The final edition of power rankings is here!
Thank you for following along since we debuted this series in Week 3. I hope my analysis was interesting to those of you that stayed for the ride, and hopefully we’ll be back doing this next season!
In terms of the playoffs, we have 10 spots secured, with the sixth seed in the AFC still open, and the NFC East still undecided (but with an edge to Philly). In terms of seeding, Baltimore and Buffalo have clinched the first and fifth seeds in the AFC, while the Vikings hold the sixth seed in the NFC… everything else is fair game.
A New England win or KC loss earns the Pats the second seed in the AFC, while the inverse gives it to the Chiefs.
A Chiefs win assures at least the third seed, while a loss and Houston win would put Houston in the third spot.
Four teams in the NFC (San Francisco, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Seattle) could finish tomorrow as the top seed in the conference, but only the 49ers control their own destiny, needing a win and no help. Green Bay needs a win and 49ers loss to get the one seed, while the Saints need a win, Packers AND 49ers loss… Seattle needs to beat the 49ers, then have the Saints and Packers have lost before their game.
Green Bay and San Fran get a bye week with a win, while New Orleans would need the 49ers or Packers to lose. Seattle would need to win and then have Green Bay or New Orleans lose.
The loser of the 49ers-Saints game will be the fifth seed, and will face the Eagles or Cowboys.
Finally, in the AFC, the sixth seed is at play between the Titans, Steelers, and Raiders. Tennessee just needs a win (or Steelers loss), while the Steelers need a win AND Titans loss. If both teams lose, then the Raiders have a shot… but they’d need to win, then… well, Fredy wrote about it here. It’s not impossible, but unlikely.
Alright, that’s everything, now to the rankings.
Biggest rise: Philadelphia Eagles (up 5 spots)
Biggest fall: Bears, Cowboys, Browns, Chargers (down 3 spots)
1. Baltimore Ravens (PR: 1)*
Record: 13-2 (1st in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers (home)
After clinching home field last week, the Ravens announced Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, Marshal Yanda, Earl Thomas and Brandon Williams will not play in the season finale. Jackson will finish the season with 3127 passing yards, 36 TDs & 6 INTs (113.3 passer rating), as well as 1206 rushing yards and 6 TDs… MVP.
2. San Francisco 49ers (PR: 2)*
Record: 12-3 (1st in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Seattle Seahawks (away)
Their defense has not looked as dominant as it did to begin the season, but the most promising thing that happened last week was their comeback, specifically the way they were led by Jimmy G. They’ll need to be on their A-game tomorrow with the NFC West – and the top seed in the NFC – on the line.
3. New Orleans Saints (PR: 3)*
Record: 12-3 (3rd in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Carolina Panthers (away)
The Saints weren’t perfect against the Titans, but they pulled out a victory, putting themselves in position for a bye week, and possibly home field, this postseason. However, they’re still the three seed at this time, and need some help to keep as many games as possible at the Superdome.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (PR: 5)*
Record: 11-4 (3rd in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Los Angeles Chargers (home)
Patrick Mahomes had another solid outing, and the Chiefs held their opponent to 3 points for the second straight week. They’ve allowed 17 or less points for 5 straight games, and this team as a whole is ascending at the right time.
5. New England Patriots (PR: 6)*
Record: 12-3 (2nd in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Miami Dolphins (home)
Tom Brady had a classic performance against one of the best defenses in the NFL, helping the Patriots reach 12 wins and the AFC East. They’re one step closer to earning a bye week for the 10th straight year, and they might be ready to play the role of underdog yet again.
6. Seattle Seahawks (PR: 4)*
Record: 11-4 (5th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: San Francisco (home)
Seattle’s shocking loss at home also saw the loss of running back Chris Carson, a huge part of their success this season. However, he’ll be replaced by former Seahawks Robert Turbin, and yes, Marshawn Lynch. A win tomorrow would clinch the division, and with some help, possibly a bye week.
7. Green Bay Packers (PR: 7)*
Record: 12-3 (2nd in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Detroit Lions (away)
Green Bay went into Minnesota to face a Vikings team trying to have a chance at winning the division, and was able to prevail. It was not pretty, but the Vikings were uglier, and the Packers have the two seed going into Week 17. A win against the Lions will secure a bye week, and a Seattle win would have them winning the conference. We’ll save my lack of faith in this team for another day.
8. Buffalo Bills (PR: 8)*
Record: 10-5 (5th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: New York Jets (home)
Buffalo gave the Patriots all they could handle at Gillette last Saturday, but it was not enough. Luckily for the Bills, the Steelers and Titans lost again, meaning their spot as the fifth seed is secure, so there isn’t anything to play for tomorrow. Could be a chance to rest players against the Jets and get ready for the postseason, which will either be a game in Houston or KC.
9. Houston Texans (PR: 9)*
Record: 10-5 (4th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Tennessee Titans (home)
Houston won an ugly game against the Bucs, but with a game to go and the division clinched, the question is whether they get the third or fourth seed in the AFC. Something to keep an eye on: since beating the Patriots, Deshaun Watson has been off, with 719 passing yards, 3 TDs & 5 INTs (70.1 passer rating)… and he was sacked 5 times last week. Not a promising finish to the year.
10. Minnesota Vikings (PR: 10)*
Record: 10-5 (6th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Chicago Bears (home)
The Vikings looked lost on Monday, something normal for Kirk Cousins at this points. In order to have any hope this postseason they’ll need Dalvin Cook healthy and back to his early season level of success in order to help Captain Kirk a little bit. Regardless, they’ll be the sixth seed.
11. Tennessee Titans (PR: 11)
Record: 8-7 (6th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Houston Texans)
The Titans got off to an early lead and looked ready to upset the Saints, but New Orleans was able to come back. They had a chance when they got the ball late in the 4th trailing by three, but Kalif Raymond proceeded to fumble a long reception on the first play of that drive, which led to a eventual Saints score. Tennessee needs a win in Houston to clinch a playoff spot.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (PR: 17)
Record: 8-7 (4th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: New York Giants (away)
I might be back on the Carson Wentz train. The Eagles have won three straight games, and although the strength of their opponents can be questioned, Wentz has been clutch in each game, and working with a very depleted receiving corps in the process. They need a win or a Dallas loss to clinch the NFC East, and maybe, just maybe, they’ve built some momentum to play a competitive playoff game against Seattle or San Francisco.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PR: 15) – eliminated
Record: 7-8 (10th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Atlanta Falcons (home)
The Bucs were not able to upset the Texans, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t fun to watch. Jameis Winston was on his game, throwing passes to his teammates and opponents like always. The Bucs have a chance to go 8-8 with a win tomorrow, but for a new coach in his first year, this has been a promising finish to 2019.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (PR: 12)
Record: 8-7 (7th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Baltimore Ravens (away)
Well, the Steelers were upset against the Jets, and had to go back to Mason Rudolph, the same QB they benched for Devlin Hodges during Week 12. The team is hoping for something to stick, but it might be too late. They still have a chance of making the playoffs, but need a win and a Titans loss to get it done. Even if they make it, I don’t expect much, but the fact they have a chance is due to the work of Mike Tomlin.
15. Los Angeles Rams (PR: 13) – eliminated
Record: 8-7 (7th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Arizona Cardinals (home)
The Rams looked like they might runaway with a victory in San Francisco as they hoped to keep their season alive, but they could not get it done, which has been the story of their entire season, and the loss eliminated them from playoff contention. Getting to the top – an appearance in the Super Bowl – is hard, but sustaining that success is even harder. Back to the drawing board.
16. Atlanta Falcons (PR: 18) – eliminated
Record: 6-9 (11th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (away)
The Falcons red hot stretch has been good enough to confirm that head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff will be back next season. The Falcons are still searching for the ingredients to that recipe that had them on the verge of a Super Bowl just three seasons ago, and are hedging their bets on Quinn and Dimitroff being the right men to do the shopping and cooking.
17. Chicago Bears (PR: 14) – eliminated
Record: 7-8 (8th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Minnesota Vikings (away)
Seeing Patrick Mahomes come into Soldier Field and look like himself must have stung for Bears fans, a view into an alternate reality where they would be set at QB and have a bruising defense to boot. Unfortunately for them they’re 7-8 and will miss the postseason, and the QB position will be questioned all offseason – and possibly forever.
18. Indianapolis Colts (PR: 18) – eliminated
Record: 7-8 (9th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars (away)
The Colts put together their best game in weeks when they beat the Panthers at home, looking to finish the season on a positive note. Similar to a year ago, they’ll have a lot of cap space and young talent under wraps, but unlike a year ago, a future without Andrew Luck in it. Jacoby Brissett has handled the starting role admirably, but there will be questions about his future in Indy.
19. Dallas Cowboys (PR: 16)
Record: 7-8 (9th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Washington (home)
Dallas did not show up in Philadelphia last Sunday, and for the first time all season they have officially relinquished their lead of the NFC East. Tomorrow should be Jason Garrett’s final game as the head coach… unless they win and Philly loses.
20. Denver Broncos (PR: 20) – eliminated
Record: 6-9 (11th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Oakland Raiders (home)
Denver handled their business in Detroit as Drew Lock had another promising game and Phillip Lindsey ran all over the Lions defense. This was a year of transition, but I am genuinely encouraged by how Denver is finishing this season, and they could be a team to keep an eye out for in 2020.
21. New York Jets (PR: 25) – eliminated
Record: 6-9 (12th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Buffalo Bills (away)
Well, yet again the Jets played the role of spoiler and made things harder for a team that is better them on paper. Like the Falcons, the Jets went from starting 1-7 to being 6-9 with a week to go, and they’re actually 6-6 in games started by Sam Darnold, who has played better during the second half of 2019. Makes you wonder if there is hope after all.
22. Cleveland Browns (PR: 19) – eliminated
Record: 6-9 (10th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals (away)
The Browns got of to an early lead, and then classic Browns football allowed the Ravens to take a 14-6 lead going into halftime, and before you knew it it was 21-6 early in the third, and all hope was lost. It’s going to be a very interesting offseason for the team.
23. Oakland Raiders (PR: 23)
Record: 7-8 (8th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Denver Broncos (away)
The Raiders beat the Chargers last week, and somehow are still alive for a playoff spot. As Fredy outlined earlier this week, the Raiders had things go their way a week ago, but need more things to go in their favor tomorrow, including beating the Broncos, in order to sneak past the Steelers and Titans and make the playoffs… stranger things have happened.
24. Arizona Cardinals (PR: 27) – eliminated
Record: 5-9-1 (12th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Los Angeles Rams (away)
The Cardinals upset the Seahawks in Seattle last week to move to 5-9-1, winning 2 straight games after a long losing streak. Kyler Murray was hurt in the game and had to leave, and if his rookie season is officially over, it was a promising one for the 2019 first overall pick. Tomorrow could also be Larry Fitzgerald’s final game in the NFL.
25. Los Angeles Chargers (PR: 22) – eliminated
Record: 5-10 (13th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Kansas City Chiefs (away)
The Chargers loss moved them to 5-10, and are one week away from one of the more disappointing seasons in the NFL this year given how 2018 went.
26. Carolina Panthers (PR: 24) – eliminated
Record: 5-10 (13th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: New Orleans Saints (home)
The Panthers continue to be on a downward spiral, in the midst of a 1-8 stretch, yet another loss-filled finish to their season. 2020 will be a new chapter for the franchise.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (PR: 26) – eliminated
Record: 5-10 (14th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Indianapolis Colts (home)
Similar to the Panthers, the Jags are spiraling as well, 1-6 during their past 7 games. The team might have found something in Gardner Minshew this season, but will need to salvage the image of their organization following the NFLPA’s investigation against the team and former head executive Tom Coughlin. Expect a complete overhaul of football operations.
28. New York Giants (PR: 30) – eliminated
Record: 4-11 (14th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (home)
In what was actually a thrilling match between Washington, the Giants prevailed, and Daniel Jones looked spectacular. It was his first win since Week 4 (against Washington), and was a sign of what the future could hold for Jones if given the right resources. That could very well mean a new head coach.
29. Miami Dolphins (PR: 29) – eliminated
Record: 4-11 (15th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: New England Patriots (away)
Miami moved to 4-4 since their 0-7 start with a win against the Bengals, in a similarly thrilling game. I’m sure the roster will continue to be overhauled as they find players to fit the image of Brian Flores, but the fact this team, which seemed destined to flounder, has become average, is a sign of good things to come.
30. Washington (PR: 28) – eliminated
Record: 3-12 (16th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Dallas Cowboys (away)
Washington may have loss, but Dwayne Haskins looked solid yet again, even if he had to leave the game due to injury. He’ll be developing under a new coach in 2020, but there is reason to believe he has something to offer this squad moving forward.
31. Detroit Lions (PR: 31) – eliminated
Record: 3-11-1 (15th in NFC) | Week 17 opponent: Green Bay Packers (home)
Your last reminder that the Lions actually started this season 2-0-1 before losing 11 of their next 12 games, including all 7 games they have been without Matt Stafford, who was having an excellent season before going out for the year. Disappointing, yes, but Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia will get one more crack at molding this team in 2020… yet again, I ask you to look towards San Francisco about what happens when patience goes right, but that might be too optimistic here.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (PR: 32) – eliminated
Record: 1-14 (16th in AFC) | Week 17 opponent: Cleveland Browns (home)
Is Joe Burrow here yet?
Credit to photo above goes to Elaine Thompson of the AP
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