Splash’s Conference Championship Power Rankings

We are down to just four teams.

The power rankings will no longer be in perfect Splash-ELO order (Splash-ELO is my attempt to judge the teams numerically), but the sections will be organized according to Splash-ELO.

The Eliminated:

Number 8: Minnesota Vikings (ELO: 1566, -2)

The Vikings successfully pulled a Vikings and were thoroughly dismantled by a superior 49er squad. With the season over, the Vikings should be in a position to compete in 2020, the final year of Kirk Cousins’s contract. If Cousins has a productive season, he will likely be retained. Dalvin Cook had a breakout 2019 campaign, and he heads into 2020 as one of the best running backs in the NFL. The Vikings have to answer an Anthony Harris-sized question in free agency, and they need a replacement for former offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.

Number 7: Houston Texans (ELO: 1574, +1)

The Texans were up 24-0. 10 minutes later, the Texans were trailing. It was one of the weirdest turnarounds in NFL history, and the Texans should be ashamed of themselves. The Texans have won the AFC South in back-to-back seasons. While the Titans appear to be the superior team, the Texans should be in contention for yet another trip to the playoffs. As talented as the Texans are, they still have the elephant in the room: head coach Bill O’Brien. O’Brien makes a boneheaded decision weekly, and he consistently puts the Texans in bad situations.

Number 6: Seattle Seahawks (ELO: 1617, +1)

The Seahawks had their season end at Lambeau Field as Russell Wilson could not carry the Seahawks past the Packers. After sustaining a plethora of season-ending injuries on offense, the Seahawks simply lacked the depth of talent on offense, resorting to Marshawn Lynch and Travis Homer instead of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. In 2020, health will be key for the Seahawks as the Cardinals are on the rise, the 49ers could be the best team in the NFL, and the Rams will look to have a bounce-back season. Wilson keeps the Seahawks relevant, but a slip to fourth place in the division could happen if the injuries pile up again.

Number 5: Baltimore Ravens (ELO: 1890, -4)

The Ravens were thoroughly embarrassed at home by Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans. It marks the second consecutive season that the Ravens lost a home playoff game. Despite the franchise’s best season ever, the Ravens will not remember the 2019 season fondly. The Ravens are set up to be successful for the next few seasons with young superstars in soon-to-be MVP Lamar Jackson, All-Pro Ronnie Stanley, and All-Pro Marlon Humphrey, but the Ravens must shake out of the choker label that they have earned in their last two playoff runs. The 2020 AFC North will likely be more competitive, but the Ravens should be the favorite.


The Survivors:

Number 4: Green Bay Packers (ELO: 1675, +1)

The Packers defeated the Seahawks, 28-23, with Aaron Rodgers flashing vintage form with a series of late-game connections to win the game. The Packers will make their second trip to Santa Clara on the season. In their first trip, they were decimated, 37-8. The Packers have good players on both sides of the ball, but they cannot afford to be as porous defensively as they have been for most of the season against a stellar San Francisco offense. The onus is on Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith to force Jimmy Garoppolo into bad throws and disadvantageous situations.

Number 3: Tennessee Titans (ELO: 1756, +1)

The Titans rolled into Baltimore and clobbered the Ravens, 28-12. Derrick Henry has been unstoppable, collecting over 180 rushing yards in both playoff games. As Henry gets most of the headlines, the Titans have also had a spectacular defensive unit spearheaded by Logan Ryan, Kevin Byard, and Jurrell Casey. The Titans have allowed 25 points in two playoff games, and they have been superb in the red zone. As difficult as it is to force Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson-led offenses to kick field goals instead of scoring touchdowns, the Titans have surrendered just a pair of touchdowns in 120 minutes. Patrick Mahomes is next.

Number 2: San Francisco 49ers (ELO: 1944, +1)

The 49ers controlled the Vikings for most of the game as the offense and defense worked well to knock Minnesota out. The 49ers are heavy favorites on Sunday as they should be. While the defense allowed many points in December, the offense has been tremendous since the acquisition of Emmanuel Sanders. With Sanders joining rookie Deebo Samuel and the NFL’s best tight end in George Kittle, the 49ers will be difficult for the Packers to contain. Defensively, the 49ers have a stellar pass rush led by Nick Bosa, and the secondary has been playing with swagger.

Number 1: Kansas City Chiefs (ELO: 2002, +1)

While the Chiefs were down 24-0 last weekend, they finished the game in style, outscoring Houston, 51-7, in the final 40 minutes of action. After a dismal start, the offense and defense started clicking for the Chiefs. While they cannot afford a bad start against the Titans, the Chiefs have proven that they can dig themselves out of deficits. Led by Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, the Chiefs have one of the most dynamic offenses in NFL history, and they will be a force to be reckoned with for a red-hot Titans defense. Defensively, the Chiefs started poorly against the Texans, but the Chiefs were able to flip a switch and sabotage Houston.

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