With only two weeks left in the 2023 NFL regular season, there’s a better indication which contending teams are set to be dangerous in the playoffs and which fading teams are working to take something positive into 2024. Week 16 provided a good mix of marquee matchups and other separation games..
When Christmas is here and the New Year is around the corner, the stakes are raised all-around for final positioning in the standings. Here’s unwrapping the latest edition of Sporing News’ power rankings, 1-32:
NFL power rankings Week 17
1. Baltimore Ravens 12-3 (previous week: 2)
The Ravens proved their nasty, versatile deep pass rush that includes a resurgent Jadeveon Clowney backed by find secondary play is a massive asset against any high-flying offense with their pressure and interception fun in San Francisco on Monday night. Lamar Jackson also might be MVP again to boot.
2. San Francisco 49ers 11-4 (1)
The 49ers were living the dream with Brock Purdy and the offense until Trent Williams got hurt again and then Purdy got rocked too much by the Ravens. San Francisco remains the team to beat in the NFC with still only one conference loss (Vikings) as it has fallen three times to AFC North foes..
3. Miami Dolphins 11-4 (3)
The Dolphins came through with a big win thanks to their defense setting the tone against the Cowboys’ offense to make it a lot easier on their no-longer automatic scoring attack. That was Tua Tagovailoa’s most impressive performance in a way, to come through in a non-shootout, building more confidence for the Ravens’ fight next week.
4. Detroit Lions 11-4 (4)
The Lions got their running game rolling again in Minnesota to take pressure off Jared Goff, and even though their defense gave up some big plays, it came up with more in return to spark the taking of a first division title in 30 years. Detroit wants to keep its breakthrough momentum into the playoffs.
5. Philadelphia Eagles 11-4 (5)
The Eagles saw their issues with trying to find the same balanced, explosive offense of last season and defending the pass catch up to them during their three-game losing streak. But they got well big-time against the Giants and now can still end up with a top-two seed and the division title with Jalen Hurts back to being more like himself with help from the run.
6. Cleveland Browns 10-5 (8)
The Browns have gone beyond the point of Joe Flacco being a strong QB fill-in to their best QB, period this season, as he is locked into top weapons Amari Cooper and David Njoku and the defense is responding with even more playmaking energy knowing it doesn’t have all the winning burden anymore.
7. Buffalo Bills 9-6 (9)
The Bills seem to go up and down with their identity around Josh Allen’s playmaking, whether to be about running and methodical passing or high-risk, high-reward attacking. Their defense is still having ups and downs. But it looks like overall they are putting it together as a dangerous team again for the playoffs.
8. Kansas City Chiefs 9-6 (6)
The Chiefs haven’t had a reliable, consistent, high-scoring offense around Patrick Mahomes and now injuries are playing a bigger factor. But their defense remains a strength to keep them in every game. They need many more signs of Mahomes and Andy Reid figuring it out with more help from the running backs.
9. Dallas Cowboys 10-5 (7)
The Cowboys dropped here after losing to another quality AFC East opponent, Miami, on the road, after just losing at Buffalo. They are sliding at the wrong with the Eagles ready to rebound and the Lions set to match up well against them in Week 17.
10. Los Angeles Rams 8-7 (14)
The Rams’ offense is difficult to stop now with rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua and second-year running back Kyren Williams being equal centerpieces to Cooper Kupp. Matthew Stafford is playing his best, cleanest ball. There’s also more confidence from the defense in being a complementary force despite giving up some big plays.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-7 (17)
The Buccaneers flexed again offensively with Baker Mayfield feeling the groove with Mike Evans, Rachaad White and others. They have become a worthier NFC South champion-to-be than Tom Brady’s last season, overcoming a lot of defensive injuries for Todd Bowles, who’s done a bang-up coaching job.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-7 (16)
Go figure the big breakout from the passing game would come from Mason Rudolph guiding George Pickens to big plays on Christmas weekend. Just when it looked really bottoming out for Mike Tomlin with all the defensive injuries, they found life at the right time.
13. Seattle Seahawks 8-7 (18)
The Seahawks got a much-needed gritty road victory over the Titans to follow up the huge upset of the Eagles in Week 16. They’re looking better for a wild-card spot, thanks to their improving pass defense.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars 8-7 (12)
What was that? The Jaguars had more of Trevor Lawrence starting, but the offense went into the tank again in Tampa with no running game and a disjointed passing game, which is on Doug Pederson and Press Taylor. The pass defense continues to unravel at the wrong time, too.
15. Houston Texans 8-7 (10)
The Texans are suddenly lost without key rookies C.J. Stroud and Tank Dell for their offense and their pass defense has now completely fallen apart with more injuries, most notably to rookie pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. The once-promising playoff chances are on life support now.
16. Cincinnati Bengals 8-7 (11)
Jake Browning may have lost one too many weapon with Ja’Marr Chase not available and the sample size remains small. Cincinnati has done well to stay alive without Joe Burrow, but getting swept badly by Pittsburgh without him might be enough to keep it out of a wild-card playoff spot.
17. Indianapolis Colts 8-7 (13)
The Colts have been doing their best to further their AFC playoff agenda with more offensive and defensive consistency under Shane Steichen, but both sides seem to be a roller coaster, even when it looks like things are trending well in one way. Their Cinderella story might be ending in the South soon, too.
18. Denver Broncos 7-8 (15)
The Broncos were the one surging AFC wild-card hopeful that couldn’t get above .500 in Week 16, turning in a poor overall performance on all three phases in falling to the Patriots at home on Sunday night. Russell Wilson and Sean Payton just dug themselves too big of a hole out of which to climb early.
19. Las Vegas Raiders 7-8 (22)
The Raiders have gotten their inspirational big-time play with Antonio Pierce’s interim coaching but their lack of offensive and defensive consistency is a reality there’s a lot of cleaning up to do around key pieces next season, starting with Maxx Crosby.
20. Green Bay Packers 7-8 (21)
The Packers’ defense continues to give it up to passing games when leading game but credit Jordan Love and the offense to keep on the right future path with ever-changing skill personnel because of injuries.
21. Minnesota Vikings 7-8 (19)
The Vikings are doing their best to get good QB play minus Kirk Cousins, but the turnovers remain the issue and now more injuries have hit their receiving corps. The defense can’t hold up well that way, putting the wild-card hopes on the edge.
22. New Orleans Saints 7-8 (20)
The Saints’ defense breaking down vs. run and pass has been the story of why Dennis Allen’s team as underachieved as easy favorites in a weak NFC South. Also Derek Carr is playing OK too late.
23. Atlanta Falcons 7-8 (23)
The Falcons got a much-needed win from dominating with defense and running game vs. the Colts. With it, they stayed in both the AFC South and wild-card races, in better shape for the former more so than the later. Arthur Smith just needs to figure out a consistent identity in the final two games.
24. Chicago Bears 6-9 (24)
The Bears are building on something nice for 2023 and Matt Eberflus’ defensive work and Justin Fields’ steady improvement should tell them to be patient with that combination for 2024.
25. New York Jets 6-9 (25)
The Jets got into a strange wild shootout with the Commanders, showing some of their offensive pop with a competent QB in Trevor Siemian. That bodes well for faring much better with Aaron Rodgers in 2024.
26. New England Patriots 4-11 (29)
The Patriots are playing hard with new offensive life thanks to Bailey Zappe. Their defense still frustrates and their special teams also is a big asset in close games. There’s no quit in the potential last few games with Bill Belichick.
27. New York Giants 5-10 (26)
The Giants fought hard again vs. the Eagles but their offensive issues simply refused to go away with Tommy DeVito. Brian Daboll is trying to save more face with Tyod Taylor in the final two games.
28. Tennessee Titans 5-10 (27)
The Titans have been limited offensively all season with not much beyond Derrick Henry, DeAndre Hopkins and Tyjae Spears, either running or passing. The QB has mattered little. More big changes are ahead for Mike Vrabel’s team.
29. Los Angeles Chargers 5-10 (28)
The Chargers get credit for balling out with Easton Stick and Giff Smith vs. the Bills, but that heartbreaking game also showed their key issues defensively and offensively, both tied a lot to injuries. They are playing hard to tap better into their talent upside with a new coach in 2024.
30. Arizona Cardinals 3-12 (30)
Jonathan Gannon has done OK with limited defensive parts and the offense has found a little something with a healthy Kyler Murray, despite not having key pieces around him available. Look for aggressive investment in talent on both sides with good money and draft capital available.
31. Washington Commanders 4-11 (31)
The Commanders are already at a crossroads with whether Sam Howell is done with his one-year audition to be their full-time starting QB. Lot of changes are bound to happen soon on both sides with Ron Rivera not expected back.
32. Carolina Panthers 2-13 (32)
The Panthers showed a lot of fight again at home under interim coach Chris Tabor and have some positive signs to take into Year 2 with Bryce Young. The defense already has been impressive with key components, but the offensive potential is still the draw for the next coach.
Source : ESPN.com