Fourteen teams entered, eight teams remain.
After a jam-packed six-game Wildcard Weekend, the stage is set for the Divisional Round. Teams like the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and Las Vegas Raiders saw their playoff run come to a quick conclusion, while the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all advanced to keep their Super Bowl 56 dreams alive.
For the first time ever, I’m extending my weekly Power Rankings series to the postseason. After the conclusion of the Wildcard Round, I’ll rank all fourteen teams that participated. For the eight teams that remain, these rankings are indicators of which team would win in a neutral site (like say, Super Bowl 56?) but aren’t necessarily a ranking of the likelihood a team makes it to the Super Bowl or not, as some teams have easier paths than others.
Read on for my Post-Wildcard round Power Rankings, and if you’d like to debate or discuss any rankings, join the conversation with @SakSports on Twitter.
See Also: Last Week’s Rankings
- Green Bay Packers (13-4) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 1]
- Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers didn’t have to play on Wildcard Weekend, and that’s because they clinched the best record in the NFC by the end of Week 17. The Packers have been one of the most consistent teams in the NFL, and Green Bay just needs to win two games at home, where they finished a perfect 8-0 this season, to advance to Super Bowl 56. The Packers playoff journey begins on Saturday night, as they host the 49ers.
- Kansas City Chiefs (13-5) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 2]
- Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs finished off the regular season on a strong 9-1 note and looked like the dominant Chiefs we’re used to in a 42-21 win over the Steelers, with Mahomes throwing five touchdown passes. The Chiefs stay at home to host the Bills in a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game.
- Los Angeles Rams (13-5) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 4]
- Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams put on a complete showing in every facet of the game to cruise to a 34-11 win over the Cardinals on Monday night. With a dynamic offense and a ferocious defense, the Rams can play with anyone right now, and it just might land Stafford, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Odell Beckham Jr. a trip to Super Bowl 56.
- Buffalo Bills (12-6) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 5]
- The Buffalo Bills had quite literally, one of the best offensive games ever against the Patriots, scoring a touchdown on every single drive besides kneel-downs at the end of the game. Josh Allen passed for five touchdowns as Buffalo bounced New England from the playoffs with a 47-17 win. If the Bills offense is even half as efficient against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round, Buffalo will have a solid chance to go to their second straight AFC Championship Game.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-4) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 3]
- Tom Brady is still winning playoff games, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dropped the Eagles 31-15 after scoring the first 31 points of the game. Tampa Bay’s drop from #3 at the end of the regular season isn’t a knock on the defending Super Bowl champions, but rather a nod to just how dominant the Rams and Bills were in their wins.
- Cincinnati Bengals (11-7) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 7]
- The Cincinnati Bengals continue to stay hot, with four straight victories with Joe Burrow under center. Burrow passed for 244 yards and two touchdowns in his playoff debut as the Bengals defeated the Raiders 26-19. Cincinnati faces a tough test as they travel to Tennessee with a potentially healthy Derrick Henry on the other side, but if the Bengals offense stays hot, the sky is the limit.
- San Francisco 49ers (11-7) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 11]
- The road warrior San Francisco 49ers (6-3 away record during the regular season) did it again on Sunday, marching in to Dallas and walking away with a 23-17 win. Jimmy Garoppolo was efficient even if a little unspectacular, but San Francisco was able to pound the ball down the throat of Dallas’ defense with 168 yards and two touchdowns on the ground between Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel.
- Tennessee Titans (12-5) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 8]
- The Tennessee Titans finished with the #1 seed in the AFC, but I have them ranked as the weakest playoff team remaining. That’s not to say their situation isn’t attractive: win two home games to get to the Super Bowl, and get All-Pro running back Derrick Henry back on the field. But even with a three-game win streak to end the season, an earlier 1-3 slump still stings. Tennessee can absolutely prove me wrong, but right now I just see seven hotter teams.
- Dallas Cowboys (12-6) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 6]
- The Dallas Cowboys Wildcard loss was one of the closest of the weekend, with Dak Prescott and company having a chance to take the lead on the final drive, but squandering it after a questionable quarterback draw call. Dallas finishes the 2021-22 NFL season as a pretty good team, but not a team that could consistently beat playoff-caliber teams.
- New England Patriots (10-8) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 9]
- For a moment, a Brady-Belichick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers-New England Patriots Super Bowl looked not only possible, but almost inevitable when Mac Jones and the Patriots were in the midst of a seven-game winning streak. But New England went on to lose four of their final five games, including two to the Bills, to fade out and end their season.
- Las Vegas Raiders (10-8) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 13]
- The Las Vegas Raiders deserve a ton of credit (which I often didn’t give them in Picks and Power Rankings) for overcoming adversity this season, between losing Jon Gruden abruptly at head coach and off-the-field incidents affecting multiple players. Las Vegas absolutely earned their playoff spot with upset wins over the Colts and Chargers at the end of the regular season to steal the last playoff spot, but Derek Carr and the Raiders couldn’t come up with a game-tying touchdown to extend the game against the Bengals in a Wildcard loss.
- Arizona Cardinals (11-7) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 10]
- Picking the Arizona Cardinals over the Rams was my lone mistake in my Wildcard Weekend Picks, and in retrospect, it was kind of a bone-headed decision. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals backed in to the playoffs after a 7-0 start, entering the postseason after losing four of their last five games. I’m not sure why I thought things would turn around against the Rams, but they didn’t, and the Cardinals have now disappeared in the second half of the season in each of the last two years.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (9-8-1) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 15]
- After a scoreless first quarter, Mahomes and the Chiefs quickly ran away with what was very likely Ben Roethlisberger’s final game at quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s hard to peg this Steelers season exactly, and their odd record captures that perfectly.
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) [Final Regular Season Ranking: 19]
- I ranked Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles 19th in my Post-Week 18 Power Rankings, as even with a winning record and a playoff spot, I didn’t see the Eagles as a particularly good team. They didn’t do anything to prove me wrong in the playoffs, losing 31-15 to Brady and the Buccaneers.
- 2021-22 NFL Power Rankings: Post-Week 1, Post-Week 2, Post-Week 3, Post-Week 4, Post-Week 5, Post-Week 6, Post-Week 7, Post-Week 8, Post-Week 9, Post-Week 10, Post-Week 11, Post-Week 12, Post-Week 13, Post-Week 14, Post-Week 15, Post-Week 16, Post-Week 17, Post-Week 18
- 2021-22 NFL Picks: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, Week 11, Week 12, Week 13, Week 14, Week 15, Week 16, Week 17, Week 18, Wildcard
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- New York Giants Recaps: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4
- BREAKING: New York Giants Fire Joe Judge After Two Seasons, 10-23 Record
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- Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals Take AFC North Lead With Win Over Broncos
- Taysom Hill Throws Four Interceptions in 1st Start of Season
- Carson Wentz, Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts Are In Prime Playoff Position
- Rodgers, Packers Hand Murray, Cardinals First Loss of Season After 7-0 Start
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- 2021-22 NFL Predictions: NFC South
- 2021-22 NFL Predictions: NFC North
- 2021-22 NFL Predictions: NFC East
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- 2021-22 NFL Predictions: AFC North
- 2021-22 NFL Predictions: AFC East
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- NBA 2021-22: December Power Rankings
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- Top Ten Players Heading Into the 2021-22 NBA Season
- 2021-22 NBA Predictions: Playoffs and NBA Finals
- 2021-22 NBA Predictions: Western Conference
- 2021-22 NBA Predictions: Eastern Conference
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- Five Trade Destinations for 76ers Guard Ben Simmons
- 2020-21 NBA Standings, Playoffs, NBA Finals Predictions
- Top Ten Players Heading Into the 2020-21 NBA Season
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Header Photo: Associated Press