Saturday, April 1 2023

With just one week remaining in the NFL regular season, the playoff picture has taken shape, with the contenders separating themselves from the pretenders. 

After Week 17, here’s my take on the league’s top 10 teams.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) 

Andy Reid’s squad has seemingly been laying in the weeds as the top contender in football, but a loss by the Bills could give the Chiefs the No.1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Given Patrick Mahomes‘ dominance at this team of the year, the rest of the league certainly does not want to see the road to the Super Bowl run through Arrowhead Stadium. 

2. San Francisco 49ers (12-4)

The Brock Purdy-led 49ers are the hottest team in football, with a nine-game winning streak fueling their rise to the top of the charts. Kyle Shanahan has tapped into his QB3 skills as a pinpoint passer to add an efficient passing game to a rushing attack that can bludgeon opponents, with Christian McCaffrey running like a madman between the tackles. 

3. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

Back-to-back losses have put the Eagles in a position to lose their No.1 seed after dominating the league for most of the season. While Jalen Hurts‘ return could solve the team’s offensive woes, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon must figure out how to get his playmaking defense to turn it up a notch to handle the dynamic offenses that will dot the playoff field. 

4. Buffalo Bills (12-3)

Josh Allen is the most dangerous offensive playmaker in the league as an electric dual-threat quarterback with rare skills as a runner and passer. The Bills have complemented him with an explosive collection of pass catchers and an emerging group of backs that could enable Sean McDermott’s squad to win utilizing an offensive-centric approach. With a Monday Night Football matchup against the Bengals on the horizon, the football world will soon find out if the Bills are worthy of carrying the No.1 seed heading into the playoffs. 

5. Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)

The Monday Night Football matchup against the Bills will give the Bengals a chance to show the football world that they are ready to run it back as AFC champs. Joe Burrow and Co. are hitting their groove heading down the stretch, and few opponents can match up with their personnel on the perimeter. 

6. Dallas Cowboys (12-4)

It is not all glitz and glam with the Cowboys under Mike McCarthy. The star-studded squad has found ways to win, employing various styles to get the job done. From shootouts to nail-biters, the Cowboys are equipped to win behind a talented offense and playmaking defense that features enough firepower to take down any heavyweight in the league.

Why Cowboys fans should be optimistic despite close win vs. Titans

Colin Cowherd tells fans to be positive as America’s Team could excel in the long-run.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (10-6)

The Bolts are peaking heading into the playoffs, with some of their star power returning to the lineup. The offense, in particular, looks like a potential juggernaut, with Justin Herbert teaming with Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Gerald Everett, and Austin Eckler to torment opponents with an aerial circus. As the defense adds Joey Bosa to a frontline that is beginning to generate consistent pressure at the point of attack, the Chargers could emerge as the sleeping giant in the AFC. 

8. Minnesota Vikings (12-4)

Despite 12 wins on its resume, the Vikings look like a potential “one-and-done” unit heading into the tournament. Although Kevin O’Connell’s superb play calling has helped the Vikings navigate a questionable defense and inconsistent quarterback play, the team’s fatal flaws could lead to a quick exit in the playoffs if the clever play caller is not on his game. 

9. New York Giants (9-6)

Brian Daboll should earn plenty of post-season accolades and hardware for transforming the Giants into a playoff squad. The G-Men have mastered the art of winning games by avoiding the self-inflicted mistakes (turnovers, penalties, big plays allowed, and kicking game errors) that plagued the team in the past. With Daniel Jones and Co. putting up enough points to complement an ultra-aggressive defense that confuses and confounds quarterbacks and play callers, the Giants could be a tough out in the tournament. 

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)

Doug Pederson has taught the young Jaguars how to win down the stretch. The Super Bowl-winning head coach has crafted an offense with the potential to light up scoreboards behind an emerging star quarterback and a collection of unheralded playmakers with “take over the game” potential. As the Jaguars’ confidence grows with each win, the rest of the league is taking notice of the AFC South leaders. 

Top stories from FOX Sports:

Bucky Brooks is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He regularly appears on “Speak For Yourself” and also breaks down the game for NFL Network and as a cohost of the “Moving the Sticks” podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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