Editor’s note: The Ringer’s NFL power rankings resume for the postseason after taking a break in Week 18 following Damar Hamlin’s medical emergency during last week’s Monday Night Football game between the Bills and the Bengals.
I’ve ranked all 32 NFL teams each week largely based on who I believed would ultimately make the playoff field and earn a chance to win the Lombardi Trophy in February. That’s why the Eagles spent so much of the season atop my rankings—they had the easiest path to the postseason (although the Jalen Hurts injury made it dicey for a while)—and why the supremely mediocre Bucs were often in the mid-teens. Now, we’re finally here, with the collection of the 14 teams that will continue playing. I’ve done away with the tiers and am simply ranking the playoff teams by whether they have what it takes to survive the single-game elimination tournament and win the Super Bowl.
All odds are from FanDuel, and stats are from TruMedia unless otherwise noted.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (14-3 | Super Bowl odds: +500)
There’s a case to be made that the best three teams in the playoffs are in the AFC. But I still look at the Eagles and see a team with a complete and deep roster and elite coaching from head coach Nick Sirianni and coordinators Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon, and I can’t drop them from the top spot. When Hurts was healthy in the first 15 weeks of the season, the Eagles were 13-1 with the first-ranked scoring offense and sixth-ranked scoring defense. Two weeks of Gardner Minshew shouldn’t distract us from the fact that this was the best team in football the majority of the season, and now they have the bye week and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (14-3 | +330)
No team has better odds to win the Super Bowl than the Chiefs. Even with the possibility that they have to play in a neutral-site AFC championship game (if they were to advance to face the Bills), Kansas City has an inside track to make it to Glendale, Arizona, because they have Patrick Mahomes. It really is that simple. Mahomes finished the regular season leading the NFL in expected points added per dropback, passing yards (5,250), and passing touchdowns (41). Mahomes managed to elevate the Chiefs offense in a year when many thought he would struggle without Tyreek Hill, and he continues to prove every week why he is the best quarterback in the NFL.
3. Buffalo Bills (13-3 | +420)
Josh Allen and receiver Stefon Diggs are two of the NFL’s premier players at their respective positions, and Sean McDermott and his coaching staff have maximized Buffalo’s talent on both sides of the ball. They’ve impressively rallied through unprecedented adversity following Damar Hamlin’s terrifying injury on Monday Night Football in Week 17. The Bills are an extremely talented team with even more to play for as they continue to honor Hamlin during their pursuit of a Super Bowl title.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4 | +750)
The Bengals are among the league’s hottest teams entering the playoffs, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more confident player in the NFL right now than Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. He’s throwing no-look passes and telling the media the Bengals’ Super Bowl window is “always open” as long as he’s in Cincinnati. He’s led the team to 10 wins in their last 11 games, and the offense ranks third in offensive EPA per drive since Week 6.
5. San Francisco 49ers (13-4 | +500)
Brock Purdy and the 49ers are on a special, improbable run. Purdy has led the San Francisco offense to an NFL-high 194 points since taking over for Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13. Purdy joins Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw multiple touchdown passes in each of their first five starts. Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers’ elite cast of skill players still deserve the bulk of the credit, but that doesn’t mean Purdy isn’t excelling in his offensive role. Combine that with a 49ers defense that finished the regular season first in points allowed per game (15.2), and you have a potential juggernaut in the NFC.
6. Dallas Cowboys (12-5 | +1300)
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said he isn’t a “burn the tape” guy, but it’s probably best for McCarthy’s team to quickly move on from everything that happened Sunday against Washington. QB Dak Prescott played one of his worst games of the season and led the Dallas offense to a season-low 182 yards in a 26-6 loss to the Commanders. Don’t let recency bias fool you into thinking the Cowboys aren’t serious contenders. Leading up to the blowout loss in Week 18, Prescott and the Cowboys offense were red-hot. Dallas ranked second in offensive EPA per drive and first in offensive points per game in weeks 7 through 17. Prescott is Steven Ruiz’s highest-ranked quarterback competing in the NFC playoffs and should have the Cowboys contending for an NFC championship.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (10-7 | +2100)
The Chargers are just too inconsistent to rank any higher on this list as the playoffs begin. In their 23-17 win over the Dolphins in Week 14, head coach Brandon Staley put together a masterful game plan to limit the high-powered Miami offense, and Justin Herbert threw for a season-high 367 yards. That was their only win over a playoff team this season and the best they’ve looked by a significant margin. That same Chargers team is 0-5 in every other game against a playoff contender, and that same Chargers team played its starters deep into a meaningless Week 18 game against the lowly Broncos, in which Mike Williams suffered a back injury and the team ultimately lost . Still, Los Angeles is healthier than it was in the middle part of the season and will always have a fighting chance in any game as long as Herbert is quarterbacking the team, but it’s anyone’s guess which Chargers team will show up in the playoffs.
8. Baltimore Ravens (10-7 | +3700)
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, there’s a “strong chance” that Lamar Jackson will start for the Ravens in their wild-card matchup with the Bengals on Sunday. Jackson hasn’t practiced in more than a month and reportedly still has swelling in his knee, but Baltimore simply doesn’t have a chance against Cincinnati without him. The Ravens averaged 24 points per game with Jackson in weeks 1 through 12; they’ve averaged just 12.5 points per game since he’s been out. The good news is that the team’s defense has stepped up in Jackson’s absence and should give Baltimore a chance against most AFC playoff opponents. Since Week 13, the Ravens rank second in points allowed per game (13.5).
9. Minnesota Vikings (13-4 | +3000)
The Vikings defense might cost the team a chance at a playoff run. Since their Week 1 blowout of the Packers, the Vikings have allowed fewer than 22 points to only three teams: Miami, Washington, and Chicago. The opposing quarterbacks in those three games were Skylar Thompson and Teddy Bridgewater for Miami, Taylor Heinicke for Washington, and Nathan Peterman and Tim Boyle for the Bears. (They gave up 24 points to the Daniel Jones-led Giants when they played their eventual wild-card opponent in Week 16.) Minnesota finished the season 29th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed. Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson have been unbelievably good late in so many one-possession games this season, but they can’t keep pace with the best of the conference with the state of their defense.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8 | +4800)
The Jaguars are 7-2 in their last nine games, but they opened as a 1.5-point home underdog despite beating their wild-card opponent, the Chargers, 38-10 in Los Angeles in Week 3. Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson put on a master class in offensive play-calling in their early-season demolition of the Chargers, and Trevor Lawrence had one of his best games of the year, with more than 250 passing yards, three touchdowns, and zero picks. Getting past the Chargers is well within reach for Jacksonville, but surviving the onslaught of the rest of the AFC is a tall order. As good as Lawrence has been this season, it’s hard to imagine him beating some combination of Herbert, Mahomes, Allen, and Burrow to get to the Super Bowl.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9 | +2800)
Tom Brady will have to be otherworldly to lead the Bucs deep into the playoffs. Since Week 9, Tampa Bay ranks 20th in offensive EPA per drive and is tied for 25th in points allowed per game. The only teams they’ve defeated in that stretch are the Seahawks (in Germany), Rams, Saints, Cardinals, and Panthers. The best three teams the Buccaneers have played this season, which are the 49ers, Chiefs, and Bengals, beat them by a combined 49 points. The offense has excessively relied on Brady to be a magician late in games because of painfully conservative and predictive offensive play-calling, and the defense is no longer the juggernaut it was when Brady led the team to a Super Bowl two years ago.
12. Seattle Seahawks (9-8 | +8500)
Seattle has enough talent on both sides of the ball to be competitive in the postseason, but they’re running into a buzz saw in the wild-card round. The Seahawks are a 10-point road underdog against the 49ers, with their team total set at 16. On the Seahawks’ last road trip to San Francisco, the team’s only touchdown came on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. When the two teams faced off again in Seattle in Week 15, the 49ers led 21-6 going into the fourth quarter and closed out the win comfortably. Geno Smith more than exceeded expectations as the team’s starter and should be in line for a massive contract extension early in the offseason, but it feels like the Seahawks are still at least one year away from making a deep playoff run.
13. New York Giants (9-7-1 | +5500)
No one can take away the fact that the Giants have had a spectacular and surprising season. First-year head coach Brian Daboll should be in the conversation with Sirianni for Coach of the Year honors, and both Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley have had tremendous success in contract years. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, who could be a name to watch in this year’s head coach hiring cycle, has maximized the team’s talent on that side of the ball with his aggressive play-calling. However, the ceiling for the Giants is still far lower than that of the best NFC contenders. New York is 2-6 against playoff teams, and the only team they beat by more than eight points this season was the hapless Jeff Saturday–coached Colts in Week 17. Daboll and Co. will put up a fight in every game they play, and they certainly have a shot in a rematch against the Vikings this weekend, but no amount of fight will be enough to overcome severe talent disparities on a three-game run to the Super Bowl.
14. Miami Dolphins (9-8 | +6500)
Tua Tagovailoa is still in the concussion protocol, and Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel won’t discuss the prospect of his playing in any game, including their wild-card matchup with the Bills, until he’s medically cleared. Tagovailoa’s prolonged absence is devastating to the Dolphins’ Super Bowl hopes, but it’s the right move for his health. Without him, Miami doesn’t have a chance in the playoffs. Miami opened as a 10.5-point road underdog against Buffalo, which is the largest spread of any wild-card game, and money will continue to come in on the Bills if Tagovailoa is indeed ruled out this week. Miami’s only win in a game without him came against Joe Flacco and the Jets in Week 18. Tagovailoa also finished the season third in EPA per dropback (0.18), behind Mahomes and Allen; backups Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson averaged minus-0.03 and minus-0.27 EPA per dropback, respectively. The only way the Dolphins are even a top-10 team on this list is if Tagovailoa can start in the playoffs, and with the current (and understandable) uncertainty about his health, they’ve got to be last.