NFC East: 2013 NFL Week 18 Power Rankings

Power Rankings: No. 31 Washington

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Redskins' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 10 | Last Week: 31 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Washington Redskins opened the season with a high ranking and realistic expectations of playoff success. They ended it one spot away from the bottom of the league and in need of a new coach.

It’s hard to argue with the No. 31 ranking for Washington in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings considering the Redskins had lost eight straight. The only thing that kept them from the bottom was a 14-game losing streak by Houston.

Then again, the only time it matters whether you’re 31 or 32 is when you’re drafting -- because, as you may recall from many years ago, the last spot is for the Super Bowl champion. In the rankings? It really doesn’t matter because 31 doesn’t exactly scream, "good season."

In all my years on the Redskins’ beat, this has to qualify as the most surprising when adding up the parties involved, the expectations, the collapse and the leaked stories. Anyone who was around the team this summer would not have foreseen such a mess. They looked good during the preseason, for whatever that’s worth. They practiced the same as the previous year when they were 10-6 and players such as Barry Cofield looked better.

Yes, Robert Griffin III’s knee was an issue, and he was not consistent in camp. But you figured that with more time practicing and playing he would improve. Instead, he remained inconsistent all season.

The foundation of the organization was not solid enough to prevent this sort of collapse. It led to Mike Shanahan’s firing on Monday.

Philadelphia ended the regular season ranked 11th; that was a surprise given the preseason expectations. The Cowboys were 17th, which sums up their last several years under coach Jason Garrett. ("Seinfeld" fans: The Cowboys are like Jerry; they’re Even Steven. If Jason Garrett found a $20 bill, it’s a lock he’d lose one later.) And the Giants were 23rd -- another surprise, but considering they were 0-6 at one point, their 7-3 finish wasn’t bad at all.

A weekly examination of the Eagles' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 25 | Last Week: 11 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Obviously, ESPN.com's six-person Power Rankings panel wrote “Eagles” next to the No. 11 in indelible marker. After being one of the most wildly vacillating teams in the NFL for much of the season, the Eagles have been at No. 11 for the final three weeks.

They were 11th after losing 48-30 in Minnesota. They were 11th after beating Chicago 54-11. And they’re 11th in the final poll after going to Dallas and earning the NFC East title with a 24-22 victory.

Is it a fair ranking? Seems a little low to my eyes. The Eagles went 7-1 in the second half of the season. They have the NFL’s leading rusher, top-rated passer and a defense that has given up more than 22 points just once in 11 games. Yet they are two spots below an Arizona team that (A) didn’t make the playoffs and (B) lost to the Eagles on Dec. 1.

They’re also five spots below New Orleans, the team they host in a first-round playoff game Saturday night.

Power Rankings: No. 23 New York Giants

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
12:30
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Giants' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 12 | Last week: 24 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Giants finish the season ranked 23rd in our weekly poll, better than only nine teams in the league in the eyes of our six-member panel. Which isn't out of line, since there are only nine teams in the league that finished with worse records than they did and their wins are easily downgraded by external factors. (They were the only team that got to play the Josh Freeman Vikings, for example, or the Matt Barkley Eagles.) You can argue their position relative to the other three 7-9 teams if you like. I had them ahead of the Titans but behind the Lions and Rams and ranked them 23rd overall. But it's all splitting hairs.

Ashley Fox was the highest on the Giants, ranking them 19th on her final ballot. John Clayton and I put them at 23, and the other three voters ranked them No. 22.

Mike Sando, Jamison Hensley and I will do one final live "Spreecast" chat to break down the entire final Power Rankings poll at 1:30 p.m. ET today. Just click on these little blue letters right here and come ask us a question.

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