It took a 24-year-old, sixth-round NFL Draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh to unite us, if only for a brief moment in time.

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin's collapse and cardiac arrest on the field last Monday night not only caused Paycor Stadium spectators to grow silent, but also for the fans, league and, in many ways, the country to bond - if only for a moment. The tribalism of sport is often watered down to "you're rooting for laundry," but Hamlin's health scare proved once again that sports fanatics, an elongated form of the word fan, can embrace humanity, the human element, over victory or defeat. 

We now know the Bills-Bengals Week 17 matchup will not resume, but some believe the game should be an afterthought despite the impact it has on AFC playoff seeding and where postseason games are played.

This thought is, at times, considered selfish and shallow and is where we as a species often fight ourselves when trying to embrace two concurrent choices while grieving:

1) You can keep Damar in your thoughts and prayers, donate to his charity and root for his recovery and well-being.

2) We, as fans of sport, can also march forward and enjoy what is next in our lives.

After speaking with the team chaplain, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor shared this takeaway:

"You can prepare for a football game on Sunday and you can still support Damar and support those who know (sic) him and are dealing with some emotional stuff during this time, so those resources are available and our guys know that," Taylor told the media Wednesday.

So, like Taylor's Bengals and Sean McDermott's Bills, we'll grab our proverbial lunch pails and find a way to navigate the week's business, while also remembering the night the NFL stood still.

Note: these Week 18 power rankings are based on performance versus expected performance (opponent average) over the past five weeks and are statistically based rankings versus subjective NFL power rankings you can find in every corner of the internet these days.

Also: Read Week 17 Power Rankings

Week 18 NFL Power Rankings




Philadelphia Eagles

After back-to-back losses, Jalen Hurts returned to practice as the Eagles look to lock up the NFC's No. 1 seed, a first-round bye and homefield advantage. Now it becomes a question of rust versus rest for Hurts should he be activated.


San Francisco 49ers

It's not how Kyle Shanahan drew it up during training camp, but the most disruptive defense blended with an above-average game manager leads me to believe they are the team to beat in the NFC.


Cincinnati Bengals

The natives are restless after learning the AFC North champs may play zero home playoff games if they lose to the Ravens Sunday.


Buffalo Bills

Heavy hearts heading into the postseason.


Detroit Lions

Nice story, but disagree with this power rankings assessment based on their Panthers game alone.


Kansas City Chiefs

Another loss to the Bengals combined with struggles against the Texans and Broncos make this Chiefs roster susceptible to an early playoff exit.


Los Angeles Chargers

This offense is firing on all cylinders, which helps pundits forget that Justin Herbert suffered a serious rib injury earlier in the season and fought through it.


Jacksonville Jaguars

Beat Lamar Jackson's Ravens and Dak Prescott's Cowboys in the second half of the season and are riding a four-game winning streak heading into a win-or-go-home Week 18 matchup for the AFC South crown.


Dallas Cowboys

The fear right now is that Dak Prescott's interception issues will cost them a deep run in the playoffs.


Pittsburgh Steelers

Exhibit A on if defense can truly win championships or if, ya know, Kenny Pickett and the offense can achieve something prior to the fourth quarter.


Carolina Panthers

Can you imagine what this franchise could be with a consistent offense?


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers have been outscored by 32 points this season, but a 4-1 NFC South and 8-3 NFC record is worthy of the postseason even if we have to hold our nose to accept it.


Green Bay Packers

The Packers have won four straight and Aaron Rodgers just needs to beat the Lions (again) to squirm his way into the playoffs.


New Orleans Saints

This franchise appears stuck in the doldrums until further notice.


Miami Dolphins

What started as an MVP campaign for their franchise quarterback has quickly turned into Mike Glennon as a possible emergency starter in a must-win game.


Seattle Seahawks

Ahead of schedule thanks to Geno Smith, but injuries continue to wreak havoc on this franchise and the defense requires an offseason upgrade.


New York Giants

Heading into Week 18, the G-Men's season-to-date point differential is zero.


Las Vegas Raiders

Despite Derek Carr's benching and likely relocation, Davante Adams says he wants to stick around, but also have say in the next Raiders QB.


Cleveland Browns

The Browns started the season 2-5. Four of those five losses were by a combined nine points. The what-if of this season is heavy on the minds of Cleveland fans. 


New England Patriots

In one of the most underwhelming seasons under Bill Belichick, the Patriots can still back their way into the playoffs.


Minnesota Vikings

They won the NFC North, but the pitchforks are out for Kirk Cousins and company should Skol fail to win at least one playoff game.


Washington Commanders

Ron Rivera missed on Carson Wentz, has seen enough of Taylor Heinicke and will start rookie Sam Howell Week 18.


New York Jets

Head coach Robert Saleh said early in the season that he's keeping receipts of those mocking the Jets rebuild.

Do Zach Wilson's critics possess the CVS version?


Arizona Cardinals

Satirical media outlet "The Onion" reports Kyler Murray is doing everything possible to get back on ... Xbox Live.


Baltimore Ravens





Los Angeles Rams

Hey, at least Cam Akers has shown progress over the last month of the season. Just don't be surprised to see Sean McVay in a broadcast booth next year.


Atlanta Falcons

We've learned 8 wins can earn you an NFC South title these days, but whether or not Desmond Ridder is the quarterback of the Falcons future remains uncertain.


Denver Broncos

They do not have a a full-time head coach or first-round draft pick due to the trade for Russell Wilson.


Houston Texans

Get ready for a lot of analysis and think-pieces surrounding Bryce Young's height and if he can truly help the Texans behind center.


Tennessee Titans

Without Ryan Tannehill active, this Titans roster is in shambles and yet can still qualify for the playoffs with a win over the Jaguars.


Indianapolis Colts

Matt Ryan wasn't the veteran band-aid they'd hope for and Sam Ehlinger isn't Andrew Luck 2.0. The Colts will focus on finding their next franchise quarterback this offseason.


Chicago Bears

Justin Fields, one of the league's most mobile quarterbacks, has been sacked a league-high 55 times this season. The Bears will focus on upgrading the o-line come draft time.