There were no power rankings last week because I didn't want to put them out before the NFL announced how they would resolve the Bengals and Bills game. So this week will serve as the Week 17 and 18 Power Rankings.
The Giants are ranked last in the power rankings because they have the least amount of wins of the power-ranked teams. However, this is the Giant's fourth consecutive week on the power rankings, and that describes the Giant's season. They are a frisky team that hangs around and play's smart. They aren't the best or most intimidating team, but it feels like they could beat anybody. 9-7 seems to be the ideal number for New York.
The Raven's defense has become a force to reckon with. They played the Bengals undermanned, but the defense made the game closer than it should have been. I like the Ravens, but it's hard to rank them any higher without Lamar.
The Chargers made a boneheaded decision to play their starters for three quarters against the Broncos, and Mike Williams picked up a needless injury, and they still lost. The Chargers have been injured all year, so if there is one team that shouldn't have taken any risk with injuries before playoffs, it's them. Nobody knows if Herbert will shrink or thrive in the playoffs. Herbert is one of many being tested in the playoffs this year. Staley has made some questionable decisions over his tenure, and going against other playoff teams and coaches could determine if he returns next year. Regardless the Chargers are still the best 10-7 team right now.
The Cowboys are the 7th-ranked team. They are on the top ten list because of how much they have won. However, they are so low on the list because they are untrustworthy. The Cowboys are not mentally strong. When they face teams with a mental edge, like the Packers or playoff teams, that could make them pay for the mistakes like the Jaguars, they fold. The Cowboys have the people in place to be great, highest-scoring offense, talented defense, Super Bowl Winning Coach, and a franchise Qb. However, they can lose to anybody.
They just lost to the Commanders, who were starting a rookie Qb for the first time. They have been doing this all season. The Cowboys beat themselves and allow teams that shouldn't have a chance to beat or nearly beat them. Troy Aikman said that Dak could learn a thing or two from Cooper Rush, and everyone flipped out. However, he was half right. Dak, Kellan Moore, and McCarthy could learn something from Cooper Rush. When Cooper Rush was the Cowboy's Qb, they were 4-1. They played an efficient, conservative offense and prioritized not turning over the ball and letting their defense close out games. Now with Dak, they are a no-risk it no biscuit offense, and it's led to Dak having the most interception in the league in the last stretch of the season. He has been on a streak of throwing at least one pick a game. The Cowboys need to dial it back and play complimentary football. Dak is talented enough to make the big throw when needed, but if the Cowboys play efficiently, avoid putting their defense in compromising situations, and trust their defense to close out games, their talent will be hard to match.
The 49ers are rated this low because they are slipping up a little. They got lit up by Jared Stidham, and then they struggled a bit with the Cardinals when they should have run straight through them. They won both of those games, so most people won't notice the struggles. However, in the Raiders game, the 49er's defense struggled to contain a backup, and if the defense can't be depended on to be elite, then the 49ers won't go far. As talented as they are on offense, it's the defense that makes this team go. We saw two examples of what happens when the defense is compromised earlier in the season when the Chiefs and Falcons blew out the 49ers.
Also, I think Purdy is cooling down. He was the second-best Qb on the field when he dueled Jared Stidham, and without a late interception setting up a field goal, they lose that game. Then he struggled early against the Cardinals. The 49ers may have won those games, but they were the superior opponent in those games they should have won. However, the tape is out there, and a more talented team than the Cardinals and Raiders may be able to use it to beat the 49ers.
The Vikings are one of the most talented teams, and while they have had some bad losses, they clearly win way more than they lose. Even more impressive is the fact that they win close games. The playoffs are all about pressure situations and close games, and that's where the Vikings thrive.
The Chiefs are having a great year. They have secured the one seed, but there is a little doubt. Would the Chiefs have gotten the one seed if the Bengals and Bills had played their game? Probably not, because one of those teams would have won that game, and both have beaten the Chiefs. The Chiefs were basically playing with their food against the Raiders, but it won't be the same in the playoffs. The Chief's offense will not be as prolific against other playoff teams. However, the Chief's defense really stepped up against the Raiders, and if they keep playing like that, the Chiefs have a great chance to make a run.
The Bills have had a good last half of the season gameplay-wise. Over the course of the season, they lost their shutdown defense, but the defensive unit has still remained solid. The offense has played smart football, and it has led to a streak of 7 wins. The Bills haven't taken a single loss since the Vikings win. They may not have secured the bye, but they can still secure a home-field advantage by making a run in the playoffs.
This year's Bills are more prepared to make a run than last year's Bills. Last year the Bill's were too dependent on pure talent, and they were inconsistent. They lost to the Steelers and Jaguars, and it felt like they weren't as elite as they should have been. This year the Bills look more focused and intentional. This might be the year they take advantage of their talent.
I have been very impressed with the Bengals. They started off Rocky, but they have gotten right back to where they were last year. They are on an 8-game win streak, and now they are back to the playoffs as a seasoned team ready for what they are about to face. I think if the Bills and Bengals had finished their game that the Bengals would have won. The Bengals went to a Super Bowl last year, yet they haven't lost a step this year. In fact, they are even better than last year. The Bengals are the hottest team in the AFC.
The Eagles have been the number-one team for fourteen straight weeks. They struggled against the Giant's backups, but I give them a pass because they just got Jalen Hurts back, and he needed to shake off the rust, and he did that. Now Jalen has more time to get healthy because he got the number one seed and the bye. Also, the Eagles have the MVP of the NFL. The Eagles couldn't win without him, but when they have Hurts, they are the most dangerous team in football.