Well, we may have finally got the Pickswise NFL Power Rankings sorted as we’re not making any changes to last week’s top five positions as we head into the last week of the regular season.
Four of those teams won in Week 17, which always helps for a bit of stability, but don’t worry, there’s still plenty of wild stuff going on in the lower reaches of the rankings.
Pickswise NFL Power Rankings for Week 18
1 (-) Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens could not have been more emphatic in wrapping up the #1 seed in the AFC (and the #1 spot in our rankings) by beating the pants off the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. I saw some complaints about Baltimore running up the score, but the Dolphins can’t really comment after they were throwing deep touchdown passes late in their 70-20 win over the Broncos earlier this season. The Ravens remain second in the FanDuel’s Super Bowl betting, but have +350 odds from +400 last week. Incidentally, did you know you know which is the only team to have beaten both the AFC and NFC #1 seeds this season? Keep reading to find out.
2 (-) San Francisco 49ers
Well, the Niners won this week, but they took some time to get going against the Commanders, and led only 13-10 at halftime. Clinching the first-round bye has seen their Super Bowl odds cut from +240 to +210.
3 (-) Buffalo Bills
The Bills have won four in a row but you would have liked them to have looked a lot more convincing against the Patriots than they were, on offense at least as Josh Allen had a really bad game. FanDuel cut their odds again from +1400 to +1100 for the Super Bowl this week. A win over the injury-hit Dolphins would give them the AFC East title, but if the Steelers and Jaguars both win, a loss for the Bills would leave them out of the playoffs. The final game of the NFL regular season could have plenty at stake.
4 (-) Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are obviously luckily to still be this high after they were crushed by the Ravens, but they beat the Cowboys the week before, so it’s hard to move them below Dallas already. With Bradley Chubb joining Jaelan Phillips and Jaylen Waddle on the injury list, the Dolphins will be glad they are already assured of a playoff place even if they lose to Buffalo and don’t win their division. Their Super Bowl odds have dropped all the way to +1400 from +750 last week.
5 (-) Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys complete an unchanged first 5. Again, they were not really convincing and might well have lost to the Lions if they’d had a different officiating crew, but they got a huge break when the Eagles lost and they now just need to beat the Commanders to secure the #2 seed. What could possibly go wrong?
6 (up 2) Detroit Lions
We can’t have the Lions too far behind the Cowboys given that to some people it seemed they actually just beat them on the road, whatever the record book says. We saw enough to think the Lions would have a decent shot to beat the Cowboys if their paths cross again in the playoffs. I guess what we’re saying is that the Lions reported as eligible to receive consideration for a long playoff run, as long as they followed the correct procedure.
7 (up 2) Cleveland Browns
Here’s the answer to that question above — the Browns have beaten both the 49ers (with PJ Walker at quarterback) and the Ravens (in a rare game when Deshaun Watson was healthy and finding his form). Now they’re doing all sorts of things they shouldn’t be with Joe Flacco at quarterback. You may remember a few weeks ago we began tracking Flacco’s Comeback Player of the Year odds when he was a 30/1 chance at DraftKings. Well good luck if you have that ticket as he now has +100 odds, with long-time favorite Damar Hamlin now in sight at -140. The Browns won the right to rest Flacco and all of their lengthy list of injured players if they wish in Week 18.
8 (down 1) Los Angeles Rams
The good news is that the Rams have wrapped up their playoff spot with a week to spare after winning 6 of their last 7 games. A 1-point win over the Giants will not have the rest of the NFC shaking in their boots, though.
9 (down 3) Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles continue to crumble and 4 losses in their last 5 games have seen their Super Bowl odds move all the way to +1200 as they now may have to play a road game in the wild-card round after starting the season 10-1.
10 (-) Kansas City Chiefs
Continuing our tour of the league’s most disappointing contenders we have the Chiefs, who did manage to beat the Bengals in a low-key rerun of last year’s AFC Championship game but still haven’t really played well on offense all season.
11 (up 3) Denver Broncos
It’s a surprise to be moving the Broncos up the rankings this week after they appeared to wave a white flag on their season by starting Jarrett Stidham against the Chargers to avoid giving more money than they have to to Russell Wilson, but it was only the Chargers, so they got the win. That wasn’t enough to save them from elimination anyway, so maybe the team made the right move.
12 (up 1) Cincinnati Bengals
It’s not really a compliment to the Bengals that they get a token move up despite losing to KC, more of a comment on the teams that had to vacate this area. The Bengals became the first AFC North team to be eliminated this season and are not just trying to avoid going 0-6 in the division when they play what will likely be a Browns team with something of a preseason second-half look to it.
13 (up 4) Chicago Bears
The Bears left it just a little too late to start looking good this season, but 4 wins in their last 5 games have had them leaping up these rankings. If they do decide the grass is greener on the other side, then someone is going to pick up a very useful quarterback in Justin Fields.
14 (up 2) Jacksonville Jaguars
It turns out it is possible for Trevor Lawrence to be kept out of a game by injury after all, but the Jaguars were able to win thought him as their game against the Panthers was perfectly timed and just about any quarterback would have been able to lead the team to the 1 point that was required to beat Carolina. Their 3-way showdown with the Colts and Texans for the AFC South title should be fun to watch this weekend.
15 (down 3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs hope they are also bailed out by getting to play the Panthers when they need it most after fluffing their lines in last week’s 23-13 loss to the Saints. Now back at .500 but still in the driving seat to advance, they must be so grateful to play in such a weak division.
16 (down 5) Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks look set to pay a heavier price for their Week 17 loss to the Steelers. Unless they tie with the Cardinals, they need to win and for the Bears to beat the Packers to make the playoffs. With 5 losses and a pair of 3-point wins in their last 7 games, they can have few complaints if they miss out.
17 (up 3) New Orleans Saints
The Saints found a big result just when they needed it to take the low-grade NFC South title race down to the final week. They play the Falcons, who are somehow also in the hunt still at 7-9, in one of the more unexpectedly interesting games of the week.
18 (-) Houston Texans
The Texans got their act back together to beat the eliminated Titans soundly. Their win-and-in Saturday night showdown against the Colts should be a good one, although a victory for the Jaguars on Sunday would be enough for Jacksonville to take the AFC South title.
19 (up 4) Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Tomlin has done it again – another winning season is guaranteed in Pittsburgh even though they still need a little outside help to make the playoffs during the Mason Rudolph revival. Kenny Pickett is healthy again now, but he’s not starting this week, which means the Steelers have more decisions to make in the offseason.
20 (down 1) Indianapolis Colts
The Colts make the playoffs if they beat the Texans on Saturday but a run of W-L-W-L-W coming into a must-win game is not ideal. If that part does go to plan, they can also win the AFC South if the Jaguars get it wrong on Sunday.
21 (up 5) Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are now 3-4 in their last 7 games and their draft picks are starting to lose value. Things are looking brighter on the field, though, and that was a great win over the Eagles this week.
22 (up 3) Green Bay Packers
The Packers showed no mercy when the Vikings made the questionable decision to start Jaren Hall against them and they can now get in the playoffs simply by beating the Bears, or even if they lose, although they would need a lot of help.
23 (down 1) Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are officially eliminated from contention after another lost season, but they are at least ahead of 2 teams that still hope to make the playoffs in these rankings. Running back Zamir White impressed again in the narrow loss to the Colts.
24 (up 3) New England Patriots
The Patriots did hit the bottom of these rankings at one point this season but now they’re climbing again. In their last 4 games they have 2 wins and have made life tougher than expected for the Chiefs and Bills, so who knows where they would have been if Bailey Zappe had not gone pick-crazy?
25 (up 3) New York Giants
The Giants showed some pride by taking the Rams to the wire in a 26-25 loss and they may have their sights set on a strong finish to the season as they get a second shot at upsetting the Eagles in 3 weeks.
26 (down 11) Minnesota Vikings
We clung on to the hope that the Vikings were just not showing their potential for perhaps to long, but if they’re starting Jaren Hall, then all that potential will be wasted. It’s 5 defeats in 6 games (plus a 3-0 win) for the Vikes in their late-season slump that can probably now be reclassified as a tank. They can officially still make the playoffs, but they are 22/1 to do so.
27 (down 6) Atlanta Falcons
The final team that is still alive in the playoff hunt is all the way down at 27th, but the Falcons have better odds to make the playoffs than the Vikings at +650. The Dirty Birds just need to beat the Saints and for the Buccaneers to lose to the Panthers, but the word just is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence.
28 (down 4) Tennessee Titans
The Titans looked like the kind of team who would fight hard even though they were already eliminated, but it didn’t seem that way for long against the Texans. Maybe they will do a better job of messing things up for the Jaguars this week.
29 (up 2) Washington Commanders
The Commies have lost 7 in a row now, but they showed enough in the first half at least against the 49ers to merit a small rise in the rankings. What lies in store in what may be head coach Ron Rivera’s last game in charge against the Cowboys? (Well, yes, it may well be an 8th straight loss).
30 (down 1) Los Angeles Chargers
It’s 7 losses in 8 games now for the Chargers, who have at least been able to reduce the number of points they have allowed over the last 3 weeks from 63 to 24 and now 16.
31 (down 1) New York Jets
The Jets were not able to replicate last year’s miraculous road win in Cleveland as Joe Flacco again ended the game as the winning quarterback, but for a different team this year. This pointless season ends with a game against their former coach (well, for one day) Bill Belichick and the Patriots. They also have the incentive to improve their head-to-head record after losing 15 straight games to the Pats.
32 (-) Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have clinched the first pick in the draft, which may already be in the mail to the Chicago Bears. Owner David Tepper is clearly not taking the team’s failure well, although they are only +200 odds to upset the NFC South title race by beating the Buccaneers.