by Logan Lepiscopo
Top 10 NFL Power Rankings: Week 17
The playoff race is heating up, there are just 2 weeks left in the season the AFC and NFC are closer than ever. With that being said it is important to know those teams heading into the final stretch that are going to be able to make a playoff run. In this article I will be discussing the top 10 teams in the NFL and what damage I think can be done in the playoffs assuming they finish the season strong…
#10: Arizona Cardinals (10-5) – x #5 seed NFC
The Cardinals have lost three straight games and are holding on by a hair in my top 10 power rankings. I do not know if losing DeAndre Hopkins has really impacted the entire team performance level or if something else is going on, but the Cardinals need to get it together. Thanks to the Rams win over the Vikings the Cardinals clinched a spot in the playoffs, whether they end up winning the NFC West or finishing as one of the three wild card teams the current state of the Cardinals looks like a one and done in the playoffs. This Cardinals team is still very young and inexperienced so perhaps the constant spotlight has finally got to them. If they want to secure a division title for the first time since 2015 Arizona will need to win out and a Rams loss.
Week 17 @ Dallas Cowboys
Week 18 vs. Seattle Seahawks
#9: Tennessee Titans (10-5) #2 seed AFC
The Titans just took down the 49ers and despite the hiccups here and there throughout the season they remain the number two seed in the AFC and winning out will give the Titans back-to-back divisional titles. The Titans have A.J. Brown back off of injury reserve and needless to say he is back like he never left; Brown is going to be a huge asset to the Titans making a run in the playoffs. But no other player is a bigger asset to this team than the king, Derrick Henry. Henry has been progressing tremendously in his road to recovery and is expected to be back 100% ready for the playoffs. The Titans control their own road to that AFC South title but will need some help from the Chiefs last two opponents to get that number one seed and first round bye.
Week 17 vs. Miami Dolphins
Week 18 @ Houston Texans
#8: Buffalo Bills (9-6) #4 seed AFC
The Bills are another team that has had an up and down season and quite frankly I was very
hesitant to put the Bills on this list, but after getting revenge against Belichick and the Patriots it
felt appropriate. Again, similar to the Titans the Bills control their own destiny to a division title,
playing in Buffalo during the wintertime would be a huge advantage to have for the wildcard round of the playoffs. The playoff race in the AFC is very tight and the Bills have yet to guarantee themselves a playoff spot so these last two weeks for Buffalo are crucial. Lucky for Buffalo they play two of the worst teams in the NFL, those games will both serve as good momentum games heading into the playoffs.
Week 17 vs. Atlanta Falcons
Week 18 vs. New York Jets
#7: Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) #3 seed AFC
The Bengals have successfully swept the Ravens and Steelers in the same season for the first time since 2009 and are back in to first place in the AFC North. The Bengals not only swept the Ravens this year but, in both games, it was done in dominant fashion. Cincinnati’s offense is lethal in the passing and running game which is going to be something that is tough to stop come playoff time. The Bengals currently are the number three seed in the AFC and their resume makes a case for their lack of experience to not have them written off as a one and done. The Bengals have exceeded all expectations winning 7 of their 10 conference games so far and winning four division games (which is the most since 2015). The Bengals have all the potential in the world, this next game against the Kansas City Chiefs will be a true test to what this defense is capable of when going up against an elite, high powered offense like the Chiefs.
Week 17 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 18 @ Cleveland Browns
#6: Indianapolis Colts (9-6) #5 seed AFC
The Indianapolis Colts have been on fire since they started using Jonathan Taylor properly. The Colts are 9-0 in games that Taylor rushes for 100+ yards, and 0-6 in games that he does not. The Colts just added Carson Wentz to the COVID-19/reserve list and will be without him for week 17 versus the Raiders. This game is crucial in the Colts getting into the playoffs because of how tight the AFC wild card race is a loss to Las Vegas could put them out and into the hunt. The Colts three game winning streak comes at expense of Jonathan Taylor running wild and Carson Wentz throwing the ball when he is needed to. This game against the Raiders could be make or break, coming off of a big win versus the Cardinals the Colts have a big momentum swing their way. The Colts defense has to stand strong and support the offense, not just this week but moving forward to week 18 and the playoffs if they make it.
Week 17 vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Week 18 @ Jacksonville Jaguars
#5: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) – y#4 seed NFC
The Buccaneers did not necessarily deserve to fall in my rankings but a 32-6 win over the Panthers is not incredibly impressive to me. The Buccaneers clinched their division and though they sit in the four seed everyone seeded 1-5 in the NFC is just one Packers loss away from being in the mix for the number one seed. It is easy going for the Buccaneers the rest of the regular season, but injuries have been killer; Leonard Fournette on IR, Chris Godwin out for the season, Shaq Barrett out the rest of the regular season, and Mike Evans day-to-day. With the Buccaneers winning the NFC South they are locked in as any of the top 4 seeds in the NFC, there is a possibility that they move up to the number one seed but seeing how red hot the Packers are it is better to assume the Buccaneers will be the 2-4 seed.
Week 17 @ New York Jets
Week 18 vs. Carolina Panthers
#4: Los Angeles Rams – x(11-4)#3 seed NFC
The Los Angeles Rams can clinch the NFC West with a win and a Cardinals loss this weekend. After adding Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller man people were down on the Rams because of that three-game losing streak. Now the Rams have gotten things together and have won their last four to move them into the number three seed. The Rams just sent running back Darrel Henderson to the injury reserve, but amazing news came out that Cam Akers could play as early as this week. Akers ruptured his achilleas prior to the 2021 season and he was ruled as done for the season, but now it seems that Akers could be back for what everyone has talked up, the Rams and a super bowl. Matthew Stafford has not been playing well enough to make that super bowl run, but the defense has been stepping up and making plays when they need to and has really shaped up to what was a struggle in the beginning of the season. Though the Rams are not super bowl favorites anymore the team is full of talent that is more than capable of not just getting to the super bowl but winning it all.
Week 17 @ Baltimore Ravens
Week 18 vs. San Francisco 49ers
#3: Dallas Cowboys (11-4) – y#2 seed NFC
A lot of people are not sold on the Dallas Cowboys because their last 4 wins have not been against teams that are playoff contenders. But when you can put up 56 points in a game, 42 in a single half… no matter who the team is that is very impressive. The offense was playing great, the defense looked spectacular as it has all season long, and the Cowboys showed no signs of weakness in this game. Yes, it was the Washington Football Team, but the statistics for the Cowboys are unreal. 497 total yards, 10/15 on third downs, 2 interceptions, a blocked punt for a touchdown, 5 sacks, and 28 first downs… I don’t know about you but that is not just a successful offense and defense, that is also a successful special teams’ unit and let me tell you a team hitting on all three cylinders is a scary sight to see. The Cowboys last two games can truly establish themselves as a threat to the NFC, currently being the highest scoring offense in the NFL (thanks to last week’s game) is something to watch and see if Dak and the rest of the offense can keep that title going into the playoffs. Also not to mention the Cowboys can get home field advantage and a first-round bye throughout the playoffs if they win out and the Packers lose once.
– Week 17 vs. Arizona Cardinals
– Week 18 @ Philadelphia Eagles
#2: Kansas City Chiefs – y(11-4)#1 seed AFC
How about them Chiiiiiiefs! EIGHT straight wins for Kansas City is great and certainly unexpected considering what was the start of their season. The Chiefs currently hold the number one seed in the AFC and with a win plus a Titans loss can seal the envelope on that first round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. This Chiefs offense looks unstoppable, and the defense has done a complete 180 since the first half of the Chiefs season. The Chiefs slowly dropped their super bowl odds from the favorite in the AFC, to outside the top 5, to back in to being the AFC favorite in the super bowl. If there is one team capable of stopping this Chiefs hot streak, I think it is the Bengals in their week 17 matchup.
– Week 17 @ Cincinnati Bengals
– Week 18 @ Denver Broncos
#1: Green Bay Packers – y (12-3)#1 seed NFC
Go Pack Go! The Packers will continue to stay at his number one spot until they lose. The Packers win against the Browns was not exactly what NFL fans were expecting, or the nail-biting win against Tyler Huntley and the Ravens practice squad (not actually just an emphasis on all the team injuries). There is a clear case to have the Chiefs above the Packers, but this offense is rolling, and it is one of the first times that the Packers defense has been fully capable of supporting Aaron Rodgers. The Packers holding that number one seed is crucial because let’s be honest… who wants the super bowl to run through Lambeau? The cold atmosphere, the fans, Aaron Rodgers looking for back-to-back MVP years, the Packers are like Thanos right now having all the stones on the infinity gauntlet.
– Week 17 vs. Minnesota Vikings
– Week 18 @ Detroit Lions