NFL Postseason-Who Will Come Out on Top in the Craziest NFL Season Ever?



Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers faces off against the rival Chicago Bears

Note: This article was written before Super Wild Card Weekend was played. All predictions were from before than.


There have always and will always be surprise teams in the NFL, but this season has been specifically strange.  The Bengals started the year with the third worst odds to win the Super Bowl. Now they remain as one of the only teams that can still make it to the big game. On the flipside, the Seahawks had the tenth best odds to win Super Bowl 56, but finished tied for the eighth worst team in the league. 


The AFC North finished in the inverse of most pundit’s predictions for the year. The Bengals and Steelers finished in first and second, respectively, despite being predicted to flounder. The Ravens and Browns, who were picked as Super Bowl contenders, finished third and fourth. 


Future Hall of Famers like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson had to sit out for extended periods of time, and six starting quarterbacks got injured in one week. 


COVID ravaged the NFL, especially one specific Monday where 40 players all landed onto the COVID list. Some teams didn’t have enough players to field a competent team. 


This all combined with the NFL’s first 17 game season created what may be the NFL’s strangest season in recent memory, and it’s all led to this. The 2021-2022 NFL Playoffs. Who will come out on top in the big game? Here are The Roar’s predictions for this year’s postseason:


Tier 3: Any Given Sunday

14. Philadelphia Eagles

With the addition of the seventh wild card spot, teams that have joined the playoffs may not be deserving of their spot. There are also teams that sneaked into the playoffs, like the Raiders, who made it in off of a game-winning field goal in the last game of the year, against the Chargers. The Philadelphia Eagles are in the latter situation as the seventh seed of the National Football Conference (NFC). The Eagles are greater than the sum of its parts. Quarterback Jalen Hurts puts up good numbers against a cursory glance, but a further look shows that a lot of his stats come in garbage time, or the time that has to be played even though one team is ahead by a sizable margin. This makes him a good fantasy QB, but not usually one that would be the starter for a playoff team. So why has the Eagles’ surprise playoff berth occurred? The main reason seems to be their defense. They are in the top 12 for both rushing and passing yards allowed. This balanced defensive attack leaves teams with no holes to exploit. Another reason is the running game, which, despite getting off to a slow start, ended up producing two 750-yard rushers. 


13. Pittsburgh Steelers

Speaking of Pennsylvania teams with bad quarterbacks barely making it into the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers very much lucked into their seventh seed. They needed the Colts to lose to the worst team in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Surprisingly, the Jaguars pulled off the upset. They also needed the Chargers and Raiders to not tie, as this would not lessen either team’s winning percentage. This seemed like an unlikely outcome, but the two teams were tied going into the final few seconds of overtime. Luckily for the Steelers, the Raiders kicked a field goal as time expired to send both teams to the playoffs. The Steelers’ success mainly comes to two juggernauts, one on each side of the ball. On defense, they have T.J. Watt, who led the league with 22.5 sacks and is one of the prime candidates for defensive player of the year. On offense, they have rookie running back Najee Harris, whose 1,200 rushing yards placed him in the top five on the season. However, the lack of depth will likely hurt the Steelers in the playoffs, especially against a great top to bottom team like the Chiefs.


12. Las Vegas Raiders

As for the other team that made the playoffs thanks to Daniel Carlson’s last-second field goal, the Raiders are in a very surprising position. Halfway through the season the Raiders were thriving, as it seemed they had finally completed their rebuild, led by Jon Gruden. They had a 5-2 record, wins over playoff teams like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and an excellent season from QB Derek Carr. It was possible that, with a struggling Chiefs team continuing to struggle, the Raiders could compete for the AFC West title. However, emails from Gruden where he both used several racist and homophobic slurs and insulted commissioner Roger Goodell were leaked from an investigation into a different team’s management. This led to Gruden resigning and being replaced by interim Rick Bisaccia. Despite a three-game losing streak to start off his coaching career, Bisaccia has led the Raiders to a resurgence with a four-game winning streak to end the season. While the Raiders do have the benefit of the highest wild card seed in the American Football Conference, even a win in the first round will lead to an even unlikelier win in the second round. 


11. San Francisco 49ers

The other west coast wild card team is the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers also barely made the playoffs, as they came back from a 17 to 3 deficit at halftime against the Los Angeles Rams to win in overtime and clinch the six seed. The Niners will be a popular upset pick in the first round, as their opponent, the Cowboys, have not thrived in the playoffs as of late. However, their offensive skill, or lack thereof, limits the upside to make them a top contender for the Lombardi Trophy. They are led by quarterback Jimmy Garropolo, who has been in talks to be replaced for the past couple of seasons, but always seems to play just well enough to keep his role as starter. The real talent of this team lies on the defense. The D is led by Nick Bosa, who came close to the lead in sacks but ultimately finished in fourth place. The unit as a whole finished third in yards allowed, and picked up 20 turnovers. However, the offense’s 24 turnovers gave them a negative difference on the year. If that isn’t a perfect metaphor for the 49er’s situation, I don’t know what is.


Tier 2: With a little bit of luck

Last year, Tom Brady’s Buccaneers won the Super Bowl despite being a middle seed in the playoffs. These are the teams that could potentially emulate them.

10. New England Patriots

The least likely to are the team that had Brady before he left for the Bucs, the New England Patriots. Unfortunately for fans of other teams hoping for an end to the greatest dynasty of all time, the Patriots are good again. After last year had many football fans questioning Bill Belicheck’s legacy and whether Brady was the spark plug for the Patriots’ six championships, Belicheck has shown he can develop a different quarterback to play boring football for a playoff team. While the Patriots have been streaky throughout the year, their all-around skill should make them a formidable opponent in the first round or beyond.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Meanwhile, another big surprise team in the AFC is the Cincinnati Bengals. They play in the AFC North, which is considered one of the best divisions in the NFL. This makes it even crazier that the Bengals beat the odds and became the division winner with the lowest odds to do so in the preseason. This surprise playoff berth has been instigated largely by rookie wideout Ja’Marr Chase, whose 1,455 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns make him a top contender for rookie of the year. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990. Will Chase end that streak? If so, he’d emulate the next team on this list, the Buffalo Bills, who ended their long history of playoff woes last year with an AFC conference championship appearance. 

8. Buffalo Bills

The Bills started off their season with a bang, going 5-2 with both of their losses to teams that are now in the playoffs. However, a very poor showing against the league-worst Jacksonville Jaguars sent them spiraling, and they went 2-4 in the next six games. However, they finished their season on a four game winning streak, which is exactly the type of momentum you’d want to finish the season. Can it hold up? If the offense does, the answer is yes. The Bills are 11-2 when they score more than 25 points, and 0-4 when they don’t reach that mark. Given that their first round opponents are the defensively minded Patriots, this could be a tough goal to accomplish. But if anyone can do it, it’s Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs.

7. Dallas Cowboys

Another offensively charged team is the Dallas Cowboys, although their defense has improved this season. The Cowboys defense garnered a league best 14 turnovers. This is paired with the stellar offense, which led the league in yards gained. Led by Dak Prescott, the offensive unit is a guarantee to do well against any team. However, the Cowboys will need to emphasize the D in Dallas to become a force to be reckoned with in the NFC.

6. Arizona Cardinals

The final team in this tier is the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals burst out of the gate with a 7-0 start, but faded into a team that looked just good down the stretch. This included a loss to one of the worst teams in the NFL, the Detroit Lions. This led to them losing their division lead to the Rams, and getting the wild card, meaning no home game in the first round. Since they are playing the Rams for the third time in the first round, and they are coming off a loss against them during the aforementioned three game losing streak, a home game would have been a huge boost for the Cards. Will they be able to figure out their problems in time for the postseason? We’ll see on Monday.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and possible AFC champion Patrick Mahomes gets ready to take the snap against Washington (All-Pro Reels)

Tier 1: The Favorites

The NFL loves to preach parity, but it comes as no surprise that every team on this list has all made a conference championship within the last three years. The Super Bowl champion will be one of these five teams.

5. Kansas City Chiefs

The AFC’s top contenders are weaker, but they are here because the AFC has to put someone in the big game. Kansas City has looked off this year, but even their worst is among the NFL’s best, as they were one of the top seeds this year. An eight game winning streak was the highlight of their season, with several blowout wins over playoff-caliber teams.

4. Tennessee Titans

Tennessee suffered a loss in the middle of the year when star running back Derrick Henry suffered a foot injury. However, they have rallied and are now the AFC’s one seed. While some of this can be attributed to an easy schedule including bottom feeders like the Texans and Jaguars, it is foolish to deny the Titans’ talent on both sides of the ball.

3. Los Angeles Rams

Now the National Football Conference is more of a dogfight.  While teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals could pull off a run, the NFC champion- and likely Super Bowl champion— will be one of the top three teams. For the Rams, the key will be to limit turnovers. Matthew Stafford has been a little too wild with the ball for the past few weeks, and while that turned out fine against second-rate teams like the Seattle Seahawks, it will be a death sentence against the top tier of the NFL.

2. Green Bay Packers

The biggest challengers to the Buccaneers are the Green Bay Packers and hometown Los Angeles Rams. The Packers’ x-factor will be their rushing attack. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are all but guaranteed to do well, but if the Packers can utilize the run in the frigid Green Bay weather, they will roll over the competition. Leading rushers AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones combined for 100.5 yard a game. This will likely be enough, but considering that they missed this mark quite a few times, the Packers can’t be considered locks.


1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Leading the pack are the defending champion Buccaneers, led by seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, who led the league in passing yards at age 44. The Buccaneers have previously been led by a stellar defense, and they still had one this season. However, several players on the Bucs are injured, including stars like Shaquil Barrett and Richard Sherman. This means that the offense will have to pick up their slack. But if any quarterback can do it, it’s Tom Brady.

The defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Mike Evans, take the field


The Kansas City Chiefs are the team that will come out of the AFC, though not without a fight. As for the NFC, I think that playoff Tom Brady will take over and the Buccaneers will represent the NFC. In a rematch of last year’s Super Bowl, the result will likely be:

Kansas City Chiefs 24-35 Tampa Bay Buccaneers


So much for Tom Brady’s decline!