The NFL 2022 Postseason Rankings

Samir Jamdar ‘23

This year’s NFL playoffs feature 14 teams all competing for their shot to hoist the Lombardi trophy, at the end of the biggest game, the Super Bowl. However, in this year’s postseason, there are 7 new teams who did not qualify last year, looking to make a run, while repeat contenders, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, look to make it to the Super Bowl back to back years. Here are the remaining teams ranked from number 14 to number 1. 

No. 14 – Pittsbnrgh Steelers (9-7-1)

It has been an up-and-down year for Mike Tomlin’s team, which has struggled in the first quarter and saved a lot of its offensive heroics late in the game. The Steelers’ defense has been shaky, finishing dead last against the run [1]. However, veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has shown a lot of grit while rookie Najee Harris runs hard and does not fumble. Led by relentless T.J. Watt, who tied the NFL record with 22.5 sacks over the course of just 15 games [2], the Pittsburgh Steelers need to leverage their defense and hope that they can slow down the high-powered Kansas City Offense.

No.13 – Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)

First-time NFL head coach Nick Sirianni and the team went through its growing pains early in the season. The Eagles were just 3-6 after nine games. But things began to click as second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts and an offensive line led by All-Pro center Jason Kelce found its rhythm. On the offensive side of the ball, the talent of star Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith, and tight end Dallas Goedert helped the Eagles to their 9-8 finish. On defense, Darius Slay, the prolific corner, locked up top wide receivers throughout the season for Philadelphia, so opposing quarterbacks know not to throw it to his side of the field. With all things considered, the Eagles have a tough first round matchup against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, so Philadelphia will have to play a near perfect game in order to get past them.

No.12 – Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)

Left for dead by many after a grisly blowout loss to the Chiefs in Week 14, Las Vegas closed its season with four consecutive wins to advance to the postseason for the first time in half a decade. The Sunday night finale of the regular season against the Chargers was brilliant theater: The Raiders took control of the game in the second half, coughed up a 15-point fourth-quarter lead, but still found a way to escape with an overtime win. The Raiders proved they had a good ground game with leading rusher Josh Jacobs, while Derek Carr continued to prove his specialties in clutch situations with the game on the line. The Raiders will also get star tight end Darren Waller back from injury to add their elite core of pass catchers which feature the likes of Zay Jones and Hunter Renfrow. 

No.11 – Arizona Cardinals (11-6)

The Niners knocked off the Rams on Sunday of Week 18, meaning a Cards win at home over the Seahawks would make Arizona the NFC West champs. But familiar problems resurfaced (momentum-killing penalties, a lack of splash plays on offense) in a 38-30 loss. Perhaps it is for the best: Arizona had a woeful 3-5 mark at home this season compared with an 8-1 record away from State Farm Stadium. That is a stark difference in results, and we have already seen the Cardinals beat up on the Rams at SoFi Stadium back in Week 4. Given Kyler’s decline in performance and the lack of effectiveness by the Cardinals defense, it seems unlikely that they will be able to make a deep playoff push considering that they do not look as dominant as they did during the first half of the season. Perhaps Kyler Murray and the rest of the Cardinals offense will be able to get things going come game time. 

No. 10 – New England Patriots (10-7)

The Patriots entered Sunday of Week 18 with a chance to take the AFC East with a win over the Dolphins and some help from the Jets, but it was not their day. The Bills handled their business in Orchard Park, and New England delivered an uncharacteristically sloppy performance in a   33-24 loss in Miami. Mac Jones threw a pick-six and lost a fumble in the game, and now he enters his first NFL postseason as a question mark. Jones struggled against quality competition in the final weeks of the season and is now tasked with navigating a stout Bills defense that shut him down when these two teams met in Week 16. 

No. 9 – Dallas Cowboys (12-5)

For the second time in three weeks, the Cowboys flexed their muscles in an intimidating fashion. The victim this time was a shorthanded Eagles defense, which had no answers against the NFC East champs in the Week 18 finale. Dak Prescott led the way in the Cowboys’ 51-26 win, throwing five touchdown passes to give him 35 for the season, and bump Tony Romo from atop the franchise record books. Mike McCarthy’s team had no problem beating up on a pair of compromised divisions foes down the stretch. The Cowboys wideouts are also amongst the top of the league with Ceedee Lamb and Amari Cooper. Defensively, the Cowboys are excellent as well because of Micah Parsons, the rookie linebacker who had 13 sacks during the regular season.  Along with Parsons, Trevon Diggs recorded a league high 11 interceptions this season [3].

No.8 – Los Angeles Rams (12-5)

The Rams blew a lead of 17-0 in an ugly overtime loss to the 49ers that creates doubt around the NFC West champions as the playoffs begin. Sean McVay, who lost his first NFL game after leading at halftime, was burned on Sunday by putting his faith in the defense. San Francisco responded with a breezy 88-yard touchdown drive (with zero timeouts) before finishing off L.A. in overtime in front of tens of thousands of Niners fans at SoFi Stadium. While the
Rams have finished the season on a disappointing loss at home, they clinched the NFC west, and have a favorable wildcard matchup against the Arizona Cardinals at home. 

No.7 – San Francisco 49ers (10-7)

The Niners are in the playoffs for the second time in three years, but it was a rollercoaster year for Kyle Shanahan’s club. San Francisco won its first two games, dropped four in a row, and finished 8-3 in its last 11 contests. Versatile All-Pro Deebo Samuel finished with 1,770 yards from scrimmage and 14 TDs. Jimmy Graoppolo had his moments, but his 15 turnovers are still a concern. A healthy Nick Bosa finished with 15.5 of the team’s impressive 48 sacks. Based on San Francisco’s last regular season performance against the Rams, they look like a team that can go on the road and win in uncomfortable situations. Therefore, Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers cannot be written off as they have some serious potential to upset teams in the NFC. 

No.6 – Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)

The Cincinnati Bengals are back in the playoffs, looking for their first playoff win since 1991. The players most responsible for their postseason appearance are former LSU teammates, Joe Burrow and Jamar Chase. The quarterback and wide receiver duo have been the lifeblood of the Bengals offense, and most recently torched the Kansas City Chiefs defense in order to lift Cincinnati to a AFC North division title. In addition to Chase, the Bengals also have Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, who are both outstanding pass catchers as well as Joe Mixon, who spearheaded the ground game for Cincinnati throughout the regular season. The Bengals have the potential to make a deep postseason run, and could be a good team for a long time to come thanks to head coach Zac Taylor and his leadership. 

No. 5 – Buffalo Bills (11-6)

The Bills clinched the AFC East title with a 27-10 to win over the Jets on Sunday. Despite the offense performing poorly, the Buffalo defense, which is the number one scoring defense in the NFL, was able to take care of business. Josh Allen continues to improve his game week after week which has allowed him to enter the conversation of elite quarterbacks. The Bills offense has also been helped by the contribution of Stefon Diggs, who recorded another 1000 yard season for Buffalo. With all things considered, Sean McDermott and the Bills have the potential to make a deep playoff push, but they must remain consistent in order to do so. 

No. 4 – Tennessee Titans (12-5)

Tennessee took care of business in Week 18, as quarterback Ryan Tannehill tied a career high with four touchdown passes and escaped trouble on a crucial third down in the fourth quarter to deliver one of the biggest completions of the year. It was the kind of performance we didn’t see enough of from Tannehill during the regular season, but the veteran quarterback enters the playoffs fully rested because of a first round bye, and with a full complement of weapons at his disposal. The Titans who have not been fully healthy this season get their offensive centerpieces back. Both wide receivers, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones as well as star running back Derrick Henry will return after not being all together on the field for large amounts of time this season. 

No. 3 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4)

The Bucs’ title defense moves on to the playoffs on Sunday, but Bruce Arians started his week by stumping for his quarterback for league MVP honors, stating, “I think if he doesn’t get it, it’s a travesty,” Arians said. “Most completions ever, 5,000 yards, touchdowns — the whole nine yards. To me, it’s not even a close race,” [5].  Brady has delivered another off the charts statistical season at 44 years old — if he wins his fourth MVP, it will be well earned. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is set up very well this weekend with an ideal matchup against Philadelphia at home. The Bucs’ injury issues, not to mention the Antonio Brown melodrama, are well-documented, but Brady gives them legitimacy in any conversation of Super Bowl favorites.

No.2 – Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)

The Chiefs hold the number 2 seed going into the playoffs despite their 28-24 victory against the Denver Broncos to close out the season. Mahomes and the offense continue to look solid, and the defense redeemed themselves after getting torched by Jamar Chase and Joe Burrow the week prior. However, one concern for the Chiefs offense is the status of Tyreek Hill. The speed demon wide receiver appeared to be hurt last week at Denver, and his availability for the Chiefs wildcard matchup vs the Steelers is in question. Aside from Hill, the Chiefs have Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, and star tight end Travis Kelce who have come up big for them in recent weeks. 

No. 1 Green Bay Packers (13-4) 

The Packers closed out the regular season with a 37-30 loss to the Detroit Lions, but they got David Bakhtiari back. The All-Pro left tackle, sidelined since tearing his ACL in practice on the last day of 2020, made a surprise return to the lineup. The Packers continue to play great football down the stretch because of their juggernaut offense. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are the best quarterback wide receiver tandem in the NFL, and with the first round bye, it allows Aaron Rodgers to let his injured toe rest. Finally, the Packers also have a stellar rushing attack that features Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. With the Packers leading the league in many offensive categories, it is difficult to see them falling short of at least an NFC Championship game.