The Bills didn’t get the No. 1 seed in the AFC. That went to the Chiefs. But they can take some solace in finishing the regular season as the No. 1 team in The 33rd Team’s power rankings.
The Bills (13-3) hung on to the top spot after securing the No. 2 AFC playoff seed with an emotional 35-23 win against the Patriots. The rest of the top five also remained unchanged, with the 49ers (13-4), Bengals (12-4), Chiefs (14-3) and Eagles (14-3) finishing behind the Bills. The Chiefs and Eagles both earned first-round byes along with the No. 1 seed in their respective conferences.
The Jaguars (9-8) moved up from eighth to sixth after beating the Titans (8-9) 20-16 to win the AFC South title. It was the Jaguars’ fifth win in a row, which helped them secure their first postseason bid since 2017 and only their second since 2008.
The Lions (9-8) just missed qualifying for the playoffs but moved up from ninth to seventh after squashing the Packers’ postseason hopes with a 20-16 win at Lambeau. The Chargers (10-7), the AFC’s No. 5 seed, remained at No. 8 in The 33rd Team rankings just ahead of the Cowboys (12-5), who slid from seventh to ninth after a mystifying 20-point loss to Washington (8-8-1).
The Steelers (9-8), yet another team that narrowly missed the playoffs, round out the top 10, jumping from 14th to 10th after their sixth win in the last seven games, 28-14 over the Browns.
The 33rd Team’s final pre-playoff rankings:
Last week: W 35-23 vs. Patriots | This week: vs. 9-8 Dolphins | Previous: 1
Good news: If you’re the Bills, there’s nothing better than making a warm-weather team like the Dolphins come to Buffalo in January.
Bad news: Josh Allen has turned the ball over an NFL-high 19 times. His five red-zone interceptions also lead the league.
Last week: W 38-13 vs. Cardinals | This week: vs. 9-8 Seahawks | Previous: 2
Good news: They beat the Seahawks in both regular-season meetings and gave up just one offensive touchdown in those two games.
Last week: W 27-16 vs. Ravens | This week: vs. 10-7 Ravens | Previous: 3
Good news: Ja’Marr Chase has 40 catches in five games since returning from injury. He had six catches for 86 yards and a TD in Sunday’s win over the Ravens.
Bad news: Bengals are 29th in rushing (95.5 yards per game) and rush average (3.8 yards per carry). They’ve averaged just 2.8 yards per carry in their last three games but still managed to win two of those three games by double digits.
Last week: W 31-13 at Raiders | This week: bye | Previous: 4
Good news: The Chiefs led the league in scoring for the second time in the last five years. Since Patrick Mahomes became the starting QB in 2018, they have never finished lower than sixth in scoring.
Bad news: The Chiefs had 55 sacks this season, including six against the Raiders. But they gave up a league-high 33 touchdown passes and finished 20th in points allowed (21.7 per game). Is their defense good enough to win a Super Bowl? We’re gonna find out.
Last week: W 22-16 vs. Giants | This week: bye | Previous: 5
Good news: Jalen Hurts returned Sunday after missing two games with a shoulder sprain. He wasn’t 100% but was healthy enough to help the Eagles clinch the NFC’s No. 1 seed against the Giants’ backups. The Eagles also are hoping to get All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson back for the playoffs.
Bad news: The Eagles have a minus-7 turnover differential in their last nine games. Their 16 giveaways during that period are the second most in the league.
Last week: L 28-31 at Broncos | This week: at 9-8 Jaguars | Previous: 6
Good news: Justin Herbert’s yards-per-attempt average has jumped from 6.5 to 7.4 in the five games since both of his top receivers, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, have been available. Williams suffered a back contusion on Sunday but is expected to practice this week.
Bad news: Just one of the Chargers’ 10 wins was against a team with a winning record. That was the 9-8 Dolphins. The combined record of the other nine: 48-103-2.
Last week: W 20-16 vs. Titans | This week: vs. 10-7 Chargers | Previous: 8
Good news: The Jaguars played the Chargers on the road in Week 3 and beat them handily, 38-10. Trevor Lawrence threw three touchdown passes in that game. In the Jaguars’ last nine games, Lawrence has 15 TD passes and just two interceptions.
Bad news: The Jaguars rushed for only 19 yards on 14 carries against the Titans. They managed to beat Tennessee twice in the last five weeks, even though they averaged just 2.0 yards per carry against them.
Last week: W 20-16 at Packers | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 9
Good news: The Lions are the best team not in the playoffs. It’s little consolation for them at the moment, but their six-win improvement is a good building block for coach Dan Campbell. He already has one of the league’s top offenses (finished fifth in scoring), and his defense held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 291 yards at Lambeau Sunday night.
Bad news: Training camp doesn’t start for another six months.
Last week: L 6-26 at Commanders | This week: at 8-9 Bucs | Previous: 7
Good news: The Cowboys have a league-high 33 takeaways and are second in turnover differential (plus-10).
Bad news: How do you explain a 20-point loss to Washington? The Cowboys are an unpredictable team that can beat anybody and lose to anybody. Dak Prescott has the highest interception percentage in the league. He’s averaging a pick every 26.2 pass attempts. He’s thrown at least one interception in nine of his 11 starts.
Last week: W 28-14 vs. Browns | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 14
Good news: Steelers still haven’t had a losing season in Mike Tomlin’s 16 years as head coach. They won seven of their last nine after a 2-6 start.
Bad news: They missed the playoffs for only the third time in the last nine years.
Last week: L 16-27 at Bengals | This week: at 12-4-1 Bengals | Previous: 11
Good news: The Ravens’ defense has held its last 11 opponents to 15.8 points per game.
Bad news: Quarterback Lamar Jackson is recovering from a knee injury and hasn’t practiced or played in five weeks. Even if he returns this week, there’s bound to be a lot of rust.
Last week: W 29-13 at Bears | This week: vs. 9-7-1 Giants | Previous: 12
Good news: The Vikings finally beat a bad team by more than one score.
Bad news: The Vikings’ defense is 31st in yards allowed (388.7 per game) and 29th in points allowed (25.1). They gave up 445 yards to the Giants in a three-point win in Week 16.
Last week: L 16-22 at Eagles | This week: at 13-4 Vikings | Previous: 13
Good news: The Giants racked up a season-high 445 total yards in a three-point road loss to the Vikings on Christmas Eve, which should give them confidence going into the playoff rematch.
Bad news: The Giants aren’t going into the postseason with a lot of momentum. They’re 2-5-1 in their last eight games.
Last week: L 16-20 vs. Lions | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 10
Good news: After losing eight of their first 12 games, the Packers rallied to win four in a row and almost made the playoffs.
Bad news: After their loss to the Lions, Aaron Rodgers, who finished the season with the lowest passer rating of his career, acted like a guy who might have played his last game at Lambeau.
Last week: L 17-30 at Falcons | This week: vs. Cowboys | Previous: 15
Good news: This is Tom Brady’s 20th playoff appearance. Yes, the Bucs are 8-9. But Brady has gone one-and-done just three times in those 20 postseason trips.
Bad news: Brady has the lowest touchdown percentage of his career and his lowest yards-per-attempt average in two decades.
Last week: W 11-6 vs. Jets | This week: at Bills | Previous: 18
Bad news: If Tua Tagovailoa isn’t cleared to play against the Bills, the Dolphins’ first playoff appearance in six years likely will be short and sweet.
Last week: W 19-16 vs. Rams | This week: at 13-4 49ers | Previous: 17
Good news: This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Pete Carroll’s team, but they’re in the playoffs for the ninth time in the last 12 years. The Seahawks are playing with house money.
Bad news: They lost both of their regular-season meetings with the 49ers and probably are looking at one-and-done unless Geno Smith can find lightning in a bottle.
Last week: L 23-35 at Bills | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 16
Good news: The Patriots’ defense finished third in interceptions (19) and fourth in sacks (54).
Bad news: QB Mac Jones regressed in Year 2. His passer rating, touchdown percentage, completion percentage and yards-per-attempt average all dropped off this season.
Last week: W 10-7 at Saints | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 20
Good news: After a 1-4 start got Matt Rhule canned, the Panthers went a credible 6-6 under Steve Wilks, even after trading their best offensive player, Christian McCaffrey.
Bad news: Wilks’ reward likely will be a pink slip.
Last week: W 26-6 vs. Cowboys | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 24
Good news: The Commanders can take some solace in the fact that four of their eight wins were against playoff teams.
Bad news: Rookie fifth-round pick Sam Howell didn’t look awful in his first start Sunday, but you can still probably add the Commanders to the long list of teams who will be looking for a quarterback in the offseason.
Last week: L 7-10 vs. Panthers | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 19
Good news: The Saints, currently without a first-round pick, could get one as compensation from whichever team hires Sean Payton.
Bad news: The Saints averaged just 14.5 points per game in their last nine games, putting up more than 21 just once.
Last week: L 6-11 at Dolphins | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 21
Good news: The Jets already have one of the league’s top defenses. They finished fourth in points allowed. They gave up more than 24 points just three times all season.
Bad news: The Jets have to figure out whether Zach Wilson is fixable or whether they have to look for another quarterback.
Last week: L 14-28 at Steelers | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 22
Good news: Deshaun Watson, who had a 79.1 passer rating in his six starts following his 11-game suspension, should be much improved next year after a full offseason in Kevin Stefanski’s system.
Bad news: The Browns need to add another difference-making pass rusher to the team to complement Myles Garrett. They aren’t expected to re-sign disappointing pass-rush option Jadeveon Clowney, who had half a sack in the last 11 games.
Last week: W 30-17 vs. Bucs | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 26
Good news: Fifth-round rookie RB Tyler Allgeier has been a find. He finished with a team-high 1,035 rushing yards.
Bad news: The Falcons’ 21 quarterback sacks were the second-fewest in the league. But between the $70-plus million in cap space they’re going to have and the eighth overall pick in the draft, they have the resources to address the problem.
Last week: L 16-20 at Jaguars | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 25
Good news: Derrick Henry notched his third 1,500-yard rushing season in the last four years.
Bad news: Henry isn’t enough anymore. The Titans finished 28th in scoring, averaging just 17.5 points per game. It was their lowest scoring average since 2014 when they averaged just 15.9 points per game in a 2-14 season.
Last week: L 16-19 at Seahawks | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 27
Good news: There’s nowhere to go but up next year for an offense that finished last in the NFL in scoring a year after winning the Super Bowl.
Bad news: Sean McVay apparently isn’t excited about the prospect of rebuilding the Rams and is considering a career change. Perhaps middle-school teaching, or working as a sous chef?
Last week: L 13-31 vs. Chiefs | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 23
Good news: Being out of the playoff hunt gave them an opportunity to get a two-game look at quarterback Jarrett Stidham against a pair of playoff teams, and he didn’t look all that bad.
Bad news: Josh Jacobs, who won the league rushing title with 1,653 yards, will be a free agent.
Last week: W 31-28 vs. Chargers | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 28
Good news: The Broncos plan to interview Sean Payton for their head-coaching vacancy. If anybody can fix Russell Wilson, it’s Payton.
Bad news: The Saints, reportedly, are looking for “a first-round pick and more’’ as compensation for Payton, who still is under contract to them.
Last week: W 32-31 at Colts | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 29
Good news: The Texans scored a season-high 32 points as they won for the second time in the last three games.
Bad news: Depending on your point of view, Lovie Smith’s firing on Sunday night could land in either category. But saying goodbye to the first pick in the draft is definitely bad news.
Last week: L 13-21 at 49ers | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 30
Good news: NFL Films’ Hard Knocks In-Season crew finally can go home and get much-needed counseling.
Bad news: This organization is a Bidwillian mess. GM Steve Keim resigned and coach Kliff Kingsbury was fired on Monday, and the Cardinals were 3-8 in games that the $230 million man, Kyler Murray, started. Oh, and on top of everything else, J.J. Watt is retiring.
Last week: L 13-29 vs. Vikings | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 31
Good news: Guess who’s got the first pick in the April draft? That’s right, duh Bears.
Bad news: GM Ryan Poles needs to upgrade the Bears’ offensive line. Justin Fields was the league’s most pressured and sacked quarterback in the league this season.
Last week: L 31-32 vs. Texans | This week: missed playoffs | Previous: 32
Bad news: For the third year in a row, the Colts will be spending the offseason searching for a starting quarterback.