The best time of year has arrived: the NFL playoffs. It's an extremely competitive field this season, top-to-bottom with quality teams. But not all are made equal. Here are your official NFL playoff power rankings.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
The Eagles are the kings of the steaming pile of garbage that is the 2019 NFC East. Carson Wentz is playing extremely well, but the Eagles are so depleted from injuries they're starting practice-squad guys at nearly every skill position offensively. The fact that they're even playing in January is an accomplishment itself, but it would be astonishing if they got to play more than one game.
11. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
The Titans turned things around after they inserted Ryan Tannehill in place of Marcus Mariota. Derrick Henry is the 2019 rushing leader and can consistently make things happen. The defense is stingy. But ultimately, it's hard to take the combination of Tannehill and Mike Vrabel over Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, much less the gauntlet they'd face should they topple the Patriots in Foxboro on Wild Card Weekend.
10. Buffalo Bills (10-6)
The Bills are a very well-coached team with a fantastic defense. Josh Allen has made strides this season. Are those strides big enough to trust him when every down matters? I don't think so. They're going up against a flawed team in Houston, but a deep playoff run may still be a few years away.
9. Houston Texans (10-6)
Bill O'Brien has well-noted shortcomings as a head coach that only become more apparent in playoff football. The secondary is inconsistent, although a potential JJ Watt return seems likely at this point, which would be huge. It's hard to bet against Deshaun Watson and his cadre of wideouts. But Watson looked banged-up near the end of the year, and if he's not fully healthy, Houston is done.
8. Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
I'll probably regret doubting Russell Wilson, but the problems with Seattle, as always, lie with his supporting cast. The run game is extremely important to the Seahawks' offense; it keeps the defense guessing and opens up the play action, but without their top three running backs, the opposing team will sell out to make sure Wilson can't make his magic. They shouldn't have a problem taking down the Eagles in the wild card round, but after that, Wilson can only do so much.
7. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
It's risky business to trust Kirk Cousins when the lights are brightest, but Dalvin Cook is the key to this offense, and he should be ready to go after resting the past two weeks with his shoulder injury. They drew a tough matchup against the Saints in New Orleans, but between Cook, their top-end pair of receivers, and a defense as stingy as expected from a Mike Zimmer squad, they're a tough out.
6. New England Patriots (12-4)
The Patriots look as vulnerable as they ever have. The offense is stagnant and their "historic" defense was just torn to pieces by Ryan Fitzpatrick, DeVante Parker, and a bunch of guys off the street with a playoff bye and homefield advantage on the line. It's still Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and the Titans will have their work cut out for them, but it's very hard to believe this New England squad is built for a deep postseason run.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
The Chiefs have rounded into form at just the right time. Everyone important is healthy on offense, and the defense is much-improved from last season. They have homefield for whoever comes out of the wild card round. They aren't as well-rounded as the teams above them, but a Super Bowl run is in the cards.
4. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
Green Bay managed to steal the second seed in the NFC, but they just don't scare anybody. The defense is the best they've fielded since the early years of this decade, and Aaron Rodgers remains Aaron Rodgers, but they've had more than a few duds on both sides of the ball over the course of the year, and Rodgers hasn't turned on the jets very often. It's always tough to play at Lambeau in January, but the offense needs to show more signs of life to get very far.
3. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
The Saints got the short end of the stick with the third seed despite winning 13 games. But this squad is dangerous on both sides of the ball. They have a shutdown corner (Marshon Lattimore) and an elite edge presence (Cam Jordan) on defense. They have one of the best quarterbacks ever (Drew Brees) and 2019's best receiver (Michael Thomas) on offense-- and that's not even to mention Alvin Kamara or their elite offensive line. They're more than motivated after two consecutive heart-shattering playoff exits. They don't have an easy road, but they match up well with anybody on the field.
2. San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
The Niners squeaked out a tough win in Seattle to clinch both the NFC West and the first seed on Sunday night. Their defense has remained one of the best in the league over the course of the season, and Kyle Shanahan has once again engineered an effective and dangerous offense. Jimmy Garoppolo hasn't been tested under this kind of pressure yet, though, and has had more games than you'd like where he has been flat-out bad. They aren't a perfect team, but homefield gives them a slight edge over the other elite teams in the playoff bracket.
1. Baltimore Ravens (14-2)
The Ravens have played like the best team in the NFL for nearly the entire season, and there's no reason to think they won't continue to do so in the playoffs. Mark Ingram's health is paramount to the offense, but Greg Roman has masterminded an elite unit that perfectly utilizes the skillset of likely MVP Lamar Jackson. The midseason trade for Marcus Peters has already paid huge dividends for the defense. They won't have to leave Baltimore in January. Jackson hasn't been playoff-tested yet, but after the season he's had, everything is lining up for a Super Bowl run. As they have been all year, they're THE team to beat.