clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2018 NFL Power Rankings: The END Of The Regular Season

Matt Weston ranks the NFL teams 32-1 now that the regular season is over and the NFL Playoffs are set to begin.

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Traditional power rankings suck, dude. They overreact to one HUGE win and one sad(!) loss. Rarely do they take in account the entire season, or even the last few weeks. To give a more accurate representation of what’s going on and where these teams currently stand, I will not equivocate or give into the weekly yank of heartstrings the NFL season brings by default.

Instead, here’s where all 32 teams rank when taking account their entire 2018 regular season.

On The Clock:

32.) Arizona Cardinals—Record: 3-13. Point Differential: -200 (32). DVOA: -40.4% (32). Previously 31st.

The 2018 Arizona Cardinals will always be my favorite worst football team of all time. They had a top ten defense and an abhorrent offense obliterated by Mike McCoy’s self-inflicted short crossing route furies and the league’s worst offensive line. It was a terrible situation for Josh Rosen. Sam Bradford started his season here. Hell, Mike Glennon even played some. I won $150 from Vegas by picking their money line over Oakland, but I also picked them to win the NFC West because my tummy told me to. I’ve since stocked up on probiotics.

31.) Oakland Raiders—Record: 4-12. Point Differential: -177 (31). DVOA: -21.0% (31). Previously 32nd.

The Raiders had one great memory this year—their win over the Steelers. The raucous super nerds dressed up in charnel house carnage. Sup, yoooo, the stadium was in a NorCal haze. Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t find the x-ray machine. The kicker slipped. It’s a damn shame they’re moving to Vegas. Keep them in Oakland. It’s too absurd of a football environment to lose because a man with a bowl cut wants to create a luxurious football entertainment experience.

30.) San Francisco 49ers—Record: 4-12. Point Differential: -93 (27). DVOA: -20.3% (30). Previously 29th.

Kyle Shanahan can turn anyone into a quarterback. The 49ers should draft one in the third round every year, brine them in Shanahan’s kitchen for a bit, and then flip them once teams get quarterback crazy during the spring and summer. Flip Nick Mullens. Turn C.J. BEAThard lose somewhere else. There’s a little bit of draft capital that can be gained.

29.) New York Jets—Record: 4-12. Point Differential: -108 (29). DVOA: -14.8% (25). Previously 28th.

I have flipped on Sam Darnold. I went from he throws way too many turnovers, to ooooo, look at that, after he threw the ball against the Houston Texans and made a bunch of plays on the road. You also got to love a commitment to the bit. Todd Bowles took all that money invested in the defense to churn out the same mediocre, blitz-heavy defense each year he was there.

28.) Buffalo Bills—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -105 (28). DVOA: -18.4% (28). Previously 30th.

I don’t watch college football. Sunday, Monday, and writing about the NFL is enough football. I can’t devote a Saturday to it too. The games are nine hours long. I didn’t go to any of those crappy schools. And the NFL Draft doesn’t interest me all that much. The spring and summer is for reading books, cracking one’s skull open, and letting it all seep out and bubble in the sun.

So all I heard were the negative things about Josh Allen. He’s inaccurate. He makes poor decisions. He isn’t a quarterback. Some of this is true, but all of it doesn’t matter. When you get so caught up in something being good or not, you lose what makes something incredible. Allen does things I’ve never seen before. He was the dumbest, but also the most exciting, quarterback this year. I can’t wait for three more years of Allen versus Darnold duels before they’re both backups somewhere in the AFC South.

27.) Detroit Lions—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -36 (21). DVOA: -15.2% (28). Previously 25th.

Watching the Lions was like watching a cockroach run out of a pair of gray sweat pants and into an empty Natural Light can. Matthew Stafford turned into Alex Smith; Stafford has the worst quarterback contract in the league. I can’t believe the Lions think someone will trade for him. They turned a quick passing offense featuring Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay into a run heavy slog. Without a dominant defense, this is a recipe for putrescent football. The league will never learn. New England’s coordinators are great because they have Tom Brady.

Sucks To Suck:

26.) Cincinnati Bengals—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -87 (26). DVOA: -9.7% (23). Previously 23rd.

It was nice knowing you, Cincinnati. If they actually hire Hue Jackson as the head coach, I’m not watching. This is an embargo I’ll never relinquish. I refuse to watch any game coached by that man. What a waste of life and time. They should have just kept Marvin Lewis. I’ll miss your kitty-cat jerseys in the meantime. See you in 2021.

25.) Miami Dolphins—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -114 (30). DVOA: -16.5% (27). Previously 21st.

Kiko Alonso constantly tugging his shrunken head aquamarine jersey is the worst aesthetic in the league. This team sucks. They aren’t good at anything except winning close games against bad teams.

24.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Record: 5-11. Point Differential: -68 (23). DVOA: -13.0% (25). Previously 24th.

Dirk Koetter was fired. Jameis Winston is going to get that fifth year, thanks to his option. This was the correct move. There’s something here with Winston if he can ever get the turnovers under control. It’s worth giving him one more shot. If Winston can do this, the arm strength and accuracy is here; it’s just the constant lack of pocket awareness, throwing through defenders, and overthrows that are derailing him.

23.) Washington Redskins—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -78 (25). DVOA: -18.6% (29). Previously 19th.

Washington was gritty, tough, and bloody-nosed. Their defense was propped up by turnovers like truck stop coffee, and their offense did just enough. Then their entire offensive line was mangled. Then J.J. Watt snapped Alex Smith’s leg. It all fell apart.

22.) New York Giants—Record: 5-11. Point Differential: -43 (22). DVOA: 0.0.% (16). Previously 26th.

Hahahahahahaha, they’re going to keep Eli Manning for another year. Hahahahahaahaha.

21.) Jacksonville Jaguars—Record: 5-11. Point Differential: -71 (24). DVOA: -8.1% (22). Previously 22nd.

Blake Bortles dropped from 16th to 30th in DVOA and DYAR in 2018. He went from a middle manager to the worst non-rookie quarterback in football. Bortles lost all ability to throw the ball downfield. Without an all-time great pass defense, offensive injuries, dropped passes, a non-existent power run game, and playing from behind, the chocolate shake turned back into a snake. Poor guy. I feel bad for him, but I never want to watch him start again. It’s depressing. It’s going to break me when he’s 32 years old, completely bald, and backing up Marcus Mariota in Tennessee.

20.) Tennessee Titans—Record: 9-7. Point Differential: +7 (15). DVOA: -4.9% (20). Previously 18th.

The Titans were the most mediocre team this year. 22nd, 18th, and 13th in offensive, defensive, and special teams DVOA. They didn’t excel at any one thing. They won enough close games to give them a Week 17 shot. I feel like this is how every Mike Vrabel season is going to go.

19.) Atlanta Falcons—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -9 (17). DVOA: -3.0% (17). Previously 20th.

Matt Ryan turned in the second best season of his career. It didn’t matter. Him screaming on the sideline while Atlanta’s defense was worked by Nick Chubb was devastating. They were 31st in defensive DVOA and allowed 26.4 points a game. Their defense was decimated, but it’s still interesting that a post-modern defense filled with multi-dimensional and versatile athletes is crappy every year.

It Should Have Been Better:

18.) Green Bay Packers—Record: 6-9-1. Point Differential: -24 (19). DVOA: -3.1% (19). Previously 17th.

My favorite part of the Packers’ season wasn’t watching Aaron Rodgers. It was the interior of their defense with Kenny Clark, Mike Adams, and Blake Martinez. No, I don’t have any tattoos.

17.) Denver Broncos—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -20 (18). DVOA: 6.6% (13). Previously 10th.

The Broncos were 6-6 and had this remaining schedule: @ San Francisco, Cleveland, @ Oakland, and Los Angeles (C). They somehow went 0-4, missed the playoffs, and averaged 13.5 points a game. Vance Joseph was fired at the end of the season. He should have been incinerated after he settled for a 53 yard field goal against Houston. I’ll never forget that.

16.) Carolina Panthers—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -6 (16). DVOA: 0.5.% (14). Previously 14th.

Carolina went from a dynamic offense stuffed with skill players, reverses, non-quarterback passes, interesting run plays utilizing Cam Newton, and plenty of deep passes, to Newton being unable to put his train robbing hat on and a front four pass rush that couldn’t get anything going. They lost seven games in a row. But, heeeeeyyyyyy, at least they finally beat the Saints.

15.) Cleveland Browns—Record: 7-8-1. Point Differential: -33 (20). DVOA: -3.0% (18). Previously 27th.

The Browns fired Sashi Brown when they had a Hue Jackson problem. Rather than utilize chemotherapy, they took a square and bloody blade and lopped the tumor off the shoulder. Voila, the Browns went 5-2 without Hue, and every part of their team was better. They should have never gone 0-16 two years ago. They should have never given Hue another shot this year.

It’s a shame too. Brown set the Browns up perfectly. Most teams try to rebuild by grabbing a quarterback and a head coach to teach said quarterback. The Browns didn’t do that. Instead, they took as many shots to spin the wheel as possible, opted to build out the entire roster, and tried to fall their way into a quarterback. If it didn’t work, fine. The quarterback eventually selected would be in a better situation, one he could succeed in, instead of having to do everything on their own. It worked with Baker Mayfield. It just didn’t work when Sashi was around.

14.) Minnesota Vikings—Record: 8-7-1. Point Differential: +19 (T-12). DVOA: 8.1% (10). Previously 13th.

This season ended the only way it should have, with Kirk Cousins checking down and throwing short of the sticks incessantly. In prior years, I often wondered if Cousins is good or not. The answer is no.

13) Pittsburgh Steelers—Record: 9-6-1. Point Differential: +68 (11). DVOA: 11.2% (9). Previously 7th.

The Steelers went 5-5 in one score games. With the talent they have, they shouldn’t have been in that many coin flip situations. Their last six games were all one possession games. They went 2-4 in these contests and missed the postseason after being 7-2-1.


12.) Philadelphia Eagles—Record: 9-7. Point Differential: +19 (T-12). DVOA: 0.0% (15). Previously 15th.

Pretty crazy, right? You sit there, consciousness trapped in a vat, stuck in a body that’s on a rock in cold crushing emptiness, revolving around a ball of hydrogen that’s hurdling into another galaxy in an ever expanding universe. Kick up the anxiety just a notch and it’s panic attack inducing. Reality is solipsistic and absurd. It’s good to have certain things happen to make things a bit concrete when everything else is so gooey. This Nick Foles thing can’t happen again. We need this Eagles team to get stomped out in the first round.

11.) Dallas Cowboys—Record: 10-6. Point Differential: +15 (14). DVOA: -5.2% (21). Previously 12th.

This has been my favorite Cowboys team of all-time. That’s not saying much. Unlike the rest of the NFC East, they could do one thing really well—play defense. The Randy Gregory-DeMarcus Lawrence duo was unsuspectingly awesome. We need more cowboy collars like Leighton Vander Esch’s. Jaylon Smith and LVE are turning into the type of nickel linebacker combo you can build a defense around, similar to what we saw in Carolina earlier this decade. And their spare parts secondary plays the ball really well.

10.) Seattle Seahawks—Record: 10-6. Point Differential: +81 (10). DVOA: 6.7% (12). Previously 8th.

Russell Wilson’s rainbow road tosses are my favorite throw anywhere. He puts so much height and so much touch on each one, it’s like a Dirk Nowitzki fadeway coming out of a body that couldn’t be anymore different, all while sloshing around the pocket away from the rush.

9.) Houston Texans—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: +86 (8). DVOA: 7.1% (10). Previously 9th.

The Texans can make a run this postseason if Bill O’Brien doesn’t keep the offense stuck by running them into third and long situations that force Deshaun Watson to check the ball down, if J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are both invincible, and if Deshaun Watson scores 27 points a game while DeAndre Hopkins has 160 receiving yards each week. This probably won’t happen. But it could. It’s a shame Houston’s secondary is as bad as it is and that the team hasn’t been able to generate any pass rush aside from Watt and Clowney.

8.) Indianapolis Colts—Record: 10-6. Point Differential: +89 (8). DVOA: 12.6% (8). Previously 16th.

The Colts have a top ten quarterback, offensive line, and run defense. They are going to have $100+ million in cap space next season. They may never lose another game again after this season.

7.) Baltimore Ravens—Record: 10-6. Point Differential: +102 (6). DVOA: 17.0% (6). Previously 11th.

It’s been joyous for football to go from no one being able to tackle or play defense to defensive teams finding success. The Ravens have the second best defense in the NFL. This run game is wild. As long as they don’t go down by more than a score, they’re okay, and with their defense, they’re never down by that much.

6.) New England Patriots—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: +111 (5). DVOA: 14.2% (7). Previously 5th.

This is the worst Patriots team since 2009. Their offense has fallen from first to fifth in DVOA. The pass offense can be sloppy. Incompletions stem from miscommunication, drops, and Tom Brady missing throws he used to never miss. Rob Gronkowski runs like he has a refrigerator tied to his back. The best part of their offense can be their power run game at times.

The best part of their defense is their commune pass rush, and overall, it’s Tennessee mediocre. Yet it’s still the Pats. They still somehow got a first around bye even after going 11-5. They’re only one win away from another AFC Championship Game appearance, the bare minimum acceptable ending to their seasons.

5.) Chicago Bears—Record: 12-4. Point Differential: +138 (4). DVOA: 19.0% (5). Previously 6th.

The Bears have the league’s best defense and a super cool offense that can do more than enough. That’s all I need. Seeing them head to the Superdome for the NFC Championship Game is NFL fanfiction. What if Dumbledore was Harry’s grandfather?

4.) Los Angeles Chargers—Record: 12-4. Point Differential: +99 (7). DVOA: 22.7% (3). Previously 4th.

It took me way too long to fully buy in on the Chargers. It has never been a question of talent regarding their team. It was always black masks, black cats, terrible injuries, missed field goals, Philip Rivers game-ending interceptions, and one-possession losses. Then Michael Badgley hit a 59 yard field goal before the end of the first half against Cincinnati. That was the sign I needed. It was the blood moon before the battle.

3.) Kansas City Chiefs—Record: 12-4. Point Differential: +144 (2). DVOA: 33.0% (1). Previously 3rd.

I’m fully expecting the Chiefs to blow it in the divisional round in the most devastating way possible. Patrick Mahomes throws a left hand interception? Tyreek Hill fumbles before breaking the plane? The Ravens run the ball for 250 yards and giggle as they crush their bones between their toes? I’ve seen too many horrendous Kansas City playoff losses to expect anything different.

2.) Los Angeles Rams—Record: 13-3. Point Differential: +143 (3). DVOA: 23.7% (2). Previously 2nd.

If they aren’t running the ball, they can’t move the ball. Jared Goff struggles if no one is immediately open. Despite their great regular season, both Chicago and New Orleans are terrible match-ups for the Rams.

1.) New Orleans Saints—Record: 13-3. Point Differential: +151 (1). DVOA: 20.7% (4). Previously 1st.

The Saints have the interior pass blocking to stop Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. They have the run defense to stop the Bears’ offense. No matter their pass defense struggles, Drew Brees can play a shootout with anyone. They have home field advantage. They’re the favorite to win the Super Bowl as the NFL Playoffs begin.

Season Awards:

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Derwin James

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Baker Mayfield

Comeback Player of the Year: J.J. Watt

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald

Offensive Player of the Year: Patrick Mahomes II

NFL MVP: Patrick Mahomes II

Super Bowl Prediction:

New Orleans Saints over Los Angeles Chargers.