Gridiron Great Top 11 (Week 18) - Playoff Edition

The NFL regular season is in the books. There are 14 teams left vying for the Super Bowl title. Let’s rank the top 14 remaining teams, complete with Super Bowl odds and a note on what they’ll need to do to advance.

Gridiron Great Top 11 (Week 18)

#14. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-7 (+4500/+12,000) - The Steelers have defied the odds just to get here. Now without TJ Watt to put pressure on Allen and the Bills offense, the Steelers are looking at a one-and-done.

#13. Tampa Bay 9-8 (+2800/+6000) - The Bucs were supposed to be rebuilding this season and QB Baker Mayfield was a stopgap. Instead, they are NFC South Champs and will host the struggling Eagles in round one. This is a winnable opener for the Bucs.

#12. Houston Texans 10-7 (+1800/+5000) - What a rookie year for CJ Stroud. He’s got his team back in the playoffs and a division title under his belt. Can he include a playoff win as well? The Texans have the defense now to be competitive but it may be asking Stroud too much to beat this Browns’ defense, even at home.

#11. Green Bay Packers 9-8 (+4000/+9000) - The Packers were able to do in this draft the thing they were unable to do toward the end of Aaron Rodgers’ tenure: add a slew of young, exciting WRs via the draft. The beneficiary has been Jordan Love. The Packers are dynamic offensively but may not have the defense to keep up with Dallas’ high-scoring offense in the Wildcard round.

#10. Cleveland Browns 11-6 (+1200/+3000) - Will the Joe Flacco Experience come to an end in the playoffs? First up will be a young Texans team that doesn’t realize they’re not supposed to be here so soon. If Flacco can minimize turnovers and the Browns’ defense steps up, the Browns could be in Baltimore in the divisional round. Flacco vs. the Ravens? Now that sounds juicy!

#9. LA Rams 10-7 (+2000/+4000) - The Rams are a scary matchup in the playoffs. They can run the football, have a Super Bowl-tested QB, and have a young, hungry defense. They are, however, playing a team with all the same attributes in the opening round.

#8. Philadelphia Eagles 11-6 (+800/+1800) - The Eagles have crumbled down the stretch but they still have the talent to regroup. Jalen Hurts gives them a fighting chance every game they’re in and the Eagles might be better served to refocus their energy running the football. Their first test will be on the road at Tampa Bay.

#7. Miami Dolphins 11-6 (+1000/+1800) - The Dolphins have taken hit after hit on both sides of the ball due to injuries down the stretch. They should get some key offensive players back this week and they have the firepower to bother a Chiefs team that just can’t score like they have in the past.

#6. Kansas City Chiefs 12-5 (+500/+1000) - The Chiefs were my preseason favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. I didn’t anticipate the dropoff in TE Travis Kelce’s game or that even Patrick Mahomes needs some real receivers. They have a tough opening matchup against old friend Tyreek Hill and the high-scoring Dolphins.

#5. Detroit Lions 12-5 (+800/+1800) - There are two teams that look capable of upending the Niners in my eyes, and they square off in Detroit this week. The Lions will need to rely heavily on their ground game as they try to upend a dangerous Rams team while possibly playing without star TE Joey LaPorta.

#4. Dallas Cowboys 12-5 (+320/+750) - My preseason pick to win the Super Bowl, the Cowboys still have the pieces. They will likely have to find a way to win a road game against the Niners to do it. First up for the Cowboys, a very scrappy Packers team.

#3. Buffalo Bills 11-6 (+250/+650) - For each of the past two seasons, the Bills were among the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. This year, they looked down and out but they changed OCs and are likely the best bet to upend the Ravens in the playoffs. They open against a Steelers team that will be missing TJ Watt.

#2. Baltimore Ravens 13-4 (+120/+310) - Lamar Jackson has likely earned his second MVP award. Can he win two playoff games to get to the playoffs? He’s only won one playoff game in his career at this point. The team that should scare the Ravens is the Buffalo Bills.

#1. SF 49ers 12-5 (-125/+220) - The Niners have trounced the Eagles and Cowboys this year, the two teams that were considered the biggest threats to an NFC Championship for the Niners. Two teams that could give them a problem because of their ability to run the football, the Lions and Rams, square off on Wildcard Weekend.

Upset Alert: We finished the season strong to close at 13-10 with resounding wins by the Lions and Saints. With the playoffs upon us, I’ll give you one line that has me thinking upset heading into the weekend.

#1. Miami (+4) at KC: The talk all week will be Miami’s 0-10 record in the last ten games they’ve played in temps below 40 degrees. I recall this team giving the Bills all they could handle in the snow in Buffalo in last year’s playoffs. They can run the ball, which is key against the Chiefs, and Hill is a huge X-factor against his old team. These aren’t the Chiefs of old that can score with anyone. If the Dolphins jump out early, the Chiefs will be in big trouble.

*Odds in parenthesis are to win the conference and then the Super Bowl. All odds courtesy of

By Mark Ruelle

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Mark Ruelle

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.