NFL POWER RANKINGS – WEEK 18
Damar Hamlin’s health is the first and foremost thing on everyone’s mind in the NFL world at the moment. However, one of – if not the – most devastatingly unfortunate events in the history of the league has put some playoff scenarios for other AFC teams in limbo. At the time of my writing this, the NFL has not announced any plans to resume the Bills vs Bengals game. For the purposes of this article, I’ll be approaching each team’s weekly recap assuming that the Bill vs Bengals game will be cancelled. I will denote those recaps with an asterisk(*).
1. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (13-3)
Things are a lot more stressful for the Eagles than they would have expected a month ago. With Hurts injured, and coming off back-to-back losses, Philadelphia now must win or get some help from the Cardinals to lock up the 1-seed in the NFC… but I wouldn’t expect much help from the Cardinals.
2. BUFFALO BILLS (12-3)
As the football world prays for Damar Hamlin, I’d like to remind our readers that Hamlin’s charitable organization is the “Chasin’ M’s Foundation”. This charity helps get toys to needy children. There is a Go Fund Me page for this organization and we encourage you to donate, if able.
3. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-3)
*The Chiefs now control their own destiny for the 1-seed and lone bye in the AFC.
4. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (12-4)
The Niners have been very fortunate. Not just because Brock Purdy has assumed the starting role without major issue, but because the Eagles have now lost consecutive games, opening the door for San Francisco to wind up with the 1-seed.
5. DALLAS COWBOYS (12-4)
The Cowboys smell blood in the water as they are lurking, hoping for a 1st Round bye. They need both the Eagles & 49ers to lose, as well as take care of business on their end, but there’s a chance that Dallas can be relaxing at home during the wild card round.
6. CINCINNATI BENGALS (11-4)
*The Bengals have locked up the AFC North, however, their Week 18 game could determine whether they land the #2 or #3 seed.
7. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (10-6)
If you follow these rankings weekly you know that, when they are healthy, I hold this team in very high regard. Well, they are on the mend and playing good football just at the time of year when you want to start doing that. I wouldn’t want these guys in Round 1.
8. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (12-4)
Is this the worst 12-4 team in NFL history? Possibly. Do they have enough firepower to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl? Absolutely.
9. BALTIMORE RAVENS (10-6)
*The division is now out of reach. Their Week 18 game could determine whether they land the #5 or #6 seed, so not a ton to get excited about there.
10. DETROIT LIONS (8-8)
The Detroit Lions final game of the season will have meaning. Usually, that meaning is one-sided, but this year the Lions will possibly be playing for their own playoff berth. They will need to beat Green Bay and get some help from the Rams.
11. GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-8)
The task is simple: win and you’re in. The Packers have been in playoff-mode for the past 3 weeks and they’ve taken care of business. Now they will try to avenge their loss to Detroit to get into the postseason once again.
12. NEW YORK GIANTS (9-6-1)
The Giants are locked into the 6-seed in the NFC, leaving little meaning for their Week 18 game against the Eagles, other than to spoil their rivals shot at a bye.
13. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (8-8)
It’s been an up & down season for the Pats, but if they beat Buffalo in Week 18, they will find themselves in familiar territory – the NFL Playoffs.
14. MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-8)
In a season that once saw many people consider the Dolphins contenders in the AFC will come down to what both Miami AND New England does in Week 18. The Dolphins fell off a massive cliff this season, and now their fate is in the hands of their division rivals. That being said, if this team gets in, I wouldn’t want to play them with their quick-strike capabilities.
15. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (8-8)
Trevor Lawrence has introduced himself as potentially one of the next great NFL QB’s this season. What better way to cap that campaign off than winning the division and earning a playoff berth in Week 18.
16. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-8)
Not only can Mike Tomlin keep his non-losing season streak intact, but the Steelers can also make the playoffs. The recipe for that happening obviously begins with beating the Browns, then they will need wins from both Buffalo and the New York Jets. A playoff berth is unlikely, but there are certainly teams in worse positions than the Steelers find themselves in.
17. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (8-8)
It’s been an uglier season than Brady is accustomed to, but he’s once again a division champ. Now the question becomes how big of a threat are they in the playoffs?
18. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (8-8)
They’ll be playing in front of the 12th man on Sunday hoping for a win and a Packers loss to secure a playoff berth. No matter the outcome, this season has played out much better than most expected for the Seahawks.
19. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (7-9)
The Saints will wrap up a disappointing season at home against the Panthers. Surely the focus will be on the 2023 season as soon as the clock hits 0.
20. CLEVELAND BROWNS (7-9)
The Browns can’t make the playoffs, but they can play a role in the Steelers missing out. They can also hand Mike Tomlin his first losing season as the Steelers head coach. That isn’t bad as far as consolation prizes go.
21. WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (7-8-1)
A very promising stretch in the middle of the season has turned into a free fall. Attention remains on the Commanders, however, with questions surrounding the ownership of the team, as Dan Snyder has initiated a process to sell the franchise.
22. TENNESSEE TITANS (7-9)
The Titans have lost 6 straight games, but can still emerge as the champions of the AFC South on Saturday night. Will Ryan Tannehill return to rescue the season? Or will Malik Willis be playing in the biggest game of his short pro career? If Willis gets the start and emerges as the winning QB, that would surely buy back a lot of the good will that he has lost from the fanbase.
23. NEW YORK JETS (7-9)
The Jets will end the season with a lot of uncertainty around the QB position. It’s starting to look like the plug has been pulled on Zach Wilson, so the Jets should be looking at the 2023 draft class. In the meantime, they will try to ensure that the Dolphins miss the playoffs regardless of what happens in Foxborough.
24. LOS ANGELES RAMS (5-11)
I’m curious to see how McVay and the front office approach this off-season after the most disappointing season of McVay’s tenure. They traded away a lot of draft capital, so they could be active in free agency and the trade market after they conclude their season in Seattle.
25. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (6-10)
After an incredibly disappointing season it appears that ties will be cut with Derek Carr. His landing spot will be interesting, as will the Raiders’ route to replacing him.
26. ATLANTA FALCONS (6-10)
The Falcons will close out their season with a meaningless game vs Tampa Bay. All focus is undoubtedly on the upcoming draft.
27. CAROLINA PANTHERS (6-10)
The Panthers playoff hopes fell apart in their loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday, bet hey, I don’t think anyone expected them to even have playoff hopes in Week 17. There is surely a small moral victory in this season.
28. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (4-11-1)
The Colts will close out their season and then I’d imagine get right back to the drawing board for how to approach the QB position next year. Do they take someone in the draft? Or attempt to solve that problem via free agency once again?
29. DENVER BRONCOS (4-12)
I’m sure Broncos Country just wants this nightmare of a season to end so they can begin their search for a new head coach after Nathaniel Hackett couldn’t even fill the role for one full season.
30. ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-12)
Injuries really buried the Cardinals this year, but Kingsbury isn’t blameless. There is speculation that he won’t be calling the shots when the 2023 season begins.
31. CHICAGO BEARS (3-13)
Please get Justin Fields some help this off-season. Please.
32. HOUSTON TEXANS (2-13-1)
It was a tough season for the Texans. It should be a rough offseason as well as the front office will attempt to address the positions that they need help at… which is pretty much all of them.