2021 NFL playoffs: Super Bowl power rankings

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  • Philadelphia Eagles
    Philadelphia Eagles
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  • Pittsburgh Steelers
    Pittsburgh Steelers
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Here are Touchdown Wire’s power rankings heading into the 2021 NFL playoffs:

T.J. Watt
T.J. Watt

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt. (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)

14. Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)

Seed: No. 7 NFC

While the NFC is top heavy, the AFC was a cluster all season. Considering that, we might have a teams or two such as the Chargers that were already sent packing that might be better than the Eagles. This young Philadelphia team also has a huge ask of them heading into Round 1 against the Buccaneers. The Eagles’ rushing attack will have to be dynamic with QB Jalen Hurts to keep up with the defending champs.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1)

Seed: No. 7 AFC

We’ve got nothing against Pennsylvania, we promise. But the Steelers slipped into the postseason… barely. But we’ll give them the experience edge over the Eagles, at least. QB Ben Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin have been to the promise land but it’s another difficult challenge ahead. Pittsburgh is the biggest underdog on wild-card weekend (+12.5) versus the Kansas City Chiefs.

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) . (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

12. Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)

Seed: No. 5 AFC

After their head coach in Jon Gruden resigned earlier this year, you’ve got to give Rich Bisaccia credit for righting the ship. The Raiders still have holes, but QB Derek Carr and RB Josh Jacobs are playing some great football and the playoffs are all about one thing: Getting hot at the right time. That’s happening for Vegas, winners of four straight, but the likewise-hot Bengals await.

11. New England Patriots (10-7)

Seed: No. 6 AFC

Speaking of not being so hot, there’s the Patriots. Naturally we’ve got to give New England the “Bill Belichick bump.” That’s understandable. However, losers of three of their last four? That’s not where any team wants to be heading into the playoffs. But a silver lining: The Pats have the Bills on the road this weekend. They’ve won that exactly game before, as recent as a few weeks ago.

10. San Francisco 49ers (10-7)

Seed: No. 6 NFC

Big ups to the 49ers for their season finale, turning around a 17-0 deficit against the Rams to win and get in. But San Francisco remains a curious team. After cracking the Super Bowl, 2020 was filled with injury, derailing them. Could this team pull together for another playoff run? Their defensive front seven leads that charge but that fate likely rests with QB Jimmy Garoppolo doing enough to get the job done in the postseason, starting against the Cowboys.

Ja'Marr Chase
Ja'Marr Chase

Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

9. Arizona Cardinals (11-6)

Seed: No. 5 NFC

The Cardinals are another team entering the playoffs on the wrong foot. They lost four of their final six games coming out of their bye. But Arizona has played some stiff competition this season, even beating talented teams recently like the Cowboys (Week 17). But the Cards start their playoff push with a division rival in the Rams who are a similar opponent that could either get red hot and roll or hit a self-created speed bump.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)

Seed: No. 4 AFC

The Bengals have an offense with QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon and WRs Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd that can hang with anyone. Cincy’s defense has improved this year as well but this team is still very young. Can we expect a deep playoff run this early? Their opening matchup with the Raiders looks to be a favorable one, at least.

7. Los Angeles Rams (12-5)

Seed: No. 4 NFC

The Rams won five-straight games before falling in overtime in their season finale against the 49ers. On paper, that looks great, but Los Angeles can’t be feeling great right now. Their offense and QB Matthew Stafford has been spotty. He either has to correct his mistakes or the defense has to step up and make sure those aren’t too costly going forward.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

6. Buffalo Bills (11-6)

Seed: No. 3 AFC

The Bills hit a low point mid-season but turned it around, winning four-straight games. Included in that is one against the Patriots who is their upcoming playoff opponent. But while Buffalo finished the year with the NFL’s top-scoring defense, it’s not a perfect group. They’re susceptible against the run and Bills QB Josh Allen has been solid, not great, which is where you want your signal caller to be heading into the playoffs.

5. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)

Seed: No. 3 NFC

Perhaps no QB is rolling now more than Dak Prescott. Five touchdowns in the Cowboys’ finale, albeit against backups, should inspire a lot of confidence. Dallas has a closer offense and defense pairing than past years which could propel them to a Super Bowl appearance. But again, saying and being that are two different things. It’s easy to envision one side of the ball for Dallas having an off day which ends their run.

4. Tennessee Titans (12-5)

Seed: No. 1 AFC

The Titans are a team thrown all over power rankings heading into wild-card weekend. They won’t be playing as they earned the AFC’s bye as the top seed, but sometimes Tennessee isn’t exactly… convincing. Look no further than them nearly blowing a chance at their bye against the Texans on Sunday. Still, if the Titans defense remains steady and RB Derrick Henry is playing like “The King” upon his return this team can beat any good team, any day.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates with wide receiver Davante Adams (17) .Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

3. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)

Seed: No. 2 AFC

If there’s one team many can envision just flipping a switch heading into the postseason, it’s the Chiefs. Worrisome early, Kansas City got it together as the year continued. Offensively, WR Tyreek Hill being healthy will be huge for QB Patrick Mahomes. Defensively, things declined slightly in recent weeks, but there’s also head coach Andy Reid’s experience to consider to get this entire team’s focus on the job ahead.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4)

Seed: No. 2 NFC

The defending champions who have QB Tom Brady pulling the strings on offense. There’s not much more that needs to be said, but we’ll churn out a few more sentences. While Antonio Brown was stripped from their offense (pun intended), the Bucs still have plenty for Brady to work with. Their defense is also a top unit. As long as Tampa Bay can heal up beyond their Eagles match on wild-card weekend, another deep run could be in the making.

1. Green Bay Packers (13-4)

Seed: No. 1 NFC

Wrapping up home-field advantage throughout the postseason could be the ticket for the Packers on their march to the Super Bowl. A week to heal up with their bye can only help as well. QB Aaron Rodgers is playing at another MVP level again this season but the edge on the field that Green Bay has this year as opposed to last year is an all-around improved defense. A lot to like in the Pack.

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