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2022 NFL Power Rankings: Bengals advance, Green Bay Packers stunned

Sportsnaut
Sportsnaut
 5 days ago

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The 2021 NFL regular season is in the books with only eight teams left standing now in the NFL Playoffs. A shot at the Lombardi Trophy is at stake and with the intensity picking up, it’s time to dive into our latest NFL power rankings.

For fans of eliminated teams, this is the end of the line. A few came close to the playoffs, with one or two plays making the difference. As for other teams, they’re heading into the offseason contemplating rebuilds and firings. Either way, it’s going to be a long spring.

But everyone else is focused on the postseason. There are eight teams battling for two spots in the Super Bowl and it all comes down to win or go home games. So, as the playoffs begin, let’s see where everyone lands in the 2022 NFL power rankings.

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Our NFL playoff rankings and blurbs for each team are updated after the postseason games.

32. New York Giants (LW: 30)

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Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants need to tear everything down. New general manager, head coach, quarterback and replacements on the offensive line. It’s the only way this franchise has any shot at becoming relevant by 2024. But if New York repeats its mistakes, trying to recreate its old model or copying the New England Patriots, ignore this team until 2025.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 32)

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars finishing the season near the bottom of NFL power rankings, a tradition like any other. The positive from the regular-season finale, Trevor Lawrence delivered arguably his best performance of the season. Let’s see if that provides momentum for this organization heading into the offseason.

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30. Detroit Lions (LW: 31)

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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions were never really focused on the 2021 season, it was just a long step in the process of rebuilding. What really matters is the 2022 NFL Draft and two first-round picks give this franchise potential building blocks to start creating a real foundation for success.

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29. Houston Texans (LW: 28)

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

David Culley is likely out the door, a sign that Nick Caserio is going to hire Josh McDaniels as the next Houston Texans head coach. Yes, the Texans are trying to become the Patriots 2.0 with Jack Easterby, Caserio and McDaniels (likely) running football operations. Look at how trying to recreate the Bill Belichick model turned out for every other team that tried it. We’ll see you back near the bottom of the NFL power rankings in 2023, Houston.

28. Carolina Panthers (LW: 29)

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Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Rhule convinced the Carolina Panthers that his plan will lead to success in 2022. Maybe it happens, there’s certainly enough talent for this team to be a playoff contender. But if Rhule whiffs on a quarterback decision for the third year in a row, he’ll never sniff the NFL again.

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27. New York Jets (LW: 27)

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Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

This will be a fascinating offseason for the New York Jets. Fans will be focused on the NFL Draft and free agency, the only real avenues to upgrade a roster that needs a ton of work. Fortunately, the Jets will have a pair of top-10 picks and those selections should inject some impact talent on either side of the ball. Let’s just hope Douglas doesn’t blow another pick.

26. Chicago Bears (LW: 25)

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Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Matt Nagy era is over, finally. Whether the Chicago Bears hire Jim Harbaugh or another offense-minded coach who is great with quarterbacks, they can only go up from here. With a full offseason, better coaching and an improved supporting cast, Justin Fields could make a significant second-year jump.

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25. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 26)

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

End the speculation, Matt Ryan will be the Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback in 2022. It would cost the organization far too much money to move him and there aren’t any suitable replacements. Besides, Ryan played extremely well for a quarterback starting behind a porous offensive line with a rookie tight end as his top weapon. If Atlanta rebuilds its offensive line this spring, it could compete for the No. 7 seed next season in the best-case scenario.

24. Seattle Sehawks (LW: 23)

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Here comes the rebuild. While the Seattle Seahawks are saying a Russell Wilson trade won’t happen, that’s purely to create leverage. The future Hall of Fame quarterback is gone this spring for a bucket of picks. With the franchise committed to a rebuild, Pete Carroll will leave.

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23. Denver Broncos (LW: 22)

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Vic Fangio is gone and things are about to get interesting. The Denver Broncos are expected to move quickly in their coaching search, with Dan Quinn, Kellen Moore and Nathaniel Hackett the candidates to monitor closely. Once the coach is in place, the focus shifts to finding a new owner and quarterback.

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22. Washington Football Team (LW: 24)

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

At least the Washington Football Team isn’t the “clown show” of the NFC East. It proved to be a disappointing year for Ron Rivera and Co., especially with quarterback Taylor Heinicke falling back to earth. But the franchise will get Chase Young back in 2022 and the front office should devote all its resources to finding a long-term quarterback.

21. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 21)

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Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Zimmer won his final game, but he also ignored Justin Jefferson’s shot at NFL history. The Minnesota Vikings were already going to fire him, but that served as a reminder that a fresher, younger voice is needed in the locker room. But Zimmer will likely be the only prominent Vikings’ figure departing this offseason.

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20. Cleveland Browns (LW: 20)

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns are protecting themselves right now, leaving that Baker Mayfield will return as the starting quarterback . Expect this front office to be aggressive in its pursuit of an upgrade, joining a number of competitors in an active quarterback carousel. If they land the right guy, this can be a top-10 team in our 2022 preseason NFL power rankings.

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19. Indianapolis Colts (LW: 10)

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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts deserved this fall down the final NFL power rankings. All they needed to do was beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, that’s all it took to make the playoffs. Instead, Carson Wentz proved the critics right and made the Colts look foolish for trading a 2022 first-round pick for an overpriced quarterback who can’t win games without everything around him perfect.

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18. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 15)

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Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries sunk the Baltimore Ravens. Lamar Jackson , J.K. Dobbins, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Derek Wolfe and Ronnie Stanley are just a handful of impact starters who either missed significant time or didn’t play this season. John Harbaugh did everything in his power to win games but only so much can be done. Looking to get better this spring, Baltimore needs to strengthen its secondary and receiving corps. If they do that, this can be one of the best NFL teams in 2022.

17. Miami Dolphins (LW: 19)

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Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, shakes hands withMiami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) before the start of the game against the New York Jets during NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday in Miami Gardens. New York Jet V Miami Dolphins 09

If it’s true that Brian Flores went into Sunday on the hot seat, a victory over the New England Patriots saved him. It wasn’t always pretty for the offense, highlighting the need for a quarterback upgrade, but Flores’s defense got the job done in a big moment. Sweeping the Pats and going from 1-7 to 9-8, we’re curious to see what the Fins do in 2022.

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16. New Orleans Saints (LW: 17)

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Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

It comes down to the quarterback position. If Jameis Winston stays healthy or Sean Payton found a viable replace,emt, the New Orleans Saints are a dangerous playoff team. But hitcing a wagon to a gadget quarterback has consequences, which the Saints are learning from now. Bringing Winston back makes this a top-12 NFL team but if the Saints land someone like Russell Wilson, they’ll be top-5 in our NFL power rankings next season.

15. Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 12)

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There will be a lot of focus on Brandon Staley’s decision to call a timeout, but that wasn’t the real problem. With a playoff spot on the line, a front seven that allowed nearly 140 rushing yards per game showed up once again. There is enough skill talent to compete with anyone in the NFL and Justin Herbert is capable of winning a Super Bowl, but Los Angeles needs to overhaul its interior defensive line this offseason.

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14. New England Patriots (LW: 14)

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots were exposed in their Wild Card loss to the Buffalo Bills. A promising start to Mac Jones’s rookie season got rocky late in the regular season and he didn’t look any better against a great defense. As for Bill Belichick’s prized unit, Josh Allen and Co. tore through it like it was a walkthrough. This is a flawed football team with a ton of issues to correct this offseason.

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13. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 12)

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Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

That’s it for Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. By virtue of their 42-21 blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs, an era has ended. In reality, these Steelers didn’t belong anywhere near the playoffs. That was evident Sunday evening at Arrowhead.

12. Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 13)

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Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders came one throw, potentially one erroneous whistle away, from winning a road playoff game. But little mistakes, a blunder on a kickoff return and countless penalties, made the difference. Rich Bisaccia did an admirable job as interim coach, but Las Vegas will likely go in another direction. The same can be said about Derek Carr, who faces an uncertain future.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 14)

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles never really stood a chance in the Wild Card round, this team was playing with house money. Heading into the offseason, the Eagles can use three first-round picks to start building a championship-caliber roster or to acquire an MVP-caliber quarterback.

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10. Arizona Cardinals

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Now, that was a brutal performance from Arizona in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs against the Los Angeles Rams. The team found itself down 28-0 early in the third quarter. Kyler Murray threw an ugly pick-six in the first half. Kliff Kingsbury was vastly outcoached by Sean McVay. We’re not sure where Arizona goes from here.

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9. Dallas Cowboys (Previous: 6)

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t reached the NFC Championship Game in 25 years and they have three playoff wins during that stretch. Jerry Jones can only tolerate bad coaching for so long. Plain and simple, the Cowboys showed no discipline, fundamentals or composure in another first-round playoff exit. All of that reflects on Mike McCarthy, it’s time for him to go if Dallas wants to improve. If that move is made, Jones needs to hire a coach outside of Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn.

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8. Green Bay Packers (LW: 1)

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Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

This is how it ends. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers called this “The Last Dance” and a remake of a classic, like all remakes, ended in failure. Green Bay is out of the playoffs and realistically, looking at the state of this team, the Packers are headed for a rebuild.

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7. Tennessee Titans

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Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) gets sacked during the first quarter of an AFC divisional playoff game at Nissan Stadium Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

The Tennessee Titans scrapped their way to the No. 1 seed in the AFC through countless injuries. With everyone back on offense and the pass rush at peak performance for the AFC Divisional Round, the Titans collapsed. It all falls on the shoulders of Ryan Tannehill, conservative coaching and a woeful secondary. Unfortunately for Tennessee, it’s hard to trust any of those areas being fixed this offseason.

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6. Los Angeles Rams (LW: 2)

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Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams’ blowout win over Arizona Monday night tells us a lot about this team. Matthew Stafford had it going big time. The Rams’ defense was swarming big time. Whether it will continue next week against Tom Brady and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional playoffs remains to be seen.

5. San Francisco 49ers (Previous: 6)

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers own the Packers. In frigid conditions on a night when San Francisco’s offense could do nothing for a majority of the game, the 49ers still won. Deebo Samuel proved he is one of the best players in football and no matter who SF faces, he and this defense give the 49ers a shot in the NFC Championship Game.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 5)

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Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals are headed to the AFC Championship Game with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase rightfully deserving a majority of the credit. Cincinnati will certainly be the underdogs, with no one outside the city expecting them to reach the Super Bowl. But betting against Burrow isn’t working out too well for anyone right now.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 4)

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Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs are AFC West champions, they are the wild card in the NFL playoffs. Patrick Mahomes can almost single-handedly carry a team to a Super Bowl and its made even easier if the defense makes some plays. That’s exactly what we saw during a blowout win over Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs.

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2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Previously: 3)

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone is picking the Green Bay Packers to win the NFC, Tom Brady noticed. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated the Eagles from the jump, taking a 31-0 lead before easing off the gas offensively and defensively. The Bucs might not have Chris Godwin or Antonio Brown, but the best coaching staff in the NFL and the best quarterback ever can beat anyone.

1. Buffalo Bills (Previously: 2)

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The most dangerous thing in the playoffs is a quarterback who can take over a game. Josh Allen showed that ability in Saturday’s blowout victory. Five touchdowns in freezing conditions against the greatest coach in NFL history. On top of that, the Bills’ rushing attack has finally arrived and it’s complemented with an elite defense. This is the best team in the AFC.

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