Week 17 NFL Power Rankings: Joe Flacco Brings Boost to Browns, Dak Prescott and Cowboys Tumble, and Lions Win NFC North

The Week 17 NFL power rankings certainly saw its share of movement. But the playoff picture didn't become much clearer in the process.

Only two weeks remain in the 2023 NFL season. After a year filled with outrageous parity, we’re finally beginning to see a playoff picture form. But the NFL power rankings aren’t about the playoffs, per se. How good are these teams? And who will rise and fall the most this week?

NFL Power Rankings | Week 17

32) Carolina Panthers

The Panthers’ offense is still bad, and Bryce Young is far from perfect, but we’re starting to see more of the Alabama flashes as the season slowly progresses. The offensive line and receiving corps remain underwhelming, but he’s looking more comfortable back there despite still taking far too many hits.

31) Washington Commanders

Things have been intermittently embarrassing in Washington for a long time now, but a curb-stomping at the hands of Trevor Siemian and the Jets’ offense is a new low.

Nobody would be upset about a low-scoring affair against an incredibly talented Jets defense, but the Commanders’ secondary just keeps spinning around in the blender. But fans can take some solace knowing the nightmare is almost over.

30) New England Patriots

The Patriots’ defense remains well-coached and relatively productive. Unfortunately, they’ve been offensively inept for the entire season despite rectifying their poor staffing choices a season ago. In short, they effectively ruined Mac Jones.

29) Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals clawed their way back into the Bears game, but they didn’t have the firepower to climb all the way back. Arizona struggled to run the football, and their lack of legitimate receiving weapons on the outside mutes their passing attack. James Conner and Emari Demercado were two of their three leading receivers for the game.

28) Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are always a disappointment, but this season has felt rather calming in contrast to their normal dramatic performances. They’ve simply been bad in 2023, but they showed signs of life on Saturday night against a good Bills team that has been on a roll recently.

MORE: Which NFL Teams Are Eliminated From the Playoffs in 2023?

However, it was Buffalo’s mistakes (two fumbles and an interception) that helped keep Los Angeles in the game. They scored 13 points off those three turnovers while gaining a total of 69 yards on those three drives.

27) New York Giants

Is the Tommy DeVito era officially over in New York? It was fun while it lasted, but the Giants pulled the plug on “Tommy Cutlets” after he averaged just 3.4 yards per attempt against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday. While head coach Brian Daboll hasn’t revealed who will start for Big Blue in Week 17, veteran Tyrod Taylor was effective in his opportunity.

26) Tennessee Titans

Not many games will move as slowly as the Titans’ 20-17 loss against the Seahawks. The game itself didn’t take a long time, but there were only 15 total offensive drives between the two teams.

Neither team was particularly explosive. Without Will Levis in the lineup for Tennessee, that was expected. The two teams matriculated the ball downfield, converting on third downs to keep the chains moving.

25) New York Jets

We all deserve a Jets team that can compete offensively, if only to see that version of Breece Hall more often. His second touchdown was one of the most acrobatic feats we have seen through the course of 272 regular-season games. His first was a massive 36-yard scamper.

Amazingly, the Jets’ defense fell apart against the Commanders. Sam Howell was relieved by Jacoby Brissett in the second half when Washington was down by 20. He led three consecutive scoring drives to take the lead.

24) Las Vegas Raiders

Will the Raiders promote interim HC Antonio Piece into the full-time role? He’s certainly making owner Mark Davis’ decision a challenge. Las Vegas has won four of seven games under Pierce. Over the last two weeks, they’ve scored 63 points against the Chargers and beaten Patrick Mahomes — not bad.

23) New Orleans Saints

The Saints kicked the can down the road for years, and they’re at the end of the culdesac. With Derek Carr under center, they were set to make one final push for playoff glory with their talented but aging roster. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone to plan. It’s not over yet, but the Rams game was a nice summation of their season and Carr in general.

He’s just good enough to lose with. He’s so obviously gifted and so frustratingly inconsistent. Sometimes, he’ll play like he has six downs to work with, while other times, he plays with reckless abandon. In the end, there isn’t enough consistency to put a team over the top.

22) Chicago Bears

The Bears likely would have walked away and hid with a big win against the Cardinals if DJ Moore didn’t hurt his ankle. He stayed in the game but was clearly playing at less than 100 percent. Meanwhile, Cole Kmet had to leave the game with a knee injury in the second quarter of a game where he already had 100 receiving yards.

Chicago is in a good spot. They’re playing better football as the season wears on, and they will still likely receive the first pick in the NFL Draft, courtesy of the Panthers. Additionally, we’re seeing some interesting growth from Justin Fields.

21) Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons stood up against a team in the AFC vying for the playoffs and, in doing so, kept their own playoff hopes alive in the NFC South. Taylor Heinicke played one of his patented “does he actually have it” games, and the Colts’ offense couldn’t get anything going after their first offensive drive.

20) Green Bay Packers

The Great Wall of China. The Colosseum. The Pyramids. There’s an eighth wonder of the world that may stay around forever. That would be Joe Barry’s tenure as the Packers’ defensive coordinator. Since he became the team’s defensive coordinator in 2021, the Packers rank 24th in defensive EPA and 31st in defensive success rate.

But Green Bay snuck away from Carolina with a narrow 33-30 win, keeping their playoff hopes alive … for now.

19) Minnesota Vikings

If the Vikings could field a quarterback who wasn’t actively sabotaging them every time they drop back to pass, Minnesota could be one of the more dangerous teams in the NFC. Unfortunately, Nick Mullens played the role of Santa Claus for the Lions, gifting them turnover-worthy plays for four quarters.

18) Denver Broncos

Sean Payton has figured out a way to make things work with Russell Wilson. The product remains frustrating at times, but Wilson is playing far better football than he did a season ago. And after a horrific start to the season defensively, that side of the ball has completely turned things around.

The Broncos’ resiliency has been impressive, and they’ll need to keep the good vibes going into 2024. After getting upset by the Patriots on Sunday night, Denver’s playoff chances have all but disappeared. But that doesn’t mean Payton’s Broncos debut campaign was a failure.

17) Cincinnati Bengals

The Jake Browning hype train that was barrelling down the tracks with no brakes was derailed dramatically on Saturday. Like too many other non-mobile, small-armed (relative to the rest of the league) quarterbacks, when you try to emulate a playmaker, things go poorly — just ask Mac Jones.

The Bengals’ defense has underwhelmed this season, and far too much of it is because their past strength in the middle of the secondary has become a weakness.

16) Indianapolis Colts

Not much went right for the Colts after their first offensive drive. Their offense managed just 10 first downs in nine drives after picking up six of them on the first drive. But the defense struggled for all four quarters, allowing Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, and Cordarrelle Patterson to all average five yards per touch on the ground.

15) Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are like a newborn baby. Just when you think the chaos is over and they’ll finally fade into obscurity, “BANG!” and a poopy diaper shows up. Like that dirty diaper, the Steelers’ overachievement is inevitable. Mike Tomlin is inevitable.

MORE: PFN’s FREE NFL Playoff Predictor

They didn’t just beat their division rival who’d been running toward the playoffs — they thoroughly embarrassed them — with Mason Rudolph under center. Just when we think we know who Pittsburgh is, they pull a dramatic heel turn.

14) Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks’ offense hasn’t looked particularly pretty for much of the season. Their young offensive tackles haven’t played well since early last season, forcing the ball out of Geno Smith’s hands much quicker than he’d like.

Seattle has won two games in a row and is looking primed for a playoff spot in the NFC. With games against Pittsburgh and Arizona to end the year, Seattle should have every opportunity to secure one of the Wild Card spots in the conference.

13) Houston Texans

The Texans’ defense appeared to turn the corner for a few weeks in the middle of the season, but things have gone south quickly, particularly at cornerback opposite Derek Stingley Jr.

C.J. Stroud’s injury makes their offense completely invisible, proving exactly how impressive the rookie has been this season, while Joe Flacco and Amari Cooper did pretty much whatever they wanted down the left side of the field against Houston.

If you were playing Cooper in fantasy playoffs … I’m sorry for your loss.

12) Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars looked strong early in the season, but their strongly performing defense hasn’t performed well lately. Since their bye in Week 9, Jacksonville has managed just two wins in five games. But the entire AFC South decided not to show up this week, so they still own the tiebreaker within the division.

They had absolutely nothing against the Buccaneers. Trevor Lawrence isn’t playing well at the moment, and turnovers were a huge problem for the young quarterback against Tampa Bay.

11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers smelled blood in the NFC South waters and went hunting against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game got out of hand quickly and got worse from there. Late in the third quarter, the game was 30-0.

Baker Mayfield has earned the right to a contract extension with the Buccaneers, and it’ll probably be good value for both team and player over the next few seasons. But that roster also should include Mike Evans for as long as he wants to play professional football.

10) Los Angeles Rams

No NFC team wants to play the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card Round. Puka Nacua, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford are all playing at an incredibly high level offensively. However, the real MVPs are on the front line and in the backfield.

Los Angeles found the run game again this season, and that has paid dividends for them. The roster is very young, but that young roster has rattled wins in five of their last six games since their bye week. Their only loss came to the Baltimore Ravens, who are one of the best teams in the NFL.

9) Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs remained suspect as they headed into their Monday matchup against the Raiders. And their woeful performance vs. Las Vegas did nothing to quell concerns about Patrick Mahomes and Co. Kansas City should still win the AFC West, but they don’t look like the same club that won the Super Bowl in February.

8) Detroit Lions

The Lions’ defense has no excuse for somehow turning Mullens over at every corner while also allowing the Vikings to consistently trot right down the field. However, they may have found themselves a player in Ifeatu Melifonwu, who has spent years playing in reserve in Detroit before being thrust into a starting safety role recently.

It appears Detroit needs to play and win track meets. The defense simply does not seem capable of consistently producing stops.

7) Cleveland Browns

All that the Cleveland Browns offense needed was mediocre quarterback play to remain competitive in nearly any game they will play. Joe Flacco has been way more than that for Cleveland, especially considering he was hanging out on the couch looking for an opportunity just a few weeks ago.

MORE: AFC No. 1 Seed Playoff Scenarios

Their defense is lightning-quick. While they do things more aggressively than the Jets, the two defenses are similarly frustrating when trying to attack throwing windows.

6) Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott played incredibly well, considering the blender that Vic Fangio and the Dolphins’ pass rush put the Cowboys’ offensive line in. The box score won’t accurately depict the conditions Prescott was playing in against Miami, but he did everything he could to bring Dallas back in the fourth quarter.

But the Cowboys’ bending defense bent to a point of failure on the Dolphins’ final offensive drive, resulting in a hard-fought Cowboys loss.

5) Philadelphia Eagles

Jeffrey Lurie does not blame his players. The staff was quick to quietly demote Sean Desai and elevate Matt Patricia to defensive coordinator, but that move won’t save this defense.

They need their offense to get back on track if they want to have a serious shot at repeating as the NFC’s representative in the Super Bowl. Putting up 33 points against the Giants on Christmas Day was a start, but the Eagles’ defense still gave up 25 to a Giants team that benched its quarterback mid-game.

4) Buffalo Bills

The NFL is a funny place. Just a week ago the Bills were throttling the Dallas Cowboys at home. However, a flight across the nation to a five-win Chargers team with their backup quarterback and an interim head coach nearly beat them.

Any team can beat anybody, but if there is one roster that the division winners (if Buffalo does not win the AFC East) don’t want to face in the Wild Card Round, it’s these Bills.

3) Miami Dolphins

We don’t often get to see two of the best teams in the league face off. It’s even rarer to see two of the most talented teams in the league play a game that lives up to the hype, even if it’s not quite the way we imagined it.

Both offenses had decent days at the office but were ultimately flawed. The Dolphins couldn’t score touchdowns in the red zone despite moving the ball well down the field, and the Cowboys could not protect Prescott at all.

2) San Francisco 49ers

It’s difficult to move the 49ers down any further than No. 2 after losing to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night. After all, the Ravens were our second-ranked team heading into Week 16 — there’s no shame in dropping a game to a club as talented as Baltimore.

Brock Purdy shouldn’t have any trouble guiding an elite San Francisco roster through the playoffs. But Monday’s four-interception performance proved the 49ers are fallible, at least when they face the league’s most dominant defenses.

1) Baltimore Ravens

Christmas evening’s Ravens-49ers game was supposed to be a Super Bowl preview, but the matchup hardly lived up to the hype. Lamar Jackson increased his MVP chances by averaging 7.2 yards per pass attempt while throwing two touchdowns and adding 45 yards on the ground. Purdy’s collapse on the other side of the field didn’t hurt Lamar’s odds, either.

The 49ers outgained the Ravens, but Baltimore won the turnover battle 5-0. Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s opportunistic defense can hold up against any offense, and their outstanding performance should get McDonald head coaching interviews next spring.

In the near term, the Ravens are atop the NFL universe. Baltimore can clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed — giving John Harbaugh’s club a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage throughout the postseason — by taking down the Miami Dolphins next Sunday.

Want to predict the rest of the 2023 season with our FREE NFL Playoff Predictor? Looking for the most up-to-date NFL standings? What about a breakdown of team depth charts or the NFL schedule? Pro Football Network has you covered with that and more! 

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