NEW YORK (AP) — The playoff field is set and the race to the Super Bowl begins.
Thirteen other teams are trying to replace the Kansas City Chiefs as champions of the NFL.
However, none was able to knock off the Chiefs in the final AP Pro32 poll of the 2020 regular season.
There was very little movement in the top part of the poll as the Chiefs finished No. 1. They received 11 of the 12 first-place votes for 382 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.
The Green Bay Packers kept their spot at No. 2 and got the remaining first-place vote for 368 points.
“Aaron Rodgers likely surpassed Patrick Mahomes down the stretch in the MVP race, capping a brilliant regular season that featured an NFL-best 48 touchdown passes and just five interceptions,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said.
“Brilliant stuff from a 37-year-old quarterback who’s at the top of his game at just the right time for a Green Bay team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.”
The Chiefs and Packers each earned byes and will get some rest this weekend.
The Buffalo Bills stayed at No. 3. The Bills will open the playoffs on Saturday when they host the Indianapolis Colts, who remained at No. 10 in the poll.
“No team has more momentum entering the postseason than the Bills, who secured the AFC’s No. 2 seed with a 56-26 rout of Miami,” said Jenny Vrentas of The Monday Morning Quarterback.
“Josh Allen only needed one half to throw three touchdowns, putting a flourish on the best regular season for a Bills quarterback.”
The New Orleans Saints stayed at No. 4 and will host the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
“The top four teams look like Super Bowl contenders,” said Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk.
“The Bills have played the best lately and go into the postseason as the hottest team in the AFC if not the NFL, but the Super Bowl is going to go through Kansas City. Until someone knocks off the Chiefs, they are the favorites.”
The Bears didn’t lose any ground at No. 14 despite their 35-16 loss to the Packers.
The NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks and the AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers followed at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively.
Both teams will host division rivals in the playoffs. The Seahawks will face the Rams on Saturday. The teams split their two meetings in the regular season, but the Seahawks won the most recent matchup, in Week 16. The Rams moved up two spots to No. 11 after knocking out the Arizona Cardinals.
The Steelers host the Browns, who stayed at No. 12 in the poll. The Browns beat the Steelers last weekend to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season. They will head to Heinz Field on Sunday night to close out wild-card weekend and will be without coach Kevin Stefanski after he and two players and two other coaching staff members all tested positive for COVID-19.
“Steelers have found their edge in the final two games, should be scary in the playoffs,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said.
The Baltimore Ravens, the third team from the AFC North to make the playoffs, stayed at No. 7 and will face the Tennessee Titans in the postseason for the second consecutive year.
“As his unit continues to set records, how Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman isn’t at or near the top of the interview list among potential head coaching candidates is mind-boggling,” said Alex Marvez of Sirius XM.
“His system is unconventional by NFL standards — which is a good thing — and Roman has now successfully developed two young quarterbacks into top-tier players in Lamar Jackson and Colin Kaepernick back when he was with San Francisco.”
The Titans, who remained at No. 9 in the poll, upset the favored Ravens last year in the playoffs on their way to the AFC championship game.
The only team in the top 10 to lose any ground was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who slipped from a tie for seventh into eighth place despite closing out the regular season with a rout of the Atlanta Falcons. Tom Brady will play his first postseason game for the Buccaneers at Washington on Saturday night.
Washington, which finished 7-9 and won the NFC East, moved up a spot to No. 16 after topping Philadelphia in the last game of the regular season and was the lowest-ranked team to make the playoffs.
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