NFL Power Rankings ahead of the playoffs

Let the NFL playoffs begin.

Instead of playing for a tie Sunday night and both punching tickets to the playoffs, the Raiders and Chargers were up for a challenge. Advantage to the Raiders, who clinched their spot and simultaneously knocked out the rival Chargers to hand a berth to the Steelers and to finish off the brackets.

The second year of expansion to seven playoff teams per conference was good to the state of Pennsylvania. Ben Roethlisberger’s career isn’t over just yet, and the Eagles are marching on despite not beating a single other playoff team during the regular season.

Here are The Post’s power rankings at the end of the regular season:

1. Green Bay Packers, 13-4 (1)        

With the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs already wrapped up, the Packers played MVP-favorite Aaron Rodgers for a half before Jordan Love came in and threw two second-half interceptions in a loss to the Lions. The Packers escaped without any major injuries. Mission accomplished.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 13-4 (3)

Tom Brady finished another dominant regular season with 326 passing yards – topping 5,000 in a season for the second time – and three touchdowns in a rout of the Panthers. Note to now-released Antonio Brown as he engages in a fight with maybe the last team willing to give him an opportunity: The Buccaneers have plenty of other great playmakers.

Tom Brady
Getty Images

3. Kansas City Chiefs, 12-5 (4)

The Chiefs were saved by their defense, when Nick Bolton scooped up a fumble and raced 86 yards for the game-winning touchdown just when it looked like the Broncos might take an eight-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Their playoff fate as the AFC’s No. 2 seed is largely tied to Tyreek Hill’s health as he recovers from an injured heel.

4. Tennessee Titans, 12-5 (6)

Needing a win to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs, the Titans built a 21-point lead before allowing 18 consecutive points to put the win over the feisty Texans in jeopardy. Ryan Tannehill’s fourth touchdown pass of the game capped an 85-yard clinching drive. Will Derrick Henry be ready to run roughshod in two weeks?

5. Los Angeles Rams, 12-5 (2)

The Rams took the backdoor to the NFC West title, lucking out that the Cardinals lost to the Seahawks in conjunction with their own overtime loss to the 49ers. Running back Cam Akers made his season debut – a nice boost. But Matthew Stafford will be a roller-coaster ride in the playoffs.

6. Dallas Cowboys, 12-5 (8)

Taking a page from the Giants’ book in 2011, coach Mike McCarthy – who led the Packers when they lost to those Giants – played his starters with nothing to gain in the regular-season finale. Dak Prescott threw five touchdown passes to break Tony Romo’s franchise single-season record. The Cowboys were the only team in the NFL with an unbeaten division record.

Dak Prescott broke Tony Romo's single-season touchdown franchise record.
Dak Prescott broke Tony Romo’s single-season touchdown franchise record.
Getty Images

7. Cincinnati Bengals, 10-7 (7)

With a playoff berth already clinched, Joe Burrow rested his injured knee in Cincinnati’s loss to the Browns. He had plenty of company with other starters on the bench for most of or all of the game, including the dynamic receiver duo of Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase. The Bengals’ only touchdown came on defense.

8. Buffalo Bills, 11-6 (10)

Devin Singletary scored two touchdowns in the final nine minutes as the Bills pulled away from the Jets to clinch the AFC East. How important is that division title? It means a home game in the first round of the playoffs. And the 30 miles per hour winds that tortured quarterbacks and kickers Sunday was a reminder of what is unique about playing in Buffalo.

9. Arizona Cardinals, 11-6 (5)

A 7-0 start feels like a million years ago, after a 4-6 finish. Next up is a rubber match at the Rams. J.J. Watt is close to returning from injured reserve and to the edge opposite Chandler Jones, who had 17.5 sacks in 12 games. James Conner scored 14 touchdowns this season but left Sunday’s game injured.

J.J. Watt will likely return for the playoffs.
J.J. Watt will likely return for the playoffs.
Getty Images

10. San Francisco 49ers, 10-7 (12)

A 17-0 first-half deficit? No problem. The 49ers still beat the Rams for the sixth consecutive time to clinch a playoff spot that otherwise would’ve gone to the Saints. Deebo Samuel – the NFL’s most versatile weapon – had 95 receiving yards, 24 passing yards and a touchdown, and 45 rushing yards and a touchdown.

11. New England Patriots, 10-7 (11)

12. Las Vegas Raiders, 10-7 (13)

13. Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7-1 (18)

14. Indianapolis Colts, 9-8 (9)

15. Los Angeles Chargers, 9-8 (14)

16. Philadelphia Eagles, 9-8 (15)

17. Miami Dolphins, 9-8 (16)

18. New Orleans Saints, 9-8 (17)

19. Cleveland Browns, 8-9 (20)

20. Baltimore Ravens, 8-9 (19)

21. Minnesota Vikings, 8-9 (21)

22. Atlanta Falcons, 7-10 (22)

23. Denver Broncos, 7-10 (23)

24. Seattle Seahawks, 7-10 (25)

25. Washington Football Team, 7-10 (26)

26. Chicago Bears, 6-11 (24)

27. Carolina Panthers, 5-12 (27)

28. New York Jets, 4-13 (28)

The Jets netted just 53 yards of offense in a loss to the Bills, surpassing the franchise’s all-time low from 1976. Not the way rookie Zach Wilson wanted to finish after playing his best game in a duel against Tom Brady last week. The Jets have 13 losses in back-to-back seasons, matching the futility of 1995-96.

29. Houston Texans, 4-13 (29)

30. New York Giants, 4-13 (30)

A season-ending six-game losing streak – fueled by hideous backup quarterback and offensive line performances – sealed general manager Dave Gettleman’s exit and could leave head coach Joe Judge out of work, too. The Giants have 100 losses in 10 seasons since winning Super Bowl XLVI, a talent-deficient roster and barely any salary-cap space.

The fans who did show up Sunday for the Giants' last game were...not happy.
The fans who did show up Sunday for the Giants’ last game were…not happy.
Robert Sabo; Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

31. Detroit Lions, 3-13-1 (31)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars, 3-14 (32)

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