NFL 2022 Final Power Rankings: Eagles have home-field in the NFC, but not No. 1 spot

There are some teams in the playoffs who may not get in based on their play over recent weeks. There are also teams that have played well down the stretch but have bad records.

There are also teams who have home-field advantage in the postseason that may not be the best team in their conference.

Case in point: the Philadelphia Eagles. They went 0-2 without Jalen Hurts under center, and when he returned, the Eagles beat the Giants’ backups for all their playoff spoils from the NFC East to the No. 1 seed.

Definitely the best finish to a remarkable regular season. Does that mean they are the best team in the league though?

Here are the final power rankings for the 2022 regular season.

32. Houston Texans (3-13-1)

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Last week: No. 32

Just when Houston sports fans were counting on the Texans do what they knew best and lose, quarterback Davis Mills pulls off a fourth quarter comeback and hits tight end Jordan Akins for a game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-20 and again for the ensuing two-point conversion. The Texans lost the No. 2 overall pick, Lovie Smith lost his job, and general manager Nick Caserio’s seat got a little warmer as he partakes in his third coaching search in as many offseasons on the job.

31. Arizona Cardinals (4-13)

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Last week: No. 31

If not for the fact they have Kyler Murray under contract through the 2028 season — with a possible though costly out in 2025 — the Cardinals would be ready to start fresh with coach Kliff Kingsbury fired and general manager Steve Keim gone. The Cardinals are rather pressured to get it right and not waste any of Murray’s prime on a rebuild.

30. Chicago Bears (3-14)

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Last week: No. 29

Playing Nathan Peterman is rarely a winning strategy. However, the Bears netted the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. As much as Chicago has a playmaker under center in Justin Fields, they need that type of catalyst on the defensive side of the ball. The Bears finished 29th in total defense and 32nd in scoring defense.

29. Indianapolis Colts (4-12-1)

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Last week: No. 30

As has been Indianapolis’ problem since 2019, they just need a quarterback. Having to go with Jacoby Brissett starting in Week 1 of that season when Andrew Luck retired late in the preseason should have been the wakeup call. Instead they went the veteran route and signed Philip Rivers. It worked. It hasn’t worked since. With a new coach in place, the Colts should give him a new quarterback to work with, and a healthier Jonathan Taylor would be the ultimate complement to acclimate a young signal caller to life in the NFL.

28. Las Vegas Raiders (6-11)

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Last week: No. 27

Derek Carr is essentially gone, and the Raiders will devote their offseason to finding his replacement. Whoever ends up under center for Las Vegas, they can count on running back Josh Jacobs and wideout Davante Adams. The defense could use a little love, too, as they finished 28th in total defense and 26th in scoring defense. That could have been due to the turnovers as the defense’s average starting field position was their own 29-yard line, tied with the Cleveland Browns for the eighth-worst in the league.

27. Denver Broncos (5-12)

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Last week: No. 28

It was looking like the Broncos would never be able to win a game again. As horrendous as the offense was, the defense wasn’t so bad, which is why defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero is getting looks across the league for coaching jobs. The Broncos tied with the Tennessee Titans for the 14th-best total defense and were the eighth-best scoring defense. Certainly the Broncos need a new coach, but clearly the defense isn’t broken and their focus should be on fixing the offense.

26. New York Jets (7-10)

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Last week: No. 23

Coach Robert Saleh wasn’t able to undo the current “same old Jets” conundrum that Todd Bowles couldn’t solve in 2015: turn a promising season into a playoff berth. Quarterback was the biggest issue for the Jets in the regular season, and it appears to be their biggest problem in the offseason. Is the Zach Wilson era over before it even really began?

25. Washington Commanders (8-8-1)

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Last week: No. 27

Part of Washington’s problem was missing Chase Young. The defense finished No. 5 in total defense and No. 7 in points allowed. They had the 12th-most sacks with 43 and seventh-most quarterback hits with 107. If the defense plays elite, how much investment does Washington really need to make at quarterback in the offseason?

24. Cleveland Browns (7-10)

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Last week: No. 22

The Browns were dysfunctional because they regressed at quarterback starting in Week 13. Could they have made the playoffs if they had left Jacoby Brissett under center? Maybe, but now Kevin Stefanski will have a No. 1 signal caller to work with in the offseason.

23. Atlanta Falcons (7-10)

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Last week: No. 24

The Falcons seem to be in a good place. They can easily compete with teams of comparable talent level and give good teams a scare, as they did with the San Francisco 49ers (Week 6), Los Angeles Chargers (Week 9), and Baltimore Ravens (Week 16). With the No. 8 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, it puts them in sellers territory in case a quarterback-needy team gets desperate.

22. Carolina Panthers (7-10)

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Last week: No. 25

Before anyone gets too far ahead and decides to promote Steve Wilks from interim to full-time coach, or just let Sam Darnold takeover as QB1, consider half of the Panthers’ wins in the post-Matt Rhule era came against NFC South teams, a division that was the second-worst in the NFL in 2022. Were the wins in Seattle against an eventual playoff team and the win-streak-snapper against Detroit the real Panthers or a late-season mirage?

21. Tennessee Titans (7-10)

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Last week: No. 18

As was the case upon completing Mike Vrabel’s first season with the Titans, they have to figure out their quarterback situation. Joshua Dobbs showed tremendous potential for a guy who had only been in the building two and a half weeks. However, their real investment is in Malik Willis. Is Tennessee willing to call the Ryan Tannehill chapter finished? Can Derrick Henry continue to be the undeniable battering ram for the offense?

20. New Orleans Saints (7-10)

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Last week: No. 17

The last time Andy Dalton won at least six games was in 2017 when the Cincinnati Bengals went 7-9. Will the Saints’ wideouts turn back the clock for the 35-year-old? New Orleans’ defense was secretly stingy as they finished the sixth-best total defense and ninth-best scoring defense.

19. Los Angeles Rams (5-12)

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Last week: No. 21

The Rams really gave it to the Seahawks in their own venue and made them earn their playoff spot. With Sean McVay returning and with better health across the roster, given how the team never truly gave up despite the horrendous season, the Rams should bounce back in 2023.

18. Baltimore Ravens (10-7)

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Last week: No. 20

The Ravens got into the playoffs, but their defense will have to show up in spades to help them get out of the wild-card round. Despite their problems at quarterback, the defense maintained as they finished tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the 10th-best total defense and were the third-best scoring defense.

17. New England Patriots (8-9)

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Last week: No. 14

Mac Jones has been the focus for the Patriots’ woes, but they finished the ninth-best total defense and 11th-best scoring defense. They also tied with the San Francisco 49ers for the second-most takeaways with 30. Presumably if New England can help Jones take another step, they should be back in the playoffs.

16. Miami Dolphins (8-9)

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Last week: No. 14

Miami battled throughout the season and it appears Mike McDaniel has a measure of a solution on how to handle Tua Tagovailoa’s availability under center. If the Dolphins even keep it a one-score game in the wild-card, that has to be considered success given how the season fell apart at the end.

15. Seattle Seahawks (9-8)

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Last week: No. 19

Kenneth Walker helped out a struggling Geno Smith with 21 carries for 114 yards, and the defense held forth despite losing the turnover battle 2-1. Seattle is in prime position at No. 5 overall — thanks to their trade with the Denver Broncos involving Russell Wilson — to significantly improve next year.

14. Green Bay Packers (8-9)

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Last week: No. 7

Green Bay was relying on younger players and working through assistant departures that affected their record and play earlier in the season. Even with the loss to the Lions at home, there is optimism that they can start better.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-8)

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Last week: No. 11

Maybe if the NFL goes to an 18-game season, the Steelers can get into the playoffs after having terrible starts. It is an accomplishment the way Mike Tomlin kept the team together to go 7-2 after their bye week and finish with a winning record. It is similar to 2013 when they started 2-6 but finished 6-2 for an even 8-8. However, that was the last time the Steelers would fail to make the playoffs until 2018 as Pittsburgh qualified for the playoffs from 2014-17 and even appeared in two AFC Championship Games in that span.

12. New York Giants (9-7-1)

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Last week: No. 12

Starting Davis Webb was the move that gave the No. 1 seed in the NFC to the Philadelphia Eagles. At least they got to see how their backup handles the offense on the road.

11. Detroit Lions (9-8)

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Last week: No. 15

It is almost terrible to put it in writing lest the NFL actually consider the notion, but every team that loses in the playoffs should have to play the Lions just to kind of prove what Detroit could have done had they actually got in. Dan Campbell rallied the team and it appears the Lions are no longer a rebuild. Can that momentum be sustained in the offseason? Do they dare jettison Jared Goff for a younger quarterback?

10. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)

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Last week: No. 5

Even though Dak Prescott is taking the blame for the Cowboys’ 26-6 loss in Washington, the entire team was atrocious. Special teams had two miscues that led to Washington starting deep in Dallas territory. Terry McLaurin had three catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. Jahan Dotson had three catches for 72. Ultimately a Cowboys failure in the wild-card round will result in Mike McCarthy being on the hot seat — if not by Jerry Jones, then by the fans and media. Buckle up, because Monday night could take a dramatic turn.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)

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Last week: No. 13

The Bucs finished tied for the 10th-best total defense and were the 13th-best scoring defense. They were tied for the ninth-fewest takeaways with 20, but had eight over the final three games. Oh, yeah, and arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time is still under center and threw for the third-most passing yards in the league, and he tied for the second-most game-winning drives this year with five. Still want to take on this division-champ-with-losing-record at home?

8. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)

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Last week: No. 8

The Jaguars epitomize a team peaking at the right time. What is encouraging going forward, regardless of what happens in the playoffs, is it was because of sustainable events: Trevor Lawrence developing, Doug Pederson’s coaching, and younger defensive players coming into their own. The Jaguars may have their jaws around the AFC South for a while.

7. Minnesota Vikings (13-4)

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Last week: No. 10

The Vikings are still a strange team that could fall down 27-3 to the Giants by halftime, as they did to the Packers in Week 17. Minnesota has to play more complete games because the comeback heroics are too difficult to sustain throughout a playoff run.

6. Los Angeles Chargers (11-6)

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Last week: No. 6

The Chargers are getting help back. Will it give them an added boost in the playoffs? One of Justin Herbert’s best attributes that should help the Chargers is his protection of the football. Herbert was tied with Trevor Lawrence for the sixth-lowest interception percentage in the NFL at 1.4%. The fewer mistakes Herbert makes, the better chance Los Angeles has to win their first playoff game since 2018.

5. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)

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Last week: T-1

What has aided the Bengals’ winning streak is their protection of Joe Burrow. Their entire winning streak has been comprised of games where Burrow gets sacked once or twice — none more than that. If Cincinnati protects Burrow, they can be dangerous.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)

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Last week: No. 9

One case that Jalen Hurts should be MVP is the way the Eagles played without him; just count the losses with Gardner Minshew under center. Philadelphia is still a bit of enigma as they beat the Giants’ backups for their advantageous start to the postseason. Will the real Eagles show up in the divisional round?

3. San Francisco 49ers (13-4)

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Last week: No. 3

It may actually be better for San Francisco that they did not get the bye, but rather the No. 2 seed, as they can continue their weekly routine that has led to the winning streak. Plus they get two straight home playoff games over the next two weeks. Unlike some teams the 49ers keep rolling with their backup quarterback, although sustained winning may take the “backup” label off Brock Purdy going forward.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)

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Last week: No. 4

It is January, which means things won’t get hard for Kansas City unless they play Buffalo, Kansas City, or it is the AFC Championship Game.

1. Buffalo Bills (13-3)

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Last week: T-1

The Bills will have the highest emotional boost going into the playoffs of any team due to Damar Hamlin and his heroic comeback. How long will Buffalo be able to ride that momentum? If Josh Allen, who tied for the second-most touchdown passes with 35, continues to play at an elite level, and the defense, which was the best in the NFL and tied for the fourth-most takeaways with 27, shuts down opposing offenses, the Bills may be able to take this thing all the way to Glendale.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire