Start of the NFL season: AFC power rankings

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As the end of the NFL preseason is quickly approaching, so is the beginning of the 2012 NFL regular season. As there is one week left of preseason football, we are less than 10 days away from the start of the 2012 NFL season. I like to name this period “Week Zero”, as these power rankings are a basic opinion of how I believe the 2012 NFL season will pan out.

In the AFC, many familiar faces and teams will be in the postseason talks once again. The AFC, which is noticeably weaker than the rival NFC, have many teams loaded with potential, but just are not quite there yet. Here are the Week Zero AFC Power Rankings.

16. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

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A new head coach (Mike Mularkey), a quarterback still going through growing pains (Blaine Gabbert), a defense on the decline, and one of the best playmakers in the NFL (Maurice Jones-Drew) is holding out for a new contract…yea, 2012 will not be very kind to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Projection: 4-12

15. CLEVELAND BROWNS

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The Browns can only hope they struck gold by drafting Weeden (3) and Richardson (33)

The Browns have some bright spots in wide receiver Greg Little, All-Pro offensive tackle Joe Thomas, a defensive line loaded with under-the-radar talent, and two of the most efficient defensive players in the game in linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and cornerback Joe Haden, the problem though? Too young, not ready to compete for a playoff spot yet.

Projection: 4-12

14. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

New Colts franchise quarterback Andrew Luck doesn’t play like an ordinary NFL rookie, but fellow rookies Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and T.Y. Hilton certainly look the part, as the Colts are starting over with new head coach Chuck Pagano and look to be heading in the right direction.

Projection: 5-11

13. MIAMI DOLPHINS

The Dolphins made significant moves in the offseason, trading away star wide receiver Brandon Marshall, cutting former starting quarterback Chad Henne, signing Chad Johnson, cutting Chad Johnson, and trading away cornerback Vontae Davis…the Dolphins will have difficulty finding any kind of identity in 2012.

Projection: 6-10

12. OAKLAND RAIDERS

Carson Palmer may have a training camp with the Raiders under his belt, but the wide receiver core is average, Darren McFadden is injury-prone, the linebacker core is inexperienced and troubled, and the secondary has trouble in coverage.

Projection: 6-10

11. TENNESSEE TITANS

Starting Jake Locker at quarterback will be a rough transition for the Titans, as Locker may not even have top-target Kenny Britt available at his expense, but the Titans need to see if Locker fits the bill of an NFL franchise quarterback.

Projection: 6-10

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