NFL power rankings: Where 49ers stand among 2022 playoff teams
By Peter Panacy
NFL power rankings, Wild Card weekend: Nos. 6-4 (Bills, Rams, Titans)
Legitimate Super Bowl contenders or pretenders? Good question.
The next three teams on our postseason NFL power rankings list all have reasons why they could hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February, but there are surely reasons to doubt them, too.
Perhaps it’s a bit of West Coast bias (sorry, California-native and boyhood 49ers fan Josh Allen), but the Bills don’t seem to carry the same kind of luster this season as they did a year ago.
But don’t let that fool you. It’s probably a bonus to have Buffalo wind up being something of a less-discussed under-the-radar team that quietly won the AFC East and pulled off four wins in a row to finish off the regular season on a high note.
And with the league’s No. 1 defense, both in terms of scoring and yards allowed, head coach Sean McDermott’s squad can rest on those laurels no matter which team the Bills face if they advance beyond the Patriots in what should be a defensive showdown during Wild Card weekend.
What gives Buffalo the edge here is the fact it owns the No. 3 overall scoring offense, too, making this a well-balanced group.
Yet one New England might be able to frustrate early.
As long as Rams head coach Sean McVay doesn’t have to face his nemesis, the 49ers, in the playoffs this season, there’s a good chance LA makes it all the way to the NFC Championship game.
The overtime loss to the Niners didn’t stem Los Angeles’ NFC West crown, although it did bump it down a spot in the conference seeding.
That said, the star power LA boasts heading into a Wild Card weekend showdown against the Cardinals can’t be denied. After sluggish starts, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and EDGE Von Miller are starting to make sizable impacts, and any defense boasting defensive tackle Aaron Donald and quarterback Jalen Ramsey is going to be formidable.
And wide receiver Cooper Kupp? The triple-crown pass-catcher only led the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Plenty of reasons to be bullish on the Rams this postseason regardless of what happened against the 49ers to close out the regular season.
It’s notable how San Francisco nearly pulled off a road upset against the Tennessee Titans on a short week on Thursday Night Football back in Week 16.
Alas, the 49ers lost that game, thanks to a resurgent wide receiver, A.J. Brown, going off in the game. And while Brown’s return from injured reserve was heralded as a great development, the one true reason why Tennessee will be a massive threat in the postseason revolves around its best offensive weapon.
Running back Derrick Henry.
Henry, who suffered a foot fracture eight games into the regular season, still managed a whopping 937 rush yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing over half the year.
If he returns at 100 percent and picks up where he left off, the Titans are in full business.
Good thing Tennessee clinched the No. 1 overall AFC seed, giving Henry one more week of rest to prepare.