Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers already had the best record in the NFL heading in to Week 17, but after the Chiefs loss to the Bengals and a dominating 37-10 by the Packers over the Vikings, I’m finally ready to crown Green Bay as the #1 team in my Power Rankings. The Packers are now a perfect 8-0 at home this season, and will need to win just two playoff games at Lambeau Field in order to advance to Super Bowl 56.
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) [Last Week: 1]
The Kansas City Chiefs saw their eight-game winning streak come to an end on Sunday as they fell to Joe Burrow and the Bengals 34-31, losing their grip on the AFC’s #1 seed in the process. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are still the most likely contender to emerge out of the AFC, but this week’s loss proves Kansas City is still vulnerable.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4) [Last Week: 3]
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won in Week 17, despite the Antonio Brown fiasco, but allowed the Jets to make the game much closer than it should have been. Even without Brown and Chris Godwin, Tom Brady shouldn’t need to engineer a game-winning drive to beat Zach Wilson and the Jets. But that’s exactly what needed to be done, as the Buccaneers escaped 28-24 after a last-minute touchdown drive.
Los Angeles Rams (12-4) [Last Week: 4]
Matthew Stafford (26-of-35, 309 yards, 2 TD) led the Los Angeles Rams to 13 fourth quarter points in a 20-19 comeback win over Tyler Huntley and the Ravens. It was the Rams fifth straight win following a three game losing streak, and with one more win or a Cardinals loss in Week 18, Los Angeles will enter the playoffs as the NFC West champion.
Buffalo Bills (10-6) [Last Week: 7]
The Buffalo Bills haven’t played perfect football all season, but are heating up at the right time, with three straight wins following Sunday’s 29-15 win over the Falcons. All Josh Allen and the Bills have to do to secure the AFC East title is beat the Jets at home in Week 18. Buffalo currently possesses a lethal combination of the NFL’s third-best offense (28.5 PPG) and second-best offense (17.4 PPG allowed.)
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) [Last Week: 9]
Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals continue to leap up these Power Rankings, now coming in at #6, their highest mark of the season. The Bengals have won three straight games, but most importantly, just knocked off Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs 34-31 with playoff implications on the line. With the win, Cincinnati locked up the AFC North title, and with the fifth-best offense (27.8 PPG) in the NFL and young, dynamic weapons all over the field, the sky is the limit for Burrow and the Bengals.
Dallas Cowboys (11-5) [Last Week: 5]
The Dallas Cowboys latest 25-22 loss to the Cardinals continues a disturbing trend: Dallas just can’t beat good teams. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have cruised to an NFC East title with wins over their weaker divisional opponents, but are now 3-3 against teams currently in the playoff field, including 0-2 against their last playoff-bound opponents.
Indianapolis Colts (9-7) [Last Week: 6]
Jonathan Taylor put up a routine 108 yards on the ground, but for just the second time in the last eight games, the Indianapolis Colts lost, falling 23-20 to Derek Carr and the Raiders. Carson Wentz and the Colts squandered the chance to seal a playoff spot, but can earn a seat at the table with a Week 18 win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
New England Patriots (10-6) [Last Week: 8]
Mac Jones and the New England Patriots made short work of the Jaguars, easily winning 50-10, but back-to-back losses to the Colts and Bills still loom in recent memory as the postseason approaches.
Tennessee Titans (11-5) [Last Week: 10]
The Tennessee Titans defense stifled the Dolphins in a 34-3 win with Miami’s season on the line. Now, Ryan Tannehill and the Titans are recovering from a 1-3 late-season slump with back-to-back wins, and Tennessee even holds the #1 seed in the AFC after Kansas City’s loss to Cincinnati. The Titans can officially clinch the conference’s top seed and a first-round bye with a Week 18 win over the Texans. With a week off and Derrick Henry coming back, the Titans could be a dangerous team in the postseason.
Arizona Cardinals (11-5) [Last Week: 12]
Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals downed the Cowboys 25-22 in Dallas to end a three-game skid. The Cardinals ceiling is lower without DeAndre Hopkins, but the win proved Arizona is still a dangerous team heading into the playoffs. The Cardinals are likely to qualify as a wildcard team, but that could work to their favor: Arizona is an elite 8-1 on the road compared to 3-5 at home.
Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) [Last Week: 13]
Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers bounced back from last week’s embarrassing loss to the Texans with a commanding 34-13 win over the Broncos in Week 17, regaining playoff positioning for the time being. Los Angeles will likely face a “win-and-in” scenario on Sunday Night Football in Week 18.
San Francisco 49ers (9-7) [Last Week: 11]
The San Francisco 49ers didn’t technically clinch a playoff spot with their 23-7 win over the Texans, but they’re one step closer to the postseason and are now guaranteed a winning record. Rookie Trey Lance passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) [Last Week: 17]
The Philadelphia Eagles rise to #14 this week: less because they’re playing well and more because teams around them are fading. Jalen Hurts led the Eagles to a 20-16 win over Washington this week for Philadelphia’s fourth straight win, clinching a playoff berth in the process. However, the Eagles are 0-5 against teams currently in playoff position this season.
Las Vegas Raiders (9-7) [Last Week: 20]
Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders were able to outlast the Colts 23-20 to set up a Week 18 date with the Chargers where the winner will make the playoffs and the loser will see their season come to an end. With three straight wins and a 4-2 record in their last six games, Las Vegas will have a fighting chance against Los Angeles to extend their season.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1) [Last Week: 19]
The Pittsburgh Steelers prevailed 26-14 over the Browns in what was likely Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game at Heinz Field. But with just a 3-4-1 record over their last eight games, Pittsburgh will almost assuredly fall a game short of qualifying for the postseason.
Baltimore Ravens (8-8) [Last Week: 15]
Five weeks ago, the 8-3 Baltimore Ravens held the best record in the AFC. But between the absence of Lamar Jackson, failed two-point conversions late in games, and a tough schedule of opponents, Baltimore has lost five straight games and will likely miss the postseason. Four of the Ravens five straight losses have come by two points or less: this Ravens team had the talent to make the playoffs even with Tyler Huntley at quarterback, but just couldn’t get it done late in games. Call it unlucky, call it poor coaching, but the Ravens should have been a playoff team this season.
Miami Dolphins (8-8) [Last Week: 14]
The Miami Dolphins unlikely seven-game win streak came to a screeching halt in a 34-3 loss to the Titans, eliminating the potential Cinderella team from playoff contention.
Minnesota Vikings (7-9) [Last Week: 16]
The Minnesota Vikings playoff chances came to a close with Sunday night’s 37-10 loss to the Packers, and Minnesota never really had a chance with Kirk Cousins out for the matchup. When Minnesota looks back on this season, they can point to their whopping eight one-score losses as the reason they ultimately missed the postseason.
Cleveland Browns (7-9) [Last Week: 18]
Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns continued their late-season disappearing act with their third straight loss and fourth loss in five games, falling to the Steelers 26-14 on Monday Night Football.
New Orleans Saints (8-8) [Last Week: 22]
Taysom Hill passed for 22 yards and a touchdown as he led the New Orleans Saints to an 18-10 victory over the Panthers in Week 17. The Saints can still make the playoffs with a Week 18 win coupled with a 49ers loss, but let’s be honest: even if New Orleans makes the playoffs, they don’t have the tools to go very far.
Atlanta Falcons (7-9) [Last Week: 21]
Matt Ryan failed to pass for a touchdown as the Atlanta Falcons fell 29-15 to the Bills in Buffalo, squashing any last-minute playoff dreams.
Denver Broncos (7-9) [Last Week: 23]
Drew Lock and the Denver Broncos couldn’t get the offense brewing in a 34-13 loss to the Chargers on the road, officially eliminating Denver from postseason contention.
Washington Football Team (6-10) [Last Week: 24]
Taylor Heinicke had a decent game, but Washington Football team squandered a 16-7 halftime lead to lose 20-16 to Jalen Hurts and the Eagles.
Chicago Bears (6-10) [Last Week: 25]
The Chicago Bears defense absolutely stifled Mike Glennon and the Giants, with Andy Dalton and company coming out on top 29-3 in Chicago’s second straight win.
Seattle Seahawks (6-10) [Last Week: 26]
In meaningless circumstances, Russell Wilson, Rashaad Penny (25 carries, 170 yards, 2 TD) and the Seattle Seahawks obliterated the Detroit Lions 51-29 in Seattle.
New York Jets (4-12) [Last Week: 28]
Zach Wilson and the New York Jets gave the defending Super Bowl champions a very hard time in Week 17, forcing Tom Brady to orchestrate a last-minute game-winning drive in order to lead the Buccaneers to a 28-24 victory.
Houston Texans (4-12) [Last Week: 29]
Davis Mills and the Houston Texans couldn’t follow up on last week’s big win, falling 23-7 to Trey Lance and the 49ers in San Francisco.
Detroit Lions (2-13-1) [Last Week: 27]
Tim Boyle and the Detroit Lions were blown out 51-29 in Seattle, and are now 0-8-1 away from home this season.
Carolina Panthers (5-11) [Last Week: 31]
Cam Newton, P.J. Walker, Sam Darnold, it’s all the same. The Carolina Panthers fell 18-10 to the Saints for their sixth straight loss, and Carolina is now 2-11 after a once-promising 3-0 start.
New York Giants (4-12) [Last Week: 30]
The New York Giants have been absolutely abysmal since losing Daniel Jones for the season, and looked hopeless on both sides of the ball in a 29-3 loss to the Bears in Chicago.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) [Last Week: 32]
Trevor Lawrence threw a touchdown pass for the first time in five weeks, but also tossed three interceptions in the Jacksonville Jaguars 50-10 loss to the Patriots on Sunday. Barring a Jaguars win and Lions loss in Week 18, Jacksonville will select first overall in the NFL Draft for the second year in a row.
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