Week 17 in the NFL brought a few more answers to what teams will be continuing to participate in the playoffs toward Super Bowl 57 after the 2022 regular season ends next Saturday and Sunday.
The calendar has turned 2023 making it feel like the playoffs are already here. Five playoff berths are filled in the AFC, with one division and one wild card still up for grabs. There’s only one more opening left in the NFC, the last wild card.
Based on the NFL’s updated playoff picture, here’s the final regular-season edition of Sporting News NFL power rankings, from No. 1 down to No. 32:
MORE: Updated NFL playoff picture for Week 17
1. Kansas City Chiefs 13-3 (previous week: 3)
The Chiefs aren’t lighting it up as easily offensively of late with Patrick Mahomes, but they have expanded their passing and rushing repertoire and the defense is starting to make timely complementary plays,. meaning they are in familiar playoff form under Andy Reid.
2. San Francisco 49ers 12-4 (4)
The 49ers remained the hottest team in the NFL, answering every challenge from the pesky Raiders all the way through winning in overtime because of a big defensive play. The Christian McCaffrey pickup has been better than anyone could have expected. They are the clear new team to beat in the NFC.
MORE: How 49ers can earn NFC’s No. 1 seed in Week 18
3. Buffalo Bills 12-3 (2)
The Bills are also finding more from their defense and the running game right before needing those assets for the playoff grind. Josh Allen has put the offense a little more on his back than expected but he’s been game for it.
4. Philadelphia Eagles 13-3 (1)
The Eagles’ offense picked a bad time to slump at home against the Saints in Week 17. Gardner Minshew fell down to earth as the rushing and big-play passing machine slowed down in a second game with Jalen Hurts. They might need to play a shoulder-hurting Hurts in Week 18 against the Giants to save the top seed, which isn’t a good proposition.
5. Dallas Cowboys 12-4 (5)
The Cowboys probably didn’t expect to still have a shot at winning the NFC East in Week 18, but they should feel somewhat confident about those chances with the reeling Commanders up next and the Eagles sputtering all-around to the finish line.
6. Cincinnati Bengals 11-4 (6)
The Bengals will put the AFC North on lock for a second consecutive season of a healthy Joe Burrow with a win over the Bills at home on Monday night. They’re the other sizzling streaking team to parallel the 49ers’ second-half run.
7. Los Angeles Chargers 10-6 (9)
Add the Chargers to the short list of white-hot teams surging ahead of the playoffs. Justin Herbert has his groove back passing and Austin Ekeler hasn’t lost his. The defense has to be thrilled to have Joey Bosa back.
MORE: Breaking down AFC North standings for Bengals, Ravens
8. Minnesota Vikings 12-4 (7)
The Vikings have lived on the close game this season and have perished pretty badly in their blowout losses to the Eagles, Cowboys, Lions and Packers. They are looking to be at their coldest for the playoffs.
9. New York Giants 9-6-1 (11)
The Giants have gotten a nice unique breakthrough season from Daniel Jones at quarterback and he keeps making their limited passing game weapons look good playing off the run. The defense also had a much needed get-well game vs. the Colts that clinched a playoff berth.
10. Baltimore Ravens 10-6 (8)
The Ravens have slipped badly offensively without Lamar Jackson, making their defensive efforts not mean much going into the playoffs. They are purple faders in the AFC to match the Vikings.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars 8-8 (12)
The Jaguars keep rocking it with Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne leading Doug Pederson’s offense and the defense got into the fun in Houston. Jacksonville should take care of Tennessee to be a dangerous No. 4 seed.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-8 (14)
The Buccaneers are also a dangerous No. 4 seed from Florida given the GOAT just exploded to help them finally win the NFC South. Tom Brady is always scary in the playoffs, no matter how he gets there.
MORE: Breaking down the Lions’ playoff chances
13. Detroit Lions 8-8 (15)
The Lions are back in contention for a wild-card berth going into Week 18 but unfortunately they have the wrong previous loss to the Seahawks. They looked fine offensively back at home in the dome for Jared Goff but now they have to deal with the rolling Packers in Lambeau.
14. Green Bay Packers 8-8 (18)
Speaking of the Packers, go figure that Aaron Rodgers, much like Brady, is a hard man to keep out of the playoffs. But how about that defense ripping into the Vikings ahead of facing a road-weary Goff?
15. Seattle Seahawks 8-8 (17)
Geno Smith scored his revenge on the Jets in a big way to keep the Seahawks right there with the Lions and Packers in the battle for the final wild-card spot. Seattle has had a successful quick rebuilding season no matter the final outcome for Pete Carroll.
16. New England Patriots 8-8 (20)
The Patriots don’t get a lot of style points when they win. Despite some recent shaky results in endgame, they are looking like they will return to the playoffs, some way, somehow for Bill Belichick.
17. Miami Dolphins 8-8 (10)
The Dolphins have taken a lot of lumps lately for Mike McDaniel, a direct 180 from their early-season hype. The defense has broken down and key injuries are rampant during a five-game losing streak, and injuries at quarterback again have jeopardized Miami’s playoff hopes.
MORE: Breaking down the Steelers’ slim playoff chances
18. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8 (19)
Where there’s an overachieving team for Belichick, there’s also one for Mike Tomlin. The Steelers being alive for a playoff spot with their defensive injuries and offensive transition is nothing short of remarkable, putting them on the brink of another winning season with Tomlin.
19. New Orleans Saints 7-9 (23)
The Saints are no longer coached by Sean Payton, but much of that same resolve, offensive versatility and defensive focus remain under Dennis Allen. They also are taking plenty of positives into 2023.
20. Cleveland Browns 7-9 (25)
Deshaun Watson hinted at how much of an impact he can have for their passing and running games in Washington, finally feeling comfortable on his new team’s offense. His presence also boosted the defensive play, so watch out in 2023.
21. Washington Commanders 7-8-1 (13)
The Commanders blew a playoff shot by looking completely clueless near the end under Ron Rivera, from the quarterback indecision between Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke to the whole elimination mess. Seems right for Washington.
22. Tennessee Titans 7-9 (16)
The Titans’ injury-riddled roster is trying to make one final push into the playoffs but it’s more likely Mike Vrabel’s team just needs to hope for some real effective personnel change next. year.
MORE: Explaining NFL tiebreakers for playoff seeding
23. New York Jets 7-9 (21)
The Jets also did some overachieving with great improvement under Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas. They’ll need to now find a new quarterback answer, however, after neither Zach Wilson nor Mike White was him.
24. Las Vegas Raiders 6-10 (24)
The Raiders ended up being one of the league’s most disappointing teams in 2022 under Josh McDaniels. The offense took a while to find itself and the defense didn’t have enough punch all season. Derek Carr’s benching was a weird but fitting ending, given it provided another wild close-game spark.
25. Carolina Panthers 6-10 (22)
The Panthers also did some overachieving in the second half under Steve Wilks, who might lose his interim tag and stay. They’ll need to also find their true QB after the Sam Darnold-Baker Mayfield toggling.
26. Atlanta Falcons 6-10 (27)
The Falcons finished about where expected in Year 2 under Arthur Smith with quarterback transition, a run-heavy offense and a weak defense. Desmond Ridder, however, hinted he could be the answer.
27. Los Angeles Rams 5-11 (26)
The Rams have some things to think about offensively for next year with Cam Akers and Baker Mayfield for Sean McVay. Defensively, however, is this it for injured Aaron Donald?
MORE: Updated 2023 NFL Draft order for Week 17
28. Denver Broncos 4-12 (30)
The Broncos seemed to operate more freely offensively without Nathaniel Hackett, especially Russell Wilson, in their hard-fought loss at Kansas City. That proved that Hackett was a horrible hire and why Denver needs to nail the next one for Wilson.
29. Indianapolis Colts 4-11-1 (28)
The Colts also have their big quarterback mess and, without a running game, it started to destroy their talented defense. Chris Ballard and Jim Irsay must also attach themselves to the ideal coach.
30. Arizona Cardinals 4-12 (39)
The Cardinals going through four quarterbacks in four games is nuts for what could still be the end of Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure. There are still questions about Kyler Murray and the defense needs a lot of change after an age- and injury-dampened season.
31. Chicago Bears 3-13 (31)
The Bears started out OK in Detroit with Justin Fields running wild, but once again he was put in a tough position with limited weapons for the passing game and a defense that hemorrhages production to every kind of offense. Chicago needs big-time help on both sides to accelerate its rebuild.
32. Houston Texans 2-13-1 (32)
The Texans were showing plenty of fight to finish strong for Lovie Smith but they hit a wall with their efforts against the Jaguars in Week 18. They have a huge draft ahead with multiple first-rounders and they would get No. 1 overall if they lose to the Colts or the Bears beat the Vikings.