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Del Pilar's Diatribe: NFL Power Rankings Week 18 Broken Down

Our NFL power rankings aren't done yet and we're still seeing upsets, teams being eliminated, and even some teams with losing records still battling for a slot.
Published on January 2, 2024

NFL Power Rankings

As our NFL power rankings come to an end with one more week left, it’s getting fun with the upsets, teams being eliminated from the playoff hunt, and teams with losing records still battling for a slot. As always, there is behind-the-scenes drama – quarterback benchings, referees determining who wins, and much more.

There are many games with playoff implications, so Week 18 will be fun to watch as the networks continually switch games, going from big play to big play with in-game live highlights. This is what the NFL lives for and always wants – a final week where many games still matter. Buckle up, my friends; it’s not over yet.

Note – Numbers in parentheses by team name indicate the previous week’s rank, and under “Remaining Schedule,” bold indicates a home game.

The Elites

1. Baltimore Ravens (1) Record: 13-3 (win vs. Miami Dolphins 56-19) – Clinched Playoff Spot, Division and Homefield Advantage

Are the Ravens peaking at the right time? It would seem so. They beat up on a team they should’ve beaten up. The Dolphins feast on weak teams until an overrated Cowboys team rode into town to give them their first win over a .500 team; that was always the righteous knock on them. The Ravens proved it valid this week, as the Bills did earlier in the season. This game is the perfect storm to get the Ravens’ postseason momentum going.

They gashed the Phins for 491 offensive yards, including 331 passing and 160 rushing yards. It’s safe to say this team is rolling and on defense, too, as they got to Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa three times and forced three Miami turnovers. It was a statement game.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 11
    • Season Rank Passing: 21
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 3
    • Season Rank Rushing: 1

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 25
    • Season Rank Opponent Passing: 6
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 20
    • Season Rank Opponent Rushing: 13

Remaining Schedule:

  • Steelers

Throw out the records this week as the Ravens face a division rival, and they tend to play one another tough. Considering Jackson’s terrible postseason history, the Ravens must end on a high note and ensure momentum. The Steelers are still in the playoff hunt but are the inferior team. Both teams are physically and mentally tough, from the coaching staff to the players, so it’ll be a good one to watch! The Ravens should prove superior and walk away with the win, but any given Sunday!

2. San Francisco 49ers (2) Record: 12-4 (win vs. Washington Commanders 27-10) – Clinched Playoff Spot, Division and Homefield Advantage

No one expected the Niners to retreat and come out shell-shocked after last week’s beating by the Ravens. This team is too good for that and showed it. QB Brock Purdy was on target with accuracy and accuracy while being mobile. It’s one reason he’s so good in this offense. He’s accurate, can move in the pocket, and makes the throw outside the pocket. They rolled up 408 offensive yards, including 184 on the ground, despite RB Christian McCaffrey (calf) going down to injury. It was a game they should have won, and they did so in typical Niners fashion.

The one positive is that they showed for at least one week that they could scrape together a rushing attack if McCaffrey is out, as Eli Mitchell and Deebo Samuel combined for 115 rushing yards on 20 carries – a 5.8 yards per carry average. Now, these are the Commanders, but getting reps for Mitchell was good.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 6
    • Season Rank Passing: 2 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 6
    • Season Rank Rushing: 3

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 8
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 15
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 25
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 3

Remaining Schedule:

  • Rams

The Niners get a great test with a red-hot Matthew Stafford and the Rams in the playoff hunt, too, to test them. Look for the “B” team for the Niners to see a lot of action, especially in the rushing attack, if McCaffrey gets a week to rest. It’s not a given the Niners will come away victorious if they go this route. However, they have the homefield advantage entering the playoffs, so it would be wise to rest those ailing but keep those who can benefit from the reps in – including youngsters to prep them for postseason action if called upon.

Elitism is on their Radar!

3. Buffalo Bills (3) Record: 10-6 (win vs. New England Patriots 27-21) – In the Playoff Hunt

You can toss the records out when these two teams face one another, as was the case earlier this season when the Patriots came out as the victors. That said, the Bills have won five of the last six games. The Patriots are stout against the run, and the Bills wouldn’t beat them that way. However, while the Bills have owned the series of late, the Patriots know how to slow Josh Allen down. The Bills had to work for the victory and did enough to win.

Their rushing attack came through with 127 rushing yards for an average of 3.4 yards per attempt, but the fact they ran it 37 times means they’re still committed to a balanced offense moving forward. The defense came through with four turnovers and three sacks, and Buffalo controlled the clock. It was not a pretty win, but it was a win.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 31
    • Season Rank Passing: 10
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 4
    • Season Rank Rushing: 7

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 2
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 7
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 11
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 15

Remaining Schedule:

  • Dolphins

This team has a Von Miller problem. They’re paying him some serious cash flow (six years, $120 million), and he’s not producing. He’s seeing more ink from a domestic abuse accusation than he is as a Bills player with sacks. He’s been a bust as a Buffalo Bill – eight sacks in 22 games isn’t what you call worthy of a $120 million contract! The team will need him, but he’s not dependable anymore and likely is playing his final season as a Bill.

Buffalo travels to Miami this week, but the Bills have the advantage. They’ve beaten them once, earlier in the season, and the Phins continue to lick their wounds after a massive beatdown by the Ravens. The NFL and fans love the scenario – a winner-take-all game. The Bills have the talent right now and are tougher mentally than Miami; hence, this week’s advantage goes to the Bills. However, never forget any given Sunday!

4. Cleveland Browns (7) Record: 11-5 (win vs. New York Jets 37-20) – Clinched Playoff Spot

The Browns will continue to improve and ride the hot hand of QB Joe Flacco. Every throw is a rep that creates greater chemistry, so expect him to keep airing it out. The Browns posted 428 offensive yards, with 301 coming in the passing game. The Browns are beginning to peak at the right time. They can beat anyone now.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 1
    • Season Rank Passing: 19
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 32
    • Season Rank Rushing: 11  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 7
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 1
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 9
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 10 

Remaining Schedule:

  • Bengals

This team must lower the turnovers because it’s more challenging, if not impossible, to win if you lose the turnover battle in the playoffs. That’s a big Achilles heel right now; they don’t want to continue into the postseason. They’re passing a lot, so their rushing attack is trending down statistically, but they realize it’s a powerful attack they’ll likely go to for more balance in the postseason. The fact that Flacco can keep drives alive means this defense will remain elite.

The Browns are the team you don’t want to play right now. They close the season out with a solid tune-up game against the now-eliminated Bengals.

5. Detroit Lions (5) Record 11-5 (loss vs. Dallas Cowboys 20-19) – Clinched Playoff Spot and Division

I keep saying this team is a year away, and I’m right. The fact the Lions have a head coach who lets his emotions dictate bad decisions costs this team against the Cowboys. They were the better team, but you can’t beat the referees when they set their minds to affect the outcome of a game, and they did! That said, maybe if the pass rusher had wrapped his arms around Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, we wouldn’t have seen WR CeeDee Lamb take a 92-yard catch to the house. The Lions are their worst enemies as players (turnovers, tackling) and coaches (playcalling and player usage).

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 4
    • Season Rank Passing: 3
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 5
    • Season Rank Rushing: 4   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 32
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 25
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 1
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 5

Remaining Schedule:

  • Vikings

Bad playcalling and emotional decision-making by the head coach will set the Lions up to lose in the postseason. However, QB Jared Goff will likely lose them the game as he’s making throws he can’t and doesn’t play sound football consistently. These turnovers lead to him being tied for No. 3 in the league in interceptions.

He’s also lost four fumbles, thus turning it over 16 times. That’s a recipe for disaster because the secondary can’t stop anyone. Hence, the odds of a shootout are plentiful in the postseason. They close out with the now-eliminated Vikings as a postseason tune-up. If anything, maybe Goff can learn how to pick up the blitz better, as he’s likely to see that a lot against a Brian Flores-coached Vikings defense.

Better than Average but Still has Kinks to Work Out.

6. Dallas Cowboys (9) Record: 11-5 (win vs. Detroit Lions 20-19) – Clinched Playoff Spot

Despite the win, the Cowboys remain a joke because their undefeated record at home is now tainted. They still have it, only because the referee chose to let them win the game. It’s really that simple. That’s where we’re at in today’s NFL – referees picking winners and losers. These games disgust this analyst because no referee should decide the game’s outcome. This game proved that the Dolphins get all the ridicule by beating up bad teams and losing to good ones, but the Cowboys aren’t much better. They struggle to run the ball, and better teams can manhandle their secondary and rush defense. When not playing at home, they’re putrid and are 3-5.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 16
    • Season Rank Passing: 4  
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 24
    • Season Rank Rushing: 14   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 17
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 5
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 29
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 20  

Remaining Schedule:

  • Commanders

Outside their passing attack, they’re mediocre in the run game, average in the secondary, and terrible in the rushing attack. That’s not what you want out of a supposedly elite club hunting for a Super Bowl ring. They face the Commanders for a post-game tune-up, and the fact the Commanders can’t stop anyone on the ground should be a great time to get the rushing attack back on track!

I may sound down on the Cowboys because I am – they have the talent but lack the veteran leadership and coaching staff to make focus and discipline a key component of who they are. That lack of toughness keeps them from reaching the next level. The Niners, Eagles, Ravens, Chiefs, and a few others have that – they don’t, and until they get it, they’ll likely not reach the Super Bowl with this regime. One big step would be QB Dak Prescott becoming the tough veteran leader they need, but he’s not that type of player.

7. Kansas City Chiefs (8) Record: 10-6 (win vs. Cincinnati Bengals 25-17) – Clinched Playoff Spot and Division

Let’s not sugarcoat this win because, as deserving as it was and as hard as they played, Kansas City gave it all they had and still made the same mistakes they’re making all season. They’re dropping the ball, chemistry is not there, or at the very least, the players aren’t on the same page. Turnovers and penalties, and this is a team in disarray. If it wasn’t for their defense, they could’ve lost. However, a win is a win, and they’re division champions again, but they’re no longer an elite team.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 9
    • Season Rank Passing: 5  
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 23
    • Season Rank Rushing: 19 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 1
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 2
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 14
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 17

Remaining Schedule

  • Chargers

The team needs to ensure RB Isiah Pacheco remains involved and heavy, as his production shows he can get the job done, going 18-130-0 for 7.22 yards per attempt. You add his ability to catch going 7-35-1-7, making him an “X” factor they’ll need. They close out against the Chargers, who are truly terrible and are likely looking forward to the final whistle.

It’s a great tune-up game as they wait to see where everything shakes out for the playoffs. You don’t want to put a lot into one game, but the Chiefs need to begin getting their act together offensively, and this game gives them that opportunity to do so. Statistically, they can play with anyone, but mentally, they’re going through issues.

NFL Power Rankings: Pretenders or Contenders?

8. Los Angeles Rams (10) Record: 9-7 (win vs. New York Giants 26-25) Clinched Playoff Spot

The Rams weren’t impressive this week, but they got the win. This game also proves if Stafford’s not on, anyone can beat them. Some are talking about their improving their rushing attack, but it’s been solid all season. No, the key to this close game was a quarterback not on his game. That simple. However, it didn’t matter – they clinched a playoff spot. I’ve been wrong about this team. They needed help and got it from Giants PK Mason Crosby, who had arguably the ugliest missed kick of his career.

This game has nothing to do with what some analysts are talking about. Pass protection, great rushing, poise under pressure, etc. This type of reporting is why journalism sucks today. This game boiled down to the Rams hanging on to beat a team that is 5-11. Again, a win is a win, and the Rams can look forward to the postseason, but it’ll be one-and-done if they don’t find a way to play better when their top gun, Stafford, is having an off-day. As he goes, so do the Rams.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 3
    • Season Rank Passing: 8  
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 8
    • Season Rank Rushing: 10   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 29
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 24
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 4
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 12  

Remaining Schedule:

  • 49ers

The Rams close the season out with a battle against the Niners, and it’s what they should want. If they can avoid injuries, they can learn where they stand against the top-tier teams. They’re trending in the right direction, and this is their test to see if they are ready for the playoffs. Offensively, they’re top-tier, but defensively, they have significant issues against the pass and mixed results against better running backs, so that this game could be a high-scoring affair. Regardless, it’ll be one to watch!

9. Philadelphia Eagles (6) Record: 11-5 (loss vs. Arizona Cardinals 35-31) – Clinched Playoff Spot

There were a couple of factors with this game. First, Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon is the former defensive coordinator of the Eagles. In fact, since he left, the Eagles’ defense has dropped a notch or two. Then there’s the fact the Cardinals play hard for him with victories against the Cowboys, Steelers, and now Eagles. They did beat the Falcons, but they don’t count.

It doesn’t matter who’s calling the defensive plays for the Eagles, but they’re struggling right now, can’t stop the rush, and have been terribly inconsistent with the passing attack. Their offense is also struggling and only amassed 275 offensive yards, but the real story is how this defense is collapsing before our eyes. The team’s still struggling to figure it out, as the Cardinal’s loss proves.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 19
    • Season Rank Passing: 16
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 17
    • Season Rank Rushing: 9 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 10
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 28
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 28
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 11

Remaining Schedule

  • Giants

The Eagles have their backs against the wall and travel to New Jersey to escape their funk. It has to be defensive. They need that defense to step up in the postseason, especially as the Niners and Cowboys have proven they can beat them, and it’s not close with the Niners. Theoretically, The Giants should give them the type of game where they can work on some of these issues. Still, with the team in such a funk, the Giants could pull off the upset and make the Eagles a wild-card entry team after dominating the division for most of the season.

A player must take charge and bring leadership back, as the Eagles have confidence issues right now. They also need a kick in the tush in leadership and overcoming because the Cardinals’ loss is entirely unacceptable based on team expectations. That’s all that’s left as they are who they are, and it is what it is at this point in the season.

10. Miami Dolphins (4) Record: 11-5 (loss vs. Baltimore Ravens 56-19) – Clinched Playoff Spot

It took the overrated and not mentally tough Cowboys to ride into town to give legitimacy to a Miami team that couldn’t beat a team over .500 until they came along. As the Bills did earlier, the Ravens proved they aren’t elite and may not even be top-tier. It’s funny, as I read a report of an analyst calling this team a quality first-place team.

Not really, and it’s a reason they’re a joke to some – they can’t beat great teams. This game is a “teachable” moment; they have to break it down and parse it, and each player has to look at themselves in the mirror and do better. It’s really that simple at this point in the season. They are who they are. The coaching staff must begin to realize they need to learn how to slow down the tempo instead of a shootout they may not win. They’re not the only high-powered offense in the league.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 10
    • Season Rank Passing: 1
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 15
    • Season Rank Rushing: 5 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 14
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 12
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 10
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 7

Remaining Schedule

  • Bills

Statistics are great, and the fantasy sports industry made them the defacto go-to in breaking teams down. However, you have to look at the quality of the opponent and their statistics to come to the proper conclusion of who a team is. It’s easy to play an offense that reminds me of the scoring power of a run-and-shoot squad of the 1980s and 1990s.

However, when you’re doing that against lesser teams, you may struggle to keep up with a team that can do it better or to be specific, a team that plays smash-mouth physical football. Look for the Bills to come in and imitate what the Ravens did, and they have the tools to do it. This game will determine the AFC East champion, and the NFL can’t be happier.

The Rest of the Best or Pretenders

11. Jacksonville Jaguars (15) Record: 9-7 (win vs. Carolina Panthers 26-0) – In the Playoff Hunt

Look at that: it takes backup QB C.J. Beathard, the grandson of Hall of Fame and multiple Super Bowl winner the late great Redskins and Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard, to get the Jags out of their four-game losing streak. This team had its back against the wall and finally responded. This game was a defensive clinic highlighted by six sacks, a turnover, and, more importantly, keeping the Panthers out of the end zone. They also won the time of possession 33:29 to 26:31. What’s brutal is that the Panthers only had a third down efficiency rating of 7 percent. Then again, this is how the game should’ve gone.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 15
    • Season Rank Passing: 9 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 22
    • Season Rank Rushing: 23  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 3
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 27
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 23
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 8

Remaining Schedule:

  • Titans

If the Jags beat the Titans, they’re in, but they have a better shot if starting QB Trevor Lawrence (shoulder) can return. The truth is the missed game – the first of his football career – likely brought much-needed rest and time to heal. They control their destiny, but the Titans are likely hyping themselves to play spoiler. However, if the Jaguars come in with the talent and play like their backs are against the wall again, they should come out with the victory. That said, any given Sunday, people!

12. Indianapolis Colts (14) Record: 9-7 (win vs. Las Vegas Raiders 23-20) – In the Playoff Hunt

The Colts beat an inconsistent Raiders team but one playing hard for their interim head coach – likely to no avail, and they’ve overcome a lot and are playing above their season rankings. They’re trending at the right time. The rushing attack had 134 yards; more importantly, QB Gardner Minshew didn’t turn the ball over. That’s such a big issue with this team. You can see turnovers being critical to many of their losses. This week, despite not winning the turnover battle (there were none) and losing the time of possession battle, they hung together as a team to get the win.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 23
    • Season Rank Passing: 20
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 10
    • Season Rank Rushing: 13    

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 16
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 17
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 19
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 27

Remaining Schedule:

  • Texans

Now, win next week, and they’re in. It’s a doozy as they face off against the Texans, who are also battling for a playoff spot. My vote for head coach of the year goes to Shane Steichen, who doesn’t have his franchise quarterback but is winning with a streaky backup gun-slinger and running back having a down year.

What he’s done with this team is outstanding, and competing for a division crown in the final week in what should be a rebuilding year speaks volumes about how this team has come together. They’re home against the Texans, but this game could go either way as another rookie head coach, DeMeco Ryans, brings his “rebuilding” team into battle for the honor of continuing to play.

13. Houston Texans (16) Record: 9-7 (win vs. Tennessee Titans 26-3) – In the Playoff Hunt but on the Bubble

The team got rookie QB C.J. Stroud back, and the winning began anew. The offense managed to roll up 312 offensive yards, controlled the time of possession, got to the Titans quarterbacks six times, and recovered a fumble. The fact they were playing a tired, beat-up Titans team helped. The Titans’ rushing attack has been inconsistent, and they shut it down along with RB Derrick Henry while knocking rookie QB Will Levis (ankle) out of the game. It’s nothing magical, just a better team beating up on a lesser opponent.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 25
    • Season Rank Passing: 7 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 14
    • Season Rank Rushing: 22  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 13
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 25
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 2
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 3

Remaining Schedule

  • Colts

That said, there are issues the Texans are struggling with. Their third down efficiency was only 27%, which must improve this week against the Colts, as the winner of this game can advance into the playoffs. However, they may or may not have left tackle Laremy Tunsil (groin), and he’s arguably their best player on offense – yes, a left tackle.

The challenge is there for this team; they’re young but hungry and tough, as shown through their rookie head coach, DeMeco Ryans. In fact, this game could help decide who wins head coach of the year, as both Ryans and Colts rookie head coach Shane Steichen are both up based on what they’ve done with teams not expected to compete for a playoff spot, much less a division crown.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (18) Record: 9-7 (win vs. Seattle Seahawks 30-23) – In the Playoff Hunt but on the Bubble

There was one time when fans thought the Steelers’ backup, QB Mason Rudolph, could challenge the starting job after Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement. The team never believed in him, which is the problem. Sometimes, being thrown into the fire without expectations is the best way to show how good you are! He brings honesty to the position – that is, defenses must respect the pass now, and that’s allowing for the rushing attack to work its magic. He’s elevating the passing game and looks like a veteran. He’s taken the starting job as starter Kenny Pickett’s medically cleared to play.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 14
    • Season Rank Passing: 25
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 11
    • Season Rank Rushing: 12  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 27
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 22
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 16
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 18  

Remaining Schedule:

  • Ravens

I’ve criticized and praised Tomlin, but part of my criticism under the Tomlin regime is their lack of ability to understand the quarterback position and help young men become men. He’s failed there, despite the perception of him being a disciplinarian yet a players coach. Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell, Santonio Holmes, and others are grim reminders of how the team let talent walk because of a rift between the players and the team.

It makes me wonder how they missed the fact Rudolph has been solid when allowed to play. Things that make you go, hmm. The bottom line is that despite this, Tomlin’s remained a winner and has the Steelers battling.

Their biggest test is this week as they face the Ravens, and the key will be the pass rush and containing QB Lamar Jackson. They’ve won the last six out of seven matchups against Baltimore, but this is a new offense and a much more pass-happy team they’re facing. If the Steelers win, and they could, as the Ravens will rest a few players, they still need help.

15. Green Bay Packers (21) Record: 8-8 (win vs. Minnesota Vikings 33-10) – In the Playoff Hunt

It’s odd how the Packers can make the Panthers all-world, then come out the next week and shut the Vikings down. We know the defense is Helter Skelter, a perennial weakness for this team for over a decade. Yes, a decade! However, this season’s about QB Jordan Love and his development. I’ve been stating that all season.

However, he’s rapidly grown in the past six weeks, and the timing is coming together. This team amassed 470 offensive yards against a defense that, over the last three games, is rated in the bottom tier against the pass and rush. It’s a great building block, but just that – a building block. Regardless, Love also threw for three and ran for one, and the rushing attack is coming together with 177 rushing yards.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 8
    • Season Rank Passing: 17 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 9
    • Season Rank Rushing: 15   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 28
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 11
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 8
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 28

Remaining Schedule:

  • Bears

This team can make it into the playoffs but will go nowhere. However, making the playoffs signals they are far ahead of expectations. This season is a developmental one for Love to take the franchise and become its next great quarterback. He’s ahead of schedule right now. Can you imagine if they make the playoffs with the debacle the Jets went through after getting Aaron Rodgers and then losing him for the year? Irony and Packers Nation would love it.

That said, this team finishes out with a Bears team that is still developing their quarterback but has a rushing attack that will test this Packers’ defense. Please don’t assume the Bears are a given for this team, but Green Bay has the advantage of playing at home.

16. New Orleans Saints (19) Record: 8-8 (win vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-13) – In the Playoff Hunt but on the Bubble

Last week, I said this offense stinks, and I was right. The inconsistent and overrated defense showed up this week because the Saints’ back was against the wall. They performed outstandingly, forcing four turnovers, getting to the quarterback twice, and controlling the time of possession from 36:38 to 23:22.

One potential issue is that the tight end position accounted for about 68 percent of the passing yards, which is excellent and flawed. QB Derek Carr is returning to basics as he’s using the tight end as a safety blanket and the focal point of the passing game. While it keeps the offense moving forward, it’s also a limited plan of attack best suited to inexperienced quarterbacks. What you must like, though, is that this team’s back was against the wall, and they came out fighting – as it should be.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 12
    • Season Rank Passing: 12
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 28
    • Season Rank Rushing: 21  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 24
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 9
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 5
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 21 

Remaining Schedule:

  • Falcons

The Saints played with their 2023 lives on the line and responded, although they need help to get into the playoffs. However, it’s likely a day late and a dollar short if they don’t win the division. Dennis Allen is 23-46 as head coach and likely needs to make the playoffs to keep his job. He’s done nothing to elevate this team above mediocrity.

He has one last shot and faces the Falcons, another team still in the playoff hunt, and the division crown. It’s a longshot that the Panthers upset the Bucs for the Saints to claim the division, but all they can do is focus on the Falcons. In retrospect, all they have is themselves to blame, as this should’ve been their division for the taking.

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11) Record: 8-8 (loss vs. New Orleans Saints 23-13) – In the Playoff Hunt

In my Points on the Board weekly NFL power rankings clip, along with the short, I said the Buccaneers were the No. 10 team. I lied as it was the Rams, but the Bucs at No. 11 had earned it. Talk about speaking too soon! Apparently, the Bucs, a mediocre team, began to believe their press clippings while the Saints knew their playoff hopes would continue or end with this game. What did the Bucs do?

They gave up four turnovers and two sacks and only had a 25% third down efficiency, and finally, the Saints owned the time of possession 36:38 to 23:22. One more note: this team can’t run and faced a stingy run defense, albeit one recently struggling (see three-game trend and season rank). The original plan was sound, but why stick to it when it didn’t work? Overall, there was bad form from the players (execution) and coaching (playcalling and no adjustments).

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 2
    • Season Rank Passing: 15
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 30
    • Season Rank Rushing: 31   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 22
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 32
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 3
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 6

Remaining Schedule:

  • Panthers

How a team doesn’t get up for a game where they can clinch the division and a playoff spot is on coaching. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles doesn’t get much criticism. For one, all reports talk about how nice a human being he is, and I can vouch for that. He’s a nice guy, but being one of a handful of minorities as a head coach makes reporters nervous about taking their shots at him in today’s political world.

Fair or not, Bowles falls under that. There’s no doubt he’s an elite defensive coordinator. Yet, there’s also no doubt he’s a subpar head coach, and this game epitomizes what he lacks – the ability to inspire men to rise to the challenge. Luckily, the Bucs face the Panthers this week and, theoretically, on paper, should clinch the division. As you know, my favorite NFL quote is, “Any given Sunday!” they’ll have to earn the win to get in, and that’s how it should be.

18. Seattle Seahawks (13) Record: 8-8 (loss vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 30-23) – In the Playoff Hunt but on the Bubble

Even though the Seahawks are nothing but a shadow of their former Super Bowl-winning teams, to lose at home to a Steelers squad that hasn’t been good at all this season and is playing their third-string quarterback speaks volumes as to where the Seahawks are now with a 72-year old corrupt human being in Pete Carroll leading them. All the Seahawks had to do was win their last two games, and they’re in. They only had to beat the Steelers and then the Cardinals.

Outgained in offensive yards, their twelfth man (the fans) could do nothing to help. That stadium is so loud it affects an opposing team’s offense. This game had two key factors: 1. The time of possession was 37:33 versus 22:27 as the Steelers dominated. 2. Third down efficiency as Seattle was 33% to the Steelers 46%, which made all the difference – execution. Execution means dropped passes, lousy playcalling, poor challenges, etc. They were outplayed and outcoached.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 13
    • Season Rank Passing: 14
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 25
    • Season Rank Rushing: 29   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 5
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 19
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 31
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 30

Remaining Schedule:

  • Cardinals

This team needs help, and the Cardinals aren’t going to roll over, especially after upsetting the Eagles last week. They’ve beaten the Cowboys, Steelers, and Eagles – three teams fighting for a playoff spot. If the Seahawks win this game, it’ll be hard-earned, but this week’s gaffe would leave them needing help. They need the rejuvenated Bears to beat the high-flying Packers to get in – provided they beat the Cardinals.

19. Chicago Bears (23) Record: 7-9 (win vs. Atlanta Falcons 37-17) – Eliminated

All the talk will be about QB Justin Fields, and he’s shown great strides since coming back from injury. That’s fair, as you need to know if your quarterback is a franchise player. This team’s belief in establishing a pounding rushing attack is the real story. They amassed 192 rushing yards this week.

That’s opening it up for Fields, as defenses must focus on that. Because of that, Fields is looking more and more like a quarterback. Add his legs to the mix, and this offense can be devastating – think of the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes. A quarterback who runs when needed, not by default. The point is to mix the passing game with a mobile quarterback that defenses can’t contain when flushed out of the pocket.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 26
    • Season Rank Passing: 27
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 2
    • Season Rank Rushing: 2  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 23
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 21
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 7
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 1  

Remaining Schedule:

  • Packers

This team secured the overall No. 1 pick from a trade made with the Carolina Panthers, and Fields will be all the talk. However, this is an excellent rebuilding opportunity if they believe Fields is the answer. The team can shore up a position of need or trade down for multiple picks. The world’s their oyster; oops, the NFL Draft is.

However, they close the season out with the Packers and can play spoiler to them as they’re in the playoff hunt. It’s a big reason to play hard, end the season on a high note, and take out an arch-rival. It’s a game the fans will salivate as one of the oldest rivalries match up in a game that has consequences for at least one team.

20. Cincinnati Bengals (12) Record: 8-8 (loss vs. Kansas City Chiefs 25-17) – Eliminated

The Bengals had a nice run with backup QB Jake Browning, and he will likely see a significant raise to be their backup. It’s the best job in the world. You earn more than some starters at other positions to hold a clipboard. The Bengals got knocked out of the playoff hunt by another team with issues – the Chiefs. The Bengals’ lack of ability to stop the rush ended their season as Isiah Pacheco went 18-130-0 rushing, had a 7.22 yards per carry average, and chipped in 7-35-1-7 receiving. Combined with a top-tier Chiefs pass defense, Browning couldn’t get over this mountain this week.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 7
    • Season Rank Passing: 11
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 27
    • Season Rank Rushing: 32  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 30
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 29
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 24
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 26

Remaining Schedule:

  • Browns

The Bengals can play spoiler and stop the Browns’ momentum entering the playoffs. However, the odds are the players mail it in, avoid getting hurt, and wait for the offseason to begin. However, the concern for this team is playcalling. This team needs to understand they need a consistent rushing attack to help offset the pressure they’re putting on QB Joe Burrow (wrist), and I’m not sure this head coach, Zak Taylor, can do as such.

He did it, but some with Browning and early on with Burrow, but his complete reliance on Burrow now as he’s emerged as a franchise quarterback is appalling. He uses him as the only weapon from passing to short-yardage runs, which is why he didn’t suit up much this season. This team must learn balance, or it’ll be many years before they sniff a Super Bowl again. Ask a legend like former Dolphins stud and hall of famer Dan Marino.

NFL Power Rankings: Get it Together and Overachievers

21. Denver Broncos (26) Record: 8-8 (win vs. Los Angeles Chargers 16-9) – Eliminated

So, it’s great to see the world finally realizing what kind of person head coach Sean Payton is now that we’re hearing more about the behind-the-scenes threats toward QB Russell Wilson regarding his contract. Kevin James, he isn’t, and “Home Team” is a terrible movie! Regardless, Wilson was benched, and the team went with a backup familiar to the situation at hand. QB Jarrett Stidham didn’t play badly at all.

He protected the ball, and the fact they were playing the pathetic Chargers helped tremendously. However, this team could only muster 301 yards against a bottom-tier secondary and mediocre run defense. This team’s rushing attack and defense have reverted to mediocrity at best. They beat a team that’s quit. Overall, a win is a win, and they have a chance to have a winning season if they can beat an arch-rival.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 20
    • Season Rank Passing: 26 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 21
    • Season Rank Rushing: 17

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 21
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 22
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 18
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 31 

Remaining Schedule:

  • Raiders

Payton had the offense playing more efficiently, but he’ll have to take a step back to move forward with a new quarterback next season. As we’ve seen, he’s been lucky. He had Drew Brees and Wilson, but we’ve never seen him try his hand with mediocrity at the position, and while the grass always looks greener on the other side, it’s never a given. However, the team’s goal is to end on a high note, and they travel to Las Vegas, where Stidham last played.

In fact, he played instead of benched Derek Carr, who went through what Wilson was going through. Talk about coincidence. However, this game’s not a given, and while they got lucky to beat a bad team, the Raiders head coach has a mediocre team playing hard, and Antonio Pierce wants the interim tag removed to become the next official head coach of the Raiders. This game could be a fun one to watch.

22. Las Vegas Raiders (22) Record: 7-9 (loss vs. Indianapolis Colts 23-20) – Eliminated

The Raiders aren’t very good. WR Davante Adams is a great receiver, but not elite, as his former quarterback and future hall of famer Aaron Rodgers helped bolster his numbers. The point is that this team spent a lot of money on a player when they had other glaring needs. That said, Adams did all he could this week to help stay in the playoff hunt, going 13-126-2-21. However, a player who Grumblings Media predicted would have a down year, RB Josh Jacobs (quad) couldn’t play, and we don’t predict injuries, but the odds were high this season would be one filled with them, especially after holding out.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 22
    • Season Rank Passing: 23  
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 12
    • Season Rank Rushing: 30 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 18
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 10
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 13
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 22

Remaining Schedule:

  • Broncos

This team closes out with the Broncos, and if interim head coach Antonio Pierce can lead them to victory, then it may be extremely tough not to give him the head coaching job. A big win over the Chiefs and Broncos – two big rival teams with a lot of history could force the issue. Overall, he hasn’t done much better than Josh McDaniel, but he is a better leader and well-liked by the players.

However, he was the linebacker’s coach, not the hand-picked head coach Mark Davis originally tabbed to lead this franchise. You add that Davis also fired the general manager, and his new one may only take the job if he can bring in his coach. That coach would also have to align with Davis’s wants.

In other words, it’s not a given that Pierce gets the job as he didn’t win out and gives ownership the excuse or legitimacy – take your pick – to look for their guy. However, they will be under heavy pressure to keep an interim head coach who is a minority. This one will be interesting to watch. Pierce hasn’t shown he deserves a head coaching job yet, but he’s shown he’s well on his way to becoming a head coach in the NFL. Why not give him a shot with a general manager handling the rebuild? Time will tell.

23. Atlanta Falcons (17) Record: 7-9 (loss vs. Chicago Bears 37-17) – In the Playoff Hunt but on the Bubble

Whenever you think this team is taking a step forward, they get embarrassed and take a few steps back. Because of the quarterback’s play the past few weeks, this team will likely look to upgrade the position in the offseason. The reason is that they may not think Desmond Ridder is the future. He should be progressing and showing signs of improvement, but he’s not.

He replaced starter Taylor Heinicke and threw an interception himself. Sure, quarterbacks throw picks, but this guy seems to excel at it with eleven in 12 starts so far. What makes it so bad are 11 fumbles lost this season as well. That’s 23 turnovers in 12 starts and 14 games played. These turnovers are only Ridder, but Heinicke also threw three interceptions this past week. The position is losing games for them.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 27
    • Season Rank Passing: 22
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 13
    • Season Rank Rushing: 8  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 6
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 8
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 27
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 19

Remaining Schedule:

  • Saints

So much for Heinicke providing this team hope. The real story is that the coaching staff and management are coming back. Maybe ownership sees something we don’t or doesn’t want to cut a check every week to a fired head coach. Regardless, Smith should give up playcalling and find an offensive coordinator and quarterback’s coach. They’ll be in the running for a free-agent quarterback, or they’ll roll the dice with one in the draft.

However, Smith will be on the hot seat, so an experienced high-end free agent who can step in and perform and has the experience to grow into the role quickly is what they’ll look for. They close the season out with Saints; a win combined with a Bucs loss gives them the NFC South. However, nothing is a given with this team, and the Bucs face the Panthers. It’s a long shot, and regardless of the outcome, it is a disappointing season as this team is the same team ending the season that started – minimal to no growth as a unit.

24. Minnesota Vikings (20) Record: 7-9 (loss vs. Green Bay Packers 10-33) – In the Playoff Hunt but on the Bubble

Can you see this team begging for QB Kirk Cousins to return in 2024? You bet your tush we can. This team has been playing merry-go-round with their quarterbacks. Cousins (Achilles), Josh Dobbs, Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall. Once they lost Cousins, their season came to an end. They just didn’t know it. Between Mullens and Hall, this team only gained 144 passing yards in a beatdown against the Packers. This offense is inept, with no passing attack and a rushing attack that ranks near the bottom tiers.

Defensively, they’re not much better, and inconsistent is the best term you can apply to them. The quarterback decision this offseason will weigh on this team as they can be immediately competitive with Cousins or go through a rebuild – their choice.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 5
    • Season Rank Passing: 6
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 29
    • Season Rank Rushing: 27 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 31
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 18
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 26
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 9

Remaining Schedule:

  • Lions

Despite their 7-9 record, like the AFC South teams of similar stature, they’re still in the playoff hunt but need massive help. However, they must first get past the Lions, who can play with anyone. However, they also play down to opponents. Minnesota hopes to take advantage of the Lions’ weak secondary with solid quarterback play. I can’t believe I just typed what is likely an impossible task for the Vikings!

The odds of the Vikings being able to take advantage of that are slim to none. However, another hope is to rattle Lions QB Jared Goff into rushing passes and turning the ball over, as he has multiple games with multiple turnovers. Any given Sunday, people! Any given Sunday!

NFL Power Rankings: Rebuild and Retool Teams

25. Arizona Cardinals (29) Record: 4-12 (win vs Philadelphia Eagles 35-31) – Eliminated

Several factors contributed to the outcome of this game. To begin with, Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon is the former Eagles defensive coordinator. The Eagles’ defense has deteriorated since he left. Also, the Cardinals play hard for him, winning against the Cowboys, Steelers, and now the Eagles. Although they beat the Falcons, they don’t count.

Most will point to QB Kyler Murray and his return because this team is 3-4 since coming back. Well, he’s an upgrade from the quarterbacks they had, but as stated last week, he can play solid ball early on but the wear and tear of the season gets him, and that’s the only future he has at 5-10. While he’s brought up the team’s overall passing numbers, the rushing attack is the strength of this offense, amassing 221 rushing yards and almost equaling the 228 passing yards Murray had. They’ve been solid all season, and the past three games have the best rushing attack in the league.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 17
    • Season Rank Passing: 29
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 1
    • Season Rank Rushing: 6

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 11
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 13
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 30
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 32

Remaining Schedule:

  • Seahawks

The Cardinals can clinch another significant victory by playing spoiler to the Seahawks. That can end the season on a high note and give them momentum in the offseason. No one knows what they’ll do with Murray, but finding a suitor who gives proper value in return will be hard.

That said, the Cardinals do not have an elite quarterback, but they do have a viable one, and we’ve seen what happens when teams lose their studs at the position – they struggle! This analyst believes they’ll keep him and look to build their run defense and upgrade the offense, possibly at the receiver position, but they’re not as far off as we would have said before the start of the season. That’s a testament to what Gannon is doing as a head coach.

26. New England Patriots (24) Record: 4-12 (loss vs. Buffalo Bills 27-21) – Eliminated

Again, this team continues to play hard despite being eliminated weeks ago in the playoff hunt. The Bills have owned the Patriots with five wins in the last six games. You combine that with some terrible quarterback play and get the following result: a loss. This offense allowed four turnovers and three sacks, and it’s the same old story every week. Again, This loss boils down to offensive scheming or a lack of it and bad quarterback play.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 24
    • Season Rank Passing: 24 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 31
    • Season Rank Rushing: 25   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 12
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 13
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 6
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 2

Remaining Schedule:

  • Jets

The Patriots will close out against the useless Jets, and yes, it’s useless when you have an offensive coordinator as bad as the Jets do in Nathanial Hackett. The Patriots also own the Jets, winning 15 of the last 16 games. Because of the Patriots’ defense, we expect a low-scoring affair, and it’s anyone’s guess who’ll win, but if you put a gun to my head, I’d say the Patriots. Once done, the offseason begins for a new quarterback or new general manager, head coach, and then quarterback. Make no bones about it: Mac Jones is no longer part of the Patriots’ future.

27. New York Jets (25) Record: 6-10 (loss vs. Cleveland Browns 37-20) – Eliminated

The Jets are a mess, and this so-called elite defense gave up 428 offensive yards, and passing yards were 301 yards against a secondary that’s the best in the league. However, their lack of depth and inconsistency has been detrimental all season. You beat up on weaker offenses and allow the better ones to gash you. It’s fixable, but we don’t know where they’ll spend their money because they have an outstanding unit; thus, they’ll look to spend their dollars elsewhere.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 28
    • Season Rank Passing: 30
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 16
    • Season Rank Rushing: 28   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 15
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 4
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 12
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 24

Remaining Schedule

  • Patriots

The Jets have no future, regardless of QB Aaron Rodgers’s return in 2024. That’s because they have arguably the worst offensive coordinator in the game. In fact, the Packers offensive coordinator, Nathanial Hackett, never called a game in Green Bay. It was always Matt LaFleur. It showed in Denver and now in New York.

Hackett can’t grasp the nuances of a game in progress and adjust, and he’s only had one successful season – Jacksonville 2017 as an offensive coordinator. That’s one out of seven seasons! Until he’s gone, this team will underperform. The Jets close out the season against arch-rival New England, and it should be a good game as neither team appears to have quit on their coaching staff, but don’t be too happy yet, Jets Nation; there’s always a first time.

Playing for Draft Positions: NFL Power Rankings Worst of the Worst

28. New York Giants (27) Record: 5-11 (loss vs. Los Angeles Rams 26-25) – Eliminated

How do you match a top-10 offense and top-5 passing attack and go toe-to-toe against them 391 (Rams) offensive yards to 389 (Giants) offensive yards, get three turnovers, sack the quarterback four times, win the third down efficiency battle, and still lose the game? Terrible quarterback decision-making. Tyrod Taylor had a solid game, making enough right decisions to pull off the upset.

However, he failed in crunch time and couldn’t make the play under pressure. It was a two-point conversion that would’ve been good in various ways; Taylor could’ve run it in and pitched it to the RB, but what’s he do? He throws it short and behind RB Saquon Barkley. That play was brutal because he wasn’t under pressure and threw a bad pass from a few yards out.

What was worse was putting a 39-year-old kicker recently signed and out of the league in a situation to kick a career-long field goal. It was terrible, as the play before the attempt lost two yards. Again, head coach Brian Daboll is proving he’s not the playcaller or head coach we thought he would be. Yes, Mike Kafka calls the plays, but they go through Daboll. Daboll’s made some boneheaded decisions this past season!

That’s been the story of this Giants team all season. Self-inflicted, whether via the players forgetting how to tackle, lousy playcalling, or just terrible play on the field, it’s their 2023 season.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 21
    • Season Rank Passing: 32
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 20
    • Season Rank Rushing: 16 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 26
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 20
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 21
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 29 

Remaining Schedule:

  • Eagles

The Giants have not quit, and that’s good as they host a reeling Eagles team that is mentally struggling as well, statistically. They could end the season on a high note by upsetting the Eagles and possibly giving the division to the Cowboys. Giants Nation should view this season as a “teachable moment” for the coaching and general manager staff. Everything this season is fixable, but it starts with the draft and signing quality, proven free agents, and not overpaying as they did with QB Daniel Jones. This team is easily two years away from competing with the skills to win a Super Bowl.

29. Tennessee Titans (28) Record: 5-11 (loss vs. Houston Texans 26-3) – Eliminated

This team may not have quit, but they aren’t giving it 100 percent. Then there’s the fact this is a meaningless game that saw rookie QB Will Levis carted off the field with an ankle injury. That signaled how this game would go. They were outgunned 312 offensive yards by Houston to their 187 and rushing? King Henry’s on a milk carton box somewhere because the rushing attack for the Titans could only muster 53 yards. You add six sacks given up, a turnover, a third-down efficiency of 8 percent, and you know why this was a lopsided loss.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 32
    • Season Rank Passing: 28
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 18
    • Season Rank Rushing: 18     

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 9
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 16
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 15
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 14 

Remaining Schedule:

  • Jaguars

The season can’t end soon enough for the Titans, and this loss will send more players into a protective shell, trying not to get hurt in a meaningless game. Although they can play spoiler to the Jaguars, they may not have the mental toughness or talent to upset them. Regardless, this team must go into a rebuild mode once the season concludes.

Their belief a player here or there could make them a contender this season was a pipe dream and nothing but a wasted year their players will never get back. There could be changes to not only the team’s makeup but the coaching staff as well. The Jaguars game could have more riding on it than just a playoff spot for Jacksonville.

30. Los Angeles Chargers (30) Record: 5-11 (loss vs. Denver Broncos 16-9) – Eliminated

This team lost another game, and no, we’re not surprised. They’re just a bad team, and that’s what happens when you’re soft. The Chargers have a long history of lacking toughness and wilting under pressure. It was a game of backup quarterbacks and one reason it was low-scoring – two mediocre teams playing mediocre to poor football.

The big story here is that edge rusher Khalil Mack gained his 100th sack in a fulfilling career milestone but also sadness. He’s played in four wild-card games and his teams lost all of them. To put those numbers up on average teams at best, mediocre on average, is part of life in the NFL, but the Hall of Fame will welcome him regardless. He’s at the end of his career so if he wants a ring, he’ll have to rethink his financial value.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 18
    • Season Rank Passing: 13
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 19
    • Season Rank Rushing: 26

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 20
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 30
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 17
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 16

Remaining Schedule

  • Chiefs

The Chargers host the Chiefs, and while they are in the postseason, they are playing poorly. They’ll look to right the ship before the postseason begins, but the Chargers could play a bit of a spoiler by sending them, the defending Super Bowl champs, into the postseason with a loss. Can they, do it?

They’re an average team on some fronts and subpar on others, but the Chiefs are reeling. They did everything possible and barely took the Bengals out without QB Joe Burrow. Never say never, and while we expect a win for the Chiefs, this is a division rivalry, so some players will show up. Regardless, the fun begins for the Chargers after the season as a head coach needs to be hired and the rushing attack and defense retooled and rebuilt.

31. Washington Commanders (31) Record: 4-12 (loss vs. San Francisco 49ers 27-10) – Eliminated

This team is playing it out, and despite a solid half in competing against the Niners, the Commanders eventually faltered. They have no rushing attack, and QB Sam Howell’s developing happy feet. Opponents have taken Howell down sacked 61 times for 3.9 sacks per game. That’s four per game. His play isn’t shocking and shouldn’t be to any analyst. The problem is that most analysts are just wrong and pathetic – see Nick Wright. Talk about a sad, pathetic bozo, but only in America can he be earning six figures for being wrong!

This team could only muster 225 offensive yards, and a quarterback sacked as much as Howell has been, without a rushing attack, will not win many games. You add a terrible secondary and bottom-tier run defense, and this team needs a complete rebuild.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 29
    • Season Rank Passing: 18
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 26
    • Season Rank Rushing: 24

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 19
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 31
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 32
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 25

Remaining Schedule

  • Cowboys

The Cowboys are coming into town, and it’s a good chance for the team to end on a high note, but they don’t have the horses to keep up or challenge a team that desperately needs a win without controversy heading into the postseason. This team will have a completely new look in 2024 as new ownership begins to put its stamp on the product. Look for them to clean house from the top to management, then a new coaching staff and a rebuild with the players themselves.

Whether Howell and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will return isn’t known. The truth is, Bieniemy hasn’t proven himself as an offensive coordinator, much less a potential head coach. He doesn’t recognize and play to his team’s strengths or challenge the opponent’s weaknesses. Remember, he watched a player who could put a team on his back in quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He doesn’t have that in Washington and didn’t adjust as he should’ve to create better game plans.

32. Carolina Panthers (32) Record: 2-14 (loss vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 26-30) – Eliminated

Talk about taking not one step back but a mile back with this loss; the Panthers ensure the Chicago Bears will have their overall No. 1 pick. That’s what you got out of this game. The fact that the Panthers only had a third-down efficiency percentage of 7% speaks volumes about how this game went. That includes giving up six sacks and losing the battle for time of possession. In their defense, the Jaguars had their backs against the wall, and Carolina was the perfect opponent for them to end their four-game losing streak.  

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 30
    • Season Rank Passing: 31
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 17
    • Season Rank Rushing: 20  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 4
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 3
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 22
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 23  

Remaining Schedule:

  • Buccaneers

Is Bryce Young the future as their franchise quarterback? He has one more season to prove his worth. The late great Bill Walsh, the architect of the West Coast offense and three-time Super Bowl coach, said you can figure out in about 20 games if a player can play quarterback in the NFL. This analyst wouldn’t put the odds on him being a franchise quarterback right now.

However, you must always allow youth to redeem themselves, primarily if they work hard. The ball is in his court to improve, and management to improve the players around him. They must get younger and stronger in various areas, and while not a complete rebuild, they have massive holes to fill. They end the season against the Bucs and have a shot to play spoiler. Do they have the horses to pull it off? We’ll find out.