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NFL Power Rankings Week 18: Titans, Bengals, Cardinals trend up

The Titans are back in the top five after routing the Dolphins while the Cardinals made it back into Locked On's top 10 after a huge win in Dallas.

LOS ANGELES — Week 17 did not disappoint in the NFL as it provided some critical matchups ahead of the final week and the playoffs.

The Bengals came up with a huge upset win over the Chiefs to secure the AFC North while the Raiders kept their playoff hopes alive with a surprising upset win over the Colts. 

The Arizona Cardinals finally ended their losing streak with an upset win in Dallas to keep their hopes for the NFC West crown alive while the division-leading Rams avoided disaster in Baltimore with a comeback win.

Surely this is all pointing to major fireworks in the playoffs in both conferences.

This year, the Locked On Podcast Network and TEGNA sports departments have teamed up to vote weekly to rank all 32 NFL teams in our Locked On/TEGNA NFL Power Rankings. 

Our local Locked On NFL hosts and TEGNA sports journalists ranked their 1-32 power rankings and the voting averages created the official power rankings.

Let's get on to the rankings.

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1. Green Bay Packers

Ranking last week: 1
Last week result: 37-10 win over Vikings
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 1/2

The Packers dominated the Vikings, as expected as they were without Kirk Cousins. Aaron Rodgers may have locked up his case for a second-straight NFL MVP award and the Davante Adams connection is better than ever. Green Bay is also expected to get some key players back just before the playoffs. There's a reason they're Super Bowl favorites. 

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2. Los Angeles Rams

Ranking last week: 3
Last week result: 20-19 win over 
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 2/6

The Rams avoided disaster in Baltimore against a Lamar Jackson-less Ravens team but a win is a win. That's been the theme for the Rams over the past couple of weeks as Matthew Stafford has been sloppy with the ball. That is until the fourth quarter, where he boasts the best pass rating of any QB in the NFL. Finding a way to get it done is what it's all about and why the Rams find themselves at 2.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Ranking last week: 4
Last week result: 28-24 win over Jets
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 2/6

Another team that dealt with near disaster was the Bucs as they were at one point down two touchdowns to the lowly New York Jets. Then Antonio Brown did that thing. Then Tom Brady did his thing as the Bucs came back to win. With Brown's exit and the Godwin and Fournette injuries, you have to wonder if the Bucs are going to be able to sustain a lengthy playoff run. But 12 wins are 12 wins, so here they are at No. 3.

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4. Tennessee Titans

Ranking last week: 8
Last week result: 34-3 win over Dolphins
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 2/9

Maybe it was a bit disrespectful having the Titans at No. 8 last week, behind the Bills and Colts. But the voters learned their lesson when the Titans ended Miami's seven-game win streak in an absolutely dominating performance 34-3. The Titans are puzzling. They've suffered as many injuries as anyone yet here they are with a chance to lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC next week. AND, they'll have Derrick Henry back for the playoffs.  

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5. Kansas City Chiefs

Ranking last week: 2
Last week result: 34-31 loss to Bengals
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 3/7

The Chiefs had their eight-game win streak snapped on Sunday in Cincinnati despite holding a two touchdown lead at one point in the game. Joe Burrow went for over 400 yards again and Ja'Marr Chase went off with over 200 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The Bengals prevented the Chiefs from getting a chance to get the ball back at the end of the game and it was history. Only three points for KC in the second half. But maybe it was some adversity they needed before the playoffs after enjoying so much success.

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6. Buffalo Bills

Ranking last week: 7
Last week result: 29-15 win over Falcons
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 3/9

The Bills didn't look great in the first half but they pulled it together in the second for a two-touchdown win over the Falcons. Buffalo is now 10-6 on the year and they've won three-straight. A win on Sunday against the Jets wins them the AFC East, which was the Patriots' to lose just a few weeks ago.

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7. Cincinnati Bengals

Ranking last week: 10
Last week result: 34-31 win over Chiefs
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 3/10

With their win over the Chiefs, Bengals proved they mean business and that they're going to be a dangerous team in the playoffs. With an offense capable of what they've done the last two weeks against the Ravens and Chiefs, the Bengals could pull one over on anyone. This is a team that had the No. 1 pick in 2020. They're up three spots this week to seven, jumping the Patriots, Colts and Cowboys.

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8. Arizona Cardinals

Ranking last week: 11
Last week result: 25-22 win over Cowboys
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 6/11

For the first time since the first half of the season, the Arizona Cardinals were bounced out of our top 10 last week following their third-straight loss. But, they resurrected hope on Sunday when they went into Dallas and defeated the Cowboys. The Cardinals were without James Conner, Rondale Moore and of course DeAndre Hopkins. They should get Conner and Moore back at least for the start of the playoffs. But first, they need to beat the Seahawks and need the Rams to lose to the 49ers in order to get the NFC West crown.

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9. Dallas Cowboys

Ranking last week: 5
Last week result: 25-22 loss to Cardinals
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 6/11

The Dallas Cowboys have proven they can beat up on mediocre teams but then came Week 17 against a struggling Cardinals team. At home, the Cowboys couldn't get their high-powered offense on track, a concerning display ahead of the playoffs. They've already got the NFC East, so they didn't lose much but they'll likely miss out on a 2 or 3 seed in the NFC. They drop four spots due to the Cardinals, Bills, Bengals and Titans all jumping them.

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10. New England Patriots

Ranking last week: 9
Last week result: 50-10 win over Jaguars
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 7/12

Well Patriots fans won't be happy here. It's not every week you put up 50 points and drop a spot in the rankings but the consensus shows voters ultimately had to jump the 11-5 Arizona Cardinals over the 10-6 Patriots after Arizona beat the Cowboys despite New England's lopsided win over the heavily flawed Jaguars. Either way it was a good tune up for the Patriots after a two-game losing streak. They need the Jets to beat the Bills and they need to beat the Dolphins next week in order to win the division.

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11. Indianapolis Colts

Ranking last week: 6
Last week result: 23-20 loss to Raiders
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 8/14

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12. Los Angeles Chargers

Ranking last week: 12
Last week result: 34-13 win over Broncos
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 8/15

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13. San Francisco 49ers

Ranking last week: 13
Last week result: 23-7 win over Texans
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 9/15

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14. Las Vegas Raiders

Ranking last week: 15
Last week result: 23-20 win over Colts
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 12/17

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15. Philadelphia Eagles

Ranking last week: 17
Last week result: 20-16 win over WFT
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 14/18

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16. Baltimore Ravens

Ranking last week: 14
Last week result: 20-19 loss to Rams
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 13/18

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17. Pittsburgh Steelers

Ranking last week: 20
Last week result: 26-14  win over Browns
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 15/21

SUBSCRIBE to the daily Locked On Steelers podcast, free and available on all platforms

18. New Orleans Saints

Ranking last week: 23
Last week result: 18-10 win over Panthers
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 16/23

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19. Miami Dolphins 

Ranking last week: 16
Last week result: 34-3 loss to Titans
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 17/23

SUBSCRIBE to the daily Locked On Dolphins podcast, free and available on all platforms

20. Minnesota Vikings

Ranking last week: 19
Last week result: 37-10 loss to Packers
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 16/23

SUBSCRIBE to the daily Locked On Vikings podcast, free and available on all platforms

21. Denver Broncos

Ranking last week: 21
Last week result: 34-13 loss to Chargers
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 18/24

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22. Cleveland Browns

Ranking last week: 18
Last week result: 26-14 loss to Steelers
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 18/25

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23. Atlanta Falcons

Ranking last week: 22
Last week result: 29-15 loss to Bills
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 21/26

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24. Chicago Bears

Ranking last week: 25
Last week result: 29-3 win over Giants
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 21/27

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25. Seattle Seahawks

Ranking last week: 26
Last week result: 51-29 win over Lions
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 22/26

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26. Washington Football Team 

Ranking last week: 24
Last week result: 20-16 loss to Eagles
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 22/28

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27. Carolina Panthers

Ranking last week: 27
Last week result: 18-10 loss to Saints
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 26/30

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28. New York Jets

Ranking last week: 28
Last week result: 28-24 loss to Bucs
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 26/30

SUBSCRIBE to the daily Locked On Jets podcast, free and available on all platforms

29. Houston Texans

Ranking last week: 29
Last week result: 23-7 loss to 49ers
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 28/31

SUBSCRIBE to the daily Locked On Texans podcast, free and available on all platforms

30. Detroit Lions

Ranking last week: 30
Last week result: 51-29 loss to Seahawks
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 28/31

SUBSCRIBE to the daily Locked On Lions podcast, free and available on all platforms

31. New York Giants

Ranking last week: 31
Last week result: 29-3 loss to Giants
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 30/32

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32. Jacksonville Jaguars

Ranking last week: 32
Last week result: 50-10 loss to Patriots
Highest/lowest vote in power rankings poll: 31/32

SUBSCRIBE to the daily Locked On Jaguars podcast, free and available on all platforms

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