SportsTips’ NFL Power Rankings: Wildcard Round

SportsTips’ NFL Power Rankings: Wildcard Round
Mon 4th January 2021

There is controversy at the top of the SportsTips’ NFL Power Rankings as we enter the postseason. The Kansas City Chiefs, who have the best record in the league and are the #1 seed in the AFC, have dropped from top spot and they haven’t fallen just one position either. 

Just 14 teams remain with the ultimore glory four weeks of football away. So many teams had to win to get in last week meaning we didn’t see the tradition of bulk players being rested in week 17. That means teams were at their best and had the opportunity to move up in our NFL Power Rankings so check out where we have all of the postseason teams below. 

1. Green Bay Packers (13-3) 

Super Bowl Odds: +450
Previous Rank: 2 

Green Bay had two apparent weaknesses as the postseason neared, their inability to beat good sides and their inability to stop the run. 

In the last two weeks they have defeated the Tennessee Titans, who finished 11-5 and won the AFC South, and the Chicago Bears, who were on a three game winning streak and finished in the last wildcard slot in the NFC. In doing so they kept Derrick Henry under 100 rushing yards and without a touchdown and David Montgomery to just 69 rushing yards, his lowest mark out of his last six games. 

Aaron Rodgers had an extremely efficient game, throwing 19/24 for 240 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Bears. Six different Packers received for over 10 yards led by Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s 87 yards and one touchdown. 

The Packers now get a week off to prepare for either Washington or Tampa Bay and don’t have to leave Lambeau Field until the Super Bowl, should they make it that far. 

2. Buffalo Bills (13-3) 

Super Bowl Odds: +750
Previous Rank: 3 

Buffalo is the hottest team in football right now, finding form at the perfect time of the season. The Bills put up 56 points on the Miami Dolphins who have a great defense and had to win to get into the postseason. 

Josh Allen threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns and didn’t play a single snap in the second half. Antonio Williams gave some much needed support on the ground with 63 rushing yards and two touchdowns, allowing Allen and Matt Barkley to use play action to keep the Dolphins’ defense guessing. 

The Bills enter the postseason on a six game winning streak, winning nine of their last ten and have scored a massive 142 points over the last three games while allowing just 54. 

They will host the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday afternoon and will be allowed to have almost 7,000 fans in Bills Stadium, meaning they will have a proper home advantage and will be raring to go. 

3. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) 

Super Bowl Odds: +220
Previous Rank: 1 

Before you question the drop, this is not a knee-jerk reaction to the Chiefs losing their last game of the season to the Los Angeles Chargers. 

Yes the Chiefs have the best record in football, had a 10-game winning streak including wins over Buffalo and New Orleans, have one of the most electrifying offenses the game has ever seen and gets a wildcard round bye before not having to leave Arrowhead Stadium until the Super Bowl. 

However, the last eight weeks has seen them go 7-1, not win by more than six points, only play two teams that are in the playoffs and their defense give up 24 or more points on six occasions, including allowing the Chargers to put up 38 points on Sunday. 

The Chiefs are still Super Bowl favorites, have a bye this week and will be at home, but they aren’t playing great football at the moment and a divisional round matchup with the winner of Tennessee v Baltimore is scary. 

4. New Orleans Saints (12-4) 

Super Bowl Odds: +750
Previous Rank: 4

The New Orleans Saints may have had the best two week lead up to the postseason outside of Buffalo, beating the Minnesota Vikings by 19 in a game where Alvin Kamara ran for 155 yards and six touchdowns, and the Carolina Panthers by 26 points with none of their rotation running backs available due to COVID-19 protocols. 

Drew Brees threw for 201 yards, three touchdowns and no picks, but the team is now sweating on the availability of both Michael Thomas and Kamara.

Thomas has spent the last three weeks on the injury reserve list, hoping to fully get over his ankle injury that has lingered all season in time for the postseason. Kamara was the reason that all of the running backs missed week 17 as he tested positive for COVID-19 and there is no guarantee that he will be good to go in a week’s time. 

5. Seattle Seahawks (12-4) 

Super Bowl Odds: +1300
Previous Rank: 5

This wasn’t exactly what Seattle had in mind in terms of preparation for the postseason, trailing San Francisco 16-6 in the last quarter before a 20-0 run in the final frame saw them get a lead they never gave up. 

The Seahawks did keep some key guys out of their week 17 matchup to prepare for the postseason, but Russell Wilson only had a 55.56% completion percentage and the defense allowed third string quarterback C.J. Beathard to throw for 273 yards, a touchdown and no picks. 

Seattle now hosts the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night, the same team that they kept to just nine points and defeated in week 16. That performance will give the Seahawks plenty of confidence heading into this one and they will have a point to prove against their NFC West rivals. 

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) 

Super Bowl Odds: +1000
Previous Rank: 6

Heading into their week 12 bye, Tampa Bay had dropped two straight and people began questioning their ability to win meaningful games of football. 

They have won four on the trot since then, including a 40 point victory in week 16 and then a 17 point victory on Sunday. In those two big wins, Brady had a combined 747 yards, 8 touchdowns and just one pick. 

While they are some very nice numbers, the combined record of the two teams they beat is 9-23 and neither have the pass rush or defense that Tampa will have to face in Washington on Saturday. 

Tom Brady is one of the best to ever do it, if not the best, but a tough wildcard round matchup for the second straight season couldn’t be the undoing of him again, could it?

7. Tennessee Titans (11-5) 

Super Bowl Odds: +2500
Previous Rank: 10

The Tennessee Titans are lucky to be where they are, but climb to seven in our NFL Power Rankings purely because they did enough to win the AFC South and get a home playoff game. 

Baltimore is playing better football than the Titans right now, but when they match up on Sunday, Tennessee will be at home, they beat Baltimore during the regular season and they still have a mental edge over them after last year’s divisional round victory. 

On Sunday, Derrick Henry showed why he is the best running back in the game going off for 250 yards and two touchdowns, becoming just the eighth running back in NFL history to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards in a season. 

Ryan Tannehill had another good all-around game with one passing touchdown, two rushing touchdowns and no turnovers capping off a brilliant year for the QB. He is the perfect quarterback to move the chains, work well with Henry to keep defenses guessing and limit turnovers. 

8. Baltimore Ravens (11-5) 

Super Bowl Odds: +1100
Previous Rank: 8 

The Baltimore Ravens enter the postseason on a five game winning streak, including a massive five-point win over the Browns in Cleveland on Monday Night Football before going on to win their last three games by an average of 25 points. 

On Sunday, in something that seems unbelievable or something off Madden, Baltimore’s defense restricted the Bengals to just three points and their quarterback Brandon Allen only completed six passes on the night for a total of 48 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. 

Baltimore on the other hand dominated on the ground, rushing for an absurd 404 yards led by rookie J.K Dobbins’ 160 yards and two touchdowns. Lamar Jackson had 97 yards by foot and added another 113 plus three touchdowns with his arm in the 35-point victory. 

The last two times the Ravens have played the Titans, both in Baltimore, Tennessee has won. They now head to Tennessee to try and remove some mental demons and get Lamar Jackson’s first playoff victory.  

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) 

Super Bowl Odds: +2000
Previous Rank: 7

Pittsburgh have stumbled into the postseason, going 1-4 over their last five and now have to host the team that defeated them in week 17, the Cleveland Browns. 

The Steelers played that game with Big Ben Roethlisberger resting, the game was in Cleveland and they only lost by two points. Chase Claypool had 101 receiving yards plus a touchdown and the Steelers’ defense managed to sack Baker Mayfield four times, so there are some positives to take into next Sunday Night’s matchup. 

Big Ben and Mike Tomlin have the experience and composure advantage in the matchup, but will they be able to overcome their flaws to win a playoff game?

10. Cleveland Browns (11-5) 

Super Bowl Odds: +4500
Previous Rank: 11 

Cleveland followed up their embarrassing loss to the Jets with a two-point victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Yes they won which means they get the sixth seed in the AFC and break an 18-year playoff drought, but the Steelers were without Ben Roethlisberger, T.J. Watt and the Browns could only just beat them. 

The positives in the win were that they combined for 192 rushing yards and despite being sacked four times, Baker Mayfield didn’t turn the ball over at all. The win should give them confidence for next weekend while also knowing that they have so much more room to improve. 

11. Los Angeles Rams (10-6) 

Super Bowl Odds: +2500
Previous Rank: 13

After failing to guarantee a postseason ticket last week against the Seahawks, Los Angeles did so in week 17, defeating the Arizona Cardinals by 11 points. 

The Rams’ defense was once again the MVP of the game, keeping the explosive and dynamic Cardinals offense to just seven points. They sacked Kyler Murray four times and Troy Hill had an 84-yard pick six, LA’s only touchdown of the game. 

The offense seemed to struggle, only scoring 18 points but they were without Jared Goff who missed with a dislocated thumb and played John Wolford at quarterback in his first ever NFL game. 

They face a divisional rival for the third straight week, playing the Seahawks again who defeated them in week 16. The Rams’ defense is still one of the best in the league and could win them multiple playoff games, but their offense could just as easily lose them games and Seattle is a tough test. 

12. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) 

Super Bowl Odds: +4000
Previous Rank: 12 

The Indianapolis Colts did what they needed to do in order to secure a postseason spot, beat the 1-14 Jacksonville Jaguars, who actually beat the Colts in week 1.  

The win, despite being by 14 points, wasn’t as convincing as it should have been. The Colts led by just six points for over 17 minutes in the second half and the Jaguars had four possessions before the Colts scored again to put the game out of reach. Colts’ rookie running back Jonathan Taylor capped off his incredible rookie season with a 253 yard, two touchdown performance in the win. 

They now face a red hot Buffalo Bills team at Bills Stadium that will be allowed to have fans in it. A loss to the struggling Steelers followed by an uninspiring win over the worst team in football isn’t exactly the best preparation for that matchup. 

13. Washington Football Team (7-9)

Super Bowl Odds: +8000
Previous Rank: 16

The Washington Football Team won the NFC East. Alex Smith returned from a calf complaint to stop their two game losing streak and get the team over the line to claim the division and set up a home final against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Washington’s defense was again the star of the show, keeping Philadelphia to just 14 points, the seventh straight game keeping an opponent to 20 points or fewer. As a team they got two interceptions, one fumble recovery, three sacks and forced a turnover on downs on their own four yard line. 

Smith had a rough first game back, throwing just 162 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but both Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin played and looked good despite being under injury clouds all week. 

Chase Young has already said that he is hungry for a win and is ready to go up against Tom Brady next weekend and we can’t wait to see how the Washington defense goes up against the Bucs’ offense. 

14. Chicago Bears (8-8) 

Super Bowl Odds: +8000
Previous Rank: 15 

The Chicago Bears won three games straight before falling to the Green Bay Packers and it was enough to sneak into the postseason.

Despite finishing the regular season with a 0.500 record, Chicago will be playing in the playoffs, traveling to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints. 

Chicago could manage just one sack in the game while Mitchell Trubisky threw for 252 yards but had no touchdowns and a pick. They now face one of the best defenses in the league at the moment and could be in some serious danger of being blown out. 

*Odds correct at time of publication.

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Image by: Brandon Long

Tim is a keen follower of all American sports, in particular the NBA and NFL. He has followed both sports for over a decade and would happily sit down and watch every game, regardless of who is playing! No matter the sport, whether it be NFL and NBA or even MLB, NHL and UFC, Tim covers it from every angle, keeping up to date with all the news to bring you the most up-to-date information and the best picks and predictions across all sports.