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  • Writer's pictureStone Lexington

Updated NFL power rankings: Bills lose heartbreaker, Ravens roll, Lions roar into NFC title game


Patrick Mahomes
 

The Divisional Round of the 2024 NFL playoffs has concluded, and the conference championship games are set. This past weekend didn’t go as some teams had planned, but their overall season can be looked at as a success.


Despite losses in the Divisional Round, the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans have promising young quarterbacks and rosters, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went further this season than most expected. While those teams will have to wait until next season for another chance to reach the Super Bowl, there are teams that remain alive with an opportunity to capture this year’s ultimate prize. Below are the teams that sit atop the latest NFL power rankings.



5


Buffalo Bills

While there may be silver linings for three of the four teams that lost in the Divisional Round, the same cannot be said for the Buffalo Bills. The Bills and superstar quarterback Josh Allen had aspirations of finally getting past the final boss that is the Kansas City Chiefs, but they came up a few plays short once again. The disappointment could be felt in the quarterback’s words after the game.


“It sucks,” Allen said after a long pause when asked to put into words his frustration with not getting past the Chiefs. “Losing sucks. Losing to them more than anybody, at home. It sucks.”


Buffalo has now lost to the Chiefs in the playoffs in three of the last four years. The first was a 38-24 loss in the AFC Championship game in the 2020 season, immediately followed by a 42-36 overtime loss in a Divisional Round thriller the next season. But, both of those games were played in Kansas City, and the Bills had the Chiefs right where they wanted them on Sunday — in Buffalo.


There were many different factors that played into why Buffalo came up short against Kansas City once again, but Bills kicker Tyler Bass missing a game-tying 44-yard field goal with 1:47 remaining in regulation didn’t help. It’ll be interesting to see what changes the Bills make in the offseason, whether it be player personnel or within the coaching staff.



4


Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions’ magical ride continued with their 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Lions quarterback Jared Goff threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns against Tampa Bay, while rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs electrified the Bucs’ defense. Gibbs rushed nine times for 74 yards on Sunday, including a 31-yard explosion into the end zone in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter that gave Detroit the lead for good.


With the win over Tampa Bay, the Lions have reached the conference championship game for the first time since 1991 and have an opportunity to play in their first-ever Super Bowl if they can defeat the San Francisco 49ers this weekend. An interesting nugget about the matchup with San Francisco is that Goff, a former No. 1 overall pick, will face the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. Either Goff will reach his second Super Bowl with his second franchise, or Purdy will reach his first Super Bowl in only his second season as a pro.




3


Kansas City Chiefs

This looked like the season that the Kansas City Chiefs would not return to the AFC Championship game. This looked like the season that Patrick Mahomes’ receivers would let him down. This looked like the season that the significant departures from Kansas City would catch up to the franchise. Yet in still, the Chiefs will play in their sixth straight conference title game on Sunday.


Kansas City will be an underdog when the team visits the Ravens in Baltimore this weekend. It will be the second straight game where the Chiefs won’t be favored, which seems slightly silly considering their reign of terror over the league for the past half-decade. This postseason, Travis Kelce has looked like he’s back to his All-Pro form after having a down regular season by his standards, Isiah Pacheco has provided Kansas City’s running game with a jolt of lightning, and the biggest pop star in the world is donning Chiefs apparel while screaming her lungs out in box suites. In a season in which many thought this wouldn’t be Kansas City’s year, the Chiefs may have everything going for them once again.






2


San Francisco 49ers

With a thrilling 24-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday, the San Francisco 49ers earned their third straight NFC Championship game appearance. Trailing 21-17 with 6:18 remaining in the fourth quarter, the 49ers began the drive that would extend their season. Starting at his own 31-yard line, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy converted three first downs on a 12-play drive that ended with Christian McCaffrey scampering into the end zone from six yards away with 1:07 left to play. On the ensuing possession, Packers quarterback Jordan Love threw a game-ending interception.


While this will be San Francisco’s third straight championship game appearance, they’ve lost the previous two. One key difference is that their last two championship game appearances were both on the road; this season they will host the NFC Championship game. Whether the 49ers will have star receiver Deebo Samuel against the Detroit Lions on Sunday remains a mystery. Samuel suffered a shoulder injury in the first half of the victory over Green Bay and did not return. He’s currently listed as questionable for this weekend’s contest.



1


Baltimore Ravens

With a 34-10 destruction of the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens have reached the AFC Championship game for the first time since the 2012 season. The Ravens are hoping this season ends the same way that one did, with a Super Bowl title. Lamar Jackson controlled the game against Houston, completing 72 percent of his passes (16-22) and tossing two touchdowns. He also rushed 11 times for 100 yards and two more scores, keeping the Texans’ defense completely off balance. It was an MVP-like performance from the likely NFL MVP. Jackson will likely need another MVP performance this weekend to out-dual Patrick Mahomes.








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