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NFL Power Rankings, Championship Sunday: Bengals, Eagles ride high; Bills, Cowboys bow out

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And then there were four.

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Of course, we were hoping there would be a little more drama in the divisional playoff round, but in the end we all get the result we want: the top four teams stay alive, each with a strong case for the Lombardi Trophy, all playing at one Sunday for a trip to the damn Super Bowl.

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This is good stuff.

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Meanwhile, the NFL’s strength rankings have shrunk to eight spots, the first four of which are reserved for the final teams in this intense game of musical chairs. Moving the Bengals to number one seemed necessary after Joe Burrow & Co. clinically debriefed the Bills in Buffalo, even if it meant half the Bay Area would be offended that I lost to the team on a 12-game winning streak. first place.

Look, at this point there is no right or wrong way to rank the remaining teams. It’s Juggernaut vs. Behemoth vs. Monster vs. Steamroller. Your guess is as good as mine.

(Just kidding. My order is correct. Yes.)

Be sure to check out the NFL Power Rankings podcast with Dan Hanzus and Colleen Wolfe. New episodes every Tuesday.

NOTES: The up/down arrows below reflect the team’s progress in the Divisional Round Strength Ranking.

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Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals
14-4

Previous rank: No. 4

Is anyone else starting to feel like Joe Burrow is not going to be turned down this year? Joe Cool 2.0 played quarterback like a man possessed Sunday at Orchard Park, sorting things out in a resounding 27-10 win that sent Cincinnati back to the AFC Championship game for the second year in a row. Burrow casually dominated, but he didn’t do it alone: ​​Lou Anarumo’s defense turned Buffalo’s dangerous offense into a phone booth, while Cinsi’s offensive line, littered with question marks from a string of injuries, kept Burrow clean and constantly open. big lanes for running back Joe Mixon. “Dominance from start to finish,” Burrow said after the win. “This is what we expected. The work is not finished.” This is a quarterback, and the team is not afraid of anyone, including the Chiefs.

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Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles
15-3

Previous rank: No. 5

You couldn’t ask for a better result. Saturday Night’s 38-7 rout of the Giants brought the curtain down on the opposition in an awkward manner and also restored the NFC’s No. 1 seed’s image as a swaggering juggernaut not to be trifled with. Heading into the weekend, it was completely unclear what version of Philadelphia we would see in the divisional round after hard work ahead of the season, with key stars left with health questions. But quarterback Jalen Hurts looked like the MVP again, and Lane Johnson led the offensive line, punching holes en route to 268 yards. The thought of the Eagles being vulnerable now seems… absurd. “You fucking saw it, pardon the expression,” said Jordan Mailata, left tackle. by Athletic. “It’s just juice, man. This coolness. Jalen has a lot of cool, so he always shows it on the field. And his football IQ, he just plays there. that fact is a key stat for winning games… So it certainly helps when you bring your star players back.”

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San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
15-4

Previous rank: No. 1

Sunday’s story was not in Brock Purdy, but in an unstoppable attack. Instead, it was the choke defense that did most of the hard work in a 19-12 win over the Cowboys that blew San Francisco’s ticket to a third NFC title game appearance in four years. It’s a trait of all truly great teams: you need to be a werewolf, especially in the crucible of the NFL playoffs. The Niners had averaged 38.3 points per game over the previous four weeks, but they outlasted the Cowboys’ defense, knocking out Duck Prescott and holding Dallas to one touchdown and 282 yards. Sunday in Philadelphia, the challenge will be even tougher, but the Nines are battle-tested, undefeated since October, and versatile enough to handle whatever comes their way.

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Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs
15-3

Previous rank: No. 2

The Chiefs are returning to play for the AFC Championship for the fifth year in a row, an incredible achievement in an era of great parity in the NFL. Of course, just making it to a conference title game isn’t enough for a franchise with a title like Kansas City: Lombardi Trophy is in question, and it’s fair to wonder how much the team’s chances of getting that equipment suffered when Patrick Mahomes got hurt. that gnarled high ankle sprain in Saturday’s 27-20 victory over the Jaguars. Mahomes has promised to play this weekend, but his ability to improvise off structure and use his mobility to play pranks is integral to his greatness. According to Next Gen Stats, Mahomes only made one of two shots from outside the pocket in the second half against Jacksonville – he led the NFL with 117 shots from outside the pocket during the regular season. Mahomes has to be at his best to beat the Bengals and that might be physically impossible.

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Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
14-4

Previous rank: No. 3

The Bills entered the season with the prediction that anything less than a trip to the Super Bowl would be considered a failure. It’s an unforgiving bar for any team, and Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Bengals brought an epic hangover to the franchise as they waited to take the next step. Buffalo failed – being eliminated from the divisional round for the second year in a row – and now the brain trust must figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. Of course, it’s not a shame to lose to the reigning champion of the Bengals conference, but How The bills were handled by hand – on all three stages, from the first blow to the final whistle – should be unsettling for a team that believed it would find a way after losing last January to the Chiefs. A shot in the stomach this year seems just as awful, but for different reasons.

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Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
13-6

Previous rank: No. 6

Last year’s final game of the season against the 49ers was disappointing. This time it just got sad. The doomed game of gadgets, with Ezekiel Elliott as “Pancake Center No. 1” and CaVonte Turpin as “The World’s Prayerless Receiver,” quite accurately summed up a lost Sunday for the Cowboys, who enjoyed themselves immensely. their defensive effort but the maddening absence of Dak Prescott and offense in a 19-12 loss at Levy Stadium. It’s a game that will stay with Prescott, the franchise quarterback who looked as lost on Sunday as he did six days earlier in Tampa. “If I had the answers, we would have won today. Too early. Too early,” Prescott said. “And I promise you that we will do it. As long as I’m on this team, for this organization, we’ll be.” One of these years, Duck & Co. must back the big words.

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Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars
10-9

Previous rank: No. 8

As for building block seasons, consider this season essential. The Jaguars couldn’t find a way out against the Chiefs and a battered Patrick Mahomes on Saturday, but the AFC South title and an epic playoff win over the Chargers tell us Duvall has a very bright future. “We worked so hard to get here and nobody thought we’d be here and we had our chance – and that’s what hurts,” Trevor Lawrence said Saturday night after the 27-20 loss at Arrowhead. “We will return. I am sure about that. It’s more the beginning than the end of something.” Jacksonville management is now tasked with improving a lineup that still has holes: the lack of a sustained passing rush was conspicuous as Mahomes limped across the field on Saturday, while a minor player could use an infusion of talent. If the Jags can get another strong offseason development, they will be set to rule their division for years to come.

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New York Giants
New York…



Source: www.nfl.com

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