NFL Power Rankings: 49ers, Raiders end 2018 season one spot apart
The NFL regular season ended on Sunday, with a clear cut elite class remaining on top most of 2018. The NFC is certainly top heavy, with the Saints, Rams and Bears standing as the league’s best and most consistent teams.
The Chiefs, Patriots and Chargers may have something to say about that, if they can find consistency after some rocky moments down the stretch.
Playoff pretenders were revealed this week, with the Vikings and Titans failing in win-and-they’re-in Week 17 contests.
The Bay Area teams have been pulling up the rear all season, and remained down there long enough to earn picks in the top 4. The Raiders and 49ers had eight wins between them, and didn’t give a proud, NFL-loving region much to cheer for. Both teams have rebuilding projects ahead before picking themselves up off the mat.
Local coaches won’t walk the plank for bad seasons, though several other teams will be looking for new leadership this offseason. With just 12 teams left playing, this will be the last power rankings until the Super Bowl. Here’s the full list, with the local squads near bottom as they have been all year.
32. Arizona (3-13)
Previous rank: 32
Several Cardinals said nice things about Steve Wilks after their 13th loss. But that didn't save his job. GM Steve Kiem might also be on the way out. The Bidwill’s are pissed, and could well clean house.
31. N.Y. Jets (4-12)
Previous rank: 30
Gang Green absolutely phoned it in against the Patriots and then fired Todd Bowles right after. Some new coach is going to benefit from a good young quarterback already in place.
29. 49ers (4-12)
Previous rank: 27
Kyle Shanahan couldn’t get George Kittle the single game record for receiving yards by a tight end the other week. He found a way to get him the single-season record, which is even better. My favorite part of this story: Kittle hid his game jersey after the season finale so it wouldn’t get stolen, Tom Brady style. Love the effort, but it isn’t as hot a commodity an artifact worn while winning the Super Bowl.
28. Tampa Bay (5-11)
Previous rank: 25
Love Dirk Koetter’s candor. Dude knew he was getting fired, and didn’t shy away from that fact. No coach-speak necessary when a fate’s been sealed. Tampa Bay’s issues don’t lie with the coach. That roster has Mike Evans and nobody else who scares you.
27. Jacksonville (5-11)
Previous rank: 26
Doug Marrone’s coming back despite the Jaguars being the NFL’s biggest disappointment. Huh. Tom Coughlin is old fashioned.
26. N.Y. Giants (5-11)
Previous rank: 23
This has to be the end of the Eli Manning era. Big Blue’s stuck in neutral.
25. Washington (7-9)
Previous rank: 22
Washington’s proof positive this is a quarterback league. This team is nothing without Alex Smith, and it’s probable he won’t be back. But..if Jay Gruden can fix that one spot, Washington could be a contender again.
24. Cincinnati (6-10)
Previous rank: 28
Hue Jackson coached two AFC North teams this year. The Bengals and Browns were 3-12-1 with Hue on the sidelines. He’d better not replace Marvin Lewis. The Bengals need a fresh start.
23. Detroit (6-10)
Previous rank: 30
Matt Patricia had several rough outings with the media. Lions head coach needs to go to charm school. Or win a whole lot more. Can’t stink and be a stinker.
22. Miami (7-9)
Previous rank: 19
Imagine how bad the Dolphins record would have been without that artificially hot start.
21. Denver (6-10)
Previous rank: 18
Vance Joseph’s getting fired, though it’s not his fault John Elway couldn’t find a quarterback.
20. Buffalo (5-11)
Previous rank: 24
Bills kept fighting all season, and rallied behind Josh Allen. The defense is there, but Buffalo has to find the young quarterback some help.
19. Carolina (7-9)
Previous rank: 21
Panthers snapped a seven-game losing streak because the Saints weren’t trying. Season absolutely fell apart. Ron Rivera’s the guy to put things back together. He’d better not walk the plank.
18. Green Bay (6-9-1)
Previous rank: 17
Packers were an absolute disaster this season. Fitting they got shut out by Detroit to end 2018. There’s still hope for the immediate future, if Green Bay can pair Aaron Rodgers with an offensive guru.
17. Atlanta (7-9)
Previous rank: 20
Falcons close the season on a tear. This team’s pretty good when there’s no stakes.
16. Minnesota (8-7-1)
Previous rank: 14
The Vikings never won a game they had to have. Lost in Chicago when a win would’ve secured a playoff spot. Like the Raiders of 2017, Vikings were never able to handle high expectations.
15. Cleveland (7-8-1)
Previous rank: 16
Baker Mayfield set the rookie record for passing touchdowns. He gives this downtrodden franchise a reason to believe. He was a controversial No. 1 overall pick, but it looks like John Dorsey made the right selection.
14. Pittsburgh (8-7-1)
Previous rank: 15
Steelers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013 despite all that offensive talent. That losing streak to the AFC West killed their season.
13. Tennessee (9-7)
Previous rank: 12
The Titans can’t beat Andrew Luck. They’ve lost 11 straight to the Indy quarterback, though they never stood a chance with Blaine Gabbert behind center.
12. Philadelphia (9-7)
Previous rank: 15
The Eagles won three straight and got some help from Minnesota to reach the playoffs. Super Bowl champs are still in it thanks to another great run from Nick Foles. He left the game with sore ribs, but needs to heal fast to continue this winter surge.
11. Dallas (10-6)
Previous rank: 10
Cowboys squeaked by the Giants, though Zeke Elliott was held out of this one. They’ve got a battle ahead against Seattle. They’d better be ready to defend some old school football, or they’ll make an early exit.
10. Indianapolis (10-6)
Previous rank: 9
Frank Reich kept talking about the No. 32 after making the playoffs, referring to the power rankings spot many had the Colts in before the season. That’s not just right. Check your facts, Frank. We had you at 28.
9. Seattle (10-6)
Previous rank: 8
The Seahawks run the ball well and play good defense. They were built for the playoffs.
8. Baltimore (10-6)
Previous rank: 11
Nobody want to meet the Ravens in the playoff, especially at home. The AFC North champs were a surprise this season, built with a dominant defense and the only rookie quarterback to reach the playoffs.
7. Houston (11-5)
Previous rank: 7
Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins are a dangerous duo, and could provide enough offense to win some playoff games.
6. New England (11-5)
Previous rank: 6
Patriots won the AFC East by three games. There’s no competition in that division, and makes for an easy road to the postseason.
5. L.A. Chargers (12-4)
Previous rank: 3
The Bolts kept starters in a meaningless game with the Chiefs well on their way to an AFC West title. And then Melvin Gordon limped off the field. Anthony Lynn’s lucky he’s okay.
4. Kansas City (12-4)
Previous rank: 4
Chiefs own the AFC West, and won their third straight division title Sunday by beating the Raiders. There’s a lot more where that came from with presumptive MVP Pat Mahomes’ career just getting started. 50 and 5,000 in his first year as a start? Goodness Gracious.
2. L.A. Rams (13-3)
Previous rank: 2
After a little slump, the Rams are rounding back into form. Offense is kicking, and Aaron Donald has the defense revved up. He’s gotta win his second straight defensive player of the year award.
1. New Orleans (13-3)
Previous rank: 1
Saints stunk up the joint without Drew Brees. No matter. They secured the top spot in these power rankings after earning home field advantage through the NFC playoffs.