Welcome back to the futile exercise of ranking the 31 NFL teams and the clown show known as the Jacksonville Jaguars. As always, these Power Rankings will be updated weekly, so be sure to watch out as teams move up and down. If teams continue to win, they will rise. If teams continue to lose, they will fall. Similarly, a loss does not necessarily equate to a team being ranked lower than their opponent. Upsets in the NFL do happen, so trends will usually be needed for a team to drop many slots.
Numbers in parentheses refer to last week’s rankings.
No.32: Jacksonville Jaguars (+0)
It was another week, another loss for the Jaguars. This week, they were blasted to the tune of a 40-point loss. Trevor Lawrence had another rough game, and the Jaguars inched closer to the No.1 pick in the draft. With a Week 18 loss, they would clinch their second consecutive top selection. It would be a healthy boost to the talent level across the roster.
No.31: Carolina Panthers (+0)
With Sam Darnold at the helm, the Panthers stunk still, but the defense was competent at points. Either way, the Panthers are in a 2-11 rut, and they will likely be crucified next week. They may have more wins than the next few teams, but they are not competitive in any way, shape, or form. This is a disaster, and Matt Rhule should be fired as soon as humanly possible.
No.30: New York Giants (-1)
The Giants offense is an absolute disaster since firing Jason Garrett and losing Daniel Jones. While the offense was bad with Garrett and Jones, they had some moments earlier in the season. The Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm offense is simply gross. Glennon had a PFF passing grade in the teens in Week 17. No other quarterback has been below 24.0 in any number of dropbacks this season.
No.29: Detroit Lions (-1)
The Lions showed some fight on offense even while their offense was getting obliterated. Amon-Ra St. Brown seems like a successful pick, and even Tim Boyle had a pulse on Sunday. This team has plenty of issues, but they do not quit. It is admirable to watch the least talented team in the NFL put in 60 minutes of effort each week.
No.28: Houston Texans (-1)
Like the Lions, the Texans have minimal talent, but they compete every week. Davis Mills has done enough to secure a job for 2022, helping the Texans’ rebuild. Why? Instead of focusing resources on a quarterback, the Texans can build the rest of the team and gun for a quarterback in the infinitely deeper quarterback class in 2023. They are in a great spot to get many blue-chip prospects in 2022.
No.27: New York Jets (+3)
Zach Wilson has been a competent quarterback in recent weeks. This week was the Braxton Berrios show as the wide receiver became the first Jet at the position to have a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game. He was rewarded handsomely with an extension. The Jets did blow their Week 17 lead, but much of that boils down to a failed fourth-down conversion late in the game. If they convert, they knock off the reigning champs.
No.26: Seattle Seahawks (+0)
The Seahawks hung 51 points on the Lions, the third-most by a team this season. Russell Wilson appeared to be dialed in, firing four touchdowns. D.K. Metcalf salvaged his season with a gargantuan trio of touchdowns. Rashaad Penny simultaneously salvaged his season with a Team of the Week-worthy performance on the ground. The season is over, but the Seahawks do have some pieces to be less bad next season.
No.25: Chicago Bears (+0)
The Bears walloped the Giants on Sunday in one of the more meaningless games of the season. David Montgomery found the endzone for a pair of touchdowns. Robert Quinn broke Richard Dent’s franchise record for sacks in a season. Otherwise, nothing will change in Chicago until Matt Nagy is no longer at the helm. It may only be one more week until he and Ryan Pace are gone.
No.24: Atlanta Falcons (+0)
The Falcons played reasonably well in Orchard Park. They forced Josh Allen to throw three interceptions on four attempts, helping out their case. Matt Ryan had another subpar game, but he at least remembered Kyle Pitts was on the offense. Pitts has had perhaps the quietest 1,000-yard season in NFL history. He is one of two rookie tight ends to hit that mark, joining Mike Ditka.
No.23: Washington Football Team (+0)
The Football Team was mercifully eliminated from playoff contention. They have now lost four games in a row after a promising stretch in the middle of the season. With Taylor Heinicke in charge, the Football Team will have a limited ceiling. However, this offseason, the Football Team should have a new name. They should continue this idea of new things and go after a quarterback through trade or free agency.
No.22: Cleveland Browns (+0)
While the Browns were already eliminated, they had one of the more pitiful performances of the week. Baker Mayfield suffered through nine sacks, and his receivers did him no favors. Defensively, the Browns were not disastrous, but it was not enough to salvage Mayfield and the offense. However, the Browns can wait and let Mayfield have a fresh start on his fifth-year option in 2022.
No.21: Denver Broncos (+0)
Regardless of whom the Broncos start, they are not a good offense. Teddy Bridgewater is too middle-of-the-road to win most games. Drew Lock is too volatile to avoid losing bad games. Like the Football Team, the Broncos need to find an established star quarterback if possible. The defense is one of the better units in the NFL, and the Broncos have capable weapons around the quarterback position.
No.20: Minnesota Vikings (-4)
Sean Mannion and the Vikings went out with a whimper, clinching a losing season for the second straight year. It was not competitive at Lambeau, but the matchup became unwinnable when Kirk Cousins went on the COVID list. Moving forward, the Vikings will likely fire Mike Zimmer and look in a new direction. The offense works, but the defense has fatal flaws.
No.19: Miami Dolphins (-9)
While the Dolphins might be better than the next few teams, they were eliminated from playoff contention, so they drop to No.19. Sunday was rough. Tua Tagovailoa turned into a pumpkin. The rest of the offense forgot how to play football. On defense, there was no semblance of a run defense. For a team that controlled its destiny with two games left, it was the most disappointing performance of the week.
No.18: Baltimore Ravens (+0)
There have been eight games decided by one point in 2021. The Ravens have lost three of them. Still, the Ravens have a shred of hope in the AFC playoff picture. They need four games to go their way, but they have a shot. If lightning can strike in four different cities, the Ravens will make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. If it does not, they will be positioned to draft fortifications for 2022.
No.17: New Orleans Saints (+2)
The Saints need two of Week 18’s games to go their way to make the playoffs. They have a fighter’s chance unlike the pair of AFC North bubble teams, but it would require that the Saints beat the Falcons. For all of the issues that the Falcons have had in 2021, they did beat the Saints the first time the teams played.
No.16: Pittsburgh Steelers (+1)
The Steelers are in the same boat as the Ravens. However, they just need Sunday Night Football to have a winner in addition to two other games. Ben Roethlisberger’s (likely) final game at Heinz Field featured a dream ending, and the Steelers will hope Roethlisberger’s last trip to M&T Bank Stadium has a similar dream ending. The Steelers have a 1-in-20 chance to make the playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight.
No.15: Las Vegas Raiders (+5)
The Raiders controlled their destiny entering Week 17. They took care of business, and they have a 53% chance of making the playoffs. The easiest way is to win, but they have clinching scenarios if they lose. They will know what they need to do when Sunday Night Football kicks off. With a win by the Ravens and Jaguars, the Raiders would clinch and could punt on Sunday night.
No.14: Philadelphia Eagles (+1)
The Eagles are the first team with a rock-solid playoff spot. They can be the No.6 or No.7 seed in NFC. The Eagles are far from a perfect team, but they have a solid floor with their rushing attack. If the Eagles get the right matchup, they could shock the world. If they get the wrong matchup, they could lose by 40.
No.13: Los Angeles Chargers (+0)
The Chargers have a must-win game. If they lose, they are out. If they win, they are in. This game could have been avoided if the Chargers did not have the mother of all let-down games against the Texans, but here we are. They are the better team, and they have a win over the Raiders from earlier in the season, but all bets are off for Week 18.
No.12: San Francisco 49ers (+0)
There are two ways for the 49ers to clinch a spot. If the Saints lose to the Falcons, the 49ers are automatically in the playoffs. If the 49ers complete the season sweep of the Los Angeles Rams, they will also be in the playoffs. FiveThirtyEight gives the 49ers a 62% chance of locking up a playoff spot, but the individual games are both projected to go against the 49ers. The Saints have a 59% chance to beat the Falcons. The 49ers have a 34% to win their game over the Rams.
No.11: Dallas Cowboys (-4)
Well, that did not go to plan. After a 42-point demolition of the Football Team, the Cowboys were riding high. They then ran into Kyler Murray in the state of Texas: an automatic loss. Despite the Cowboys’ best efforts, they could not overcome. Dak Prescott had a strange game, but the Cowboys are still incredibly talented. These top 11 teams reflect teams that could reasonably win the Super Bowl.
No.10: Arizona Cardinals (+4)
Speaking of Murray, the Cardinals answered a massive call to action with a win in Arlington. The Cardinals did just enough to keep the pressure on the Rams for the NFC West, and they have a shot at the division. If the Rams lose, the Cardinals will be a win away from their first division title since 2015. Either way, the Cardinals are safely in the playoffs.
No.9: Indianapolis Colts (-4)
The Colts squandered a playoff-clinching scenario by losing at home to the Raiders. Now, they face a must-win against the Jaguars. This sounds easy, but the Colts have not won in Jacksonville since 2014. Either way, the Colts have an 89% chance of making the playoffs. If they happen to lose, they will have a 15% chance. If they win, they will clinch.
No.8: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2)
The Buccaneers did win, but the fiasco with Antonio Brown dropped them two spots. Brown is not officially off the roster, but it is unlikely he plays for the Buccaneers again. Without Brown, the Buccaneers do not have quite the same upside they used to. With Brown or Chris Godwin, the Buccaneers must rely on unproven receivers outside of Mike Evans. It is far from the most ideal group of weapons.
No.7: New England Patriots (+2)
The Patriots destroyed the Jaguars, scoring 50 points for the second time on the season. Mac Jones had a stellar week, and the defense forced a bevy of turnovers. The running game continued to be strong, and the Patriots have kept pressure on the AFC East crown. It is unlikely they pull it off, but FiveThirtyEight gives them a 1-in-20 shot at a return to the mantle.
No.6: Tennessee Titans (+5)
Speaking of mantles, the Titans have won back-to-back division crowns. They are aiming to activate Derrick Henry from injured reserve. With results around the league, the Titans occupy the top spot in the AFC. With a win over the Texans (or a Broncos win on Saturday), the Titans would secure a first-round bye and give Henry another week to return from his foot injury. If the Titans blow the top seed, their Super Bowl odds likely take a sizable hit, but they may only need to win two games to make the Super Bowl.
No.5: Buffalo Bills (-1)
The Bills have a 95% chance of winning the AFC East for the second season in a row. They just have to knock off the Jets (or get the Dolphins to beat the Patriots). The Allen roller coaster was in full effect, but the Bills won regardless. With a win, they will clinch a home game in the potentially freezing weather in Orchard Park which could be a huge advantage.
No.4: Kansas City Chiefs (-2)
After an eight-game winning streak, the Chiefs blew an opportunity to put a stranglehold on the top seed. They now need a Titans loss on Sunday plus a win over the Broncos to get to the No.1 seed. Patrick Mahomes had a solid day, but it unraveled as the game went along. The once-dominant Chiefs defense relapsed, and the Chiefs are at risk of having to head on the road for the first time in the playoffs under Mahomes.
No.3: Los Angeles Rams (+0)
It was ugly, but the Rams escaped Tyler Huntley and the Ravens with a victory. While the Cardinals won and ruined the Rams’ clinching scenarios for the week, the Rams will have a chance to both clinch the NFC West and knock the 49ers out of the playoffs with a win on Sunday. A win would also clinch the No.2 seed for the Rams.
No.2: Cincinnati Bengals (+6)
The Bengals are officially the class of the AFC. Joe Burrow is on an unprecedented hot streak, and he has played his way into MVP consideration. If he tacks on another 400-yard, four-touchdown, zero-turnover game, he could chase down Aaron Rodgers. The Bengals have an outside shot at the No.1 seed (about 1-in-25), but they have a home playoff game for the first time since 2015.
No.1: Green Bay Packers (+0)
The Packers have nothing more to prove in the regular season. They have locked up the best record in the NFL, and the NFC playoffs will head through Lambeau. Rodgers put the finishing touches on his fourth MVP in 11 seasons, but he and the Packers have their sights set on the Lombardi. With tumult around the NFC, the Packers are the safest bet in the league to make the Super Bowl.
Follow Ryan Potts on Twitter @MrSplashMan19
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