aaron rodgers
Syndication: Journal Sentinel

The Packers have clinched the NFC’s top seed and a first-round bye.

Green Bay remains on top of the NFC.

Thanks to a blowout win over the Vikings on Sunday night, Aaron Rodgers and co. are still the conference’s best team and have earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage for the postseason.

Will the Packers return to the Big Game and hoist their first Lombardi Trophy since February 2011?

Introducing: ESNY’s final NFL Power Rankings for the 2021 regular season.

 

32. Jacksonville Jaguars ( → )

I really wanted to put the Giants in the last-place spot of our power rankings.

But the Jaguars did lose 50-10 in Week 17…

31. New York Giants ( → )

The Giants are, simply put, horrendous.

The defense can’t remain consistent and the offense is an unwatchable product.

As I’ve said various times before, Dave Gettleman, Joe Judge, and Daniel Jones all need to be gone after this season.

30. Houston Texans ( ↓ 1 )

The Texans are back to our bottom three after suffering a 16-point loss to the 49ers on Sunday.

One week remains in this dreadful Houston season.

What will occur with Deshaun Watson in the coming months?

29. Detroit Lions ( ↓ 1 )

The Lions defense was terrible Sunday and allowed the struggling Seahawks to put up 51 points.

That’s right — 51.

Not a great showing from Detroit. The Lions drop to 2-13-1.

28. New York Jets ( ↑ 2 )

The Jets were so close!

They were a defensive stop away from upsetting the Buccaneers!

But ultimately, Tom Brady‘s heroics won the day for Tampa Bay in the final minute.

We’ll improve the Jets’ ranking by two spots though — that was indeed an impressive performance from Robert Saleh‘s team.

27. Carolina Panthers ( → )

The Panthers remain at No. 27 after suffering an expected loss to New Orleans.

Carolina must address its quarterback issues in the offseason.

26. Seattle Seahawks ( → )

Was the Seahawks’ win over the Lions Russell Wilson’s final home game in a Seattle jersey?

The longtime quarterback threw for 236 yards and four touchdowns in the victory, but his future is unknown…

25. Chicago Bears ( → )

The Bears have won two straight but remain at No. 25 after defeating a familiar face in Mike Glennon in Week 17.

They did hold him and the Giants to -10 net passing yards though, which is obviously impressive.

24. Washington Football Team ( → )

Washington suffered a loss to a hot Eagles squad on Sunday, which is why the Football Team remain at No. 24

A name change is coming, but maybe this organization should focus more on the unreliable infrastructure in its stadium…

23. Atlanta Falcons ( → )

There was no way Atlanta was going to defeat the Bills in Buffalo.

Not a chance…and it didn’t.

The Falcons suffered a 29-15 loss on the road.

22. Denver Broncos ( ↓ 1 )

The Broncos are officially out of playoff contention yet again.

Denver was on the losing end of a 34-13 battle with the Chargers in Week 17.

This team finally needs to address the quarterback position once and for all in the offseason.

21. Cleveland Browns ( ↓ 2 )

The Browns are another team that needs to resolve its quarterback problems at some point.

Baker Mayfield isn’t the long-term answer at the game’s most important position — he’s now thrown 17 touchdowns and 13 picks on the year.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers ( ↑ 2 )

The Steelers move up two spots following a big AFC North victory that has kept their playoff chances alive.

Pittsburgh would still clinch a wild-card spot with a Week 18 win, a Colts loss, and a result that isn’t a tie in the Raiders-Chargers matchup.

19. Miami Dolphins ( ↓ 1 )

The 8-8 Dolphins are officially out of postseason contention.

Miami did make it interesting down the stretch though — it was 8-7 after starting the season 1-7.

18. New Orleans Saints ( ↑ 2 )

The Saints earned a victory they desperately needed in Week 17.

New Orleans would still make the playoffs with a win and 49ers loss this coming weekend.

17. Baltimore Ravens ( ↓ 3 )

Five straight losses further distance the Ravens from a postseason berth.

Plenty of outcomes need to occur this weekend in order for John Harbaugh and co. to play past Week 18, including a win, losses from the Chargers and Colts, and a loss or tie from the Dolphins.

16. Minnesota Vikings ( → )

The Vikings are not a below-average squad by any measure, but when Minnesota doesn’t have its starting quarterback, the team can be unwatchable.

That was proven Sunday night. Kirk Cousins’ positive COVID-19 test and subsequent rule-out led to the Vikings suffering a 27-point loss to Green Bay with Sean Mannion under center.

15. Las Vegas Raiders ( ↑ 2 )

Vegas is still alive in the playoff race.

Following a huge win over Indianapolis, the Raiders could reach the postseason with:

  • A win this Sunday night over the Chargers.
  • A tie and Colts loss.
  • A Colts loss and Steelers loss/tie.

14. Philadelphia Eagles ( ↑ 1 )

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Eagles.

But behind a rookie head coach in Nick Sirianni and a second-year quarterback in Jalen Hurts, Philly is returning to the postseason.

It remains to be seen how the Eagles fare in January football, but regardless, the success of this team is one of the bigger surprises this year.

13. Los Angeles Chargers ( → )

The Chargers were supposed to be one of the AFC’s top ballclubs this season (at least in my opinion).

But now, they’re in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight year.

Los Angeles would earn a playoff berth by defeating the division-rival Raiders this Sunday night.

12. San Francisco 49ers ( → )

Many expected the Niners to defeat the Texans in Week 17; that’s why we keep San Fran at No. 12.

The 49ers are still in the mix for a wild-card spot in the NFC.

11. Indianapolis Colts ( ↓ 1 )

The Colts drop out of the top 10 — Indy needs to win these late-season games and came up short against Vegas in Week 17.

There’s still a chance Indianapolis misses out on the postseason — it’s currently the No. 6 seed in the AFC and would lock down a berth by defeating the putrid Jaguars this Sunday.

10. Cincinnati Bengals ( ↑ 1 )

The Bengals are AFC North champions and are returning to the playoffs for the first time since the 2015 campaign.

Quarterback Joe Burrow is red hot, having combined for 971 yards and eight touchdowns over the last two games.

9. Dallas Cowboys ( ↓ 3 )

Dallas falls three spots after losing to the Cardinals. I understand that’s a notable drop-off, but the Cowboys need to come up big in these late-season matchups.

Maybe they’ll see Arizona again later this month?

8. Arizona Cardinals ( ↑ 1 )

What a huge win it was for the Cardinals on Sunday.

They’ve locked down a playoff spot but would still win the NFC West with a win and Rams loss this weekend.

7. New England Patriots ( → )

The Patriots sit tight at No. 7 on our power rankings after defeating Jacksonville 50-10.

New England is currently a wild-card team in the AFC but the top seed in the conference remains in reach.

6. Tennessee Titans ( ↑ 2 )

Tennessee blew the Dolphins out of the water with a 34-3 win on Sunday (okay, maybe that was a little corny).

The Titans are the top seed in the AFC and would earn a first-round bye if the season were to end today. However, I still don’t trust them as much as the following AFC teams…

5. Buffalo Bills ( → )

This is a quarterback-driven league.

And I trust Josh Allen over Ryan Tannehill.

The Bills sit at No. 5 on our latest power rankings and currently lead the AFC East.

Will they defeat the Jets in Week 18 and clinch their division for the second straight year?

4. Kansas City Chiefs ( ↓ 1 )

However, I trust Patrick Mahomes over Josh Allen.

The Chiefs have been red hot for much of the regular season’s second half. They would sit atop the conference entering the playoffs with a win and Titans loss/tie in Week 18.

3. Los Angeles Rams ( ↑ 1 )

The Rams are hot and have won five straight. They’re the No. 2 seed in the conference and sit atop the NFC West.

With a win over San Francisco this Sunday, Los Angeles would notch its first division title since the 2018 season.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( → )

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers nearly suffered an embarrassing loss to the Jets.

But the GOAT pulled it off with a game-winning touchdown pass.

Could Tampa Bay retain momentum heading into the playoffs by defeating Carolina this Sunday?

1. Green Bay Packers ( → )

The Packers are the best team in football.

There’s no doubt about it right now.

Aaron Rodgers and his crew have clinched the NFC North and the top spot in the conference. They’ll be earning a first-round bye and home-field advantage for the NFC Playoffs and will acquire much-needed rest prior to their first postseason matchup.

Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY

Listen to ESNY’s Wide Right Podcast on Apple here or on Spotify here.