Analysis Around the League

Divisional Round Power Rankings

It’s the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs meaning we have eight teams left with Super Bowl aspirations. I am going to power rank these eight teams on who I believe has the best chance to be holding the Lombardi Trophy when it’s all said and done.

It should go without saying, all of the teams still standing deserve to be here and any one of them could win it all. That’s the beauty of the NFL.

8. Houston Texans, AFC 4 Seed

Of the remaining teams, the Texans are the only team who surrendered more points than they scored. They rank 7th in total offense and defense amongst remaining teams and arguably have the worst head coach remaining. Their star defensive player J.J. Watt is banged up and they were almost eliminated in the first round of the playoffs at home, again.

However, much like against the Bills last week, Deshaun Watson continues to show up in big games and make big time plays. He’s been doing it since his college days at Clemson. Watson gives the Texans all the hope they need to be a threat. There’s a number of injuries the Texans need to overcome, but Watson still makes this team dangerous.

7. Seattle Seahawks, NFC 5 Seed

The Seahawks are very similar to the Texans and probably have a worse roster. Their defense is the worst remaining defense and they are down to their fourth string running back.

There’s two reason the Seahawks get the advantage over the Texans: Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll. These guys have been to two Super Bowls together and won one. Wilson challenged Lamar Jackson for MVP for most of the year, before falling off a little late.

A lot of people will count this team out for the way they played against Josh McCown and the Philadelphia Eagles last week, but they have the reputation and the pedigree to make a run.

6. Minnesota Vikings, NFC 6 Seed

The Vikings might have the best roster in the NFL. They have playmakers at every position and can beat you in multiple ways. They just went into New Orleans and knocked off a heavy Super Bowl favorite in the Saints and have all the momentum on their side.

The only knock on their team is the quarterback. Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback who can win a lot of ball games, but he seems to come up short in those big-time games. He reminds me a little of Alex Smith, just outside the top ten in quarterbacks and does not really scare you. Credit to Cousins, he made some great throws against the Saints and looked very good, but can he duplicate that performance against the 49ers? My guess is probably not.

5. Packers, NFC 2 Seed

Yes, the Packers are 13-3 and got a first-round bye, but they looked the weakest of the top four teams. Would you believe that Aaron Rodgers has the worst QBR of all remaining quarterbacks? Aaron Rodgers? That’s with a top running back in Aaron Jones who had almost 1,600 total yards and scored 19 touchdowns. Devante Adams has been in and out of the lineup all season, but Rodgers has spoiled us so much in the past that we expect him to be great every year regardless of the circumstances.

However, Aaron Rodgers is still taking care of the ball while the defense can create turnovers. The Packers are third in the league in turnover difference at +12 and their mistake free style play has led them to their 13-3 record.

Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers and the Packers getting a bye shows that they are a good team. They just haven’t looked like the Packers teams we’ve seen in the past.

4. Tennessee Titians, AFC 6 Seed

I know, I know; this feels like the Titians are way too high on my power rankings. They are the 6-seed and barely made it into the playoffs. How can I rank them higher than four other teams?

Well this isn’t the same Titians team that started 2-4 with Marcus Mariota at quarterback. No, this is the 8-3 under Ryan Tannehill Titians who just went into New England and knocked off the all-mighty Patriots. I don’t care how down the Patriots were this year, that is impressive.

The Titians have all the momentum. They have the best running back in the league with Derrick Henry and a quarterback playing the best football of his career. Their defense is filled with guys you probably aren’t familiar with but do enough to be a top 12 defense. The offense is still 10th in points and 12th in yards and that’s including the first six games.

The Titians are the most dangerous team in the playoffs right now. Nobody thought they would be here, yet here they are trying to surprise everyone.

3. San Francisco 49ers, NFC 1 Seed

These top three teams are all really close and if one doesn’t win the Super Bowl, I will be very surprised. I had to put the 49ers third because of Jimmy Garoppolo. Don’t get me wrong, Garoppolo has been very good this season. He threw for just shy of 4,000 yards, completed 69% of his passes and added 27 touchdowns. It’s the 13 interceptions that stand out to me. Garoppolo needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball if the 49ers want to win a Super Bowl.

Now, the 49ers have a great roster. John Lynch has done a great job drafting and constructing this roster while Kyle Shanahan is this year’s Sean McVay. They run the team better than any team not in Baltimore and have arguably the best tight end this year in George Kittle (I believe Kittle has been better than Travis Kelce THIS year).

Their defense has been very good all year and their defensive line is one of the best in the league led by probable rookie of the year Nick Bosa. This is a very well-balanced team with a lot of tough wins. There’s a reason they’re a Super Bowl favorite.

2. Kansas City Chiefs, AFC 2 Seed

I’m probably going to get reamed for this, especially since you’re reading it on a Kansas City Chiefs focused website, but the difference between one and two is miniscule. I don’t believe there’s a wrong answer.

In the end, it came down to body of work. Yes, the defense appears to be much improved but the only playoff team they played during that final stretch were the Patriots who proved to be offensively challenged by the end of the season. The last good offensive team the Chiefs played were the Titians who went up and down the field and eventually won due to a total team collapse by the Chiefs. We’ve seen games like that many times in the Playoffs and the Chiefs defense needs to prove to me they aren’t that defense anymore.

Now, after bringing up all your worst fears about this team, they still have the MVP Patrick Mahomes. He appears to be completely healthy and playing like he was last year. Mahomes won his first playoff start and was a coin flip/Dee Ford offsides from going to the Super Bowl.

This team is on fire right now and might be the hottest team in the league. Add the MVP, the weapons, the improved defense and Andy Reid and you have a team nobody wants to see in the Playoffs.

1. Baltimore Ravens, AFC 1 Seed

There has not been a more impressive team this year than the Baltimore Ravens. They went 14-2 and haven’t lost since week 4. They have this year’s MVP in Lamar Jackson who looks like the next coming of Michael Vick. John Harbaugh has done an incredible job of embracing Jackson’s skills and changing the offense to put him in the best position to succeed. Adding Mark Ingram and the breakout of Mark Andrews has the offense rolling.

The Ravens also seem to get better every week on defense. Earl Thomas is making plays at safety and the addition of Marcus Peters has done wonders for the Ravens. Peters adds an energy that teammates love and opposing teams hate. The Ravens have 25 takeaways and have taken 6 of those all the way for a touchdown, best in the league. The Ravens have an elite defense.

Baltimore has been the best team in the league since week 5 and that looks to continue in the playoffs.

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