NFL Power Rankings, Week 13: Who’s Trending Up or Down after Thanksgiving?
Welcome back to another edition of the Fans First Sports Power Rankings! Over the last two weeks, we took a deep dive into the AFC and NFC conferences individually, ranking each team against only their fellow conference opponents.
The AFC has a massive middle class with no real separation at the top. It’s as wide open as I’ve ever seen. Meanwhile the NFC is extremely top heavy, with four real contenders and a bunch of also-rans.
This week, we’ll recombine the conferences and rank all 32 teams. As the playoff race hits another gear, let’s take a look at who’s trending up or down with Week 13 on the horizon.
1. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Trending Up. The Eagles were best described recently by Around the NFL’s Gregg Rosenthal as “a rich man’s Pittsburgh Steelers” and he is exactly right. It isn’t pretty, it’s often unbelievable in the moment, but this team just knows how to win. We’ll see if they keep it up against San Francisco and Dallas the next two weeks.
2. DALLAS COWBOYS
Trending Up. The Cowboys might have the most watchable offense in the league right now and it’s all riding on absolutely stellar play from QB Dak Prescott, who is a Top 5 NFL Quarterback and you can’t tell me otherwise. My Super Bowl pick is as good a team as any in the league.
3. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Trending Up. If you asked me which way they were trending last week, I’d have said down after losses in two of their last three, but the Raiders have always been a good cure for what ails the Chiefs, and a big showing by rookie WR Rashee Rice has me believing this team might be the AFC’s best yet again.
4. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Trending Up. Obviously. The 49ers have regained their early season dominance, and will now put it to the test against the best the league has to offer over the next few weeks with contests against the Eagles up next and the Ravens coming up on Christmas Day.
5. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Holding Steady. The Ravens have a tough stretch of games upcoming with the fiesty Rams coming to town followed by an absolute gauntlet of Jaguars, 49ers, Dolphins, and Steelers to close out the season. Their stranglehold on the AFC North has slipped a little in recent weeks, and they’ll need to play their absolute best ball of the season to fend of the surging Steelers, and they’re much easier schedule, for the division title.
6. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Holding Steady. The Fins haven’t been blowing people out of late, but they’re also finding ways to win despite recent questionable play from QB Tua Tagovoiloa and a run game that isn’t near as explosive as it was to begin the season. The good news is that they are definitely in the driver’s seat for the division with Buffalo losing a bunch of tough games, and the Jets and Patriots being really bad.
7. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Trending Up. The Jaguars held on for a highly important victory this last week against the upstart Texans, and Trevor Lawrence is as dialed in as any QB in recent weeks. The remaining schedule isn’t horrible, and they’re playing well. The AFC’s 1 seed isn’t out of the question.
8. DETROIT LIONS
Trending Down. The Lions have shown major kinks in the armor, with a bad Thanksgiving loss to the Packers the most recent example of a defense playing on its heals and forcing the offense to play out of it’s comfort zone. It’s not as if the Lions aren’t still a real contender in the NFC. I believe they are. But they have to get back to complementary football if they want to stay that way.
9. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Trending Up. Is this offense for real? I know, I know, the Steelers much-ballyhooed 421 yards of offense last week still only netted them their season average of 16 points, but it’s pretty telling that they finally showed signs of life and real offensive scheming the very game after firing OC Matt Canada. The Defense doesn’t give up points, so any upgrade on offense makes this a very dangerous team in a tight AFC race.
10. HOUSTON TEXANS
Trending Up. Yes, the Texans lost last week, but it was against the division-leading Jaguars and it took a missed 58 yard FG to close the deal. This team is playing well behind the best rookie QB performance since Dak Prescott in 2016. CJ Stroud and co. sit just outside the playoff picture right now. I expect that to change by January.
11. BUFFALO BILLS
Trending Down. This Bills team is truly a marvel. In almost every way, they would seem to be trending in the right direction, specifically on offense where Josh Allen is playing some of the best football of any QB in the league. They just aren’t winning games. The schedule is brutal from here on out as well, with matcups against the Chiefs, Cowboys, Chargers, and Dolphins left to play. It’s going to be a tough road back into the playoff mix for the Bills.
12. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Trending Down. The Seahawks just aren’t cut out to hang with the best teams in the NFC, with Geno Smith regressing as the season goes along and the rest of the team unable to pick up the slack. The secondary is still pretty good, but the rush D and the passing offense are struggling. Although this team feels like they should be a playoff lock, they are anything but with a bunch of mid-tier NFC squads surging. Not to mention they have to play arguably the three best teams in the league in a row over the next three weeks (Cowboys, 49ers, Eagles).
13. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Trending Up. The news about RB Jonathan Taylor’s thumb injury and subsequent surgery puts a damper on what otherwise has been a very surprising and successful season so far despite losing their exciting rookie QB (Anthony Richardson) for the year. QB Gardner Minshew has done a fine job of holding down the fort with the support of a dynamic run game and a good defense. The good news is that RB Zach Moss has already shown he can fill in for Taylor without the offense missing a beat. This will be a tough team to play the rest of the year.
14. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Trending Down. The QB situation is a mess, and injuries are starting to mount on their league-leading defense. This feels like 2023 Jets 2.0 where the defense will keep them in games but ultimately bad QB play will be their downfall. It feels like a reach for this team to make the playoffs, although they currently hold the 6th seed in the standings.
15. DENVER BRONCOS
Trending Up. The Broncos were left for dead at 1-5 and have won each of their last 5 games to put themselves squarely in playoff contention with 6 games to play. Their opportunistic defense and steady offense are complementing each other well and will keep them in the mix for the rest of the year.
16. ATLANTA FALCONS
Holding Steady. At this point, we know what the Falcons are: a run-centric team with a relatively high floor and low ceiling. They’re just good enough to handle business against their fellow mid-level teams and will probably end up with a division title in the weak NFC South. They’re most definitely not a real contender, as whoever wins this division will likely have to face the loser of the NFC East in the Wild Card. That’s not a pleasant prospect. As an aside, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this is the landing spot for Justin Fields in the offseason if the Bears move on.
17. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Holding Steady. It was a bad loss to the Bears, but Josh Dobbs had by far his worst game as a starter this season, and the Vikes are expecting to have Justin Jefferson after the Bye for their playoff push. There’s still plenty of time to cement themselves as a playoff team, but there’s no room for error with several teams hot on their tail.
18. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Trending Down. Injuries to the WR corps are hurting an offense that already lacked much of an explosive element. Derek Carr’s fast start to the season has deteriorated into a forgettable campaign and the defense hasn’t lived up to it’s projection as a tough, shut-down unit. The Saints are in for a rough few years after going all in for this season.
19. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Trending Down. Despite one of the best QBs in the league still making plays at a high level, this team has no ability to finish games and beat good teams. But then, that’s been the story for this franchise for years, so it’s really expected. After making the playoffs last year, though, fans won’t be happy with this level of regression. A head coaching change is likely imminent.
20 LOS ANGELES RAMS
Trending Up. The Rams offense welcomed back RB Kyren Williams after an extended injury absence and it provided immediate returns against the Cardinals. They can be explosive, but a little bit streaky, while the defense is punching above it’s weight class on a fairly regular basis. If they can keep it together, they have the ingredients for a Wild Card run. They would be a true berserker team come January.
21. GREEN BAY PACKERS
Trending Up. Jordan Love specifically, is on quite a streak of good football. The Packers surprising beatdown of the Lions on Thanksgiving Day was a reminder that this young offense has a ton of weapons and when the QB can take advantage of the mismatches they present, this team can be dangerous.
22. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Holding Steady. Aiden O’Connell has played well. He’s not flashy or spectacular, but he at least knows how to get the ball into his playmakers hands. He deserves a chance to prove he can be the guy moving forward, but this team has too many issues to be considered a true playoff contender in 2023.
23. CINCINNATI BENGALS
Trending Down. Losing a top 3 QB will hurt anyone’s chances of competing, and the loss of Joe Burrow along with regression from the defense could very well send this team spiral into an afterthought for the remainder of the season.
24. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Trending Down. The Buccaneers offense is playing pretty well considering they rode with journeyman Baker Mayfield all season. He’s been better than expected. Meanwhile the defense gives up big plays with regularity and cannot stop the run. They’ve looked better than the rest of their division-mates at points this season, it’s just not correlating in wins.
25. TENNESSEE TITANS
Holding Steady. There have obviously been flashes from rookie passer Will Levis, but more often than not this passing offense looks stuck in the mud and Derrick Henry, although still productive, isn’t the game-changer he once was. The defense has also struggled in recent weeks. It’s going to be an important offseason for Tennessee.
26. CHICAGO BEARS
Holding Steady. The Bears aren’t good, but they aren’t terrible either. Justin Fields shows just enough tantalizing ability to keep them in ball games and even win a few, but this coaching staff has failed to really develop this group into a competitive squad overall. If Fields isn’t a part of the plans moving forward, it’s likely that a new staff will be making that call.
27. WASHINGTON COMMANDERS
Trending Down. Sam Howell makes 2-3 ultra-impressive throws a game that make you think the Commanders might have their guy, but he also ranks high in turnover-worthy plays, and can often put the team in a difficult situation when it comes to securing victory. How they finish the season will go a long way to determining how they approach the offseason. They’re not technically out of the playoff race yet in the NFC, but it’s a major longshot.
28. NEW YORK JETS
Trending Down. Incredibly, the Jets just opened up the practice window for Aaron Rodgers, but until he actually hits the field as this team’s starting QB again, the Jets are a real dumpster fire on offense. The defense has regressed as the season has progressed, although that probably has more to do with the offense’s complete ineptitude than their own issues. As it stands, this is a bad team that should be looking ahead to 2024.
29. NEW YORK GIANTS
Trending Up. This is based strictly on where they were just a couple weeks ago, looking at perhaps being the owners of the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft when all is said and done. As it stands now, the Giants are beating fellow bad teams and turning in inspiring defensive performances with just enough from undrafted rookie QB Tommy DeVito to pull out ugly wins.
30. ARIZONA CARDINALS
Trending Down. The Cardinals offense lacks explosiveness, and the defense can’t stop the run or rush the passer at all in recent weeks. Another team very much in flux, the Cardinals are just hoping for any kind of good vibes to end the year. They’re a top candidate to land a top QB prospect this offseason.
31. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Trending Down. Like way down. Like bottom of the Grand Canyon down. We’re not just talking about a lost season for an organization not used to being losers, but perhaps a major shakeup across the board for one of the greatest coaches of all time and an ineffective staff that has literally ruined a promising young QB in Mac Jones and failed to accumulate talent for years now. A major reset is in motion.
32. CAROLINA PANTHERS
Trending Down. Head Coach Frank Reich’s tenure ended after only 11 games, the 2nd shortest coaching stint in NFL history. Their first overall pick Bryce Young has looked lost at the NFL level, and there’s a severe lack of NFL talent across the roster. The Panthers don’t even have the first overall pick in this year’s draft to look forward to since they mortgaged it for their struggling rookie QB. It’s a moribund season for a franchise looking at a long road to a return to relevance.
I hope you enjoyed this look at the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings. Anyone too high? Too low? Comment below to get the conversation rolling! Come back next week for the updated pecking order after what promises to be a wild Week of NFL action.