by Logan Lepiscopo
Top 10 NFL Power Rankings: Week 18
With a few division winners still not settled and a couple wildcard spots still open for grabs the NFL playoff race is coming down to the very end of the season. Seeding has nothing to do with these rankings however, power rankings all have to do with what teams have the hot hand. So you may see a 1 seed in the bottom half of these rankings, and you may see a current wild card team in the top 5, you will have to read and see my top 10 teams heading into this last week of the 2021-2022 NFL season.
#10: New England Patriots (10-6) – x#5 seed AFC
Welcome back into my top 10 New England! A 50-point game against the Jaguars may not be very impressive but after the Colts loss to the Raiders I could not leave them inside the top 10. New England is currently the number 5 seed in the AFC but is still searching to win that AFC East title. The Patriot’s defense has been incredible all season, still allowing the fewest points in the NFL (270) which averages out to less than 17 points per game. If there is one thing I have learned about the Patriots, it is to never count out Bill Belichick, no matter what that Patriots team consists of. He has his Tom Brady 2.0 with Mac Jones, a great three headed running back room, and a top defense in the NFL to support his offense.
Week 18 @ Miami Dolphins
#9: Arizona Cardinals (11-5) – x#5 seed NFC
The Cardinals put together a solid performance against the Cowboys, but it still was not entirely impressive enough to move them up more than one spot. The division is still within reach for the Cardinals, my only call for concern is the lack of consistency that the team has had since DeAndre Hopkins got injured. This young and inexperienced Cardinals team has locked in a spot for the playoffs, but the question has to be raised of if they can win a game. The Cardinals went from the best team in football with an MVP candidate to a team that may be one and done in the playoffs with a struggling quarterback. With one week to go can the Cardinals end the season on a high note and make the rest of the NFC become worried yet again.
Week 18 vs. Seattle Seahawks
#8: Buffalo Bills (10-6) – x#4 seed AFC
The Bills extend their winning streak to three games, but I would not be excited about this victory over the Falcons. Josh Allen has not been playing great, quite honestly this Bills defense is the reason that Buffalo is winning games. If the Bills want to get back into talks of knocking off the Chiefs the turnovers by Josh Allen need to be cleaned up, nothing more, nothing less. The Bills have the Jets to end the season, and I do not want to say this should be an easy win, but the AFC East is theirs to lose.
Week 18 vs. New York Jets
#7: Tennessee Titans (11-5) – xz#1 seed AFC
The Titans now hold the first seed in the AFC after the Chiefs loss, but that is not enough for me to move this team in as one of the top 5 teams in the NFL. The Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said that Derrick Henry could return to practice this week but is more than likely to be a full go by playoff time. If the Titans can beat the Texans on Sunday, there is no doubt in my mind that this team will be the scariest team coming into the playoffs. Giving Derrick Henry an extra week of rest and getting A.J. Brown and Julio Jones fully healthy would be the best thing to happen to the Titans this year. I am not going to call this Titans team the AFC favorite but securing the bye week and home field advantage could very well make them the most dangerous AFC team.
Week 18 @ Houston Texans
#6: Los Angeles Rams (12-4) – x#2 seed NFC
The Rams moved down in my rankings because the squeezed-out win over a decimated Ravens team. Do not get me wrong winning five games in a row is impressive but the teams that the wins are against are not impressive. The Rams could have running back Cam Akers back in time for the playoffs which would be nice to have him paired up with Sony Michel and take some stress off of Matthew Stafford’s shoulders. The defense of the Rams has been playing well of late, other than that punch Ramsey threw at Taylor Rapp on Sunday. I would love to see the Rams hold on to the NFC West title and get Stafford to the super bowl at home, but I am not totally convinced that this team has what it takes.
Week 18 vs. San Francisco 49ers
#5: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4) – xz#3 seed NFC
Whether it has been injuries or players running off the field middle of the game the Buccaneers have been getting hit hard with players being out and missing time. Bruce Arians has no plans to rest any of his starters against the Panthers, with the Buccaneers WR group going from a big 3 to just Mike Evans it is only right to get some chemistry going. We all know Tom Brady comes different in the playoffs so you cannot just rule this team out because of the key offensive players that are now missing. The Buccaneers should have never been losing to the Jets but for Brady to throw that game winning touchdown with 4th and 5th string wide receivers just seemed like another moment that was meant to happen for Tom Brady. Do not let this Antonio Brown drama distract you from the fact that Tom Brady is in a position to reach the super bowl for the 11th time in his career.
Week 18 vs. Carolina Panthers
#4: Dallas Cowboys – xz(11-5)#4 seed NFC
This Cowboys offense is not as good as I thought, they looked like everything was back put together versus the Washington Football Team but against the Cardinals everything fell back apart. Michael Gallup is done for the season which is a huge hit to the offense, but I still think this Cowboys defense is more than capable of being that glue to hold this team together. Dak Prescott needs to start playing like he was before his leg injury in 2020, because without that solid passing game defense know that the Cowboys will lean on their running back duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Though the Cowboys and Eagles are both already in the playoffs how sweet would it be to get a win over a division rival heading into the playoffs.
Week 18 @ Philadelphia Eagles
#3: Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) – xz#3 seed AFC
WHO DEY! A very impressive win by the Bengals has them moved from my number 7 into my top 3, which may seem outrageous, but the Bengals team has some real grit. The Bengals won the AFC North with their victory over the Chiefs, but the job is not finished. The Bengals could move all the way up to that number one seed if the Titans and Chiefs both lose, though that is very unlikely because the Titans and Chiefs are fighting for the one seed as well it could happen. The Bengals offense has been unstoppable the past three weeks, whether it be Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, or Joe Mixon there looks to be no weak points. The defense has been playing up to par, after allowing 28 points in the first half of the Chiefs game the Bengals squad came out and allowed just 3 second half points. The Bengals can make some noise in the playoffs if Joe Burrow can stay healthy and the rest of the team keeps up its solid play.
Week 18 @ Cleveland Browns
#2: Kansas City Chiefs – xz(11-5)#2 seed AFC
Yes, I understand the Chiefs lost to the Bengals, but it is hard to bump this Chiefs team down in the power rankings especially with how good the offense played in this game. This is the typical Chiefs team though with a high-powered offense and a below average defense, despite its better play compared to last year. The Chiefs lost the game on silly mistakes made by the defense, specifically Chardavius Ward. The Chiefs still have something to play for with their eyes on the number one seed so next week against the Broncos expect Andy Reid and the Chiefs to put up a performance that will leave an exclamation point on their season moving into the playoffs. The Chiefs have already won the AFC West, getting that number one seed would just be that cherry on top. The Chiefs having home field advantage would not do much duty when it comes to weather because these AFC teams that have clinched their spot in the playoffs are used to the cold temperatures and snow.
Week 18 @ Denver Broncos
#1: Green Bay Packers – xz* (13-3)#1 seed NFC
The path to the super bowl runs through Lambeau for the NFC! The Packers locked in the number one seed in the NFC Sunday night after a dominant 37-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers had an eight-game win streak earlier this season and picked back up after a loss to the Chiefs winning their next 5 games. When you look at the rest of the NFC all of the teams are used to warm weather or playing inside of a dome, except for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Packers ended the season 8-0 at home so getting this home field advantage was crucial for Aaron Rodgers and company. The Packers are the best team in football, and they have been for quite some time, also let’s not forget to mention Aaron Rodgers has had yet another MVP caliber season. This offense under Matt LaFleur has been tremendous and the defense has taken a complete 180 from what it was last season.
Week 18 @ Detroit Lions
X = Clinched Playoff Berth
Z = Clinched Division Title * = Clinched Home Field Advanta