2017 NFL Power Rankings: End-of-Season Edition
The 2017 regular season is in the books, and while it featured lowlights like a parade of high-profile injuries and off-field controversies, it had its good stories, as well.
Chief among them were the surprise teams that helped to define the season and give the playoff field a different look than we would have expected in August. Playoff turnover was atypically high as eight teams that did not make last season's playoffs are in this season, including seven that finished in third or fourth in their division in 2016.
The biggest of these surprises are the division champion Jaguars and Rams, who combined to win just seven games last season. Before the season, the Jaguars ranked 26th in our power ratings, and the Rams were second-to-last, ahead of only the Cleveland Browns.
The two clubs now rank second and seventh, respectively, meaning both teams moved up 24 slots from where they were expected to finish prior to Week 1. This is by far the biggest climb in the league -- the Los Angeles Chargers had the next-biggest gain from the preseason, moving up 15 slots from 20th to 5th (though another year of subpar performance in close games meant it was still not enough for a playoff berth).
The list of new playoff teams also includes a trio of teams who our model did see coming, despite a less-than-stellar in 2016. The Eagles top the rankings after being projected to finish ninth in the preseason, even though they went just 7-9 last year. We had the Vikings (who are currently third) in the fifth slot initially and the number-four Saints pegged to finish sixth in the league.
Carolina moved up from 19th to 9th thanks to a better-than-expected performance on both sides of the ball, while our numbers were and remain relatively low on Tennessee (preseason 27th, current 22nd) and Buffalo (preseason 16th, current 27th). Both squads faced weak schedules and needed to overachieve in close games to reach nine wins, especially Buffalo, who was out-scored by 57 points this year.
On the other side, the Giants were the team that missed their preseason mark by the most, finishing 17 slots lower than their initial ranking of 11th.
Here's how the league breaks down after 17 weeks, with a closer look at the biggest overachievers and underachievers of each subgroup, relative to our preseason rankings.