NFL Power Rankings Week 18: Eagles lose second straight, Chiefs edge Denver and Vikings sink
The penultimate week in the NFL saw the Eagles lose their second straight game, while other teams punched their ticket to the postseason in Week 17.
The second to last week of the regular season saw some teams clinch their playoff births while others saw their door to the postseason shut. The Jalen Hurts-less Eagles lost their second straight game, while the Chiefs held strong against the Broncos and the Packers came up with a huge win over the Vikings at Lambeau.
Here are our Power Rankings after Week 17
1) Philadelphia Eagles 13-3, last week 1
If the last two weeks have shown us anything about the Eagles, it’s just how important Jalen Hurts is to this team. Obviously he is a winner. Obviously he is an MVP candidate. But there are so many things he does right, that other quarterbacks don’t do. Just look at the 4th and short QB sneak that Garner Minshew failed to convert midway through the fourth quarter. He got another shot at leading the Eagles to a late win, but instead threw a pick six to literally hand the game to the Saints. I’m not moving the Eagles out of the top spot, because I still think they are the best team in the league, and if Hurts was under center for these games there would be no question who the top seed in the NFC would be going into the final week of the season.
2) Buffalo Bills 12-3, last week 2
What happened in Cincinnati makes you realize how trivial football, Power Rankings, or the playoffs are. Damar Hamlin collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, and when you see something like that as a teammate, opponent, fan or human you understand that football is just a game. Our thoughts and prayers are with Hamlin and his family.
3) Kansas City Chiefs 13-3, last week 3
KC still haver their eyes set on the top spot in the AFC after narrowly defeating the lowly Denver Broncos at Arrowhead. It’s true that it was a divisional game against a team that had nothing to play for but trying to spoil the Chiefs chances at a 1 seed in the conference and they almost managed to do so. In the end, and as always, Patrick Mahomes was too much for the Broncos to handle. He threw for 328 yards and three TDs in the 27-24 win. The Chiefs will now go into Week 18 knowing that they still have a chance to win the AFC but will need win in Las Vegas, and some help if they are going to get a first round bye.
4) San Francisco 49ers 12-4, last week 4
It may not have been the prettiest win for the Niners, but it was the Purdy-est performance of the young QBs career. He had a season best 284 yards and two TDs, as the defense had a rare off night, but when San Fran needed it, the D came up with two big interceptions that kept the Niners in the hunt for the top seed in the NFC. They have a crucial divisional matchup against the Cardinals at home next week, and they need a win and have to hope for an Eagles loss against the Giants to wrap up the top spot in the conference.
5) Cincinnati Bengals 11-4, last week 5
It may not have been a Bengals player that was taken off the field in an ambulance, but neither Cincinnati or Buffalo needed to finish the game on Monday Night. Both teams will wait for word from the league regarding the status of the game, but that is the farthest thing on anyone’s mind after what happened at Paycor Stadium on Monday.
6) Dallas Cowboys 12-4, last week 6
With all do respect to the Titans, the Cowboys had a walk in the park on Thursday Night. They knew they had to go into Tennessee and get a win to keep the pressure on the Eagles who have yet to wrap up the NFC East. It took a little while to get going against a banged up, new look Titans team. Once they figured out Joshua Dobbs and the TEN offense, they cruised to victory in a game where they looked like they were going half gas. If the Cowboys beat the Commanders and the Eagles lose to the Giants next week, then Dallas wins the division, and could even end up as the top seed in the NFC with a little external help.
7) Los Angeles Chargers 10-6, last week 8
The Chargers went into the battle of LA having wrapped up a playoff spot the previous week in Indianapolis. They could have taken the foot off the gas a bit against the Rams, but instead rode Austin Ekeler to a blowout win at Sofi Stadium. Ekeler had 122 yard and two TDs on 10 carries and and added another 39 yards through the air. LA has a chance to lock up the top Wild Card spot in the AFC which would mean avoiding a matchup with either the Chiefs, Bills or Bengals but a first round playoff matchup with the Jaguars doesn’t sound as appetizing as it did a month and a half ago.
8) Minnesota Vikings 12-4, last week 7
You never want to lose the way that the Vikings did to the Packers, but even less when you are inching closer to the postseason. The loss will leave a lingering taste in the mouth of Minnesota, and that is not the sensation you want heading into the playoffs. Kirk Cousins, who was getting some MVP consideration coming into the game, threw for three interceptions as the offense put up one of their worst performances of the year. Watch out… if the Pack make the playoffs and the Vikes windup as the second seed, we would see a rematch in the first round fo the postseason.
9) Baltimore Ravens 10-6, last week 9
It was another understandably underwhelming offensive performance for the Ravens on Sunday Night. With no Lamar Jackson, the Baltimore offense has come to a stand still as other teams stack the box and invite Tyler Huntly to beat them. Since Jackson went down with injury before the game against the Broncos, Baltimore is averaging just 10 points a game. They have lost their chance at winning the AFC North, and can shift their priority on getting Lamar back to 100% before the playoffs.
10) New York Giants 9-6-1, last week 10
It was all on the line for the Giants against he Indianapolis Colts, and Brian Daboll’s team wasted no time jumping out to a big lead over Indy. New York had a chance to clinch a Wild Card spot, and their ticket was basically punched at halftime leading the Colts 24-3 after two quarters. There has been a lot of criticism surrounding Daboll and Daniel Jones this year, but in the biggest game of the year the coach had his troops ready to play, and Jones passed for 177 yards and two TDs while rushing for another 91 yards and two TDs.
11) Jacksonville Jaguars 8-8, last week 13
The Jags kept the train rolling against the Texans in a game they didn’t have to win, but did so anyway because that’s the kind of team Jacksonville has turned into. They thumped Houston 31-3 as the running game went for 169 yards and scored three touchdowns while the defense continued to impress. It all comes down to next week’s game against the Titans to decide who is moving on to the post season in the AFC South. One team is on the up while the other is in a spiraling to what would be a tragic end to the season.
12) Green Bay Packers 8-8, last week 14
I’m sure Green Bay fans would have loved to see the Packers play like they did against the Vikings months ago, but if you are going to keep a performance like that in the holsters all season then you might as well wait until a must win against a divisional opponent late in the season. The Pack had a complete game, taking a kickoff back for a TD, an interception back for a TD, Aaron Rodgers passed for a TD, ran for another, and AJ Dillon punched one in on the ground to send the Green Bay into the final week setting up a win and you’re in situation on Monday Night against the Lions.
13) Detroit Lions 8-8, last week 15
That’s what I call a bounce back game. The Lions looked like all the progress they had made over the last month and a half had been been swept out from under them against the Panthers last week, but in a divisional game against a bitter rival, the Lions took it to the Bears to keep their playoff dreams alive. They’ve got a monumental matchup against the Packers next week to potentially decide who goes on to the postseason, but they will need a win and it will depend on what the Seahawks do against the Rams.
14) Seattle Seahawks 8-8, last week 18
A three game losing streak looked like it was going to be the downfall of the Seahawks, and was going to be the reason why they didn’t make it to the post season. But when they needed it most, they rode their work horse Kenneth Walker III to victory as the defense shut down the Jets offense from Lumen Stadium on Sunday. Now the Seahawks head into the final week of the season in eyeing the final Wild Card spot. They will have to take care of the Rams next week and need the Lions to beat the Packers on Monday night to make a most improbable playoff run after seeing their franchise quarterback leave in the offseason.
15) New England Patriots 8-8, last week 17
It was the biggest game of the season for the Patriots, and the defense came up with a season saving performance in Foxborough. Kyle Dugger had the game changing pick six late in the third quarter to turn the tide in favor of the Pats. With the win over the Dolphins on Sunday, they now hold the final Wild Card spot in the AFC, but must beat the Bills next week with four teams vying for the last ticket to the playoffs.
16) Washington Commanders 7-8-1, last week 11
Ron Rivera’s head must have been spinning all week leading up to the game against the Browns. Taylor Heinicke had led a resurgence that brought the Commanders back in the playoff hunt, but he was pulled in a game against the best defense in the league last week in Washington’s loss to San Fran. Carson Wentz finished that game under center, and got the nod from Rivera in a potential playoff clinching game in Cleveland. Wentz went for 143 yards and threw three interceptions to send the Commanders crashing out of the postseason chase.
17) Miami Dolphins 8-8, last week 12
Who would have thought that going into the final week of the season the Miami Dolphins would need a win and some help to reach the playoffs after looking like one of the best teams in the league for two thirds of the season. Their late season collapse has them currently on the outside of the playoffs looking in after the Pats handed them their fifth straight loss. Will it be Tua, Teddy or Skylar Johnson under center next week in the biggest game of the year against their most hated rivals? Even if Tua is available, that doesn’t guarantee a win against a Jets team that just saw their chase for the playoffs come to and end.
18) Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8, last week 19
Miraculously the Steelers are still in the thick of the playoff hunt as Kenny Pickett showed his ability to stay standing after 12 rounds and deliver the late knock out blow. As long as the defense keeps the Steelers hanging around until the end, Pickett and the offense have a chance to escape with victory and they proved that again in a must win game on Sunday night. There is a three team tie at 8-8 for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC, and the Steelers are going to need to beat the Browns, which would be their sixth win in their last seven, to reach the post season.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-8, last week 22
Finally… Do I really need to say anything else? Just incase you don’t know what I’m referring to, Finally.. the Bucs offense turned on. Finally the Tom Brady- Mike Evans connection showed what they are capable of. Finally the Bucs wrap up a division title that no team in the NFC South looked like they wanted to win. It was the biggest game of the year, and the Bucs saved the best for the biggest. Brady had a season record 432 yards and 3 TDs and now go into Week 18 knowing they have their post season ticket punched. Who ever winds up in the two seed in the NFC won’t be thrilled to see the Bucs offense igniting at just the right time.
20) New York Jets 7-9, last week 16
Everyone thought the return of Mike White was going to magically spurt the Jets to victory over the Seahawks and keep New York in the chase for the playoffs. That wasn’t the case in Seattle on Sunday. The offense was shut down, especially in the second half, starting the third quarter with a missed field goal, and then three straight three-and-outs followed by an interception as the Jets dropped their fifth straight to go crashing out of the playoff picture in the AFC.
21) Cleveland Browns 7-9, last week 19
Say what you want about the Deshaun Watson as the Browns QB, but in his five games under center in Cleveland he is 3-2. There was pride on the line, and a chance to play spoiler on Sunday in the nations capital. They showed plenty of pride, and did plenty of spoiling as Deshaun Watson completed nine passes, three of them going for TDs.
22) Las Vegas Raiders 6-10, last week 21
It was a heart breaking end to the playoff run for the Raiders, who had the slimmest of chances of reaching the post season entering the penultimate week of the season. Josh McDaniels made a statement by benching Derek Carr, and started Jarrett Stidham in a must win game against the best defensive team in the league. Stidham threw for 365 yards and three TDs as the Raiders forced overtime in the final minute of regulation. The final of his two interceptions set the Niners up with a short field goal sink the Raiders and end their chances of a playoff appearance.
23) New Orleans Saints 7-9, last week 24
It was a case of too little, too late for the New Orleans Saints who went into Philly and handed the Eagles their second straight loss and third of the season. They knew they had to win, and needed some help from the Panthers who looked like they were going to take down the Bucs for three quarters. New Orleans won the battle, but lost the war as New Orleans will wrap up the season against the Panthers and then will shift the focus on the future of this franchise, starting at the quarterback position.
24) Tennessee Titans 7-9, last week 20
The Tennessee Titans are on the verge of a historic collapse to end the season. The Titans were a one time a contender for the one seed in the AFC, and now they will be lucky to reach the playoffs. With Ryan Tannehill on injured reserve and Malik Willis not showing he’s ready for QB1 responsibilities yet, they started their third string QB Joshua Dobbs who looked decent for the first few possessions. Over the course of the four quarter the Cowboys superiority rose to the surface and the Titans were handed their sixth straight. It all comes down to their Week 18 match up against the Jags as the winner goes on and the loser goes home.
25) Atlanta Falcons 6-10, last week 25
Atlanta came into their Week 17 game against the Cardinals knowing their playoff chances were out of reach, but brought their four game losing streak to an end in Mercedes Benz Stadium with a Younghoe Kim game winning field goal as time expired. Rookie QB Desmond Ridder has been growing with each game and the final drive that led to the winning field goal is a nice stepping stone for the young gun slinger.
26) Carolina Panthers 6-10, last week 23
The Panthers looked like they had the game in the bag on Sunday in Tampa Bay, but when you let Tom Brady hang around until late in fourth quarter he has proved time and time again that he will make you pay. The Panthers were up 21-10 in the fourth quarter and had an incredible opportunity to take the lead in the division, all they needed to do is hold on for the final 15 minutes. What did they do? They collapsed, giving up three fourth quarter TDs, and fumbling the ball on their 13 yard line with under three minutes to go in the game.
27) Los Angeles Rams 5-11, last week 26
The inconsistency is understandable. Last week they put up 51 against the Broncos, and this week they lay a dud against the Chargers in the battle of LA. There are still some kinks to work out in the offense with Baker Mayfield under center. They will try to get them sorted before the final week of the season when they go into Seattle looking to play spoiler for the Seahawks who still have a chance at a playoff spot.
28) Arizona Cardinals 4-12, last week 29
The Cardinals are in no mans land in the final few weeks of the season. Their coach has been on the hot seat since early this season. Their quarterback suffered a season ending injury a few weeks ago, and right now this isn’t even a team that can use the final games of the season to build for next year. That didn’t stop them from going into Atlanta and putting up a fight on the road. The only thing to really watch for next week is J.J. Watt playing his final game of what has been a legendary career.
29) Indianapolis Colts 4-11-1, last week 28
The embarrassment seems never ending for the one time playoff hopeful Indianapolis Colts. In the last four weeks they have gotten blown out by the Cowboys, allowed biggest comeback in the history of the league against the Vikings, scored just three points against the Chargers and got beat down by the Giants in New York. Even in his wildest nightmares, Jim Irsay couldn’t have imagined the Jeff Saturday experiment failing in such extraordinary fashion.
30) Chicago Bears 3-13, last week 30
The Chicago Bears came into their penultimate game of the season knowing there was nothing to play for, and coach Matt Eberflus knew it was a chance to showcase Justin Fields all the while needing to tread carefully with their face of the franchise. The showcase started well for the Bears, who scored a TD and a FG on their opening two possessions of the game and Fields had over 100 yards on the ground before the end of the first quarter. Unfortunately, for Chicago fans the offense flat lined after the second possession of the game, and the Bears were wiped out 41-10 in Detroit.
31) Denver Broncos 4-12, last week 32
I don’t know whether to give Denver credit for going into Arrowhead and competing with the Chiefs, or say shame on them for showing that rare bit of competitiveness for the first time all season in Week 17. Maybe it was the firing of Nathaniel Hackett, maybe it was a last minute sense of urgency, but they looked like a different team. In the end the Chiefs were too much for the Broncos, and Denver lost their 15th straight against Kansas City.
32) Houston Texans 2-13-1, last week 31
The Texans got steam rolled against a Jags team that is on a mission as the season comes to a close. Davis Mills and the Houston offense managed just three points as Jacksonville had the game won before halftime. Lovie Smith has been going back on forth on Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel for the last few weeks, and it looks like neither of the QBs are the long term answer for the Texans looking forward.