NFL power rankings: Eagles’ slide puts new team into No. 1 spot

NFL power rankings entering Week 18 of 2022 season (previous rank in parentheses):

1. Bengals (2): They entered Monday night as the AFC’s hottest team, riding a seven-game winning streak. Cincinnati – both the Bengals and city – then rose to the occasion from a human standpoint while bearing witness to one of the scariest moments in NFL history. From a football perspective, questions abound – though a win Sunday will clinch a second straight AFC North crown. Whether Cincy gets a shot at the conference’s top seed is yet to be determined.

2. Chiefs (3): Of QB Patrick Mahomes’ league-leading 40 TD passes this season, only 13 have gone to wide receivers. Throw a few more of those, and Kansas City will wait and see if it’s enough to give them the AFC’s regular-season throne.

3. 49ers (4): Now riding a league-best nine-game hot streak, though lucky to get out of Las Vegas with a win Sunday, the Niners haven’t even had WR Deebo Samuel for their three most recent victories.

4. Bills (5): If any organization is built to weather the tragedy this group is grappling with as S Damar Hamlin fights for his life, it’s this close-knit team. Whether the AFC East champs get to host all of their playoff games is a question that can wait.

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5. Eagles (1): Losing on the road at Dallas without QB Jalen Hurts is one thing. Getting handled at home by an also-ran New Orleans squad, with No. 1 seed hanging in balance, is something else entirely. Philly is fortunate to face a Giants team in Week 18 that will likely be resting its starters.

6. Cowboys (6): For all the smoke around Odell Beckham Jr. in recent weeks, do they even need him? Newly signed WR T.Y. Hilton is performing like the perfect addition for this offense.

7. Jaguars (10): Yes, this feels like high cotton for a team that’s 8-8 and likely won’t reach postseason if it loses to Tennessee on Saturday. But Jacksonville has won four in a row and six of eight and is certainly performing like it’s in the league’s top quartile.

8. Chargers (9): Is any player in the league more underrated than RB Austin Ekeler, who’s never been named to the Pro Bowl? One of two undrafted players since 1967 with at least 1,500 yards from scrimmage and 15 TDs in successive seasons, Ekeler will join Hall of Famer Lenny Moore as the only players with 30 TDs both rushing and receiving in their first six seasons if he catches one more.

9. Ravens (8): One of the many teams in a tenuous spot due to the Hamlin incident, Baltimore can only win its division by beating Cincinnati if the Bengals were to subsequently lose to Buffalo if that contest resumes. It may all be moot given the ongoing mystery around QB Lamar Jackson’s health.

10. Vikings (7): Unbelievable that a 12-4 team with a division title in hand has been outscored by 19 points on the season. Minnesota would have to win by 50 Sunday to avoid owning the worst differential by a team with at least 12 victories since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

11. Lions (14): Rookie DE Aidan Hutchinson’s trio of INTs are tied for the most by any D-lineman in a season during the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

12. Giants (12): Among the unsung heroes for the NFC’s locked-in No. 6 seed are WRs Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins, who share club lead with four TD grabs apiece.

13. Packers (17): Don’t R-E-L-A-X now Green Bay fans, but one more win, and it will be time to C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E four playoff trips in the four years under head coach Matt LaFleur, who owns an 18-1 regular-season record after November.

14. Patriots (13): Another team potentially impacted by Buffalo’s situation, as it stands now, a New England win in Western New York on Sunday sends Pats to postseason.

15. Steelers (18): Beat Cleveland, and Pittsburgh averts HC Mike Tomlin’s first sub-.500 season and maybe even sneaks into the playoffs at the 11th hour for the second straight year. Regardless, it appears the first-round selection of QB Kenny Pickett – he’s thrown a last-minute, game-winning TD pass the past two weeks – was a wise one by since-retired GM Kevin Colbert.

16. Buccaneers (20): Not a huge surprise they finally limped across the finish line to an NFC South championship. But the fact QB Tom Brady and WR Mike Evans finally rediscovered their mojo is a warning sign to whichever wild-card team – Dallas or Philadelphia – goes to Tampa.

17. Dolphins (11): A team that was once 8-3 has fallen to .500. Even if Miami manages to secure the AFC’s last wild card, they’re almost surely one-and-done – even if QB Tua Tagovailoa is able to return.

18. Panthers (19): Their belated drive to steal the NFC South ended Sunday. But shoutout to interim coach Steve Wilks, who’s gone 5-6 (he was 3-13 in one season at Arizona under tough circumstances) for a team that was left for dead after Matt Rhule’s dismissal.

19. Saints (21): Taysom Hill continues to have one of the more fascinating NFL careers in recent memory. Last Sunday, the QB/TE/FB/ST had a career-high 15 touches as New Orleans took down the Eagles in a last-gasp playoff bid that was later extinguished.

20. Seahawks (22): Take that? QB Geno Smith, a good bet as the league’s Comeback Player of the Year, went 3-0 this season against his former teams (Chargers, Giants, Jets).

21. Jets (15): Mike White pretty clearly isn’t recovered from his rib injury, but Sunday’s performance may have ended any hopes he might harbor of getting a crack at Gang Green’s QB1 job in 2023.

22. Browns (24): Eighteen throws from QB Deshaun Watson suggests this offense still isn’t optimally dialed in, but Sunday was the best it’s looked since he returned – and his season-best three TD throws should fuel some optimism for next fall.

23. Titans (23): What the heck? Journeyman QB Joshua Dobbs played well enough in his maiden NFL start in Week 17 that he almost surely gives Tennessee its best shot at a last-ditch bid for an AFC South three-peat.

24. Commanders (16): What the heck? Fifth-round rookie QB Sam Howell played well enough, well, in preseason, that he almost – well, maybe – gives Washington its best shot at a last-ditch bid for a .500 season.

25. Rams (25): The worst reigning Super Bowl champs ever? Arguable given their crush of crippling injuries. But LA is the first to go from Lombardi lift to (at least) 11 losses the season after.

26. Raiders (26): The first team in league history to lose five games in one season in which it had a double-digit lead in the second half will apparently now attempt to trade QB Derek Carr, per Carr’s brother David. Probably for the best.

27. Falcons (27): Not a ton to get excited about in Atlanta at the moment … but if you love right guards, Chris Lindstrom has emerged as one of the league’s best?

28. Bears (28): Not a ton to get excited about in Chicago at the moment … but if you love right guards, Teven Jenkins has emerged as one of the league’s best?

29. Colts (30): Interim coach Jeff Saturday is now 1-6 after winning his debut – pretty much what most assumed would happen following Frank Reich’s demise.

30. Broncos (32): It took 17 weeks … but wasn’t this the Albert Okwuegbunam we’d all hoped to see in 2022? Right?

31. Cardinals (31): The ‘Hard Knocks in Season’ crew must be counting the hours until this debacle of a season is over and they can reserve tee times.

32. Texans (29): Can they hold off Chicago for the top pick of the 2023 draft? Stay tuned for Sunday’s massive matchup in Indianapolis!


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

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