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Week 18 NFL Power Rankings: Browns and Packers gain ground, along with valuable insights from each team

Like all of you, the Power Rankings are trying to sort through this NFL year as we head into the final week of the regular season. Nine playoff spots have been secured by the Ravens, Dolphins, Chiefs, Browns, 49ers, Cowboys, Lions, Eagles, and Rams. This leaves five more spots to be decided by the results of Week 18.

Before that, we’re going to try to take a lesson from each team’s season, even those seasons that are basically over.

1. Baltimore Ravens (13-3)
(Last week: 1)
Sunday: Beat Miami Dolphins 56-19
The lesson: Hire great assistants
John Harbaugh’s Ravens hit back-to-back home runs by hiring defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald in 2022 and offensive coordinator Todd Monken in 2023. His team clinched the AFC’s top seed by thumping the Dolphins on Sunday.

Up next: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET

2. San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
(Last week: 2)
Sunday: Beat Washington Commanders 27-10
The lesson: Star power matters
The 49ers have made a quarterback nobody else in the league wanted look like a superstar by surrounding him with stars. On Sunday, San Francisco became the first team in league history to have a running back (Christian McCaffrey), two wide receivers (Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk) and a tight end (George Kittle) all surpass 1,000 yards in a single season.

Up next: vs. Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

3. Cleveland Browns (11-5)
(Last week: 8)
Thursday: Beat New York Jets 37-20
The lesson: They didn’t even need Deshaun Watson
The Browns would be one of the feel-good stories in the league this year if not for the fact that they still have a scar from their pursuit of Watson, and it looks like it was a misguided self-inflicted wound.

Up next: at Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

… and so on.

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