49ers power rankings: Where do they enter the playoffs?

49ers (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers can be found near the top of our power rankings after Week 17.

Could the San Francisco 49ers go all the way to the Super Bowl? Well, heck yes they could! But how do they stack up against the NFL’s best?

They’ve already beaten playoff teams like the Saints, Seahawks, and Packers.   But like most playoff teams they’ve also lost to a team with a losing record. The 49ers’ defeat was to Atlanta.

Still, we should note other strong teams — such as the Ravens to the Browns, the Packers to the Chargers, and this week the Patriots to the Dolphins — have also lost to some less than stellar teams. It’s the NFL and anything can happen in any week.

Let’s look bottom-up at the power rankings

No. 12 Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

The Eagles sneaked into the playoffs with a close win against the lowly Giants. They have rookie running back Miles Sanders leading their ground game but he tweaked his ankle in the final game.

Their seriousness is still up in the air.  Carson Wentz can have some pizzaz at quarterback but doesn’t really compare to Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, or Drew Brees. They rank 12th in total offense and ninth in defense. Their longest winning streak of the year has been three games, so don’t count on more than one playoff game. A better Seattle team will still likely beat them even without their star, Chris Carson.

No. 11 Tennesse Titans (9-7)

The Titans made the playoffs with the 20th ranked defense and the 12th ranked offense. Ryan Tannehill has had a nice year replacing Marcus Mariota, but their real offensive power is in running back Derrek Henry.

They’ll play a slumping but experienced Patriots team.  The Titans started a four-game winning streak this year with a win against the Chiefs.  They will likely lose to the Patriots in their first playoff game.

No. 10 Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

The Vikings are missing Dalvin Cook at running back.  They have some decent replacements but the passing game has been hurt by this and by injuries to their receivers. The Vikings had the 13th ranked offense and the 13th ranked defense. The NFC has three extremely tough teams and the Vikings will be playing the third-ranked Saints in a one and done game.

No. 9 Buffalo Bills (10-6)

The Bills looked good but not great all season long. They’ll be playing their first game against Houston and at most positions, the Bills have the lesser quality players.

The Bills were third in defense but just 24th in offense.  Devin Singletary is another rookie running back headed to the playoffs. With second-year Quarterback Josh Allen leading the offense, they will likely have some jitters going to the playoffs against the hot Titans.

No. 8 Seattle Seahawks (11-5)

The Seahawks are a very good team to be ranked this low, but they should lose their first game against the Saints. The Seahawks had a rash of running back injuries at the end of the year.   Gone are Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and C. J. Prosise. They play Philadelphia in Philadelphia but they should move on.  With Russell Wilson and excellent coaching, they are a team that could be dangerous.  With the close loss to the 49ers though, they will have no home playoff games.

No. 7 Houston Texans (10-6)

The Texans will likely beat the Bills but their next game, if they continue, they go to Baltimore and the Ravens are flat out better. The Texans finished the year Resting many of their offensive stars.  They are fifth in defense and 13th in offense.  Will Fuller missed the season finale with a groin injury, but he could be back for the first playoff game.

If not, it’s a blow to the offense but with DeShaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, they have the ability to handle the Bills.

No. 6 New England Patriots (12-4)

The Patriots play of late makes me want to put them lower in rank, but come to playoff time Bill Belichek and Tom Brady are hard to bet against. With the top-rated defense, they can win the whole thing again (PLEASE NO!), but their 15th-ranked offense has been quite off from their last few years.  I think they will have to struggle if they are to make it to round two, where they would then face a hot Chiefs team in Kansas City.

No. 5 Green Bay Packers (13-3)

The Pack has not looked good enough to be 13-3, but they keep finding ways to win. They are on a five-game win streak, but that includes close wins over the Redskins and Lions. Prior to this streak, the 49ers destroyed them in a 37-8 whipping.

Despite Aaron Rodgers, the Pack is just 18th in offense. When you see their defense is also 18th ranked, you can see why I said they don’t look as good as their record. They do get a nice first-round bye, but then likely they’ll draw a better Saints team. In their first playoff game, they will have January at Lambeau on their side.

Top Four

The top four teams seem a step or two ahead of the rest of the pack and it’s nice that both conferences have two of these teams. It should be a great playoff battle.

No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

Kansas City is better than whoever they’ll have to play in their first playoff game at Arrowhead this year. They have the sixth-ranked offense but at times it looks like Patrick Mahomes and company can score at will.

The defense is ranked just 17th but they’ve been playing much better of late.   Of their last six games, all wins, they have only allowed one team to score 18 or more points.

No. 3 New Orleans Saints (13-3)

The Saints could definitely win the Superbowl this year.  If not for a last-second loss to the 49ers, they’d be resting up the first playoff week.   Such is not the case but Drew Brees and company could certainly win four in a row.

Their offense finished ninth in the league, but would likely have been higher had Brees played more than 10 games. In his last four games, Brees has tossed 15 touchdowns and Michael Thomas has abused cornerbacks all over the National Football League. The Saints are 11th in total defense.

No. 2 San Francisco 49ers (13-3)

Squeaking out a victory over Seattle in the final game of the regular season, San Francisco garnered the top spot in the NFC.  Because of that win, they get a bye and all games they play prior to the Super Bowl will be at home.

The 49ers finished second in defense on the season and fourth in offense.  Defensive end Dee Ford is shooting to be back from his hamstring injury by the time their first playoff game rolls into town. With him in the lineup, the defense seems much more dangerous.

The three-headed monster of a rushing attack finished second over the course of the season and Jimmy Garoppolo seems much improved over his earlier tentative exploits. The 49ers are three to one in defeating playoff teams. San Francisco has had two Superbowl wins in Miami. Could this be their third?

No. 1 Baltimore Ravens (14-2)

The Ravens boast the second-ranked offense and the fourth-ranked defense. This is exactly reversed from the 49ers numbers. They beat the 49ers (20-17) in Baltimore on a last-second score. Led by likely league most valuable player, Lamar Jackson, the Ravens take the number one spot of the power rankings. By leading his team in both rushing and passing, Jackson has been sensational but he is only one player.

Like the 49ers, the Ravens run the ball well.  Halfbacks Marc Ingram and Gus Edwards do well rotating and are rushing the ball at over five yards per clip.