NFL Playoff Power Rankings: Jaguars, Chiefs, Giants, Eagles, Bengals, Bills, 49ers and Cowboys
What a Super Wild Card weekend it was, and this week the top seeds in the AFC and NFC kick off their playoff run with the conference championship at stake.
Just two more weekends remain before we know who will be playing in Arizona on Super Bowl Sunday. Both one seeds are still standings but the rest of the pack in the AFC and NFC will be looking to knock off the top dogs in the conference. Before we look ahead to the Division Round of playoff games, we rank the remaining teams left in this week’s Power Rankings.
1) Philadelphia Eagles, last week 1
The Eagles will have fresh legs and Jalen Hurts’ shoulder will be that much healthier after Philadelphia’s week off. That’s what happens when you are the top team in the conference, you get to rest, regroup and refocus on the path to the Super Bowl. The Giants await them on the other end of the first round bye, and New York is a team that they have already beaten twice before this season. The only concern that surrounds the Eagles in their game agains the Giants is the status of Jalen Hurts’ shoulder. He came back last week and there were some speed bumps that were evident after missing two weeks.
He is an MVP candidate and has been one of the most consistent QBs in the league with 22 passing TDs and 13 rushing TDs which ranks among the top running backs in the game. The Eagles defense has been rock solid, and even if they don’t have a complete game they have enough firepower on both ends of the ball to make it a third straight win over their division rivals.
2) Kansas City Chiefs, last week 3
The Chiefs, like the Eagles had the week off. They have been dealing with considerably less injuries so they could take the two weeks to fully recover and zero in on their game plan for this weekend. Their offense has been their key to success all season long, and if they want to continue their path to the Super Bowl it will be up to Patrick Mahomes and the passing game.
On one hand the Chiefs should have been pleasantly surprised when they saw the Jags make a 27 point comeback on the LA Chargers for a couple reasons. First of all, the Jags are not a team that is used to being in these situations. They are a young team with a tine amount of playoff experience on their squad. Second, they avoid a divisional rival in the Chargers who have given them fits ever since Justin Herbert came into the NFL. They beat the Chargers in both games this year, but in each of those wins they won by just a field goal. You never want to mess with destiny, but I think the Chiefs much prefer their Divisional Round match up against the Jags.
3) San Francisco 49ers, last week 4
With all do respect to the Eagles and the Chiefs, the Niners look like the best team in the league. If we are being honest, San Fran didn’t look good in the first half of their first round game against the Seattle Seahawks. Sure it was a divisional game against a familiar foe. Sure their rookie quarterback got his first taste of playoff football and looked rattled at times.
That was the first half. After the halftime break Purdy looked like a seasoned vet as the full arsenal of weapons at Kyle Shanahan’s disposal started to fire on all cylinders. Christian McCaffery carried the Niners though the first half hour, and once the Niners came out of the halftime break Purdy took the keys to the car and drove San Fran to the Divisional Round. San Francisco’s big question coming into the playoffs was is Brock Purdy ready for the big show? I think the 41 point, four touchdown game is enough to put those questions to rest.
4) Buffalo Bills, last week 2
Buffalo looked a little rattled in their Wild Card win over the Dolphins on Sunday afternoon. On paper it was a game you would have expected the Bills to win with ease. Buffalo had essentially everyone available and they were going up against a Miami team that was without their starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. They were even without their second string quarterback Teddy Bridgewater but Skylar Thompson and the Dolphins have their division rivals all they could handle.
Allen and the Bills started off well, but a couple of late interceptions in the first half gave the Fins a shot of life and they tied the game right before halftime. An Allen fumble that was taken back for a touchdown gave the Dolphins the lead, and the world waited for what would have been a historic disappointment from a team that has been expected to go to the Super Bowl all year. In the end Allen shook off his early mistakes and led the Bills past the Dolphins. It’s true this team has been riding an emotional roller coaster over the last few weeks, so the fact that they were able to overcome a difficult situation in a playoff game against a divisional rival (as short handed as they were) tells you this team is ready to over come anything make a run to Super Bowl Sunday.
5) Dallas Cowboys, last week 7
Just about everything from the Cowboys Wild Card round win over the Bucs would bring a smile to the face of Jerry Jones and Cowboys nation. The Cowboys loss to the Commanders in Week 18 was concerning for a couple of reasons. First of all they needed that game to have an outside chance of getting a 1 seed in the NFC, and they came up flat. Second of all, Dak Prescott sounded the panic alarms completing half of his throws while tossing an interception and giving up a fumble in a game the Cowboys scored just six points.
Dallas painted a much different picture in the opening round of the playoffs. Despite their troublesome finish to the regular season, the chips fell in place to set up a matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that every team in the NFC would have picked if they had their choice of a first round opponent. Prescott calmed the Cowboys fans nerves by throwing for four touchdowns and running in another one. The defense put a strangle hold around Tom Brady and the Bucs and the Cowboys were up three scores at halftime on a team that has struggled to score all season. If there is one thing that may cause concern for the Boys, it’s Brett Maher and the kicking game. He missed four straight extra points, and raising questions about the Cowboys ability to win games if it comes down to a late game field goal.
6) Cincinnati Bengals, last week 5
It’s crazy how similar the Bengals the Bills games were. Both were heavy favorites. Both were going up against teams that didn’t have their starting quarterback. And both barley snuck by to survive another week in the playoffs. Cincy started off the game in perfect fashion. They scored a field goal on their first drive, intercepted the Ravens on the next possession and added a touchdown to their lead in the blink of an eye. After going up 9-0 they were exposed by Baltimore at times. The under handed Ravens ran all over the Bengals defense and even had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter, against all odds.
It wasn’t until a Ravens 3rd and Goal from the 1 yard line that the Bengals took charge. Tyler Huntley had his QB leap knocked out of his hands and Sam Hubbard took it into the end zone for the 98 yard scoop and score. If it wasn’t for the massive defensive play who knows how this game would have ended up because the Bengals offense seemed to shut down in the second half, as we have seen from time to time this season. Both them and the Bills barley survived their first round match ups, but they are set to square off in a mouth watering matchup this weekend.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars, last week 10
I must admit, I quit on the Jacksonville Jaguars. After Trevor Lawrence threw four first half interceptions and the Chargers went up 27-0, I figured their was no way the Jaguars could get back into the game and I turned the TV off. Shame on me. You never quit on destiny. If Jacksonville has shown us anything this season, it’s that they are this year’s team of destiny. How else would you explain them starting the season 3-7 and not only making the playoffs but winning their division?
Trevor Lawrence and the Jags may be young and inexperienced, but that may be their biggest ally when then go into Arrowhead Stadium this weekend. These guys aren’t supposed to be here. They certainly aren’t expected to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs, so why not go into KC guns blazing, with nothing to lose. Trevor Lawrence had thrown 15 TDs and just two interceptions in his last nine regular season games. He threw four on Saturday night. Not many teams get a second chance in the playoffs and not many quarterbacks throw for four interceptions and still move on to the next round of the postseason. But here they are, against all odds and you can bet that they are going to give the Chiefs all they can handle.
8) New York Giants, last week 11
You could see the down fall of the Vikings coming from a mile away. If you had been paying attention to our Power Rankings all year, then you know we weren’t too convinced with Kevin O’Connell’s side. They had the easiest schedule in the league for the first two thirds of the season, and as the season came down to the wire their weakness started to show. Daniel Jones and the Giants were waiting to pounce in the opening weekend of the playoffs. Finally, Jones looked like the quarterback New York has been waiting to see since they drafted him four years ago.
He saved his best performance for the biggest game of the season, going for 301 yards and two touchdowns in the air, and seemed to pick up every big first down the Giants needed late in the game with his legs as he ran for a team high 78 yards. There was a certain belief that this team could win any game they were in at the beginning of the season. That sensation has faded over the final portion of the season, but if Brian Daboll’s offense looks like they did against the Vikings this weekend, Philly had better be ready.