Wild Card Round NFL Power Rankings: Ravens and 49ers End Regular Season on Top

With the playoffs on the horizon for some and the offseason for others, where does each team rank in our Wild Card Round NFL power rankings?

The NFL regular season is over, so how did the league sort itself out after 18 weeks of play? The NFL power rankings were tougher to sort than normal this year. The quarterback injuries made things difficult, particularly among the league’s average teams.

NFL Power Rankings | Wild Card Round

32) Carolina Panthers

The Panthers couldn’t get to the offseason quickly enough. Unfortunately, their nightmare is far from over. Despite earning the top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, they won’t have the opportunity to use it because they sent that selection to the Chicago Bears a season ago.

Their roster construction turned out to be a complete disaster. Ejiro Evero is a good coordinator, but there wasn’t enough talent to maintain the production they’d found at times with Phil Snow. But their biggest issues came on offense.

Their offensive line underperformed all year, and their lack of speed and talent at wide receiver proved detrimental for their rookie QB.

31) Washington Commanders

The Commanders held things together for a while against the Cowboys, but Dallas’ talent and execution eventually led to a thumping.

Washington put themselves in a position to draft the future of their franchise with a new head coach this offseason. Josh Harris and Co. will wipe the slate clean and start from scratch, which is exactly what this disastrous roster needs.

30) New England Patriots

The weather was awful for football in New England in Week 18, but the product on the field was even worse. Bailey Zappe managed just 88 yards on 30 attempts. Meanwhile, the Jets leaned on the run game and found much more offensive success. It was an ugly potential end to an illustrious career for Bill Belichick.

MORE: Will the Patriots Fire Bill Belichick? Legendary Coach’s Future Unclear After Disappointing Season

New England is within shouting distance of a potential franchise quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft. However, the decisions Belichick made over the past few years could have spelled the end of his career in New England before he got a chance to see that QB on campus.

29) Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have an important offseason in front of them. They have one more year of an inexpensive cap hit against their young quarterback ($19.3 million) before it continuously jumps from there. They need to make the correct coaching hire and nail the offseason roster-construction portion.

28) Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals roster was a complete mess. When Jonathan Gannon was hired, it was clear this would be a multi-year rebuild. Monti Ossenfort messed around and acquired a ton of draft capital to help expedite the process.

And while the Cardinals were far from good this season, they battled like a team that wanted to punch above their weight class. With more talent on the roster, Arizona could once again enter the fray against the Rams, Seahawks, and 49ers in the near future.

27) New York Giants

Tyrod Taylor has actually found a bit of success under center for the New York Giants recently. Of the three starting quarterbacks for the Giants this season he has found the most significant production.

The Eagles’ defense has unraveled as the season unwound, but the Giants’ defense toyed with the Eagles’ offensive line. They pressured Jalen Hurts early and often, and the Philadelphia QB eventually hurt his middle finger on his throwing hand following through on a throw, and Nick Sirianni pulled him and other starters before halftime.

26) Tennessee Titans

The Titans weren’t competitive in 2023, but they got to play spoiler against a division rival in Week 18, and that has to be a pretty sweet feeling for them.

Additionally, King Henry got to go out on a high note after a relatively underwhelming campaign this season. The Titans’ offensive line was irredeemably poor in the running and passing game, but Henry finished the season, and likely his Titans’ career, with 153 years on 19 carries.

25) New York Jets

Neither offense found much success on Sunday, but the Jets run game was the difference in the game. Even though they managed only 13 first downs for the game, their 185 rushing yards were enough to make up for their 69 net passing yards.

24) Las Vegas Raiders

If Antonio Pierce is not the Raiders head coach in 2024, we riot. The young player-turned-coach completely changed the culture in Las Vegas. It turned like an F1 car, and the hapless Raiders turned into a competitive roster quickly.

That defense could use a massive influx of talent, but they played incredibly well down the stretch. If they can find a quarterback, they could compete for a playoff spot next season if they can keep up the momentum.

23) Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons got knocked out of NFC South contention in embarrassing fashion against the Saints in Week 18. Arthur Smith may or may not survive with his job intact, and if he doesn’t we can circle a few decisions that led to his demise.

MORE: Falcons Head Coach Caught on Hot Mic Furious After Saints’ Meaningless Touchdown — ‘What the F*** You Do That For?’

But a lacking offense — despite the addition of three top-10 picks at skill positions — behind an impressive offensive line as an offensive-minded head coach will be what ultimately led to this moment because their defense was pretty good this season.

22) Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota’s secondary struggled against the Lions offensive onslaught, but it’s hard not to daydream about what this team could have looked like if Kirk Cousins had remained healthy.

Kevin O’Connell has relatively overachieved in each of his seasons as the Vikings head coach. Considering they purged many of their veteran contracts this offseason, competing at all this season was impressive. Having playoff hopes after the Cousins’ injury was incredible.

21) Chicago Bears

There is no more fascinating offseason situation than the Chicago Bears. They hold the first pick in the NFL and face a ton of questions about how they’ll handle building their franchise.

Do they trade Justin Fields and take a quarterback at 1.01, or do they hold that pick for a king’s ransom and possibly pair Fields with Marvin Harrison Jr. or one of the other top pass catchers in an absolutely loaded class?

20) Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals took care of the Browns’ second unit. Joe Mixon had the Browns defense looking like 2022 all over again. He gained over 100 yards on just 14 carries.

Cincinnati didn’t have the season they wanted, but they can take some solace knowing that they didn’t roll over when they lost Joe Burrow for the season. Zac Taylor and Co. deserve credit for finding a way to keep the offense moving.

19) New Orleans Saints

The Saints found their offensive voice as 2023 closed in on 2024, but it was too late. The Green Bay Packers’ win ended the Saints season. Maybe New Orleans will be able to once again kick the can down the road and give things one last shot for 2024, but it took them too long to get going on offense this year.

18) Green Bay Packers

Jordan Love waited patiently to get his time as the Packers’ starter, and he did not disappoint. The third-year player looks a lot like Aaron Rodgers as a passer. He’s picked up on the legendary passer’s mannerisms. He nonchalantly fades into and away from throws like the future Hall of Famer.

But it’s the young weapons that have been most impressive for Green Bay. A receiving corps and tight end room filled with first and second-year players stepped up in a big way, but all that youth can, at times, make for inconsistent play.

But Green Bay could be dangerous heading into the playoffs.

17) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers figuratively hobbled to an NFC South title, and Baker Mayfield decided to do so literally. Mayfield’s ankle needs to improve quickly if Tampa Bay wants a chance to win their home playoff game.

Tampa Bay wasn’t supposed to be in this position. If someone would have told us they’d be entering Week 18 with a defense ranking 21st in EPA, nobody would have dreamed that they made a playoff run. But Mayfield revitalized his career in a hurry, playing well enough to remain the Buccaneers’ QB, at least for the immediate future.

16) Denver Broncos

The Broncos were better than a season ago, but it quickly became clear that the marriage between Sean Payton and Russell Wilson would last about as long as an average Kardashian marriage.

The defense turned things around from being historically terrible early in the season, but there are plenty of holes that need patched this offseason. Payton has never been shy about roster construction, and it will be interesting to see how he plays in another offseason with George Paton.

15) Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks season ended when the clock struck zeros in Green Bay. Seattle’s defense disappointed this season. Pete Caroll tried evolving with the times, but if he sticks around for next season, he should look long and hard at his defensive staffing.

How bad were things for that unit? Well, they entered Week 18 tied for 29th in defensive EPA with the Eagles. They were also 29th in overall success rate, 26th in dropback EPA, 26th in dropback success rate, 31st in rushing EPA, and 30th in rushing success rate.

From top to bottom, the defense was why they missed the playoffs. But fixing the sore spots on the offensive line remains a problem as well.

14) Indianapolis Colts

Shane Steichen deserves a Nobel Prize. He helped Justin Herbert to his best professional season as a rookie. He developed an offense to maximize Jalen Hurts as a runner and passer, and then he nearly waltzed a rather average defense to the playoffs with Gardner Minshew playing QB.

MORE: NFL World Reacts to Shocking Play Call That Ended Colts’ Season

He’s the real deal. If he can get even 60% of Anthony Richardson’s potential to show, the Colts will be tough to beat in the AFC South for a very long time.

13) Houston Texans

The future is already bright in Houston, but the present is pretty sweet. In just a single season, the Texans went from having the second pick in the NFL Draft to winning the AFC South.

C.J. Stroud was magnificent as a rookie. He was so prolific as a passer that he was getting some “MVP” whispers earlier in the season before missing time with a concussion. But a matchup against the Clevland Browns in the Wild Card Round will test every fiber in Stroud’s right arm because that defense can devastate opposing offensive lines, and that secondary can cover.

12) Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers did what they could to make a run at the playoffs this season, defying the odds as a clearly outmanned roster, at least on paper. Things got so bad on offense that Mike Tomlin was forced to fire a coworker midseason, something that the Steelers’ organization rarely ever does during offseasons.

But Mike Tomlin is impervious to underachievement. It’s fair to wonder whether he’s human at this point because he hasn’t truly had a good team at any point in the past half-decade.

11) Jacksonville Jaguars

Even though the Colts and Texans both overachieved relative to expectations this season, not making the playoffs in the AFC South is an abject disaster for the Jaguars. This was supposed to be the year they waltzed to a division title while the younger teams with rookie head coaches stumbled as they developed.

10) Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are dangerous. They began 2023 as a historically young roster filled with low-level draftees and undrafted free agents surrounded by a few stalwarts. But this season proves just how much nailing a single draft class can turn around a franchise.

They hit home runs on most of their selections. Puka Nacua headlines the class, but Steve Avila, Byron Young, and Kobie Turner have all made a massive difference this season.

They’re rested and get a great matchup against the Detroit Lions in the first round.

9) Kansas City Chiefs

Maybe a rest is what the Chiefs needed more than anything. They’ve drunkenly wandered their way to the playoffs on offense while having their defense carry them for the first time in Patrick Mahomes’s career.

MORE: NFL Week 18 Winners and Losers: Packers, Texans, Steelers Punch Playoff Tickets While Jaguars Collapse

Having the best player on the planet and arguably the best coach in the league gives them an advantage in the playoffs, but the receiving corps that has actively sabotaged this offense could have other plans.

8) Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles’ collapse will be studied in history books 100 years from now if books are still a thing in 100 years… or if this planet… never mind.

It’s impossible to comprehend how a team can have a stretch of wins against the Dolphins, Cowboys, Chiefs, and Bills. Even with losses against the 49ers, Cowboys, and Seahawks, that was against playoff-caliber teams.

Losing the division because you could win two games in a three-game stretch against the Giants, Cardinals, and Giants again is unbelievable.

7) Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins offense started the season on an absolute tear, but things have slowed down since. Tyreek Hill was on pace to break the league’s receiving record but got banged up late in the year, leading to a dip in his production and that of the Dolphins’ offense.

Miami blew a three-game AFC East lead with five weeks remaining and will now face the Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs. Devastating injury issues, especially on the defensive side of the ball, might have tarnished any chance the Dolphins had at a Super Bowl run.

6) Detroit Lions

There will be a lot of discussion concerning Dan Campbell’s decision to play his starters against the Vikings. Although a win kept the possibility of the No. 2 seed alive, the difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds are negligible.

5) Cleveland Browns

The Bengals blitzed the Browns in Week 18, but Cleveland sat every player they feasibly could for the game. With the fifth seed in the AFC locked up, there was no reason to play starters.

4) Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys look ready for playoff football, but that could say more about the Commanders than the Cowboys. The Dallas offense still looks outstanding. Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb are two peas in a pod, and the duo of Brandin Cooks and Jake Ferguson complement their superstar wide receiver well.

Meanwhile, Micah Parsons went yet another week without an offensive lineman holding him.

3) Buffalo Bills

The Bills finished the season on a five-game win streak and claimed its fourth consecutive AFC East title with a victory over the Dolphins. Josh Allen tried to give away the game with multiple first-half endzone interceptions, but he pulled out his usual Superman antics to pull out the win.

Buffalo’s defense deserves credit, too, after holding Miami to 57 yards and zero points in the second half. They’ve allowed 22 or fewer points in each of their last five games and might be meshing just in time for the postseason.

2) San Francisco 49ers

It’s only fair that the top seed in each conference sits at No. 1 and No. 2 in the NFL. But they are also clearly the two best teams in the NFL at this point. The only thing keeping San Francisco from holding the top spot in the power rankings is their head-to-head loss to Baltimore a few weeks ago.

1) Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens had the top seed and a bye locked up in the AFC, so there was no need to risk an injury to Lamar Jackson. Baltimore had nothing to prove, especially while playing in inclement weather.

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