And then there were eight.
Fans of the “Great British Chiefs Show” podcast already know that I am not a fan of the new playoff format. For me, sacrificing a bye for the second seed in order to shoehorn a seventh seed into the playoffs doesn’t sit right — mainly because seventh seeds are, more often than not, outmatched.
Well, the Dolphins certainly showed me where to stick my opinion! They almost pulled off an upset for the ages. Elsewhere there was a scare for the Chiefs’ other supposed rival — while another one blew a 27-point lead to bow out to the Jaguars.
In the NFC, everything went to script — including the Vikings fading to nothing.
This week’s voters were Stephen Serda, Rocky Magaña, Jared Sapp, Connor Helm, Price Carter, Dakota Watson, Nate Christensen and myself.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2nd)
I don’t think it would exactly be going out on a limb to think that the Chiefs were extremely grateful for their week off. Although they won’t admit it, I bet the Chiefs were secretly happy that the Chargers blew their lead against the Jaguars. I’m not saying that the Chiefs will think the Jacksonville will be an easy opponent. They just recognize that in recent years, the Chargers have been a grueling opponent for them to face.
2. San Francisco 49ers (4th)
The 49ers looked dominant in their second-half dismantling of the Seahawks. Somehow, Brock Purdy has become the answer to the 49ers’ only problem. This team scared the living daylights out of me during their 2019 playoff run. They’re striking similar fear into me now.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (5th)
I can’t imagine for one second that the Eagles would have thought they would be joined by two NFC East rivals in the divisional round. That in itself will worry them, since divisional games are notoriously harder than others — well, unless you’re the Chiefs.
4. Buffalo Bills (1st)
They must be counting their lucky stars that the Dolphins messed up so royally on Sunday. The Bills were meant to roll over Miami — but for one reason or another, it didn’t happen. There has to be some concern about the play of Josh Allen. Sometimes he looks incredible, sometimes he looks very ordinary. They’ll need a lot of the former to get past the Bengals.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (3rd)
I have noticed that the Bengals have been making less noise since they squeaked past the Lamar Jackson-less Ravens on Sunday night. Perhaps the scare gave them a much-needed humbling — or maybe it refocused them. If, in three weeks’ time, they do find themselves in the Super Bowl, I’m sure they’ll tell us all about it.
6. Dallas Cowboys (6th)
The Cowboys made relatively light work of the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football. While there wasn’t much to report from the game, I do want to bring up that adding a MNF game to the playoff schedule sucks. How is it fair that the 49ers get eight days between playoff games, while the Cowboys get six? Do better, NFL.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (10th)
The plucky Jaguars will be a hard out for the Chiefs. Yeah, Kansas City and Jacksonville faced off a little over two months ago — but that particular version of the Jaguars seems like a distant memory. This new version deserves everyone's respect.
8. New York Giants (11th)— This week’s highest riser
Has everyone gone full circle on Daniel Jones now? Like, is he a good quarterback now? If Brian Daboll doesn’t win coach of the year, then they may as well cancel that award forever.
9. Baltimore Ravens (9th)
It feels strange that in the coming weeks, we could be writing and talking about the end of Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson era. For five years, he has been the Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately, the franchise’s leadership does not seem to value him as highly as it should. The writing could be on the wall. The soon-to-be-signed contracts by Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow won’t aid Jackson’s chances of staying put.
10. Minnesota Vikings (8th)
The Vikings continue to do what they do best: have a really promising regular season and then crumble in the playoffs. The Vikings need to realize that with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, they’ll always be a bridesmaid. The sooner they can figure it out, the better.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14th)
Just the like the regular season, it feels like the postseason never really got going for the Buccaneers. Attention will now turn to the future of Tom Brady. My gut feeling is that next season, he’ll be the Raiders’ quarterback.
12. Los Angeles Chargers (7th) — This week’s greatest faller
Now, now, Chiefs Kingdom. I am sure that Chargers fans were sympathetic to us when Andrew Luck broke our hearts all those years ago. Let‘s show them that same sympathy. I know many don’t want to have this conversation, but it’s been a while since there has been a quarterback who gets so much hype — and then loses so much. The last guy like that may have been Mr. Philip ‘Definitely-Not-a-Hall-of-Famer’ Rivers. I forget. What team was he on?
13. Miami Dolphins (12th)
All week, the Dolphins will be wondering, “What if?” What if Tua played? What if they got one more stop? What if they had someone on the coaching staff that didn’t make Andy Reid seem like a timekeeping God?
14. Seattle Seahawks (13th)
Hats off to the Seahawks for massively overachieving. The post-Wilson era wasn’t meant to end with a playoff berth — but such is the greatness of head coach Pete Carroll. They’ll be annoyed that their season came to an end at the hands of their bitter division rivals — but nonetheless, they must see this year as a huge success.
15. Detroit Lions
20. Tennessee Titans
21. New York Jets
23. Cleveland Browns
25. Atlanta Falcons
27. Los Angeles Rams
28. Denver Broncos
30. Chicago Bears
32. Houston Texans