We’re heading to the final week of the regular season with still plenty left on the line for playoff teams: Dallas and Philadelphia still battling for the NFC East title, Kansas City and New England battle for the second seed in the AFC playoffs, the last spot in the AFC is still up for grabs between the Titans, Steelers, and Raiders (Yes, the team with a 7-8 record can still make it.), and not to mention the NFC top spot is still undermined with the 49ers, Packers, Saints, and Seahawks all fighting for the number one seed. Despite all that is involved with the playoffs, there is no doubt who is the top team in the NFL.
1. Baltimore Ravens (13-2, AFC North Champions, Clinched 1st Seed)
The team is on an 11-game winning streak and dominated through most of the season thanks to the record-setting season by their front-runner MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, their number two ranked offense, and their number five ranked defense. This is the most complete team in the NFL led by a league high 12 Pro Bowlers. The Ravens should be the favorites to win the AFC and the Super Bowl as long as their star quarterback stays healthy through the playoffs.
2. San Francisco 49ers (12-3, 1st Place NFC West)
While Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t put up amazing numbers through the air, the 49ers rank second in the league in rushing behind the Ravens. Their defense has also been stellar as they are ranked second in total defense. There isn’t many weaknesses to this team with only a lack of playoff experience being the only thing that can hold this team back from winning the NFC. They still have work to do to clinch the number one seed in the NFC as they are battling three different teams for that spot. Sunday night’s game against the Seahawks should have big implications for how the playoff picture looks for the NFC.
3. New Orleans Saints (12-3, NFC South Champions)
Drew Brees continues to amaze as he didn’t lose a beat after losing time for his finger injury. Michael Thomas is also have a historic season with breaking Marvin Harrison’s record for receptions for a season with one game to go in the season. Their defense looks good as they are ranked 12th in the league. As long as Brees is in the game, they should be one of the favorites for the Super Bowl title.
4. Seattle Seahawks (11-4, 2nd NFC West)
Marshawn Lynch rejoins the team after their running back crew has been hit with the injury bug. Having him and Robert Turbin should help keep the running game afloat. Russell Wilson will have to continue to carry the team on his back. The Seahawks have faced injuries in their defense, but seem to be getting healthy at the right now. If they can clinch a bye week, that will help them get ready for their playoff push.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4, AFC West Champions)
The Patrick Mahomes – Andy Reid relationship has been a sight to see. The team has won five straight and Mahomes is throwing the ball like he did last season. The running game isn’t there, but the passing game is ranked fourth in the league. The defense has improved from last year, but they will need to step their game up to compete with teams like the Ravens and the Patriots.
6. Green Bay Packers (12-3, NFC North Champions)
The Packers have been an odd team. Aaron Rodgers has had a good season, but hasn’t put up the numbers he has had in the past. The play of Aaron Jones has helped make the Packers’ offense more balanced. This is the best defense the Packers have had since their Super Bowl win against the Steelers. They are not the most attractive pick for the Super Bowl, but they have played well enough to be able to compete with any team in the league.
7. New England Patriots (12-3, AFC East Champions)
Tom Brady hasn’t played as well as he has in the past with issues to the receiving core, but the defense has played well. The concern with this team is how they play against good team as they have lost against three playoff teams. It’s hard not to believe in Brady and Bill Belichick because of their postseason success, but the offense will need some work and Brady to rise to the occasion.
8. Minnesota Vikings (10-5, 2nd NFC North, Wildcard)
There was some issues between Kirk Cousins and his receivers at the beginning of the season, but this offense as a whole is one of the best in the league. Dalvin Cook’s injury must be a concern for the team as they head into the playoffs. The offense is loaded and the defense is good enough to compete with any offense.
9. Buffalo Bills (10-5, 2nd AFC East, Wildcard)
This is one of the most surprising teams of the season. The offense is far from flashy, but the defense is top five in the league with one of the best defensive backs in the league with Tre’Davious White. Josh Allen took a big step in his development at quarterback. No, he hasn’t had amazing numbers, but his athleticism has helped the Bills stay in most games this season. This may be a case where the defense wins this team a title if they want a chance at contending.
10. Houston Texans (10-5, AFC South Champions)
The team got good news this week as J.J. Watt is coming off the IR and returned to the practice field. The team has won four of their last five games. Deshaun Watson has looked impressive as ever and the addition of Kenny Stills has helped add on to an already impressive receiving core. If J.J. Watt can play in the playoffs, this could be the year they get out of the wild card round.
11. Tennessee Titans (8-7, 2nd AFC South)
Ryan Tannehill has been so much fun to watch. He needs to be in the conversation for comeback player of the year. He started the season backing up Marcus Mariota, then took the job over and never let it go. The team has been played inspired football and look like they could be a sleeper pick in the playoffs if they can hold off their final playoff spot.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7, 1st NFC East)
This team was 5-7 just three weeks ago after their stunning loss to the Dolphins. What happened during that time? Their offense got some talent from….Boston Scott, Greg Ward Jr., and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside? Yes, they are better than expected. Carson Wentz has played brilliantly with a depleted offense and Miles Sanders has quietly entered the offensive rookie of the year conversation. If the defense can improve their pass defense, they will be competitive in the playoffs even if they shouldn’t be in it.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7, 2nd AFC North)
For this team to be in the playoff hunt without Ben Roethlisberger is a miracle in itself. Not to mention, JuJu Smith-Schuster has been hurt for part of the season and his play has gone down. The defense has been amazing to watch since they added Minkah Fitpatrick to the secondary. Just imagine if Big Ben would have stayed healthy. This team would have clinched the playoffs by now.
14. Los Angeles Rams (8-7, 3rd NFC West)
Just a year ago, this team lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Now, they are going to miss the playoffs. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley took a step back in play. Jalen Ramsey was brought in to help the pass defense, but wasn’t able to play to the Pro Bowl caliber play fans are accustomed to seeing. They traded a lot and have spent a ton of money, but it didn’t pay off for them and they could be in a world of hurting with future assets not there for them.
15. Dallas Cowboys (7-8, 2nd NFC East)
This team has one of the most talented rosters in the league, but they just couldn’t put it all together. Dak took a leap as a passer, but Ezekiel Elliott took a small step back. The defense had trouble against the pass. To top it off, Jason Garrett has had many of his decisions questioned and now Cowboy fans might finally see him walk after the season. A major overhaul to the coaching staff could be in the works in the offseason.
16. Indianapolis Colts (7-8, 3rd AFC South)
While the team did take a step back after Andrew Luck’s surprising retirement, the Colts haven’t looked too bad. Jacoby Brissett must be more consistent if he wants the job for years to come. They aren’t far away from competing with the Titans and the Texans in the AFC South.
17. Oakland Raiders (7-8, 2nd AFC West)
The interesting case of Jon Gruden and Derek Carr’s relationship is a mystery to fans. Some think Gruden will move on from him, but Carr has too much talent to move on after one season. Josh Jacobs has been one of the best rookies in the NFL. In fact, Gruden and GM Mike Maylock had one of the best drafts in recent memory as most of their rookies had an impact on this season. The future looks bright as they move to Las Vegas, but somehow, this team is still mathematically in the playoff hunt.
18. Chicago Bears (7-8, 3rd NFC North)
Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t had a bad year, but he didn’t do anything to get fans excited. The running game is bad. Really bad. The defense wasn’t as good as last season, but they have still played well enough to keep the team in games. Matt Nagy needs to get the offense back on track. Otherwise, next year could be his last at head coach.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8, 3rd NFC South)
Jameis Winston might be on his way to throwing 30 interceptions in a season. He has shown glimpses of brilliant play, but he turns the ball over more than any other quarterback in the league. The running game is left to be desired, but the passing game has great potential. Winston must improve next season if he wants to keep his job. Bruce Arians should be proud of the team in their first season, but expectations will be high next year.
20. Denver Broncos (6-9, 3rd AFC West)
Drew Lock has breathed new life into this offense. The defense has played well all season, but Joe Flacco and the passing game just wasn’t there. Lock has changed things with his accuracy. Many were worried that he wasn’t ready to play this season. A 3-1 record as a starter should get Broncos fans excited for the future with him, Phillip Lindsey, and Courtland Sutton heading the offense.
21. Atlanta Falcons (6-9, 3rd NFC South)
The Falcons’ defense was pretty awful before the bye week as they only had one week before they took a week off. Whatever happened after that week, the team should stick with it. They bounced back nicely as they have gone 5-2 since the bye. Matt Ryan was able to cut down on the turnovers and the defense has played inspired football. Will it be enough to save Dan Quinn’s job?
22. Cleveland Browns (6-9, 3rd AFC North)
This team is a mess. Media drama, poor play from Baker Mayfield, and the constant question as to if Odell Beckham Jr. will be playing for the Browns next season. This team is talented, but undisciplined as they turn the ball over too much and get penalized numerous times. Freddie Kitchens’ future is also up in the air as some feel he can’t handle superstar players. It should be interesting to see if any changes should be made to the staff or roster.
23. New York Jets (6-9, 3rd AFC East)
Adam Gase hasn’t made any friends with the media. His offense hasn’t been as explosive as expected, but Sam Darnold has slowly developed well. Le’Veon Bell won’t likely hit 1,000 yards and three rushing touchdowns as his offensive line never could get him going or have him hit 100 yards in one game. Their defense gives them hope as they have the talent around them to build around.
24. Los Angeles Chargers (5-10, 4th AFC West)
Might be one of the most disappointing teams of the year. Rivers turns the ball over too much and showed his age quite a bit this year. Melvin Gordon never looked good after sitting out over his contract dispute. This team has talent, but they never lived up to their expectations. Maybe a high draft pick could help fill in a gap or two.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10, 4th AFC South)
Nick Foles never lived up to his contract, but Gardner Minshew might be the guy to build this team around. Besides that, there isn’t much to be excited about with this team. Maybe with the front office getting a different look after letting go of Tom Coughlin, a piece or two could put this young, high potential team on a new level from when they were in the AFC title game two years ago.
26. Arizona Cardinals (5-9-1, 4th NFC West)
There is hope for the team in the desert as Kyler Murray has looked good and since being traded from the Dolphins to the Cardinals, Kenyan Drake has found new life in Arizona as he has ran for 303 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games. With concerns about David Johnson staying healthy, having Drake could help this offense in the future. Kliff Kingsbury has the offense looking good for the future, but the defense will need some work.
27. Carolina Panthers (5-10, 4th NFC South)
Cam Newton’s injury hurt this team, but Kyle Allen’s hot start gave the fans hope. Then reality kicked in and they have lost their last seven games. Christian McCaffrey basically put the offense on his back and it just wasn’t enough to ride the ship. Now the team must find a new coach and figure out what to do about Newton.
28. New York Giants (4-11, 3rd NFC East)
Daniel Jones has had an impressive rookie season at quarterback and has proved that he has what it takes to lead the team. Unfortunately, the offensive line hasn’t been great, Saquon Barkley’s play suffered because of it, and the receiving core was plagued with injuries, suspensions, and inconsistent play. The Giants defense needs help. Lots of help. Their pass defense is bad and must be addressed in the offseason.
29. Miami Dolphins (4-11, 4th AFC East)
This team was an absolute mess and many believed they wouldn’t win a game for the rest of the season. After a second chance for Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB, the second half of the season has been pleasant for the Dolphins as they team has really come together. The rushing attack is the worst in the league and the defense doesn’t create many turnovers or get much pressure on the quarterback. This team needs help in most positions, but they are much better off than expected.
30. Washington Redskins (3-12, 4th NFC East)
Dwayne Haskins definitely improved as the season has gone on and the Redskins look better with Bill Callahan taking over, but this defense is super young in the secondary. Plus, injuries have plagued this team that includes Ryan Kerrigan, Jordan Reed, Paul Richardson Jr., and Reuben Foster. Terry McLaurin really has emerged as the top receiver on this team and will be a great deep threat for this passing game in the future.
31. Detroit Lions (3-11-1, 4th NFC North)
This team had so much hope at 3-3-1 at one point in the season. Then the next week, Matthew Stafford throws for 400 yards against the Raiders in a loss. Stafford gets hurt and is knocked out for the rest of the season. The running game falls flat and the combination of Jeff Driskel and David Blough couldn’t help the passing game. Kenny Golladay was one of the few bright spots to the offense after recording 1118 yards and 11 touchdowns. While remaining competitive in many of their games this season, work needs to be done to improve the team.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (1-14, 4th AFC North)
There isn’t too much to say about the Bengals. They have been bad all season. Since Andy Dalton has stepped back into the lineup at QB, the offense has looked better, but it looks like they are just ready to draft Joe Burrow and make him their future quarterback.