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My 2021 NFL Week 18 Power Index

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Rich has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Penn State. WE ARE!!!


2021 Week 18 NFL Power Index

Well, this is it. This is the end. The final rankings of the 2021 NFL season are here. The addition of the 17th game and extra playoff spot worked out for the state of Pennsylvania as both of their teams claimed the 7th and final playoff spot in their respective conferences. It also helped give us a thriller of a regular season finale between the Chargers and Raiders that nearly ended in a tie which would have granted both teams a trip to the postseason. A last-second field goal in overtime kept the Raiders season alive, but booted the Bolts from the postseason. While 14 teams have a chance at a championship, there are 18 others who will be sitting home watching the postseason just like you and me. Let’s see who can be called champion of my final rankings.

1. Green Bay Packers (13-4) ~ Did they lose their finale against Detroit? Yes. Did Aaron Rodgers and company play the whole game? No. So, we can’t really knock them for their close loss on the road against a divisional opponent with nothing on the line now can we? Green Bay has looked like the best team in the league for most of the season and I’m riding with them as my Super Bowl pick. (Last Week’s Ranking 1)

2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) ~ They don’t have the number one seed in the AFC, but, for my money, they are the best team in the conference. They closed the season by winning nine of their final ten games with that one loss coming on a last-second field goal in Cincinnati. My only concern is the health of top receiver Tyreek Hill who was very limited in the season finale against Denver. If this were last season, the Chiefs would have the benefit of the bye week for Hill to heal up. But, it’s 2022 and all the number two seed gets you is a guaranteed home playoff game. (LWR 2)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4) ~ Tom Brady’s team tied for the league lead in wins and Brady wound up leading the NFL in passing yards with 5,316. It was also a personal best. At 44 years old. I’m not sure what can stop this man, but, I’m hoping it’s the Philadelphia Eagles defense. (LWR 3)

4. Tennessee Titans (12-5) ~ They’ve secured the number one seed in the playoffs for the third time in the franchise’s history. More importantly, it seems likely that Derrick Henry will be able to return for their playoff run. I like their chances of getting through the AFC a lot more with a fully healthy Henry getting 20-25 touches a game. (LWR 4)

5. Dallas Cowboys (12-5) ~ Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense carved up the Eagles’ secondary Saturday night. Prescott threw a career-high five touchdowns while also setting a new Cowboys single-season record with 37 touchdowns. It’s easy to say that this was against the Philly backups, but it was impressive nonetheless. Prescott should be the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. (LWR 6)

6. Los Angeles Rams (12-5) ~ It’s not every year there’s a triple crown winner in the NFL, but that is exactly what we can say about Cooper Kupp. He led the NFL in receptions (145), yards (1,947) and touchdowns (16). He fell just short of breaking the NFL record for receptions (149) and yards (1,964), but, he should still be in consideration for league MVP as long as the voters can set aside their quarterback bias. (LWR 5)

7. Buffalo Bills (11-6) ~ A month ago the Bills were 7-6 and in danger of missing the playoffs entirely. Now, as AFC East champions, they carry a four-game winning streak and momentum into their playoff run as the number three seed. They’re resembling the team we thought they’d be all season long at just the right time. (LWR 7)

8. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) ~ There is no denying that Ja’Marr Chase was the right draft pick for the Bengals. Most pundits, myself included, assumed they would take Penei Sewell, the best offensive lineman in the draft. Instead they took Joe Burrow’s former college teammate Chase and it worked out better than probably even the Bengals could have imagined. He broke the single-season franchise record with 1,455 yards. He also set the single-game franchise record with 266 yards two weeks ago against Kansas City. Oh, and he also set a new rookie record with those 1,455 receiving yards that was set just last year by Justin Jefferson. Quite the season for the rookie and it isn’t over yet as the Bengals are in the playoffs for the first time since 2015. (LWR 9)

9. New England Patriots (10-7) ~ They had a shot at the AFC East crown going into the season finale, but they needed a win over Miami and a Buffalo loss. Neither of those things happened. That said, maybe it isn’t all bad for New England. The Patriots are the only AFC playoff team to finish with a losing record (4-5) at home. They were 6-2 on the road. They play in Buffalo Saturday night and did win in Buffalo earlier this season. (LWR 8)

10. San Francisco 49ers (10-7) ~ In a game they needed to win to guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs, the 49ers fell behind 17-0 early. They were on the road, against a divisional opponent who had something to play for. The writing appeared to be on the wall. Somehow, some way, the 49ers completed their comeback and swept the season series from the Rams. It was the first time San Fran came back from 17 down since the 2012 NFC Championship game. (LWR 12)

11. Arizona Cardinals (11-6) ~ Losing four out of five games is not the ideal way to get into the playoffs, but that’s exactly where the Cardinals are. For much of the season it appeared they could be the number one seed in the NFC. Now, they aren’t even guaranteed a home playoff game. They will, however, get to play in the first Monday night playoff game when they travel to L.A. to play the Rams. I’m not sure how I feel about Monday night playoff games or how I feel about the Cardinals. Only fitting they will go hand in hand. (LWR 10)

12. Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) ~ Head Coach Nick Sirianni is the only rookie coach to lead his team to the playoffs. Most of the starters sat out Week 18’s game as the Eagles could not guarantee themselves a better playoff spot with a win. They’ll look to avenge an earlier season loss when they travel to Tampa for Sunday’s game. Here’s hoping for a repeat of what happened the last time the Eagles met Tom Brady in the playoffs. (LWR 13)

13. Las Vegas Raiders (10-7) ~ I’m not sure how we got here. The Raiders had their coach resign mid-season due to an email scandal. They released multiple players due to legal troubles. They had a losing record a month ago. They have the worst point differential (-65) of any playoff team. Yet here they are. In the playoffs. I’m sure John Madden is looking down smiling at this one. (LWR 15)

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) ~ Big Ben isn’t done yet. They should really send the Jacksonville Jaguars a gift basket for beating the Colts. That had to happen, along with a Steelers win over Baltimore. Then, either the Chargers or Raiders had to win which, turned out to be a much bigger sweat than the city of Pittsburgh anticipated, but it all happened. The Steelers are in the playoffs and Ben Roethlisberger’s career isn’t over yet. (LWR 18)

15. Los Angeles Chargers (9-8) ~ They were down by 15 in the fourth quarter of a win-and-in game. They came back and tied the score. They gave up a field goal in overtime. They came back and tied the score. After giving up the second field goal of overtime, they were out of chances and out of the playoffs. It was the game of the year and they came up just short. My dream of an L.A. versus L.A. Super Bowl in L.A. is over. (LWR 14)

16. Indianapolis Colts (9-8) ~ They had one job and that was to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. If they could get a win against the team with the worst record in the NFL, the Colts would punch their ticket to the playoffs. They had one job and they failed. Miserably. The Colts were outplayed the entire game and lost once again in Jacksonville where they haven’t won a game since 2014. It’s going to be an interesting offseason in Indy. (LWR 11)

17. Miami Dolphins (9-8) ~ It was a tale of two seasons for the Dolphins. They started 1-7, but finished 8-1 to secure a winning record in back-to-back seasons. While that may not seem like a big deal, it is in Miami as it was the first time the Dolphins could make such a claim since 2003. It wasn’t enough to save their coach Brian Flores from being fired. We knew some coaches would be let go after the season, but I didn’t see this one coming. Not after how Miami finished the year. I’m thinking this is a huge mistake for the franchise. (LWR 17)

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18. Baltimore Ravens (8-9) ~ There was a time when the Ravens were 8-3. Things were going well despite losing their top two running backs to season ending injuries before the season even started. Then, the wheels came off. Lamar Jackson missed some time. Seemingly the entire secondary succumbed to injury. Baltimore lost its final six games and missed the playoffs. If they can get healthy during the offseason, expect much more from this team in 2022. (LWR 16)

19. New Orleans Saints (9-8) ~ In my opinion, this was one of Sean Payton’s greatest years. He had four different quarterbacks start games this year. He was without top receiver Michael Thomas for the entire season. He still somehow coached the Saints to the brink of the playoffs. They need to figure out the quarterback situation for 2022. Pair that with an elite defense and the Saints could be back to being a real threat real soon. (LWR 19)

20. Cleveland Browns (8-9) ~ The big storyline in Cleveland will be about their quarterback Baker Mayfield. Is he the guy to lead this team back to the playoffs? This was a lost season for Mayfield as he spent most of it playing hurt. Maybe too hurt as the quarterback missed the finale and will have surgery in a week to repair a torn labrum. He will be back for the final year of his rookie contract, but he will need some help. No Browns receiver topped 600 yards. Look for Cleveland to address that position in the draft. (LWR 20)

21. Minnesota Vikings (8-9) ~ The Brian Flores firing in Miami shocked me. The Mike Zimmer firing in Minnesota did not. The Vikings didn’t stop with just their head coach as they also parted ways with GM Rick Spielman. The Vikings have some talent and should be an attractive destination for any coaches looking for a fresh start or any coordinators looking for their first start. (LWR 22)

22. Seattle Seahawks (7-10) ~ If this truly is it for Russell Wilson as a member of the Seahawks, he went out in style. Seattle won their final two games to feel a little better heading into the offseason and Wilson was a big reason why as he threw for seven touchdowns and just one interception. As much as I love Wilson in Seattle, I can’t help but wonder what he could do in say, New Orleans. (LWR 24)

23. Denver Broncos (7-10) ~ After finishing last in the AFC West for the second year in a row, Vic Fangio was relieved of his head coaching duties. This means Denver will be searching for a new head coach for the fourth time since the start of the 2016 season. I’m wondering if maybe they need to give their next coach a little bit of a longer leash to try and establish something in turning the franchise around. (LWR 21)

24. Atlanta Falcons (7-10) ~ This was always going to be a rebuilding year in Atlanta. If you think about it, 7-10 is probably better than what most of their fans would have expected. That said, I don’t think anyone in Georgia is thinking about the Falcons today. Not after the state secured their second championship in the last three months when Georgia toppled Alabama last night. (LWR 23)

25. Washington Football Team (7-10) ~ This could very well be the last time I write Washington Football Team. The franchise has announced that they will unveil their new name on 2-2-22. I kind of hope they stick with the Football Team. I’ve gotten used to it and it sounds better than the Admirals of the Defenders or whatever other garbage name they’ll undoubtedly come up with. (LWR 26)

26. Chicago Bears (6-11) ~ The Vikings aren’t the only NFC North team to fire their head coach and GM. Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace were given their walking papers on Black Monday. I’m sure that excites most Bears fans, and I’d ask one if I knew one. (LWR 25)

27. New York Jets (4-13) ~ They had wins over Tennessee and Cincinnati, both of whom are division winners. They nearly took down Tom Brady two weeks ago and played Buffalo tough in the finale while the Bills were trying to win the division. If you squint hard enough, you can see the bright spots. The Jets will be better in Year Two with Zach Wilson and Robert Saleh. (LWR 28)

28. Carolina Panthers (5-12) ~ Seven straight losses. That’s how the Panthers closed their season. They had just one win against a team who made the playoffs and that was their surprise victory over Arizona. At least it was a surprise when it happened. Knowing what we know about Arizona, it seems like less of a shocker when we look back. Carolina has the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft and one has to wonder if they will use it on a quarterback. (LWR 27)

29. Houston Texans (4-13) ~ Obviously the big question that will surround the Texans this offseason is what to do with Deshaun Watson. It’s clear he will not be their quarterback in the future, but Davis Mills might be. The rookie showed some promise and improvement throughout the season. There are lots of needs on this roster and it would behoove them to take the best player available when they pick third in the draft regardless of position. (LWR 29)

30. Detroit Lions (3-13-1) ~ A win over Green Bay is a nice way to end the season. Sure, Aaron Rodgers didn’t play the whole game, but the Lions did have the lead at halftime. Rodgers did play the first half. The year wasn’t great in wins and losses for the Lions, but this team plays hard and I’m actually excited to see what they can do next year. (LWR 31)

31. New York Giants (4-13) ~ Before the season finale even happened, Head Coach Joe Judge said that this wasn’t some clown shoes operation. Now, it doesn't matter what he thinks because he was fired while I was writing this up. (LWR 30)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14) ~ They snapped their eight-game losing streak and in doing so, kept division rival Indianapolis out of the playoffs. A lot went wrong in Jacksonville this year, but at least they ended on a high note. They will once again pick first in the draft. (LWR 32)

And that is that. That's all I've got this week. You're now free to go about the rest of your day. Or night. Whatever it may be. If you want more of me, leave a comment below or follow me on social media via the link in my bio.

© 2022 Rich

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