Happy New Year! All of us here at Square Up Sports wish you nothing but the best for 2019!
Here's to a great 2018 NFL season and a postseason that could be as unpredictable as there's ever been. Check back on Friday for my predictions for Wild Card Weekend.
Square Up Sports
NFL Power Rankings (1/2/19)
x- clinched division
y- clinched playoff berth
z- clinched home field advantage
1) z-New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Last Week Ranking: 1
Last Game: lost to Carolina 33-14
Next Game: Will host lowest seed remaining in NFC divisional round.
Saints sit all their starters in a game they didn’t need to win. The Superdome will be a tough place to play this January.
2) x-Los Angeles Rams (13-3)
Last Week Ranking: 4
Last Game: beat San Francisco 48-32
Next Game: Will host highest remaining seed in NFC divisional round.
Rams get the much needed playoff bye week especially for left tackle Andrew Whitworth and RB Todd Gurley who are both nursing injuries.
3) x-Chicago Bears (12-4)
Last Week Ranking: 2
Last Game: beat Minnesota 24-10
Next Game: Will host Philadelphia in Wild Card game on Sunday, January 6th.
Mitchell Trubisky is great when it matters the most. The Bears were eight of 14 on third downs.
4) y-Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)
Last Week Ranking: 3
Last Game: beat Denver 23-9
Next Game: Will travel to Baltimore for Wild Card game on Sunday, January 6th.
As the Chargers offense stalls, their defense steps up with a big Joey Bosa sack in the red zone, an interception in the end zone, and a 102 yard two point return by Casey Hayward.
5) x-Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Last Week Ranking: 8
Last Game: beat Cleveland 26-24
Next Game: Will host L.A. Chargers in Wild Card game on Sunday, January 6th.
Lamar Jackson had another great game on the ground (20 carries, 90 yards, and two TDs) but his passing is still suspect in the red zone and loses the ball a bit too much (two fumbles, one lost.)
6) z-Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
Last Week Ranking: 5
Last Game: beat Oakland 35-3
Next Game: Will host lowest remaining seed in AFC divisional round
Patrick Mahomes becomes only the second QB in history to throw for 50 touchdowns and 5,000 passing yards in a single season. (Peyton Manning)
7) x-New England Patriots (11-5)
Last Week Ranking: 6
Last Game: beat New York Jets 38-3
Next Game: Will host highest seed remaining in AFC divisional round
Patriots get the second seed in the AFC and earn a bye for the ninth consecutive year. Can New England reinvent themselves yet again as a power running team this postseason?
8) y-Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
Last Week Ranking: 7
Last Game: beat Arizona 27-24
Next Game: Will travel to Dallas for Wild Card game on Saturday, January 5th.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Seahawks overcame a shaky o-line that gave up six sacks to win their tenth game of the season. That’s the sixth double-digit win season in Russell Wilson’s seven years as quarterback.
9) y-Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
Last Week Ranking: 10
Last Game: beat Tennessee 33-17
Next Game: Will travel to Houston for Wild Card game on Saturday, January 5th.
After getting ditched by Josh McDaniels before the season and a 1-5 start, Frank Reich has the Colts in the playoffs and should be the NFL Coach of the Year.
10) x-Houston Texans (11-5)
Last Week Ranking: 9
Last Game: beat Jacksonville 20-3
Next Game: Will host Indianapolis in Wild Card round on Saturday, January 5th.
Deshaun Watson’s brilliant season also has these ominous stats attached. He’s been hit 133 times and sacked a league high 62 times.
11) y-Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
Last Week Ranking: 14
Last Game: beat Washington 24-0
Next Game: Will travel to Chicago for Wild Card game on Sunday, January 6th.
Is it that easy? After Nick Foles departs with a chest injury, third-stringer Nate Sudfeld steps in and throws his career first TD pass for the defending champs. The San Jose native then had to do a little negotiating.
12) x-Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
Last Week Ranking: 12
Last Game: beat N.Y. Giants 36-35
Next Game: Will host Seattle in Wild Card round on Saturday, January 5th.
Dallas gets the home playoff game they wanted. Unfortunately for them, Seattle has beaten the Cowboys four of the last five times including three straight. They’ll need a more balanced attack on offense from Dak Prescott.
13) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1)
Last Week Ranking: 15
Last Game: beat Cincinnati 16-13
2019 Draft position: 20th
I guess I wasn’t the only one questioning the Steelers’ dramatic ways.
14) Cleveland Browns (7-8-1)
Last Week Ranking: 16
Last Game: lost to Baltimore 26-24
2019 Draft Position: 17th
The Browns have the attention of their division rivals. And deservedly so. Big things are on the horizon for this team. I just hope they get the right coach to lead them. They might have him there already.
15) Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1)
Last Week Ranking: 13
Last Game: lost to Chicago 24-10
2019 Draft position: 18th
It isn’t fair, but when you get an $84M contract, you get the bulk of the blame. Kirk Cousins threw for just 132 yards and one touchdown. His record in games against playoff teams is 4-25.
16) Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Last Week Ranking: 11
Last Game: lost to Indianapolis 33-17
2019 Draft position: 19
Marcus Marriota’s latest injury (back) could be a problem with him into 2019 and beyond. That doesn't bode well for the Titans' immediate future.
17) Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
Last Week Ranking: 17
Last Game: beat Tampa Bay 34-32
2019 Draft position: 14th
Black Monday hits all three of the Falcons’ coordinators. OC Steve Sarkisian, DC Marquand Manuel, and STC Keith Armstrong were all relived of their duties. Head coach Dan Quinn will takeover the defensive play-calling next season.
18) Carolina Panthers (7-9)
Last Week Ranking: 23
Last Game: beat New Orleans 33-14
2019 Draft position: 16th
For what it’s worth, the Panthers snapped their seven game losing streak. Even if it was against the Saints second and third string players.
19) Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Last Week Ranking: 22
Last Game: beat Miami 42-17
2019 Draft position: 9th
Bills send DT Kyle Williams into retirement in style.
20) Detroit Lions (6-10)
Last Week Ranking: 30
Last Game: beat Green Bay 30-0
2019 Draft position: 8th
The Lions’ defense shutout their first opponent in 22 years. Now that Matt Patricia has an idea of what his defense can do, it’s time to add some weapons on offense.
21) Green Bay Packers (6-9-1)
Last Week Ranking: 18
Last Game: lost to Detroit 31-0
2019 Draft position: 12th
To close out their disappointing season, the Packers lose Aaron Rodgers to a concussion and give up 31 points. Green Bay’s next head coach should clean house and start again.
22) New York Giants (5-11)
Last Week Ranking: 20
Last Game: lost to Dallas 36-35
2019 Draft position: 6th
Saquon Barkley became the third rookie running back in NFL history with 2,000 yards from scrimmage in a season. (Eric Dickerson, Edgerrin James.)
23) San Francisco 49ers (4-12)
Last Week Ranking: 19
Last Game: lost to L.A. Rams 48-32
2019 Draft position: 2nd
George Kittle gives something for 49er fans cheer about with nine catches and 149 receiving yards. His 1,377 yards for the season is a record for tight ends.
24) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)
Last Week Ranking: 26
Last Game: lost to Atlanta 34-32
2019 Draft position: 5th
Dirk Koetter is fired after three years and a coaching record of 19-29. With a top five pick, will the Bucs stay with Jameis Winston or start over again?
25) Cincinnati Bengals (7-9)
Last Week Ranking: 31
Last Game: lost to Pittsburgh
2019 Draft position: 11th
During his exit press conference, Marvin Lewis endorsed his friend Hue Jackson to be his replacement. I heard a million voices in southwest Ohio cry out with a curdling, “NOOOOO!”
26) Denver Broncos (6-10)
Last Week Ranking: 29
Last Game: lost to L.A. Chargers 23-9
2019 Draft position: 10th
Broncos fire Vance Joseph after posting a 11-21 record and .343 winning percentage. Both numbers are the second-worst in team history.
27) New York Jets (4-12)
Last Week Ranking: 21
Last Game: lost to New England 38-3
2019 Draft position: 3rd
Todd Bowles got only two years to turn the Jets around and that includes just getting Sam Darnold in April. I’m not sure what the Jets were expecting, but they’re starting over again, yet again.
28) Washington Redskins (7-9)
Last Week Ranking: 28
Last Game: lost to Philadelphia 24-0
2019 Draft position: 15th
This is Daniel Snyder’s 20th season as the Redskins’ owner. Since their NFL-best 89,625 average attendance in 2005, they fell to just 60,719 this year. That’s a 24 percent drop.
29) Miami Dolphins (7-9)
Last Week Ranking: 25
Last Game: lost to Buffalo 42-17
2019 Draft position: 13th
Who will replace Adam Gase as head coach? The Miami Herald has some ideas.
30) Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
Last Week Ranking: 24
Last Game: lost to Houston 20-3
2019 Draft position: 7th
Jags owner Shad Khan will retain the entire staff for next season and Tom Coughlin didn’t wait long to flex his muscles.
31) Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Last Week Ranking: 27
Last Game: lost to Kansas City
2019 Draft position: 4th
From the “why-the-hell-not” idea pile. Jon Gruden looking at a fellow analyst to join him in the front office.
32) Arizona Cardinals (3-13)
Last Week Ranking: 32
Last Game: lost to Seattle 27-24
2019 Draft position: 1st
The Cardinals tell Steve Wilkes this season will be a rebuilding year, give him nothing to work with, and then fire him after one season. This is why teams like Arizona stink year after year.