Chiefs Kingdom, I apologize for not being available for the regular season's final rankings. Sometimes, life gets in the way.
Speaking of getting in the way: do you know what else could have gotten in the way of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs advancing in the playoffs? Injuries. More specifically: injuries caused by playing an extra game against a terrible opponent.
A number of times, I've made my feelings clear on the addition of two additional playoff teams — so I won't go on too much. The really bad No. 2-seed-No. 7-seed games mainly spoke for themselves. So all I'm going to say is, "I told you so, NFL; I told you so."
This week's voters were Ron Kopp Jr., Stephen Serda, Bryan Stewart, Rocky Magaña, Jared Sapp, Talon Graff, Mark Gunnels, Kristian Gumminger and myself.
1. Green Bay Packers (1st)
The time for redemption is almost upon the Packers. First, they get to avenge their 2019 NFC Championship loss to the 49ers — and then they get to lay some Scotty Miller ghosts to rest when they inevitably welcome the Bucs back into Lambeau for a repeat of last year's NFC finale. Can the Packers finally find their inner B-Rabbit — and not choke when it all matters?
2. Kansas City Chiefs (2nd)
In my entire life, I don't think I've ever been so relaxed about a playoff game. Even after Mec8ole Hardman and Darrel Williams handed the Steelers a 7-0 lead, it was hardly panic stations in the Childs' household. You just knew that it would only take one score, and then this game would get out of hand. Honestly, the Chiefs should be offended for the NFL putting the Steelers in front of them as a worthy playoff opponent.
3. Buffalo Bills (6th) | This week's high riser
The Bills put on the ultimate "How do you like us now" performance on Saturday evening. After stumbling through the regular season, Josh Allen and company appear ready to make their big run. After building their team to beat Kansas City last offseason, can the Bills put their plan into practice this weekend? It's already worked once this year. We'll be hoping that lightning doesn't strike twice.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4th)
I've got a horrible feeling about this team. They're becoming very Patriots-like. Almost all of a sudden, everything in the playoffs appears automatic for them. We'll have to wait and see if the NFC's best can stop this well-oiled machine.
5. Los Angeles Rams (7th)
In almost any other sport, the best players always have success in their careers — simply because if they're good, they often move to the better teams, thus increasing their chances of winning competitions, prizes, etc. Yet because of the league's thirst for parity, that doesn't happen as often in the NFL; if their team isn't up to standard, good players can be left behind. Thankfully, a good player is no longer part of that club. I am so happy for Matt Stafford securing his first playoff win at the grand old age of 33.
6. Tennessee Titans (3rd)
This team is two home wins away from being in the Super Bowl — and yet, here they are in the sixth position. The disrespect must have been furthered by a lot of people now referring to the Bills vs. Chiefs clash as the real AFC Championship game.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (8th)
Congratulations to any Bengals fans who didn't send a text message after the game. It wasn't cool, funny or original to do so. I never got to send a message (via carrier pigeon) to my Chiefs-supporting friends before 2015 — but it doesn't mean I should now. Grow up.
8. San Francisco 49ers (10th)
The lone survivor of the Wild Card teams. The NFL bosses will be extremely thankful for the 49ers' ability to not only play a competitive game, but to win, too. In true Shanahan style, though, the 49ers almost found a way to give up a playoff lead that should have been safe.
9. Dallas Cowboys (5th) | This week's big faller
First of all, cover that window during game days. Why on earth would you build a stadium that actually damages the chance that your receivers will catch passes? Second, don't call a draw play with 14 seconds left on the clock. You had more than enough time for two shots at the end zone. How a coach — or an architect — hasn't been fired during the last 48 hours is beyond me!
10. Arizona Cardinals (9th)
It's actually sad how the Cardinals have just fallen apart this season. They went from being the last remaining undefeated team, at top of these rankings for weeks at a time and Kyler Murray in the MVP race... all the way down to mediocrity and a one-and-done postseason. Sad times.
11. Las Vegas Raiders (12th)
For much of their game against the Bengals, the Raiders always seemed a little too far away. The Bengals would match the Raiders point-for-point, stifling any chance at a comeback. Yet when the opportunity finally came to take the game to overtime, Derek Carr dropped back and... threw the ball to a receiver who was short of the end zone. Sometimes... you've really got to wonder.
12. New England Patriots (11th)
Not many fancied the Patriots to beat the in-form Bills, but we all expected a little bit more than what we got — especially from a Bill Belichick-led team. In an offense-driven league, the Patriots are going to have to do some serious self-evaluation if they ever want to be in a position to make a Super Bowl run.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (15th)
They knew from the moment they found out they were playing the Chiefs that they would be totally outmatched. Even their own quarterback was saying so. Despite keeping the game a stalemate for all of the first quarter, the Pittsburgh defense finally succumbed to the Kansas City offense. It certainly wasn't the first defense to suffer such a fate. We're hoping it won't be the last.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (16th)
Not to beat a dead horse... but the Eagles strengthened my point of view that adding a seventh playoff team to each conference was a bad idea. I haven't seen a team that the Bucs outplayed so much since — checks notes — they played the Chiefs.
17. Baltimore Ravens
19. Miami Dolphins
21. Cleveland Browns
22. Denver Broncos
23. Seattle Seahawks
25. Chicago Bears
26. Atlanta Falcons
28. Houston Texans
29. New York Jets
30. Detroit Lions
32. New York Giants