San Diego Chargers-224
No. 23-Cleveland Browns-233
No. 24-Detroit Lions-239
No. 26-Buffalo Bills-257
No. 27-New York Jets-262
No. 28-Arizona Cardinals-281
No. 29-Philadelphia Eagles-285
No. 30-Oakland Raiders-291
No. 31-Jacksonville Jaguars-311
No. 32-Kansas City Chiefs-319