November 29, 2022

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The Sports Fanatics

NFL Power Rankings: Bengals, Titans make largest leaps from Week 1 to end of season, little change in top five

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The final Power Rankings of the season always make me look bad. It happens every season, and this year is no different.

This is the time when I look back to my Week 1 rankings and compare them to the final rankings to see how just how far off I was predicting the season way back in September.

So here goes:

  • The Tennessee Titans, who earned the top seed in the AFC Playoffs, were 21st in my first rankings. Ouch.
  • Four other playoff teams from this season opened ranked in the 20s. The Steelers were 20th, the Raiders were 25th, the Eagles were 27th and the Bengals were 29th. More ouch.
  • Of the teams in my first top 10, two didn’t make the playoffs. They were the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens. 
  • My top four teams to start the season in order were the Bucs, Bills, Chiefs and Packers. After the regular season, it’s the Packers, Bucs, Titans and Bills. The Chiefs are fifth. So, like most everyone else, I hit the top teams. 
  • As for the bottom teams, those were also close to being spot on. The one miss was the Jacksonville Jaguars. I thought they would be better than they were, which is why I had them at No. 26 in the first rankings, one spot ahead of the Eagles and three ahead of the Bengals. That’s just awful.
  • I actually thought Washington would win the NFC East, so I had them ranked ahead of the Cowboys, which is another big whiff. 

The Green Bay Packers end the regular season atop my final rankings as we head to the playoffs. They are also the favorite to win it all. I usually pick the Packers to win the Super Bowl — something I’ve done a lot of in recent years — but I didn’t pick them this season since I opted to pick the Bucs to repeat.

Any chance I can get a mulligan on that? 

Heading to the playoffs, the AFC  looks wide open, but what would I know? I had the top seed at No. 21 when the season began, once again showing how this league can make us all look silly at times — especially me. 

Biggest Movers

Rk

Teams

 

Chg

Rcrd


1


Packers

They don’t drop down for losing a game that didn’t matter. They will get time to heal and get guys back healthy. They are the best team heading to the playoffs. 13-4-0

2


Buccaneers

They are the second seed in the NFC, but they don’t look like the same team that won it all last year. It’s going to be a real challenge to repeat with this group. 1 13-4-0

3


Titans

They earned the top spot in the AFC, so the playoffs go through Nashville. And it might mean trying to beat a Titans team with Derrick Henry back carrying them. 3 12-5-0

4


Bills

They head to the playoffs on a little win streak, but they have to be better than the way they’ve played the last two weeks. The third game with the Patriots this season will be fun. 11-6-0

5


Chiefs

The defense has had some issues the past two weeks, which has to be concerning as they head to the playoffs. The health of Tyreek Hill will be huge for their offense. 12-5-0

6


Bengals

Their high-flying passing game will be fun to watch in the playoffs if the protection holds up. They will be a tough out for any team. 1 10-7-0

7


Patriots

That was not a good showing at Miami, which is concerning heading to the playoffs. They have not played well on the road. 1 10-7-0

8


Rams

They blew a big lead against the 49ers, which drops them to the third seed. Matt Stafford has to pick it up in the playoffs. 6 12-5-0

9


Cardinals

They blew a chance to win the division by losing to the Seahawks. So now they have to face the Rams on the road this weekend. They did beat them at their place earlier this season. 11-6-0

10


Cowboys

They head to the playoffs off an impressive offensive showing against the Eagles, but that was an Eagles team without a lot of players. They face a tough challenge in the 49ers this week. 12-5-0

11


49ers

They beat the Rams to get into the playoffs, and will be a dangerous team now that they are there. They are a tough, physical team. It’s all about Jimmy Garoppolo. 3 10-7-0

12


Raiders

By making the playoffs, they have to give strong consideration to keeping interim coach Rich Bisaccia. He righted a bad situation. 10-7-0

13


Eagles

They head to the playoffs as a dangerous team with their ability to run the football. The pressure will be on Jalen Hurts. 2 9-8-0

14


Steelers

Mike Tomlin deserves a ton of credit for getting this team to the playoffs. They aren’t pretty but they found a way. 2 9-7-1

15


Chargers

There will be a lot of questions about the decisions Brandon Staley made this year, especially in the final game. Justin Herbert is too good to be watching the playoffs 4 9-8-0

16


Colts

That was a big-time choke job against the Jaguars. For all the talk of how tough this team was this season, they will be watching the playoffs. Amazing. 3 9-8-0

17


Saints

They didn’t make the playoffs, but Sean Payton did a heck of job getting this team close. The problem is age is starting to become a factor on this team. 9-8-0

18


Ravens

This season simply had too much to overcome with all the injuries and COVID issues. They were a depleted team. 8-9-0

19


Broncos

Vic Fangio is out as coach, so who takes over? Dan Quinn could be in play. They need to be much better on offense, whoever takes over. 7-10-0

20


Browns

The big issue facing this team is the future of Baker Mayfield. He should be back at least for next season. 8-9-0

21


Vikings

With Mike Zimmer fired, they are in the market for a new coach. The issue now is what to do with Kirk Cousins going forward. 8-9-0

22


Dolphins

They made a strange move in firing coach Brian Flores. It was for more than just his coaching record. There was talk of friction in the building with him and others. 9-8-0

23


Seahawks

Will Russell Wilson be the quarterback next season? He might want out, but that would be a mistake from Seattle’s point of view. They need to be better in front of him. 7-10-0

24


Falcons

The big question is whether Matt Ryan will be back. He should be, as well as he played this season with all the issues around him. 7-10-0

25


Football Team

This a team with some good, young talent, but they need to find a quarterback. They can’t win with what they have now. 7-10-0

26


Panthers

The offense was horrible this season, which led to the firing of Joe Brady. They need a new quarterback. That could be Deshaun Watson. 5-12-0

27


Bears

Matt Nagy is out as coach, which was the right thing to do. Now they have to find a coach to build around Justin Fields. 6-11-0

28


Texans

They have to be thrilled with the progress of Davis Mills. He can be their long-term answer. Now it’s time to trade Deshaun Watson. 4-13-0

29


Lions

They have some good, young pieces to build around. And they have to like what they got from coach Dan Campbell this year. 3-13-1

30


Giants

They are a disaster and changes have to be made. Should Joe Judge come back? Doesn’t matter. He’s back. 4-13-0

31


Jets

They just didn’t have the talent to compete this season. They have to build this team around Zach Wilson. 4-13-0

32


Jaguars

Against the Colts, they finally saw what Trevor Lawrence can do when given time. That victory over the Colts gives them some hope heading to the offseason. 3-14-0