With one week 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 (14-1)
The Chiefs are still the NFL betting favorites to win the Super Bowl. But the gap is narrowing. While Kansas City has won 10 straight games, the last seven have been decided by six points or less. That includes narrow wins against Atlanta, Denver, and Carolina — teams you’d expect Kansas City to handle better. This team can turn it on when it really wants to, though, and has the AFC’s No. 1 seed locked up.
2. Green Bay Packers (12-3)
Green Bay can secure the No. 1 NFC seed with a win against Chicago and would then be riding a six-game winning streak into the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers is making his case again for MVP while Davante Adams is lighting it up, per usual, and Robert Tonyan has emerged as a top-scoring target at tight end. The Packers looked dang good in their 40-14 statement win against Tennessee.
3. Buffalo Bills (12-3)
Buffalo is rolling right now and can enter the playoffs on a six-game winning streak with a win against Miami. The Bills arguably have the best offense right now in the AFC. And the defense has also shined lately. A potential future date with Kansas City in the AFC Championship could be an electric game.
4. New Orleans Saints (11-4)
A quarterback’s best friend is a running back who can score six touchdowns in one game. That’s the saying, right? The Saints put up 52 points on a usual-prideful Minnesota defense with Alvin Kamara finding the end zone six times. That’s quite helpful for Drew Brees as he returns from his rib injuries. It was a great response for New Orleans after a shaky few weeks of going 1-2.
5. Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
Seattle’s defense has had a great turnaround from the start of the season to now. The unit has allowed 17 points or fewer in the last five games. Problem is, the offense has cooled off from a blistering start. If the Seahawks can put together a complete game, they can beat anyone in the league.
Tier 2 — Playoff Contenders
Teams firmly in the playoff picture.
6. Tennessee Titans (10-5)
The Titans suffered a humbling 40-14 loss to Green Bay after winning four of their last five games that saw the offense red-hot. Are the Packers that good? Was Tennessee that overrated? Or somewhere in between? The Titans finish the regular season against Houston, an opportune time to rebound and head into the playoffs with the expectations to win multiple games.
7. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
With seven teams making the playoffs from each conference this year, the AFC race is a tight one heading into Week 17. Teams four through eight in the playoff standings all have 10-5 records. The Ravens, currently the No. 6 seed, just have to beat Cincinnati to for sure make the postseason. With the Bengals at 4-10-1 and Baltimore on a four-game winning streak where the offense is averaging 30.5 points per game, the Ravens should handle business in Week 17.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5)
A top-seven scoring defense plus an offense that has scored 78 points in the last two games (against Atlanta and Detroit, but still), the Bucs are looking good heading into the playoffs. They have already secured a postseason berth at 10-5. Does Tom Brady have another run in him?
9. Cleveland Browns (10-5)
For all the excitement around this team, it would be a very Cleveland Browns thing to do to miss the playoffs. After a loss to a Jets team that was once 0-13, Cleveland is in that jumbled AFC mess of five 10-5 teams. Right now, the Browns are the No. 7 seed, owning the tiebreaker over Indianapolis. Cleveland has a tough opponent in Pittsburgh this week, although Ben Roethlisberger will take a week’s rest and backup Mason Rudolph will start. Win and the Browns or in. Lose, and some things need to fall in their favor to get a playoff berth.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)
The Steelers were 11-0. Then they were 11-3. Losing outside confidence fast, they got a quality win last week against Indianapolis. This is a tough team to rank. Pittsburgh could make a deep postseason run. It could also lose early. It mostly depends on 38-year-old Ben Roethlisberger’s arm. Taking Week 17 off could be needed for Big Ben.
11. Indianapolis Colts (10-5)
The Colts losing to Pittsburgh last week puts them right on the outside of the playoffs as the No. 8 team in the AFC, behind four other 10-5 teams. Indianapolis needs other teams to lose to make the playoffs. But first, it needs to avoid a letdown against the struggling Jaguars.
12. Miami Dolphins (10-5)
Yet another 10-5 AFC team. The Dolphins are currently the No. 5 seed thanks to owning tiebreakers. But on the slate for Week 17 is one of the hottest teams in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills. Miami’s season was saved last week after benching a healthy Tua Tagovailoa for grizzled veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who led the Dolphins to scoring drives and a 26-25 against Las Vegas. Now it’s a question of who leads this team in a crucial game Sunday.
13. Los Angeles Rams (9-6)
LA has lost two straight but still sits as the No. 6 seed in the NFC right now. With Jared Goff out due to thumb surgery, John Wolford gets the starting nod in a huge game against Arizona, who’s 8-7 and right on the bubble as the No. 8 seed. The Rams need a win here, or else the loss to the Jets a couple of weeks ago will be even worse.
Tier 3 — Playoff Bubble
Teams that could make the playoffs.
14. Arizona Cardinals (8-7)
As mentioned right above, Sunday’s game against the Rams is a big one. The Cardinals will face a backup but may have to insert their backup (Chris Streveler) if Kyler Murray can’t go.
15. Chicago Bears (8-7)
If the season ended today, the Bears would be in the playoffs as the No. 7 seed thanks to owning the tiebreaker against Arizona. Chicago has won three straight to put itself in this position thanks to the offense reigniting. However, Week 17 brings a home game against Green Bay and another matchup with big-time playoff implications.
16. Washington (6-9)
Despite losing two straight, Washington still holds the lead in the NFC East, which means they hold the No. 4 seed. Dallas is also 6-9 and winners of three straight. Washington goes to divisional rival Philadelphia this week for a chance to clinch a playoff berth.
17. Dallas Cowboys (6-9)
Dallas has closed the gap on Washington, winning three straight to be tied at 6-9 atop the NFC East. However, Washington owns the tiebreaker. The Cowboys need the Eagles to defeat Washington while they need to beat the Giants. Who knew this division would have so much intrigue in Week 17?
Tier 4 — We’re On To 2021
Teams that are eliminated from the postseason and are ready to slam the door on 2020. There’s not much to add for these teams, who now look to the offseason to build a contender in 2021.
18. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8)
19. Minnesota Vikings (6-9)
20. New York Giants (5-10)
Technically, the Giants are still alive despite a 5-10 record. But as losers of three straight, it’s unlikely. We’d have a hard time ranking this team in the top 17.
21. New England Patriots (6-9)
22. Los Angeles Chargers (6-9)
23. Atlanta Falcons (4-11)
24. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1)
25. San Francisco 49ers (6-9)
26. Carolina Panthers (5-10)
27. Denver Broncos (5-10)
28. Detroit Lions (5-10)
29. Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1)
30. Houston Texans (4-11)
31. New York Jets (2-13)
Let’s give some credit to the Jets here. Once staring at an 0-16 record, New York has won two straight.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14)
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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.