NFL Playoff Power Rankings

By Conor Perrett  

After 18 weeks of football, the regular season of the NFL season may be finished, but that only means the playoff field has been set. In four and a half weeks time the Lombardi Trophy will be lifted, but before then, 14 teams must be squeezed down to two.`

So with the Wild-Card round starting this weekend, let’s look at all the teams in the play-offs and rank them.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)

The Chiefs finished another season as the No. 1 seed in the AFC and currently have an offence that is better than every other team left in the playoffs. Patrick Mahomes looks set to win another MVP award, as his 5,377 combined passing and rushing yards this season, is the most of any player in NFL history. 

It feels we have taken Mahomes for granted over the years and if he can keep this up, this superstar pairing of him and Andy Reid may have the potential to one day be mentioned in the same sentence of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. 

Up next: Bye

  1. Buffalo Bills (13-3)

Josh Allen and the Bills will one day make a Super Bowl, but it won’t be easy given how stacked the AFC conference currently is. Despite only losing three games on the season to a combined eight points, Buffalo won’t be getting a bye, but will play at a neutral site if they meet the Chiefs in the Conference Championship.

The Bills feel like the most complete team in the league, but they will be missing a few key players particularly Von Miller. Such a loss hasn’t stopped them yet though, as Buffalo finished as DVOA’s No. 1 team in the regular season. To one up on that, on offence, defence and special teams, no other team is ranked top-10 in each phase, while the Bills on the other hand finished Top-4 in all three phases.

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

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)

The Bengals are among the league’s hottest teams entering the playoffs and it would be difficult to find a more confident player in the NFL right now than Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow. “The window is my whole career,” Burrow replied when asked about the Bengals’ championship window. He’ll need all that confidence if he wants to return to the Super Bowl.

Cincinnati’s path to Arizona may be the most difficult road, as they will have to beat a potential returning Lamar Jackson, then the Bills and possibly finish off the Chiefs again, and that is to only make the Superbowl. 

Up next: vs. Baltimore, Monday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)

The Eagles got a much needed bye, by beating the Giants’ B team to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC. No team feels more in need of a week to recover than Philly, as Jalen Hurts was extremely cautious in his return from an injured shoulder. For the first time in his career, Hurts went the entire game without scrambling for a run as he heals up.  

If Hurts, Lane Johnson, Josh Sweat and Avonte Maddox can regain some health over the course of the playoffs, and get back to how they were in the first half of the season, the Eagles should be considered NFC favourites with back-to-back games at home.

Up next: Bye

  1. San Francisco 49ers (13-4)

The Niners closed out the regular season on a 10-game winning streak, with only two of those games decided by six points or fewer. That alone is a fair shout for them to be the best team in the NFC, if Hurts isn’t 100%.

They also happen to have the best point differential in the league and the No 1 ranked defence by DVOA and EPA per drive. All of those statistics look great, but the only thing that could be holding them back is the fact they are starting a seventh-round rookie at quarterback. 

Brock Purdy has been awesome, filling in for Jimmy G towards the end of the season, but he’s Mr. Irrelevant for a reason. The playoffs are a different kind of game and in the crucial moments, Purdy will be put in situations he may not be familiar or comfortable with. The key is how he responds to that.

Up next: vs. Seattle, Saturday 9:30 p.m. GMT

  1. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)

Since Mike McCarthy was hired as head-coach of the Cowboys, the expectation was to win playoff games. Dallas won’t get a better shot at one when they head to Tampa on Monday night.

In the end, nothing was lost in their regular season finale loss to the Commanders, but the pressure did heat up. Dak Prescott played one of his worst games of the season and led the Cowboys’ offence to a season-low 182 yards. Before that blowout loss, the offence was red-hot, but if they have another bad day at the office, fingers will start to be pointed at individuals within the organisation.

Up next: at Tampa Bay, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Los Angeles Chargers (10-7)

Head-coach Brandon Staley has the potential to be an amazing defensive genius, but the Chargers are far too inconsistent. With only one win on the season against a playoff team in Week 14 against Miami, it was by far their most impressive performance, but those kind of performances happen too little. 

The Bolts are 0-5 in every other game against a playoff contender and just played its starters deep into a meaningless game against the lowly Broncos, which they ultimately lost. They have the star-power in Justin Hebert, but it’s anyone’s guess which Chargers team will show up on the day.

Up next: at Jacksonville, Sunday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)

The Jaguars are 7-2 in their last nine games and their wild-card opponent is a team they have beaten already. Respectively it was all the way back in Week 3 and the Chargers were a lot more beaten up back then, but it should be noted down. Doug Pederson put on a masterclass in offensive play-calling that day and Trevor Lawrence has only gotten better since.

There will be holes in their game that Justin Herbert may take advantage of, but the confidence should be at full flow in Jacksonville. Whatever happens, the Jaguars should be delighted with their 2022 season. 

Up next: vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Baltimore Ravens (10-7)

It’s hard to rank this Baltimore team with the status of Lamar Jackson in the air. With a healthy Jackson this team could push for a top-6 spot, but we don’t know what is going on with him. There’s a presumption Jackson will return for the trip to Cincinnati, but it’s been reported that would happen for the last few weeks now. 

By weighted DVOA, the Ravens Defence is the second best in the playoffs, but without Jackson it’s hard to see any way they walk out with a win against the Bengals.  

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

  1. Minnesota Vikings (13-4)

The Vikings worked their dark-magic to win 11 straight one-score games, but that doesn’t make them a good team. Their defence is probably the worst defence in the playoffs, as they finished the season 29th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed. They have Justin Jefferson who looks likely to win Offensive Player of the Year, but even then this offence is ranked 20th in offensive DVOA. 

The Vikings have already beat the Giants before in a close event back in Week 16, but that doesn’t change the fact this is probably one of the worst 13 wins and third seed team in recent memory. 

Up next: vs. New York Giants, Sunday 9:30 p.m. GMT

  1. New York Giants (9-7-1)

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 for Coach of the Year honours, and both offensive pieces Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley have had great success in contract years. 

Yes, this team has had some luck along the way and there are probably better teams that missed out on the playoffs, but New York played good football late in games that has gotten them to this point. The only worry is how far they can go. The Giants are 2-6 against playoff teams and the only team they beat by more than eight points this season was the helpless Colts. They drew the easy straw in Minnesota, as there’s certainly a chance they can get revenge this weekend.

Up next: at Minnesota, Sunday 9:30 p.m. GMT

  1. Seattle Seahawks (9-8)

It certainly wasn’t pretty, and despite entering the week with a 16% chance to make the playoffs, the Seahawks got it done. The majority of their thanks can go towards the Lions, who had no hard feelings with Seattle who eliminated Detroit an hour before their win in Green Bay. 

Now the Seahawks set up a NFC West rivalry matchup with the Niners, that has playoff history in its roots. The two teams last met in Week 15 on a Thursday night game that was not as close as the 21-13 score indicated. Crazier things have happened in the past but Seattle must play the game of their life if they intend to get the last laugh this season with San Francisco.

Up next: at San Francisco, Saturday 9:30 p.m. GMT

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)

If every one of these teams had their starting QB healthy, Tampa would then rank last on this list. Luckily that’s not the case, so they can at least rank one spot higher. In fact their QB, Tom Brady is the Bucs’ only hope of progressing any further in what might be his last game for the team.

Never count out Tom Brady, especially in the playoffs, but this is an offence that has scored more than 23 points just twice all season and a defence that is mightily inconsistent. When you then also put a head coach in charge who looks lost at times, it’s fair to think why Brady may be done with this team. 

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

  1. Miami Dolphins (9-8)

It’s a shame Tua Tagovailoa has had the concussions he has withstood this season, as a rematch against the Bills would have been electric. But for the player’s safety, it’s the right choice to sit him. 

Unfortunately without him, rookie QB Skyler Thompson can’t keep up with Mike McDaniel’s fast playing style and the defence is far too weak to win games for them. The rollercoaster of the Dolphins’ season finished on a high in the regular season, but it’s hard to see anything other than it going back down for the playoffs.

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

Wilson fed to the Wolves on TNF

By David McDonnell

Let the record show there was a game of football at the MetLife Stadium on Thursday night, because afterwards all the talk was about one man. 

Zach Wilson, and the kid gloves were certainly off.

First let’s get the football out of the way.

Trevor Laurence continued his winning streak and scored the only touchdown of the contest, when he led a 96-yard drive and broke the plane with a QB sneak in the second quarter. 

Other than that there wasn’t much to write home about on the field with both defences on top throughout. By the end of the third quarter, Jacksonville landed another field goal to make it 16-3 which was to be the last score of the contest. 

On the night Zay Jones or Christian Kirk had zero yards receiving yards combined but Evan Engram was excellent catching seven times for 113 yards. 

The big story of the night came on the opposite sideline. 

At half-time the Jets got booed to high heaven on their way to the locker room by their home fans after a dismal opening half. 

They were not able to run the ball with any success on first and second downs. It left Zach Wilson with long yardage on third downs with the result being the Jets punted like it was going out of fashion in wet and windy weather. 

When the Jets offence didn’t improve in the third quarter, head coach Robert Salah benched Zach Wilson for walk-on Chris Streveler at the start of the fourth quarter. 

It was the second time Wilson has been benched for an understudy in three weeks and he was starting only because his previous deputy Mike White was out with broken ribs. Streveler did well initially on his first drive but his throwing after that was wildly inaccurate. 

The benching of Wilson is significant and added a tankful of fuel for the New York and national across America to wax lyrical about Zach Wilson’s shortcomings as a player and teammate.

They soon set themselves to the task. 

On TNF on Prime,  Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is usually considered when it comes to QBs, said it signified the end of Zach Wilson at the Jets. 

 “I think unfortunately his career here is done because he has lost the guys in the locker room. They have no confidence in him. He doesn’t inspire confidence in him. They don’t believe in the kid … Just the way he plays, his passion for the game. That is what really bugs me and bugged me about today. I am not saying he is going to have a good career, but it’s gonna have to be somewhere else.”

Richard Sherman wasn’t offering Wilson much sympathy either. 

Asked if he thought it might be Wilson’s last game for the Jets, Sherman answered: “I would hope so … We’re at a time and a climate where everybody’s forgiving, everybody’s like, ‘Oh my, just give him another chance. He’s trying his best.’ This is a production business. If you don’t produce, we have to find a way. It’s unfair to the defence and these players.”

Tony Gonzales advised that the Jets shouldn’t give up on him just yet.

Here are my two cents on the situation.

I have been keeping an eye on Wilson since his return against the Steelers during the season and what I see is a QB with a golden arm who is still learning his trade.  He has been very inconsistent for a team that believes it is in win-now mode. 

The Jets are a side with a terrific defence, but are down over half their starting O-line and as well as their starting running-back sensation in Bryce Hall, who are all out for the season. on offence they still boast one excellent rookie wide receiver in Garrett Wilson. 

Zach Wilson has been tasked to make plays with a very limited offence and score enough points to win games and not turn the ball over. He has struggled against good defences, mainly with his decision making.

I see talent in Wilson but he is very inexperienced. If you look at Trevor Laurence, who has only just turned the corner in his NFL journey in the last four weeks, he spent four years with nationally televised games every week at Clemson in the SEC,  including three National Championship games. 

Aside from the poor play on the field, a lot of the flak that Wilson has gotten in recent weeks came from loaded interview questions after the recent loss to the Patriots. He was asked whether him and the offence should apologise to their defence for scoring only three points on the day? 

He answered: “No, No” and that was blown up into a big story about disrespecting his teammates. His namesake receiver Garrett Wilson called him out in the media for “not trusting his receiving room.”

His coach Robert Salah responded by dropping him for the next game and his teammates on the New York Jets defence went to the next away trip wearing shirts in support of his replacement that read: ‘Mike ‘F***in’ White.’ 

With White injured, Wilson came back in as the starter. It is one thing to bench him for the backup in White and quite another to bench him again for the next man up and it probably signals that his time is up with the Jets. 

Before the game Robert Salah talked about the need to be patient with Zach Wilson and gave an analogy about the “instant coffee” world not giving him time. Those words about being patient with the sophomore quarterback rang hollow in the wind and rain on Thursday Night Football.  

My personal read is that Salah gave in to the instant coffee generation, who were booing the offence at MetLife Stadium, and threw Wilson to the wolves, because whatever the question is, Streveler is certainly not the answer in the NFL from what I saw.  

I hope Zach Wilson can come back from a very tough night like this with most pundits writing him off and most everyone else jumping on the bandwagon.  

And I hope he does it with another team. 

Trade Analysis: Calvin Ridley

By Conor Perrett 

After getting banned for a full season earlier in the year for betting on a Falcons versus Jaguars game, Calvin Ridley is coincidentally going from one of those teams to the other.

Would anyone other than Calvin Ridley have bet on that?

Calvin Ridley 2021 stats: Position: Wide Receiver, Receptions: 31, Yards: 281, Average: 9.1, Touchdowns: 2, PFF Grade: 64.2

Trade Details:

Jaguars Receive: Calvin Ridley

Falcons Receive:

  • 2024 2nd-Round Pick
  • 2023 5th Round Pick (Maximum)

Jaguars POV: 

Jacksonville never fails to impress by trading for a player who is banned for the season. The last time we saw Ridley play was back in Week 7 of 2021 and it would be nearly a whole two years from that date until he plays again. 

It’s a risky move from the Jaguars, especially giving up a second-round pick, but it could turn out to be a high reward.

Ridley has the potential to be a No. 1 receiver,and the Jaguars have already heavily invested in that position. They signed Christina Kirk and Zay Jones to big deals and already had Marvin Jones in place. They now spend a potentially high second-round pick on a receiver who wouldn’t have played for two years and is going into the final year of his contract. 

I get taking advantage of a rookie quarterback contract, but splashing it all on high risk receivers doesn’t seem sensible. The Jaguars are 2-5 with many holes on their team and if Ridley doesn’t pay off, it will only create more problems for them later down the line. 

Grade – C

Falcons POV – The relationship between Ridley and the Falcons went completely down a high-hill last season when Ridley wanted to take a step away from football for personal matters. Since then Ridley found himself in the betting situation and got himself banned for the entire 2022 season.

Ridley, who was already on the trade block then had to wait for his move until his suspension was over. Well, now both parties got what they wanted with them parting ways.

During the incidents of last season, Ridley was valued as a second-round pick. But with a year on from not seeing him on the football field, you might think that his value would have only decreased. That is not the case as the Falcons managed to get that second round pick along with a Day 3 pick as well.

With the risk that comes with Ridley, the compensation that Atlanta has received seems like great draft capital for a player who didn’t fit their system or want to play for them again. It allows them to continue their rebuild, grab amazing draft capital, free cap space and not lose anything that they didn’t already have. 

Grade – A