• A lethal QB-TE connection: The Kansas City Chiefs' biggest strength is the tandem of quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, who frequently gash opposing defenses.
• Vikings' coverage problems: Minnesota is the current No. 2 seed in the NFC, but a shaky coverage unit could derail what has been a sensational season to this point.
• The up-and-down Buccaneers: Tom Brady is playing well enough, although Tampa Bay has looked anything but solid so far this season.
Estimated Reading Time: 7 mins
The NFL playoffs loom large, which means it’s time to start looking at what those prospective contenders are bringing to the table in January football. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the teams currently in line for a playoff berth ahead of Week 13?
Note: Seeding is based on teams' standing after Week 12
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Biggest Strength: Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce
The Chiefs might have the most potent quarterback-receiver duo in football. Travis Kelce is unstoppable, with passes thrown his way this season generating a 131.3 passer rating across more than 100 targets.
Biggest Weakness: Coverage
Kansas City has some talented coverage players, but when the ball goes in the air this season, they are allowing a 108.9 passer rating, which ranks 30th in the league. This team is comfortable in shootouts, and they might have to continue to be unless that changes.
2. Miami Dolphins
Biggest Strength: Tyreek Hill
Miami’s offense is the best in the NFL by expected points added per play with Tua Tagovailoa on the field, and there are a lot of elements working well, but it feels like the most credit belongs to Tyreek Hill. He leads the NFL with 3.5 yards per route run this season. No other receiver is above 2.76.
Biggest Weakness: Offensive line depth
Adding Terron Armstead in the offseason was huge, but he has a history of injuries and already missed time this season twice. When he is out of the lineup, the contingency plans are a disaster. Brandon Shell and Greg Little have each played over 90 snaps at left tackle for Miami this season. and each has a sub-20.0 pass-blocking grade at that position.
3. Tennessee Titans
Biggest Strength: Derrick Henry
Some 85% of Henry’s rushing yards this season have come after contact. He is the only running back to gain more than 80% of their yards after contact. Tennessee’s offensive line has been well below its usual standard, but Henry is still able to generate his own production most of the time.
Biggest Weakness: Pass protection
Tennessee’s line ranks 28th in pass-blocking efficiency over the season while sporting the league’s worst PFF pass-blocking grade. Injuries have depleted an already struggling offensive line, and three of their current starters have PFF pass-blocking grades of 50.2 or worse.
4. Baltimore Ravens
Biggest Strength: Lamar Jackson
Jackson remains a unique player in the NFL and a totally different prospect to any other quarterback for defenses to contend with. He has the fourth-highest big-time throw rate (5.0%) in the league while averaging 6.9 yards per carry as a rusher.
Biggest Weakness: Double-digit leads
For some reason, Baltimore has successfully thrown away nearly every dominant position they have been in this season. They have built commanding, double-digit leads against even elite teams and managed to blow the game late. There’s no obvious reason that should keep repeating, but as long as it does, it’s their biggest flaw as a playoff side.
5. Buffalo Bills
Biggest Strength: Josh Allen
The Bills' offense is built on the back of Allen. He is the player they turn to when they need a big play, and so often he delivers. He leads the NFL with 30 big-time throws and has 40 rushing first downs, 19 of them key conversions on third or fourth down.
Biggest Weakness: Turnovers (from Josh Allen)
Allen's propensity for mistakes has skyrocketed this season. Maybe it’s all down to his UCL injury (though they were apparent even before that), but critical turnovers have killed the Bills in their losses this season. In their three defeats, Allen has a whopping 12 turnover-worthy plays.
6. Cincinnati Bengals
Biggest Strength: Offensive variety
Last season, Cincinnati’s success was built on Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase connection. This season, the team was forced to win games with Chase absent for a few weeks and did it in multiple different ways, from Joe Mixon to Tee Higgins. That makes this offense more dangerous than it was a season ago.
Biggest Weakness: Cornerback
The Bengals actually allow the sixth-lowest passer rating in the league (89.4), but without Chidobe Awuzie, their outside cornerbacks are a glaring weakness. Eli Apple has a 48.4 PFF coverage grade and is allowing a 95.6 passer rating when targeted, and Tre Flowers has a 47.5 grade to pair with a 119.4 rating allowed.
7. New York Jets
Biggest Strength: Pass rush
The Jets rank fifth in the league in pressure rate (38.0%) and blitz the least often of any team (15.8%). They rely on their front four to get pressure, and they do so — consistently.
Biggest Weakness: Quarterback
It may be a smaller weakness than it was with Zach Wilson at quarterback, but the Jets could be entering a playoff picture featuring the likes of Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes with Mike White under center. That’s just playing with a different caliber weapon.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Biggest Strength: The offensive line
Philadelphia’s offensive line has ranked No. 1 in PFF’s rankings every week of the season, including the preseason rankings entering the year. There is no weak link among the starting five, and they can both run block and pass protect at an extremely high level.
Biggest Weakness: Receiving depth
A.J. Brown has been transformative to this offense, and it’s difficult to find a real weakness on the roster overall, but we have seen since the Eagles lost Dallas Goedert that the depth isn’t able to absorb a key loss without incident. Brown and DeVonta Smith account for 157 targets. The next-highest player beyond Goedert has just 22.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Biggest Strength: Justin Jefferson
Jefferson is proving to be virtually unstoppable this season. His 1,232 receiving yards and 2.76 yards per route run each rank second to Tyreek Hill, and passes thrown his way have generated a 111.1 passer rating. His 16 contested catches also leads the league.
Biggest Weakness: Coverage
Minnesota’s defense this season is giving up a 105.7 passer rating, ahead of only the Cleveland Browns. Patrick Peterson is having his best season in years, but the cornerback situation outside of him has been problematic. Peterson is the only Minnesota corner allowing a passer rating under 108.9 into his coverage.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Biggest Strength: Matchup nightmares on offense
No team can boast the same embarrassment of riches as the 49ers when it comes to matchup players on offense. Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk all boast incredibly unique skill sets that can all be deployed at once even before you account for the likes of Kyle Juszczyk.
Biggest Weakness: Interior offensive line
It hasn’t been a major issue so far, but all three starters on the interior for the 49ers have overall PFF grades below 65.0 and can be overwhelmed in the run game or as pass-blockers.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Biggest Strength: Tom Brady
Brady is still playing pretty well in spite of everything in Tampa Bay, with 24 big-time throws and one of the lowest turnover-worthy play rates (1.9%) in the league. If the Bucs make the postseason, playoff Brady brings an unrivaled amount of experience to the table.
Biggest Weakness: Inconsistency
Tampa Bay has a losing record right now not because everybody is playing terribly, but because nobody can play well consistently, and the bouts of bad undermine everything. If they can’t shake off that inconsistency, they may not even make the postseason.
5. Dallas Cowboys
Biggest Strength: Pass rush
Dallas has the league’s most potent pass rush. They lead the league in pressure rate (41.8%) while dialing up blitzes and stunts to ever-increase the efficiency of the pressure they apply on opposing quarterbacks. Micah Parsons has 54 pressures this season and is one of the game’s most unstoppable players.
Biggest Weakness: Run defense
The Cowboys as a team has a 47.5 PFF run-defense grade, ranking 27th. They surrender 4.7 yards per carry (23rd) and have been gashed at times by teams that can run the ball well.
6. New York Giants
Biggest Strength: The run game
The best-graded facet of play the Giants have is the run game. They rank fourth in yards before contact per carry (1.8) despite an offensive line that isn’t good, and Saquon Barkley looks as potent as he ever has in his career, averaging 2.8 yards per carry after contact.
Biggest Weakness: The offensive line
Andrew Thomas is playing at an All-Pro level at left tackle this season, but the rest of the line is a mess. The other four starters average 54.0 overall PFF grades, undermining everything the Giants want to do on offense.
7. Washington Commanders
Biggest Strength: The defensive line
Even with Chase Young yet to make his debut this season working back from injury, the Washington defensive front is still formidable. Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen each have over 40 pressures on the season, and three of the four starters up front have at least 26 defensive stops.
Biggest Weakness: Inevitable quarterback regression
The only quarterback with a worse PFF passing grade than Taylor Heinicke this season is Zach Wilson, who just got benched. Heinicke has a turnover-worthy play rate (6.1%) almost double that of Carson Wentz, and his receivers have dropped only one of his passes. Every Heinicke number screams statistical regression, and if that happens, Washington stops winning games.