The NFL playoff bracket is set and the divisional round matchups are locked in after a dramatic Super Wild Card weekend. With some of the league’s top teams now eliminated, there has been a major shakeup in the playoff power rankings heading into the next round.
Ravens Soar To #1 After Dominant Win
The Baltimore Ravens have taken over the #1 spot in the playoff power rankings after demolishing the Miami Dolphins 59-10 in the opening round. Led by likely MVP Lamar Jackson, the Ravens looked unstoppable on offense and their defense smothered the Dolphins.
With the most dominant performance of Super Wild Card weekend, the Ravens made their case as the Super Bowl favorites at this point. Their plus-52 point differential was the third-highest ever in a playoff game. They head into the divisional round with all the momentum to make a deep run.
NFL Playoff Power Rankings:
1. Baltimore Ravens
2. Buffalo Bills
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. Kansas City Chiefs
Bills Hold Strong At #2 After Bye Week
Despite having the bye week, the Buffalo Bills maintain the #2 spot in the power rankings. Their explosive offense led by Josh Allen gives them as good a chance as anyone to win it all. The Bills had a league-best point differential in the regular season and have lost just once since Week 10.
After losing a heartbreaker in the divisional round last year, the Bills are hungry to get over the hump. With an extra week to rest and prepare, they’ll come in fired up against the rival Patriots.
49ers Surge After Upset Win Over Seahawks
Biggest risers in the power rankings are the San Francisco 49ers, who went on the road to upset the rival Seahawks 41-23. Rookie sensation Brock Purdy passed his first playoff test with flying colors, throwing for 332 yards and leading the Niners to become the first team in NFL history with at least 500 yards in back-to-back playoff games.
The 49ers defense swarmed Seahawks QB Geno Smith all game, sacking him three times and forcing two interceptions. After losing several key players to injuries during the season, the 49ers have shown incredible resilience and are peaking at the right time. They’ll host the streaking Lions next week in the most intriguing matchup of the divisional round.
Questions For Chiefs After Ugly Win
The Kansas City Chiefs did just enough to squeak by the dysfunctional Raiders, winning 27-20 after nearly blowing a 17-point fourth quarter lead. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense did not look sharp, settling for field goals and struggling in the red zone.
While Andy Reid’s group got the win, it raised some doubts about how explosive this offense can be. The defense also had issues containing the Raiders, especially TE Darren Waller who went off for 178 yards. The Chiefs will likely need to play much better to get past the red-hot Jaguars next weekend.
Key Stats From Super Wild Card Weekend:
- Ravens QB Lamar Jackson: 17/18, 228 yards, 3 TD
- 49ers QB Brock Purdy: 25/37, 332 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
- Bills had AFC's best point differential (+161)
- Chiefs allowed Raiders to score 20 points in 4th quarter
Surprise Teams Still Alive
The NFL playoff bracket has a couple of Cinderella stories still going after the first round. The Jacksonville Jaguars won their first playoff game since 2017 by upsetting the Chargers on a field goal at the buzzer. After starting the season 4-8, the Jaguars have won six straight and are playing with a ton of confidence behind QB Trevor Lawrence.
In the NFC, America’s adopted underdog team the Detroit Lions grabbed their first playoff win since 1991. Led by offensive guru Dan Campbell, the Lions refuse to die and will not be an easy out next weekend in San Francisco. This year’s playoffs are showcasing the league’s next generation of superstar quarterbacks in Jackson, Lawrence and Purdy.
What Happens Next
The divisional round is loaded with premier quarterback matchups including Josh Allen vs Mac Jones, Patrick Mahomes vs Trevor Lawrence, Brock Purdy vs Jared Goff, and Lamar Jackson vs either Daniel Jones or Dak Prescott. Teams will need to avoid looking ahead in preparation for these epic battles.
No one is hotter right now than the Ravens, who have won 11 straight by an average margin of 17 points per game. But nothing is guaranteed, especially with how much parity exists across the AFC. Over in the NFC, the road to the Super Bowl still goes through San Francisco even with a third string rookie QB.
This weekend’s games should live up to the hype and set the stage for an amazing conference championship Sunday. Buckle up NFL fans!
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