By Conor Perrett

As we enter the month of December, there’s five weeks remaining in the regular season. So on a special edition of this week’s power rankings, we’ll be looking at all the team’s playoff chances down the final stretch.  

It was an impactful weekend in the NFL and as the Christmas spirit starts to grow, we now have an Eagle on top of the pear-tree. 

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-1)

Last Week – 2nd

Chances of Playoffs – 100%

Things looked a bit shaky for a moment in Philly, but back-to-back winning performances against the Packers and Titans takes them back to the top. Jalen Hurts has continued his case for MVP, by backing up his record-setting rushing performance last week with 380 yards passing, including three touchdowns of 29 yards or more this week. 

With playoffs already guaranteed, it’s No. 1 seed or nothing now. Their game against the Cowboys on Christmas Eve is the only thing stopping them, as they continue to be one of the most consistent teams in the league.

Up next: at New York Giants, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)

Last Week – 1st

Chances of Playoffs – 100%

As long as Patrick Mahomes is healthy, the Chiefs are in the elite tier of teams in the NFL. The Bengals do seem to have the Chiefs’ number, but Mahomes is still the best quarterback in the league and at the helm of the best offence as well. 

Defensively, the Chiefs are still below average. But to be fair to them, they always have been and that’s not stopped them from being the best football team over the last five years.

Up next: at Denver, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT

  1. Buffalo Bills (9-3)

Last Week – 4th

Chances of Playoffs – 100%

Buffalo look good to make the postseason but they have to get healthy if they want to set themselves apart at the top again. Von Miller may be able to return if they make it to February, but with a banged up Josh Allen still, that’s their two best players on either side of the ball not 100%.

Both offence and defence are still amazing though, as they shut down the Patriots last Thursday. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds especially made his presence known in his return from injury. Scheduled to be a pending free agent, he’s going to get a lot of money thrown at him.

Up next: vs. New York Jets, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Dallas Cowboys (9-3)

Last Week – 6th

Chances of Playoffs – 100%

Per EPA per pass, Dak Prescott had his worst game in a win this season. You wouldn’t have thought the Cowboys scored 33 unanswered points in its 54-19 win against the Colts then. Dallas are in a great position now and aren’t far behind the three top teams above them. Currently they are scheduled to play some playoff games on the road and getting their revenge on the Eagles should be the main goal ahead. Who knows, maybe a certain Odell Beckham Jr can help them.

Up next: vs. Houston, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)

Last Week – 7th

Chances of Playoffs – 89%

I mentioned a few weeks ago that this Bengals team has the potential to compete deep into the postseason, but a slow start and tough end of schedule might stop them.

There’s nothing they can do about that slow start now, but they are not letting a tough set of games stop them from getting to where they want to get. A gritty win against the Titans last week got followed up with another classic win against the Chiefs. They still have divisional leaders Bills, Ravens and Buccaneers to go, but they have firmly established themselves as a contender now.

Up next: vs. Cleveland, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. San Francisco 49ers (8-4)

Last Week – 5th

Chances of Playoffs – 98%

What a brutal Sunday for the Niners. Just as San Fran delivered one of their most impressive wins of the year and could be one of the biggest threats in the NFC, they lost their second starting quarterback for the season. 

It feels like a big blow to San Francisco’s title chances, but wilder things have happened before. The defence is still one of the league’s best and maybe there’s just enough on offence to get by with. Mr Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, got them through Miami, but there will be many more tougher games down the line.

Up next: vs. Tampa Bay, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. Miami Dolphins (8-4)

Last Week – 3rd

Chances of Playoffs – 91%

Miami’s offence looked unstoppable but when Mike McDaniel came up against his master, Kyle Shanahan, just like in the movies, the master always wins. The Niners defence created a blueprint on how to stop this Dolphins’ offence by dialing up pressure and press coverage to take away the quick plays. Now, not all teams will be able to replicate this easily, but it’s still out there on tape and Miami can’t let other teams take advantage of that.

Up next: at Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday 1:20 a.m. GMT

  1. Minnesota Vikings (10-2)

Last Week – 9th

Chances of Playoffs – 100%

Nine of the Vikings’ 10 wins this season have been by one-score and the Vikings are proving they come up big at clutch time. Your keep finding me saying it’s unsustainable, but you would think I would have been proved right by now. To be fair to the Vikings, I haven’t, as they look likely to host a playoff game as the No 2 seed. That’s great for the meantime, but their performances don’t scream a deep postseason run and it unfortunately ranks them at the bottom of my top-eight contenders.

Up next: at Detroit, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Baltimore Ravens (8-4)

Last Week – 8th

Chances of Playoffs – 84%

The most important news for Baltimore right now is the health of their quarterback. Lamar Jackson left Sunday’s game in the first half and is considered week-to-week for the foreseeable future. He’s the main reason why this team was considered a title challenger and without him they aren’t. The Ravens defence, meanwhile, has been the second-best in the league over the past four weeks by DVOA. That will take pressure off them in Jackson’s absence. 

Up next: at Pittsburgh, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Seattle Seahawks (7-5)

Last Week – 11th

Chances of Playoffs – 90%

A 90% playoff chance seems very high for a team that’s not leading a division and loses a tiebreaker to the Commanders and Giants but it’s what the statistics say. They are two games ahead of the pack behind them and with teams still playing each other, the fate of their post-season will be in their own hands. But their play has declined over the past month and a tough last three games will make it a hard fought battle.

Up next: vs. Carolina, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. Tennessee Titans (7-5)

Last Week – 10th

Chances of Playoffs – 97%

The Titans have one of the league’s most established identities and while it’s great to be amazing at a particular thing, Sunday’s loss to the Eagles showed the downsides of what happens when it doesn’t work. When Derrick Henry is rolling it’s an incredible sight, but the Titans need a B or C plan. Rookie first-round pick Treylon Burks went down with a concussion, taking away plan B, but that’s all Tennessee has. Look at the top offences in the league and they will have four to six options that they can rely on to get them out the mud.

Up next: vs. Jacksonville, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Washington Commanders (7-5-1)

Last Week -13th

Chances of Playoffs – 44%

In the NFC playoff picture, the top five seeds are starting to look set in stone. That leaves two wild-card spots left and in my own unqualified opinion I see Washington as the favourite to get one of them spots. Their defence ranks 10th in DVOA and without the long awaiting return of Chase Young, they are getting by. Is Taylor Heinicke going to carry them to playoff wins against the top teams? Probably not, but they have the makings of a solid team.

Up next: Bye

  1. New York Jets (7-5)

Last Week – 12th

Chances of Playoffs – 55%

Mike White put together another good performance and while the loss to Minnesota stings, they sure do look better at the QB spot. Robert Saleh keeps insisting Zach Wilson will get another chance at some point this season, but with crucial games ahead I can’t see it happening. Head Coaches aren’t exactly known for always telling the truth and if White keeps up the good play, it isn’t a bad lie to tell to the media.

Up next: at Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m. GMT

  1. Detroit Lions (5-7)

Last Week – 18th

Chances of Playoffs – 12%

If you’re wondering why a 5-7 Detroit team are flying up the rankings right, then them opening as 2.5 point favourite against the 10-2 Vikings should help explain that.

The Lions are playing their best football of the season right now and are 4-1 since the start of November. Most importantly they are starting to get healthy and it’s really starting to show. No team in the league has had more 30+ point games, as the offence is starting to do whatever they want to opponents. D’Andre Swift is back healthy and Amon Ra St Brown is a star. All the while they are about to put first-round pick Jameson Williams into the action.

Playoff hopes might be a longshot at 12%, but life is looking up from the discussions of a first overall pick just a month ago.

Up next: vs. Minnesota, Sunday 1 p.m. GMT

  1. New England Patriots (6-6)

Last Week – 14th

Chances of Playoffs – 29%

The Patriots offence is frustrating and Mac Jones is not looking like the problem. In an outburst on the sideline, Jones pleaded for his coaches to call more downfield passing concepts. Unfortunately, Matt Patricia has avoided calling plays that way all year and Bill Belichick doesn’t seem fond of a change of idea. 

Up next: at Arizona, Monday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)

Last Week – 16th

Chances of Playoffs – 85%

Tom Brady made his name in college for being the ‘Comeback Kid’, so it’s always fun to see him still do it at the age of 45. 

There’s a few teams that probably deserve a play-off appearance over the Bucs, but that’s how the cards fall. Now with the NFC South in the palm of their hands, Tampa can use the rest of the regular season to prepare for what figures to be a wild-card round matchup with the NFC East runner-up.

Up next: at San Francisco, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. New York Giants (7-4-1)

Last Week -19th

Chances of Playoffs – 40%

Having a team with seven wins that has a decent chance to make the playoffs might be low for down here, but it’s their performance on the field that’s put them at 17. They’ve won one game in their last five, which was against the league’s worst Texans and have the league’s best Eagles next. 

None of their seven wins this season have been by more than eight points, and they’ve only had a lead going into the fourth quarter in three of their 12 games. It’s a gritty way to play each week, but the Giants simply have no elite talent to win any other way.

Up next: vs. Philadelphia, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)

Last Week – 15th

Chances of Playoffs – 34%

The Chargers offence is in shambles right now as they gave up 13 quarterback hits to a terrible Raiders’ defensive line outside of Maxx Crosby. That’s tied for the fifth most hits given up in a game this season, with last week’s game against the Cardinals.

This team is already banged up all everywhere and Justin Herbert is the last one left standing for now. If the Chargers lose to Miami this week, their chances to make the playoffs will drop below 15 percent. If that’s the case it will be hard to imagine a situation where the coaching staff is held intact if they miss the postseason again.

Up next: vs. Miami, Sunday 1:20 a.m. GMT

  1. Cleveland Browns (5-7)

Last Week – 20th

Chances of Playoffs – 7%

Deshaun Watson finally made his big return in almost two years and it was disappointing to say the least. The play on the field was sub-par, as they secured the win thanks to the help of the defence and special teams. 

But off the field as well, everyone seems to be handling this poorly. Watson declined to answer non-football questions, as the entire organisation seems to be trying to use their ‘Men in Black gadget’ to have everyone forget what Watson did. 

Up next: at Cincinnati, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT 

  1. Green Bay Packers (5-8)

Last Week – 21st

Chances of Playoffs – 11%

At the start of the season Aaron Rodgers relationship with his receivers room was awkward. It was clear he didn’t trust any of the new guys while the older players in the room weren’t good enough anymore. 

As the season has gone on though, second-round pick Christian Watson has set himself apart from the rest. The rookie speedster has eight touchdowns over the last four games, with at least one in each game. In a down year by the Packers standards, Watson alone has been a much needed source of optimism for everyone involved.

Up next: Bye

  1. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7)

Last Week – 23rd

Chances of Playoffs – 8%

Sunday marked the best single game performance for the Raiders in the Josh McDaniels’ era. The defence limited Justin Herbert better than most Chargers opponents have all season, while the Derek Carr-Davante Adams combination continues to live up to the hype. A win on Thursday Night Football would take them to four-in-a-row and give them a glimmer of hope for the playoffs. It’s not been the ideal start for this new regime, but they’re finishing strong.

Up next: at Los Angeles Rams, Thursday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)

Last Week -25th

Chances of Playoffs – 4%

Similar to other teams around them like the Lions and Raiders, Pittsburgh is making a late push after a slow start to the season. With three wins out of their last four, the Steelers are getting together with the return of TJ Watt and the improvement of play from their rookies. 

Kenny Pickett and George Pickens will get the majority of the headlines but, full-back / tight-end, Connor Hayward caught his first career touchdown this Sunday. The new era is looking good in Pittsburgh, as Mike Tomlin continues to try and keep his .500 or above streak alive.

Up next: vs. Baltimore, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)

Last Week -17th

Chances of Playoffs – 4%

Jacksonville’s long-shot playoff hopes evaporated in their blowout loss to Detroit, as the team was outplayed and outcoached on all levels. It never looked like they had an answer for anything that was thrown at them, with the defence in particular being poor. The Jaguars didn’t force a punt all day with the pass-rush defence being nonexistent.

Jacksonville ranks 31st in sack rate, despite having first-round picks on the line in Travon Walker and K’Lavon Chaisson. After a hot start to the season defensively, the Jaguars now rank 29th in defensive DVOA.

Up next: at Tennessee, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Atlanta Falcons (5-8)

Last Week -22nd

Chances of Playoffs – 7%

The Falcons have reached the point of the season where optimism has gone and fans want the young players to get a chance. Head Coach Arthur Smith hinted at the possibility of it as well, as everybody’s eyes turns to the quarterback position. Marcus Mariota has been on a rapid decline since the start of the season, with rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder waiting in the wings.

Last year’s QB Draft class didn’t blow people away, but Ridder was an interesting prospect that scouts started to love in the mid-rounds. He has the athleticism to leave the pocket, while running a successful RPO offence at his time in Cincinnati that got them to the playoffs. It feels like only a matter of time before he gets his shot.

Up next: Bye

  1. Arizona Cardinals (4-9)

Last Week – 24th

Chances of Playoffs – 2%

Rewind to the start of last season and the Cardinals were 7-0 looking like they started something new with Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray. Now the process is at an all-time low and it looks like there will be new people running things next year.

Up next: vs. New England, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Carolina Panthers (4-8)

Last Week -27th

Chances of Playoffs – 5%

The Panthers have looked good under Steve Wilks and it will be interesting to see which way they look when it comes to choosing a new head coach. Wilks will obviously be an option but there’s some young exciting OC’s and DC’s that could take their fancy. 

Up next: at Seattle, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. New Orleans Saints (4-8)

Last Week – 28th

Chances of Playoffs – 7%

In one of the most painful losses of the NFL season, the Saints went from pulling within half a game of the division lead, to bottom of the NFC South and their season being over. 

New Orleans had a 98.1% chance of winning with 3:19 left in the game according to ESPN’s win probability model, yet they let it slip from poor game management. Playoffs now look like a complete longshot for this side and to make matters worse their first-round pick is heading to Philadelphia.

Up next: Bye

  1. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1)

Last Week – 26th

Chances of Playoffs – 0%

The Colts were outscored 33-0 in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss to the Cowboys. It now makes interim head coach Jeff Saturday 1-3 in his tenure, as it does hurt to say that we all sort of saw this coming, with his only experience of coaching being at a high school level. The Colts will now most likely enter a rebuild for next season, with owner Jim Irsay, potentially looking for a new head coach and general manager.

Up next: Bye

  1. Chicago Bears (3-10)

Last Week – 29th

Chances of Playoffs – 0%

Justin Fields took some steps forward as a passer in the loss to the Packers, throwing for 80% completion and 254 yards. But in the crucial late game situations he continued to fail, throwing two interceptions. Chicago’s losing streak now extends to six games, as I do wonder why this team was sellers at the trade deadline? The defence does not look good anymore with the loss of Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn, but hey ho, they’re in a rebuild so we’ll let it play its course.

Up next: Bye

  1. Los Angeles Rams (3-9)

Last Week – 30th

Chances of Playoffs – 0%

Despite possessing the fourth  worst record in the league, the Super Bowl Champs from last year actually haven’t been the most disappointing team to watch. Spoilers, that label goes to our next team. Injuries have been a big issue for this team, but there’s still enough talent on that roster for them to not be in this position. Being in LA though, the stars will be lining up and it seems Baker Mayfield will be the next hopeful walking through the doors of the Rams facilities.

Up next: vs. Las Vegas, Thursday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Denver Broncos (3-9)

Last Week – 32nd

Chances of Playoffs – 0%

To be truthful I’ve gotten bored talking about how big of a disaster this Broncos team has been this season. Despite entering the year with one of the deepest receiving cores, a former Super Bowl winning QB and hiring a head coach that was the coordinator to last year’s MVP. This Broncos offence has only scored more than 17 points twice in their 12 games. I just feel sorry for all the defensive players at this point.

Up next: vs. Kansas City, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT

  1. Houston Texans (1-10-1)

Last Week – 31st

Chances of Playoffs – 0%

Yes Houston’s chances of the playoffs are at 0%, but under those statistics are a 86% chance of the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. That’s all this team can be hopeful for now, as they already seem on the clock to decide whether to go quarterback or defence with the pick. 

Up next: at Dallas, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

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