Ranking The NFL Playoff Teams
The playoffs are here and the seeding has been completed! I will rank in reverse order each of the 14 playoff teams and give what I think is the best-case scenario for each team.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are easily the worst teams in the playoffs. Their defense is one of the worst in the league. Their offense has been good though, led by Trevor Lawrence. Doug Pederson has been a large reason for the increased success, however, they did win what is one of the NFL’s worst division. I don’t think they have enough to beat the Chargers and they don’t really have much of a best-case scenario, they will likely be a first round exit.
13. Seattle Seahawks
Coming into the season, I thought the Seahawks would be one of the worst teams in the NFL. Geno Smith, who up to this season had struggled to find his place in the NFL, managed to pull off what is probably one of the best career turnarounds in recent years in the NFL. Prior to this season, his career high in passing yards was 3,046. He had that beat by week 13. His previous career high for touchdowns was 13, he had that beat in week 9. The Seahawks were great on offense but struggled on defense this season. The Seahawks may be the team most likely to get blown out in the wildcard round. I don’t think they can beat the 49ers so there is no best-case scenario for this team.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady is in the playoffs yet again. However, this time it’s with the fewest wins of his career and arguably the worst team he has ever played on. Brady himself had a good season, finishing a little over 300 yards short of his 3rd 5,000-yard season. The Bucs team as a whole though hasn’t faired so well. The team have scored the fewest points per game of Brady’s career with 18.4. Tampa Bay’s defense is the other reason, besides Brady’s performance, that this team is in the playoffs. Best case scenario, they pull an upset in the wildcard round, but they lose in the divisional round.
11. New York Giants
Before the season I called Brian Daboll one of the worst hires last offseason. I was definitely wrong. The Giants are in the playoffs and his development with Daniel Jones is a large reason why. They’ve had only one bad loss and honestly, the tie to the Commanders was a bad game too. I honestly don’t think there is a best scenario for this team. They go one-and-done. The reasons for that and not having them higher is it being Daboll’s first game as a head coach in the playoffs as well as Daniel Jones’s first game. That is a recipe for a short playoff run.
10. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are a really strange team. This team somehow won their division despite allowing 3 more points than they scored this season. How does this happen? Well, in their 13 wins, only 2 were by double digits. However, their four losses were by 17, 37, 11, and 24. If they still played outdoors, them having a home game would be a potential advantage, but they play indoors. The only reason this team may win a playoff game is because they are playing the Giants.
9. Miami Dolphins
Another team that has dealt with some injuries has been the Dolphins. The biggest has been the two different concussions from Tua Tagovailoa. If Tua plays, they will be a sneaky team. Tyreek Hill has plenty of playoff experience and may be who they lean on for leadership in the playoffs, something he’s not used to. He has a touchdown in each of his last 3 playoff games. The best-case scenario for this team is they pull off an upset over the Bills but lose in the divisional round. I don’t think they will win over the Bills, but that is the best-case scenario.
8. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens will be lower in my opinion if Lamar Jackson cannot play in the playoffs and would likely get blown out by the Bengals without him. However, with the former Heisman Trophy winner, they have a solid shot at pulling the upset. Once again, injuries have been the problem for this team. When they are healthy, they are a really good team. The problem is, how healthy will they be against the Bengals? Assuming Lamar Jackson plays, best case scenario is they pull the upset over the Bengals but I cannot see them beating any of their potential opponents in the divisional round.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert has finally made the playoffs. That has been the only knock against him in his career. The Chargers finished 10-7 despite some key players missing time this season. The defense played better than in previous seasons which is a big reason for the improvement. However, you could make an argument their season was a disappointment. They were picked by multiple analysts to end the Chiefs’ division title streak, but in the end, fell 4 games short and were swept by the Chiefs. Due to their matchup against the Jaguars where they are clearly the better team, they will make the divisional round, but I cannot see them beating any of the teams they could potentially play in the divisional round so that will be their best case scenario.
6. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have been inconsistent all season. However, when they are on, they are good. Dak Prescott has bounced back from the broken ankle last season and Ezekiel Elliot has somewhat gotten back to his old ways. Micah Parsons had 13.5 sacks this season good for 7th in the league this season. Why aren’t they higher? Their inconsistency is a potential problem in the playoffs. I don’t see this team making it past the divisional round.
5. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers’ defense has been playing so well here lately. Nick Bosa is the likely defensive player of the year. The 2022 Mr. Irrelevant pick Brock Purdy has been playing so well on top of it. During their 10-game winning streak, they have only allowed 14.4 points per game. Why aren’t they higher? Purdy is why. Despite playing well as the starter, Purdy has never played in the playoffs. He played in a bowl game each year of college at Iowa State but was 1-3. The NFL playoffs are a whole different monster than college Bowl Games. History is not on his side. In NFL history, rookie quarterbacks are 7-15 in the playoffs. Best scenario, a Super Bowl loss. I think the defense can get them to the Super Bowl, but I don’t think they can overcome starting a rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl, especially considering their potential opponents.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles were the last undefeated team in the NFL. Only one time in the last 23 seasons has the last undefeated team won the Super Bowl, the 2006 Colts. Until his injury, Jalen Hurts was an MVP candidate, but the injury may keep him out of the race. The Eagles have responded well to the criticism of not being any good teams. They were 14-1 with Hurts as the starter. Philly has the 3rd scoring offense in the league and have a top-10 scoring defense. They are a team that can very easily win the Super Bowl. Do I think they will? Honestly, no, but it is possible.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have been on fire lately. Their last loss was in week 8 against the Browns. With that being said, they have only beaten three playoff teams during that stretch and only four with a winning record, but don’t let that fool you. Joe Burrow has played well down the stretch but has thrown a lot of interceptions. That’s why I have them 3rd. The defense has played well too. During their 8-game win streak, they have only allowed 19.8 points per game. They are also scoring 29 per game. The best-case scenario is winning the Super Bowl. They came close last year with a worse offensive line.
2. Buffalo Bills
Some analysts are saying the Bills are the best team in the playoffs. I disagree. They have shown recently they are beatable. With that being said, they are still a very good team with one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Josh Allen. They also enter the playoffs with one of the top defenses. While I personally believe the idea that you have to be able to run the ball in the playoffs is overrated, the Bills have a top-10 rushing offense combined with a top defense. The best-case scenario is definitely the Bills winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The best team in the playoffs is the Chiefs. The Chiefs enter the playoffs as the number 1 scoring offense in the NFL and the number 1 offense in terms of yards. Down the stretch, the Chiefs have played well on defense, despite what some of the point totals they’ve allowed have shown. Chris Jones has recorded 4.5 sacks in his last 3 games. He will be key in the Chiefs making a Super Bowl run. The best-case scenario for the Chiefs is without a doubt hoisting up their 2nd Lombardi Trophy in 4 years.
Now, for my overall predictions for the playoffs. I think the winners of wildcard weekend will be the Bills, Bengals, Chargers, Cowboys, Vikings, and 49ers. That will lead to conference champions being the Chiefs over the Bills and Eagles and over the 49ers. In the Andy Reid bowl, Andy Reid beats his former team and the Chiefs take home their 2nd Lombardi Trophy in 4 years.
The NFL playoffs are, in my opinion, the most exciting time in sports. There’s just something about a win-or-go-home tournament that makes it so entertaining. The playoffs are finally here.