Santa Claus was extra busy this holiday season, giving us some excellent matchups during Christmas weekend. It all started with the Jacksonville Jaguars continuing their hot streak and taking down the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football. And then on Christmas Eve, the Cincinnati Bengals clinched a playoff berth after beating the New England Patriots. But they were not the only AFC North team to clinch a playoff spot, as the Baltimore Ravens clinched their place in the playoffs after beating the Atlanta Falcons. Also on Christmas Eve, we might have seen the best game of the 2022 NFL season as the Dallas Cowboys narrowly defeated the Philadelphia Eagles. And lastly, the final team to clinch a playoff berth this weekend, the Los Angeles Chargers, dominated the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night. Needless to say, our NFL Power Rankings have shifted a bit.
So, with five playoff spots secured in the AFC, and four in the NFC, here are these weekend's simple playoff scenarios:
- The Bills can clinch home field advantage with a win AND a Kansas City loss.
- The Bengals can clinch the AFC North with a win/tie AND a Baltimore loss.
- The Dolphins can clinch a playoff berth with a win AND a New York Jets loss/tie.
- The Eagles can clinch the NFC East with a win OR a Dallas loss.
- The Buccaneers can clinch the NFC South with a win.
- The Giants can clinch a playoff berth with a win.
But before all of the action starts for Week 17, let's take a look at this week's updated NFL Power Rankings.
1. Buffalo Bills (12-3)
The Bills took care of business Saturday and are just a win and a Chiefs loss away from home field advantage in the AFC.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)
Even with their backup QB, the Eagles had plenty of opportunities to win their game, but four turnovers are the perfect way to hand the other team the win on a silver platter.
3. San Francisco 49ers (11-4)
Winners of eight games straight and sporting one of the best defenses and offenses in the NFL, the 49ers are heading into the playoffs about as good as you can be.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)
The Bengals jumped out to a 22-0 lead but scored nothing afterward in their win over the Patriots. Nevertheless, Joe Burrow continued his bid for MVP with another multi-touchdown performance.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (12-3)
The Chiefs beat a decent Seahawks team easily, keeping pace with the Bills for the No. 1 seed and home field advantage in the AFC.
6. Dallas Cowboys (11-4)
The Cowboys took advantage of extra opportunities -- aka turnovers -- and beat the Eagles, but their defense allowed a backup QB to push them to the limit.
7. Minnesota Vikings (12-3)
The Vikings found themselves in another tightly contested game but once again found a way to win and kept themselves alive for home field advantage in the NFC.
8. Los Angeles Chargers (9-6)
The Chargers are playoff bound -- but stop with the "Justin Herbert is finally in the playoffs" tweets. This is only his third season; stop acting like it has been a decade or something.
9. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
Despite Lamar Jackson missing another game, the Ravens clinched a playoff berth -- and at this point, I would not play him in the final two weeks even if he is healthy.
10. Miami Dolphins (8-7)
The Dolphins have lost four straight games but have had plenty of opportunities in those games. They sit at 10 because almost everyone directly behind them lost this weekend.
11. New York Giants (8-6-1)
Daniel Jones has bought himself another year in New York, but that could come back to bite them in the a--. Still, a win on Sunday gets the Giants into the playoffs.
12. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8)
Winners of three straight and five of their last seven, the Jaguars are now leading the AFC South and are in great position to make the playoffs.
13. Detroit Lions (7-8)
With all the momentum they had built up, it is crazy to think that the Lions got blown out Saturday against the Panthers, damaging their playoff chances.
14. Washington Commanders (7-7-1)
The Commanders also had their playoff chances lessened Saturday after a loss, and now they hand the keys to the offense back to Carson Wentz.
15. Green Bay Packers (7-8)
Don't look now, but the Green Bay Packers have clawed their way back into playoff contention, as their offense is somewhat coming together late in the season.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)
The Steelers' defense continues to be their rock as they, too, keep themselves alive in playoff contention following a hard-fought 13-10 win in a cold and snowy Christmas Eve night game.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8)
The Buccaneers can clinch the division with a win -- but their offense is bad, and they are not doing anything in the playoffs.
18. Tennessee Titans (7-8)
I think even if Ryan Tannehill were back in the games he has missed, the Titans would still be in this position -- because aside from their run game and front seven, they really aren't that good.
19. New York Jets (7-8)
Zach Wilson should never have been drafted where he was after one good season in college, and now the Jets realize that as well.
20. Carolina Panthers (6-9)
Fire your head coach, trade your biggest playmaker, and have four quarterbacks play -- and you are still in contention for the playoffs? Weird.
21. New England Patriots (7-8)
22. Seattle Seahawks (7-8)
The Seahawks once sat atop the NFC West but have started to fade out during this final stretch of the season. But Geno Smith is still balling out, though.
23. New Orleans Saints (6-9)
It is crazy to think that three sub-.500 teams are still in playoff contention in the same division, but the NFC South has provided just that.
24. Cleveland Browns (6-9)
The Browns are going to need some changes this offseason -- and without some early draft picks, that will have to take place during free agency.
25. Los Angeles Rams (5-10)
Baker Mayfield is 2-1 as the Rams' QB and is coming off a huge performance. Does he stay on the Rams and wait for Matthew Stafford to retire?
26. Las Vegas Raiders (6-9)
It looks as if the Raiders might be moving on from Derek Carr after he got benched for the final two games of the season. I mean, you could probably get at least a second-round draft pick for him. I think he is a starter in this league, but maybe it is time for a change.
27. Atlanta Falcons (5-10)
Still no touchdowns for Desmond Ridder, but still no interceptions either, as the rookie is getting some quality playing time late in the season.
28. Arizona Cardinals (4-11)
29. Denver Broncos (4-11)
30. Indianapolis Colts (4-10-1)
Jeff Saturday is a bad head coach on any day of the week.
31. Chicago Bears (3-12)
They played the Bills -- what did you expect to happen?
32. Houston Texans (2-12-1)
I am telling y'all here, the Texans are just a QB and a few role players away from making the jump -- and with the Titans and Colts on the decline, now is the time to make that jump.
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