NFL Power Rankings Week 17

As the final week of the regular season approached, we all turned to mathematicians in an attempt to analyze each team's possible playoff scenarios. But where the hell did the season go? It seems like just yesterday we were all taking Jacksonville to the Super Bowl and throwing Dallas and Seattle in the division basement. Will the Saints rebound after their heartbreak last year, and I wonder if that new guy in Kansas City can fill the shoes of Alex Smith?

After a Sunday slate that was a mix between meaningless and meaningful matchups, we've officially turned 32 to 12. Those 12 will each be trying to figure out a way to get to Atlanta, while the other 20 will be licking their wounds throughout the long offseason.

It's been an honor providing you with the power rankings every week. Being able to combine awful puns with worse predictions was more than just a weekly gig; it was an activity that has become a staple of my Sundays. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. Without further ado, here is your final regular season power rankings.

1. New Orleans Saints (13-3) — For the first time since suffering a gruesome injury in 2016, Teddy Bridgewater took the filed as a starter. It may not have gone as planned, though it was a welcome sight to see Bridgewater back out there balling after doubt if he'd ever play again. Michael Thomas also passed Joe Horn for the franchise record for single season receiving yards, and also has a more advanced smartphone. The NFC goes through New Orleans.

2. Los Angeles Rams (13-3) — A fairytale season in 2017 ended on Wild Card Weekend. This year, they'll get to watch those games at home while awaiting their opponent the following week. Maybe we can even get some fans in the Coliseum for it. You can skip hot yoga that Sunday.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) — In the past, I've viewed the Chiefs as the Toronto Raptors of the NFL. They could be great in the regular season, but the writing is on the wall every year come playoff time. They choke. There's no nice way to put it, and the theory has held true. The Raptors got swept in the second round last year. The Chiefs blew their wild card game against the Titans. This year is different, though, for both teams. The Raptors have Kawhi Leonard. And the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes. And Microsoft Word needs to start acknowledging Mahomes without hitting me with a red underline, because he's going to be around for awhile.

4. New England Patriots (11-5) — I think earning this bye is more important for New England this year than in recent memory, as questions of vulnerability have been creeping into the picture all season. Giving Bill Belichick with two weeks of prep time is more dangerous than hiding his hoodie.

5. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) — The Chargers were running an already injured Melvin Gordon in a meaningless game in the fourth quarter, and he went down again. I don't think it's too serious, but that should be on a reel when campaigning to rest starters. Let's hope the Chargers did their homework from two weeks ago, because they'll have another shot against the Ravens on Wild Card Weekend. This, and the Eagles/Bears game is what I'm looking forward to most.

6. Chicago Bears (12-4) — At the beginning of the year, I proudly declared that the Bears would be better this year. I also said they would still be eating deep-dish pizza at the bottom of the NFC North standings. Let's focus on the positives here. I was correct in stating the Bears would be better. I don't think anyone saw this coming. Some analysts think they can come out of the NFC.

7. Houston Texans (11-5) — From 0-3 to division champs, the Houston Texans have a lot to be excited about going into Wild Card Weekend. I don't think they'll make a dent in this year's playoffs, but I also didn't think I'd make a dent in my neighbors car when I smacked it pulling out of the driveway over Christmas weekend. And Mrs. Chan knows I was wrong there.

8. Dallas Cowboys (10-6) — Dallas went with the let's not get rusty approach, and played this game to win from start to finish. Cole Beasley made an amazing game-winning touchdown catch, and then dropped some awful bars on Sound Cloud. If one more person tells me that he's actually good at rapping I'm going to slap them with a J. Cole CD.

9. Seattle Seahawks (10-6) — Seattle won ugly, and now they'll travel to Jerry's World for a playoff matchup against "America's Team." If only Tony Romo was still serving as the holder for Dallas. Just getting to the playoffs is a successful season for Seattle. They're playing with house money now.

10. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) — The city of Baltimore had a collective flashback to an Andy Dalton touchdown from a year ago. Thankfully, history did not repeat itself. The Ravens are going to be a tough team to crack in the playoffs.

11. Indianapolis Colts (10-6) — Andrew Luck is your 2018 Comeback Player of the Year, even if he does sound like the goofy guy you cheat off of in social studies. I don't think many people had this team in the playoffs, and their surprisingly competent defense deserves a lot of that credit.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) — Get your dog masks out of the closet, the Eagles are somehow back in the playoffs. Nick Foles wasn't dominant, but the fire this team plays with him at the helm is amazing. If they go back-to-back, I'm deleting all social media.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers- (9-6-1) — That's what happens when you leave your playoff hopes in the hands of the Browns. This team slit their own wrists, they should be in the playoffs. Are we in for another offseason of Big Ben fake contemplating retirement?

14. Tennessee Titans (9-7) — It's amazing that the Titans made it this far with their quarterback situation. This defense was tough all year, and they found their footing in the ground game in December. The quarterback turmoil was just too much for this team to overcome.

15. Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1) — You had one job, Kirk Cousins. Vikings fans could make a case for Case Keenum right about now. You see what I did there? The Vikings don't deserve to be in the playoffs.

16. Cleveland Browns (7-8-1) — We have to call this season a success for Cleveland. They found their franchise quarterback. They found their franchise running back. They got rid of dead weight, and they all got free beer. I think they have to let Gregg Williams stick around.

17. Miami Dolphins (7-9) — Will the fire sale continue in Miami? Change seems imminent after getting bulldozed by the Bills. I think Ryan Tannehill is going to be navigating through some Zillow advertisements.

18. Carolina Panthers (7-9) — This season just got away from Carolina. It looks like Riverboat Ron will be back, though, and I think that's a good thing for this team. They'll be back in contention once someone gives Cam Newton a shoulder massage.

19. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) — If you told the Falcons they'd finish second in the NFC South at the beginning of the year, they probably wouldn't be too disappointed. I mean, the NFC South has habitually brought two teams to the playoffs. That wasn't the case this year, and the Falcons dreams of playing a Super Bowl home game will have to wait until the next time the selection committee deems Atlanta as worthy enough to host the big game.

20. Green Bay Packers (6-9-1) — The Packers started the year with an Aaron Rodgers injury and ended it in the same way. I think next season will be big for Aaron Rodger's legacy. I'm a Super Bowl over everything guy, so that means Eli Manning is better than Aaron Rodgers, right?

21. Detroit Lions (6-10) — A season-ending shutout for this defense looks a little better if you don't check the box score. Oh, they were playing against Deshone Kizer, a quarterback so bad that the Browns benched him for Kevin Hogan. Yeah, I've never heard of him, either. Mad love for Matt Prater, also.

22. Denver Broncos (6-10) — Vance Joseph is out after back-to-back losing seasons, and this team is left to pick up the pieces. They need an identity.

23. New York Giants (5-11) — The Giants tried to spoil their own draft pick, but they buckled down in the end and got the loss they were looking for. Have we seen the last of Eli, or are we going to pretend that he has something left in the tank for another season? The guy has Stephen Hawkins mobility.

24. Washington Redskins (7-9) — The other Gruden should be back, but will the rest of the team? At least you got to watch Kirk Cousins blow the season...

25. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10) — We've seen this before. Marvin Lewis is fired, but then he somehow shows back up on the sidelines in Week 1. We trusted you, Shefty. But if he's officially gone, it's about damn time. Zero playoff victories in 16 seasons? He's been slipping by like George Costanza when they gave him the Penske file.

26. Buffalo Bills (6-10) — The Bills are an offensive juggernaut for a week. I love throwaway games this time of year. Screw it, let's throw it to our defensive lineman. Kyle Williams rides off into the sunset with a 9-yard reception and a subsequent dog pile. The key for this team is Josh Allen's progression from now until next year.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) — What a weird year for Tampa. We witnessed some Fitzmagic early, but that only muddied the waters for this team's future with Jameis Winston. He looked good in this one, and we can only hope he actually grows as a professional with his actions, instead of just saying the right things. Back to the dog track for Bucs fans.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) — From Super Bowl hopes to lottery pick reality, this season was one long nightmare for Jacksonville. And I thought the perfect pillow was guaranteed to prevent against nightmares and allow you to sleep soundly through your child's cries. Billy Mays never would have let this happen.

29. New York Jets (4-12) — In Todd Bowles' last game wearing Jets green, New York showed how much they truly cared for him. The Jets have lost 11 or more games three years in a row. Is it crazy to say they miss Mark Sanchez? Sam Darnold has the chance to be Andrew-Luckish, but they need to find him his go-to receiver.

30. San Francisco 49ers (4-12) — George Kittle woke up this season in Rob Gronkowski's body. He just set the NFL record for most yards by a tight end. I'm looking forward to see how he and Jimmy G. mesh next season.

31. Oakland Raiders (4-12) — Derek Carr just makes too many plays that make you scratch your head. And then he looks around at his line and receivers for answers. Look inward, my friend. They'll be going stadium shopping this offseason.

32. Arizona Cardinals (3-13) — It's almost like the Cardinals didn't know they were playing for the top overall pick in the draft. I like the fight, though, even though it wasn't enough to save their coach's job. This team will be stuck in rebuilding mode for the foreseeable future.

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