NFC Playoff Confidence Rankings of all 7 teams at every position

It’s playoff time, finally. The AFC and NFC are just over 24 hours away from starting their bracket-style eliminations to see who stands alone. After 18 weeks and 17 games, each conference has sent seven teams to their own little single-elimination tournament. In the AFC, it’s a collection of young star quarterbacks and their supporting casts built around them. In the NFC there’s more of a mixture between veteran savvy and youthful exuberance competing for top-dog status.  We know what the seedings are, but who stands the best chance of emerging?

Confidence Rankings is a bit I’ve borrowed from Mike and Mike, the now-defunct ESPN radio simulcast from years back. Points are awarded to a team based on how confident one should be in individual position groups and facets of the teams.

If Dallas’ quarterback situation inspires the most confidence compared to the rest of the NFC field, Dallas would get a ‘1’. The next team would get a ‘2’, next team a ‘3’ and so on through the field.

Calculate across all of the position groups and then tally up the scores. The team with the lowest score wins three internets.

You can look at the rankings for each individual category, and then at the end there are summaries for each of the seven teams.

 

Quarterbacks

  1. Jalen Hurts, Eagles (+7)

  2. Tom Brady, Buccaneers(+6)

  3. Dak Prescott, Cowboys(+5)

  4. Kirk Cousins, Vikings(+4)

  5. Brock Purdy, 49ers(+3)

  6. Geno Smith, Seahawks(+2)

  7. Daniel Jones, Giants(+1)

Hurts has been the best QB in the NFC this season and if he’s healthy the question is whether he’ll wilt in the playoffs. Brady may be Methusela years old, but he still had the best DVOA of all NFC QBs this year and has played a mind-numbing 45 playoff games. It was almost enough to put him No. 1 here. Prescott has the best talent of all of these guys, but his pocket skiddishness because of his surrounding factors is a big knock.

Cousins can’t play in primetime, Purdy just doesn’t have enough skins on the wall, Smith has been living a charmed existence, and Jones will eventually have to make risky throws to advance.

Running Backs

  1. Cowboys (+7)

  2. 49ers (+6)

  3. Eagles (+5)

  4. Giants (+4)

  5. Vikings (+3)

  6. Seahawks (+2)

  7. Bucs (+1)

The interesting thing is neither Dallas or Philly’s run game are setting the world on fire right now. But as far as talent, Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott are the best duo, by far, in the field. It’s the blocking that’s suspect. There’s a lot of talent in this group, where the Seahawks are sixth with a 1,000-yard rusher. Only Tampa’s run game is a struggle bus.

Wide Receivers

  1. Eagles (+7)

  2. Vikings (+6)

  3. Seahawks (+5)

  4. Bucs (+4)

  5. 49ers (+3)

  6. Cowboys (+2)

  7. Giants (+1)

The Eagles have a 1,500-yard receiver and a 1,200-yard guy with a combined 18 TDs. That sneaks them past the Vikings’ three-headed tandem led by the league’s best in Justin Jefferson. Seattle has two 1,000-yard guys as do the Buccaneers.

Tight Ends

  1. 49ers (+7)

  2. Eagles (+6)

  3. Seahawks (+5)

  4. Cowboys (+4)

  5. Vikings (+3)

  6. Giants (+2)

  7. Bucs (+1)

It’s George Kittle, Dallas Goedert and then everyone else, though the Cowboys’ use of their tight ends sneaks them past the better talent in Minnesota.

Offensive Lines

  1. Eagles (+7)

  2. 49ers (+6)

  3. Vikings (+5)

  4. Cowboys (+4)

  5. Bucs (+3)

  6. Giants (+2)

  7. Seahawks (+1)

This is totally contingent on whether or not Lane Johnson is at least 80%. If not, Philly drops down to third here.

DL Run Stopping

  1. 49ers (+7)

  2. Cowboys (+6)

  3. Bucs (+5)

  4. Vikings (+4)

  5. Eagles (+3)

  6. Seahawks (+2)

  7. Giants (+1)

It’s going to surprise people to see Dallas ranked this highly, but they really are a much better run defense than their reputation and yardage allowed. Teams simply chose to die a slow death and focus on the run while their pass rush was other worldly. Their DVOA is very high based on opponent strength and game situation.

Pass Rush

  1. Eagles (+7)

  2. Cowboys (+6)

  3. 49ers (+5)

  4. Vikings (+4)

  5. Bucs (+3)

  6. Seahawks (+2)

  7. Giants (+1)

Three very elite rushes here that easily separate from the rest of the conference.

Off-Ball Linebackers

  1. 49ers (+7)

  2. Bucs (+6)

  3. Cowboys (+5)

  4. Eagles (+4)

  5. Vikings (+3)

  6. Seahawks (+2)

  7. Giants (+1)

There’s an entire gulf here between the 49ers and the rest of the conference, with Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner setting the pace. But the scoring system is what it is with the Bucs having the next best player in Lavonte David, keeping them above mediocre Dallas and Philly groups.

Secondary

  1. 49ers (+7)

  2. Eagles (+6)

  3. Cowboys (+5)

  4. Bucs (+4)

  5. Vikings (+3)

  6. Seahawks (+2)

  7. Giants (+1)

Special Teams

  1. Seahawks (+7)

  2. Cowboys (+6)

  3. Eagles (+5)

  4. 49ers (+4)

  5. Giants (+3)

  6. Vikings (+2)

  7. Buccaneers (+1)

Coaching

  1. 49ers (+7)

  2. Cowboys (+6)

  3. Seahawks (+5)

  4. Eagles (+4)

  5. Giants (+3)

  6. Bucs (+2)

  7. Vikings (+1)

This is a very tough category to grade, because it’s impossible not to favor historical track records, of which many of the groups have none. Kyle Shanahan’s system is the deciding factor here, along with what his teams have accomplished. The big-game experience of Mike McCarthy and Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore’s consistently top-of-league rankings puts Dallas second, slightly ahead of Pete Carroll’s lengthy history of success in the Northwest.

Total Rankings

  1. 49ers – 62 pts

  2. Eagles – 61 pts

  3. Cowboys – 56 pts

  4. Vikings – 38 pts

  5. Bucs – 36 pts

  6. Seahawks – 35 pts

  7. Giants – 20 pts

This shouldn’t be surprising as the 49ers are likely the top NFC seed this season if they didn’t give Trey Lance the job through training camp. It cost them in the first three weeks.

The Eagles are next, with the current health status of Hurts and Johnson being something that could potentially knock them down to the Cowboys’ level.

There’s a wide gulf to the next tier, with the Giants looking like the worst team, by far.

Maybe that should bump them up the coaching grades, we’ll soon find out.

Offensive Rankings

  1. Eagles – 32 pts

  2. 49ers – 25 pts

  3. Cowboys – 22 pts

  4. Vikings – 21 pts

  5. Seahawks – 15 pts

  6. Buccaneers – 15 pts

  7. Giants – 10 pts

Defensive Rankings

  1. 49ers – 26 points

  2. Cowboys – 22 points

  3. Eagles – 20 pts

  4. Bucs – 18 pts

  5. Vikings – 14 pts

  6. Seahawks – 8 pts

  7. Giants – 4 pts

Dallas Cowboys Rankings

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

TOTAL CONFIDENCE – 3rd
QB – 5th
RB – 1st
WR – 6th
TE – 4th
OL – 4th
DL RUN – 2nd
PASS RUSH – 2nd
OFF-BALL LB – 3rd
SECONDARY – 3rd
SPECIAL TM – 2nd
COACHING – 2nd

Philadelphia Eagles Rankings

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

TOTAL CONFIDENCE – 2nd
QB – 1st
RB – 3rd
WR – 1st
TE – 2nd
OL – 1st
DL RUN – 5th
PASS RUSH – 1st
OFF-BALL LB – 4th
SECONDARY – 2nd
SPECIAL TM – 3rd
COACHING – 4th

San Francisco 49ers Rankings

Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

TOTAL CONFIDENCE – 1st
QB – 5th
RB – 2nd
WR – 5th
TE – 1st
OL – 2nd
DL RUN – 1st
PASS RUSH – 3rd
OFF-BALL LB – 1st
SECONDARY – 1st
SPECIAL TM – 4th
COACHING – 1st

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rankings

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

TOTAL CONFIDENCE – 6th
QB – 2nd
RB – 7th
WR – 4th
TE – 7th
OL – 5th
DL RUN – 3rd
PASS RUSH – 5th
OFF-BALL LB – 2nd
SECONDARY – 4th
SPECIAL TM – 7th
COACHING – 6th

Minnesota Vikings Rankings

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

TOTAL CONFIDENCE – 4th
QB – 4th
RB – 5th
WR – 2nd
TE – 5th
OL – 3rd
DL RUN – 4th
PASS RUSH – 4th
OFF-BALL LB – 5th
SECONDARY – 5th
SPECIAL TM – 6th
COACHING – 7th

Seattle Seahawks Rankings

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

TOTAL CONFIDENCE – 5th
QB – 6th
RB – 6th
WR – 3rd
TE – 3rd
OL – 7th
DL RUN – 6th
PASS RUSH – 6th
OFF-BALL LB – 6th
SECONDARY – 6th
SPECIAL TM – 1st
COACHING – 3rd

New York Giants Rankings

[Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

TOTAL CONFIDENCE – 7th
QB – 7th
RB – 4th
WR – 7th
TE – 6th
OL – 6th
DL RUN – 7th
PASS RUSH – 7th
OFF-BALL LB – 7th
SECONDARY – 7th
SPECIAL TM – 5th
COACHING – 5th

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire