Cold, Hard Football Facts Archive: Power Rankings

By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts labor negotiator
It took them the entire postseason to prove it, but the Green Bay Packers left little doubt that they were the best team in the NFL this year. They made up a four-game deficit on New England to tie the Patriots for the overall win title (along with Pittsburgh), and also led the league in Quality Wins (8).
Not bad for a group that needed a tiebreaker to eliminate Tampa Bay, for God's sake.
Here are our final power rankings, reflecting a strange postseason and hoping for a smooth resolution to what could be a really ugly offseason.
We also added a link to the final Quality Stats rankings for each team, using the new overall statistical Power Rankings we will feature on our new CHFF INSIDER in 2011 and beyond. That number is based solely on our stats, regardless of victories, or anything else for that matter. Our regular Power Rankings here on this page are based solely on Colonel Comey's super-secret formula that, among many other factors, puts a premium on wins and the eye test. The Quality Stats rankings do not meausure either of those. 
In some cases, the two rankings are exactly the same. In others, they vary quite a bit. We'll probably publish both different rankings in 2011, but still working out the details.

1. GREEN BAY (14-6)
Final Quality Stats rank: 1
Offseason storyline: Keep the band together – this is a team that could be a Super Bowl contender for the next half-decade.
Number of draft picks: 8 (extra seventh rounder)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Packers haven't finished in the bottom 10 in the league in net yardage since 1990.
2. PITTSBURGH (14-5)
Final Quality Stats rank: 2
Offseason storyline: Shore up the offensive line, keep playing great defense, prepare for another run.
Draft picks: 7
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Steelers haven't been in the top four in the league in scoring offense since 1980, but they've still managed 18 playoff appearances in 30 years.
3. NEW ENGLAND (14-3)
Final Quality Stats rank: 3
Offseason storyline: Add some more pieces to the puzzle through the draft and get ready to fight off Miami and New York in the AFC East.
Draft picks: 9 (extra 1st, 2nd, 3rd, no 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Bill Belichick (162 wins) needs 11 regular-season victories in 2011 to pass Bill Parcells (172) for No. 10 all time.
4. ATLANTA (13-4)
Final Quality Stats rank: 7
Offseason storyline: Deal with free agency problems on the offensive line and step forward on defense.
Draft picks: 8 (extra 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If Mike Smith can make it through the 2014 season in Atlanta, he'll be the franchise's first head coach to go seven straight years.
5. BALTIMORE (13-5)
Final Quality Stats rank: 5
Offseason storyline: Prepare for what could be the last year of the Ray Lewis Era and hope that Joe Flacco takes a step forward in Year 4.
Draft picks: 8 (extra 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Flacco's ratio of touchdowns per attempt, yards per attempt, passer rating, touchdowns and yards have all increased in each of his three seasons in the league, and no quarterback has made more than his 55 starts (including playoffs) in their first three years.
6. N.Y. JETS (13-6)
Final Quality Stats rank: 10
Offseason storyline: Two straight AFC title games are great, but there are a lot of offseason moves that have to go right if the Jets want a third.
Draft picks: 6 (no 2nd)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If the Jets make the playoffs again in 2011, it'll be the first three-season run in franchise history.
7. CHICAGO (12-6)
Final Quality Stats rank: 12
Offseason storyline: Is Jay Cutler still the future in Chicago, or do the Bears need to start thinking about other options?
Draft picks: 6 (no 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bears are 10-3 in the regular season when Devin Hester has a kick or punt return TD; they're 2-7 when he has more than 80 yards receiving.
8. NEW ORLEANS (11-6)
Final Quality Stats rank: 8
Offseason storyline: The Saints' offense fell back a bit in 2010, and the playoffs proved that they're only as good as their defense.
Draft picks: 5 (extra 3rd, no 4th, 5th or 6th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The NFL average for offensive first downs in a game was 18.9 last year; the Saints topped that number in 15 of their 17 games.
Final Quality Stats rank: 6
Offseason storyline: Get Michael Vick signed long-term, trade Kevin Kolb for a high pick, and rebuild the defense.
Draft picks: 8 (extra 4th and 5th, no 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Eagles closed 2010 with three home losses and averaged 14.3 PPG in defeat.
10. N.Y. GIANTS (10-6)
Final Quality Stats rank: 11
Offseason storyline: The pieces are there, it's up to Tom Coughlin to find the right way to play them – or else.
Draft picks: 6 (no 5th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The average NFL team amassed 336 offensive yards per game in 2010; the Giants topped this average in 12 of their 16 games.
11. SAN DIEGO (9-7)
Final Quality Stats rank: 4
Offseason storyline: The Chargers' window is still open, but you wonder if they'll ever be able to put it all together.
Draft picks: 6 (extra 2nd and 3rd, no 4th, 5th or 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If they keep their draft picks, this is the first year the Chargers will have more than three picks in the top 100 since 2004, when they wound up with mainstays Philip Rivers, Nate Kaeding, Nick Hardwick and Shaun Phillips.
Final Quality Stats rank: 14
Offseason storyline: Operation Sign Peyton is in full swing; other than that, it's business as usual – and business is always good in Indy. Naturally, the rockin' good business reminds us of a song:
show video here
Draft picks: 7
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: No one from the Colts' last four draft classes has made a Pro Bowl.
13. KANSAS CITY (10-7)
Final Quality Stats rank: 9
Offseason storyline: A weak schedule and breakout performances added up to a nice season. But can the Chiefs keep building on it?
Draft picks: 7
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Jamaal Charles didn't start getting double-digit carries in a game until halfway through his second season (2009); since he's carried it 387 times for 2,442 yards and a 6.4 yard average. What were the Chiefs coaches seeing for those first 23 games?
14. TAMPA BAY (10-6)
Final Quality Stats rank: 13
Offseason storyline: Tampa might have the best young set of skill players in the business; but can they get back to playing Bucs defense?
Draft picks: 7
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: WR Mike Williams is one of two rookie NFL wideouts to finish with 60+ catches, 900+ yards and 10+ touchdowns. The other was Randy Moss.
15. OAKLAND (8-8)
Final Quality Stats rank: 16
Offseason storyline: New coach, same Al Davis, same problems at quarterback.
Draft picks: 6 (no 1st)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Barring a trade, this will be the first year the Raiders don't pick in the first round since 1989, when they dealt away all of their picks in the first five rounds and didn't select until No. 140 overall.
16. DALLAS (6-10)
Final Quality Stats rank: 18
Offseason storyline: It can't get any worse for Jerry Jones than the 2010 season, can it?
Draft picks: 7
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Those who want Tony Romo out as Dallas QB might want to consider his average NFL start: 273 yards, 1.9 TDs, 1 INT and a 95.5 passer rating.
Final Quality Stats rank: 27
Offseason storyline: They had their chances in a down year for the AFC South, and couldn't capitalize. What do they need to do to get there?
Draft picks: 7 (extra 4th, no 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Jaggernauts are 5-16 vs. Quality Teams since 2008; we didn't finish that PhD in advanced math, but that's pretty poor.
18. MINNESOTA (6-10)
Final Quality Stats rank: 26
Offseason storyline: The chase for a new QB is the focus, but free-agent losses could be costly.
Draft picks: 7 (no 3, extra 5th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Brett Favre gets most of the blame for the Vikings' terrible 2010, but a drop on the Defensive Hog Index from 3rd to 21st didn't help either.
19. MIAMI (7-9)
Final Quality Stats rank: 21
Offseason storyline: Miami seemed to have everything but a QB and a secondary in 2010; unfortunately, neither are easy to come by.
Draft picks: 7 (no 2nd, extra 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Brandon Marshall wasn't great in Miami, but he did go over 1,000 yards for the fourth straight year; only Randy Moss, Lance Alworth and Larry Fitzgerald have done the same before turning 27.
20. ST. LOUIS (7-9)
Final Quality Stats rank: 19
Offseason storyline: The NFC West is still weak, and the Rams are going to be a year older – good things could ensue.
Draft picks: 7
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Rams went from -32.99 on the Passer Rating Differential chart to -3.76, and the net gain was six wins.
21. SAN FRANCISCO (6-10)
Final Quality Stats rank: 23
Offseason storyline: Jim Harbaugh has a way with quarterbacks, but who's San Fran's?
Draft picks: 10 (extra 4th, 5th and 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The 49ers have had 20 draft picks in the top 100 since 2005; eight of them figure to start in 2011.
22. DETROIT (6-10)
Final Quality Stats rank: 17
Offseason storyline: They were better than their record in 2010, but is there anywhere to go in the tough NFC North?
Draft picks: 7
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Lions picked 11 offensive skill players in the past 10 drafts (QB, HB, WR, TE, T), and it paid off – they ranked a mighty 15th in scoring last year, their best since 1997. Give them 10 more first-rounders on offense and they might crack the top 10.
23. HOUSTON (6-10)
Final Quality Stats rank: 20
Offseason storyline: If Wade Phillips can make something out of the Texans' defense, this could finally be a special year in Houston.
Draft picks: 7
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Matt Schaub is 19-19 as the Texans' starting QB, which isn't so great unless you add up all the other Texan QBs (34-70).
24. SEATTLE (8-10)
Final Quality Stats rank: 30
Offseason storyline: Bring back Matt Hasselbeck, give Charlie Whitehurst a shot, or go for Door No. 3?
Draft picks: 7 (no 3rd, extra 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Pete Carroll has never won more than 10 games in his five head coaching seasons, yet has three playoff trips and five playoff games under his belt. Woo!
25. TENNESSEE (6-10)
Final Quality Stats rank: 15
Offseason storyline: Jeff Fisher is gone, Vince Young probably will be, and Chris Johnson was just average in 2010. Now what?
Draft picks: 7
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: It seems impossible considering how poor they looked over the second half of the season, but the Titans actually outscored opponents 356-339 in 2010, despite a challenging schedule and meager 6-10 record.
26. CINCINNATI (4-12)
Final Quality Stats rank: 22
Offseason storyline: Marvin Lewis has job security, but he's about the only one in Cincinnati.
Draft picks: 7
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The last time the Bengals won a playoff game, January 6, 1991, Madonna's "Justify My Love" was the No. 1 song and "Home Alone" was the No. 1 movie. Just saying.
27. CLEVELAND (5-11)
Final Quality Stats rank: 24
Offseason storyline: If the Browns can add a great draft class to the solid 2010 bunch, the stage is set.
Draft picks: 7 (extra 6th, no 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Had Cleveland lost a tiebreaker to New England in 2002 and failed to reach the  playoffs, they'd be 0-for-12 as Browns 2.0. As it is, they can boast nine seasons of double-digit losing.
28. WASHINGTON (6-10)
Final Quality Stats rank: 25
Offseason storyline: If the last 10 years are any indication, expect a lot of movement but little change in the product.
Draft picks: 6 (no 3rd or 4th, extra 5th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Clinton Portis came to Washington (for the superior Champ Bailey) in 2004 with a career 5.5 yards-per-carry average in Denver; he never topped 4.3 a carry as a Redskin and averaged 4.09 over his time there.
29. BUFFALO (4-12)
Final Quality Stats rank: 32
Offseason storyline: The Bills have plenty of money to spend, but will anyone want to play in Buffalo?
Draft picks: 7
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Buffalo has been in the bottom seven league-wide in total offense for eight straight seasons.
30. DENVER (4-12)
Final Quality Stats rank: 28
Offseason storyline: John Fox is getting back to basics, but will that mean Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton?
Draft picks: 6 (extra 2nd, no 4th or 5th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Broncos' defense was as bad as it gets over the last eight games of the season; 31.0 PPG and 421.4 yards a game. How bad is that? The 1981 Colts set the modern standard for the worst defense over a full season, allowing 33.3 PPG and 424.5 yards a game.
31. ARIZONA (5-11)
Final Quality Stats rank: 29
Offseason storyline: The Cardinals' cupboard is bare, but there's always a chance in the NFC West.
Draft picks: 6 (no 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If they stay at No. 5, the Cardinals will be making their 31st pick in the top 5 of the first round over their long history. 
32. CAROLINA (2-14)
Final Quality Stats rank: 31
Offseason storyline: The Panthers did a lot of things right in 2010, but showed pretty conclusively that an inability to pass the ball in the NFL is a killer: Carolina was dead last in Offensive Passer Rating (56.96) and Passer Rating Differential (-23.99).
Draft picks: 5 (no 2nd or 7th)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Panthers have picked in the top 10 overall only four times in their history, with solid results: Julius Peppers and Jordan Gross have been first-team all-NFL, Kerry Collins has gone for 40,000 career passing yards and Tim Biakabutuka ... had a long surname.

Power Rankings: At least we're not Theismann

Cold, Hard Football Facts for December 21, 2011

Yes, Joe Theismann dropped the Packers to No. 6 in his power rankings this week. This is why those in the know consider CHFF your one-stop shopping home for accuracy (and general sanity). Oh, snap! Take that, Joe!

Power Rankings: When Super teams stay Super

Cold, Hard Football Facts for November 2, 2011

It's been almost two decades since the Super Bowl teams earned the No. 1 playoff seeds the next year, but the Packers and Steelers are threatening to change that. Click on in and get illuminated!

Power Rankings Week 7: Fierce battle for last

Cold, Hard Football Facts for October 26, 2011

The Rams and Colts once traded Hall of Fame running backs to each other. Now they are on separate missions for football immortality ... and not in a good way.

Power Rankings Week 4: Weakness in the bottom half

Cold, Hard Football Facts for October 12, 2011

The NFL is looking a lot like Wall Street these days -- where's the middle class? Outside of the top 6-7 teams, everyone looks pretty shaky ... and the poverty line is shockingly high. Carolina at No. 19? Yep.

CHFF Power Rankings: Who's No. 2 Edition

Cold, Hard Football Facts for October 5, 2011

The Packers are the easy pick atop Jonathan Comey's stat-packed power rankings. But you could make some good cases for six teams as America's runner-up.

Power Rankings: Where's the perfect team?

Cold, Hard Football Facts for September 27, 2011

Jonathan Comey emerges from his stat dungeon with 32 tasty CHFFs, exquisitely balanced rankings and a realization: Parity does exist, at least thus far in the 2011 season.

Power Rankings: Packers, Patriots lead way

Cold, Hard Football Facts for September 20, 2011

The Packers and Patriots have made the forward pass their bitch, and are thus atop our weekly rankings. But please, read on -- come for the rankings, stay for the juicy tidbits for each team.

Who's (still) No. 1? It's the defending champs

Cold, Hard Football Facts for September 13, 2011

Yes, the Ravens destroyed Pittsburgh and the Patriots put up seven billion yards in Miami. But the champs looked great in Week 1, and they're No. 1 until further notice.

CHFF Power Rankings: Post-Lockout, Preseason Edition

Cold, Hard Football Facts for August 17, 2011

Jonathan Comey is back for his sixth season of Cold, Hard Football Facts power rankings. During the season, he uses a special formula to rank the NFL's best in order. In preseason? Just wingin' it!

Power Rankings: mighty off-season edition

Cold, Hard Football Facts for March 7, 2011

We're gearing up for a lot of off-season team reviews and previews. But first, a look at our final off-season Power Rankings of 2011. The champion Pack, natch, sits at No. 1. They won the Super Bowl, shared a league-best 14 wins and even topped our overall Quality Stats, too.


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