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NFL Power Rankings: Final 2018-19 Regular-Season Review and Standings

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2018

ARCHIVO - En esta foto del 17 de diciembre de 2018, Drew Brees, quarterback de los Saints de Nueva Orleans, busca enviar un pase en el duelo ante los Panthers de Carolina (AP Foto/Jason E. Miczek, archivo)
Jason E. Miczek/Associated Press

The 2018 NFL regular season wrapped up Sunday, and a fortunate combination of results means the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles have a chance to defend their title.

Philadelphia leaped above the Minnesota Vikings for the final wild-card slot in the NFC. The Eagles secured the only NFC playoff berth up for grabs, but the other side of the league was a whole lot busier.

The AFC finally has answers for both first-round byesincluding home-field advantageand both wild-card slots. And a perennial postseason contender didn't even manage a wild card.

In addition to the final regular-season standings and a power ranking, we've highlighted some of the biggest stories in 2018.

          

Final 2018 AFC Standings

Elise Amendola/Associated Press
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East

1. New England Patriots (11-5)
2. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
3. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
4. New York Jets (4-12)

North

1. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1)
3. Cleveland Browns (7-8-1)
4. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10)

South

1. Houston Texans (11-5)
2. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
3. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)

West

1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
2. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)
3. Denver Broncos (6-10)
4. Oakland Raiders (4-12)

         

Final 2018 NFC Standings

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 09:  Amari Cooper #19 of the Dallas Cowboys makes a pass reception against Corey Graham #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on December 09, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

East

1. Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
2. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
3. Washington (7-9)
4. New York Giants (5-11)

North

1. Chicago Bears (12-4)
2. Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1)
3. Green Bay Packers (6-9-1)
4. Detroit Lions (6-10)

South

1. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
2. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
3. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)

West

1. Los Angeles Rams (13-3)
2. Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
3. San Francisco 49ers (4-12)
4. Arizona Cardinals (3-13)

       

2018 Regular-Season Power Rankings

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

1. New Orleans Saints
2. Los Angeles Rams
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Chicago Bears
5. Baltimore Ravens
6. Los Angeles Chargers
7. New England Patriots
8. Houston Texans
9. Seattle Seahawks
10. Indianapolis Colts
11. Dallas Cowboys
12. Philadelphia Eagles
13. Tennessee Titans
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
16. Cleveland Browns
17. Washington
18. Green Bay Packers
19. Atlanta Falcons
20. Miami Dolphins
21. Denver Broncos
22. Carolina Panthers
23. Cincinnati Bengals
24. Buffalo Bills
25. New York Giants
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
27. Detroit Lions
28. Oakland Raiders
29. San Francisco 49ers
30. Jacksonville Jaguars
31. New York Jets
32. Arizona Cardinals

       

Biggest Breakouts

Ed Zurga/Associated Press

Nothing was more stunning than Patrick Mahomes' rise.

The Chiefs finished with a winning record in all five seasons with Alex Smith at quarterback, and they reached the playoffs four times. However, the franchise had zero AFC Championship Game appearances to show for that, and Kansas City shipped him to Washington in favor of Mahomes.

And the second-year quarterback shined. He guided the Chiefs to a 12-4 record while throwing for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns.

Close behind was the Bears' ascent from last place in the NFC North to the division crown. Chicago's tremendous defense carried the team, which dealt with an inconsistent offenseyet one that was much improved with head coach Matt Nagy.

The Colts trudged to a 4-12 record last season and opened the year 1-5. 2018 seemed to be a rebuilding year, but a healthy Andrew Luck helped Indianapolis rip off nine victories over the next 10 games for a wild-card berth.

Fellow AFC South squad Houston recovered from an injury-wrecked year, too. The Texans dropped eight of nine games in 2017 after Deshaun Watson's ACL tear, but they went 11-5 this year.

For good measure, the Browns left a 0-16 campaign in the rear-view mirror after firing Hue Jackson following a 2-5-1 start. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield helped Cleveland post a 7-8-1 record, earning the franchise's most wins since 2014.

         

Disappointments

Michael Perez/Associated Press

No Le'Veon Bell, no prob-wait. Problem.

The Steelers enjoyed a 7-2-1 start to the campaign and appeared a lock for the postseason. Four losses over the next six contests, however, dropped Pittsburgh out of the AFC North lead and the wild-card race. The franchise's four-year playoff streak is over.

Although the Jaguars narrowly missed the Super Bowl last season, their overwhelming defense atoned for a mediocre offense. They could do it again, right? Uh, wrong. The defense wasn't elite, and the Blake Bortles era is likely over.

Expected playoff contenders in the Packers, Panthers and Falcons all flopped, failing to even post a .500 winning percentage.

The Mike McCarthy era ended as Green Bay stumbled to one road victory all season. Carolina collapsed after a 6-2 start, losing seven straight games before a Week 17 win. Atlanta dealt with a bunch of injuries to key players and consistently struggled on one side of the ball, never managing a long stretch of consistency.

With a caveat, the 49ers fit the category. Losing a potential star in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo during the opening month prevented the potential of a breakout year, though.

Oh, and the Raiders stunk in Jon Gruden's return to the sideline. We can't say it was surprising, but a whole lot of team-driven hype went completely unwarranted.

         

Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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