NFL Playoffs 2019: Ranking the remaining eight Super Bowl contenders from best to worst
Looking at every single team left in the playoffs from top to bottom
There are only eight teams left in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy -- the season is rapidly coming to a close before our very eyes. Those eight teams aren't here by fluke; they're all quite good. But there are certainly differing levels of skill at differing positions for each team.
With the Divisional Round on the horizon, let's rank the remaining eight teams left in the field. And let's do it by who scares you the most. Which team do you NOT want to see coming to your city for a playoff matchup and the season on the line? If your team made it to the Super Bowl, who would you NOT want to see on the other side of things?
That's the gist of it. Feel free to yell at me for being wrong on Twitter @WillBrinson. And if you're pining for a daily NFL podcast, may I suggest you check out the Pick Six Podcast, our daily NFL show hosted by yours truly? Test it out, you'll like it. Now enjoy the rankings.
If you still haven't marked your calendar for the Super Bowl, the game will be kicking off from Atlanta on Feb. 3 and will be televised by CBS and you can stream it right here. If you're thinking about buying a new TV for the big game, CNET has you covered. They shared their best picks for every budget.
1. New Orleans Saints
May the power of home field compel you: the Saints are undefeated in the playoffs in the Superdome with Drew Brees and Sean Payton. They've only ever had the No. 1 seed once during the Brees/Payton run, and that was back in 2009, when the Saints nearly ran the table for a 19-0 season but had to settle for beating Peyton Manning and the Colts for the first ever New Orleans Super Bowl. This feels like a season the Saints could pull it off again. Last year felt that way too. It would require a Minneapolis Miracle-level situation to stop the Saints, especially with the NFC field trimmed down after the wild-card weekend. There's really only one good defense (Dallas) outside of New Orleans left, and no one is nearly as complete as the Saints, both in terms of how they can beat you offensively -- Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are a real hassle to stop too! -- and how they can match up with teams defensively.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
DO NOT @ ME. The Chargers are the second most complete team in the NFL right now, behind only the Saints. They have an elite, Hall of Fame quarterback with playoff experience. They have an outstanding run game (although Melvin Gordon needs to stop getting hurt). They can go on the road and beat a top-tier defense in the playoffs. They have Joey Bosa/Melvin Ingram to rush the passer. They have Keenan Allen to catch passes. They just got Hunter Henry back. They have an All-Pro rookie safety in Derwin James who allows them to be versatile on defense. They ... could go into New England and lose. But they're also the first team to be dogs by less than a touchdown to the Patriots in the division round in almost a decade. Vegas understands this could be a close game. And don't tell me the Chargers can't beat anyone else left in the tournament. They've beaten the Chiefs and would be a great matchup with the Saints. We've seen Philip Rivers hang with Tom Brady in the playoffs, even if he's 0-7 all time against the Pats when Brady plays (1-0 against Matt Cassel!). I give the Chargers the edge here because of experience and because of balance.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
They have the MVP and not only is he cooooooooming hoooooome but he also soooooounds like a froooooog:
I just wanted to plug that hilarious content from our Pick Six Podcast Instagram page -- you should be following us and can do so here -- but in all seriousness, Patrick Mahomes is an absurd freak of nature who can kill defenses with a single flick of his wrist. And sometimes without looking! The Chiefs have the most high-octane offense in the NFL and can put up 30 points in a hurry. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Damien Williams and Andy Reid's creative play-calling are not something anyone wants to see. They're the No. 1 seed and even if they didn't dominate down the stretch, they've been the best offense all year long. The defense leaves a lot to be desired, but it improved down the stretch. The Chiefs are terrifying.
4. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are kind of similar: they weren't as dominant down the stretch of the 2018 season as they were during the start of it and Jared Goff struggled. Not seeing them for a week plus watching Jared Goff limp down the stretch makes it a little bit easier to forget just how dangerous this team can be. I'm all over the Cowboys this week; I think they can beat the Rams because they're a bad matchup, but I've also got some Spidey Sense tingling, telling me that the Rams could come out and just beat the pants off Dallas in this game. Todd Gurley is the best running back in football when he's healthy. Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods will do some damage to any secondary. And Goff is an emerging young star who had a rough stretch and got a break to sit down with offensive mastermind Sean McVay and cook up some stuff for the Cowboys. Wade Phillips' defense got beat up a little bit down the stretch, but he's a Super Bowl-winning coordinator who can coach with the best of them. Aaron Donald is the No. 1 defensive player in the league. This is a really scary team we're all sort of sleeping on (except for Vegas, which installed the Rams as a touchdown favorite this round).
5. New England Patriots
Pretty simple situation here: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. It's a SLAP IN THEIR FACE to rank them here. I'm aware of it. I'll probably feel stupid when they're hoisting the Lombardi Trophy again in February. But if you're talking about teams you don't want to see coming to town or matching up against in a single game, I'm just not sure the Patriots are as scary as the teams above them. They don't have the pass rush of the Chargers, Saints or Rams. They are dangerous on offense, but not as scary as the Chiefs. Brady is aging a little bit, but he's also seen his supporting cast take a dip this year. New England clearly knows it has to win by running the ball and might be able to do that with Sony Michel and James White and Rex Burkhead. I trust Belichick to coach up the defense against just about anyone. He's the greatest coach of all time. I'm not sure the defense is locking anyone down or pressuring an elite quarterback though. And offensively, the loss of Josh Gordon still stings. They have Julian Edelman, but he's aging and coming off an ACL and has some drops recently. Rob Gronkowski is not the same, even if he might be able to summon one last heroic run for the postseason. Chris Hogan? Brady doesn't have the same complement of weapons we thought he did to start the season.
6. Indianapolis Colts
I was tempted to put them higher than this. The Colts should be terrifying. They can pound the ball with a physical offensive line led by Quenton Nelson (a.k.a. Earl Grey). Marlon Mack is averaging 110 yards per game and five yards per carry over his last three games including last week's playoff win against the Texans. Andrew Luck is back to being Andrew Luck and it's really nice to see, because he is a game-changer when he's healthy. I think Luck and the Colts can hang with the Chiefs this week, because they're capable of scoring and slowing down the pace and running the rock. The one big red flag would be the lack of elite offenses their defense has faced: Matt Eberflus has done a superb job of coaching up this unit, but they got the Jaguars and Titans twice each down the stretch, as well as the Giants and Dolphins. Not knocking any team that wins seven of its final eight games, but they had two wins against "good" offenses, taking out the Texans and shutting down the Colts. A team like KC could put up some points this week.
7. Dallas Cowboys
This was a tough one. I think the Cowboys are a potentially elite defense, but I also believe they're a defense that can be vulnerable to excellent deep ball passers. And there are a lot of good deep ball passers left in the playoffs right now. Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith are the best young linebacking duo in the NFL right now. DeMarcus Lawrence is playing like someone who wants to get a $20 million/year contract this offseason (or someone who IS going to get that deal anyway). Additionally, this is a potentially elite rushing attack, but we saw the Seahawks stifle Dallas. I was surprised it was ultimately the Cowboys who managed to zig and produce some out of the box plays and not Seattle. If Dallas can get a lead on you and get downhill with Ezekiel Elliott, you're in big trouble. Dak Prescott should be earning trust because of how he played in a home playoff start. But I still don't know that I'd rather see Dallas than the other teams on this list.
8. Philadelphia Eagles
Sigh. Someone has to be the last team on this list. And unfortunately it's the last team to qualify for the playoffs annnnnnnnnnd the defending world champions. Yes, the same team with Nick Foles, the unstoppable quarterbacking force who just dismantled the best defense in football. The Eagles should be higher, I get it. You don't want to see them coming to town. But most of the reason why is mythological, right? The idea that Foles will somehow manage to put up points against you and storm back late with an incredible drive that buries your heart and soul. That's what he did the Bears! And that's what he did to teams last year. The Eagles have an underrated defense, with the pass rushers generating pressure via Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett and Chris Long. Jim Schwartz dials up all kinds of blitzes at the right time. Doug Pederson is proving once again this year he's one of the most valuable coaches in football, and showing how comfortable he is with Foles under center. Zach Ertz might be the best tight end in football already, he's at least in the discussion. But the Eagles feel like the team you'd most want to see, even if they're somehow the scariest team in the field. That's how good this playoffs sets up to be.
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