I know it's shocking, but Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are sitting atop the SB Nation power rankings heading into the season.
The NFL 2012 season is officially underway, with the Arizona Cardinals kicking off training camp yesterday, while the New Orleans Saints join them today. With that in mind, SB Nation's NFL blogs got together to create the first power rankings of the season. Each of the 32 team's manaing editor ranked all of the teams, and produced a write-up about their respective team. The 32 individual rankings were then averaged together to give us a final power ranking of every NFL team as we head into training camp.
The top of the rankings have the usual suspects, with the Green Bay Packers claiming the number one spot, with 21 of the 32 bloggers putting Green Bay atop their rankings. The New England Patriots, New York Giants (9 first place votes), San Francisco 49ers (1), and the Houston Texans round out the top five. The Pittsburgh Steelers in seventh place received the one remaining first place vote.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns fell into the basement of the league, taking the 32nd spot. The Indianapolis Colts, who spent almost all of 2011 as the worst ranked team in last year's power rankings, climb up into the 31st position, with the Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, and St. Louis Rams all claiming positions in the bottom five teams in the league.
The Miami Dolphins just manage to avoidthe bottom five list, coming in as the 27th ranked team. They were ranked as low as 31st, and as high as 20th. About the Dolphins, who I ranked at 22, I wrote:
The Dolphins' strength this season is undoubtedly going to be the defense, as the team works to incorporate the west coast offense, and work behind Matt Moore, David Garrard or rookie Ryan Tannehill. There's not a lot of love from the media surrounding this team this year, but there are better parts than most people give the Dolphins credit for having. Brian Hartline and Davone Bess are both solid receivers, and the addition of Chad Johnson is intriguing, if he can return to something like his Cincinnati Bengals days.
Reggie Bush is obviously the biggest threat on the offense, and will most likely be the focal point, both in the running game and the passing game. Second year running back Daniel Thomas could add a different dimension to the offense, using his size and strength to power the ball forward, while rookie Lamar Miller is a combination of the two other running backs.
Where the Dolphins could surprise people this season is with the tight end play. Starter Anthony Fasano has routinely been a solid tight end, both blocking and catching - never flashy, but good enough to get the job done. But, this season, add in sophomore H-back Charles Clay, who has been working with the tightends through the offseason, and rookie tight end Michael Egnew, and the Dolphins suddenly have some athletic, pass catching tight ends.
Over new head coach Joe Philbin's time in Green Bay, the Packers spent about 1/3 of their offense going through the running backs or tight ends - with the weapons the Dolphins have now at those positions, that could be a sign of good things to come in South Florida. The defense revolves around defensive end Cameron Wake, who should have help from a combination of Olivier Vernon and Jared Odrick on the opposite side of the defensive line, with nose tackle Paul Soliai moving over to defensive tackle and Randy Starks moving inside in Miami's new 4-3 scheme - and both should be able to penetrate up the middle, and stuff the run as well.
The key for this season on defense is going to be the secondary, and new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle should help with that. Vontae Davis has shown flashes during his career, but needs to become more consistent, and Sean Smith has to step his game up in the final year of his rookie contract if he wants to stay with the Dolphins beyond 2012. The safeties are a mess right now, as the team looks to find a starter opposite Reshad Jones. The current competition seems to be between Chris Clemons and Tyrone Culver, but I am excited about cornerback-turned-safety Jimmy Wilson, who, once he gets comfortable in his new position, could become a play-making center fielder for the Dolphins.
Obviously, the Dolphins are not going to get a lot of love in power rankings right now, and the SB Nation NFL bloggers were definitely not generous in where they put the Dolphins. Let us know below what you think of the NFL bloggers rankings, make sure you check out the entire NFL power ranking post, and join in the conversation in the comments over there as well.