Apparently because of the Damar Hamlin incident in Week 17’s Monday Night Football game, many outlets didn’t publish power rankings last Tuesday. Some put them out on Wednesday, some on Thursday — and some never did them at all. But somewhat unusually, most of them are back following the final week of the season.
So... for our final roundup of 2022, here are the latest national rankings — with previous positions from our last national roundup two weeks ago. When rankings from this week are unavailable, we’ll substitute final rankings from last week. We’ll mark those with an asterisk.
(up from 5)
The Chiefs took care of business on Saturday, easing past the Raiders to clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed for the third time in five seasons. Patrick Mahomes will enter the playoffs coming off another outstanding regular season that will almost certainly lead to his second league MVP award. Mahomes led the NFL in touchdown passes (41), passing yards (5,250) and QBR (77.6) — a triple crown of sorts for the game’s most important position. The fact that he remained a dominant force after losing a future Hall of Fame wide receiver in Tyreek Hill via offseason trade only reinforces the understanding of Mahomes’ generational greatness. Kansas City has never won less than 12 games in his five years as a starter. A third trip to the Super Bowl could be next.
— Dan Hanzus
(unchanged from 1)
Regular season in five words or fewer: Top of AFC West again
The Chiefs won their seventh straight AFC West title, but it wasn’t as easy as it might have looked. The Chiefs are 5-0 in divisional contests heading into the final regular-season game against the Raiders — they won all five games by six or fewer points. The Chiefs have played five games against opponents that currently have four or fewer wins, and they lost one and won three by six or fewer points. The Chiefs are still to be feared in the postseason, as Patrick Mahomes has passed for more than 5,000 yards and is having an MVP-type season.
— Adam Teicher
The Athletic: 1
(unchanged from 1)
The road to the Super Bowl in the AFC goes through Arrowhead, and the Chiefs have the added benefit of knowing they won’t have to beat both the Bills and Bengals in order to make it to Arizona. They also have the best offense in the league (by DVOA and EPA per drive) and a defense playing better of late. Things have not always been easy this season for the Chiefs, but no one else has Patrick Mahomes.
— Bo Wulf
(up from 3)
They haven’t looked right the past few weeks, but they are finding ways to win games. They have to be better come playoff time.
— Pete Prisco
(unchanged from 4)
Jerick McKinnon had nine receiving touchdowns, tying Marshall Faulk, Chuck Foreman and Leroy Hoard for the most by a running back in the Super Bowl era. He got a receiving touchdown in six straight games, a record for a running back in the Super Bowl era. McKinnon has always had talent, but mostly his hot streak shows that it hardly matters who is catching passes from Patrick Mahomes. He’ll get them in the end zone.
— Frank Schwab
Editor’s note: Schwab devoted a nine-paragraph introduction to explaining why so many national writers were convinced the Chiefs would do poorly in 2022. It concluded with this:
Maybe the Chiefs will fall short of a Super Bowl. It’s tough to win a title in any season. Kansas City benefitted from a soft schedule in the second half of the season. Their defense still isn’t great. The AFC championship game, if it’s against the Bills, would be at a neutral site and not Arrowhead Stadium.
It’s also not smart to pick against the Chiefs. They showed that this season, again. In a few months, when Chiefs/Mahomes fatigue kicks in again and we’re trying to talk ourselves into another team winning the AFC West or Kansas City taking a step back, just remember that as long as Reid and Mahomes are around, the Chiefs aren’t going away. Even if we’re not doing a great job lately appreciating them.
(up from 3)
The Chiefs always be a threat to win it all because of Patrick Mahomes, who likely will his second regular-season MVP award. Kansas City has diversified with its offense with a more effective power running and spreading the ball a little more around in the passing game. Defensively, the Chiefs have held up well against the run and made up for some coverage concerns with the AFC’s most productive pass rush. Their complete profile makes them the favorites.
— Vinnie Iyer
USA Today: 2
(up from 3)
Kansas City won 10 of its last 11, earning AFC’s No. 1 seed for the third time in QB Patrick Mahomes’ five seasons as starter. But they won’t be playing Bills at Arrowhead Stadium, where they’ve eliminated Bills past two years, this month.
— Nate Davis
(down from 2)
The AFC Playoffs look like they’ll be a lot of fun — as long as the conference championship game doesn’t end up at a neutral site. The Chiefs, Bills and Bengals all have a great chance at taking home a Lombardi, so we are assured plenty of exciting matchups. Maybe except for the Bills vs. Dolphins game — especially if Tua is still kept out.
— Ross Allen