NFL Power Rankings Poll: Ravens Finish on Top, Lions and Panthers Stumble to the Bottom – Sports Illustrated

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This week’s NFL Power Rankings Poll voters:

Andrew Brandt, Business of Football Columnist
Gary Gramling, Senior Editor
Mitch Goldich, Producer/Writer
Kalyn Kahler, Writer/Producer
Bette Marston, Associate Editor
Conor Orr, Staff Writer
Jenny Vrentas, Senior Writer

Skinnies for each team written by Mitch Goldich.

Lamar Jackson

1. BALTIMORE RAVENS (14-2)

Previous rank: 1
Points in poll: 223
Highest-place vote: 1 (6 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 2 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Pittsburgh, 28-10
This week: First-round bye

No matter what happens in the playoffs, the Ravens should be ecstatic about their season. They dominated, they set records, they deserve to be No. 1 in the power rankings.

2. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (13-3)

Previous rank: 2
Points in poll: 211
Highest-place vote: 2 (3 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 4 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat Seattle, 26-21
This week: First-round bye

The 49ers were an inch away from dropping to the No. 5 seed, but their memorable turnaround season now comes with home field advantage through the NFC playoffs. Not many teams hit all of their regular season goals, but this is one that did.

3. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-3)

Previous rank: T-3
Points in poll: 207
Highest-place vote: 2 (3 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 7 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Carolina, 42-10
This week: vs. Minnesota in wild-card round

The Saints have been on a mission all year to avenge the blown call in the NFC championship game, and right now they’re playing as well as anyone in the conference.

4. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (12-4)

Previous rank: T-3
Points in poll: 203
Highest-place vote: 3 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 5 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat L.A. Chargers, 31-21
This week: First-round bye

It didn’t look as easy as last year, but it has to feel good to be 12-4 with a first-round bye. No need to apologize for getting a little help from Miami in Week 17.

5. GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3)

Previous rank: 5
Points in poll: 195
Highest-place vote: 3 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 6 (3 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat Detroit, 23-20
This week: First-round bye

We weren’t always sure how the Packers got all those wins, but they did. You can’t complain about being 13-3 with a Hall-of-Fame quarterback.

6. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-5)

Previous rank: 8
Points in poll: 184
Highest-place vote: 3 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 13 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to San Francisco, 26-21
This week: at Philadelphia in wild-card round

The Seahawks are one of the most confusing teams in the league. How does a team with Plus-7 point differential on the season go 11-5, and an inch away from 12-4? But somehow they find a way to win and they’re still dangerous going into the playoffs.

7. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4)

Previous rank: 6
Points in poll: 183
Highest-place vote: 1 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 9 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to Miami, 27-24
This week: vs. Tennessee in wild-card round

Every year we talk about the end of the Patriots dynasty. This year they went long stretches where they didn’t look very Patriots-like and they still put up 12 wins.

8. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-6)

Previous rank: 7
Points in poll: 176
Highest-place vote: 6 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 11 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to Chicago, 21-19
This week: at New Orleans in wild-card round

The Vikings had sort of a rollercoaster season, but it ended with more ups than downs and a playoff berth with a week to spare.

9. BUFFALO BILLS (10-6)

Previous rank: 9
Points in poll: 162
Highest-place vote: 9 (4 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 12 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to N.Y. Jets, 13-6
This week: at Houston in wild-card round

If a great defense is the recipe for a wild-card playoff sleeper, then maybe the Bills are the perfect dark-horse candidate. Either way, they made great progress this year.

10. TENNESSEE TITANS (9-7)

Previous rank: 12
Points in poll: 160
Highest-place vote: 8 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 12 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat Houston, 35-14
This week: at New England in wild-card round

The Ryan Tannehill—Derrick Henry—A.J. Brown triplets are suddenly very dangerous. What a fun season from the playoff-bound Titans.

T-11. HOUSTON TEXANS (10-6)

Previous rank: 10
Points in poll: 158
Highest-place vote: 7 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 12 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Tennessee, 35-14
This week: vs. Buffalo in wild-card round

The Texans were in win-now mode all offseason and it got them an AFC South title with a chance to rest starters in Week 17. But they’re still a cut below the AFC’s top tier.

T-11. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-7)

Previous rank: 11
Points in poll: 158
Highest-place vote: 6 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 12 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat N.Y Giants, 34-17
This week: vs. Seattle in wild-card round

If you went back in time and told Eagles fans they’d win the division and Carson Wentz would be healthy for 16 games, they might not ask how it happened. (Which would probably be good for their blood pressure.)

13. LOS ANGELES RAMS (9-7)

Previous rank: 13
Points in poll: 143
Highest-place vote: 7 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 15 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Arizona 31-24

It would be cliché to call it a Super Bowl hangover, but the Rams just weren’t the same this year.

14. DALLAS COWBOYS (8-8)

Previous rank: 14
Points in poll: 135
Highest-place vote: 13 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 14 (5 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat Washington, 47-16

If this is truly the end of the Jason Garrett Era, going out with a wildly talented roster and an underwhelming 8-8 record is perfectly fitting.

T-15. ATLANTA FALCONS (7-9)

Previous rank: 18
Points in poll: 118
Highest-place vote: 14 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 22 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Tampa Bay, 28-22

The Falcons played well enough in the second half to save some jobs and climb some spots in the power rankings. Whether that translates to success in 2020 is yet to be seen.

T-15. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-8)

Previous rank: 15
Points in poll: 118
Highest-place vote: 15 (3 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 18 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to Baltimore, 28-10

The Steelers deserve a lot of credit for how they fought this year, but all 32 teams should know how important it is to have a backup QB you can trust.

17. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (7-9)

Previous rank: 17
Points in poll: 104
Highest-place vote: 17 (3 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 20 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Atlanta, 28-22

Bruce Arians’s first season in Tampa will always be remembered for Jameis’s 30-30. Now you get the sense he’d like his second season to be remembered for somebody else under center.

18. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (7-9)

Previous rank: 16
Points in poll: 100
Highest-place vote: 16 (4 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 24 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Jacksonville, 38-20

The Colts were dealt a tough hand with Andrew Luck’s retirement on the eve of the season. They handled it really well, for as long as they could, until it unraveled over the second half of the season.

19. DENVER BRONCOS (7-9)

Previous rank: 20
Points in poll: 94
Highest-place vote: 17 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 24 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Oakland, 16-15

Bringing in Joe Flacco during the offseason was a win-now move, but the Broncos had their biggest gains in our power rankings with Drew Lock under center. That’s not how they hoped this season would turn out.

20. CHICAGO BEARS (8-8)

Previous rank: 22
Points in poll: 92
Highest-place vote: 18 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 22 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Minnesota, 21-18

Turns out spending the whole offseason talking about the double doink might not have been the most productive use of everyone’s time. Now they’ll have an offseason of talking about Trubisky’s future.

21. OAKLAND RAIDERS (7-9)

Previous rank: 19
Points in poll: 88
Highest-place vote: 18 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 24 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to Denver, 16-15

Pour one out for the Oakland Raiders. In 25 years since the move back from L.A., they went 160-240, with four playoff appearances and a Super Bowl loss. This was an encouraging season, but it’s on to Vegas.

22. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (5-11)

Previous rank: 23
Points in poll: 77
Highest-place vote: 20 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 24 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to Kansas City, 31-21

The L.A. experiment hasn’t worked out for this franchise. Will the new stadium be enough of a fresh start, or will they look to have a splashy offseason too?

23. ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-10-1)

Previous rank: 21
Points in poll: 75
Highest-place vote: 19 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 26 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to L.A. Rams, 31-24

So Kliff and Kyler did not revolutionize the game in their first season at the pro level, but the Cardinals saw some encouraging signs as the pairing heads into Year 2.

24. NEW YORK JETS (7-9)

Previous rank: T-24
Points in poll: 58
Highest-place vote: 20 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 27 (3 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat Buffalo, 13-6

It was a strange way to get there, but 7-9 sorta feels right for this team. They have a few big moves to make, but we know this team rarely has a quiet offseason.

25. CLEVELAND BROWNS (6-10)

Previous rank: T-24
Points in poll: 56
Highest-place vote: 23 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 26 (3 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Cincinnati, 33-23

OK, so we were totally wrong. In our defense, so were a lot of people.

26. MIAMI DOLPHINS (5-11)

Previous rank: 27
Points in poll: 55
Highest-place vote: 23 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 29 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat New England, 27-24

Five wins for this Dolphins team is a massive accomplishment. They cost themselves some draft position, but the good news is they have plenty of other team’s picks too.

27. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (6-10)

Previous rank: 28
Points in poll: 53
Highest-place vote: 21 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 29 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Indianapolis, 38-20

Few teams had as disappointing a 2019 as the Jaguars, who now have a tough decision to make at quarterback.

28. NEW YORK GIANTS (4-12)

Previous rank: 26
Points in poll: 34
Highest-place vote: 26 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 31 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to Philadelphia, 34-17

Goodbye, Eli. Hello, unknown future. Can you believe it’s been eight years since this team won a playoff game?

29. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-13)

Previous rank: 30
Points in poll: 25
Highest-place vote: 28 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 30 (4 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Dallas, 47-16

The Redskins have too many issues to name, but at least this year they have the No. 2 overall pick to show for it.

30. CINCINNATI BENGALS (2-14)

Previous rank: 32
Points in poll: 21
Highest-place vote: 28 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 32 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat Cleveland, 33-23

Judging by what we’ve seen from Joe Burrow, it’s a good season to be on the clock.

31. CAROLINA PANTHERS (5-11)

Previous rank: 29
Points in poll: 19
Highest-place vote: 28 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 32 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to New Orleans, 42-10

No team fell apart quite like the Carolina Panthers, who went from 5-3 to 5-11. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see them with the healthy Cam Newton we were promised. Now we wait to see who their QB is in 2020.

32. DETROIT LIONS (3-12-1)

Previous rank: T-32
Points in poll: 11
Highest-place vote: 31 (4 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 32 (3 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Green Bay, 23-20

The Lions ended the season on the league’s longest losing streak. Do they really think a healthy Matthew Stafford would fix all their issues next year?

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