Updated: Jan 27
The 49ers, at their best, have a good chance to beat a lot of the teams in the playoffs, just like they beat the Rams this week to secure a playoff spot. However, they still have to worry about bad interceptions and their weak secondary. If anyone can stop the run, they are done. There is a path to the Super Bowl for the 49ers, but it won't be easy. They will likely be underdogs in all their games.
The Bills have the tools to make a run in the playoffs. Both the offense and the defense have the potential to be really good. However, the Bills worry me the most of the ten best playoff teams. Their last two wins have been awful. They beat the Falcons, but played a terrible game where they could hardly pass and had three interceptions. This week they beat the Jets, but barely. The Jets are getting better, but the Bills should have blown them out. There won't be any Jets or Falcons in the playoffs. If the Bills continue to play down to their opponent, they won't take advantage of their potential.
Cardinals started off strong, but they fell apart at the end of the season again. They lost to the Seahawks in week 18, and I'm worried they will not do well in the playoffs. The defense still feels good enough, but the offense is way too inconsistent. Also, after winding down late in the season, there are many questions about how good Kliff Kingsbury is as a coach. Kingsbury will have to answer these in the playoffs. This is the same organization that drafted a top QB, and went back and drafted Kyler Murray to replace their last top pick. Should the Cardinals consider a coaching change? The Cardinals playoff performance will give us the answer.
I liked the Bucs chances to get to another Super Bowl for most of the year. However, I am not so sure anymore. The Bucs have lost so much of their talent from running backs to receivers to defenders. It is almost a different team. Worst of all, the defense looks terrible right now. Last week, they couldn't stop the Jets and, this week, they let Chuba Hubbard run all over them when nobody is supposed to be able to run against them. The defense is what worries me the most. However, they still found a way to win their last games, and maybe more players will return in the playoffs and bolster the Bucs. Also, the Bucs have the greatest equalizer, Tom Brady.
The Rams are rated this high because they are one of the most talented teams in the playoffs. However, they are rated this low because of Stafford and the defense. The defense still looks soft against physical running teams. Stafford is still reckless with the football, and in the playoffs, when games are tighter Rams won't be able to overcome his interceptions. On top of that, Sony Michel was absolutely awful versus the 49ers. The Rams need a lot more than one yard per carry. The Rams are built to maintain leads, but Stafford will need to get in the end zone early and often without interceptions to put the other team in throwing situations so the defense can dominate.
The Cowboys are probably one of the top two most talented teams in the playoffs. However, they need to figure out their offense against first-string teams. If the Cowboys offense can get on track, then they can win the Super Bowl. It's as simple as that. However, Dak Prescott hasn't looked great against a good team since the injury against the Patriots, so we'll see.
The Bengals have been inconsistent at times during the season, losing to the Jets, but then beating the Chiefs. However, they seem to be peaking at the right time. Every team has flaws. The Bengals are no exception, but they are an exciting team. I wouldn't be surprised if they lost a playoff game to anyone, but I also wouldn't be surprised if they beat anyone in the playoffs. They are that kind of team.
A few games ago, the Chiefs looked like the overwhelming Super Bowl favorites. However, now their defense has taken a few steps back, which changes everything. Plus, Tyreek Hill is dealing with an injury that could hurt the Chiefs offense, which seems to be back to working at a high level. However, the Chiefs have overcome all their struggles thus far, so I still have a lot of faith in them.
The Packers are the one seed, but they just took an L to Lions. However, the Lions played out of their mind, and the Packers weren't really taking them seriously. Also, the Packers sat their starters in the second half. The Packers are about to start a new season, and they are in great shape. They have an excellent opportunity to make it back to the championship game and rewrite history. Also, if Rodgers is really going leave like he said he would, it's Super Bowl or bust because Jordan Love didn't look great against the Lions.
The Titans beat the Texans, and they struggled a little more than they should have, but they got the win. They did their job and made the playoffs. However, they didn't just make playoffs, they got the one seed. Now, they get Derrick Henry back, and it's a game-changer. The Titans are about to be even better than they were during the season, and they have an excellent chance to compete in the Super Bowl.
5. TJ Watt
TJ Watt tied Michael Strahan's 22.5 sack record, and helped his team get to the playoffs and win against a hard-fought game against a division rival. Honestly, he should have broken the record, but the NFL took one of his sacks away and instead called it a tackle for a loss despite it being a tackle of a QB behind the line who had control of a fumble. Watt has also done this while fighting through injuries. TJ had a phenomenal season.
4. Derek Carr
Yes, you read that correctly. Derek Carr has played like an MVP this year. At the start of the year, Russell Wilson was talking about taking his job. Carr responded by leading his team to the top of the AFC in the first few games. Then, Carr lost his coach, he lost his top receiver, he lost corners, and he lost his top target for most of the season. Still, Derek Carr kept balling, and he led his team to the playoffs despite all that adversity. He out dueled Justin Herbert in the very last game of the season. He is also top five in passing yards. Carr has been balling out this season and he has been a golden goose for the Raiders. He is one of the four most valuable players in the NFL.
3. Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers got the number one seed in the NFC. He only had four interceptions all season, but none of Rodgers's accomplishments are really that amazing this year. He was playing a lot better last year. This year, Rodgers greatness was more intangible in a field of up and down QBs and he has been consistently great. Consistency is Rodgers biggest claim to the MVP.
2. Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow has played like a young phenom this year. He has been putting up numbers that seem like they belong in Madden. He took a bottom-of-the-barrel franchise right back to the playoffs in just two years. Also, he did this while coming back from a devastating knee injury. Joe Burrow is nothing if not a valuable player, and he is the second most valuable player in the NFL.
1. Tom Brady
Tom Brady leads the league in touchdowns and yards. He leads the league in production, and he is doing it at forty-four years old. Not only is he leading in production, but he has the best record in wins of the MVP candidates. Also, Tom Brady has watched his Super Bowl team fall apart all year and lose player after player, and yet he found a way to win week in and week out. Tom Brady closed the door on the other candidates in week 18 of the regular season. He is the most valuable player in the NFL.
Rookie QB Race
4. Mac Jones
Mac Jones wasn't great against the Dolphins. Mac had one TD and a pick-six, and he was chasing the Dolphins pretty much all game. He just wasn't cutting it against a tough Dolphins defense. His stats were alright at the end of the game, but he didn't look great in real-time. Even Mac said his performance was embarrassing.
3. Zach Wilson
Zach threw an incredibly tight window TD to Keelan Cole against the Bills. He took care of the ball and avoided giving away the ball. He hung in there with the Bills until the very end of the game. Watching Wilson, I think he has continued to look good and showed the Jets that they can continue to build around him next year.
2. Davis Mills
Davis Mills was excellent, three hundred yards and three TDs with zero interceptions. He almost upset the number one seed, the Titans. Davis Mills has done enough to show the Texans that they should move Watson, who doesn't want to play for them anymore, and build around Davis Mills. He had two TDs to Danny Amendola and a 67-yard bomb to Chris Conley. Come on, Mills has got to be the future.
1. Trevor Lawrence
It took 18 weeks, but Trevor Lawrence finally gave Jaguars fans a reason to rejoice. Lawrence defeated the Colts, kicking them out of the playoffs. Trevor threw for two TDs, two-hundred and twenty-six yards, and rushed for seventeen yards. Trevor flashed this weekend, and showed that if the Jags can get the right coach and make the necessary personnel upgrades, they have a QB that can take them places. Trevor clowned the Colts and won Rookie of the Week for the final week of the season.