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Devereaux’s NFL Power Rankings: Playoff Teams Only

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Half the league is officially eliminated from the NFL playoffs. So who cares what they are up to in the final weeks?

Playoff contenders are the only teams that matter from here on out. Seventeen teams are in the playoff hunt entering Week 16. Most of the NFC and AFC have four teams already clinched for the playoffs, but there are two spots, as well as seedings in each conference up for grabs.

  1. Baltimore Ravens (12-2): The Baltimore Ravens have been the best team in the league for much of the year. Led by likely MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have been the most fun team in recent history. With the way the offense has been playing, it is hard to see the Ravens being an early exit in this year’s playoffs.
  2. New Orlean Saints (11-3): The New Orlean Saints have clinched yet another division title, even though Drew Brees missed a third of the year with a hand injury. Even though the weakness of this Saints team is in its defense, the offense has enough firepower to be competitive in any playoff matchup.
  3. San Francisco 49ers (11-3): Losing last Sunday’s game to the Atlanta Falcons could drop San Francisco out of a top-two seed in the NFC. This 49ers team is the most well-rounded on both sides, but have the least experience of any playoff team. 
  4. Minnesota Vikings (10-4): The Minnesota Vikings are red-hot. Kirk Cousins has been one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the league this season, and now that star receiver Adam Thielen is back from a hamstring injury, the team’s playbook can now expand even further. What hurts for the Vikings is that star running back Dalvin Cook went down with another knee injury. Cook was leading the team in rushing and has been one of the better backs in the league.
  5. Seattle Seahawks (11-3): Seattle’s success is solely based on the play of Russell Wilson. If Wilson has a good game, the chances of the team winning skyrocket. This could be troublesome for the team entering the playoffs, where there are no slouches. The Seahawks could see a first-round bye and have home-field advantage through most of the playoffs if they win out Weeks 16 and 17. 
  6. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4): The Chiefs have won the AFC West for the third straight year. Their defense has been great against mediocre teams, and have shown that they can play when it matters most. With that being said, the playoffs are a time where defenses get exposed. Teams such as the Ravens and Texans are offensive-minded and put up a lot of yards. An early exit could happen to this team if they get an unfavorable matchup early.
  7. The New England Patriots (11-3): The New England Patriots are yet again in the playoffs but in unfamiliar territory. The offense is abysmal to watch, leading the league in dropped passes. There is no run game nor signs of receiving help and the Patriots’ best way of scoring a touchdown is through their defense. Even with the struggles they are having on offense, they are still the best-coached team and shouldn’t be written off for having a Super Bowl run.
  8. Buffalo Bills (10-4): This is the Bills’ first 10-win season since 1999. Led by the second-best defense, the Buffalo Bills have the potential to be the team that can upset one of the higher seeds. If the Bills beat the Patriots this Sunday and win Week 17, they will achieve their first division title since 1995, and also receive the second seed in the AFC Playoffs. The obvious weakness of this team is moving the ball consistently, but with the AFC being full of deplorable defenses, the Bills have the chance to see great things this coming playoff.
  9. Green Bay Packers (10-4): There are so many questions that haunt this Green Bay team going into the playoffs, especially on defense. The Packers have been very good when playing teams in their division, but have been folding against teams outside of it. If the Packers can’t stop the pass, it will be another disappointing year. Aaron Rodgers has not been great this year in terms of helping the team succeed. Rodgers has been his usual self by being accurate and turnover-free, but he has not stepped up like he has done in years past. This could be the start of a decline for Rodgers or it could be that Rodgers is relying too heavily on upcoming star running back Aaron Jones. 
  10. Houston Texans (9-5): The Texans are once again in control of the AFC South, despite being hot and cold all season. One week they show that they can be a top team in the NFL, but then the following week they’ll be irrelevant and show no signs of life. This could be because of head coach Bill O’Brien’s playcalling, and if the team sees an early exit in the playoffs, I would not be surprised if O’Brien’s job will be up for grabs. 
  11. Tennessee Titans (8-6): Losing Sunday against the Texans is a major setback for the surging Titans playoff hopes. With the loss, they are now outside of the playoff picture. The Titans need to win the next two games against the Saints and Texans to have a strong chance of making the playoffs. They also need the Steelers to lose a game or two.
  12. Dallas Cowboys (7-7): The Dallas Cowboys should have locked up the NFC East, but now they’re faced with not making the playoffs at all after a recent skid. A huge win against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday resulted in them regaining the NFC East after a few hours. The Cowboys have an important game Sunday against the division-rival Eagles. A win here would not result in a guaranteed playoff spot, but it would be beneficial should the two teams tied the division.
  13. Los Angeles Rams (8-6): The Los Angeles Rams are not technically out of the playoffs, but their odds are slim to none. They would have to win every game from here on out, and the Packers would have to lose both games as well. 
  14. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6): The Pittsburgh Steelers have a loose grip on the last playoff spot in the AFC. Luckily for them, the Titans also lost last week –– giving the Steelers the tiebreaker, for now, to hold onto the final playoff spot. The Steelers, who have been dealing with suspensions and injuries to their offense, have been well-coached and winning games. This team is not nearly as talented as other playoff teams, but with Mike Tomlin calling the shots the team has a good chance of keeping the last AFC wildcard position. 
  15. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7): The Philadelphia Eagles do not deserve to be here, but the Cowboys have underperformed all year. The Eagles are on their second-string running back, third-string receivers, and are being carried by Carson Wentz. If the Eagles were to win this week, their chances of winning the division would be high. Most matchups in this year’s playoffs would have high implications of being great games, but the Eagles would be the only exception if they were to make it. 
  16. Cleveland Browns (6-8): The Cleveland Browns have a one percent chance of making the playoffs. They need to win every game, the Steelers need to lose every game, the Titans need to lose every game and the Raiders need to lose a game. That’s a lot of losing by good teams, but hey…anything is possible. 
  17. Oakland Raiders (6-8): It makes no sense as to why the Raiders have a one percent chance of making the playoffs. Just like the Browns, they need everyone who is not clinched in the playoff race to lose every game. It’s just not happening, sorry Raiders fans… you guys put up a fight for a few weeks but enjoy Las Vegas.
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