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NFL Power Rankings, Championship Sunday: Bengals, Eagles top; Bills, Cowboys out

Then there are four.

Sure, we were hoping for maybe a little more drama in the divisional round of the playoffs, but in the end, we all got what we wanted: the four best teams in place, Every team has a strong case for winning the Lombardi Trophy, and all teams make a damn trip to the Super Bowl on a Sunday.

This is good stuff.

Meanwhile, the NFL Power Rankings have shrunk to just eight spots, with the top four reserved for the finalists in this burly game of chairs. After Joe Burrow and his colleagues clinically dissected the Bills in Buffalo, pushing the Bengals to the top of the standings felt like a necessity, even if it meant half the Bay Area would go down because I let The team was outraged at being eliminated from the top spot on a 12-game winning streak.

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

(Just kidding. I got the order right. Ugh.)

Don’t forget to check out Dan Hanzus and Colleen Wolfe’s NFL Power Rankings podcast. Updated every Tuesday.

Cincinnati Bengals

Previous rank: No. 4

Others are starting to think that Joe Burrow won’t be the visa rejection this year at all? Joe Cool 2.0 played quarterback like someone who was possessed at Orchard Park on Sunday in a huge 27-10 win over the Bills that put Cincinnati back in the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year. Burrow dominated at will, but he didn’t do it alone: ​​Lou Anarumo’s defense kept the dreaded Buffalo offense inside a phone booth, while Cincy’s offensive line — riddled with question marks after a string of injuries — made the Burrow kept it clean and consistently opened the big lanes to running back Joe Mixon. “Domination from start to finish,” Burrow said after the win. “It’s exactly what we expected. The job isn’t done.” This is a quarterback and a team that isn’t afraid of anyone — including the Chiefs.

Philadelphia Eagles

Previous Rank: No. 5

You couldn’t ask for better results. Saturday night’s 38-7 win over the Giants brought the curtain down in embarrassing fashion while also restoring the NFC top seed’s image as the swagger juggernaut to be reckoned with. Heading into the weekend, with the season drawing to a close, it was clear which version of Philadelphia we’d be seeing in the divisional round, with lingering health concerns surrounding key stars. But quarterback Jalen Hurts looked like an MVP again, and the offensive line led by Lane Johnson blew holes en route to a 268-yard rush. The idea that the Eagles were vulnerable now seems, well… ridiculous. “You fucking saw it, excuse my language,” left tackle Jordan Melata said, according to The Athletic. “It’s just juice, man. That booty. Jalen has a lot of booty, so he’s always showing it on the field. And his football IQ, just being there to play. And there’s that same continuity on the O line, which is Facts – key stats to win games.  … So when you get your star players back, it definitely helps.”

San Francisco 49ers

Previous rank: No. 1

Sunday’s story wasn’t Brock Purdy and the unstoppable offense. Instead, a stifling defense carried most of the load in a 19-12 win over the Cowboys, earning San Francisco its third trip to the NFC Championship Game in four years. It’s a hallmark of all truly great teams: You need to be a shapeshifter, especially in the rigors of the NFL playoffs. The Niners averaged 38.3 points per game over the past four weeks, but they beat the Cowboys’ defense by bewildering Dak Prescott and allowing Dallas one touchdown and 282 total yards. The challenge will be greater in Philadelphia on Sunday, but the Niners are battle-tested, undefeated since October and versatile enough to handle whatever comes their way.

Previous rank: No. 2

Chiefs return to ALCS for fifth straight year, equal in NFL In this day and age, this is an incredible achievement. Of course, just reaching the conference championship game isn’t good enough for a team like Kansas City: It’s about the Lombardi Trophy, and we’re curious to see the team’s chances of getting hardware when Patrick Mahomes is injured How bad was the ankle sprain in Saturday’s 27-20 win over the Jaguars. Mahomes has vowed to play this weekend, but his ability to improvise on structure and use his mobility to play is his greatness. According to Next Gen Stats, Mahomes completed just one of two pitches in the second half against Jacksonville — an NFL-leading 117 in the regular season. Mahomes will need to go all out to beat the Bengals, which may not be physically possible.

Dallas Cowboys

Previous rank: No. 3

Bills enter season with vision Super Bowl will be considered failure . It’s an unrelenting roadblock for any team, and Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Bengals delivered an epic hangover for a team expected to take the next step. Buffalo can’t — it’s out in the divisional round for the second straight year — and now the brain trust needs to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. There’s certainly nothing shameful about getting knocked out by the defending champion Bengals, but howhow Bill was manhandled — in all three stages, from The full-time buzzer sounded to kick off the opening game — and it must have been unnerving for a team that believed it would find its way after losing to the Chiefs last January. Gut shots this year feel just as bad, but for different reasons.

Dallas Cowboys

Previous rank: No. 6

The final game of the season last year against the 49ers was frustrating. This time, it just feels sad. A doomed gizmo featuring Ezekiel Elliott as “Pancake Center One” and KaVontae Turpin as “There Is No Prayer Taker in the World” ’, summed up the Cowboys’ lost Sunday pretty neatly, with a huge success in their defensive effort, Dak Prescott’s maddening no-show and a 19-12 loss at Levi’s Stadium. attack. The game will stick with Prescott, a team quarterback who looked as lost on Sunday as he was in Tampa six days ago. “If I had the answers, then we’d win tonight. Too early. Too early,” Prescott said. “However, I promise you we will. We will for this organization while I’m playing for this team.” These years, Dak they need to lie

Jacksonville JaguarsNew York Giants

Previous rank: No. 8

Count this as substantial as far as block season goes. The Jaguars couldn’t find a way against the Chiefs and an injured Patrick Mahomes on Saturday, but the AFC South title and an epic playoff win over the Chargers told us Duvall’s future is very bright. “We worked really hard to get here, nobody thought we’d be here, we had a chance — that’s what hurts,” Trevor Lawrence said after Saturday night’s 27-20 loss to the Arrowheads. “We’re going to be back. I’m confident about it. It’s more of a beginning than an end.” Jacksonville Brass tasked now with improving roster that still has holes: Mahomes limped on court Saturday Land lacks a consistent pass rush, while the secondary could use a talent injection. If the Jags can add another strong offseason in terms of player development, they could dominate their division for years to come.

Previous rank: No. 7

Saturday night’s 38-7 loss to the Eagles was a rude A reminder that — despite all the positive vibes and measurable success we’ve seen in 2022 — the Giants still have a lot of work to do to play at the level of football’s best team. The improved offseason map begins with big decisions on Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, soon to be free agents and the two most important offensive players. During the team’s season-ending news conference, general manager Jo Schoen said a decision about Jones appeared to have been made. “We want Daniel here. He said it [Sunday] and it makes business sense. But we feel Daniel has played well this season. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.” Barkley’s future feels murkier, even if The star running back proved his worth with a season worthy of serious consideration for the Comeback Player of the Year.

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