Here’s a look at the top five teams from the 2012 NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 1 of the regular season
After getting over the hump in 2011 by finally winning the AFC South and winning their first playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Texans have set the bar even higher for themselves in 2012 now that numerous key players will be back healthy—especially Matt Schaub. Houston’s defense was one of the best in the NFL last season and they certainly have enough talent to make a run at the top seed in the AFC this year.
The 49ers emerged as one of the biggest surprises of the 2011 season with one of the league’s top defenses. Their offense may have been inconsistent, but a few key additions like Randy Moss and Mario Manningham should make Alex Smith more comfortable in the passing game.
San Francisco realizes how close they were to reaching the Super Bowl last January and they’ll be sure to do whatever it takes to make sure they get another shot in 2012.
As long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy, the Packers are always going to be one of the top contenders in the league and the reigning MVP is anxious to bounce back after last year’s early exit in the playoffs. On top of a talented wide receiver duo in Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, the addition of Cedric Benson in the backfield should improve their ground game compared to last season.
The defending Super Bowl champions will be top contenders once again despite key departures of Manningham and Brandon Jacobs. Hopefully, Hakeem Nicks won’t have any complications from his ankle injury suffered during the offseason and Victor Cruz can avoid the one-hit wonder with another big season.
If anyone learned anything about the Patriots in 2011, it’s their passing game can be nearly impossible to contain at times with two of the league’s top tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. This seems to be a common theme for New England each year heading into Week 1 of the regular season—mainly because Tom Brady will always make them one of the top contenders.
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