Now that Super Bowl XLVI is over, many NFL experts are releasing their final NFL power rankings, given the results of the season and the outlook into 2012. The first final power ranking list we came across was Peter King's from his "Monday Morning Quarterback" feature in Sports Illustrated. If you remember, King inexplicably left the Bengals out of the top half of his list, putting teams like the Miami Dolphins ahead of Cincinnati.
These rankings will all be debatable amongst fans of every respective team, but the experts have their reasons for ranking teams where they have them going into 2012. SB Nation just released their own final power rankings and they're quite a bit more generous to the Bengals than King was in his feature.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7, LW: 10): Kudos to Cincinnati and one of the best stories this season. They were considered one of the worst teams in the league before the season and finished the year with a playoff appearance. Assuming Andy Dalton and continue to develop, this will be a very good team down the road.
Given the fact that the Bengals were bounced from the playoffs in the Wild Card round, it makes sense that they would be ranked towards the lower part of the top third in the league. With twelve playoff teams in the NFL, putting the young Bengals squad at eleven makes sense at this point. It's a good feeling ending the season ranked at No. 11 when most NFL pundits had the Bengals as one of the worst teams going into 2011.
Interestingly, SB Nation puts the Denver Broncos all the way down at No. 20. A debate could ensue here because the Broncos made it further than the Bengals did in the playoffs, though they had one less regular-season victory than Cincinnati. Regardless, there just doesn't seem to be any Tim Tebow believers going into 2012. In case you were wondering, the Carson Palmer-led Raiders fell one spot behind the Broncos at No. 21.
The Baltimore Ravens came in at No. 4 on the list, bettered by only the Giants, Patriots and Packers. The Pittsburgh Steelers came in at No. 7 and the Cleveland Browns round out the AFC North division at No. 30.