Brock Purdy blew out Tom Brady. Detroit Lions right tackle Penei Sewell caught a game-clinching first down. The Carolina Panthers have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs in the same season that they fired their head coach. One-score games and fourth-quarter comebacks continue to occur at sky-high rates. The NFL is nothing if not entertaining. This is the backdrop for The Ringer’s latest power rankings. The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens still cling to top-10 spots despite quarterback injuries, while the Miami Dolphins are in a freefall as their healthy quarterback has fallen apart under pressure. The best of the NFL, however, isn’t changing, as the top five teams from a week ago remain the top five teams heading into Week 15.
Best of the Best
1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-1 | last week’s ranking: 1)
The Eagles can do whatever they want right now. They have the best record in the NFL and, somehow, they are getting better every week. The Eagles have scored at least 35 points in each of their last three games, and now lead the league in total points (386) and point differential (138) and have a clear path to the no. 1 seed in the NFC.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3 | last week: 3)
Don’t let his three interceptions against Denver trick you into thinking Patrick Mahomes isn’t playing at an elite level this season. He is the top-ranked quarterback in EPA per dropback entering Week 15, and no one else really comes close. As exceptional as Jalen Hurts has been for Philly, Mahomes deserves to be the runaway favorite for MVP right now.
3. Buffalo Bills (10-3 | last week: 2)
The Jets (and some bad Buffalo weather) limited Josh Allen to a season-low 147 passing yards on 27 attempts on Sunday, but it didn’t matter. Allen rushed for a team-high 47 yards, including a 16-yard scamper on third-and-15, and ran for a touchdown. There are concerns with the drop-off in efficiency for the Bills offense since Allen injured his throwing elbow in the team’s Week 9 loss to the Jets, but as long as he’s healthy enough to play and contribute in multiple ways, Buffalo has enough to compete for a Super Bowl.
Deep Postseason Contenders
4. Dallas Cowboys (10-3 | last week: 4)
Dak Prescott threw a couple of ugly interceptions and the Cowboys defense played down to their competition against Houston on Sunday. However, Prescott rallied and orchestrated an 11-play, 98-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to help Dallas avoid what would have been the worst loss in the NFL this season.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4 | last week: 5)
The Joe Burrow–Ja’Marr Chase connection is lethal. Chase caught 10 of 15 targets for 119 yards and a touchdown in the Bengals’ win over the Browns on Sunday. No other Cincinnati receiver caught more than two passes. Burrow and Chase are thriving, the team’s run game continues to be a highlight, and the defense is showing it can stop the league’s best running backs after holding both Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb to under 3 yards per carry. The Bengals are a legitimate Super Bowl contender peaking at the right time once again.
Flawed Postseason Contenders
6. San Francisco 49ers (9-4 | last week: 9)
The sample size is tiny, but man, it’s hard not to back Brock Purdy and the 49ers right now. All Purdy has to do with Kyle Shanahan pulling the strings is protect the football, not collapse under pressure, and capitalize on the few downfield shots he gets per game—and so far he’s checking every box. Even with Deebo Samuel out for at least a few weeks with an ankle injury, the 49ers have enough talent around Purdy to win out the rest of the regular season and go into the playoffs red hot.
7. Baltimore Ravens (9-4 | last week: 8)
In his first game back from injury since Week 6, Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown in Baltimore’s win over the Steelers on Sunday. Both Dobbins and Gus Edwards averaged more than five yards per carry—exactly the type of production the Ravens needed as they were forced to turn to backup QB Tyler Huntley (and then no. 3 QB Anthony Brown, who came in after Huntley suffered a concussion in the third quarter). The Ravens will need similar contributions across the roster for as long as starting QB Lamar Jackson remains sidelined with a knee injury.
8. Miami Dolphins (8-5 | last week: 6)
Brandon Staley schemed up a Chargers defense that forced Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa into playing his worst game of the season on Sunday Night Football. Hell, Tagovailoa even looked better against San Francisco a week ago, against better defensive talent, than he did against Los Angeles. The Chargers secondary disrupted the timing of Miami’s route concepts with heavy doses of man and press coverages, and the two-high zone coverages Staley called in obvious passing situations forced Tagovailoa way out of his comfort zone. All of the success for head coach Mike McDaniel and the Dolphins’ elite cast of weapons is coming to a grinding halt because their quarterback isn’t handling the pressure and scheme adjustments made by opposing defensive coordinators.
9. Minnesota Vikings (10-3 | last week: 7)
It’s too bad Justin Jefferson can’t play defense. The Vikings’ star wideout caught 11 passes for 223 yards in the team’s 34-23 loss to the Lions on Sunday. Minnesota is now tied for 27th in offensive points allowed per game and ranks 31st in yards allowed per play. That type of defensive performance is the main reason to doubt the Vikings as a serious contender.
10. Tennessee Titans (7-6 | last week: 11)
The Titans offense tanks off-script, and their pass defense is getting exposed every week. Tennessee ranks fourth in EPA per play in the first quarter of games; they rank 32nd in the same statistic in the next three quarters. Combine that with a defense that is allowing the second-most passing yards per game of any team in the NFL, and it becomes more obvious why the only team the Titans have beat with a winning record this season is the Commanders. Tennessee is still a safe bet to win the AFC South, but it feels like they’re primed for an early exit in the playoffs.
Best of the Playoff Hunt
11. Seattle Seahawks (7-6 | last week: 12)
Sunday wasn’t a banner performance from Geno Smith, as he threw two costly interceptions and finished with a sub-60 completion percentage for the first time this season, but the Seahawks defense remains a far bigger concern to Seattle’s postseason hopes. Seattle enters Week 15 ranked 29th in offensive points allowed per game, and the only three teams that haven’t scored 20 or more against them are Broncos, Cardinals, and Giants. Smith and the offense have no margin for error as long as the defense is getting bullied every single week.
12. Los Angeles Chargers (7-6 | last week: 17)
Justin Herbert was the star of Sunday Night Football. Despite playing behind an injury-plagued offensive line, with a slow-moving receiving corps and for a conservative, screen-obsessed offensive play caller, Herbert continued to prove why he’s one of the five best quarterbacks in the NFL with his performance against the Dolphins. That’s not up for debate.
13. New York Jets (7-6 | last week: 12)
Mike White is only 1-2 since replacing Zach Wilson as the Jets’ starting QB in Week 12, but his record doesn’t accurately reflect just how much the team’s offense has improved. The biggest difference has been White’s ability to avoid bailing out of clean pockets and stay poised under pressure. And boy, did White face pressure Sunday against Buffalo: He was pressured 11 times, hit seven times, sacked three times, and had his ribs evaluated at a hospital after the game. Still, White is the fifth-ranked quarterback in EPA per dropback when pressured over the last three weeks; Wilson, meanwhile, ranked 33rd in the same statistic in weeks 4-11.
14. Washington Commanders (7-5-1 | last week: 15)
The Commanders’ chances of making the postseason could clear 90 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight, if they just handle business as a 3.5-point home favorite over the Giants in Week 15. If it feels like you just saw this game, you’re right: Washington and the Giants tied two weeks ago, and the Commanders were off last week, giving Ron Rivera’s team an edge in preparation and rest for this rematch.
15. New England Patriots (7-6 | last week: 13)
The Patriots offense is still painfully conservative and frustrating. They enter Week 15’s game against Las Vegas ranked 27th in offensive EPA per drive and 23rd in offensive points per game. Unless Bill Belichick’s defense puts on a master class in their four remaining regular-season games, New England will likely be on the outside looking in at the playoffs even with their win over Colt McCoy and the Cardinals on Monday.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7 | last week: 10)
The Bucs got boat raced in the Bay Area on Sunday, just the latest disappointing performance from a team that should have been a contender. Tom Brady is the only reason for optimism in Tampa Bay, but even the GOAT can’t absolve all of the sins of the coaching staff and surrounding talent.
Worst of the Playoff Hunt
17. Detroit Lions (6-7 | last week: 18)
The Lions are the fifth-ranked offense in points per game, and Jared Goff is the no. 4 quarterback in EPA per dropback behind just Patrick Mahomes, Tua Tagovailoa, and Josh Allen. If their defense wasn’t literally the league’s worst, we’d be talking about a Lions team in contention for the NFC North crown and not a long-shot wild-card contender.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8 | last week: 24)
Trevor Lawrence has been an absolute menace of late. Since Week 9, he is the second-ranked quarterback according to the Pro Football Focus passing grades and EPA per dropback. The Jags still likely would have to win out to make the playoffs, but that’s certainly possible with how well Lawrence is playing right now.
19. New York Giants (7-5-1 | last week: 16)
The Giants’ crash back down to earth has been swift but not unexpected. The receiving corps is injury-plagued and lacks top-end talent; other areas of the roster, particularly the linebacking group and the secondary, have also been hit hard by injuries. But these aren’t necessarily new problems for the Giants; it’s just caught up to them in the second half of the season. The Giants are no longer winning close games. They are 1-4-1 in the past six games, and their season is on the line this Sunday against Washington.
20. Carolina Panthers (5-8 | last week: 28)
What Steve Wilks has done to keep the Panthers in contention for the NFC South title is remarkable. Carolina is 4-4 since firing Matt Rhule and naming Wilks interim head coach in early October, and because the division has been so horrid all season, the Panthers would move to first place in the division with a win over the Steelers and a Bucs loss to the Bengals in Week 15.
We’re Onto 2023
21. Green Bay Packers (5-8 | last week: 23)
Surely when the Packers opted for a Week 14 bye (instead of taking it after their Week 5 game in London), they thought they’d use this week to rest up for a playoff run. Instead, it was just more time to think about what a disappointment this season has been. Green Bay returns this week to play the equally-disappointing Rams with a defense that ranks 23rd in defensive success rate and 26th in yards per play allowed.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8 | last week: 20)
Kenny Pickett suffered a concussion in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Ravens, and backup QB Mitchell Trubisky threw three picks off the bench in a losing effort. There’s no reason to rush Pickett back from his second head injury either, as the loss all but guarantees the Steelers will miss the postseason.
23. Cleveland Browns (5-8 | last week: 21)
Nick Chubb was bottled up by a vaunted Bengals run defense in Week 14, and Deshaun Watson simply wasn’t efficient enough to keep the offense on schedule without a successful run game. In the two games since Watson took over as Cleveland’s QB, the Browns offense ranks 31st in EPA per drive and last offensive points per game.
24. Atlanta Falcons (5-8 | last week: 22)
It’s likely too little, too late for the Falcons to vault into playoff contention in a dismal NFC South, but head coach Arthur Smith’s decision to bench Marcus Mariota for rookie Desmond Ridder coming out of the team’s Week 14 bye is a much-needed step in the right direction. Mariota’s ball placement was among the worst in the NFL, and his inaccuracy didn’t work in an offense designed around running the ball and chucking it deep for explosive gains. It’ll be difficult for Ridder to be any worse than Mariota was, and starting him even for just the remaining four games on the schedule will give the Falcons more information to evaluate how they should address the quarterback position beyond this season.
25. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1 | last week: 25)
This much is clear: Matt Ryan isn’t the savior the Colts hoped for, nor is interim head coach Jeff Saturday. The Colts won’t make the playoffs, and Ryan will join Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, and Carson Wentz in the list of failed Andrew Luck successors. Back-to-back-to-back stop-gap solutions at quarterback have cost the Colts their window of contention.
26. Las Vegas Raiders (5-8 | last week: 19)
The Raiders have lost three games this season in which they’ve led by 17 or more points. They’re the only team that has lost to Jeff Saturday’s Colts, and they did so in the first seven days he’d been an NFL head coach. And now Baker Mayfield has handed Las Vegas a loss just two days after signing with an underwhelming Rams team. It’s hard to say which loss was more embarrassing—and that’s a very bad sign for Josh McDaniels and his staff.
27. New Orleans Saints (4-9 | last week: 26)
It’s hard to find an obvious path for the Saints to return to contention as currently constructed. The top of the 2023 payroll includes Michael Thomas, Cameron Jordan, Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Andrus Peat, Alvin Kamara, Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Demario Davis, and Erik McCoy; those 10 players alone make up nearly 85 percent of the team’s projected 2023 cap space, and none of them can be cut without taking on at least $10 million in dead money. They also don’t have a 2023 first-round pick after trading up with the Eagles for Chris Olave in this year’s draft. Going all in every year since 2017 has left the Saints in dire straits.
28. Arizona Cardinals (4-9 | last week: 27)
As if the Cardinals’ season couldn’t get any worse, QB Kyler Murray was carted off the field after suffering a non-contact knee injury on the third play of the game on Monday night. The initial fear is reportedly a torn ACL. With or without Murray, the Cardinals didn’t have a realistic chance of making the postseason even before Monday’s loss to the Patriots. The real concern now will be if Murray’s injury is so severe that it impacts how soon he can play at the start of next season.
Bottom of the Barrel
29. Los Angeles Rams (4-9 | last week: 31)
Just two days after being picked up by the Rams, Baker Mayfield led an eight-play, 98-yard, game-winning touchdown drive using zero timeouts in the final 1:45 against the Raiders on Thursday Night Football. It was a wild comeback and a remarkable story and, somehow, the highlight of the Rams’ otherwise disastrous 2022 season.
30. Chicago Bears (3-10 | last week: 29)
The Bears went into their Week 14 bye on a six-game losing streak and had already been eliminated from the playoffs. The priorities in Chicago for the next month should be to protect Justin Fields at all costs and plan to throw the kitchen sink at surrounding him with talent through free agency and the 2023 draft.
31. Denver Broncos (3-10 | last week: 30)
The Broncos can’t catch a break. Russell Wilson was playing the best football of his Broncos tenure on Sunday before he exited the game with a concussion early in the fourth quarter. He completed 23-of-36 passes for 247 yards and a season-high three touchdowns while also rushing for 57 yards on four carries.
Eyeing the No. 1 Pick
32. Houston Texans (1-11-1 | last week: 32)
The Texans played Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel as part of a two-quarterback strategy against the Cowboys on Sunday and were a successful Hail Mary away from winning the game. There’s no bigger evidence for how absurd the 2022 NFL season has been than that.