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With the playoffs upon us in place of a what we learned we take a look at each playoff team in the form of a playoff power ranking. This list isn’t formatted on talent alone though. It factors in experience and overall play coming into the playoffs as well. Both are major factors. So without further ado here are the 12 playoff teams ranked.
1. New England Patriots: Who else would I put in the number one spot? Who am I to doubt Tom Brady v the field in the playoffs? Not to mention, the team with deficiencies in the pass rush just added James Harrison. A man who I’m convinced is on the same anti-aging agent as Tom Brady. Where is the weakness in this team? The O line, maybe but Brady has better pocket movement than he ever has in his career right now. The secondary will ultimately step up for the Pats in the playoffs. Injuries are this teams only enemy and they go into the playoffs healthy.
2. New Orleans Saints: In the playoffs experience is everything, if you don’t have Tom Brady as your QB in the playoffs then you want Drew Brees. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram help control the ground which is of course as any football analyst will tell you crucial in the playoffs. The Saints defense has played incredibly well this year. Marshon Lattimore is the big name on this defense, but lineman Cam Jordan has had one of his best career years. If there is a weakness in this Saints team it may be throwing it down the field, simply because we haven’t really seen them do it this year. However, I think I still trust Drew Brees deep ball enough to put them as the second-best team in the playoffs.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Respect Case Keenum. Ok, now that we have that in your mind where are the major weaknesses on this team? Unless the offensive line is playing hurt, which they aren’t currently there aren’t many. The Vikings are one of the most fascinating defenses in the league simply because they do not rotate their players. The defensive starters have played 300 consecutive snaps, that’s almost unheard of. The only real weakness is a ground game that can disappear at certain points in the game. However the Vikings implore screen plays to enforce their run game, and they grade as one of the best teams doing it. So again, very few weaknesses exist. The Vikings could be the first team to ever play a Super Bowl in their own stadium, there’s a very real chance.
4. Los Angeles Rams: The Rams offense was voted our PSF offense of the year for a reason. What Sean Mcvay has accomplished this year is incredibly impressive, however it somewhat over shadows a Wade Phillip defense that is a nightmare to opposing passers. The Rams defense is championship worthy. Yes, the secondary can be suspect for brief moments due to average safety play but that is covered up by excellent linebacker play from Alec Ogletree. The Rams have a problem at kicker however, Sam Ficken is perhaps the worst pro kicker I have ever watched. I’m a kicker guy but I know when a guy isn’t going to work, and this guy isn’t going to work in the playoffs. If your coach has no confidence in you outside 30 yards that’s a major problem. Aside from the kicker the Rams most major weakness would have to be inexperience. However, I don’t really buy into that in this case, talent out classes experience.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have it going on offense right now. Even without Antonio Brown, who may not be back for the divisional round, the Steelers passing game hasn’t felt his absence. Martavis Bryant is coming to the playoffs on a hot streak with 184 yards and a touchdown. Add that to a break out year for wide out Ju Ju Smith Schuster and you find yourself with one of the toughest passing games in the league. Leveon Bell has had another great year as well on the ground. The Steelers biggest weakness, themselves. Every year we say this team is Super Bowl caliber and every year they get bounced from the playoffs early. I’ll believe it when I see it, until I see it this team is the fifth best in the playoffs.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Are the Falcons especially great? No, however they come in with massive momentum after a colossal win against a good Panthers team. That can mean a lot in the playoffs. The Falcons have a great run game and one of the best wideouts in the league in Julio Jones. If they use those two aspects of their offense properly they can beat anyone in the NFC. The defense has struggled throughout the year but when they need to step up they do. While this team has lost some bad games, they always find a way to win the big games. That is an awesome attribute to have if you are an NFL playoff team. They draw the Rams, an incredibly tough match up, but if they beat them, then this team can go to the NFC championship game. Matt Ryan will have to play his best ball in an up and down year but that isn’t an impossible ask.
7. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers most major weakness is the run game, while it has somewhat appeared over the past 3 games it will need to remain consistent. Cam Newton isn’t having a great time Quarterbacking right now. 4 interceptions to one touchdown over the past two games is not a great look going into the playoffs. However, Newton has been here before, at this point we have to consider him a veteran playoff QB. This team revolves around Newton when he plays well and limits turnovers they can beat anyone in the league. The Panthers defense is terrific they’ve allowed only one 30-point game all year, to the Patriots. Even in their losses the Panthers defense is stellar, if Newton eliminates mistakes this team has a real shot.
8. Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs have had an odd season to say the least. Alex Smith started the first quarter of the season as an MVP candidate and the Chiefs established a dominant rushing attack. Then through the second and third quarters of the season the defense caved in completely, Alex Smith came back to earth and Kareem Hunt disappeared. The Chiefs have rebounded over the last four weeks of the season, but it is hard to put the past behind them in this case. Alex Smith has played well and in fairness had a career year, however in the playoffs something has always gone wrong for Smith. Kareem Hunt has reappeared in the running game with 397 yards over the past 4 weeks. The defense was carved up by Paxton Lynch in week 17, to be fair some of those players were backups. That still isn’t a great sign though. This team has a ceiling of the Conference title game, and a floor of being kicked out in the wild card.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars have one of the most ferocious defenses in the league. A turnover forcing machine lead by Calais Campbell and Jalen Ramsey. The Safety position may be the only weakness on this defense, and by weakness I mean B+ players in an A defense. This team also has Blake Bortles though. Bortles can kill you with interceptions, or push you over the top as an offense. There is no in between, he is an extremely volatile player, volatile players don’t take teams on deep playoff runs.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: What could have been. A poisonous phrase for those who wish to live in the past. The Eagles could have been a Super Bowl team. Not with Nick Foles at QB though. Foles is somehow more volatile than Bortles and that is why the Eagles, a one seed, tick in at the ten spot on these rankings. If Nick Foles plays his best football he can take this team to the Super Bowl, if he doesn’t they will be blown out in the divisional round. There is too much volatility involved with this team and that is why they clock out at ten. I was tempted to put them lower, however the defense is too good to put them any lower than ten.
11. Tennessee Titans: The Titans made the playoffs with a good win verse a very good Jags defense. I believe a lot in a team that comes in hot too the playoffs. If you come in playing your best ball you have a shot. I’m not sure if the Titans are playing their best football right now. I’m not sure if Marcus Mariota is completely healthy and I don’t know if they will continue to over use Demaro Murray when clearly the better back is Derrick Henry. All that being said the Titans could be a fascinating playoff team or a complete flop, the uncertainty lands them at 11.
12. Buffalo Bills: The Bills have a very interesting team. A QB who makes very few mistakes but won’t light up the scoreboard and a defense that can play incredibly well. However, Lesean McCoy was carted off in week 17. When you lose your best offensive weapon that’s a rough way to go into the playoffs. I have no idea who I will pick between the Jags and Bills it is an incredibly fascinating game to me. The Bills however have the least talent of any playoff team and as such they rank last.