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NFL Power Rankings Week 18: Green Bay Packers climb, New York Jets crash

NFL power rankings

Who is the No. 1 team in the NFL? It’s more challenging to choose just one after a chaotic Week 18. Even sorting through the best teams in the NFL power rankings becomes a greater challenge as we head into the final week of the regular season.

If you like surprises, Sunday had them. The Green Bay Packers blew out the Minnesota Vikings, the San Francisco 49ers needed overtime to defeat the Las Vegas Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles couldn’t take down the New Orleans Saints. Three of the best teams in football all struggled just weeks before the NFL playoffs.

Needless to say, there is a lot of shakeup in the NFL standings heading into Week 18. With so much at stake, though, the final week of the regular season will be a thrilling ride.

Let’s dive into the latest NFL power rankings for Week 18.

32. Houston Texans

  • Previously: Last in NFL power rankings

The Houston Texans finally played like the worst NFL team again, moving them one step closer to securing the No. 1 overall pick. It’s rare to say, but Sunday is a must-lose game for Houston because it shouldn’t risk missing out on Bryce Young.

31. Chicago Bears

  • Previously: No. 31 in NFL power rankings

Justin Fields shouldn’t still be out there, the Chicago Bears are throwing their franchise quarterback into meaningless games to expose him to hits his body doesn’t need. The only positive is this season is one step closer to being over for Chicago and they’ll have $100 million in cap space to build an NFL-caliber team around Fields.

Related: Top NFL free agents 2023

30. Indianapolis Colts

  • Previously: No. 28 in NFL power rankings

There seems to be a legitimate chance of Jeff Saturday remaining the Indianapolis Colts coach next season. It seems unfathomable considering how poorly this team has performed, but favoritism and bad decision-making seem to be a habit for Jim Irsay.

29. Denver Broncos

  • Previously: No. 29 in NFL power rankings

The biggest story involving the Denver Broncos entering Week 18 is that Russell Wilson intends to completely re-evaluate everything he does, both as a player and leader. It should spark necessary change and paired with ownership’s aggressive approach, there’s some hope for 2023.

Related: Denver Broncos coaching candidates

28. Arizona Cardinals

  • Previously: No. 30 in NFL power rankings

There is tons of uncertainty right now surrounding the Arizona Cardinals. parting ways with general manager Steve Keim and head coach Kliff Kingsbury seem like the right move, but money might prevent it from happening. If that proves to be the case, fans should be livid.

Related: Arizona Cardinals coaching candidates

27. Los Angeles Rams

  • Previously: No. 27 in NFL power rankings

The Baker Mayfield story was fun while it lasted, but the Los Angeles Rams’ temporary quarterback was always going to fall back to earth. It’s a similar story for the defense, which couldn’t get pressure without Aaron Donald.

26. Tennessee Titans

  • Previously: 21st in NFL power rankings

The Tennessee Titans are one of the worst teams in the NFL right now. During the six-game losing streak, the Titans have a -65 point differential, one of the worst marks in the NFL during that time. There’s not a single reason to believe this team beats the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18. From 7-3 to 7-10, an ugly collapse for Tennessee.

25. Atlanta Falcons

  • Previously: No. 26 in NFL power rankings

The Desmond Ridder evaluation continues, with the Atlanta Falcons’ rookie quarterback playing efficient football in Sunday’s 20-19 win. There haven’t been any true flashes of franchise-level talent, but Atlanta can give him a full season in 2023.

24. Cleveland Browns

  • Previously: No. 23 in NFL power rankings

Deshaun Watson finally played more like a franchise-caliber quarterback, something the Cleveland Browns desperately needed to see. The Browns will be one of the more fascinating teams to monitor this offseason, especially if the owner gets his way.

Related: Highest-paid NFL quarterbacks

23. Las Vegas Raiders

  • Previously: No. 25 in NFL power rankings

Jarrett Stidham executed the offense fans were promised before the season, all coming against the No. 1 defense in the NFL. Ultimately, Sunday’s loss might be the perfect outcome as it secures the Las Vegas Raiders a higher pick and provides reason to believe in this offense next season.

22. New York Jets

  • Previously: No. 17 in NFL power rankings

The 2022 New York Jets season should be viewed as a wasted opportunity. Robert Saleh’s defense earned a spot in the playoffs, but devotion to Zach Wilson and the injury to star rookie Breece Hall extends the playoff drought. if New York isn’t willing to move on from Wilson in 2023 and it keeps trying to build him up as a long-term piece, it should erase any remaining confidence fans have in the front office.

21. Carolina Panthers

  • Previously: No. 19 in NFL power rankings

Steve Wilks put the Carolina Panthers into a position no one ever expected when they fired Matt Rhule. It remains possible that owner David Tepper is only about splash and headlines, which could influence who he hires as head coach. However, the right move is naming Wilks the full-time coach because he earned it.

20. New Orleans Saints

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 22nd in NFL power rankings

The New Orleans Saints have shown tremendous fight to close out the season, likely ensuring Dennis Allen returns as head coach in 2023. There are still plenty of looming questions, mainly tied to the quarterback and the cap situation, but this turnaround has to inspire some confidence for 2023.

Related: 2023 NFL salary cap tracker

19. Washington Commanders

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Washington Commanders
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 15th in NFL power rankings

Being completely unaware of basic playoff scenarios isn’t a great look for Ron Rivera. Far worse is the team dropping from 7-5 to 7-8-1 and the Carson Wentz trade predictably blowing up in this team’s face. Rivera has job security, but it’s fair to wonder if he really should.

18. Miami Dolphins

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 14th in NFL power rankings

It’s unraveled so quickly for the Miami Dolphins. From 8-3 to 8-8, the collapse is only going to fuel questions about the future. After three concussions in one year, there are no guarantees Tua Tagovailoa has a long-term future in football. If there’s doubt about that, Miami has to evaluate its quarterback options in 2023.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 20th in NFL power rankings

Mike Tomlin deserves consideration for NFL Coach of the Year. Injuries decimated the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense for weeks and the offense doesn’t boost anything close to being playoff-caliber. Despite all of this, Tomlin won eight games and 15 seasons without a losing record is worthy of Hall of Fame induction on its own.

16. Seattle Seahawks

NFL: New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 23rd in NFL power rankings

The Seattle Seahawks found the Jets’ defensive weakness and exploited it, with Kenneth Walker and DeeJay Dallas combining for 240 scrimmage yards on Sunday. It’s a performance this offense desperately needed and now Seattle has a shot at earning a playoff spot no one saw coming.

Related: NFL TV ratings 2023

15. New England Patriots

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 16th in NFL power rankings

The New England Patriots defense is good enough to cause problems for an All-Pro quarterback in the playoffs, but its offense will be the thing that makes that irrelevant. Robert Kraft has a history of not meddling unless it’s absolutely necessary, the Patriots’ coaching staff needs meddling.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 18th in NFL power rankings

Put aside whether or not the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a bonafide threat to make a run to the NFC Championship Game – they aren’t – it’s remarkable what Tom Brady is doing. While he has regressed, this is a 45-year-old quarterback on the brink of a 4,900-yard season with 25-plus touchdowns, which goes beyond the definition of absurd.

13. Baltimore Ravens

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 10th in NFL power rankings

The late-season collapse by the Baltimore Ravens should provide quarterback Lamar Jackson with all the leverage he needs in contract negotiations. We’ve witnessed arguably the worst offense in the NFL since Jackson’s injury. For all the durability concerns Baltimore might have with Jackson long-term, jobs will be at stake by 2024 if he isn’t kept around.

Related: Latest on Baltimore Ravens planned contract talks with Lamar Jackson

12. New York Giants

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 12th in NFL power rankings

Brian Daboll and Daniel Jones did it, snapping the New York Giants playoff drought. There will be time to talk about how much Jones is worth and what New York should do this offseason, but that can happen after the team’s first playoff game in six years.

Related: Evaluating Daniel Jones’ future with New York Giants

11. Minnesota Vikings

Syndication: Stevens Point Journal
Tork Mason / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 7th in NFL power rankings

Teams with double-digit wins and a single-digit point differential always crash. In Week 17, the Minnesota Vikings finally ran into some reality. One game doesn’t suddenly mean they are a fraudulent NFC North champion, but it paints a clear picture of what’s likely coming in the playoffs at home.

10. Green Bay Packers

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 13 in NFL power rankings

The Green Bay Packers suddenly look like one of the best teams in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers still isn’t playing anywhere near an MVP-caliber level, but it’s not necessary with a dominant rushing attack and an elite pass defense. All of this bodes well for a win-and-in scenario against the Detroit Lions in Week 18.

Related: NFL Week 18 schedule

9. Detroit Lions

NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 11 in NFL power rankings

The Detroit Lions recovered nicely from being bullied in Carolina. The ground game (265 yards_ carried Detroit in a blowout victory, but its defense came up huge with 10 third-down stops and two takeaways. It all sets up for a fantastic Lions vs Packers Week 18 clash with a playoff spot likely at stake.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 9 in NFL power rankings

The Jacksonville Jaguars should dominate Tennessee in Week 18, securing first place in the AFC South and a rare home playoff game. Wins over the Jets and Cowboys proved this is a legitimate contender and there’s enough young firepower to at least make Jacksonville a fun team to watch in the Wild Card round.

Related: Biggest NFL Draft busts ever

7. Los Angeles Chargers

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Chargers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 8 in NFL power rankings

The Los Angeles Chargers have all the makings of a dark horse Super Bowl contender. Elite quarterback, an offense gaining confidence and a defense playing at an elite level with the return of its star players. If you’re looking for a team in the AFC to pull off some playoff upsets, it’s Justin Herbert and the Chargers.

Related: NFL offense rankings

NFL power rankings: Super Bowl contenders

6. Dallas Cowboys

Syndication: The Tennessean
George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: No. 6 in NFL power rankings

Thursday’s victory over Tennessee did nothing to squash some reservations with the Dallas Cowboys. Defensively, Josh Dobbs had a fair amount of success for a third-string quarterback with days of practice reps and the Cowboys’ pass rush is far more flash than substance right now. Combine that with Prescott’s turnovers – 10 in last six games – and you have the ingredients for a Cowboys’ first-round playoff exit.

Related: Jerry Jones reportedly already has eyes on new Dallas Cowboys coach

5. Philadelphia Eagles

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 2 in NFL power rankings

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Halen Hurts is poised to return in Week 18, but he’s rejoining a team that has lost plenty of its momentum. Earning the first-round bye seemed like a foregone conclusion weeks ago, now it’s all in jeopardy. Health might be the ultimate difference-maker, which makes the stakes of the matchup against New York so crucial.

4. San Francisco 49ers

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Las Vegas Raiders
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 4 in NFL power rankings

The San Francisco 49ers have the longest active winning streak in the NFL, coming out victorious in nine consecutive games. However, needing overtime to escape with a win over Las Vegas and surrendering 500-plus yards to Jarrett Stidham and Co. is alarming. San Francisco can still be wildly dangerous in the playoffs, but it requires Mr. Irrelevant maintaining this shocking run and the 49ers’ secondaries learning to cover No. 1 receivers.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 5 in NFL power rankings

A win is a win in the NFL standings, but we’re evaluating Super Bowl contenders. The Kansas City Chiefs are playing sloppy football right now, making costly mistakes and not executing consistently on one side of the ball or the other. However, that seems to be the case for many of the best teams in the NFL as of late, so we’ll bet on Patrick Mahomes to fix things.

Related: Growing belief Eric Bieniemy becomes NFL head coach in 2023

2. Cincinnati Bengals (Week 17 game suspended)

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 3 in NFL power rankings

An explosive first-quarter performance proved to be all the Cincinnati Bengals needed on Christmas Eve. Look at what happened to New England, one of the best defenses in the NFL, when it couldn’t put pressure on Joe Burrow. Cincinnati’s defense is far superior to Kansas City’s unit and Burrown gives the Bengals a legitimate shot to beat anyone on a Super Bowl run.

Related: NFL QB rankings

1. Buffalo Bills (Week 17 game suspended)

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 2 in NFL power rankings

No one can question if the Buffalo Bills can win in playoff weather. For two consecutive weeks, we’ve seen one of the best NFL teams prove it can defeat opponents in a variety of ways in frigid temperatures. That’s a quality some of their playoff foes don’t bring to the table. Now, we get a Week 17 battle against Cincinnati that everyone should hope is a playoff preview. (PRE-MNF)