Where do NFL teams stand entering the postseason? The Wild Card Round power rankings include a new No. 2 following the final week of the regular season.
1. Baltimore Ravens (14-2) | Last week: 1
Despite sitting Lamar Jackson in a game that did not mean anything in terms of playoff seeding, the Ravens did not have much trouble handling the rival Steelers to improve to an NFL-best 14-2 this season. Baltimore playing at home throughout the AFC playoffs instead of going to someplace like Foxboro or Arrowhead is huge.
2. San Francisco 49ers (13-3) | Last week: 3 (+1)
After clinching the NFC’s top seed with a goal-line stand at the one-inch line in Seattle, the 49ers leap up to the No. 2 spot in the power rankings. I am concerned after San Francisco had some trouble with a tougher second-half schedule, but the good news is the team has been battle-tested and has won close games this year.
3. New England Patriots (12-4) | Last week: 2 (-1)
It’ll be weird with the Patriots playing in Wild Card Weekend following their shocking upset home loss to the Dolphins, but Bill Belichick’s squad still went 12-4 during the regular season, and the panic surrounding the team is a bit of a stretch. While they cannot be No. 1 in the power rankings, I still think New England will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. That said, facing Derrick Henry and company this Saturday night is a very difficult test.
4. New Orleans Saints (13-3) | Last week: 5 (+1)
The Saints were unable to get the help they needed for a first-round bye in the postseason, but they are clicking offensively right now, with 36.7 points per game over the last six games, and at least 34 points (40 per game) over the last four. Drew Brees should be locked in at home against a Minnesota secondary that isn’t quite as fearsome as it was a couple of years ago.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) | Last week: 7 (+2)
In their six-game winning streak to end the regular season and clinch a first-round bye in the AFC, the Chiefs are allowing a stingy 11.5 points per game, and they won’t have to play on the road until the AFC Championship (if at all until the Super Bowl). Damien Williams has been banged up at some points this season, but he’s showing he should be getting a heavy workload as a dynamic and versatile runner.
6. Green Bay Packers (13-3) | Last week: 4 (-2)
While the Packers were able to comeback at Detroit to secure the No. 2 seed in the NFC, the passing attack was just off for most of the game. However, first-year head coach Matt LaFleur should really benefit from getting an extra week to prepare and create a great gameplan for the Divisional Round.
7. Buffalo Bills (10-6) | Last week: 8 (+1)
It would have helped if they were able to win their division and avoid likely playing on the road all postseason, but the Bills have the playing style and attitude to make a deep run in the AFC. Sean McDermott’s defense should keep Buffalo in every game, and Josh Allen has been one of the best clutch performers in the league this season.
8. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) | Last week: 6 (-2)
Seattle has been in some extremely close games over the years, and their narrow loss to San Francisco also cost them linebacker Mychal Kendricks (torn ACL) for the postseason. The Seahawks are banged up entering the playoffs, but they have Russell Wilson at quarterback, always giving them a chance. As a side note, because I’ve been seeing it come up recently, it’s crazy that people still make it like the Seahawks would have automatically won Super Bowl XLIX if they ran the ball with Marshawn Lynch (despite the fact that it looked like the Patriots were getting heavy penetration and would have stuffed it).
9. Houston Texans (10-6) | Last week: 9
They had a huge win against the Patriots a month ago, but the Texans have been pretty sluggish since then, and I believe the team will have a tough time with Buffalo this Saturday. That said, Deshaun Watson showed he’s a primetime performer in college and in a number of NFL night games, so he’ll be looking to bounce back from last postseason’s poor performance against the Colts.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) | Last week: 11 (+1)
Like their opponent this Sunday, the Eagles are banged up entering the postseason. While I have Philadelphia down at No. 10 below Seattle, I believe they will win this weekend with a shot to surprise and make a run with the way things are set up in the NFC (potentially avoiding a trip to New Orleans if higher seeds win). However, the Eagles went on their late-season run to get to 9-7 versus a subpar NFC East, so the Wild Card Round will be a better indication of where the team is.
11. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) | Last week: 10 (-1)
The Vikings arguably have the toughest task this weekend going into the Superdome to face a red-hot Saints offense, but I like their underdog mindset heading into the game.
Zimmer: “This is a game nobody believes we can win.”
MZ: “They just had a NFL preview video and didn’t include us.”
While I understand #Vikings being an underdog in this game there absolutely are some things they will do that will be problematic for New Orleans
— Paul Allen (@PAOnTheMic) December 30, 2019
Minnesota has the talent on both sides of the ball to do some serious damage in the postseason.
12. Tennessee Titans (9-7) | Last week: 12
The Titans are ranked last among the playoff teams in this week’s power rankings, but they are certainly a dangerous team with two of the most explosive players in football (Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown) on offense. The path will be difficult for Tennessee, but I would not count them out if the league-leading rusher Henry gets loose for chunk plays in January, as he’s shown he can do in the past.
13. Los Angeles Rams (9-7) | Last week: 16 (+3)
Last year’s NFC champions took a step back this season, but they played in the league’s toughest division after the 49ers surged from No. 2 pick to top seed in the conference. The improved play from the offensive line down the stretch is a major point of optimism as LA heads into the offseason.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) | Last week: 14
The odds were stacked against them given all the injuries they’ve sustained throughout the season, but the Steelers had a disappointing end to the year after they were in a good spot to make the playoffs a couple of weeks ago. Still, Mike Tomlin did an absolutely fantastic job with his team, and he should still get serious Coach of the Year consideration.
15. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) | Last week: 13 (-2)
As of this writing, the Cowboys have yet to announce a decision on Jason Garrett, and I would not be surprised if he’s back for another season given how highly Jerry Jones and the Jones family thinks of their longtime head coach. A front-office role might be more likely for Garrett, but Dallas is entering an intriguing several weeks and months.
16. Oakland Raiders (7-9) | Last week: 15 (-1)
The Raiders were again on the wrong side of questionable officiating in their Week 17 loss at Denver. Overall, the season ended in disappointing fashion after a good start for Oakland, but the rookie class looks sensational, as Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden did an exceptional job with their first draft. Rookie Hunter Renfrow ended his rookie season with two consecutive 100-yard games.
17. Chicago Bears (8-8) | Last week: 17
Bears general manager Ryan Pace ended any speculation about Mitchell Trubisky, announcing that the former second overall pick will remain the team’s starting quarterback in 2020. Hopefully head coach Matt Nagy is all in on that, but the announcement is probably best to avoid distraction of a potential quarterback competition in the months leading up to next season.
18. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) | Last week: 19 (+1)
The Falcons ended their season with a 6-2 second half, which makes me feel better about picking them for the Super Bowl before the season. But seriously, I think the franchise made the right move retaining Dan Quinn for 2020, and the head coach sounds like he will be better moving forward after learning a lot during the disappointing first half this year.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) | Last week: 18 (-1)
Perhaps it’s posturing for negotiations, but it sounds like things have changed regarding quarterback Jameis Winston’s standing with the Buccaneers moving forward.
When asked how Jameis Winston’s pick-six impacts his evaluation, Bruce Arians said, “It doesn’t help.”
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) December 29, 2019
#GoBucs coach Bruce Arians, when asked if this team could win with another quarterback: “With another quarterback? Oh yeah. If we can win with this one, we can definitely win with another one, too.’’
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) December 30, 2019
Arians’ comments were hilarious, and he probably wasn’t happy with Winston saying that he was “balling” aside from the turnovers considering how critical interceptions are. The former No. 1 overall pick is the first player in NFL history with 30 passing touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a season.
20. Indianapolis Colts (7-9) | Last week: 20
The Colts are now clearly open to looking for competition at quarterback this offseason, and current starter Jacoby Brissett has the mindset to handle that and not take it as a slight. Indy is clearly headed in the right direction, and they are set up to add a lot to the roster this offseason.
21. Denver Broncos (7-9) | Last week: 22 (+1)
Rookie quarterback Drew Lock is quickly becoming one of the funniest players in the league.
Drew Lock had no idea what song he was rapping on the bench 😂😂 @Broncos
(via @RyanCBS4) pic.twitter.com/rqhS3IhbJ0
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 31, 2019
I saw him as more of a late-first or early-second round pick (as most of the NFL did), but the Broncos should be optimistic about their young signal-caller after a 4-1 stretch to end the season.
22. New York Jets (7-9) | Last week: 23 (+1)
Though it wasn’t quite as impressive as Atlanta considering the competition, the Jets also had a 6-2 mark in the second half, and Gregg Williams’ defense was really good. There could be big overhaul with the roster this spring, though, as it sounds like Le’Veon Bell’s stay in New York might last one year.
23. Arizona Cardinals (6-9-1) | Last week: 21 (-2)
The Cardinals appear to be in a much better spot than they were a year ago, with a promising young franchise quarterback coming off a Rookie of the Year-caliber season in an offensive scheme that perfectly fits his skillset. Also, the defense played hard and has some pieces to work with moving forward like Jordan Hicks and Patrick Peterson.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10) | Last week: 26 (+2)
An ESPN reporter reported that the Jaguars were going to fire Doug Marrone after Week 17, but Jacksonville came out and quickly denied it, and the franchise held true to its denial by retaining Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell for 2020. It’s good to see a franchise show patience for a regime that got the team to the AFC title game just two seasons ago.
25. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11) | Last week: 25
Similarly, the Chargers had to give Anthony Lynn another shot next season despite 2019’s very difficult result, as the team was 12-4 just last season. It sounds like Philip Rivers might be done with the Chargers, which would obviously be a huge change for LA.
26. Miami Dolphins (5-11) | Last week: 28 (+2)
They must select the right players with their many draft picks, but I am very optimistic about the Dolphins moving forward because of head coach Brian Flores. I was surprised the team fired offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea, but Flores seems to have a clear preference in mind in hiring veteran offensive coordinator Chan Gailey to lead the offense.
27. Cleveland Browns (6-10) | Last week: 24 (-3)
Freddie Kitchens was only given one season leading the Browns, which I think is typically very unfair; but not giving Nick Chubb the ball more in the regular season finale should have been the final straw as far as I am concerned. As stated here last year, it seemed obvious that Cleveland should have given Gregg Williams an opportunity as the head coach after he guided the team to a 5-3 finish in 2018.
28. New York Giants (4-12) | Last week: 27 (-1)
Hopefully the Giants aren’t putting young franchise quarterback Daniel Jones in a bad position by firing his head coach while keeping the general manager, as that could easily set up a situation where the general manager is then fired in another year or two, leading to another new head coach (and new offense). Despite criticism from the know-it-alls on Twitter, Dave Gettleman has done a good job in the position, though; I just think Pat Shurmur should have been given more time, too.
29. Carolina Panthers (5-11) | Last week: 29
The direction of the Panthers moving forward is a complete mystery, and the coaching search will be interesting for the league’s newest owner David Tepper. Christian McCaffrey completed the third 1,000/1,000 season in NFL history, and he’s built to handle 25 touches per game from the new coaching staff.
30. Detroit Lions (3-12-1) | Last week: 31 (+1)
They ultimately lost, but the Lions played well to conclude their season, and the team has the third overall pick to select a difference-maker for 2020 and beyond. This year gave Matt Patricia more time to decide which players he wants as part of his program moving into Year 3.
31. Washington Redskins (3-13) | Last week: 30 (-1)
Ron Rivera was a great hire for the Redskins, as was Jack Del Rio as the defensive coordinator, and there are pieces in Washington—likely including defensive end Chase Young from Ohio State—to make them one of the top units in football on that side of the ball next season.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (2-14) | Last week: 32
The Bengals won just two games this season, but they played hard in the second half of the year in particular, and their competitiveness led to a 2-3 stretch to conclude 2019. Cincinnati has valuable skill players, and there is definite upside heading into the offseason.