by Brandon Burnett (@B_Burnett49er)
Cold Hard Football Facts' Power Ranger
The Seattle Seahawks aren't the only team carrying a lengthy winning streak into the postseason, but they may be the one squad nobody wants to face in this season's NFL playoffs.
At least our Cold, Hard Football Facts Quality Stats Power Rankings tell us they are.
That's right, folks. The 2012 regular season has concluded and it's none other than Pete Carroll and the mighty Hawks perched atop our power rankings. Seattle finished 5-0 in the month of December, dismantling every foe in its path and allowing no more than 17 points in any of those games.
Seattle put up a healthy 38.2 points per game during the final month of the year as well.
When Seattle drafted Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, few expected Carroll to name him the starter out of training camp. I would imagine nobody predicted he would start all 16 games and finish the year with a passer rating of exactly 100.0.
But it happened, and the Seahawks' 11-5 record has earned them the No. 5 seed in the NFC and the No. 1 spot in our almighty CHFF Power Rankings. Hats off to the Hawks.
1. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) - This team cut its sack total down from 50 in 2011 to 33 in 2012. The Hawks finished at No. 10 in our Offensive Hog Index one year after finishing at No. 30. They also jumped from No. 25 to No. 6 in Real Quarterback Rating. What a difference a real QB can make.
2. Denver Broncos (13-3) - The Broncos haven't lost since Week 5 and own the AFC's No. 1 seed. They finished the year at No. 2 in Offensive Passer Rating and RQBR. Never doubt Peyton Manning.
3. Green Bay Packers (11-5) - Just as they did in 2011, the Pack finished the regular season No. 1 in the almighty Passer Rating Differential. 69 of 72 champs since 1940 finished in the Top 3 of PRD. Maybe it'll work better for them this time around.
4. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) - The Niners were able to stave off the Seahawks for a second consecutive NFC West title and a Packers Week 17 loss put them into the No. 2 seed for a second straight season as well.
5. Atlanta Falcons (13-3) - Atlanta let it all hang out Week 17 to get a win despite already having the NFC's No. 1 seed locked up and lost John Abraham and Dunta Robinson to injuries in the process. The Falcons didn't get the win over Tampa, but it's a good thing they've still got that first-round bye.
6. New England Patriots (12-4) - With the exception of a Week 15 slip-up against San Fran, the Pats were perfect from Week 7 and on. The defending AFC champs finished two spots higher in our power rankings than they did a year ago.
7. Houston Texans (12-4) - Houston really lost some steam after dominating the NFL and our rankings for much of the year. A team that once seemed a lock for the AFC's No. 1 seed lost three of its final four games and now hosts the Bengals in the Wild Card round.
8. Chicago Bears (10-6) - A second-half slide dooms the Bears for a second straight season. Only this time, it cost Lovie Smith his job. Chicago finished at No. 26 in our Offensive Hog Index, which tells us it clearly does not possess a playoff-caliber offensive line.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) - Andy Dalton and A.J. Green enjoyed another fine season together and the Bengals are preparing for their second playoff run in as many years. Cincy won seven of its final eight games and jumped to No. 7 in Scoreability.
10. Washington Redskins (10-6) - Washington finished 2012 at No. 1 in Real Quarterback Rating after ending 2011 all the way down at No. 28. Only Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning finished with a higher passer rating than RGIII (102.4) among qualifying QB's.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) - The Steelers just didn't have it this year. They dropped five of their final seven games, including losses to Cleveland, San Diego and Dallas. The last time Pittsburgh finished .500 or worse was 2005.
12. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) - Losing four of five wasn't how this team wanted to make its way into the playoffs. Baltimore dropped to No. 11 in Scoreability and No. 12 in Passer Rating Differential.
13. New York Giants (9-7) - The defending champs are out. No sneaking into the postseason and taking the NFL by storm this year. The Giants finished at No. 22 in Defensive Hog Index.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9) - Where was this team early in the season? The Panthers closed out 2012 on a four-game winning streak and went 6-3 after a 1-6 start. Carolina finished at No. 5 in Real Passing Yards per Attempt and No. 7 in OHI.
15. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1) - St. Louis came a half of a game from a .500 season after finishing 2-14 in 2011. Behind Jeff Fisher, this young squad played solid football nearly all season. That is at least a promising sign for Rams fans.
16. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) - Adrian Peterson is an animal. Or a maybe a robot. Humans do not rush for 2,097 yards in a season and lead their team to the playoffs after suffering such a horrendous knee injury the year prior. Just doesn't happen.
17. New Orleans Saints (7-9) - Drew Brees eclipsed 5,000 yards passing for the third time in his career, but it did not translate to wins for the Saints in 2012. It's been a long year in New Orleans, that's for sure.
18. Miami Dolphins (7-9) - For the third time in four years, the Dolphins finish the season at 7-9. In 2011, they went 6-10. Good enough to avoid a top five draft pick, bad enough to consistently finish under .500. Not an ideal way to build for the future.
19. San Diego Chargers (7-9) - It likely came a season too late, but Norv Turner is out in San Diego. The Chargers went 0-5 against quality opponents in 2012 and finished at No. 29 in OHI.
20. Arizona Cardinals (5-11) - The Ken Whisenhunt era has come to a close in the desert. Only the Cardinals could finish at No. 1 in Defensive Passer Rating but No. 32 in Offensive Passer Rating. Only the Cardinals.
21. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) - Another year without playoff football in Dallas. The Cowboys still have just one postseason victory since 1996 and that doesn't look to change anytime soon. This team had every chance to win the NFC East and couldn't pull it out.
22. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - Why yes, it is odd to see an 11-5 team so low in the power rankings. The Colts are one of only two teams (Minnesota) outside of the Top 12 in PRD to qualify for the playoffs.
23a. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) - This team spent a boatload of money in the offseason and couldn't even finish .500. There were bright spots, but pass defense wasn't one of them. The Bucs closed the year at No. 27 in DPR and No. 31 in Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt.
23b. New York Jets (6-10) - The Jets have their work cut out for them this offseason. Hopefully they won't spend it chasing quarterbacks they don't plan on using.
25. Buffalo Bills (6-10) - Buffalo dumped a load of cash into Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in free agency only to finish 6-10 and No. 31 in Defensive Hog Index.
26. Cleveland Browns (5-11) - It should come as no surprise to see the Browns finish at 5-11 in 2012. They've won between four and six games in all but one season since the last time they made the playoffs, which was 2002.
27. Detroit Lions (4-12) - The Lions finished 4-12 after a 4-4 start and wound up being the only NFL team to lose double-digit games to teams over .500. Detroit finished 1-10 against quality opponents in 2012.
28. Tennessee Titans (6-10) - The Titans allowed 30 points or more in eight of their 16 games. They finished the year at No. 30 in Bendability and No. 26 in DPR.
29. Oakland Raiders (4-12) - Oakland has now failed to win more than five games in eight of its last 10 seasons. The Raiders finished at No. 30 in Scoreability and No. 29 in Bendability. Hardly a recipe for success.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) - A 2-14 season and the Jags couldn't even score the No. 1 pick in next year's draft. Bummer, dudes.
31. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) - Philly had 12 wins on the mind when assembling "The Dream Team" a year ago, but didn't figure it would take the team two full seasons to reach that total. Whoever replaces Andy Reid will be inheriting one heck of a mess.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) - The Chiefs have finished last in the AFC West four of their last five seasons despite winning the division in 2010. KC finished No. 25 or lower in every Quality Stat there is.