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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / NFL Playoff Power Rankings: Wildcard Round

NFL Playoff Power Rankings: Wildcard Round

Dan's NFL Playoff Power Rankings for Wildcard weekend!
Publish Date: 01/10/2024
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

The 2023 NFL regular season has come to an end. The playoff field is set, as are the top 18 picks for the 2024 NFL Draft. It was a long and fun NFL regular season, but this is what they play for – a chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy. Who do you consider the favorites out of the AFC and NFC? Which contender is on upset alert? Without further ado, here’s my NFL Playoff Power Rankings: Wildcard Round!


  1. BALTIMORE RAVENS  13-4
  2. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS  12-5
  3. DALLAS COWBOYS  12-5
  4. BUFFALO BILLS  11-6
  5. DETROIT LIONS  12-5
  6. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS  11-6
  7. CLEVELAND BROWNS  11-6
  8. MIAMI DOLPHINS  11-6
  9. LOS ANGELES RAMS  10-7
  10. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES  11-6
  11. GREEN BAY PACKERS  9-8
  12. HOUSTON TEXANS  10-7
  13. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS  9-8
  14. PITTSBURGH STEELERS  10-7

  • The top of the list should come as a surprise to no one. Baltimore is the clear best team in the AFC coming into the playoffs, and San Fran is the most talented team in the league. The main reasons the Ravens sit above the 49ers are Lamar Jackson being better than Brock Purdy, and the Ravens handled the 49ers in week 16. A Super Bowl rematch between these two teams (they met back in 2013) would be epic.
  • The Dallas Cowboys have the feel of a fraud team. Losses to Buffalo and Miami raise questions about Dallas’ ability to perform on the road against playoff level teams, and they should have lost to the Lions. Dak Prescott has had an excellent year, and the defense led by Micah Parsons can be dominant at times, but the Cowboys can’t run the ball with any consistency, and can be had on the ground. Miami is in the same boat, only they hadn’t beaten anyone until a flukey two point win against Dallas in week 16, and I have more questions about Tua than I do about Dak.
  • Buffalo could be dangerous. Buffalo has been on fire as of late, having closed out the regular season on a five game winning streak capped off by a division clinching win over the Miami Dolphins in week 18. Josh Allen has had issues with turnovers all season, but he is capable of carrying Buffalo to victory, and has experience winning playoff games. Buffalo’s defense has been coming through in the clutch, and the Bills have been more committed to the ground game during this winning streak.
  • I really wanted to put Kansas City in the top five, I just couldn’t bring myself to actually do it. Mahomes is still great, but Kelce has fallen off recently, and the offensive struggles are well documented. The reasons I have so much trust in the Chiefs are: Andy Reid, Mahomes, and a defense that ranks second in the league in total defense and points allowed.
  • Quick Hits:
    • If Joe Flacco continues doing what he did during the regular season, the Browns will be a real threat; if not, they will be going home sooner than later.
    • Can Miami be trusted at all? It’s going to be near zero degrees in Kansas City, and this team has not proven anything this season against top competition.
    • The Rams are a dangerous team. Sean McVay, Aaron Donald, and Matt Stafford already know what it takes to win a Super Bowl, and this team is as healthy as it’s been. Kyren Williams, Cooper Kupp, and Puka Nacua might be the best trio of offensive weapons in the playoffs.
    • Philly is in big trouble. Jalen Hurts has gotten a lot of criticism during this rough stretch for the Eagles, and rightfully so, as he and the passing offense have struggled. There are bigger issues, however. Acting like Hurts taking a step back is the big problem is giving a pass on the other real issues. The offense is vanilla, the ground game has disappeared, and the defense is atrocious (particularly against the pass). The Eagles might win a game just because they are so talented, but this current version of the team isn’t going far.
    • C.J. Stroud and Jordan Love had excellent seasons, and look to have bright futures ahead of them. Stroud should be the Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Love finished second in the NFL in passing touchdowns. Their teams are probably a year away from being true contenders, however.
    • Kudos to the Pittsburgh Steelers for securing a playoff appearance despite all the offensive issues this season: instability and injuries at quarterback, questionable play-calling that led to an in-season change at offensive coordinator, and one of the most inconsistent group of talented skill position players in the league. There have been rumblings of potential changes in Pittsburgh this offseason, but the Steelers would be absolutely insane to move on from Mike Tomlin this offseason.
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