By Bryan Dietzler
The end of the 2017 season has arrived as this coming week is the final week of the NFL season. It’s time for teams not only to try to make the playoffs if they are on the outside looking in but gain playoff positioning. There are some teams that have already locked up their divisions while wildcard spots are still up for grabs. It’s going to be a wild finish to a season that saw a lot of twists and turns.
Once again, the New England Patriots remain in the top spot this week as they won and kept pace with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The best team in the NFC, in this poll, remains the Philadelphia Eagles but the New Orleans Saints are looking pretty good as well and may be the NFC’s dark horse. All of the playoff teams are sitting near the top of the poll and represent the best of NFL.
The Cleveland Browns have firmly cemented themselves as the worst team in the league. They have earned the first pick the draft and will finish as the worst team in this poll (with one more poll coming next week).
The middle of the poll is filled with mediocre teams that could not get to the playoffs. These will have some work to do to get to the postseason next year.
We have one more regular season poll after this as we will see where all the teams rank one last time before the playoffs start. There will be a playoff power poll just before the start of the playoffs in two weeks.
So here is the sometimes late but always consistent NFL power poll for the final week of the 2017 NFL season. Where does your team rank?
- New England Patriots-(LW 1, 12-3) The Patriots have locked up a first-round bye and appear to be poised to try to repeat their success from last year. Will they get to another Super Bowl and win another title?
- Philadelphia Eagles-(LW 2, 13-2) Just how good will this team be in the playoffs? We are going to find out as they come in with some momentum. But can Nick Foles lead them to a Super Bowl?
- Pittsburgh Steelers-(LW 3, 12-3) I almost guarantee the Steelers and the Patriots are going to meet in the AFC Championship game. Which one will make it to the Super Bowl? Consider it too close to call.
- Minnesota Vikings-(LW 4, 12-3) Maybe this will be the team that unseats the Philadelphia Eagles and ends up the top team in the NFC. Let’s see how they do come playoff time.
- Los Angeles Rams-(LW 5, 11-4) The Rams are headed to the playoffs and are looking like a solid team. Will they be able to complete their amazing turnaround by capping it off with a trip to the Super Bowl? We will soon find out.
- New Orleans Saints-(LW 8, 11-4) The Saints get to move up a little because they are one of the best teams in the NFC. They could easily steal a Super Bowl berth from any of the other teams in the NFC playoffs with the team that they have right now.
- Carolina Panthers-(LW-9, 11-4) The Panthers earned a playoff spot and appear poised to do some damage in the playoffs. Will they be able to make it back to the Super Bowl? Can they win a playoff game?
- Atlanta Falcons-(LW 6, 10-5) The Falcons drop a little bit thanks to the talent ahead of them. They have an outside shot at making the playoffs but have some competition. Will they be able to get a playoff repeat or will they be on the outside looking in?
- Jacksonville Jaguars-(LW 7, 10-5) The Jaguars lost a close game. Their vaunted defense was bested by a budding offense. Will another team get the best of them in the playoffs? Just how far will they be able to go?
- Kansas City Chiefs-(LW 10, 9-6) The Chiefs have locked up their division. It looks like they will rest some starters in preparation for the playoffs. Is that wise move? Will they lose momentum?
- Seattle Seahawks-(LW 12, 9-6) Seattle still has a shot at making the playoffs. Will they get it done in the NFL’s final week or will they miss the postseason?
- Baltimore Ravens-(LW 13, 9-6) Will the Ravens be able to earn a playoff berth in the final week of the season? They have the defense to do so but how will their offense do? If they can get into the playoffs, they could be the AFC’s dark horse.
- Los Angeles Chargers-(LW 15, 8-7) The Chargers have one shot to make the playoffs. Can they complete their turnaround and earn a spot? What damage will they do should they be able to get in?
- Tennessee Titans-(LW 17, 8-7) The Titans get to move up despite the loss. They are still in the hunt for a playoff spot and just might earn one. The problem is, they might have an early exit. This team still has holes to fill and needs some work to become a Super Bowl contender.
- Buffalo Bills-(LW 16, 8-7) Buffalo moves up as well and are a better team than some thought heading into the season. If they can build upon this year and do better next year, they will be in a much better position to compete with New England.
- Detroit Lions-(LW 14, 8-7) The Lions lost a game they really should have won. This is one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL. They need to get better on both sides of the ball to be competitive in 2018.
- Dallas Cowboys-(LW 11, 8-7) With their playoff hopes dashed, the Cowboys will look forward to next season. This was a disappointing year for them as they were expected to do so much but fell short. Better times are ahead.
- Washington Redskins-(LW 19, 7-8) The Redskins still have some work to do but could be a decent team in the future. What happens with Kirk Cousins will be the biggest story with them this coming offseason. Will he return to Washington?
- Arizona Cardinals-(LW 21, 7-8) Is there any truth to the rumor that head coach Bruce Arians could walk away at the end of the season? It appears that might be the case. Let’s see what happens to this team if he leaves. Will they get better or worse?
- Green Bay Packers-(LW 18, 7-8) Last week marked the second time this season the Packers were shut out. Granted, Aaron Rodgers didn’t play in both games. The world must not be right if the Packers aren’t scoring but without Rodgers, they can’t do that much.
- Oakland Raiders-(LW 20, 6-9) What happened to the Raiders this season? After getting to the playoffs last year they weren’t able to do much this year. Is Jack Del Rio’s job in jeopardy or will he get one more year to turn this ship around?
- Miami Dolphins-(LW 22, 6-9) The question here is, will Jay Cutler come back? He has said he will only return for another year if he’s a starter. Will he start, again, for Miami?
- San Francisco 49ers-(LW 28, 5-10) The 49ers are on a winning streak thanks to their new quarterback. Look for this team to be much improved next season with some improvement at wide receiver and on defense.
- Cincinnati Bengals-(LW 24, 6-9) Defeating the Detroit Lions was a bit of a surprise. Perhaps they are motivated to send head coach Marvin Lewis out as a winner. Big changes are ahead for this team.
- New York Jets-(LW 23, 5-10) The Jets have a lot of work to do but don’t have as far to go as some other teams do. Look for them to be improved in 2018 and win more games.
- Denver Broncos-(LW 25, 5-10) The Broncos have some work to do to get better and fixing their quarterback position would be beneficial for them. Look for them to get a new quarterback and get moving in the right direction in 2018.
- Chicago Bears-(LW 29, 5-10) The Bears have a coach who won’t be around after the last game of the season. It looks like another rebuilding period for the Bears, again, three years after they started their last one. This team needs a lot of help.
- Houston Texans-(LW 26, 4-11) The Texans may have a different head coach next season as we will find out soon what Bill O’Brien’s future will be. It’s not his fault for their downfall this season but ownership may put it all on his shoulders.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers-(LW 28, 4-11) Tampa Bay is going to keep their head coach for next season so don’t expect big changes just yet. Should he not do well next year, he will be gone. You can bet on it.
- Indianapolis Colts-(LW 30, 3-12) Chuck Pagano’s job hangs in the balance. Will he survive to coach another season in Indy?
- New York Giants-(LW 31, 2-13) The Giants have hired a GM. Now they can hire a head coach and get moving in the right direction.
- Cleveland Browns-(LW 32, 0-15) The Browns secured the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Not much of a surprise to anyone. Better luck next year.