Splash’s NFL Power Rankings: Divisional Roundby Ryan Potts January 25, 2022 1 comment
Welcome back to the futile exercise of ranking NFL teams. As always, these Power Rankings will be updated weekly, so be sure to watch out as teams move up and down. If teams continue to win, they will rise. If teams continue to lose, they will fall. Similarly, a loss does not necessarily equate to a team being ranked lower than their opponent. Upsets in the NFL do happen, so trends will usually be needed for a team to drop many slots.
Numbers in parentheses refer to last week’s rankings.
Note that this ranking only includes the eight teams who made the divisional round.
No.8: Tennessee Titans (-1)
Even with the return of Derrick Henry, the Titans could not overcome a trio of Ryan Tannehill interceptions. The defensive line came to play with Jeffery Simmons finishing three sacks and the unit as a whole recording nine, but Tannehill’s last interception unraveled any hope for the Tennessee. It will be a long offseason in Nashville, and there are rumblings Tannehill might not be the starter entering Week 1. The Titans are still the cream of the AFC South, but this loss leaves a sour taste.
No.7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1)
Inexplicably, the Buccaneers reversed a 24-point deficit, but their defense folded as soon as the offense tied the game. Antoine Winfield had a spectacular season and a spectacular game, but it only took one play for his season (and the Bucs’) to come to a screeching halt. Tom Brady’s future is unclear, and he may have played his last NFL game. With Chris Godwin likely gone in free agency and Antonio Brown already released, the Buccaneers have more questions than answers.
No.6: Buffalo Bills (-2)
Josh Allen had the greatest performance in a playoff game ever, and then he nearly did it again. However, the Bills lost the coin toss in overtime and fell in short order. For the offense, stocks have never been higher. Allen is unquestionably in the elite tier of quarterbacks. Gabriel Davis and Stefon Diggs are a top receiver duo. Devin Singletary and Dawson Knox had productive postseasons. However, the defense will have a long summer after allowing 42 points, 30 first downs, 552 yards, and 370 passing yards. All of those marks were season highs. In the regular season, the Bills ranked first in fewest allowed in all four of those stats.
No.5: Green Bay Packers (-4)
The Packers’ defense had one of their best games of the season, allowing six points and just 212 yards. However, Aaron Rodgers picked an awful time to not play like an MVP. The offense managed just 10 points and 263 yards, both marking the second-lowest by a Rodgers-led team in 2021. The special teams unit also collapsed, surrendering a pair of blocked kicks. The second block resulted in a touchdown. Ironically, the season came down to a Jaire Alexander tackle. Alexander missed the tackle, Deebo Samuel gained the first down, and the Packers will be watching the NFC title game on their couches.
No.4: San Francisco 49ers (+4)
Nick Bosa continues to demolish everyone in his path during the playoffs. Fred Warner had a sensational game. Robbie Gould remained perfect in his playoff career. The offense sputtered to just 212 yards, but a nine-yard run on a third-and-seven put the 49ers in a winning spot. Gould nailed the 45-yard field goal and sent San Francisco to (what they hope will be) the first of back-to-back games at SoFi Stadium. Believe it or not, this is the 49ers’ fifth consecutive playoff appearance in which they have made the NFC title game.
No.3: Los Angeles Rams (+2)
The Rams will become the rare four seed to host a conference title game, the first since the 2008 playoffs. Matthew Stafford responded in the biggest game of his life, playing turnover-free football. Cooper Kupp went ballistic once again for 180 yards, a touchdown, and one of the biggest plays in NFL history. Since Pro Football Reference began tracking play-by-play data in 2001, no play in the last minute of a playoff game had ever gone for as many yards as Kupp’s 44-yard dagger through the hearts of the Buccaneers.
Cam Akers will need to fix his fumbling woes, but the rest of the team is poised for their second Super Bowl appearance in four years. In particular, Von Miller and Aaron Donald appear to be dialed in. Miller had 10 pressures against Tampa Bay, the most by any player in a playoff game so far. Not to be outdone, Donald finished with eight pressures, the second-most by anyone in the playoffs. Leonard Floyd and Greg Gaines were also great against a depleted Buccaneers line, contributing to uncharacteristic poor play from Brady.
No.2: Kansas City Chiefs (+1)
In any given year, records are broken. However, the Chiefs set an unfathomable record on Sunday night. They had the fastest game-tying drive (beginning inside their 25) since Pro Football Reference’s database began. No team, regular season or playoffs, has done what the Chiefs did in traversing over 40 yards in just 13 seconds. It took a coin toss to help out, but Patrick Mahomes cemented his place in any all-time list one can create. In just four years as a starter, Mahomes has a historically relevant resume, and he is two wins away from a second Super Bowl.
No.1: Cincinnati Bengals (+1)
The Bengals’ defense and special teams stepped up as soon as Joe Burrow had the slightest flinch. Burrow was still solid, and Ja’Marr Chase was spectacular once again, but the other facets of the team stole the win from the Titans. Burrow is playing as well as any quarterback, and the other units are finding their groove. Trey Hendrickson and Jessie Bates are flashing, and Logan Wilson is well on his way to being a top-10 linebacker. Evan McPherson has been a stone-cold killer in the playoffs, drilling all eight of his kicks. The Bengals are a win away from their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1988-1989 season.
Follow Ryan Potts on Twitter @MrSplashMan19
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