With just two weeks remaining in the 2020 regular season, the tiers of the NFL are becoming more clear. Let’s dive into those tiers in a 1-32 power rankings.
Tier 1 — Super Bowl Contenders
Teams that have a legitimate shot at playing in the Super Bowl.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-1)
The Chiefs are still the NFL betting favorites to win the Super Bowl. But they’re maybe not as clear-cut as some of us thought. Kansas City’s last six wins all came by six points or less. While the ability to close out tight games is important for playoff success, the Chiefs don’t appear to be looking down at everyone else eyeing the Lombardi Trophy.
2. Buffalo Bills (11-3)
Let’s hope the Bills can safely get some fans in the stands because Buffalo has been electric lately and is in store for a thrilling playoff run. The Bills have won four straight games, including taking care of Pittsburgh and annihilating Denver 48-19. Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and the Buffalo offense could give the Chiefs a major run for the AFC title.
3. Green Bay Packers (11-3)
The top team in the NFC can be a three-way tossup between the Packers, Saints, and Seahawks. All have things to like and to be concerned about. Green Bay is OK defensively, while its offense is No. 3 with 31.0 points per game. Tennessee is a great test for the Packers this week after they narrowly defeated two straight inferior opponents, the Lions and the Panthers.
4. New Orleans Saints (10-4)
Drew Brees is back for the Saints. He settled down after a shaky start, and New Orleans battled Kansas City tough before losing 32-29. That’s now two straight losses, including a puzzling one against Philadelphia. Still, the Saints are one of the more well-balanced teams in the NFL and should finish the regular season 2-0.
5. Seattle Seahawks (10-4)
Russell Wilson’s blistering start to this season has cooled off. On a positive note, Seattle’s defense has greatly improved. Instead of winning shootouts, the Seahawks are now winning games like 23-17 or 20-15. If you combine how Seattle’s defense is playing, plus the potential this offense has to explode at any time, the Seahawks certainly have what it takes to play for a Super Bowl. They just haven’t put it all together yet this season.
Tier 2 — Playoff Contenders
Teams firmly in the playoff picture.
6. Tennessee Titans (10-4)
The Titans are battling the Colts right now to get that top-four seed out of the AFC South. Derrick Henry is a top running back in the league. His play may be overshadowing just how solid quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been. The combination of the two has led the Titans to be the top-scoring offense in the NFL with 31.1 points per game.
7. Baltimore Ravens (9-5)
The Baltimore offense is starting to heat up after a lack of explosiveness earlier this season. Lamar Jackson has accounted for 10 touchdowns in Baltimore’s three-game winning streak. The Ravens are averaging 40.3 points per game in those three wins. Add that to the No. 4 scoring defense in the NFL, and this team could be a problem in the postseason.
8. Cleveland Browns (10-4)
The Browns haven’t made the playoffs since 2002. This team is playing with a high level of confidence, but they need to finish the job. At 10-4, the Browns haven’t sealed a playoff spot just yet. They are the No. 5 seed right now behind 10-4 Tennessee and ahead of 10-4 Indianapolis. The No. 7 and 8 seeds are both 9-5. Cleveland can be a dangerous team in the playoffs. The Browns don’t have much room for error, though, as they finish the regular season.
9. Indianapolis Colts (10-4)
Indianapolis is on a three-game winning streak. Two of those wins were one-possession games against Houston, which doesn’t scream Super Bowl threat. The Colts are a solid team overall — No. 11 in scoring defense and No. 8 in scoring offense. How much damage they can do in the playoffs is questionable, though.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3)
From 11-0 to 11-3 and dropping quickly in the power rankings. Losing to Washington and Buffalo is one thing. Losing to Cincinnati, who is now 3-10-1, is a cause for huge concern. And with two tough opponents (Colts and Browns) to close the regular season, Pittsburgh could be limping into the playoffs. The Steelers haven’t scored more than 20 points in a game since Nov. 22.
11. Miami Dolphins (9-5)
Miami sits right at that No. 7 seed in the AFC playoff picture, owning the tiebreaker against Baltimore. The Dolphins have been fantastic on defense this year, leading the NFL with 18.4 points allowed per game. This has eased pressure on rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the offense.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5)
The Bucs scored 31 points in the second half in a 31-27 win against Atlanta. Perhaps this was finally the coming-out party for an offense filled with weapons. Or you can look at it the other way. That is, this team trailed the now 4-10 Falcons 17-0 at halftime.
13. Los Angeles Rams (9-5)
The odds were high that the Jets were going to finish this season 0-16. However, an unexpected win against the Rams got them in the win column. LA can only lean on its No. 3 scoring defense so much. The offense has talent, but Jared Goff’s turnover problems are a huge issue. They need to fix it quickly with Seattle and Arizona remaining on the schedule. LA isn’t a lock for the playoffs just yet, even at 9-5.
14. Arizona Cardinals (8-6)
Arizona would be the last team in the playoffs out of the NFC if the season ended today. Two straight wins have flipped the trajectory of this season after the Cardinals lost four of five games. DeAndre Hopkins continues to be a top receiver in the NFL, while Kyler Murray looks to have his confidence back.
Tier 3 — Filling Out The Playoff Bracket
Teams still in the hunt for the playoffs.
15. Washington (6-8)
Washington battled a good Seattle team last week, losing 20-15. It still leads the NFC East, which means Washington currently has the No. 4 seed. But the Cowboys and Giants are right there are at 5-9.
16. Chicago Bears (7-7)
A great pass rush, a new-look Mitch Trubisky, and David Montgomery getting the rushing attack going has Chicago back at .500 after losing six straight games. The Bears earned a crucial win against Minnesota last week to keep their playoff hopes alive. Chicago is one spot out of the postseason right now.
17. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)
The Raiders suffered a tough loss to the Chargers last week. They are now ninth in the AFC and two games behind Baltimore and Miami. Derek Carr was knocked out of last week’s game. He said he hopes to play Sunday, but Marcus Mariota looked solid as his replacement.
Tier 4 — We’re On To 2021
Teams that are eyeing the future.
18. Minnesota Vikings (6-8)
A lot of things need to go right for Minnesota to make the playoffs. Chances are slim, though. The Vikings have been on the losing end of too many close games this season.
19. New York Giants (5-9)
The Giants are just one game back from Washington and the No. 4 seed in the NFC. New York had some momentum, but that has quickly gone away with two straight losses.
20. New England Patriots (6-8)
The Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs with last week’s loss to Miami. The last time New England did not make the playoff was 2008.
21. Los Angeles Chargers (5-9)
The Chargers and rookie quarterback Justin Herbert are having a nice finish to the season to build toward 2021. LA has rebounded from a tough 45-0 loss to New England and has defeated Atlanta and Las Vegas in the last two weeks.
22. Atlanta Falcons (4-10)
Atlanta plays good teams tough for a 4-10 squad. The Falcons held a 17-0 lead at halftime against Tampa Bay last week before allowing 31 second-half points. They also had a recent close game against New Orleans and handled Las Vegas 43-6 in late November. This team has decent pieces in place. And now it’s positioned to build for the future in the 2021 draft.
23. Dallas Cowboys (5-9)
Dallas is going on a nice run here recently. Winners of two straight games, Dallas is one game back from Washington and the No. 4 seed. With two games left against conference rivals Philadelphia and the Giants, could Dallas sneak into the playoffs?
24. Philadelphia Eagles (4-9-1)
Rookie Jalen Hurts has provided a huge spark for this team. The Eagles are playing with a better identity now, both offensively and defensively.
25. San Francisco 49ers (5-9)
The 49ers are definitely ready to get to 2021. The roster isn’t in bad shape when the team is fully healthy. And San Francisco is positioned well for the draft to add talent and build depth.
26. Denver Broncos (5-9)
There was hope for the future after quarterback Drew Lock had a breakout game a couple of weeks ago. He’s since cooled off. Denver’s defense has been cooled off all season and had its worst game last week, giving up 48 points against Buffalo.
27. Carolina Panthers (4-10)
Carolina lost its third straight game, all of which were one-possession scores. In fact, the Panthers have lost eight games this year by eight points or less.
28. Detroit Lions (5-9)
The league’s worst defense was at it again last week, allowing 46 points to the Titans. There’s a lot to fix on that side of the ball, along with deciding what to do with long-time quarterback Matthew Stafford.
29. Houston Texans (4-10)
The Texans have had two close games against a solid Colts team recently. But they just weren’t able to close out and get a win, adding disappointment to a forgettable year.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (3-10-1)
In one of the more surprising wins of the year, the Bengals took down Pittsburgh last week. It was a much-needed morale boost in a season where not much has gone right.
31. New York Jets (1-13)
Was it worth it? The Jets got their first win of the year last week, avoiding an embarrassing 0-16 season. But the No. 1 overall pick, most likely going to franchise-changing QB Trevor Lawrence, now belongs to Jacksonville.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-13)
“Hello, Trevor Lawrence!” the Jaguars said after New York got its first win of the season last week. Jacksonville now has the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft.
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Sam Herder is a writer for BetMGM and HERO Sports. A North Dakota State journalism grad, he spent several years in the print media industry before writing for online outlets. Sam has covered sports at all levels — high school, college, and professional — since 2011.