There is no drama at the top of these rankings.
After yet another easy win over a strong team, the 49ers are clearly the best squad in the NFL right now and have a great chance to go all the way if they stay healthy.
Things are interesting behind them, however.
The supposedly elite teams in the AFC can’t stop losing, the race for the final Wild Card spot in both conferences is on, and the NFC South exists.
NFL Power Rankings, 2023:
NFL Team Rankings:
1. San Francisco 49ers
I wanted to move the 49ers up to No. 1 before now given how they have played since the bye week, but the Eagles kept winning despite a tough schedule. That changed this week, with San Francisco throttling Philly 42-19. The 49ers have now blown out both the Cowboys and Eagles by a combined 84-29 scoreline. There is not much debate about the best team in the NFC right now even if Philly still holds the No. 1 seed.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens got to watch both the Chiefs and Jaguars lose during their bye week. Not a bad vacation. Baltimore has nothing but tough games left, starting with the Rams this week, but they have an open path to the No. 1 seed. Their game against the Dolphins in Week 17 could go a long way in deciding that.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
The magic ran out for the Eagles, and they were shredded by the 49ers 42-19. The warning signs had been there despite Philly’s big wins the last few weeks, especially on defense. Over the last five weeks, the Eagles rank 27th in yards per play allowed (5.8) and 29th in points per drive allowed (2.6). Now they travel to Dallas to face a Cowboys passing attack that has been on fire before another trip to face the Seahawks. The Eagles are still the No. 1 seed right now, but they have a fight on their hands to keep it.
4. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas was pushed all the way by the Seahawks, but they held on for the win in yet another good performance from Dak Prescott. Suddenly only one game back from the visiting Eagles, the Cowboys have a chance to make a play for the division at home this week before a tough run of games against the Bills, Dolphins, and Lions from Week 15 to Week 17.
5. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins beat the stuffing out of another bad team and currently sit as the No. 1 seed. It is what it is at this point. Miami has two more easy games before finishing with the Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills.
6. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs probably should be lower given what we have seen from them recently, but there is no one to drop them below due to the Lions’ recent struggles and the quarterback injuries. This team seemed to turn things around after going down 14-0 to the Raiders in Week 12, but it was more of the same for Kansas City in a loss to the Packers on Sunday night. The offense continues to struggle, and the once-strong defense has faltered a bit of late. The Chiefs are still in control of the division despite losing three of the last five, but their ceiling for this season is in serious question. A game this week against the Bills should provide some answers.
7. Detroit Lions
It looked like the Lions broke out of their haze when they quickly went up 21-0 on the Saints, but they let New Orleans hang around before holding on for a close win late. The last three weeks have been troubling for the Lions’ postseason outlook, especially with how strong the top three teams in the NFC have looked. The Lions will get to test themselves against the Cowboys in Week 17.
8. Houston Texans
It is disappointing the Texans allowed themselves to get into a close game with the Broncos, but they came out on top and are suddenly in a much better position in the division given the injury to Trevor Lawrence. A game against the Jets this week and then two against the Titans in the three weeks after that helps their case.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars could not slow down the Jake Browning-led Bengals and then lost Trevor Lawrence to what could be a multi-week ankle injury in their Monday night defeat. Riding high after their win over the Texans, the Jaguars now face an uncertain path to the postseason. Getting the Browns and Ravens over the next two weeks does not help matters.
10. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams got another good win against the Browns and are on a three-game streak following the bye. They get the Ravens this week and the 49ers in Week 18, but the rest of their schedule looks winnable. They have a real shot to make the playoffs, which would be a masterclass in coaching from Sean McVay.
11. Buffalo Bills
The good news is the field did not run away from the Bills during the bye week. The bad news is they still get the Chiefs and Cowboys over the next two weeks and then finish the season against the Dolphins. They probably need to win two of those games to make the playoffs.
12. Green Bay Packers
Once 2-5, the Packers have won four of their last five including wins over the Chargers, Lions, and Chiefs in the last three weeks. Jordan Love has grown into the starting job, and the defense is playing well enough to win. With the Giants, Bucs, Panthers, Vikings, and Bears left on the schedule, the path is there for the Packers to make the playoffs.
13. Seattle Seahawks
It was yet another loss, their fourth in five games, but the Seahawks actually looked competitive against the Cowboys on Thursday. That will need to continue with the 49ers and Eagles next up on the schedule. The Seahawks do not currently occupy a playoff spot, so they need to pick up at least one win in the next two weeks.
14. Indianapolis Colts
The defense is still not great, but the Colts have taken advantage of their schedule to win four in a row. They would be the No. 6 seed in the AFC if the regular season ended today. It doesn’t, obviously, and they face two important games against the Bengals and Steelers in the next two weeks.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Coming off a promising win over the Bengals following the offensive coordinator change, the Steelers lost Kenny Pickett for at least a couple of games and were embarrassed by the Cardinals. They do get the Patriots this week, but then it is four teams fighting for the playoffs after that including a Week 18 game against the Ravens.
16. Denver Broncos
The Broncos were able to play their game and drag the Texans into a rock fight, but Russell Wilson could not capture any magic in the fourth quarter, ending the game with three interceptions including one in the end zone on what amounted to the final play. Denver is still right in the playoff mix despite the loss, however, with a game against the Chargers on deck.
17. Cleveland Browns
The Rams pulled away late, but the Browns kept it close most of the game. More importantly, the offense looked functional with Joe Flacco at quarterback. They are barely hanging on to the playoffs right now, but Cleveland draws a Jaguars squad that likely will be without Trevor Lawrence this week.
18. Cincinnati Bengals
Okay then, Jake Browning. A great performance from the backup quarterback earned the Bengals a win on Monday night and kept them in the thick of the playoff picture in the AFC. The schedule could make things tough (Colts, Vikings, Steelers, Chiefs, Browns), but Cincy is at least in the mix.
19. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings lost two in a row heading into the bye week and could be looking at a quarterback change. Closing the season with the Raiders, the suddenly resurgent Bengals, two games against the Lions, and a game against the Packers will make their playoff push tricky.
20. Los Angeles Chargers
They all count, I guess. The Chargers walked away with a thrilling 6-0 victory over the helpless Patriots to move to 5-7. They are theoretically still in the playoff picture, but they will need to jump five teams and makeup two games to get into a Wild Card spot. That could be tough with the Broncos, Raiders, Bills, Broncos, and Chiefs to close things out.
21. Atlanta Falcons
It was not pretty, but the Falcons managed to outlast the Jets to get back to .500 and take a game lead in the division. If they can just win their three divisional games down the stretch, they will likely be in the playoffs.
22. New Orleans Saints
Despite spotting the Lions 21 early points and losing Derek Carr to yet another shoulder injury, the Saints fought back to make things close late. They are still just a game back of the Falcons and have a manageable schedule leading into a Week 18 game against Atlanta. It will be interesting to see what this offense looks like (more explosive?) if Jameis Winston gets a couple of starts.
23. Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders have been playing better since the coaching change, but they get four potential playoff teams over the final five weeks as well as the Chargers. It could be a tough road home.
24. Arizona Cardinals
The Rams game looks like a blip for a team that has now won two games and came close against the Texans since Kyler Murray returned to the lineup.
25. Chicago Bears
Chicago won two of three ahead of the bye and pushed the Lions to the limit in their other game. With the defense looking good, they have a chance to finish the season well.
26. Tennessee Titans
It was against the Colts, but the offense did get going enough to push a potential playoff team into overtime. They face more potential playoff teams each of the next five weeks, allowing them to potentially play spoiler.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A win is a win, but getting pushed that hard by the Panthers is not a great sign for the Bucs’ playoff push. Still, they are in the mix in the NFC South.
28. New York Giants
Tyrod Taylor is eligible to return, but the plan is to let it ride with the legend of Tommy DeVito. It probably does not matter either way for this season.
29. Washington Commanders
They have been out-scored 90-25 over the last two games, and things do not get much easier the rest of the way.
30. Carolina Panthers
Do you get a banner for being the first team eliminated from the playoffs? In all seriousness, the Panthers did push the Bucs, which was a good sign following the coaching change.
31. New York Jets
Imagine having to beg Zach Wilson to start for your football team.
32. New England Patriots
The Patriots are the first team EVER to allow 10 or fewer points in three straight games and still lose them all.