NFL power rankings: Philadelphia Eagles will be tough to beat; handicapping playoff races

Detroit Free Press

The Philadelphia Eagles became the first team to clinch an NFL playoff berth with their 48-22 dismantling of the New York Giants last week, and with four weeks left in the regular season, they look like the class of the NFC.

The Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings are two games back of the Eagles in the NFC standings, but Philadelphia has head-to-head wins over both and can clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with wins the next two weeks.

The San Francisco 49ers (9-4) are the only other NFC team with more than seven wins, and probably the team with the next best chance to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. The 49ers have one of the league’s best defenses and two dynamic skill players in Deebo Samuel, though he’s hurt again, and Christian McCaffrey. They are on their third-string quarterback, but have a manageable schedule down the stretch that could vault them to the No. 2 seed if the Vikings slip up again. Minnesota was beaten soundly by the Detroit Lions last week, 34-23.

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In the AFC, the top of the playoff picture is less clear.

The Buffalo Bills, who currently hold the top seed, and Kansas City Chiefs are competing for homefield advantage, and whoever gets that will be the favorite to represent the conference in the Super Bowl.

The Cincinnati Bengals are lurking a game behind both teams, but would be a wild card if the season ended today by virtue of their early-season loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals play both the Bills and Ravens in the final four weeks.

Handicapping that race, I’d give the Chiefs a slight edge based on their remaining schedule, though the AFC feels like it will come down to whichever of the NFL’s three best quarterbacks – Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow – plays his best football in January.

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This week’s power rankings:

1. Philadelphia Eagles

2. Kansas City Chiefs

3. Buffalo Bills

4. Dallas Cowboys

5. Cincinnati Bengals

6. San Francisco 49ers

7. Minnesota Vikings

8. Baltimore Ravens

9. Miami Dolphins

10. Los Angeles Chargers

11. Tennessee Titans

12. New York Jets

13. Detroit Lions

14. Washington Commanders

15. Seattle Seahawks

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

17. Green Bay Packers

18. New England Patriots

19. New York Giants

20. Jacksonville Jaguars

21. Pittsburgh Steelers

22. Las Vegas Raiders

23. Cleveland Browns

24. Atlanta Falcons

25. Los Angeles Rams

26. Carolina Panthers

27. Indianapolis Colts

28. New Orleans Saints

29. Arizona Cardinals

30. Chicago Bears

31. Denver Broncos

32. Houston Texans

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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