NFL power rankings: Cowboys, Steelers flop after blowout losses; 49ers, Ravens battle at top for Week 16

Week 15 in the NFL brought some interest results as the league’s playoff picture came into clearer focus. Some powerhouses flexed their muscle, while a few fizzled. Further down the hierarchy, the muddled middle either is about more momentum or mediocrity.

Ahead of unwrapping a full slate of Christmas weekend games in the NFL, here’s the latest look at how all 32 teams now stack up against each other with just three weeks left in the 2023 regular season:

WEEK 16 PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread

NFL power rankings Week 16

1. San Francisco 49ers 11-3 (previous week: 1)

The 49ers kept their offense rolling with Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey looking like they should be co-NFL MVPs. They easily clipped the wings of the Seahawks, Eagles and Cardinals of late to make it six consecutive wins after the bye and now will try to do the same vs. the Ravens in a possible Super Bowl preview.

2. Baltimore Ravens 11-3 (3)

The Ravens have won eight of nine games and will look to pass another NFC West test after taking it to the Cardinals, Seahawks and Rams in different ways. They have definitely done their part in the AFC, ripping the Jaguars with the Dolphins looming in Week 17. Lamar Jackson and the defense are taking turns getting it done.

3. Miami Dolphins 10-4 (5)

The Dolphins proved they are a complete team as they destroyed the Jets without Tyreek Hill, thanks to Jaylen Waddle and Raheem Mostert doing enough damage. The defense also is starting to make big plays all the time and is bound to grow in confidence after pitching a relentless shutout.

4. Detroit Lions 10-4 (7)

The Lions got back on track at home on Saturday with the elite running game plowing through a porous Broncos un defense. That returning development also resettled Jared Goff at home to play well and inspired the defense. They can now feel better about their playoff dangerous status as soon-to-be new division champions.

5. Philadelphia Eagles 10-4 (4)

The Eagles coming off being destroyed by the 49ers and Cowboys to end a brutal stretch of games, stayed cold offensively and dropped a big game late at the Seahawks on Monday night. The health of Jalen Hurts should feel like a bigger concern now and the team is desperate for defensive answers.

6. Kansas City Chiefs 9-5 (6)

The Chiefs didn’t care about style points against the Patriots but a funny thing happened: They rose to the occasion with their offensive scheming when challenged more and ended up scoring plenty of Chiefs-like points. Also, their defense can almost carry them at times.

7. Dallas Cowboys 10-4 (2)

The Cowboys were looking great with Dak Prescott and seemed like they were positioned to make a statement at the Bills. Instead they were literally run over by a Buffalo stampede, throwing away their good fortune of beating Philadelphia soundly last week at home with a bad overall blowout loss on the road.

8. Cleveland Browns 9-5 (8)

The Browns held steady by rallying to beat the Bears with throwback late-game heroics by Joe Flacco. Their defense kept them in the game by containing another team at home, despite the Hail Mary scare. They will try to hold on as a top wild card now with the Texans and Bengals among the final three opponents.

MORE: Breaking down the Bills’ playoff chances after Week 15

9. Buffalo Bills 8-6 (11)

The Bills finally played another complete dominant game to throw down against the Cowboys at the most opportune time to keep their AFC wild-card and East division chances alive and well. Go figure they did it mostly with James Cook’s running and the defense with little from Josh Allen.

10. Houston Texans 8-6 (12)

The Texans didn’t have C.J. Stroud (and many of his key weapons) when playing at the Titans. They dug themselves a big hole and didn’t have Will Anderson Jr. on their defense. But somehow, they managed to fight through with Case Keenum, the running game and pass rush to maintain their AFC playoff push, making quite a “next man up” impression.

Jake Browning

11. Cincinnati Bengals 8-6 (14)

The Jake Browning show keeps producing big hits as the Bengals continue to show the dazzling strength of their offensive system under Zac Taylor and Brian Callahan. Now they need to worry about not having Ja’Marr Chase on top of Joe Burrow, however.

12. Jacksonville Jaguars 8-6 (9)

The Jaguars’ offense has been a roller-coaster with Trevor Lawrence’s inconsistent connection with key weapons and now that group is shorthanded. There’s also no consistency to using Travis Etienne. Jacksonville can still get hot and make a playoff run, but its need to be more complementary for its defense.

13. Indianapolis Colts 8-6 (15)

The Colts keep getting it done around Gardner Minshew, running with and passing to whoever it takes to keep the ball moving and scoring in Shane Steichen’s offense. He is making a sneaky strong coach of the year case.

14. Los Angeles Rams 7-7 (18)

Sean McVay has all the right pieces for Matthew Stafford offensively again with Puka Nacua, Kyren Williams and key linemen rejuvenated their QB right along with Cooper Kupp. Los Angeles is not just rolling with some of McVay’s best coaching; it has to the makeup to be dangerous again in the playoffs, this time as a wild card.

15. Denver Broncos 7-7 (10)

The Broncos’ major defensive issues in stopping the run and covering the tight end were a bad combination for their matchup in Detroit. It’s been their biggest obstacle in trying to rally for an AFC wild-card spot late under Sean Payton and they may not recover over the final three weeks.

Russell Wilson

16. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-7 (13)

The Steelers are spinning out of control without Kenny Pickett, showing how important he was to gluing together the offense despite not having any standout individual numbers. It’s not helping their defense has completely wilted in key areas for Mike Tomlin with injuries seeping in there, too. 

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-7 (19)

Baker Mayfield got into a groove in Green Bay and didn’t look back while locked into his weapons. He has proved to be a fine QB choice in Dave Canales’ offense with Rachaad White and Mike Evans boosting him big-time. They can keep feeling better about their chances to repeat as NFC South champions post Tom Brady.

18. Seattle Seahawks 7-7 (20)

The Seahawks’ offense has gotten some recent sparks from both Geno Smith and Drew Lock and the defense is looking more the force that Pete Carroll expected vs. the pass. They fought hard for a much-needed comeback victory at home over the Eagles to save their wild-card chances.

MORE: Breaking down Vikings’ playoff picture after Week 15

19. Minnesota Vikings 7-7 (16)

The Vikings got the sharper QB play they wanted from backup Nick Mullens as he helped wake up the downfield passing game. The running game also was elevated by backup Ty Chandler. But the defensive breakdowns against the pass came back to haunt them in Cincinnati and could still keep them out of the playoffs.

20. New Orleans Saints 7-7 (22)

The Saints finally got steady all-around play from Derek Carr by him spreading it all-around in a Chris Olave-less receiving corps, no less. But the big difference was the run defense and pass rush coming alive up front.

Aaron Jones

21. Green Bay Packers 6-8 (17)

The Packers have been a wild ride, going up twice and now down twice as NFC wild-card contenders. Jordan Love looks amazing at times, completely lost at other times, and not having a healthy, reliable running option in Aaron Jones enough has kept them in trouble. But the real problem is that an injury-marred defense is just getting ripped everywhere under Joe Barry.

22. Las Vegas Raiders 6-8 (28)

The Raiders are doing their best to get the full-time coaching job for Antonio Pierce with their 63-point plan but this feels like another Rich Bisaccia situation. No matter the inspiring and suddenly surprisingly explosive results, the Raiders are about to take another high-profile shot attached to a new franchise QB.

23. Atlanta Falcons 6-8 (21)

The Falcons continue to randomly either flop or succeed with Arthur Smith calling the offense for youngsters Desmond Ridder, Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts and Drake London. They are awful on the road as seen at the Panthers and much more put-together at home with the same talent. Looks Atlanta might be partying ways with another coach named Smith soon.

24. Chicago Bears 5-9 (23)

The Bears are playing much better defensively with Matt Eberflus having more healthy key talent on every level, but their offense continues to give limited help to a franchise-worthy Justin Fields. He needs another reliable weapon behind D.J. Moore, Cole Kmet.

25. New York Jets 5-9 (24)

The Jets didn’t totally crash without Aaron Rodgers thanks to their defensive strengths in many games, but injuries and ineffectiveness through a heavy winning burden seeped into causing to wil on the other side of a non-complementary offense.

Tommy DeVito

26. New York Giants 5-9 (25)

Enough with the Tommy DeVito overhype: This offense isn’t very good when Saquon Barkley isn’t rolling and Darren Waller remains limited. The defense has some pop up front at times vs. run and pass, but the back end needs major fixing for Brian Daboll and Wink Martindale.

27. Tennessee Titans 5-9 (26)

The Titans’ offensive line woes keep catching up to them, and now the concerns are on the defensive line vs. the run, which used to be a signature strength. Here’s hoping Will Levis is OK to keep showing them he easily deserves to stick as their starter all next season.

28. Los Angeles Chargers 5-9 (27)

The Chargers’ wheels came off offensively and defensively with their plleup of injuries and ineptitude, and it finally cost coach Brandon Staley his job. The goal now is just to play hard and show some fight with whoever’s left healthy for more upside under a new leader.

29. New England Patriots 3-11 (29)

The Bill Belichick rumors swirled before the Chiefs game and it seemed like there was a little more disinterest there in taking down a rival than there was in knocking off the Steelers in Week 14. He definitely was out-coached by Andy Reid at the exact wrong time.

Bill Belichick

30. Arizona Cardinals 3-11 (30)

The Cardinals’ defense is scrappy but there’s just not enough there for Jonathan Gannon yet to make it work the way he wants. The offense is showing more signs of life with Kyler Murray and James Conner back healthy together, something they can work to build on better in 2024.

31. Washington Commanders 4-10 (31)

The Commanders are battling of ton of injuries but after riding with Sam Howell through good and bad all season, made a curious late decision to bench him vs. the Rams. It seemed like a desperate spite measure by Ron Rivera and although Jacoby Brissett played well in relief, it adds a low cloud to what seemed to be a bright spot. It will be interesting to see if Howell’s sack and turnover woes would keep him from starting for a new coach next year.

32. Carolina Panthers 2-12 (32)

Bryce Young likes to play ugly battles of attrition as a rookie as his two wins have come in that form at home vs. the Texans and Falcons. Although Young has taken a lot of lumps and must improve his passing to live up to lofty No. 1 expectations in Year 2, there’s no questioning his leadership and intangibles.

Source : ESPN.com

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