With Rant Sports publishing their 2012 NFL power rankings this week, they placed the New England Patriots right where they belong. Following a season in which the Patriots finished with the AFC’s best record, won a division championship, won a conference championship, and were one drive from winning the Super Bowl, there was little the team needed to do to improve. But with the improvements they have made, they should be number one on the list.
The only weakness the Patriots had on offense in 2011 was at wide receiver which they were able to make up for with stellar tight ends. But instead of being satisfied with using tight ends as top receivers, they went out and signed a pro bowler in Brandon Lloyd. In addition to Lloyd, they signed receivers who have had success with Tom Brady as quarterback in the past.
Many people would argue the New York Giants should be at the top until they’ve been toppled. But despite winning the Super Bowl, the Giants were not the best team in 2011. It took a strong ending to the season and miraculous run in the postseason to acquire their second Super Bowl title in five years.
Because of the activity on offense through free agency, the Patriots were able to focus on their weak spot, defense, in the draft. Have acquired several picks early in the 2012 NFL draft, the Patriots selected well and many would argue had the best 2012 draft in the league. The majority of those added to their defense which should improve that side of the ball in 2012.
With an improved roster that is coming off an AFC championship and narrowly lost the Super Bowl, who could contend with the Patriots on paper. Certainly going into the season, they will be the team beat.