NFL Power Rankings for Week 18: The Ravens and the 49ers Secure the Top Two Seeds
Baltimore once again demonstrated how quickly it can seize control of a game, and San Francisco will also have the opportunity to recuperate before the playoffs begin.
I was able to watch Michigan vs. Alabama on the all-22 broadcast due to the fact that our son, who is three years old, tossed away the remote control at some point during the holiday weekend. I was able to view the broadcast through my Amazon Fire TV Stick, which has a different remote. I have, without a doubt, watched all-22 in the past, but only as a replay throughout the week, after I have a reasonably solid understanding of what has previously transpired. Additionally, I have had the privilege of attending a number of games in person, when I was positioned high enough on the 50-yard line to enjoy comparable views.
Nevertheless, it dawned on me this time how much the National Football League (NFL) manipulates a broadcast in order to ratchet up the drama. As soon as the ball is snapped, we are aware that a receiver is open when we are seeing all-22 live. In a fairly clear manner, we are aware of whether the quarterback is holding the ball for an excessive amount of time or whether the receivers are unable to get open.
The game is straightforward, yet in its own way, it is pretty lovely. The game is straightforward. It’s some football. None of the things that the National Football League has become; a combination of reality show and footsie between the broadcasters and the coaches who provide them with the best access and knowledge throughout the week, which influences the commentary, and an experience that is completely ludicrous. If you could make it possible for me to watch games like this every Sunday, I might never go back to my old ways.
1. the Baltimore Ravens (13–3)
At the 1:44 mark of the first quarter, the Baltimore Ravens were trailing the Miami Dolphins by a score of 10–7, and Lamar Jackson was on the verge of being brought down by Bradley Chubb, who was going to bring him down short of the first-down marker. This is the part that makes the Ravens’ performance against the Dolphins so ridiculous. In what ways may the mood of a game shift when this team is involved?
2. the San Francisco 49ers (12–4)
On the other hand, I am relieved that Christian McCaffrey is getting some time to recover from his injury, even though this is an extremely unjust comment to say with hindsight being 20/20. It came as a surprise to me that McCaffrey’s load management appeared to be the way it was during the season. However, when someone is so responsible for the appearance of the offense, much alone its effectiveness, he kind of has to be on the field as often as is humanly possible.
3. the Detroit Lions (11–5)
Regrettably, the conclusion of Saturday’s game was overshadowed by yet another call that was either mishandled or appeared to be botched at a high level regarding NFL referees. The place where I would put my money if I were to wager on whether or whether this error was made by Dan Campbell, a former player who is as calculated as they come, or by an officiating crew from the National Football League, I am certain of my choice. Nevertheless, eleven after five is a remarkable achievement. During this postseason, it is time for the Lions to make a statement and make some noise. It is quite improbable that they will secure the No. 2 seed; nonetheless, for them, it would be preferable to have a matchup with whatever the hell emerges from the depths to earn the No. 7 seed rather than competing against the Rams at this moment.
4. The Cleveland Browns, who have a record of 11–5
Give it a month, as that is the rule of thumb I use when it comes to surprising quarterbacks. The ability to take a game plan to a more productive location is something that defensive coordinators can do with a month’s worth of sample size. The fact that Joe Flacco appears to be improving as a result of his vast repertoire of experience and the gradual removal of rust is an intriguing development. In this offense, where the receiving corps is in good shape, what is his maximum potential? Then again, have we already witnessed the pinnacle, and are we now ready to face the truth?
5. The Dallas Cowboys, who have a record of 11–5
As I watched the Cowboys on Saturday, I couldn’t help but think about how ridiculous it was that this team decided not to put Ezekiel Elliott back in the lineup. While I can appreciate the desire to give Tony Pollard a prominent position and the potential difficulties that could arise from having Elliott in the building, he believes that he would have been a valuable asset to the team if he had been able to perform the functions of a receiver out of the backfield and a pass protector. Elliott has more games in New England with 40 or more receiving yards than Pollard has, despite the fact that Elliott has been in a much more densely packed platoon throughout the season.
6. The Kansas City Chiefs, who have a record of 10–6
It is my opinion that the third quarter, beginning with the moment the Chiefs stopped the Bengals on a horribly called fourth-down run and ending with the moment (technically early in the fourth quarter) when they went up 19–17, is the kind of swing that has the potential to change a team’s trajectory moving forward. I am mostly of the opinion that this is the case because of the performance of Rashee Rice and Justin Watson in significant roles, both of whom have received critical acclaim. It was a wise decision on the part of Patrick Mahomes to avoid throwing to Isiah Pacheco, who was wide open down near the goal line; otherwise, we might have had something that was more akin to a blowout.
7: The Miami Dolphins (11–5)
I think it’s great that we’re getting a chance to see one of Mike McDaniel’s fundamental beliefs as an NFL coach put to the test in real life. Throughout the entirety of Hard Knocks, and actually throughout his entire tenure up to this point, he has not been ashamed to admit his own faults as a means of calling out others to make a change for the better over his entire term. After suffering a devastating defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, the Dolphins are now forced to compete against the Buffalo Bills in order to win the division. And what did they discover?
8. the Philadelphia Eagles (11–5)
In Week 18, I believe that the New York Giants will be an extremely difficult opponent for the Philadelphia Eagles. Preparing for Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is like watching Batman episodes with the Riddler. Tyrod Taylor is serviceable enough to make some plays, and the Giants are in the process of preparing for him. It is impossible to predict what Martindale may come up with, and he is completely unafraid to let it all out the way. However, their performance, or their ability to break from this sleepwalk, is of tremendous relevance in the playoff showdown that will take place the following week. This is because their seeding is likely not going to change as a result of anything that the Eagles do.
9. Buffalo Bills (10–6);
Finding a way for the Bills to win their division and qualify for the playoffs is a straightforward process. In addition, it is not at all out of the question for the Bills to be eliminated from the playoffs and to be subjected to yet another catastrophic autopsy during the final moments of the season. Let’s talk about a franchise that either has the ability to tell the world, “I told you so,” or that is forced to take into account what the world has been saying (mainly, that this team has been disregarding some common-sense adjustments and modifications that would help them achieve their actual peak).
10.: the Jacksonville Jaguars (9–7)
This game went from being a field goal festival led by C.J. Beathard to a full-scale blowout after a little gun toss to Travis Etienne Jr., which caused the owner of the Carolina Panthers to throw a drink. On behalf of Doug Pederson and Press Taylor, I will say the following: As Beathard continues to perform, he appears to be gaining greater self-assurance. He is a thrower with a high completion rate who has been doing an admirable job of holding the fort. Beathard is on a higher tier than other backup quarterbacks in a world where we have witnessed some genuinely horrible play from backup quarterbacks.
11. the Pittsburgh Steelers (9–7)
A touchdown scored by Jaylen Warren in the first quarter was absolutely stunning. From the appropriate vantage point, it reveals the fullness of his vision in a very effective manner. The run was like watching him surf a wave, with many lane swaps that were flawless but gutting to the Seattle Seahawks. The run consisted of several lane shifts. A place in the playoffs seems a little improbable, yet Mike Vrabel’s victory over the Jaguars would be very much in line with the team’s identity. If this occurs, Pittsburgh will approach the tournament with a greater sense of confidence in their attacking capabilities.
12: the Indianapolis Colts (9–7)
There is a possibility that I am experiencing a late-season haze, but I am gradually coming to the conclusion that the Colts have the potential to pull off a No. 2 seed in the playoffs by doing something completely out of the ordinary. Indianapolis has a wonderful job of mixing in tempo, which allows Gardner Minshew to run freely and provides the groundwork for a running game that is functional. Even though every team is capable of accomplishing it, Indianapolis does a terrific job of doing it.
13. The Los Angeles Rams, who have a record of 9–7
In spite of terrible kicking, two interceptions, a lost fumble, and a few sacks, the Rams were able to survive a cross-country battle versus the Giants this past weekend. The contest was extremely challenging throughout the entire game. It is important to note two things: despite the fact that the Giants were able to produce pressure, it is interesting to observe what happens when Puka Nacua moves inside and assists with protection. There is a boss in sight. Additionally, the fast adjustment that they made to the tempo in order to throw the Giants off their rhythm was a smart one; this is a small piece of evidence that the coaching staff and quarterback are on the same page.
14. The Houston Texans (9–7) (14)
The previous week, we defeated Tennessee by a score of 26–3.
At Indianapolis, the following week
Working off of C.J. Stroud obviously has the potential to result in a more explosive running game, and we have certainly witnessed this potential in some stretches during the season. In a game that took place on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, Devin Singletary delivered a remark that was both enlightening and demonstrated the level of respect that is shown to Stroud. His comeback to this scheme was a successful one, and it was bolstered by a touchdown scored by Sheldon Rankins, of all things (Sheldon is an old acquaintance of The Most Mobile Quarterback).
15th place: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8–8)
The previous week, we suffered a defeat at the hands of New Orleans, 23–13.
At Carolina, the following week
After the club missed out on the opportunity to finish the season with a bit of a flourish against the New Orleans Saints, a game at Carolina is a true gift to the team. During the early stages of the game, Baker Mayfield attempted to throw a crucial 50-50 ball to Trey Palmer, who is a talented quarterback. By doing so, he avoided an offense that has provided him with some helpful guardrails and has been a source of solutions for the majority of the season. After that, New Orleans demonstrated how quickly a club can gain the upper hand against the Buccaneers by utilizing a self-assured quarterback named Derek Carr.
16th place: the Cincinnati Bengals (8–8)
25–17 defeat at the hands of Kansas City last week
The following week, we would be playing Cleveland.
As I indicated in the paragraph about the Chiefs, I was a little bit disappointed when the Bengals attempted to run the ball up the middle on a crucial fourth down. This play had the potential to greatly change the rest of the third quarter and the fourth quarter. When it comes to Jake Browning, Cincinnati has done an excellent job. It is clear that he is capable of acting swiftly and making decisions. Allow him to activate the trigger, and steer clear of that front seven.
17th place: the New Orleans Saints (8–8)
Win at Tampa Bay with a score of 23–13 (last week)
Next week, we will be playing against Atlanta.
We are going to make a few significant coaching hires throughout the offseason, but beyond that, we are going to have very high-profile coordinator changes that will seem like head coaching changes have occurred. It is my opinion that the Chief Operating Officer, Pete Carmichael, will be present in New Orleans. I am also of the opinion that the position will be filled by an individual who is better suited to collaborate with Derek Carr and who has a history of working with the quarterback.
18. Denver Broncos (8–8) (Current)
Win against the Los Angeles Chargers by a score of 16–9 last week.
In Las Vegas, the following week
The age that follows Russell Wilson has made its debut. Jarrett Stidham, who was chosen by Sean Payton to take over as quarterback, completed 20 of 32 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown. In their game against what must be one of the most scrutinized teams in the National Football League, the Broncos scored a total of sixteen points. Despite the fact that Denver did not make it to the postseason, as Sean Payton had hypothesized during the course of the preseason, the team did perform better than I had anticipated, and certainly better than a lot of other people did. The Seattle Seahawks have a record of 8–8.
Loss to Pittsburgh by a score of 30–23 last week
At Arizona, the following week
In a competition between offensive coordinators who were competing against one another in difficult circumstances, the Seahawks were defeated. The entirety of Seattle’s high-powered receiving corps was shut down, with the exception of DK Metcalf. It was a game that would put some power back into the hands of Seattle, as Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Tyler Lockett combined for two catches and 22 yards in that contest. When it comes to the future of the franchise, the majority of the responsibility lies with Matt LaFleur and the Green Bay Packers.
20. Green Bay Packers’ record is 8–8.
Win at Minnesota by a score of 33–10 last week
The following week, we would be playing Chicago.
I think it’s great that the final outcome of Green Bay’s season will depend on Jordan Love’s ability to take ownership of the franchise that his predecessor was so proud to say he owned. Love comes in third place, behind Lamar Jackson and Matthew Stafford, among quarterbacks who have played at least 150 qualifying snaps over the course of the past three weeks. This ranking is based on a mix of projected points added and completion percentage relative to expectations.
21. The Chicago Bears (7–9)
The previous week, we defeated Atlanta by a score of 37–17.
At Green Bay, the following week
This past Sunday, I wrote a more in-depth essay about how the Bears have done an excellent job of rebuilding their squad with some astute trades. In order for Chicago to maintain quarterback Justin Fields and get a quarterback with the first overall pick in the draft, I am going to launch the campaign this week. Let us collectively make it through to the other side of this obstacle. Also, [Whispers]: Over the course of the past month, the Bears have been the second-best defense in the National Football League.
Minnesota Vikings (7–9), the 22nd team.
Loss to Green Bay by a score of 33–10 last week
The following week, in Detroit
The fact that a team of this caliber (at least in terms of the overall strength of its roster) is not going to be drafting in the top 10 is absolutely incredible. There is one thing that Minnesota has going for it, and that is the ability to select coaches who will never be so inadequate that they absolutely ruin an entire season. When it comes to the quarterback position, Kevin O’Connell was a tough player in 2024, but it is obvious that he has reached the end of his supply of fairy dust.
Las Vegas Raiders (7–9), the 23rd team.
Last week, we suffered a defeat at Indianapolis by a score of 23–20.
The following week, we will be playing Denver.
Despite the fact that I do not really have anything conclusive to say about the Raiders (let’s talk about it when they make a choice on Antonio Pierce), I will point out another call that appears to have been blown from this past weekend. In my opinion, this does not in any way strike me as being offsides.
Number 24: The Atlanta Falcons (7–9)
Last week, we suffered a defeat at the hands of Chicago, 37–17.
At New Orleans, the following week
It is true that Atlanta does not have a quarterback, but it is important to keep in mind that this was a decision that was made in part. What is the outcome of this experimental contravention? There were no games that scored more than thirty points, and there were only six games in which the offense registered a positive figure for the predicted number of points added. I believe that Arthur Smith will be given the opportunity to take charge of this team if a stronger quarterback is selected. To put that into perspective, how disheartening would it be if the play-caller who we had been fantasizing about never actually materialized? 25. The New York Giants, who have a record of 5–11
The previous week, we suffered a defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams, 26–25.
Up next: a matchup against Philadelphia
In my opinion, the most important thing that I learned from that Rams game was that the Giants are an enormous pain in the neck to play against during this time of year. The defense, in particular, can occasionally come dangerously close to being reckless, but when viewed in the perspective of an entire game, it is effective. Additionally, the Giants are able to get to the quarterback, which contributes to the quarterback’s effectiveness deteriorating throughout the course of a game. Watching it is definitely something to do.
Sixth place: New York Jets (6–10)
Loss at Cleveland, 37–20, on the previous week
At New England, the following week
This Jets club appeared to be utterly swamped in Cleveland on Thursday night, with the exception of an old-man mistake by Joe Flacco that resulted in a touchdown. After giving it some thought, I came to the conclusion that the Jets absolutely need to bring in a large number of wide receivers during this summer. In order to achieve some selective value at the tackle position, they need to either draft a lineman or completely nail free agency and hit several tackles. Other than Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson, they will actually be a kind of mercenary squad that has acquired all-star players over the course of their careers. And… how frequently does that turn out to be the case? Texas Rangers (4–12) are the 27th team.
Win at Philadelphia by a score of 35–31 last week.
Next week, we will be playing against Seattle.
So, in a tremendous and desperate effort to take first position, I chose thirteen upsets in the MMQB staff picks that were released the previous week. It did not go as planned. However, I can assure you that the Cardinals’ victory over the Eagles was genuine. Jonathan Gannon was the person who was going to know how to bother Jalen Hurts and the offensive staff of the Eagles in a way that was completely unique than anyone else. As a result of the collaborative nature of Philadelphia’s coaching staff in 2022, it is quite likely that Gannon would have been able to provide guidance from a defensive standpoint about the development of the Eagles’ offense.
Team number 28: Tennessee Titans (5–11)
The previous week, Houston was defeated by a score of 26–3.
Up next: a match against Jacksonville
In the current draft order, the Titans are scheduled to select seventh overall. This comes after they have now lost three games in a row. The Titans will have a fairly regular allocation of picks coming up (Tennessee does have an additional seventh rounder), so the summer will be an exciting time to assess where they stand in comparison to where the rest of the world believes they are.
29th place: the Los Angeles Chargers (5–11)
Loss at Denver, 16–9, on the previous week
The following week, we would be playing Kansas City.
It is on my wishlist for the Chargers head coach:
Firstly, Ben Johnson
This is Jim Harbaugh.
3. Taking a page from the Texans’ playbook and hiring two consecutive one-year placeholders in the expectation that the coaches will suffer a significant number of losses and generate additional draft money, thereby preparing Justin Herbert for his best ball as he approaches the age of 30.
30. The New England Patriots, who have a record of 4–12
The previous week, we suffered a defeat at Buffalo, 27–21.
The New York Jets will be the opponent the next week.
There is a peculiarity in the fact that we have either reached a conclusion or are very close to reaching a conclusion regarding the Bill Belichick problem (since with one game left, we have to be at least in the area of one) … But there has been no public disclosure or disclosure of any definitive information. An unceremonious farewell would be Belichickian in nature, but I also covered the conclusion of the Tom Coughlin era, and I considered the muted final press conference to be pretty melancholy on that occasion.
31. Commanders of the Washington Area (4–12)
Loss vs San Francisco, 27–10, on the previous week
The following week, we will be playing Dallas.
If the Commanders were to somehow clip the Cowboys, who were eager for a seeding, in the season finale, it would be a fitting way to conclude the Ron Rivera era. This would also deprive the franchise the opportunity to draft in the second place.
31st place: the Carolina Panthers (2–14)
The previous week, we suffered a defeat at Jacksonville, which was a 26–0 loss.
The following week, we will be playing Tampa Bay.
The fact that David Tepper went all LMPD on the Jaguars’ fan base is something that we will ultimately get over. Tepper will eventually pay a sum of money that will allow him to hire the individual he desires to serve as the coach of the Panthers. On the other hand, this time around, there will be no excuse for anyone who steps into that circumstance. The following warning has been issued to prospective candidates. This is the individual for whom you will be working.