Team of the Year: New England Patriots
In terms of wins and losses—no one came close (14-5 in Calendar Year 2012 for a .737 winning percentage). On either end of the calendar year, the Patriots were the class of New England and most of the NFL.
Playoff wins over Denver and Baltimore ushered in the New Year. And even losing the Super Bowl means you made the Super Bowl.
The Patriots continued their quest toward Lombardi IV with a surprisingly top-heavy draft—moving up instead of down for a change—and grabbing legitimate potential defensive stars in DE Chandler Jones and LB Dont'a Hightower in the first round and S Tavon Wilson in the second.
The Wes Welker contract situation was dealt with in the Patriot Way—which means Welker eventually got the shaft after singing his contract tender and a likely one-way ticket out of town after the season as a free-agent, presumably he's not franchised again. And how did Welker respond—save for his one brief bit of comedy on the CSNNE Patriots post-game show on Oct. 7—he's caught 110 passes this season for 1,260 yards.
That's his fifth 100-catch, 1,000-plus yard receiving season in New England since 2007. Meanwhile, any potential crises—see Gisele's outburst (more on that later), Bob Kraft's Hollywood audition and those pesky drug suspensions—were quickly dispatched by the in-house Cleaners.
Bill Parcells often said you never stay the same, you’re either getting better or getting worse. But the Patriots ended the year exactly where they started it—a legitimate threat to win the Super Bowl.
And you can't ask for much more than that—except a Super Bowl win itself.