I don’t remember the NFL being this settled with two games to go, but this year, as odd as it’s been, has allowed us to get a firm handle on the good teams from about Week 8 on. We do have a new No. 1 this week, but our old top team didn’t fall far. The Top 9 are all the same squads, with just a few changing a position. After that, it gets more interesting as teams that are technically alive for a postseason appearance don’t seem particularly interested in going.
At the bottom, well, those franchises might as well be written in stone. Still, there’s plenty of opportunities to screw it all up, meaning their draft position, in the final two weeks of the season.
Let’s rank some teams!
- SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (11-4)
I’m not sure when Brock Purdy’s glass slipper is going to break, but I feel as if it’ll be in the playoffs and he’ll end up losing a toe.
Last week: No. 2
- CINCINNATI BENGALS (11-4)
The Bengals have the chance to sweep both the other top AFC contenders Monday night when they host the Buffalo Bills. Of course, the Bills can say the same thing. Their combined 23 wins at this point in MNF game is tied for the top mark all time with the 1997 Denver Broncos vs San Francisco 49ers contest.
Last week: No. 3
- KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (12-3)
The scariest thing about the Chiefs right now is that no one is talking about them. They could be back in the AFC driver’s aeat if the Bengals knock off the Bills Monday night. That is if they don’t lose at home to the Denver Broncos. Yes, I typed that out without spitting a beverage all over my computer screen. A true Herculean task.
Last week: No. 4
- BUFFALO BILLS (12-3)
The Bills can pretty much cement home field with a win at Cincinnati Monday night, which (as I mentioned earlier) would give them victories over both their current top AFC rivals in the same regular season. More importantly, it could earn them a week off in mid January before the AFC Divisional Round.
Last week: No. 5
- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (13-2)
The Eagles are being awful fishy about Jalen Hurts’ injury status and how serious it is. What they couldn’t hide is how bad Lane Johnson got hurt. He’s out the rest of the year. For a team that looked as if it could make it to a Super Bowl in a crazy year where the conference’s best team and last year’s champion Los Angeles Rams nosedived due to injuries, they could face an inglorious ending, especially if they have to face the Dallas Cowboys at full strength in the NFC Divisional Round.
Last week: No. 1
- MINNESOTA VIKINGS (12-3)
The 2020 wide receiver class might be the best all time, but what Justin Jefferson is doing is even more historic. In his three seasons (with two games to go) he has 4,772 receiving yards. That’s unreal and nearly 1,400 more than his next closest competitor, CeeDee Lamb (with 3,244, also pretty outstanding). Jefferson’s number is a new NFL record, surpassing another former phenomenal Viking and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Randy Moss (4,163).
Last week: No. 6
- LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (9-6)
For whatever reason, everything with the Chargers looks more difficult than it should, but Brandon Staley has guided the team back to the playoffs. And, more importantly, Justin Herbert is about to make his postseason debut. Here’s another fun tidbit, the only player to have as good a two year run scoring touchdowns as Austin Ekeler from 2021-2022 was Todd Gurley from 2017-2018.
Last week: No. 7
- DALLAS COWBOYS (11-4)
Who saw this wrinkle coming? There’s a chance that Terrell Owens, the 49 year old Pro Football Hall of Famer, could rejoin the team for its playoff run. Why the hell not? And with the receivers all wearing teen numbers now, his 81 should be an easy get.
Last week: No. 8
- BALTIMORE RAVENS (10-5)
Lamar Jackson has still not practiced this week and probably won’t play Sunday, which is something I predicted would happen in the preseason and will continue to predict as long as this team employs Greg Roman as its offensive coordinator.
Last week: No. 9
- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (7-8)
Regardless of what happens this Sunday (and the Jags are favored over the Houston Texans), Jacksonville will play for a chance to go to the postseason and an AFC South title in Week 18 when they face the Tennessee Titans. Who predicted saw that happening in the preseason?
Last week: No. 14
- GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-8)
Maybe the problem with all these Packers playoff faceplants is they didn’t come in as a Wild Card? Aaron Rodgers’ lone Super Bowl was won all on the road. Can he do it again? I know he can’t, but we have to hype up his eventual loss to the San Francisco 49ers some way. Old Aaron might not get the chance as he’s been held out of practice so far this week with some bum ribs.
Last week: No. 15
- NEW YORK GIANTS (8-6-1)
All the Giants need to do to officially punch their ticket to the dance is win one game over the next two weeks. Sunday, they host the Indianapolis Colts, coached by Jeff Saturday, so let me go ahead and congratulate Brian Daboll and the whole gang.
Last week: No. 10
- WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (7-7-1)
Just in case you thought the Commanders might hold onto that final Wild Card spot in the NFC, they’re going back with Carson Wentz at quarterback. This is a team that needs to go all in on acquiring Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo next season.
Last week: No. 11
- MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-7)
Miami is barely holding onto the No. 7 seed in the AFC and just found out Tua Tagovailoa has suffered another concussion. His official “second” of the season, but more than likely his third (if he’s lucky). Teddy Bridgewater takes over for at least a week and maybe the rest of the season. The good news is, they have a winnable game at the New England Patriots and one victory in their last two games should put them in the bracket.
Preseason: No. 12
- PITTSBURGH STEELERS (7-8)
The Mike Tomlin first losing season watch continues as the team travels to Baltimore Sunday to take on a Ravens squad probably without Lamar Jackson.
Last week: 20
- TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (7-8)
There’s talk that Tom Brady might come back again next season. Perhaps even rejoining the New England Patriots. Why? Why won’t this all end? It’s not like he’s playing great. He’s just NFL HPV at this point.
Last week: No. 23
17 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (6-9)
No one has done more to tank the Saints than Dennis Allen when he benched Jameis Winston for Andy Dalton and yet, somehow, this team is still alive in the playoff hunt with two games to go. The best plans of mice and men….
Last week: No. 24
- DETROIT LIONS (7-8)
With a chance, in one of the wackiest weeks of an already insane season, to all but ensure they’d make the playoffs for the first time in half a decade, the Lions took a hard loss to the Carolina Panthers in a game that was never close after the first quarter. Of all the Detroit things to do, that was the Detroit-iest.
Last week: No. 13
- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-8)
Frankly, I don’t care if Mac Jones is a dirty player. People want to pretend Tom Brady didn’t cleat dudes in the crotch during slides now when he was a Pat all they want. This is how they teach the position in New England. Also, if Josh McDaniels’ fall has shown us anything, it’s that Bill Belichick obviously had a hand in coming up with the offensive gameplan and strategy during McDaniels’ tenure. McDaniels without Belichick is just too different an animal. This also explains why the Super Genius thought he could do the same thing with Joe Judge and Matt Patricia to spectacularly failing results. It could be that Belichick and McDaniels just need each other.
Last week: No. 16
- TENNESSEE TITANS (7-8)
Here’s a fun fact for you — in three starts this season, Titans rookie quarterback Malik Willis has yet to throw for even 100 yards one time. He had 99 passing yards last week. Punditry was convinced this kid was a first round pick all last season. I’m not sure he even belongs in the NFL. Tennessee got more bad news too to go with their late season dive. Jeffery Simmons, Amani Hooker, Bud Dupree, Zach Cunningham and Denico Autry are all expected to be out.
Last week: No. 17
- CAROLINA PANTHERS (6-9)
I don’t know if Steve Wilks has done enough to get the “interim” taken off his head coaching title with Carolina, but if he somehow gets this team to two consecutive victories to end the season, an NFC South Championship and a playoff appearance, that should do it. Even if they’re one and done. Also, some fun news came out Wednesday as Josh Norman, who was out of the NFL and running his own coffee shop, will rejoin the team for the final two weeks (and maybe more).
Last week: No. 26
- SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (7-8)
Their consecutive losses have knocked them out of the playoff bracket. The good news is they host the Jets this week, Geno Smith’s old team (and one I’d imagine he’d like a little revenge against). The bad news is, Mike White is back and that means the Jets will have a puncher’s chance in Seattle.
Last week: No. 18
- LOS ANGELES RAMS (5-10)
I don’t know how seriously Baker Mayfield is thinking about hanging around in Los Angeles next year, but it’s no secret to me or anyone else that’s watched over these last three weeks that the Rams would be heading to the playoffs as a Wild Card, regardless of all their offensive line, defensive and skill position injuries, if he’d taken every snap once Matthew Stafford went down. That fact should not be lost on Mayfield, especially. If Stafford gets hurt again in 2023, this could just turn into his team. Here’s another fun fact. Sunday’s 51 point performance was the Rams’ 16th all time, breaking a tie with the New England Patriots. No team in NFL history has more 50-plus point games.
Last week: No. 25
- NEW YORK JETS (7-8)
Well, the Jets have finally benched Zach Wilson for good with Mike White returning. Wilson is listed as inactive for Sunday’s game so just, I don’t know, throw your mamaw’s phone in the toilet. It’s the only way to save her.
Last week: No. 19
- CLEVELAND BROWNS (6-9)
Of all the “lost” seasons in NFL history, the Browns’ totally forgettable (other than, you know, THE THING) season has to be the all time weirdest. No team swung bigger for the fences to get better and not make it without the main problem being something that happened on the field. Cleveland’s problems were all off the field.
Last week: No. 21
- LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (6-9)
Hey, Josh McDaniels is gonna Josh McDaniels. It’s not just that he’s the worst head coach currently in the league, it’s that he’s the worst “football guy.” Wednesday the Raiders announced they were benching Derek Carr for the rest of the season and just sending him home. He’s not even going to be with the team anymore. Carr is a good quarterback. Jack Del Rio, a confirmed moron, won games and made the playoffs with Carr. Rich Bisaccia, a man who had never head coached an NFL team before in his life, won games and made the playoffs with Carr. Jon Gruden couldn’t and Josh McDaniels can’t. Derek Carr isn’t the problem. And before you think this is some kind of aberration, this is exactly what McDaniels did to Jay Cutler when he was hired by the Denver Broncos. The only difference is Carr played most of the regular season. Cutler never took a snap for McDaniels in Denver.
Last week: No. 22
- ATLANTA FALCONS (5-10)
Desmond Ridder’s second NFL start went much better than his first. He put up some real NFL numbers (66.7 completion percentage, 218 passing yards, no TDs and no picks), but it was still a Falcons loss. At some point these have to start sticking to Arthur Smith, don’t they?
Last week: No. 27
- DENVER BRONCOS (4-11)
The only thing shocking about the Broncos firing Nathaniel Hackett is that they didn’t let him make it past New Year’s Day. Hackett was the worst head coach in the league this season, not counting anyone with the “interim” label. The other guy, Josh McDaniels, is probably safe from being fired simply because Mark Davis is broke., The Walton family running Denver has no such problem. The issue for the Broncos comes down to, who will want to take over this team and inherit Russell Wilson? And how big a check with the Waltons have to write to make it happen?
Last week: No. 28
- ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-11)
If there’s one good thing to come out of Arizona’s ridiculous choice to be the second team featured on the In Season version of HBO’s Hard Knocks it’s that we got a solid dose of JJ Watt. And considering the dude is retiring and will be a first ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer, no one will complain about that.
Last week: No. 28
- INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (4-10-1)
The very second the Colts send Jeff Saturday packing after Week 18, they need to be doing everything they can to add Derek Carr to the team. Even if it’s to work up a late round trade to the Raiders since they might just end up cutting Carr due to his oddball contract. Indy is an ideal fit and they need to make it happen.
Last week: No. 30
- CHICAGO BEARS (3-12)
The Lions are on the ropes, barely holding on to playoff hopes and here comes Justin Fields playing on grass carpet. Does anybody else smell an upset?
Last week: No. 31
- HOUSTON TEXANS (2-12-1)
With just two games to go this season, there’s a real chance that the Texans will once again screw up and win an extra game to completely knock themselves out of the top pick in the draft again. God bless the Jaguars if they keep it from happening since they’re the team that benefited from it with the Texans and Jets the last two seasons.
Last week: No. 32
Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.
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