32. Chicago Bears (3-14) ▼30
Last Week: Lost to Minnesota, 29-13
The Bears may have lost their 10th game in a row on Sunday, but they walked away from Week 18 as a massive winner. Why? Thanks to Houston’s victory in Indianapolis, the Bears clinched the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. With Justin Fields looking like a future star at quarterback, Chicago will have plenty of teams calling in hopes of acquiring the No. 1 pick. The Bears are in a great position to control the 2023 Draft and improve their team, as well.
Image Source: Thomas-SheaUSA TODAY Sports
31. Arizona Cardinals (4-13) ▼29
Last Week: Lost to San Francisco, 38-13
Arizona’s season from hell has come to an end. A year after reaching the playoffs, Arizona finished the 2022 season with just four wins. Future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt finished his career on a high-note as he recorded two sacks in the loss to San Francisco. Early Monday morning, Arizona fired head coach Kliff Kingsbury and saw general manager Steve Keim step away to “focus on his health.” The Cardinals now have a chance to revamp the organization.
Image Source: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
30. Indianapolis Colts (4-12-1) ▼28
Last Week: Lost to Houston, 32-31
The Colts were one of the most disappointing teams in 2022. After beginning the season with expectations of reaching the postseason, Indianapolis lost seven games in a row down the stretch. Against Houston, the Colts surrendered a 31-24 lead with under one minute to play. Indianapolis is a prime candidate to trade up to No. 1 in the draft in order to select its next quarterback.
Image Source: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
29. Houston Texans (3-13-1) ▲32
Last Week: Defeated Indianapolis, 32-31
Despite its lousy record, Houston has been a rather competitive team for the past few months. On Sunday, the Texans needed a loss to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Houston took a 17-7 lead into halftime, and led 24-14 late into the third quarter. After surrendering 17 unanswered points, the Texans appeared to be on their way to a 14th loss and the top pick. Instead, Davis Mills threw a touchdown pass with 50 seconds to play — and then converted on the ensuing two-point try to win the game. The Texans — who will now pick No. 2 in the draft — fired coach Lovie Smith following the win.
Image Source: USA Today Sports
28. Denver Broncos (5-12) ▲31
Last Week: Defeated Los Angeles Chargers, 31-28
Denver’s disastrous season came to an end on Sunday with a win over the playoff-bound Los Angeles Chargers. In the win, Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes and Latavius Murray rushed for 103 yards and a score. The franchise is in search of a new head coach, and it has been linked to two of the biggest coaches in the sport — Sean Payton and Jim Harbaugh, respectively — thus far.
Image Source: Getty Images
27. Los Angeles Rams (5-12) ⭤ 27
Last Week: Lost to Seattle, 19-16
Los Angeles’ title defense has come to an end. A year after knocking off the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl, the Rams won a total of five games. After closing the season with a 2-9 stretch, the Rams now await word from Sean McVay regarding his immediate future. The superstar head coach was rumored to leave the Rams following the Super Bowl triumph, but ultimately returned for the 2022 season. However, the rumors are once again dominating the coaching carousel. Losing McVay could cripple the franchise for the next few years.
Image Source: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
26. Atlanta Falcons (7-10) ⭤ 26
Last Week: Defeated Tampa Bay, 30-17
With two wins in a row to end their season, the Falcons will enter the offseason with an optimistic outlook for the 2023 campaign. In its win over Tampa Bay, Atlanta saw three of its rookies put forth very promising efforts. Quarterback Desmond Ridder threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, tailback Tyler Allgeier rushed for 135 yards, and wideout Drake London hauled in six catches for 120 yards. Allgeier and London look like potential stars at their respective positions.
Image Source: Scott Taestch/USA TODAY Sports
25. Carolina Panthers (7-10) ⭤ 25
Last Week: Defeated New Orleans, 10-7
The Carolina Panthers had a chance to win the NFC South entering Week 17, but their poor fourth quarter in Tampa Bay put an end to that dream. However, the Panthers bounced back on Sunday against the Saints. It wasn’t pretty, but Carolina won its final game of the season behind a great effort from its defense. After surrendering a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, Carolina shutout New Orleans the rest of the contest. On the final play of the game, Eddy Pineiro drilled a 42-yard field goal for the win.
Image Source: USA TODAY Sports
24. New Orleans Saints (7-10) ⭤ 24
Last Week: Lost to Carolina, 10-7
The Saints ended their season with a dud. As we just discussed, New Orleans began the game with a touchdown on its opening drive. Unfortunately, the team failed to score the rest of the contest. Two missed field goals, five punts, a turnover on downs and one fumble resulted in a three point loss. The Saints should have a new starting quarterback in 2023.
Image Source: Norm Hall-Getty Images
23. Cleveland Browns (7-10) ⭤ 23
Last Week: Lost to Pittsburgh, 28-14
In six games with Deshaun Watson under center, the Browns went 3-3. The disgraced star didn’t look good for much of his time on the field this year, but it is too soon to count him out completely. With a full offseason to work with the team, Watson should be an improved quarterback in 2023. If he plays close to former level, the Browns will be a factor in the AFC.
Image Source: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
22. New York Jets (7-10) ⭤ 22
Last Week: Lost to Miami, 11-6
New York’s once-promising season ended with a sixth loss in a row. Despite their long losing streak to end the year, the Jets outperformed expectations in 2022. New York has built a nice roster, but it desperately needs to find a quarterback. In its final three games of the year, New York scored a total of 15 points — a truly pathetic showing.
Image Source: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
21. Tennessee Titans (7-10) ▼20
Last Week: Lost to Jacksonville, 20-16
From 7-3 to 7-10, the Titans have nobody but themselves to blame for missing the postseason. Despite entering Week 18 on a six-game losing streak, Tennessee just needed to beat Jacksonville in order to win the AFC South and enter the postseason as the No. 4 seed. Playing with their third-string QB, Joshua Dobbs, the Titans raced out to a 10-0 lead — and held a 16-13 lead late in the fourth quarter. Then, a Dobbs fumble in Tennessee territory was scooped up by Jacksonville’s Josh Allen and returned 37 yards for the go-ahead score. The Titans may look for a new QB1 for the 2023 season…could Aaron Rodgers be the target?
Image Source: USA TODAY Sports
20. Las Vegas Raiders (6-11) ▲21
Last Week: Lost to Kansas City, 31-13
Las Vegas’ season was a disappointment, but this team isn’t too far off from competing for a playoff spot. A year after nearly knocking off the Bengals in the postseason, the Raiders went 6-11 — with nine of their losses coming by seven points or less. There is some buzz around the league that Vegas will attempt to bring Tom Brady to Sin City to take over for Derek Carr. If that happens, Vegas will receive plenty of hype entering 2023.
Image Source: USA TODAY Sports
19. New England Patriots (8-9) ▼18
Last Week: Lost to Buffalo, 35-23
The New England Patriots controlled their destiny on Sunday. With a win over the Bills, New England would clinch the No. 7 seed in the AFC. The game couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. On the opening kickoff, Buffalo’s Nyheim Hines took the ball to the house. New England recovered well, and eventually took a 17-14 lead in the third quarter thanks to a Nick Folk field goal. However, the special teams unit dropped the ball on New England’s ensuing kickoff — Hines scored his second touchdown of the game on a 101-yard kickoff return. Five minutes later, the Pats were down 11 points.
Image Source: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Spots
18. Washington Commanders (8-8-1) ▲19
Last Week: Defeated Dallas, 26-6
Washington is kicking itself for not making the playoffs, but at least it ended its season on a positive note. The Commanders throttled the rival Dallas Cowboys on Sunday thanks to a dominant defense. Washington’s defense held Dak Prescott to 14 completions and 128 yards on 37 attempts. Early in the second quarter, Kendall Fuller intercepted Prescott and finished the play in Dallas’ end zone to increase Washington’s lead to 13-0. Making his first career start, rookie QB Sam Howell threw for 169 yards and accounted for two scores (one pass, one rush).
Image Source: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
17. Green Bay Packers (8-9) ▼9
Last Week: Lost to Detroit, 20-16
Entering the final week of the regular season, the Green Bay Packers were looking like a team that nobody would want to face in the postseason. Green Bay had won four games in a row and was coming off a dominant, 41-17 win over the 13-win Minnesota Vikings. With a win over the Lions, the Packers would clinch the No. 7 seed and a showdown with the San Francisco 49ers. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Green Bay struggled to convert in Detroit territory and committed some truly boneheaded penalties down the stretch. Now, the NFL world awaits word on Aaron Rodgers’ future. Will the future Hall of Famer call it quits? Or, will he simply ask to play for a new team in 2023…
Image Source: Mark Brown/Getty Images
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-8) ⭤ 16
Last Week: Defeated Cleveland, 28-14
Against all odds, Mike Tomlin led the Pittsburgh Steelers to their 16th straight non-losing season. Heading into the year, it appeared Pittsburgh was headed towards a top draft pick — especially after the team started 1-4. Thanks to some strong defensive efforts and a couple of Kenny Pickett-led comebacks, the Steelers won four in a row and six of their last seven games to finish 9-8. With their quarterback now in place, the Steelers will own the 17th pick in addition to the 32nd pick (first pick of the second round) thanks to the Chicago Bears.
Image Source: Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9) ▲17
Last Week: Lost to Atlanta, 30-17
The NFC South champion Buccaneers are limping into the playoffs following a meager showing in Week 18. While we’ve seen this squad make improbable playoff runs with Tom Brady under center, things aren’t looking as bright for Tampa Bay in 2023. The Bucs haven’t won a game by more than one possession since Week 2, and beat just two teams with a winning record (the Cowboys and Seahawks) all season. Now, they’ve had the upper hand over the Cowboys in the past, but it’s safe to consider the Bucs as underdogs going into this week despite the game being played in Tampa Bay.
Image Source: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
14. Miami Dolphins (9-8) ▲15
Last Week: Defeated New York Jets, 11-6
Up Next: @ Buffalo
When the Dolphins were 8-3, it seemed all but certain they would reach the postseason. Five-straight losses later and Miami needed a win in Week 18 (plus a little help) to secure its spot. The Patriots losing to the Bills opened up the door for the Dolphins to sneak back into the field. With Skyler Thompson at the helm, Miami knocked off the Jets in an ugly 11-6 affair. The difference in this one was Miami kicker Jason Sanders who made all three of his field goal attempts including the game-winner with 18 seconds remaining.
Image Source: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
13. Baltimore Ravens (10-7) ▼10
Last Week: Lost to Cincinnati, 27-16
Up Next: @ Cincinnati
The Dolphins and Ravens have the two biggest QB questions entering Wild Card weekend. Both Miami and Baltimore are completely different teams when the respective QB1’s are healthy and playing. As of now, it seems more likely that Lamar Jackson will suit up than it does Tua Tagovailoa. Having said that, Jackson hasn’t practiced at all in over a month. Expecting him to be prepared to compete against a strong Bengals team with that quick of a turnaround is a tough ask. If Jackson can’t play, the Ravens will be in serious danger of yet another early playoff exit.
Image Source: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
12. Detroit Lions (9-8) ▲13
Last Week: Defeated Green Bay, 20-16
With virtually nothing left to play for (except pride), the Lions upset the Packers in Lambeau to keep their division rivals out of the postseason. Detroit’s playoff fate had already been sealed hours prior when the Seahawks defeated the Rams in overtime. Seattle’s win meant Detroit could no longer reach the playoffs. But, a Packers win meant Green Bay would leapfrog the Seahawks for the final spot. Dan Campbell’s crew fought hard — like they have all season — and made plays when it mattered.
Image Source: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
11. Seattle Seahawks (9-8) ▲14
Last Week: Defeated Los Angeles Rams, 19-16
Up Next: @ San Francisco
A year after trading away franchise QB Russell Wilson, it’s career journeyman Geno Smith who has led the Seattle Seahawks back to the postseason. It’s been a whirlwind season for Seattle who needed overtime over the reeling Rams to finally secure its postseason spot. While making the playoffs is a feel-good moment for this franchise, some of the good vibes have washed away considering Seattle’s upcoming opponent is the San Francisco 49ers. The same 49ers who knocked off Seattle twice already this season in dominant fashion.
Image Source: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports
10. New York Giants (9-7-1) ▲11
Last Week: Lost to Philadelphia, 22-16
Up Next: @ Minnesota
The Giants had already secured the No. 6 seed in the NFC Playoffs prior to this week. As a result, New York trotted out backup QB Davis Webb to start in place of Daniel Jones. Webb and the Giants faced a 16-0 deficit at halftime, but did claw their way back late in the second half. Now, the Giants are set to take on the Vikings in the Wild Card round — a matchup of two eerily similar teams. Both New York and Minnesota have been adept at winning close games this year. The outcome of this game will likely come down to which team executes in crunch time.
Image Source: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8) ▲12
Last Week: Defeated Tennessee, 20-16
Up Next: vs. Los Angeles Chargers
What a difference a year can make. Last season, the Jags were in the midst of the Urban Meyer debacle and had won just four games over the previous two campaigns. This year, with Super Bowl winning coach Doug Pederson patrolling the sidelines, the Jaguars parlayed a five-game winning streak into the team’s first postseason berth since 2017. The Week 18 eliminator against the Titans wasn’t pretty, but Jacksonville scored the final 10 points of the game to end Tennessee’s season.
Image Source: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
8. Minnesota Vikings (13-4) ⭤ 8
Last Week: Defeated Chicago, 29-13
Up Next: vs. New York Giants
The Vikings locked up the No. 3 seed in the NFC. Minnesota’s 13 wins are tied for the second-most in franchise history. 11 of those 13 wins came by one possession. And, one of those wins was against their upcoming playoff foe — the New York Giants. The Vikings and Giants faced off in Week 16 — a game which went in favor of the Vikes, 27-24. Minnesota kicker Greg Joseph sealed that game away as time expired, we’ll see if the Vikings can pull off another close win in the Wild Card round.
Image Source: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
7. Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) ⭤ 7
Last Week: Lost to Denver, 31-28
Up Next: @ Jacksonville
The Chargers simply cannot get out of their own way. When the Chargers-Broncos game kicked off in Week 18, LA’s playoff fate had already been set. That was due to the loss taken by the Ravens earlier that day, which meant the Chargers had secured the all-important No. 5 seed in the AFC Playoffs. However, that memo seemingly never made it to Chargers brass as LA trotted out its starting unit for the first half of a meaningless game. As a result, star pass catcher Mike Williams was carted off the field after suffering a back injury. The loss of Williams could play a major part in their upcoming matchup against the Jaguars — and was entirely avoidable.
Image Source: Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports
6. Dallas Cowboys (12-5) ⭤ 6
Last Week: Lost to Washington, 26-6
Up Next: @ Tampa Bay
Dallas finished its regular season with a loss, but that didn’t matter too much to them. What matters is their upcoming matchup with a familiar foe in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These two teams have matched up in Week 1 each of the past two seasons. In both of those matchups, the Bucs came out on top — most recently in a lopsided 19-3 affair. Both teams have come a long way since Week 1, but this Cowboys group has plenty of questions to answer as it pertains to winning playoff games.
Image Source: Jerome-MironUSA TODAY Sports
5. San Francisco 49ers (13-4) ⭤ 5
Last Week: Defeated Arizona, 38-13
Up Next: vs. Seattle
Another dominant victory for the 49ers marks 10-straight for Kyle Shanahan’s group. A week after allowing 34 points to backup QB Jarrett Stidham, the 49ers’ defense was once again locked-in versus a division foe. Brock Purdy had his first three-TD game through the air in his career and has the most passing TDs in the league (13) since taking over as starter. The win secured the No. 2 seed for the 49ers — which could end up being mightily important. It means the 49ers would have a home game against the Vikings should the two teams meet in the Divisional Round (both teams went 8-1 at home this year).
Image Source: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
4. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) ⭤ 4
Last Week: Defeated Baltimore, 27-16
Up Next: vs. Baltimore
The Bengals are as dangerous as ever entering the postseason. Shaking off any thoughts of a ‘Super Bowl Hangover’, this year’s Bengals look even better and more complete than last year’s AFC Champion. Their first opponent in defending the AFC Crown is a familiar foe in the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson is going to try and go for this one after missing last week’s matchup. Even if Jackson is healthy enough to play, these Bengals will be a tough out.
Image Source: Kareem Elgazzar/USA TODAY Sports
3. Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) ⭤ 3
Last Week: Defeated New York Giants, 22-16
Up Next: BYE WEEK – Will play lowest remaining seed in Divisional Round
With the Bye Week secured, the Eagles will have to wait and see who their first playoff opponent will be. The Eagles were the most well-rounded team in the NFC all season. From the opening week, Philadelphia dominated opponents all over the field. That’s what makes this squad especially dangerous in the postseason. The Jalen Hurts-led crew has shown the ability to win in a number of ways. If the power run game isn’t working, Hurts can drop back and throw dimes to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Not to mention, no team will dominate Philly in the trenches as it boasts some of the best depth on either side of the line.
Image Source: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
2. Buffalo Bills (13-3) ⭤ 2
Last Week: Defeated New England, 35-23
Up Next: vs. Miami
Following an unfortunate week for the Buffalo Bills and their safety Damar Hamlin, the team started off Sunday’s game with a bang. Former Colt Nyheim Hines returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in a touching tribute to the recovering Hamlin. Buffalo would go on to defeat the Patriots 35-23, knocking its division rival out of the playoff picture. Though the Bills weren’t able to secure the No. 1 spot in the AFC, they will have a highly-favorable matchup against the Dolphins — a Miami team that very likely will be without starting QB Tua Tagovailoa.
Image Source: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-3) ⭤ 1
Last Week: Defeated Las Vegas, 31-13
Up Next: BYE WEEK – Will play lowest remaining seed in Divisional Round
Kansas City took care of business on Saturday with a win over the Stidham-led Las Vegas Raiders. Now, the Chiefs will wait for the Wild Card matchups to play out to see who they will face in their first postseason game. Odds are, KC could be looking at a matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers. While the Chiefs did beat the Chargers twice this year, both wins were by just a field goal. One win and the Chiefs will have reached their fifth-straight AFC Championship Game — every year since Patrick Mahomes took over as starter.
Image Source: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports