The early NFL slate rewarded us with the most action-packed hour of football in the 2023 season. Six of the eight games came down to the wire. What does this all mean for the Week 12 NFL power rankings?
Commanders, Bengals, and Chargers Stumble in NFL Power Rankings
32) Carolina Panthers (31)
The Panthers’ wholly unexplosive offense has gotten to an extreme. Between the underperforming offensive line, a lack of speed and talent on the outside, and poor quarterback play, there isn’t much they can do offensively.
But bad penalties didn’t help their cause, especially when the game was still close.
31) New England Patriots (30)
Saying that the New England Patriots needed a week off would be an understatement. Their offense was weak before the season started from a personnel perspective, and the Kendrick Bourne injury took away their best weapon in the passing game.
Defensive injuries have zapped their effectiveness on that side of the ball. After beginning the year looking like a normal Bill Belichick defense, the unit has lost most of its top pieces.
30) New York Giants (32)
For the first time since becoming the Giants’ starting quarterback, Tommy DeVito found himself in an offensive environment that was competitive relative to the defense he faced. Washington’s defense was bad when they had Chase Young and Montez Sweat. It’s impossibly bad now.
But DeVito made a few impressive plays against Washington, including his downfield wheel in the bucket to Saquon Barkley. New York evidently has Washington’s number because they swept the season series against them while looking like an FCS team against most other teams.
29) Arizona Cardinals (28)
The Cardinals are certainly better than they were with Clayton Tune under center, but they’re not necessarily better than they were with Josh Dobbs … at least not yet.
Kyler Murray has made some impressive plays already in his time back, but the passing attack appears more limited than before. He only completed four passes deeper than 10 yards downfield, and most of his work came underneath five yards.
28) Chicago Bears (29)
The Bears had every opportunity to close out the game against Detroit, but they couldn’t finish the job. Early in the fourth, they made it a nine-point game. With 4:20 left, they made it a 12-point game, a lead that appeared insurmountable.
But the defense allowed a touchdown on a six-play, 75-yard drive with just over a minute of play to make it a one-score game. After a three-and-out that amassed a single yard, the Bears punted back to the Lions offense, which went 73 yards on 11 plays for the win.
27) Tennessee Titans (24)
The Tennessee offense threw their first road touchdown of the season on a trick play flea flicker, but that was about the only offense that they could manage for the game. Their offensive line is tragic, giving Will Levis practically no chance to survive at an adequate level.
26) Washington Commanders (25)
Jack Del Rio’s defense needed to repeat their production from a season ago if this team wanted any hope of being competitive in the NFC this year. That wasn’t happening with Young and Sweat taking snaps on the edge.
They had absolutely no depth before trading those two players. Now that lack of depth is starting, and it’s made even DeVito look like a competent NFL QB, which is a serious accomplishment.
25) Los Angeles Chargers (22)
Justin Herbert is like the partner in a relationship that does almost all of the house chores while also being the primary breadwinner but gets chastised when they make a mistake.
Even Keenan Allen struggled against Green Bay. The sun certainly appeared to be a factor in the struggles, but missed opportunities were once again the story for the disappointing Chargers.
24) Los Angeles Rams (27)
The Rams have four wins, and two of them have come against the 6-4 Seattle Seahawks. Sometimes divisional opponents have your number, and this appears to be the case for these two teams in 2023, much like the Giants and Commanders.
Matthew Stafford’s toughness is crazy, but it was the Rams’ rushing attack that pushed them down the field late. A Cooper Kupp ankle injury hurts their offensive potential moving forward, but Puka Nacua will likely continue to shine bright if Kupp misses significant time.
23) Atlanta Falcons (23)
The Falcons are making the move back to Desmond Ridder moving forward. It was likely the right move to switch to Taylor Heinicke to spark the offense, but it clearly didn’t work. Going back to Ridder is the right choice. Getting a crystal clear picture of what Ridder is over the rest of the season is critical for their offseason.
22) Green Bay Packers (26)
We all should have known that the Packers would be a Jekyll and Hyde team in 2023. None of their skill position players have started receiving discounted rental car rates yet, and their quarterback only had a few starts under his belt before this season.
There’s no denying there is offensive juice. Jordan Love still needs to be more consistent, but he also can create outside of structure, so there’s a give-and-take there. The Chargers certainly did their best to hand Green Bay the game because that’s what they do, but the Packers made plays when they needed to most.
21) New York Jets (21)
Zach Wilson is not an NFL quarterback. That’s been the case since Day 1, but the allusion of upside persisted. When New York traded for Aaron Rodgers, the belief was that time would help ease Wilson back into the game, but Rodgers’ injury thrust him back into the fire. His wax wings melted immediately.
This defense is ready to compete. They have enough offensive firepower to be a problem in the AFC. Even bottom-third QB play could be good enough. But Wilson has been the worst in the league once again in 2023.
20) Las Vegas Raiders (19)
Aidan O’Connell threw three interceptions against the Miami Dolphins. The young quarterback made one mistake trying to throw a pass away while being slung to the ground by Christian Wilkins. The other two interceptions were because he made the mistake of throwing the ball in Jalen Ramsey’s general direction.
The Raiders missed a golden opportunity against a Dolphins team that played incredibly sloppy on Sunday. Despite boasting great field position on multiple occasions against Miami, Las Vegas had a first down-less six-drive stretch in the second and third quarters.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (18)
Baker Mayfield is not too unlike Sam Howell in Washington. The two undersized quarterbacks are entertaining gunslingers. Mayfield teetered between throwing intermediate and deep darts and throwing incredibly interceptable passes that sometimes, usually, fell harmlessly to the turf.
The Tampa Bay secondary has struggled to keep things in front of them this season, which is something that hasn’t been a problem for them over the years.
18) Cincinnati Bengals (14)
Losing to the Ravens was a proverbial death blow to the Bengals season, even though they sit at 5-5. But losing Joe Burrow for the rest of the campaign seals the deal officially.
The 2023 season has suffered its fair share of high-profile quarterback injuries. But Burrow’s hits hard because he was just getting healthy and playing out of his mind again.
17) Indianapolis Colts (17)
The Colts are fascinating. They will occasionally explode offensively, but Gardner Minshew has shown a turnover tendency in 2023 that we’re not used to seeing from him. However, their defense is quietly impressive, ranking 13th in EPA heading into the Week 11 slate.
16) Denver Broncos (20)
The Broncos won three straight with consecutive wins against the Chiefs and Bills. Russell Wilson isn’t entirely “fixed” but is playing at a markedly better level than he did with Nathaniel Hackett a season ago. The difference in their turnaround is the defensive turnaround they’ve made since allowing 70 points to the Dolphins.
The steady improvement they’ve made since early in the season has continued to pay dividends. Minnesota could very well be a “better” team than they were a season ago, and they’ve been playing some of their best football over the past two years as of late. But Sean Payton and Vance Joseph have seemingly righted a sunken ship.
15) Minnesota Vikings (9)
The Minnesota Vikings have been fantastic since trading for Josh Dobbs. The journeyman QB flashed outstanding play this year in Arizona, but in a more tenable situation in Minnesota, he’s playing incredibly well.
A loss against the Broncos would have been seen as a black eye just a few weeks ago, but that’s no longer the case. However, a close win against Chicago gave the Lions an even larger lead within the division, making an NFC North crown all the more unlikely for Minnesota this season.
14) New Orleans Saints (16)
The Saints defense continues to produce impressive numbers. Dennis Allen’s defenses are as reliable as any in the NFL. However, Pete Carmichael’s offense has struggled, even with the insertion of Derek Carr in the offseason.
13) Buffalo Bills (15)
After a two-game skid and a stretch dating back even longer than that of poor defense, Buffalo found themselves a get-right matchup. Even though the Bills defense lost three more defensive backs DURING THE GAME, they allowed only six points to the Jets.
Unfortunately, things won’t get any easier for the Bills going forward. They still play the Eagles, Chiefs, Cowboys, and Dolphins before their season ends.
12) Seattle Seahawks (13)
In Week 1 against the Rams, the Seahawks fell apart and allowed LA to do pretty much whatever they wanted in the second half.
After getting out to multi-score leads on multiple occasions against the Rams, they ended up allowing them to crawl back and win the game with two scoring drives in the fourth quarter while Geno Smith was sidelined with an injury.
11) Pittsburgh Steelers (11)
The Steelers probably aren’t a very good football team. Every metric we look at tells us they are playing with borrowed coin. But they keep finding ways to steal games late, and they almost did enough once again, this time against the Cleveland Browns.
Mike Tomlin and Matt Canada have to make a call. Their young quarterback is struggling. The passing attack is practically non-existent. Najee Harris remains relatively inefficient. But Jaylen Warren is a sparkplug, and this Steelers team may be best served to lean on him as the season wears on.
10) Houston Texans (12)
The Houston Texans’ sixth win certainly wasn’t pretty at times, but there is a lot of good to take from it. C.J. Stroud threw three interceptions, and those turnovers kept the game within reach for Arizona.
But he also threw for 336 yards, and Tank Dell continues to be more or less unguardable on the outside. Houston’s offense is insanely explosive. Stroud attacks the intermediate levels of opposing defenses unlike any other NFL QB. To do what he’s doing as a rookie is remarkable.
9) Jacksonville Jaguars (10)
After being thoroughly devastated by the San Francisco 49ers a week ago, Jacksonville got back to business against a divisional foe in the Tennessee Titans. Jacksonville dominated the Titans in nearly every phase of the game.
The Titans’ per-play average looks decent, but the Jaguars defense decimated the Tennessee offensive line. Additionally, Jacksonville dominated the time of possession battle and ran nearly twice as many plays in the game.
8) Cleveland Browns (8)
The Browns are 7-3 and realistically in position to compete for the ACF East crown, but their offense is seriously limited with Dorian Thompson-Robinson under center compared to Deshaun Watson. But if DTR takes care of the football, the Cleveland defense can do enough to keep them in almost any football game.
But their passing attack needs to find some explosive plays intermittently if they want to win the division. Sustaining long drives is difficult to consistently do for good offenses with outstanding quarterback play. It’s practically impossible with a young quarterback.
7) Baltimore Ravens (7)
The Ravens are incredibly talented, but they’re really hard to trust. Lamar Jackson is an incredible talent, and their passing attack has elevated to another level this season. However, they consistently shoot themselves in the foot offensively with silly turnovers, and the injury bug is always looming large around this organization.
6) San Francisco 49ers (6)
The Tampa Bay defense didn’t offer a ton of resistance against the 49ers, but San Francisco appears back on track after their peculiar three-game skid a few weeks ago.
Brock Purdy is playing well, and the 49ers’ defensive front is inching back to elite performance again, which has been a catalyst in their recent playoff success.
5) Dallas Cowboys (5)
The Cowboys and Panthers game remained close for a while, but the Cowboys’ talent eventually pulled away from the Panthers. Micah Parsons got free against Carolina’s offensive line consistently, and DaRon Bland tied an NFL record with his fourth pick-six of the season.
4) Miami Dolphins (4)
The Dolphins didn’t want to beat the Las Vegas Raiders, but they ended up winning by a touchdown anyway. Miami did not punt in their first nine offensive drives. One would think that means they produced an offensive masterpiece, but one would be mistaken.
They fumbled twice, threw an interception, turned the ball over on downs, and missed a field goal. They also scored two touchdowns and kicked two field goals.
But man, are they happy they have Jalen Ramsey back? He’s been a game-changing presence since his return. It wasn’t pretty, but Miami gets a win on Sunday.
3) Detroit Lions (3)
Jared Goff turned into a pumpkin against the Bears on Sunday, but the Detroit Lions battled for four quarters to overcome a multi-score deficit in the final 15 minutes to beat their division rivals.
Aidan Hutchinson sealed the game with a beautiful rush that resulted in a strip-sack of Justin Fields, who played relatively well in his first action back from his injury. Considering the issues Detroit had defending the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens, a big day from Fields shouldn’t have been surprising.
2) Kansas City Chiefs (2)
It’s not the Super Bowl, but it’s a Super Bowl rematch and a game between the two best teams in the NFL. Andy Reid coming off of a bye week is lethal. Although the future Hall of Fame coach wins a lot of games, he wins nearly 90% of his contests coming back from a week off.
The Chiefs should have beaten the Eagles. However, they couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot on offense. Their two superstars turned the ball over in the red zone, and their receiving corps, which has been 50 shades of unimpressive this season, couldn’t make plays when they needed to most.
1) Philadelphia Eagles (1)
The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t as analytically impressive as they were a season ago — or multiple other teams in the league currently. But none of that matters because they’ve taken care of business in eight of their nine games, including against the Dolphins and Cowboys.
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are similar teams on different talent tiers. They win games they shouldn’t consistently, and they should be commended for that. Many football games come down to a few bounces or a few key moments, and the Eagles’ talent seems to rise to the top of their game when it matters most in those key moments.