2021 NFL power rankings: Final regular season edition

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 09: Head Coach Joe Judge of the New York Giants leaves the field after being defeated by the Washington Football Team 22-7 at MetLife Stadium on January 09, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The quest for the 56th Lombardi Trophy begins next week. Here are the final NFL Power Rankings for the biggest season in NFL history.

For the first time since 1993, there was an 18-week season in the National Football League. For the first time ever, every one of the 32 clubs played 17 regular-season contests. And the 14-team playoff field wasn’t completely set until the Chargers and Raiders were finally finished Sunday night at Las Vegas.

Three teams that finished last in the respective divisions a year ago are headed to the playoffs. And there were three overtime games on Sunday. All of that personifies what has been a wild 2021.


New York Giants 4-13

Last week: L, 22-7 vs WAS
Last rank: 31st

Since reaching the playoffs as a wild card in 2016 within an 11-5 record, the Giants have dropped at least 10 games each of these last five seasons. The team took a five-game losing streak into their rematch with the Washington Football Team and came up flat.

Big Blue managed only 177 yards of total offense. Quarterback Jake Fromm was sacked three times and picked off twice, one for a score. And New York defenders surrendered 226 yards rushing.


Carolina Panthers 5-12

Last week: L, 41-17 at TB
Last rank: 29th

The Panthers looked to avoid a second loss to the Buccaneers in three weeks. Matt Rhule’s team jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter and was more than competitive throughout the game. Early in the fourth quarter, Sam Darnold connected with Robby Anderson for a 19-year score to narrow the gap to 24-17.

But the Bucs came up with 17 unanswered points in the final seven-plus minutes. And make it seven straight losses for the Panthers.


Jacksonville Jaguars 3-14

Last week: W, 26-11 vs IND
Last rank: 32nd

Regardless of who the quarterback or head coach has been in the last decade or so, the Jaguars have given the Indianapolis Colts fits. And on Sunday, they provided a knockout punch to their AFC South rivals playoff hopes.

Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence was sharp, hitting on 23 of his 32 throws for 223 yards and a pair of scores. And a Jacksonville team that totaled only seven takeaways in their first 16 games turned over Carson Wentz twice.


Detroit Lions 3-13-1

Last week: W, 37-30 vs GB
Last rank: 30th

It’s another last-place finish for the club. But Dan Campbell’s squad did go out on a winning note against the rival Packers. Jared Goff threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions came up with three takeaways, picking off Jordan Love twice.

Aaron Glenn’s defensive unit came up with four sacks, three of those at the expense of Aaron Rodgers. This club proved to be pretty feisty throughout the year and will have the second pick in April’s draft.

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