The Week 18 NFL Power Rankings are a lot less chaotic than in previous weeks. But, we still saw some massive results this week changing everything we thought about the power structure in the NFL. We’re going to get that into all the risers and fallers this week as we start to really separate the playoff teams from the teams that will be sitting on the couch in a couple of weeks.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
Last week: 32
Ever heard of that boost that happens for a football team when an interim coach the players like takes control? Doesn’t seem to be the case for Darrell Bevell. Trevor Lawrence imploded in the second quarter to essentially hand the Patriots a red carpet straight to the endzone. The Jaguars are one loss away from clinching the No. 1 seed for the second straight year. It would be the eight time in NFL history a team has “earned” the No. 1 pick two years in a row. Can they go for an NFL record three next year?
31. New York Giants (4-12)
Last Week: 30
The New York Giants may not have the second worst record in the NFL. But, for the purposes of the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings, they absolutely are the second worst team in the NFL. They put up 161 yards of rushing against the Bears and STILL had virtually no offense. Mike Glennon is clearly not the answer. Neither is Daniel Jones. Neither is Joe Judge. I don’t even know what to do at this point.
30. Detroit Lions (2-13-1)
Last Week: 29
Someone go console the football fans in Jersey. The Jets are… the Jets, and the Giants appear totally rudderless. It was kind of cool to see Jake Fromm get his first NFL start. But, he turned out to be just as much of a disaster as Mike Glennon as he finnished with a 19.5 passer rating. Yikes. Mike Glennon ended up playing the savior role and, honestly, didn’t look much better. As bad as Daniel Jones was, this is a new level of Hell.
29. New York Jets (4-12)
Last Week: 31
I’m not trying to act like the Jets almost beating a good team is as good as actually winning a game. But, when the franchise is in the state it currently is… I think you have to take what you can get. The Jets have shown some progress in Robert Salah’s first season and Zach Wilson even had a decent game this week. Maybe a glimmer of light in Jersey B?
28. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
Last Week: 28
Is there any relief for Panthers fans watching their team play a division rival, who is currently fighting for their playoff lives, close? Probably not when the quarterback they banked their hopes on this year threw the game away in the redzone only down by a touchdown and a 2pt conversion with 54 seconds left in the game. Ouch. I don’t think firing Matt Rhule is the right move. But, I understand why people are starting to feel that way.
27. Washington Football Team (6-10)
Last Week: 25
It’s been over for Washington for a while now. It’s really a shame the season is going to end with a whimper for a team we briefly thought might be able to take down Dallas for the NFC East title. But, to have the first half they had against a division rival only to be shut out and lose in the second half is rough.
26. Houston Texans (4-12)
Last Week: 23
It was a nice little run the Texans went on there for a minute. But, that shouldn’t distract from the fact that this is a bad football team. And, it won’t distract me in their placement in the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings. Defensively, they had no answer for Trey Lance this week. Davis Mills was highly ineffective. They avoided disaster a few times. But, Mills’ interception on their first drive of the second half gave the 49ers a lead and momentum. It wasn’t even really a contest after that.
25. Seattle Seahawks (6-10)
Last Week: 27
The playoffs have been out of the question for the Seahawks for a while now. But, Seahawks fans still have to enjoy seeing Russell Wilson go absolutely ham on an opponent for the first time this season. It might be the last time he ever does it in front of the home crowd in Seattle. But, if it is, at least he’s going out with a bang.
24. Chicago Bears (6-10)
Last Week: 27
The Chicago Bears have now equaled their longest win streak in 2021 with back to back wins over the Seahawks and Giants. It’s kind of a shame they’re going to have to hit the reset button at the end of this season. A win over the Vikings next week would have them finish 7-10 and with some momentum going into next year. Unfortunately, it’s clearly broken. You have to blow it up.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1)
Last Week: 24
Welp, they did it. The Pittsburgh Steelers somehow overcame being a bad football team to somehow clinch yet another non-losing season for Mike Tomlin. Gotta give credit where credit is due. I didn’t think they had it in them. That’s not to say I think this is a good, or even average football team. But, they definitely deserve some separation from the Houstons and the Carolinas of the world.
22. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
Last Week: 21
The Falcons’ slim playoff hopes came to an end this week. They looked like they had a chance against the Bills when they held a 15-14 lead at the half. But, they had virtually no offense in the second half. It was all right there in front of them. But, this is why no one really took the Falcons seriously as playoff contenders.
21. Minnesota Vikings (7-9)
Last Week: 20
Mike Zimmer doesn’t want to see Kellen Mond this week. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to see anyone on the team right now if I was him. Despite pulling off the miraculous victory over the Packers earlier this season, the Vikings never felt like they stood a chance without Kirk Cousins in Lambeau. Had the Vikings made the playoffs, I think there’s a chance Zimmer could have earned another year. But, at this point I can’t see it. So, they stay low in the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings.
20. Cleveland Browns (7-9)
Last Week: 18
The Cleveland Browns were eliminated from the playoffs this week before they ever got to play their Monday Night contest against the Steelers.
19. Denver Broncos (7-9)
Last Week: 19
TO THE COUCH WITH YOU! Remember when we thought the Denver Broncos were the class of the NFL after three weeks? Ha! This offense is inept. Pat Schurmur might be the least popular human being in the entire state of Colorado. Now, we have to start considering the fact that Schurmur might get head coach Vic Fangio fired.
18. Miami Dolphins (8-8)
Last Week: 14
You knew it was coming. Hats off to the Miami Dolphins for clawing their way back from 1-7 to end up 8-7 and briefly in control of a playoff spot. But, those wins almost all came against awful teams. Well, that and the pre-decimated Ravens. But, they had to get through two playoff teams to actually finish the miracle off. The Titans reminded us all that the Dolphins were never serious contenders. It was nice while it lasted, but they’re moving back down in the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings.
17. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
Last Week: 17
Technically, there’s also a chance for the Baltimore Ravens. A two percent chance, per Five Thirty Eight. BUT! And you’re really going to need to follow me on this one. If they beat the Steelers next week. All they need is for the Browns, Dolphins, Colts, and Chargers to lose. Although, considering the Colts play the Jaguars… yeah, that’s why the two percent.
16. New Orleans Saints (8-8)
Last Week: 22
So you’re saying there’s a chance? Yes. If the Saints beat the eliminated Falcons this week, which they should. And, if the Rams beat the 49ers, which they should. I would argue they should be the favorites for the No. 7 seed in the NFC. But, I get it. The 49ers hold the inside track, so technically they’d have to be the favorite. Which is kind of insane, when you think about it. The Saints are my No. 16 team in the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings and the 49ers are at No. 10. But, it seems to me like the Saints are more likely to finish things out.
15. Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)
Last Week: 16
Despite all the odds this season, the Las Vegas Raiders are right on the verge of making the playoffs. Right now, they sit on the outside looking in behind the Chargers. Luckily, they play the Chargers next week. It’s a win and you’re in scenario for both teams. Essentially a play-in game for the playoffs. Who saw that coming after all their mid-season drama?
14. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
Last Week: 13
I’ll be damned, but Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles found a way to make the playoff this year. I thought they were doomed after starting the season 3-6. But, they’ve done a hell of a job turning things around. They almost let things slip out of their grasp against Washington this week. But, now they have the opportunity to walk into the playoffs on a 5-game win streak. That’s the stuff of nightmares for opposing teams.
13. Indianapolis Colts (9-7)
Last Week: 5
If Jonathan Taylor and a mistake-free Carson Wentz aren’t enough to overcome a mistake prone Raiders team, I don’t know what is. The Colts’ earned their way into the top 5 by pulling off win after win under incredible circumstances. But, the facade comes loose a little when they don’t find a way to win. The game was more important for Las Vegas than Indy. But, the Raiders might be the exact kind of team the Colts are going to need to be able to beat in the playoffs. Not a great look.
12. Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
Last Week: 15
That’s more like it, Cardinals. I was getting worried there for a minute because they weren’t overcoming injuries. I know it’s difficult, but great teams find a way to do it. I’m still a bit skeptical because they didn’t exactly win in convincing fashion down the stretch. But, they made poor clock management by the Cowboys work in their favor. Sometimes you have to grind a win out against a tough opponent.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)
Last Week: 12
Despite all their chargering, the Chargers still managed to wax the floor with an opponent they desperately needed to beat to stay relevant in the playoff discussion. They made it happen and now have the inside track to a playoff spot. Sort of. They’ll need to beat the Raiders next week or be eliminated. But, if the playoffs ended today they’d be in.
10. San Francisco 49ers (9-7)
Last Week: 10
I already mentioned how I actually expect the Saints to knock the 49ers out of the playoffs next week. But, next week isn’t here yet. This is the Week 18
NFL Power Rankings. And, as of Week 17, the 49ers are still rocking. I don’t know if they can hold on next week against the explosive Rams. But, the 31-10 drubbing of the Rams earlier this season is what kicked off this run the 49ers have been on. So, you never know! If the 49ers can pull it off, they’re as dangerous as anyone.
9. Tennessee Titans (11-5)
Last Week: 9
The Tennessee Titans are currently the AFC’s No. 1 seed. So, why are they ranked below other AFC teams you ask? Well, I’m still not sure what we’re going to see from the Titans when the competition starts roaring back up in the playoffs. If Derrick Henry comes back and gets right back to where he left off, this team will probably win the Super Bowl. But, it seems more likely that Henry might need some time to adjust back to football shape. If that’s the case, I doubt the Titans make it far in the playoffs. Regardless of how badly they beat the pretender Dolphins.
8. New England Patriots (10-6)
Last Week: 8
Wow! Talk about an absolute clinic! Bill Belichick wrote the book on how to take advantage of an inferior opponent this week! Mac Jones may not have thrown for a billion yards, but he did throw for three touchdowns and no interceptions. If this is a bounce-back game for the Patriots, the rest of the AFC should watch out over the next month. But, I’ve still got the back-to-back losses to the Bills and Colts fresh on my mind. I’ll take this Jaguars game as a sign they’re still worthy of being in the top 10.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4)
Last Week: 6
Normally, I don’t knock teams down after a win. But, the Bucs have looked vulnerable in recent weeks. After losing 9-0 to the Saints a few weeks ago, now almost losing to the Jets? And then that whole debacle with Antonio Brown. Everyone on the planet knew that was going to blow up in their face eventually. Then again, it’s tough to call them out for much when they’ve built such a successful team in Tampa over the last two seasons. Still, it’s not the best look. The Bucs look vulnerable heading into the playoffs.
6. Buffalo Bills (10-6)
Last Week: 7
The Bills struggled to put a vastly inferior Atlanta Falcons team away this week. I’m not going to knock them down in the Week 18 NFL Power rankings. But, I’m not going to give them a boost, either. They’re the last division leader in the AFC to not clinch their division yet. Granted, none of those other AFC teams are competing with a second place team as strong as the Patriots. I still think they’re one of the best teams in the AFC, but I also think there’s some vulnerability that concerns me.
5. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
Last Week: 4
Dak Prescott tried his damndest this week, but Mike McCarthy’s poor clock management was too much to overcome. All in all, I think the Cowboys played a decent game. I have no hesitation to say there’s no reason they can’t beat the Cardinals in a playoff rematch. But, they’ll have to overcome the little mistakes. I still think this is a great team. But, I’m wondering if they’re quite championship caliber.
4. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)
Last Week: 3
I said I don’t normally do this earlier in this article. Yet, here I am knocking a team down in the Week 17 NFL Power Rankings yet again despite a win. Why? Matt Stafford worries me. There’s no question he’s talented enough to contend for a Super Bowl and the Lions were holding him back. But, his penchant for absolutely devastating turnovers have me worried about what happens when this team plays great teams every single week. The Ravens were up 16-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter and it was almost entirely because Stafford kept turning the ball over.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
Last Week: 11
Those of you who follow my ATB coverage and my YouTube Channel know it fills me with joy to have an excuse to put the Cincinnati Bengals up this high in the Week 17 NFL Power Rankings. But, you also know I strive for analytical objectivity. Objectively, the Cincinnati Bengals stamped their name in the book of Super Bowl contenders this week with a clutch victory over the top team in the AFC this week. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are absolutely lethal together at all levels of the sport.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
Last Week: 1
Despite losing to the Cincinnati Bengals this week, I still think the Kansas City Chiefs are a hell of a football team. I would still put my money on them if they see the Bengals again in the playoffs. I don’t want to hear the excuses about the refs, because it’s a load of crap. But, I have to admit the Chiefs were one or two properly executed plays away from winning that game. They’re still super dangerous. I would be wary of counting this team out.
1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
Last Week: 2
The Green Bay Packers are the only team in football without a damn thing to fight for in Week 18. They took care of business against Sean Mannion’s Vikings this week and left no doubt about who the best team in the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings is. Davante Adams had another huge game. Aaron Rodgers was damn near perfect. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon were a fearsome two-headed beast in the backfield. Show me a major weakness on this team, other than some of their long-term injuries.