With the 2021 regular season is in the books, it’s time to see where all 32 teams stack up for one last time ahead of the 2022 NFL playoffs schedule. What differentiates these rankings from others is that they’re the only truly accurate ones in the entire universe.
BLG’S FINAL NFL POWER RANKINGS
1 - Green Bay Packers (Last Week: 1) - The Packers are entering the playoffs with a first-round bye and arguably the most unstoppable connection in the league: Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams. Home field advantage is pretty significant for a team that went 8-0 at Lambeau Field. Their average margin of victory in those games? 13.9 points. It might be their Last Dance after all.
2 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 2) - The Chiefs haven’t really felt like The Chiefs for most of this year. But it’s still Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid we’re talking about here. A team that’s gone to three straight AFC Championship Games gets some benefit of the doubt. Who would be shocked to see them in their fourth?
3 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 3) - The Bucs’ final five games comprised of two blowout wins over a terrible Carolina team (spoiler alert: second to last in these rankings), an overtime win against Buffalo, a four-point comeback win over NYJ, and a shutout home loss to New Orleans. Perhaps the reigning Super Bowl champions aren’t so unbeatable? Then again, many had questions about the Bucs going the distance last year. Hard to ever count out Touchdown Tom Brady.
4 - Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 6) - Bengals above the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff picture? Don’t sleep on Cincy. Joe Burrow is the real deal and so is Ja’Marr Chase. They’re capable of lighting defenses up in a big way.
5 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 5) - The Titans are one of the shakier top seeds one can remember. With home field advantage on the line, it was a little too close for comfort for them in Houston. Getting Derrick Henry back would obviously be a big deal. And Mike Vrabel has demonstrated that he’s a good coach. But does one easily envision Ryan Tannehill winning a championship?
6 - Dallas Cowboys (LW: 7) - I previously went on the record with the Cowboys as my Super Bowl pick. They do have the potential to be a complete team with a play-making defense and an offense that has the capability to put up big points. Can’t say I loved the vibes from their players acting like they won a championship while beating up on Philly’s practice squad in Week 18. Also don’t trust Mike McCarthy to not screw it up. Still, I’m worried that Dallas can go the distance.
7 - Los Angeles Rams (LW: 4) - The Rams are a team worth trusting as far as one can throw them. Matthew Stafford’s last four starts: 8 TD, 8 INT, 83.8 passer rating. Add in a lost fumble and he has more turnovers than scores in that stretch. Also, that passer rating is just slightly below his career 87.8 playoff figure. In addition to concerns about Stafford, we all know Sean McVay is a coward. He’s absolutely going to turtle up in a big moment when his team should go for it on fourth down. The Rams have enough star talent to win a game or two but the season is primed to end in disappointment.
8 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 12) - Although their ceiling is ultimately limited with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, he is capable of coming up big in some key moments. And the 49ers have no shortage of talent around him to help him out. Deebo Samuel is going to be a real problem to stop in the playoffs. San Fran has the best chance of any NFC wild card playoff team to make the Super Bowl.
9 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 8) - The Bills might be the league’s most volatile playoff team. It all depends on which version of Josh Allen shows up in the playoffs. I could see a scenario where he gets red hot and Buffalo makes it to the Super Bowl. I could see a scenario where he turns the ball over multiple times in a wild card loss.
10 - New England Patriots (LW: 9) - All of the “The Patriots are back! Bill Belichick does it again! Mac Jones is the real deal!” may have been a bit premature. The Pats went 1-3 in their last four and got beat up on by a Miami team that had less to play for than New England did in Week 18. Jones’ limitations likely cap the Pats’ ceiling.
11 - Arizona Cardinals (LW: 11) - As my BGN Radio co-host Jimmy Kempski pointed out, every team in the NFC playoff picture finished their final five games with a 4-1 record. Except for the Cardinals, that is, who finished 1-4. Not trending in a good way! That being said, their Week 17 win over Dallas showed that they’re not totally lifeless.
12 - Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 14) - The Eagles had the luxury of resting their starters in Week 18, so that could be a nice little boost for them entering the postseason. Teams have yet to demonstrate that they can stop a Philly run game powered by the league’s best offensive line. While the offense offers some hope, there are major concerns about Jonathan Gannon’s defense going up against playoff-caliber quarterbacks.
13 - Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 16) - Give the Raiders credit for making the playoffs after such a tumultuous regular season. But can they actually do any damage while they’re here? They have a tough first round matchup against a Cincy team that blew them out back in November. And that game was at home whereas the Raiders will have to travel this time.
14 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 13) - It’s really a crime that we won’t get to see Justin Herbert in the playoffs. Dude is awesome. It’s pretty amazing yet sad that the Chargers can change their coach and quarterback and still be stuck as the same old perpetually disappointing Chargers.
15 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 17) - The Stillers are the worst team in the playoffs. They rank 22nd in point differential and 24th in overall DVOA. Ben Roethlisberger is absolutely cooked; he logged just 4.5 yards per pass attempt in his last four games. All that being said, one would be remiss to think they’re going to lay down and die. Mike Tomlin teams simply don’t do that. Pittsburgh’s defense will fight hard with T.J. Watt easily capable of terrorizing the other team’s quarterback.
16 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 15) - It just wasn’t their year. With all the injuries and everything, they should be content that they even made it to Week 18 without being officially eliminated. Baltimore has a very big decision to make in the offseason with Lamar Jackson up for a contract extension. Are they going to pay record-setting money to a quarterback who hasn’t yet been able to get his team to the AFC Championship Game?
17 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 18) - Despite not having much to play for, the Dolphins fought hard as heck in their season finale. And despite that outcome, Brian Flores was fired anyway. That the Dolphins seem to be married to Tua Tagovailoa is a problem.
18 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 19) - Had the Niners not won in overtime, the Saints would’ve made the postseason. Pretty wild considering what little they’ve had to work with at quarterback all season long. Sean Payton and Dennis Allen are really good coaches.
19 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 11) - The Colts were 15.5-point favorites entering a “win and in” game against the team picking No. 1 in the NFL Draft for the second year in a row. And Indy basically got blown out with Carson Wentz melting down. The Colts are really going to waste another season with him under center, aren’t they? On another note, are we ready to chill with the “Frank Reich was the genius mastermind behind the Eagles’ Super Bowl and Doug Pederson was a dope” takes? Because Reich has yet to even sweep the Jags since becoming the Colts’ head coach.
20 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 20) - The Browns seem intent on sticking with Baker Mayfield, which is a mistake. Could they get a better version of him when he’s healthier next year? Sure. But just how good is that player? A top 10 quarterback? Eh. They should be pursuing Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers.
21 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 22) - For all the talk of Russell Wilson being donezo, he finished the season with 10 total touchdowns, one interception, and a 118.7 passer rating in his last three games. He had a 103.1 passer rating on the season despite dealing with a finger injury. Are the Seahawks going to be willing to trade him? Are they really going to run it back with Russ and Pete Carroll?
22 - Minnesota Vikings (LW: 21) - Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman are gone. Kirk Cousins should also be out if the Vikings don’t want to commit to mediocrity. Might as well go with a full reset at this point.
23 - Washington Football Team (LW: 24) - WFT needs to find a quarterback. The problem is there’s no easy answer for them. What’s their best path to acquiring one? Who could it reasonably be? No, seriously, tell me.
24 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 23) - The Falcons finished 30th in DVOA and 28th in point differential. They were worse than their 7-10 record indicated. Without even seeing their projected win total for 2022, I’m ready to bet the under.
25 - Denver Broncos (LW: 26) - Vic Fangio is gone. Who will they hire? The Broncos have some talent to work with. But they’re another team in desperate need of an answer at quarterback.
26 - Chicago Bears (LW: 25) - The Bears held onto Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace for a year too long. It was obvious they should’ve been goners at this time last year. Justin Fields offers theoretical upside but he might end up being a lot worse than people are willing to realize.
Justin Fields joins Rodney Peete (playing for the Lions in 1993) as the only QBs since the NFL merger to have the worst INT rate and worst sack rate in the NFL in the same season.— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) January 10, 2022
27 - Detroit Lions (LW: 29) - Realistically speaking, how could this season have gone much better for the Lions? They had an awful roster and it got even worse with all the injury issues they had to deal with. Despite as much, they finished the season with 3.5 wins. With an 11-6 record against the spread, they clearly exceeded expectations. Dan Campbell isn’t the total joke that many made him out to be.
28 - Houston Texans (LW: 27) - The Texans sure weren’t good but they weren’t quite AS bad as everyone expected them to be. Everyone thought they were THE worst team entering the 2021 season. Davis Mills showed some promise and David Culley earned at least another season.
29 - New York Jets (LW: 28) - Things were never going to be great for the Jets in 2021. For starters, because they’re the Jets. But, more seriously, they entered the year with the league’s youngest roster. And that included a rookie starting quarterback. One who didn’t exactly look very promising, which could be a big problem moving forward. The Jets still own the NFL’s longest streak without make the playoffs. Haven’t been in the postseason since the 2010 AFC Championship Game.
30 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 32) - The bad news is the Jags were so awful that they finished with the No. 1 pick for the second year in a row. The good news is they got an encouraging performance from last year’s No. 1 pick, Trevor Lawrence, to pull off a big upset that knocked a division rival out of the playoffs. Let’s see if they can get their head coaching hire right this time. Hard to merely assume Shad Khan is going to knock it out of the park.
31 - Carolina Panthers (LW: 30) - Matt Rhule probably should’ve been fired. Instead, the Panthers are bringing him back with the condition that he must hire a “rock star” offensive coordinator. So far, the names being linked to that job haven’t been overly impressive. And even if the Panthers find their OC, they still very much need a quarterback. Carolina just might be desperate enough to trade for Deshaun Watson.
32 - New York Giants (LW: 31) - Joe Judge and Dave Gettleman were total disasters.