Packer Peter’s Power Rankings Finale

January 2, 2019

 

These are our final Power Rankings of the Season. Despite the Packers disappointing year, we hope that you have enjoyed reading our weekly look at all the NFL teams.

On with this week…

 

9 of the top 10 teams from last week’s rankings won – the only blemish being the Saints who were more interested in saving their strength and health for the play-offs.

 

At the other end of the rankings, 8 of last week’s bottom 10 all lost.

 

The biggest risers this week are: Carolina and Philadelphia (both up 3), Buffalo (up 2)

 

The biggest fallers this week are: Several teams dropped by 1 place.

 

AFC Play-offs 

 

Wildcard Round

5th January - #6 Indianapolis at #3 Houston

6th January - #5 L.A. Chargers at #4 Baltimore

 

Divisional Round

12th January - Lowest Remaining Seed at #1 Kansas City

13th January - Highest Remaining Seed at #2 New England

 

NFC Play-offs

 

Wildcard Round

5th January - #5 Seattle at #4 Dallas

6th January - #6 Philadelphia at #3 Chicago

 

Divisional Round

12th January - Highest Remaining Seed at #2 L.A. Rams

13th January - Lowest Remaining Seed at #1 New Orleans

 

1. New Orleans Saints (13-3) (last week’s ranking: 1)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 4

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: NFC South Division Champions

 

This week: In a game with nothing on the line for New Orleans, Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara both sat out and the Saints fell to 33-14 loss to the Panthers. Teddy Bridgewater started at QB for the Saints – it was his first start since 2015 when he was with the Minnesota Vikings. Brees finished the season with a new single-season NFL record for completion percentage – 74.4%. Wideout Michael Thomas broke the franchise record for receiving yards for the season (the mark was previously held by Joe Horn with 1,399 yards).

 

Next game: The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through New Orleans. The Saints have a first round play-off bye and then on 13thJanuary in the Divisional Round they will host the lowest remaining seed – one of #4 Dallas, #5 Seattle or #6 Philadelphia.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft the Saints first round pick (traded to Green Bay) will be 28-32, depending upon how far they advance in the play-offs.

 

2. Los Angeles Rams (13-3) (last week’s ranking: 2)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 5

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: NFC West Division Champions

 

This week: The Rams moved out to a 31-10 halftime lead off the back of 4 forced turnovers and went on to beat the 49ers 48-32 in a game that wasn’t as close as even a 16-point margin may indicate. Playing again without the injured Todd Gurley (who was on the inactive list), the Rams still racked up 155 yards on the ground as C.J. Anderson had his second consecutive 100-yard rushing day. Gurley should be good to go for the play-offs. Jared Goff threw 4 touchdown passes – including 2 each to Brandin Cooks and Josh Reynolds - and Cory Littleton had 2 interceptions, one of which he returned for a score. Aaron Donald had 1 more sack to finish with 20.5 for the season. One downside for the Rams was that LT Andrew Whitworth went down with a knee injury in the second quarter and didn’t return to the game. The Rams are hopeful that he’ll be ok for the play-offs.

 

Next game: The Rams have a first round play-off bye and then on 12thJanuary in the Divisional Round they will host the highest remaining seed – one of #3 Chicago, #4 Dallas or #5 Seattle.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Rams will pick from 27-32 – depending upon how far they advance in the play-offs.

 

3. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) (last week’s ranking: 3)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 12

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: AFC Wildcard

 

This week: The Chiefs blasted the poor Oakland Raiders 35-3 last Sunday, and in doing so secured the AFC West divisional title and the #1 seed in the AFC play-offs. Patrick Mahomes threw for 281 yards and 2 touchdowns and continued to set franchise high marks in various single-season categories, including passing yards (5,097) and passing touchdowns (50). Tyreek Hill broke the team’s single-season receiving yardage mark (he finished with 1,479 yards). Travis Kelce broke the NFL’s all-time single-season receiving yardage mark for a tight end – surpassing the previous record of 1,327 held by Rob Gronkowski. But, Kelce’s record was very short-lived. His mark was surpassed within minutes by the 49ers George Kittle. And a positive note from this week’s game on the defensive side of the ball - Daniel Sorenson returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.

 

Next game: The Chiefs have a first round play-off bye and then on 12thJanuary in the Divisional Round they will host the lowest remaining seed – one of #4 Baltimore, #5 L.A. Chargers or #6 Indianapolis.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Chiefs will pick from 25-32 – depending upon how far they advance in the play-offs.

 

4. Chicago Bears (12-4) (last week’s ranking: 4)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 20

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: The Bears went into Minnesota, moved out to 13-3 halftime lead and went on to beat the Vikings 24-10 and in doing so (coupled with Philadelphia’s win) knocked their divisional rivals out of play-off contention. The Bears racked up 169 yards on the ground, including 109 from Jordan Howard and the defense was outstanding – holding the Vikings to a total of just 164 yards. 

 

Next game: The Bears host the Eagles on Sunday (6thJanuary) in the wildcard play-off round. If the Bears win that game, they’ll move on to play the Los Angeles Rams (in Los Angeles) in the Divisional play-off round. 

 

Looking forward: It’s possible that the Bears 2018 record was slightly inflated by the fact that they had the easiest 2018 strength of schedule (.430). In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Bears would have picked from 23-32 (their first-round pick was traded to the Oakland Raiders) – depending upon how far they advance in the play-offs.

 

5. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) (last week’s ranking: 5)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 10

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: AFC West Division Champions

 

This week: Entering the game with a chance of being the AFC’s overall #1 seed, the Chargers struggled early but once in front, they moved to a relatively comfortable victory over the Denver Broncos 23-9. But as the Chiefs won, the Chargers will have to settle for a wildcard spot and the #5 seed in the AFC. Philip Rivers had a strangely quiet day, passing for just 176 yards and 1 touchdown, while he was intercepted twice. Worryingly for the Chargers, Melvin Gordon left the game with a leg injury in the fourth quarter. However, it looks like he will be able to play in the wildcard playoff game this coming weekend.

 

Next game: The Chargers travel to play the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday (6thJanuary) in the wildcard play-off round. If the Chargers win that game, they’ll go on the road again to play either the Kansas City Chiefs or the New England Patriots in the Divisional play-off round.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Chargers will pick from 23-32 – depending upon how far they advance in the play-offs.

 

6. New England Patriots (11-5) (last week’s ranking: 6)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 2

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: AFC East Division Champions

 

This week: The Patriots secured the #2 seed in the AFC with a 38-3 victory over the Jets, thanks in large part to a 4-passing touchdown day by Tom Brady. It was the 29thtime in his career that Brady had a game with 4 or more passing scores. Brady also reached the 6,000 completions mark for his career – only the fourth QB to do so. The Patriots defense also had a big day against the Jets – forcing 3 turnovers and 4 sacks. The victory was the 500thregular season win in Patriots franchise history.

 

Next game: The Patriots have a first round play-off bye and then on 13thJanuary in the Divisional Round they will host the highest remaining seed – one of #3 Houston, #4 Baltimore or #5 L.A. Chargers.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Patriots will pick from 25-32 – depending upon how far they advance in the play-offs.

 

7. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) (last week’s ranking: 7)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 18

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: The Ravens wrapped up the AFC North title with an exciting 26-24 victory over the Cleveland Browns, mainly off the back of 296 team rushing yards. Kenneth Dixon had 117 of those yards while Lamar Jackson had 90 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground – Jackson also threw for 179 yards. Baltimore had 121 yards rushing in the first quarter alone and flew out to a 20-0 halftime lead before Baker Mayfield brought the Browns back into the game. 

 

Next game: The Ravens host the Chargers on Sunday (6thJanuary) in the wildcard play-off round. If the Ravens win that game, they’ll go on the road to play either the Kansas City Chiefs or the New England Patriots in the Divisional play-off round.

 

Looking forward: Media reports that head coach John Harbaugh had agreed to a contract extension appear to be somewhat premature. The latest reports are now indicating that talks have indeed taken place, but that no deal has been agreed. This is highly significant because Harbaugh could be on the list of potential head coaching candidates for several teams – including the Packers. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Ravens will pick from 21-32 – depending upon how far they advance in the play-offs.

 

8. Houston Texans (11-5) (last week’s ranking: 8)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 13

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: AFC wildcard

 

This week: Houston sealed the AFC South Division title and AFC’s #3 seed with a 20-3 victory over the Jaguars. The Texans had a solid offensive outing with Deshaun Watson passing for 234 yards and DeAndre Hopkins coming up with 12 receptions for 147 yards, but the star of the show was Houston’s defense. They held Jacksonville’s offense to just 119 total yards, including just 89 net passing yards. J.J. Watt had 1.5 sacks – giving him 16 for the season. The fourth time in his career that he has achieved the 15+ sack mark in a season. Watt injured an arm in the first quarter, but preliminary indications were that the injury wasn’t serious – they’ll need him at full strength for the play-offs.

 

Next game: The Texans host the Colts on Saturday (5thJanuary) in the wildcard play-off round. If the Texans win that game, they’ll move on to play the New England Patriots (in New England) in the Divisional play-off round.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Texans will pick from 22-32 – depending upon how far they advance in the play-offs.

 

9. Seattle Seahawks (10-6) (last week’s ranking: 9)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 22

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: The Seahawks secured the #5 seed in the NFC play-offs with a hard fought 27-24 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. The game was decided when Sebastian Janikowski kicked the winning field goal as time expired. The Seahawks rushed for 182 yards, including 122 from Chris Carson, and their defense held the Cardinals to just 198 yards of total offense. With his 1 touchdown pass, Russell Wilson is now the franchise’s all-time leader in that respect - surpassing the 195 by Dave Krieg. Wilson’s 35 touchdown passes for the season is a personal high. CB Shaquille Griffin sprained his ankle during the game and there must now be a question mark over his availability for the play-off game on Saturday – especially considering this is a short week for Seattle.

 

Next game: The Seahawks travel to play the Cowboys on Saturday (5thJanuary) in the wildcard play-off round. If the Seahawks win that game, they’ll be on the road again to play either the New Orleans Saints or Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional play-off round.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Seahawks will pick from 21-32 – depending upon how far they advance in the play-offs.

 

10. Indianapolis Colts (10-6) (last week’s ranking: 10)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 26

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: Continuing his outstanding comeback season, Andrew Luck passed for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Colts beat the Titans 33-17 on Sunday Night Football…in the process, Indianapolis secured a wildcard playoff spot in the AFC – the #6 seed. Luck is now 11-0 as a starting NFL QB against Tennessee. The play-off berth comes as a culmination of a season in which the Colts started 1-5 but rebounded to win 9 of their last 10 games. In addition to Luck’s prowess, Indianapolis was also able to move the ball on the ground as Marlon Mack rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown.

 

Next game: The Colts travel to the Texans on Saturday (5thJanuary) in the wildcard play-off round. If the Colts win that game, they’ll move on to play the Kansas City Chiefs (in Kansas City) in the Divisional play-off round.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Colts will pick from 21-32 – depending upon how far they advance in the play-offs.

 

11. Dallas Cowboys (10-6) (last week’s ranking: 11)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 16

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: Dak Prescott threw a touchdown pass to Cole Beasley with just over a minute to play and then repeated the feat on the subsequent two-point conversion to lead the Cowboys to 36-35 victory over the New York Giants. Despite having nothing to play for (the Cowboys were already guaranteed to be the NFC’s #4 seed in the play-offs), it didn’t stop Dallas playing and competing for the whole 60 minutes – in the process notching up their seventh win in the last eight games. On the day, Prescott threw for 387 yards and a career high 4 touchdown passes. Back-up TE Blake Jarwin caught 7 passes for 119 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ezekiel Elliott was a healthy scratch for this week’s game, as was star OG Zack Martin – both players sitting it out to rest and prepare for the play-offs which start next week. Leighton Vander Esch left the game in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury – there was no update on his status at the time of writing.

 

Next game: The Cowboys host the Seahawks on Saturday (5thJanuary) in the wildcard play-off round. If the Cowboys win that game, they’ll move on to play either the New Orleans Saints or Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional play-off round.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys would have picked from 21-32 overall (they have traded that first round pick to the Oakland Raiders) – depending upon how far they advance in the play-offs.

 

12. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) (last week’s ranking: 15)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 1

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: NFC East Division Champions

 

This week: The Eagles took full advantage of the Minnesota Vikings losing to the Chicago Bears, by beating the Redskins 24-0 and snatching the last play-off spot in the NFC. Nick Foles continues to play at a highly efficient level – this week completing 28 of 33 passes for 221 yards and touchdowns. His day included completing completed 25 consecutive passes – equalling the NFL record held by Phillip Rivers and Ryan Tannehill. The bad news for Foles and the Eagles was that the quarterback was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter with a chest injury – fortunately, it appears that Foles will be ok to play on Sunday. If Foles isn’t able to go against the Bears then third string QB Nate Sudfeld should be the man (although intriguingly, Carson Wentz has not placed on injured reserve so theoretically could play if required – although his back injury may not be up to it). Sudfeld replaced Foles this week and immediately threw a touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor.

 

Next game: The Eagles travel to play the Bears on Sunday (6thJanuary) in the wildcard play-off round. If the Eagles win that game, they’ll move on to play the New Orleans Saints (in New Orleans) in the Divisional play-off round.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Eagles will pick will depend upon how far they advance in the playoffs- they will either pick #21 (if they go out in the wildcard round) or from 25-32.

 

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1) (last week’s ranking: 12)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 8

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: AFC North Division Champions

 

This week: The Steelers went into the final game of the regular season knowing they had to win and have the Ravens lose in order for Pittsburgh to clinch a play-off spot (the AFC North division title). As it turned out, the Steelers did their bit by beating the tough Bengals 16-13 but the Ravens also won, meaning Pittsburgh are home for the post-season. The Steelers played this big game without WR Antonio Brown, who was reportedly a healthy scratch (on the inactive list) as a disciplinary measure. There is lots of speculation as to what exactly happened and who else involved and, perhaps more tellingly, what Brown’s future with the team may be…whatever the future holds, Brown is one of league’s top receivers – he had 102 catches for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2018. Ben Roethlisberger finished the season leading the league in passing yards with 5,129.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: It remains to be seen what happens with Antonio Brown following his “antics” of the past week – he has reportedly requested a trade. There is also speculation that Mike Tomlin may be on the hot seat. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Steelers will have the #20 pick overall.

 

14. Tennessee Titans (9-7) (last week’s ranking: 13)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 14

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: In a “winner-takes-all” match-up on Sunday Night Football, the Titans were eliminated from play-off contention when they went down 33-17 to the Indianapolis Colts. Tennessee had to play without a number of injured players including QB Marcus Mariota. Blaine Gabbert started in Mariota’s place and had an average outing – passing for 165 yards and 1 touchdown but he also threw 2 fourth quarter interceptions. Star RB Derrick Henry was held under 100 yards rushing and the Titans offensive yardage total was just 258 yards – compared to that of the Colts which was 436. LB Brian Orakpo announced his retirement after the game.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: In the next few weeks, the Titans will find out whether or not they are to lose their offensive co-ordinator Matt LaFleur who is in the running for a number of head coaching jobs. In April, the Titans will have the #19 pick overall in the NFL Draft.

 

15. Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1) (last week’s ranking: 14)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 3

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: NFC North Division Champions

 

This week: With a play-off berth on the line – “win and you’re in” – the Vikings put on a dreary display and were beaten by the Bears 24-10 last Sunday. The Vikings other chance of getting into the post-season – an Eagles loss – didn’t happen either and Minnesota is home for the play-offs. The offense managed to muster just 164 yards with the season on the line…albeit against a Bears defense which is playing at a peak level. Minnesota had to play this game without one of their best defensive players, Xavier Rhodes, who was inactive with a groin injury, but their defense wasn’t the problem.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: Having already fired offensive co-ordinator John DeFilippo a few weeks ago, quite where the Vikings tepid looking offense goes from here is anybody’s guess. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Vikings will have the #18 pick overall.

 

16. Cleveland Browns (7-8-1) (last week’s ranking: 16)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 30

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: Baker Mayfield threw for 376 yards and 3 touchdowns (but also had 3 interceptions) as he tried to lead his time from behind against the Baltimore Ravens. Mayfield’s efforts would fall just short however, as Cleveland went down 26-24 to their divisional rivals. Poor Nick Chubb! He surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season and then had a 5-yard loss which took him back to 996 yards for the year. Mayfield broke the rookie record for touchdown passes in a season (27).

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: With the Browns permanent appointment for their head coaching role still to be named, former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has been mentioned as a possibility for the job. Interim head coach Gregg Williams will get an interview as will offensive co-ordinator Freddie Kitchens…there will be other candidates. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Browns will have the #17 pick overall.

 

17. Carolina Panthers (7-9) (last week’s ranking: 20)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 11

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

                  

This week: The Panthers won last Sunday for the first time in 8 games, beating the Saints 33-14, as New Orleans rested several their star players (including Drew Brees) en route to the play-offs. With Cam Newton missing again through injury and his back-up Taylor Heinicke also banged up, third-stringer Kyle Allen made his first start as an NFL QB and led the Panthers to a 23-0 halftime lead – throwing for 173 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. Allen finished with 228 yards and 2 scores before he himself was injured and forced to leave the game in the fourth quarter. Allen was replaced by Garrett Gilbert (who was then waived on Monday). The Panthers defense held Teddy Bridgewater to just 118 passing yards (110 net). Center Ryan Kalil played his last game before retirement. Julius Peppers hasn’t yet announced his retirement, but the assumption is that he also played his last game.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: Having started the season strongly (6-2), the Panthers season fell apart and head coach Ron Rivera has been taking a lot of heat over recent weeks. It seems that “Riverboat Ron” will survive into the 2019 season, but he’ll start next year firmly on the hot seat. The Panthers could use help at several positions in April’s NFL Draft – they have #16 pick overall.

 

18. Miami Dolphins (7-9) (last week’s ranking: 17)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 28

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: Having been officially eliminated from play-off contention last week, the Dolphins season fizzled out with a 42-17 defeat to the Buffalo Bills. Miami struggled on offense all day, turning the ball over 4 times, including 2 interceptions and a lost fumble by QB Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill did catch a touchdown pass from Kenny Stills but that was a bright spot on a poor day. The Dolphins other touchdown came on a Reshad Jones interception return for a touchdown late in the first half. LB Kiko Alonso was ejected from the game in third quarter for a knee to the head on a sliding Josh Allen. In the scuffle that followed the play, DE Robert Quinn was also thrown out of the game (as was Buffalo’s Jordan Mills) …probably a fitting way to end our summary.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: Adam Gase was fired on “Black Monday” after 3 years as the Dolphins head coach. He ends his reign in Miami with a 23-25 record and a 2016 play-off appearance. At the same time, head of football operations Mike Tannenbaum was re-assigned from his role and GM Chris Grier was promoted to that role. The new front office set up will have the #13 overall pick available to them in April at the NFL Draft.

 

19. Washington Redskins (7-9) (last week’s ranking: 18)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 21

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: The Redskins put in a poor performance against the play-off chasing Eagles, Washington going down to Philadelphia 24-0. The Reskins had just 89 yards of total offense in the game whereas the Eagles had 360. Washington had the ball for less than 17 minutes and this was their first shutout loss in more than 4 years. The sixth loss in seven games was probably a fitting end to a season that started well but then fell apart after Alex Smith was injured.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: Is Jay Gruden on the coaching hot seat? Quite possibly, but I think we can expect him to be back for 2019. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Redskins will have the #15 pick overall.

 

20. Green Bay Packers (6-9-1) (last week’s ranking: 19)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 9

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: NFC Wildcard

 

This week: Perhaps Green Bay’s 31-0 loss to the Detroit Lions this week was the appropriate way for the Packers disappointing 2018 season to come to an end. And in a little bit of symmetry from Week 1, Aaron Rodgers also left this game through injury – a concussion – although this time he didn’t return to the game. It was at least the third concussion of Rodgers’ 14-year NFL career (he had two in 2010). The Packers entered the game hurting at many positions and, even putting aside Rodgers’ latest injury, this game against the Lions just added to the litany of physical problems this team has encountered. Josh Jones left game in first quarter with an ankle injury. Tyler Lancaster left the game with an elbow injury and didn’t return. David Bakhtiari went out with a hip injury (which he suffered last week) in the third quarter – Justin McCray moved to LT. McCray had started at LG in place of Lane Taylor (who was active, but only due to play in an emergency). Lucas Patrick started at RG in place of the injured Byron Bell but then went out of the game in the 4th quarter with an abdominal injury.

    Unfortunately, Davante Adams was unable to play - he was on the gameday inactive list due to a minor knee injury. Despite him being close to a couple of franchise single-season receiving records, it was obviously felt that taking a chance on him in this game was an unnecessary risk. Fellow wideout Equanimeous St. Brown also missed the game as he was in the concussion protocol. The other players on the inactive list for this one were Tim Boyle, Jaire Alexander, Nico Siragusa, Jason Spriggs and Kendall Donnerson.

In retrospect this was a game that was over by halftime, as the Lions held the Packers to just 67 total yards in the first two quarters (including just 13 in the first quarter). The Packers ran just 1 play in the Lions half in all of those first two quarters, so it wasn’t surprising that Detroit jumped out to a 21-0 lead.

    The 31-point defeat was the worst in the month of December at home in franchise history, surpassing a 38-10 loss to the Jets on Dec. 3, 2006. The Packers have now lost four straight times to the Lions since 1982-83.

Randall Cobb and Clay Matthews III may have played their last games for the Packers.

 

The Packers finished the season ranked 12thin offense (9thin passing, 22ndin rushing) and 14thin Scoring offense

On defense, the Packers ended up ranked 18th(12thin passing, 22ndin rushing) and 22ndin scoring defense

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: The Packers are reaching out to head coaching candidates. Over the next few days and weeks, we are likely to hear of several interviews having taken place. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Packers will have the #12 pick overall…following an underachieving season, there may also be some concern that the Packers are the only team picking in the top 12 whose 2018 strength of schedule (.488) was under .500.

 

21. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) (last week’s ranking: 21)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 6

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: NFC Wildcard

 

This week: The Falcons came back from 17-0 down in the second quarter against the Bucs to grab the lead, but eventually would need a last second Matt Bryant field goal to secure the 34-32 victory. It was a game of offense, as Atlanta had 489 total yards and Tampa Bay had 433 total yards. Matt Ryan passed for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns and he also caught a touchdown pass from wideout Mohamed Sanu. Julio Jones had 8 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown to finish his fantastic season with an NFL leading 1,677 yards on 113 receptions with 8 touchdowns. 

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: The Falcons are reportedly making big changes in their coaching staff – letting go of OC Steve Sarkisian, DC Marquand Manuel and ST coach Keith Armstrong. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Falcons will have the #14 pick overall.

 

22. Denver Broncos (6-10) (last week’s ranking: 22)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 19

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: The Broncos season petered out with a 23-9 loss to the Chargers ending the Broncos first back to back losing seasons since 1971-72. The Broncos outgained the Chargers 370 yards to 276 and both teams turned the ball over 4 times., but the Chargers took better advantage of their points scoring opportunities. On a positive note for Denver, S Justin Simmons finished the season having played in 100% of the team’s defensive snaps – a very admirable feat of durability and versatility. 

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: Head coach Vance Joseph was fired on “Black Monday” – he recorded an 11-21 record in his two seasons at the helm of the Broncos. Joseph’s successor will have the #10 overall pick to work with in April’s draft.

 

23. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10) (last week’s ranking: 23)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 22

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: The Bengals played tough in the season-closer against the play-off chasing Pittsburgh Steelers but finally went down 16-13. Despite being outgained hugely in total yards, Cincinnati stayed close mainly on the legs of RB Joe Mixon who rushed for 105 yards and through forcing the game’s only turnover (an interception of Ben Roethlisberger). Still, the victory wasn’t to be and Cincinnati’s season which started so brightly, ended in tepid fashion. Statistically, in terms of yards allowed, the 2018 Cincinnati Bengals had the worst defense in franchise history.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: Cincinnati’s strength of schedule (.535) was the third-hardest in the league, so they make take some solace that their comparative record may have been adversely impacted by this. Regardless of this, head coach Marvin Lewis was fired on “Black Monday” after 16 seasons in charge and a 131-122-3 record.  The Bengals search for his successor begins immediately. In April, the new head coach will have #11 pick in the NFL Draft available to him.

 

24. Buffalo Bills (6-10) (last week’s ranking: 26)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 32

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: DT Kyle Williams played the last game of his 13-year NFL career – and the Bills saw him off in style with a 42-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Rookie QB Josh Allen had one of his better passing days throwing for 224 yards and 3 touchdowns as well as adding to his rushing prowess legend by picking up 95 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. In the process, Allen broke the single-season franchise record for rushing yards by a QB (previously held by Tyrod Taylor). The Bills defense had 4 sacks and forced 4 turnovers including an interception by CB Tre’Davious White who had a mixed day – he was later knocked out of the game in the third quarter with a concussion. OT Jordan Mills was ejected from the game after a scuffle ensued following a hit to the head of Josh Allen. The Dolphins Kiko Alonso was ejected for that hit, as was his teammate Robert Quinn who was involved in the scuffle with Mills.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Bills will have the #9 pick overall.

 

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) (last week’s ranking: 24)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 31

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: In an exciting end of season game, against the Falcons, the Bucs raced out to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, lost the lead by the end of the third, re-took the lead in the fourth and then lost the game 34-32 on a last second field goal. Jameis Winston passed for 345 yards and 4 touchdowns as Tampa Bay racked up 433 yards of total offense but the Bucs defense couldn’t stop Atlanta as they gave up 489 yards. Both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin had 100-yard receiving games in a day which pretty much summed up the Bucs season…very exciting, but not quite good enough.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: Head coach Dirk Koetter was fired on “Black Monday” after 3 seasons at the helm and a 19-29 record. Whoever Koetter’s successor is, he’ll have the luxury of the #5 overall pick to work with in the 2019 NFL Draft.

 

26. New York Giants (5-11) (last week’s ranking: 25)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 25

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: Eli Manning threw for 301 yards and Saquon Barkley had 109 yards rushing but it wasn’t quite enough as the Giants fell to the Cowboys 36-35 – Dallas scoring the winning touchdown and two-point conversion with little over a minute remaining in the game. Barkley’s 100-yard rushing day put a punctuation point on his outstanding rookie season which included breaking the 2,000 total yards mark for the season (finishing with 2,028) and scoring 15 touchdowns. He also broke the rookie single-season record for receptions by a running back (the record was previously 88 catches by Reggie Bush). Barkley has also had 6 runs this season of 50 or more yards – including a 68 yarder this week. Amongst the Giants inactives for their season finale was star wideout Odell Beckham Jr.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Giants will have the #6 pick overall.

 

27. Detroit Lions (6-10) (last week’s ranking: 28)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 17

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: The Lions finished a disappointing season with a surprising 31-0 win over the Packers at Lambeau Field. Matthew Stafford threw for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns, whilst Zach Zenner rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown in the beatdown of the Packers. Matt Prater threw a touchdown pass on a fake field goal in the second quarter, becoming just the 9th kicker in NFL history to throw a touchdown (and the first for the Lions). The Lions played without wideout Kenny Golladay who was on the inactive list. Putting the game into same perspective, it was the first time that the Lions have shut anybody out since 1996, the first time that the Lions have shutout the Packers since 1973 and the first Lions shutout win Green Bay since 1970. Detroit have now won four straight wins against the Packers for the first time since 1982-83.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Lions will have the #8 pick overall.

 

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) (last week’s ranking: 27)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 7

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: AFC South Division Champions

 

This week: Having somewhat surprisingly beating the Dolphins las week, the Jaguars got back to their most common 2018 form this week with a tepid 20-3 loss to the play-off bound Texans. How tepid you ask? Jacksonville notched up a grand total of just 119 yards of offense for the game, including just 37 yards and 1 first down in the first half. With injury keeping out Cody Kessler, Blake Bortles returned as the starting QB and he failed to leave a lasting impression in what could be his last game for the Jags – throwing for just 107 yards (89 net) and 1 interception. Star RB Leonard Fournette also missed the game – he was on the gameday inactive list – as he has seemed to do for much of the season. The one bright spot for Jacksonville on this day was their defense which had 6 sacks.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: The Jaguars had a disappointing year following the 2017 season (when they made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game). A minor saving grace for Jacksonville is that their 2018 strength of schedule was the most difficult in the NFL (.549), so their record may not totally reflect their strength. The team have announced, not surprisingly, that head coach Doug Marrone will be back next season. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Jaguars will have the #7 pick overall.

 

29. New York Jets(4-12) (last week’s ranking: 29)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 29

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: After a big game against the Packers last week, Sam Darnold finished his rookie season in disappointing fashion – completing just over 57% of his passes for only 167 yards as his Jets went down 38-3 to the Patriots. The Jets as a whole had just 239 yards whilst giving up 375 to the Patriots…just as significantly, New York gave up 3 turnovers (all fumbles), forcing none of their own. CB Trumaine Johnson didn’t play this week – he was placed on the inactive list for a minor disciplinary issue which occurred this past week.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: Todd Bowles was fired as head coach of the Jets on “Black Monday” – in 3 seasons in charge he had a 14-34 record. Former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has been mentioned as a possibility for the Jets role. Whoever Bowles’ successor is he will have the #3 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to work with.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers (4-12) (last week’s ranking: 30)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 15

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: George Kittle caught 9 passes for 149 yards as the 49ers went down to the Rams 48-32, but more significantly, for Kittle at least, the tight end broke the NFL single-season record for receiving yards for his position. Kittle surpassed the mark set by the Chiefs Travis Kelce only minutes before (Kelce had broken the previous mark set by Rob Gronkowski). Nick Mullens threw for 282 yards and 3 touchdowns but also had 3 interceptions. Alfred Morris rushed for 111 yards and a score, but ultimately the 49ers defense couldn’t stop the potent Rams offense.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: Despite the decent season put in by rookie QB Nick Mullens, the 49ers will be looking forward to getting starter Jimmy Garoppolo back for the 2019 season. Coming up at the draft in April, San Francisco has the #2 pick overall.

 

31. Oakland Raiders (4-12) (last week’s ranking: 31)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 24

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: Oakland turned the ball over on each of their first 4 possessions of the game - including 2 interceptions and a lost fumble by Derrick Carr – en-route to a season-ending 35-3 mauling at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. The first of Carr’s interceptions broke his streak of 332 passes without a pick. The second was returned for a touchdown. Carr ended the season with just over 4,000 yards passing. On a bright note on this otherwise dismal day, RB Doug Martin rushed for 100 yards. 

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: Oakland may not have been quite as bad as they seemed in 2018 – their strength of schedule (.547) was the second hardest in the NFL. This will please new GM Mike Mayock – yes, he of NFL Network fame – who was hired on Monday. Mayock and Jon Gruden will have #4 pick overall to work with in the 2019 NFL Draft…as well as the Cowboys and Bears first round picks.

 

32. Arizona Cardinals (3-13) (last week’s ranking: 32)

Our Pre-season Power Ranking Position: 27

Pre-season Play-off Prediction: No play-offs

 

This week: With nothing to play for (except for potentially losing the #1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft), the Cardinals fought hard but went down 27-24 on a last second field goal to the play-off bound Seattle Seahawks. Despite gaining only 198 yards on offense, Arizona stayed in the game thanks to their defense – in particular their pass rush, which notched up 6 sacks (including 2 from Rodney Gunter). During the game, Larry Fitzgerald reached the 1,300 career receptions mark – just the third player in NFL history to reach this landmark.

 

Next game: None. Eliminated from play-off contention.

 

Looking forward: Head coach Steve Wilks was fired on “Black Monday” after just 1 year in charge. The Cardinals search for his successor begins immediately.In April, the new head coach will have #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft available to him.

 

Find Peter on twitter here: @The_IT_Hedgehog

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