By Bill Seals - Fred Altieri
Sports Reporters - PFWA Member 

2021 NFL Power Rankings – Week 18

Rams Finish #2, Chargers 11th

 

January 6, 2022

Brevin Townsell - LA Rams

Wide receiver Cooper Kupp - Rams' MVP for 2021 season

1. Green Bay Packers (13-3): The Packers clinched the homefield advantage with their blowout win over the Vikings. The biggest issue the Packers face this week is who to play and who to rest in the final meaningless game against the Lions. Next: -4 at Detroit Lions - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 12-4 – O/U: 7-9)

2. Los Angeles Rams (12-4): The Rams have clinched a playoff berth and need a win over the 49ers to clinch the division. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp leads the NFL in receptions at 138, receiving yardage with 1,829 yards, receiving touchdowns at 15, and receiving yardage per game at 114.3 yards per game. A case could be made for Kupp to win the NFL MVP award. Next: -4.5 vs San Francisco 49ers - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 8-8 – O/U: 8-7-1)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4): Wide receiver Antonio Brown decided to quit in the middle of a game and was kicked off the team by head coach Bruce Arians. But for the Bucs' obvious benefit it took at least four days for Brown to be finally released. Brown, in turn, has accused the Bucs of trying to play him while he was injured and is dragging in the lawyers once again. Antonio Brown is once again a candidate for Client of the Year with the American Bar Association. Next: -8 vs Carolina Panthers - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 41.5 (ATS: 8-8 – O/U: 8-8)


4. Tennessee Titans (11-5): The Titans just need to beat the Texans on Sunday to earn home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. With running back Derrick Henry returning from injury for the playoffs, that may prove to be huge advantage for the Titans. Next: -10 at Houston Texans - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 43 (ATS: 10-6 – O/U: 7-9)


5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): The Chiefs saw their nine-game winning streak end with a loss to the Bengals. The Chiefs are currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC and would face the Chargers in the first round of the playoffs if nothing changes this weekend. Next: -10 at Denver Broncos - Sat, Jan. 8 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 8-8 – O/U: 9-7)

6. Arizona Cardinals (11-5): The Cardinals stunned the Cowboys on the road, but clearly proved they are a better team than the Cowboys and still have a shot at winning the NFC West division. They need a win over the Seahawks at home and a Rams loss to the 49ers to win the division. Next: -6.5 vs Seattle Seahawks - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 48 (ATS: 10-6 – O/U: 7-9)

7. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): The Bengals are currently the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoffs and if nothing changes this weekend, will face the Patriots at home in Cincinnati in a first-round game. Quarterback Joe Burrow has ripped through the Ravens and Chiefs defense the past two weeks but doing the same against the Pats does not seem as likely. Next: +5 at Cleveland Browns - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 38 (ATS: 9-7 – O/U: 8-8)


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8. Dallas Cowboys (11-5): The Cowboys have proven that they are the best team in the NFC East. They have a 5-0 record within the division. But their 6-5 record outside of the division looks kind of average. The Cowboys have a talented roster, but they are not a good team to put your money on in a playoff game. Next: -5 at Philadelphia Eagles - Sat, Jan. 8 – O/U 42.5 (ATS: 12-4 – O/U: 7-9)

9. Buffalo Bills (10-6): The Bills are currently the No. 3 seed in the AFC and if nothing changes this weekend, will face the Colts in Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs. That would be a tough, physical first round matchup for the Bills. The Colts average 152 rushing yards per game and are a challenge for any run defense. Next: -16.5 vs New York Jets - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 41 (ATS: 8-6-2 – O/U: 8-8)

10. New England Patriots (10-6): The Patriots took their frustrations out on the Jaguars this past weekend in a 50-10 rout of the hapless Jags. They can still win the AFC East division if the Bill lose to the Jets at home and they beat the Dolphins on the road. Next: -6.5 at Miami Dolphins – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 40 (ATS: 10-6 – O/U: 8-8)

11. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7): The Chargers got the enjoyment of crushing the Broncos and eliminating them from the playoffs. If the Chargers beat the Raiders next Sunday Night in Las Vegas, they are in the playoffs. The Chargers are the No. 7 seed and if that does not change after the Raider game, they would face likely the Chiefs in Kansas City the following weekend. Next: -3 at Las Vegas Raiders, Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 49.5 (ATS: 8-8 – O/U: 9-7)

12. Las Vegas Raiders (9-7): The Raiders are like cockroaches that refuse to die. After three straight close wins, they find themselves in a position to win and get into the playoffs. The talent level on the team is bumping up against the ceiling, but the team has shown a lot of heart and will not go quietly into the night. The Sunday Night matchup in Las Vegas against the Chargers will be very entertaining. Next: +3 vs Los Angeles Chargers - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 49.5 (ATS: 7-9 – O/U: 7-9)

13. Indianapolis Colts (9-7): The Colts need to win to clinch a playoff berth and the only thing standing in their way are the pitiful Jaguars. That may be tougher than it looks on paper. The Colts struggled to beat the Jags earlier this season in a 23-17 win at home. This week they travel to Jacksonville, where the Colts have not won since 2014. Next: -15.5 at Jacksonville Jaguars – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 44 (ATS: 10-6 – O/U: 8-8)

14. San Francisco 49ers (9-7): If the 49ers win this Sunday against the Rams at SoFi Stadium, they are in the playoffs. That is the good news. The bad news: if they lose to the Rams, they need New Orleans to lose to the Falcons. A Saints win would eliminate the Niners and put New Orleans into the postseason given their stronger Conference record. Next: +4 at Los Angeles Rams – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 8-8 – O/U: 7-0)

15. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7): Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni clinched a playoff berth in his rookie season as head coach with the Eagles win over the Washington Football Team. The Eagles will end up playing a division winner on the road in the first round of the playoffs. Next: +5 vs Dallas Cowboys – Sat, Jan. 8 – O/U 42.5 (ATS: 8-7-1 – O/U: 9-7)

16. Miami Dolphins (8-8): The Dolphins had their seven-game winning streak come to an end and were eliminated from the playoffs in their 34-3 loss to the Titans. The Dolphins need to get better on the offensive side of the ball and that may start with the quarterback position. Next: -6.5 vs New England Patriots - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 40 (ATS: 8-7-1 – O/U: 6-10)

17. New Orleans Saints (8-8): Amazingly, the Saints are in the playoffs if they beat the Falcons and the 49ers lose to the Rams. After going without a touchdown for 11 consecutive quarters, the offensively challenged Saints finally scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Panthers, which gave them the win and kept them alive in the playoff chase. Next: -4.5 at Atlanta Falcons – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 40 (ATS: 8-8 – O/U: 6-10)

18. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Despite their current five game losing streak, the Ravens still have a shot at making the playoffs. The Ravens will need the Colts, Chargers and Dolphins to all lose in Week 18 while also beating the Pittsburgh Steelers. Good luck with that scenario. Next: -6 vs Pittsburgh Steelers – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 41.5 (ATS: 8-8 – O/U: 8-8)

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1): The Steelers are still in contention for a playoff berth after a 26-14 win over the Browns. It was the final home game for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who will be a free agent after the season. Roethlisberger is not officially retiring but will not return to Pittsburgh after 18 seasons with the organization. Next: +6 at Baltimore Ravens – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 41.5 (ATS: 7-9 – O/U: 6-9-1)

20. Cleveland Browns (7-9): The Browns were eliminated from the playoffs before their game on Monday Night at Pittsburgh, a game in which quarterback Baker Mayfield threw two interceptions and was sacked nine times in a loss to the Steelers. The Browns have finally decided to shut down Mayfield for the season. He will have shoulder surgery as soon as possible. Next: -6 vs Cincinnati Bengals – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 38 (ATS: 7-9 – O/U: 7-9)

21. Denver Broncos (7-9): The Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs with their loss to the Chargers on Sunday. The Broncos need a better starting quarterback to compete in the AFC West, but there is also nothing impressive about the overall offensive scheme. Next: +10 vs Kansas City Chiefs - Sat, Jan. 8 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 7-9 – O/U: 4-12)

22. Minnesota Vikings (7-9): Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins missed the Sunday Night game against the Packers, a game that turned into a blowout loss for the Vikings. Cousins tested positive for Covid and because he was unvaccinated, he was unavailable for the game. Had he been vaccinated he would have been available to start in a game the Vikings needed to win. Next: -5.5 vs Chicago Bears – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 8-8 – O/U: 10-6)

23. Atlanta Falcons (7-9): The Falcons are ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing yardage per game at 86.8 yards per game and 30th in yards per carry at 3.6 yards per carry. The offseason focus needs to be on improving the running attack to help quarterback Matt Ryan and the defense. Next: +4.5 vs New Orleans Saints – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 40 (ATS: 6-9-1 – O/U: 6-10)

24. Washington Football Team (6-10): The Washington Football Team needs an infusion of offensive talent and a good place to start might be a at wide receiver. Terry McLaurin is a good wide receiver and an excellent route runner, but the WFT needs an explosive receiving threat to supplement their ball control offense. Next: -7 at New York Giants – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 38 (ATS: 6-9-1 – O/U: 7-9)

25. Chicago Bears (6-10): The Bears won their second in a row after crushing the Giants, 29-3. The Bears defense won this game, holding the Giants to 155 yards in total offense and creating four turnovers. Next: +5.5 at Minnesota Vikings - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 6-10 – O/U: 6-10)

26. Seattle Seahawks (6-10): Wide receiver DK Metcalf had three touchdown receptions in the Seahawks 51-29 win over the Lions. Metcalf has 12 touchdown receptions for the season, which is a career best for him. Next: +6.5 at Arizona Cardinals – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 48 (ATS: 8-8 – O/U: 5-10-1)

27. Carolina Panthers (5-11): The Panthers losing streak was extended to six games with their loss to the Saints. The Panthers offense produced a total of 178 yards in the loss. The Panthers will have a high first round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft but drafting a quarterback will not solve their offensive problems. Next: +8 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 41.5 (ATS: 5-11 – O/U: 7-9)

28. New York Giants (4-12): Head coach Joe Judge claimed in a rambling post-game press conference that there are former players calling to tell him they missed the Giants, and current impending free agents who are making pleas to return the team. He may also believe that the earth is flat. Next: +7 vs Washington Football Team – Sun, Jan. 9 - O/U 38 (ATS: 6-10 – O/U: 5-10-1)

29. New York Jets (4-12): Wide receiver Braxton Berrios has been one of the few bright spots for the Jets late in the season. Berrios scored twice against the Buccaneers on Sunday, one on a one-yard touchdown run and the other on a nine-yard touchdown reception. Berrios caught 8 passes in the game and gained 55 yards on two kickoff returns. Next: +16.5 at Buffalo Bills - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 41 (ATS: 6-10 – O/U: 10-6)

30. Houston Texans (4-12): Rookie quarterback Davis Mills, a third-round draft pick out of Stanford, has started ten games this season and has gained some valuable game experience which should help him in the future. As a rookie, he has shown that he can play in the NFL and that should at a minimum keep him in the league for the next decade. Next: +10 vs Tennessee Titans – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 43 (ATS: 7-9 – O/U: 7-9)

31. Detroit Lions (2-13-1): Former Cal and Rams quarterback Jared Goff has had a decent season under some very challenging conditions for the Lions. Goff has thrown for 238 yards per game, completed 67% of his passes and has 17 touchdown passes with just eight interceptions. Considering what he has around him, that is a respectable first season with the Lions. Next: +4 vs Green Bay Packers – Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 10-6 – O/U: 6-10)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Rookie franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence leads the NFL in interceptions and is the lowest rated quarterback in the NFL. It would be hard to match the incompetent quarterback development that the Jaguars have had with the top overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Jaguar fans have ex-head coach Urban Meyer to thank for the regression of Lawrence. Next: +15.5 vs Indianapolis Colts - Sun, Jan. 9 – O/U 44 (ATS: 4-12 – O/U: 5-11)

Mike Nowak - LA Chargers

Quarterback Justin Herbert - Chargers' MVP for 2021 season

 

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