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NFL Power Rankings, Week 18: New year, same dilemma for Rams

Rams roster will require strategy change and further development

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams entered the 2022 season with high hopes to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. That quest was quickly derailed because of injuries and complimentary pieces not performing up to expectations. As the Rams enter the final week of the season, they still have roster building problems and personnel groupings to address in order to return to the playoffs. Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers highlighted how even though it’s 2023 and the Rams are not at rock bottom anymore, they still have not completely solved their current situation. Here are where the Rams land in the Week 18 power rankings.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (Change: +1)

Had the Monday Night Football game been completed and the Bengals won, I probably would have given Cincinnati the top spot. However, Andy Reid’s squad is 13-3 and that cannot be ignored. They haven’t been sharp the last four weeks but even when Mahomes isn’t on fire, he is still the best player in the NFL.

Result: Won 27-24 vs. Broncos

2. Philadelphia Eagles (Change: -1)

Philadelphia may be regretting “resting” Jalen Hurts shoulder. The Eagles are fortunate that the Giants cannot move up in playoff seeding and won’t have anything to play for in Week 18, giving PHI an easier path to securing the NFC’s #1 seed. Still, I’m not sure I like the Eagles chances of beating San Francisco in the playoffs.

Result: Loss 20-10 vs. Saints

3. Cincinnati Bengals (Change: N/A)

No recap. Pending the announcement of rescheduling game vs. Bills.

4. San Francisco 49ers (Change: N/A)

San Francisco is the NFL’s hottest team with nine straight wins. However, that win streak was put to the test @ Las Vegas. The Raiders forced the 49ers to play overtime in what should have been an easy win for Shanahan’s team. I’m sure the 49ers are intently watching if the Eagles will slip up in Week 18 so they can grab the NFC’s #1 seed.

Result: Won 37-34 (OT) @ Raiders

5. Buffalo Bills (Change: N/A)

No recap. Pending the announcement of rescheduling game @ Bengals.

6. Dallas Cowboys (Change: N/A)

Result: Won 27-13 @ Titans

7. Los Angeles Chargers (Change: +2)

The Chargers are getting healthy at the right time with Austin Ekeler and Mike Williams supporting Justin Herbert. The defense returned Joey Bosa. The only issue with Brandon Staley’s defense is their run defense. They can stop the pass, but defending the run in the playoffs will be crucial.

Result: Won 31-10 vs. Rams

8. Minnesota Vikings (Change: -1)

The Vikings may have run their course. Week 17’s loss to the Packers was a thrashing. The Vikings defense has surrendered 34, 36, 24, and 41 points in the last four games.

Result: Loss 41-17 @ Packers

9. Green Bay Packers (Change: +2)

Result: Won 41-17 vs. Vikings

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (Change: +2)

Result: Won 31-3 @ Texans

11. Baltimore Ravens (Change: -3)

Result: Loss 16-13 vs. Steelers

12. Detroit Lions (Change: +1)

Can Jared Goff win in the cold at Lambeau? And can his old team give him some help by beating the Seahawks?

Result: Won 41-10 vs. Bears

13. New York Giants (Change: +1)

Result: Won 38-10 vs. Colts

14. Miami Dolphins (Change: -4)

Result: Loss 23-21 @ Patriots

15. New Orleans Saints (Change: +3)

Result: Won 20-10 vs. Eagles

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Change: +5)

Is Tom Brady and Mike Evans Week 17 performance a sign of things to come or a one-week wonder? Either way, Dallas or Philadelphia will have to travel to Raymond James Stadium in the wild card round and knocking off Tom Brady will not be easy.

Result: Won 30-24 vs. Panthers

17. New England Patriots (Change: +5)

Result: Won 23-21 vs. Dolphins

18. Seattle Seahawks (Change: +2)

Result: Won 23-6 vs. Jets

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (Change: +6)

Result: Won 16-13 @ Ravens

20. New York Jets (Change: -5)

Result: Loss 23-6 @ Seahawks

21. Cleveland Browns (Change: +3)

Result: Won 24-10 @ Commanders

22. Washington Commanders (Change: -5)

How do you not make a quarterback change after the first half? Week 17 was a must-win and Taylor Heineke has more of the “IT” factor than Carson Wentz.

Result: Loss 24-10 vs. Browns

23. Carolina Panthers (Change: -4)

Result: Loss 30-24 @ Buccaneers

24. Tennessee Titans (Change: -8)

Result: Loss 27-13 vs. Cowboys

25. Los Angeles Rams (Change: -2)

The 2022 season has exposed the Rams draft misses in Rounds 2-4 over the last five years. Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen have been oft injured and inconsistent. John Franklin-Myers was released prematurely. Darrell Henderson, Bobby Evans, Terrell Lewis, and Terrell Burgess did not survive the length of their rookie contracts. Taylor Rapp and David Long Jr did not fit the Rams defensive scheme change. If the Rams want to change their course, finding athletic players and an emphasis on player development will be necessary. Otherwise, 2023 will be much like 2022.

Result: Loss 31-10 @ Chargers

26. Atlanta Falcons (Change: N/A)

Result: Won 20-19 vs. Cardinals

27. Las Vegas Raiders (Change: +1)

Result: Loss 37-34 (OT) vs. 49ers

28. Arizona Cardinals (Change: -1)

Result: Loss 20-19 @ Falcons

29. Chicago Bears (Change: N/A)

Result: Loss 41-10 @ Lions

30. Denver Broncos (Change: +2)

Result: Loss 27-24 @ Chiefs

31. Houston Texans (Change: -1)

Result: Loss 31-3 vs. Jaguars

32. Indianapolis Colts (Change: -1)

Result: Loss 38-10 @ Giants