With the super wild-card weekend of six games over three days almost finished, eight teams will be left standing in NFL playoffs. There are still clear favorites in the race to reach and win Super Bowl 56, but there’s a bit of a shakeup in their biggest challengers based on who survived and advanced — and how they played while doing it.
The playoffs have gone mostly according to form with the higher-seeded teams winning five of the six games so far. The NFC No. 3 Cowboys were the early exit as the No. 6 49ers extended their stay with the lone upset.
Here’s a ranking of the remaining playoff teams in relation to updated Super Bowl 56 odds at FanDuel, with either Arizona or Los Angeles seeing their championship aspirations dashed or enhanced soon:
NFL power rankings 2022
1. Green Bay Packers (previous ranking: 1)
The Packers (+370) got a break during their bye as with the Cowboys loss, they will play the No. 6 49ers instead of the two stronger NFC West teams. But Green Bay also is aware of San Francisco being a recent nemesis in the playoffs and becoming more dangerous as a third-place team with each big game. The Packers, however, are a stronger overall team with Matt LaFleur. They can pass for big numbers with Aaron Rodgers, but are just as comfortable rushing efficiently with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Health and defense are a little more on their side for this run, as well as the experience of falling short twice under LaFleur.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (2)
The Chiefs (+400) started slowly but chugged past the Steelers easily as expected. Patrick Mahomes used the matchup against an overmatched defense to rev up his big-play passing with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce most in tow through high volume. They had a twist in the backfield with Jerick McKinnon needing to see a big role with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams hurt, and that also worked out, providing more explosive rushing and receiving. The defense also was on point, not letting Pittsburgh get going on the ground and make it feel further compressed in the passing game for Ben Roethlisberger’s last game.
3. Buffalo Bills (5)
The Bills (+500) could have been satisfied winning another tight defensive-minded battle of attrition over the Patriots. They should have been thrilled to see Josh Allen and the offense give New England no chance right away. Everything was clicking with his passing and the running of Devin Singletary hasn’t gone anywhere since emerging as a big factor last month. The defense is locking back in for Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazer at the right time. Buffalo gets its much anticipated playoff shot at Kansas City, trying to build on the breakthrough regular-season victory there.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4)
The Buccaneers (+550) made quick work of the Eagles with their healthy defense making a statement on every level and the offense being more methodical than purely explosive. That was a good adjustment, given Tom Brady is missing a lot of offensive skill support. Now the question is whether the Bucs will need to be without All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs while trying to finish their Super Bowl repeat.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (7)
The Bengals (+1300) beat the Raiders soundly with a 26-19 home decision that ended their long playoff-win drought. The score was a lot closer than the game really was, as there were a few short red zone chances that didn’t become touchdowns. Cincinnati didn’t need to sweat overmatched Las Vegas much and with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase picking up where they left off, the young exciting team is carrying great confidence and momentum into a favorable matchup with Tennessee.
6. Tennessee Titans (4)
Speaking of the Titans (+850), they slid a little as objects at rest because the Bills and Bengals were so impressive in action as fellow division winners. The Titans are hoping to get Derrick Henry back to get the offense back to the necessary balanced and explosive levels. The Titans are the AFC’s No. 1, but there are questions how much they can win with their physical style given they have some defensive shortcomings, especially against the pass with three strong passing teams featuring elite QBs left in the field to outduel Ryan Tannehill.
7. San Francisco 49ers (10)
The 49ers (+1000) developed into darling darkhorses by the regular season’s end and that got them a lot of love to bring down the Cowboys as slight underdogs. The Rams won the division and the Cardinals finished second, but there’s no doubt the 49ers are the West’s best bet for a conference championship. Their defense is doing more to support what’s become a complete offensive machine for Kyle Shanahan again. It’s also easier to picture a healthy Niners team in the Super Bowl, getting past Green Bay again along the way, because of the run two years ago.
8. Los Angeles Rams (8)
The Rams (+1100) win a lot because of Sean McVay’s even-keel coaching, Cooper Kupp always sparking the offense and Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey anchoring the defense. They need a lot more than their superstars to last beyond the wild-card round, let alone feel good about their Super Bowl chances. A great place to start is Matthew Stafford reversing his trend against winning teams and shaking off his recent turnover woes to get his long-await first playoff win. A consistent prolific running game with more of Cam Akers can also be huge.