Every week this NFL season, we’ve brought you a ranking of the top ten teams in the league following that week’s action. For the final week of the regular season however, we’re going to do something a little different. There will be a top 14 instead of a top 10. That is because we’re going to rank the field of all the playoff teams ahead of the kickoff of Wild Card weekend. With that, let’s get to the rankings!
1. Green Bay Packers 13-4
The Packers haven’t exactly had an uneventful ride to claiming the NFC’s number 1 seed, but they will enter the playoffs with a bye, home field advantage, and a red-hot Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is a sure-fire bet to be an MVP finalist as he finished with the NFL’s best passer rating at 111.9 and a 37-4 TD-INT ratio.
2. Tennessee Titans 12-5
Mike Vrabel should be the favorite for coach of the year for the outstanding job he has done guiding the Titans to the AFC number one seed. Not only did this team lose Derrick Henry, who was in the midst of an MVP-type season, in October, but they broke the NFL record for most players used in a season.
3. Kansas City Chiefs 12-5
The Chiefs have started playing their best football at the perfect time. Their offense has finally started to get back to what can be expected, having scored over 34 points in four of their last five games. In those five games, Patrick Mahomes has 12 touchdowns to just one interception. However, their defense has given up the most passing yards of any team in the playoffs despite allowing the sixth least points per game of the field.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-4
It’s never wise to bet against Tom Brady in the playoffs, especially when he led the league in passing yards (5,316) and TDs (43), but this Bucs team has its fair share of issues as it enters the postseason. Their offense is without two of their top three receivers after Chris Godwin’s injury and Antonio Brown’s release. However, they expect to get back their rushing leader Leonard Fournette as well as Shaquill Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul on defense.
5. Buffalo Bills 11-6
The Bills roller coaster season finally culminated in a second straight division title. They will face the former AFC East owners in the New England Patriots in the Wild Card round. It will be a matchup of two elite defenses, with Buffalo and New England being first and second respectively in points allowed per game and only being separated by .8 on the average. The Bills however also surrender the least number of yards per game in the NFL and are entering on a four-game winning streak.
6. Dallas Cowboys 12-5
The Cowboys got their offensive mojo going, albeit against the Eagles backups, by racking up 50+ for the second time in three weeks. Their opportunistic defense helped carry the offense while it was sputtering and finished the highest scoring defense in the league with six total touchdowns. Despite that mid-season lull, Dallas still finished with the highest scoring offense to go with that highest scoring defense.
7. Los Angeles Rams 12-5
The Rams were able to secure what seemed at one point to be an unlikely division title and will face their rivals the Cardinals in the first round. L.A.’s biggest concern has to be the play of Matthew Stafford down the stretch. Stafford turned into an interception, and specifically, a pick-six machine during the latter half of the season. He led the NFL in both categories with 17 and 6 respectively, with eight picks coming in the last four games.
8. Cincinnati Bengals 10-7
The Bengals are making their first postseason appearance since 2015 and are looking for their first win since 1991. Star QB-WR duo Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase we’re not alive to see that game but they will be the biggest factor in Cincinnati finally ending the drought. The two former LSU teammates took turns shattering records this season and led the Bengals to the fifth highest scoring offense and seventh best passing offense.
9. New England Patriots 10-7
It only took one year for Bill Belichick to find his way back into the playoffs after a changing of the guard season in 2020. The Patriots defensive excellence is on par with their heyday, but now the offense is led by a rookie instead of Tom Brady. Mac Jones finished an impressive rookie season with 3,801 yards passing, 22 TDs, and 11 interceptions. Those yards and touchdowns led yards were both best among rookie quarterbacks. But Jones will face a defense that rivals his own in Buffalo.
10. Arizona Cardinals 11-6
The Cardinals skidded to a Wild Card berth after starting the season 7-0. Their offense struggled at times in the latter half of the season as Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins were in and out of the lineup. Even when Murray did return, he still found it difficult at times without Hopkins who has been sidelined since December 14th with an MCL injury that required surgery. It is unknown if he will return for the playoffs. In the games Hopkins missed since the injury, Arizona went 1-3 including their 30-12 loss to the Lions.
11. Las Vegas Raiders 10-7
The Raiders made it to the postseason in dramatic fashion with a game winning field goal in overtime over the Chargers in the final game of the regular season. Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia has led this team through scandal and tragedy to earn an unexpected spot in the postseason. The team was 3-2 when Bisaccia took over for the disgraced Jon Gruden and led them to a 7-5 record and their first playoff game since 2016.
12. San Francisco 49ers 10-7
The Niners earned a playoff chance despite uneven play from the quarterback position from both Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Trey Lance. Lance, the number two overall pick, eventually got chances to start but was not able to outperform Garoppolo who reclaimed the starter spot and led the Niners to a 27-24 overtime victory over the Rams in their last game to get to the playoffs.
13. Philadelphia Eagles 9-8
Head coach Nick Sirianni overcame a rocky start to his head coaching career that saw the Eagles start 2-5 before winning 6 of 7 to finish as the seventh seed in the NFL’s expanded playoffs. Philadelphia brings the number one rushing offense in the league into the postseason which set a franchise record in yards with 2,715. However, their defense allowed a league worst 69.4% completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks, and playoff opponent Tom Brady is well-known for victimizing defenses that allow short, quick passes.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7-1
It looked very unlikely when they kicked off Sunday, but thanks to a little help from the Jaguars, the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger are in the playoffs together for perhaps the final time. It hasn’t been pretty for Roethlisberger in what seems to be his last season, as he finished with his least number of TDs since 2015 and the least number of yards in a season in which he played at least 13 games since 2012. Somehow lost in the Roethlisberger drama is the fact that T.J. Watt tied Michael Strahan’s record for sacks in a season with 22.5 sacks. Watt will look to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the red-hot Chiefs offense that has surrendered the third least sacks in the league.