After Super Wild Card Weekend, just eight teams remain on the road to Super Bowl 57 and here's is how I'm ranking the remaining contenders to win it all in Arizona on Sunday February 12.
The 49ers are such a fun team to watch right now and even when Seattle gave them everything they could handle for two quarters, San Francisco still pulled away for a 41-23 win. Rookie seventh-round quarterback Brock Purdy is a great story, but he is just one of about 10 players who could be the headline act on this talent-laden squad. Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Nick Bosa… I could go on and on.
The Chiefs are coming off a week of rest and that makes them arguably the most dangerous team left in the playoff field for a number of reasons. The biggest being that goodness knows what kind of offensive madness Andy Reid will have schemed up given extra time. The Chiefs have played in the AFC Championship Game in each of Patrick Mahomes’ four years as the starter and should feel confident of reaching number five.
I would pay good money to watch Josh Allen play football. I would put him above all others when it comes to players I would like to watch in the flesh. And yet I am dropping his team one spot because there were too many sloppy errors during last week’s 34-31 win over the Miami Dolphins. Allen was sacked seven times, lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and threw two picks. The Bills will need to raise their game against Cincinnati.
And Cincinnati will need to raise their game against Buffalo. The Bengals have injuries to an offensive line that was starting to come together, most notably left Jonah Williams. Joe Burrow was sacked four times in a game the Bengals only just survived against the Baltimore Ravens. Cincinnati are playing tough on defense and that allows time for Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase to find their points. But the protection issues are on my radar heading into the final eight.
The Eagles enter the playoff field as the number one seed in the NFC and with a few questions now hanging over a team that looked dominant in the first three months of the season, but not in the last. Is quarterback Jalen Hurts going to be fully fit? Can they overcome injuries to the offensive and defensive fronts? I think it’s worth noting just how deep and talented this team looked when at it’s best. But momentum is also a big thing.
Dak Prescott will be flying high on confidence heading into a tough matchup with the San Francisco 49ers this weekend. He was outstanding in Dallas’ 31-14 victory over Tampa Bay. Now, pressure will come in two forms. Number one, he will be facing a much more formidable defense – the number one unit in the NFL. Number two, he will be under more pressure to keep the scoreboard ticking over. San Francisco’s offense is a very different proposition to Tampa Bay’s.
I have given the Jags the edge over the New York Giants, even though there is very little between the two teams. Maybe it’s recency bias after that comeback for the ages against L.A. Trevor Lawrence showed just how special he could be in that fightback, but we should also remember that every offensive drive had to be set up by a defensive stop. The Jags now have the ability to be competitive on both sides of the ball.
Daniel Jones played the game of his life at quarterback for the Giants in the first-round win over the Minnesota Vikings. And receivers Darius Slayton, Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins are emerging as reliable targets. Jones looked assured and confident in Minnesota but, more than anything, he looked dangerous and capable of producing chunk plays. Oh, and the Giants have another pretty good chunk-yardage player in running back Saquon Barkley.