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Week 17 NFL power rankings and draft/playoff scenarios

Plenty can go down this final week of the season.

We are officially into the final week of the 2018 NFL season. The San Francisco 49ers dropped a close one to the Chicago Bears to fall to 4-11, as they prepare to wrap things up with a visit to face the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are fighting for a first round bye, so they have plenty to play for this weekend.

We’re back with our Week 17 NFL power rankings. There was some change in the middle, but the top and bottom of the rankings are fairly similar. With that in mind, I thought we’d use these power rankings as a bit of a Week 17 preview of both playoff implications and draft order.

2019 NFL Draft order

The 49ers currently hold the No. 2 pick, with a half game edge on the Jets in the strength of schedule tiebreaker. If they both lose on Sunday against the Rams and Patriots, respectively, the 49ers will be rooting for two of the following:

Cowboys over Giants
Falcons over Buccaneers
Browns over Ravens
Broncos over Chargers

Those are the four games that will swing SOS, with the Jets needing three of the four reverse results (NYG over DAL, TB over ATL, etc). Dallas is locked into their No. 4 seed, so they might decide to rest some starters. Neither the Falcons or Bucs have anything to play for, so we’ll see who is resting starters. The Ravens need a win or Steelers loss to clinch the AFC North, but the Browns are rolling and would likely love to knock the former Browns out of the top of the division. Finally, the Chargers have a shot at the AFC West with a win and a Chiefs loss, so they will be playing all out.

There is of course one other possibility if the 49ers lose. If the Cardinals sprung an upset in Seattle this weekend, the 49ers would either move into the No. 1 spot, or be locked into the No. 2 spot depending on strength of schedule with the Jets.

And if the 49ers were to win? Then it gets complicated based on how the Jets and Raiders (also both 4-11) do, as well as the various 5-10 teams. If the Jets lose to the Patriots and the Raiders lose to the Chiefs, the 49ers drop at least to No. 4. Right now, Detroit is the 5-10 team that would potentially leap the 49ers, with both teams holding a .504 strength of schedule. The Buccaneers have a .521 SOS, so there is some wiggle room there.

2019 NFL playoffs

We know all but two of the 12 playoff teams, but there is still plenty of positioning to sort out. The Vikings hold the second NFC wild card berth at 8-6-1, a half game up on the 8-7 Eagles. The Vikings host the Bears while the Eagles travel to Washington. If the Bears win and the Rams lose to the 49ers, the Bears claim the No. 2 seed. If the Rams win, the Bears are the No. 3 seed. Bears head coach Matt Nagy said earlier this week that if the Rams are blowing out the 49ers at halftime, the Bears would consider resting players in the second half.

In the AFC, the 9-6 Titans host the 9-6 Colts on Sunday Night Football with the winner claiming the second wild card berth and the loser headed home for the offseason. Meanwhile, the Chiefs need a win or losses by the Patriots and Chargers to claim the No. 1 seed in the AFC West. If the Chiefs lose to the Raiders, that opens the door for the Chargers to claim the AFC West AND the No. 1 seed with a win over the Broncos. I doubt the Raiders or Broncos win, but it could be a fascinating Sunday in the AFC.

Week 17 NFL power rankings

Rank Team LW
Rank Team LW
1 New Orleans Saints (13-2) 1
2 Los Angeles Rams (12-3) 4
3 Chicago Bears (11-4) 3
4 Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) 2
5 New England Patriots (10-5) 7
6 Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) 5
7 Houston Texans (10-5) 6
8 Baltimore Ravens (9-6) 11
9 Seattle Seahawks (9-6) 12
10 Dallas Cowboys (9-6) 13
11 Indianapolis Colts (9-6) 8
12 Tennessee Titans (9-6) 9
13 Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1) 10
14 Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1) 14
15 Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) 15
16 Cleveland Browns (7-7-1) 16
17 Miami Dolphins (7-8) 17
18 Green Bay Packers (6-8-1) 20
19 Atlanta Falcons (6-9) 27
20 Carolina Panthers (6-9) 18
21 Denver Broncos (6-9) 19
22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-10) 21
23 Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) 23
24 Washington (7-8) 24
25 Detroit Lions (5-10) 22
26 New York Giants (5-10) 25
27 San Francisco 49ers (4-11) 28
28 Buffalo Bills (5-10) 26
29 New York Jets (4-11) 29
30 Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) 30
31 Oakland Raiders (4-11) 31
32 Arizona Cardinals (3-12) 32