Injuries are the worst part of football, and they’re impacting multiple teams in The Ringer’s latest NFL power rankings. The San Francisco 49ers, despite a convincing win over the high-flying Miami Dolphins on Sunday, drop to no. 9 after starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending foot injury. The Baltimore Ravens aren’t tumbling yet, but their grip on the AFC North and their spot in our top 10 is in jeopardy as Lamar Jackson is expected to miss some time with a knee injury. Two of the best teams in the NFL suffering quarterback injuries late in the season will have a significant impact on the playoff seeding and ultimately who wins the Super Bowl.
Those injuries were part of the story of Week 13. Another was a potential shake-up in the AFC, with the Cincinnati Bengals beating the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Buffalo Bills regaining their lead in the AFC East after Miami’s loss. Now, on to the rankings.
Best of the Best
1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-1 | last week’s ranking: 1)
The Eagles out-bullied one of the biggest bullies in the league on Sunday. A.J. Brown literally ran through a Titans defender’s face en route to his first of two touchdowns in the 35-10 win over his former team. Tennessee managed to slow the Philadelphia run game down, but simply had no answers for Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ passing attack. Hurts only had 12 yards rushing but put together one of his best performances of the year, going 29-of-39 for 380 passing yards and three touchdowns. No one is beating the Eagles if Hurts plays the way he did against Tennessee into February.
2. Buffalo Bills (9-3 | last week: 3)
Josh Allen is an alien, and his touchdown pass to Gabe Davis while running out of bounds in the Bills’ Week 13 win over the Pats was just another example of that. But can we also tip our (big) cap to the surrounding talent? New offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey has lived up to the offseason hype as Brian Daboll’s successor as the play caller for Allen; Stefon Diggs is one of the eight best receivers in football; Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano are arguably the league’s top linebacker tandem and lead a defense that has constantly overperformed through multiple injuries. This is one of the NFL’s most complete teams, and it has an alien at quarterback, so it was an easy call to move them back ahead of Kansas City as the top-ranked AFC team after Week 13.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3 | last week: 2)
As long as Patrick Mahomes is healthy and starting, the Chiefs are in the elite tier of teams in the NFL. The Bengals (shout-out Big Lou Anarumo) have the Chiefs’ number, but Mahomes is still the best quarterback in the league, and Kansas City’s offense is still the best in the league. This loss to the Bengals doesn’t dramatically impact their ranking here. If there’s reason for doubt, it’s on the defensive side of the ball. Kansas City enters Week 14 ranked 20th in points allowed per game and 26th in defensive success rate.
Deep Postseason Contenders
4. Dallas Cowboys (9-3 | last week: 4)
Dak Prescott continues to raise the ceiling of Dallas’s offense. CeeDee Lamb is the no. 3 receiver behind Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams in yards per route run since Prescott returned to the starting lineup in Week 7, and the Cowboys’ passing attack ranks third in EPA per play behind Kansas City and Cincinnati in the same stretch of games. Right now, the Eagles and Cowboys are in a class of their own in the NFC, especially now that the 49ers will be without Garoppolo for the remainder of the season.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4 | last week: 8)
What’s not to like in Cincinnati right now? Joe Burrow is playing the best football of his career; head coach Zac Taylor has done more to improve the offense than he ever has with the Bengals; and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has somehow elevated his game without top cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Hell, even backup running back Samaje Perine is balling out in Joe Mixon’s stead in recent weeks. This is a better Bengals team than last year, and that team went all the way to the Super Bowl.
6. Miami Dolphins (8-4 | last week: 6)
The Dolphins will fall out of the top 10 of this ranking if they let Sunday’s loss against San Francisco become a blueprint for other teams on how to limit Tua Tagovailoa and the offense. No other defense can replicate what Fred Warner does over the middle of the field for the 49ers, but other defenses can dial up pressure and play press coverage, hit Tagovailoa, and disrupt the timing of the offense. Head coach Mike McDaniel and Co. rushed to encourage Tagovailoa when the quarterback was rattled by early pressure and a few QB hits. He was missing throws he hasn’t missed all season, and the game got out of hand because of it. The reason for optimism is that Tagovailoa started to regain his confidence and play better in the fourth quarter before he left the game with an ankle injury that does not appear to be serious.
Flawed Postseason Contenders
7. Minnesota Vikings (10-2 | last week: 7)
Kirk Cousins had an uncharacteristically inaccurate performance and star wideout Justin Jefferson was held under 50 receiving yards in Sunday’s win against the Jets. Nine of the Vikings’ 10 wins this season have been by one score—and the Vikings are coming up big in clutch time, as Cam Bynum’s late interception of Mike White clinched the win against New York. There’s a gap between the Vikings and the two teams they’ve lost to (Eagles and Cowboys), but they’re still the third-best team in the NFC right now.
8. Baltimore Ravens (8-4 | last week: 9)
Lamar Jackson is the main reason I’ve considered the Ravens a legitimate contender in the AFC, and now he is expected to miss “days to weeks,” John Harbaugh said, after suffering a knee injury early in Sunday’s win over the Broncos. Baltimore scored a season-low 10 points with backup Tyler Huntley thrust into the game, and the betting market is already shifting in response to Jackson’s injury. The Ravens have moved from 4.5-point road favorites to three-point underdogs against the Steelers in Week 14. While a postseason berth likely isn’t in jeopardy for Baltimore, there’s no question that the Ravens need Jackson back healthy in a hurry to hold off the surging Bengals in the AFC North.
9. San Francisco 49ers (8-4 | last week: 5)
Don’t let Brock Purdy’s success in a fill-in spot against a bad Miami defense blind you to what losing Jimmy Garoppolo for the remainder of the season truly means for San Francisco. While there’s no head coach in the NFL that I trust more to prop up a backup QB than Kyle Shanahan, the dropoff in talent and experience from Garoppolo to Purdy is significant. The 49ers are still too well-coached and too talented on both sides of the ball to completely collapse, but the Garoppolo injury puts them comfortably behind the Cowboys and Eagles and even the Vikings in the second tier of NFC contenders.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6 | last week: 11)
Tom Brady and the Bucs offense was heinous for the first 55 minutes of their showdown with the Saints on Monday Night Football. Then, in the hurry-up trailing by 13 points, Brady reminded everyone why he is the GOAT. Yes, the offense is still frustrating. Yes, Byron Leftwich isn’t maximizing the talent as an offensive play caller. And yes, head coach Todd Bowles is routinely conservative with his game management late in games. But the Bucs have Brady, and sometimes that’s all that matters.
11. Tennessee Titans (7-5 | last week: 10)
The Titans offense came to a grinding halt against Philadelphia after Treylon Burks suffered a concussion on a first-quarter touchdown reception. Burks, a rookie first-round pick, is one of few offensive weapons the Titans can rely on when opposing defenses effectively limit Derrick Henry, as the Eagles did on Sunday, and the Titans had only one drive go for over 25 yards after Burks left the game. Still, a bigger concern coming out of Sunday’s loss was a pass defense that was helpless to stop Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, and DeVonta Smith. The only team Tennessee’s beat with a winning record this season is the Commanders, and while the Titans are still a lock to make the playoffs given the ineptitude of the AFC South, right now there is a gap between them and the true AFC contenders.
12. Seattle Seahawks (7-5 | last week: 12)
It’s time to consider what sort of money Geno Smith should make next year after his performance in 2022. For comparison, Ryan Tannehill got a four-year, $118 million deal after he revitalized his career with the Titans in 2019; Tannehill threw for more than 2,700 yards in 12 regular-season games and led Tennessee to the AFC championship game that season. Smith’s stats are better now than Tannehill’s were that year, and he’s got the Seahawks in playoff contention. Smith has maintained a high floor for Seattle’s offense all season and is the clear front-runner for the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award. There are better teams in the NFC right now, but the future in Seattle is an exciting one with Smith at the helm.
On the Bubble
13. New York Jets (7-5 | last week: 14)
The loss to Minnesota stings, but man, do the Jets look better with Mike White at QB. Sure, White’s two interceptions against the Vikings are a nasty look in the box score, but he played his ass off on Sunday. If Braxton Berrios could have held onto this fourth-down pass in the end zone, the Jets likely win that game. White has now thrown for 300-plus yards in back-to-back starts this season after replacing Zach Wilson. He’s clearly elevated the offense simply by getting the ball out on time and accurately inside of structure. The playoffs are still far from a guarantee, but it’s obvious White gives New York the best chance of getting in.
14. New England Patriots (6-6 | last week: 13)
The Patriots offense is frustrating. Mac Jones was screaming on the sideline in the team’s blowout loss against the Bills. In an expletive-ridden outburst, Jones pleaded for his coaches to call more downfield passing concepts and stop calling so much quick game and underneath stuff. Unfortunately for Jones, Matt Patricia has been calling plays that way all year. The passing attack is predicated on even more shallow, quick-hitting routes than it was in Jones’s rookie season. The offense ranks 27th in total air yards on early downs and avoids downfield throws even in obvious passing situations. On second, third, and fourth downs of 7 yards or more, the Patriots throw the ball 4.7 yards behind the sticks on average; no other team in the NFL throws shorter in those situations. How much of this conservatism is Patricia’s style as a new offensive play caller with a defensive background versus a lack of trust in Jones or the Pats’ supporting cast is hard to determine, but the result is definitely worth screaming about.
15. Washington Commanders (7-5-1 | last week: 16)
Sunday’s tie with the Giants was ugly, but the Commanders still control their destiny in the NFC wild-card race. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke has brought life to an offense that ranked 28th in points per game before he took over as the starter, and the defense remains one of the league’s best. Washington will play the Giants for the second time in three weeks when it host them on Sunday Night Football after their Week 14 bye. FiveThirtyEight gives the Commanders a better than 85 percent chance to make the postseason if they can handle business at home in the rematch with New York.
16. New York Giants (7-4-1 | last week: 17)
Nothing is coming easy for the Giants. None of their seven wins this season have been by more than eight points, and they’ve had a lead going into the fourth quarter in only three of their 12 games. It’s a gritty, volatile way to play each week, but the Giants simply have no other way. The truth is that this roster lacks top-end talent, and too many of the players they do have are injured. The Giants have the 10th-most difficult remaining schedule, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.
Long-Shot Playoff Hopefuls
17. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6 | last week: 15)
The Chargers offense is painfully conservative, and Brandon Staley’s defense is somehow worse than it was last season despite some big-name additions this offseason like Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, and Kyle Van Noy. Injury excuses don’t cut it when teams with less talent—and specifically teams with worse QBs—are finding ways to handle the Chargers on both sides of the ball. If the Chargers lose to Miami this week, their chances to make the playoffs will drop below 15 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight. It’s hard to imagine a situation where the coaching staff is held intact if they miss the postseason again.
18. Detroit Lions (5-7 | last week: 19)
The Lions have won four of their past five games and are playing their best football of the season right now. Headlined by WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and RB Jamaal Williams, the offense ranks sixth in points per game and EPA per drive. They can play bully ball with the best of them behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, and St. Brown has quickly become an essential cog in a surprisingly potent passing attack. In the nine games in which St. Brown has played more than 25 offensive snaps, the Lions are third in EPA per pass play. It all might be a moot point in terms of playoff contention for this season, but for the first time in a long time, the Lions are playing well in December.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7 | last week: 23)
Sunday marked the best single-game performance for the Raiders in the Josh McDaniels era. The defense limited Justin Herbert better than most Chargers opponents have all season, and the Derek Carr–Davante Adams combination continues to absolve the many sins committed offensively. The Raiders are now 3-0 since Carr got emotional at his presser following the team’s loss to Jeff Saturday’s Colts in Week 10. Carr, Adams, and Josh Jacobs are legitimate foundational pieces on offense. Maxx Crosby is a star pass rusher. Las Vegas is and has always been a more talented team than its record has shown this season.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7 | last week: 28)
Kenny Pickett is improving every week. The game seems to be slowing down for the first-round rookie, and he continues to navigate the pocket and throw the football with more confidence. In his first four starts (weeks 5-8), Pickett was the least-efficient quarterback in the NFL. In his next four starts following the team’s bye in Week 9, he ranked 19th in EPA per dropback. There are still growing pains and limitations to his game, but Pickett’s improvement is a positive development in what has otherwise been a disappointing season for the Steelers.
21. Cleveland Browns (5-7 | last week: 21)
Deshaun Watson’s Browns debut was disappointing. Not because he underwhelmed in his first start in 700 days, but because of how he and the Browns and some of their fans are handling his return to football. He’s declined to answer non-football questions, fans are showing their support—and the Browns are now 1-0 with Watson and proceeding as if it’s football business as usual. The Browns might feel vindicated after reading team- and player-friendly anonymously sourced reports of his “progress” and beating the Texans, but they shouldn’t.
22. Atlanta Falcons (5-8 | last week: 18)
After a 19-16 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday—their sixth loss by six points or less this season—Falcons head coach Arthur Smith told the media that everything is being evaluated and “every job is open.” The biggest potential change Smith now must consider is at quarterback, and whether it’s time to bench Marcus Mariota in favor of rookie Desmond Ridder. Mariota’s downfield ball placement continues to be an Achilles’ heel for an offense that wants to chuck it deep for explosive plays. According to TruMedia, Mariota has both the highest average depth of target and inaccurate pass rate of any starter in the league. That’s not a winning formula, especially when the Falcons play so many tight games.
We’re Onto 2023
23. Green Bay Packers (5-8 | last week: 26)
After a slow start to his rookie season, Green Bay’s Christian Watson has shot out of a cannon as one of the league’s brightest young stars. The 6-foot-4, 208-pound wide receiver has eight touchdowns on 17 touches in his past four games, including a rushing and receiving touchdown in their win over the Bears on Sunday. According to Next Gen Stats, Watson clocked the fourth-fastest time of any NFL player this season on his 46-yard touchdown run against Chicago. In a down year by Packers standards, Watson alone has been a much-needed source of optimism and excitement.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8 | last week: 24)
Only a week removed from an absolutely electric fourth-quarter comeback win over the Ravens, the Jaguars suffered a 40-14 blowout loss to the Lions. Trevor Lawrence, who played until the game got out of hand in the fourth quarter despite suffering an injury in the first half, wasn’t awful, but Jacksonville still couldn’t match the Lions’ offensive onslaught. Detroit never punted and didn’t turn the ball over, scoring on all eight possessions before finishing the game with two kneel-downs in victory formation. It’s just a reminder that for as bright as Lawrence has shined in spurts this season, the Jags’ supporting cast is still among the league’s worst.
25. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1 | last week: 22)
It doesn’t get much more embarrassing than this: On Sunday Night Football, the Colts were outscored 33-0 in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss to the Cowboys. Indianapolis is now tied with a Milwaukee Badgers team that allegedly fielded high schoolers in 1925 for being on the wrong end of the largest fourth-quarter scoring differential in NFL history. The jokes write themselves for a team that’s now 1-3 under interim head coach Jeff Saturday, who, coincidentally, had only ever coached high school before getting the call from Jim Irsay a month ago.
26. New Orleans Saints (4-9 | last week: 20)
Leading by 13 points with 3:19 left in the fourth quarter, the Saints had a 98.1 percent chance of beating the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football according to ESPN’s win probability model. And they lost! The end-of-game management from Dennis Allen and the Saints (Mark Ingram II, what were you doing going out of bounds?!) was somehow worse than what Todd Bowles and the Bucs were doing on the opposite sideline, and it cost New Orleans and whatever slim hopes it had left of making the playoffs.
27. Arizona Cardinals (4-8 | last week: 25)
The only thing sadder than the Cardinals on their way to another disappointing year is that HBO is capturing it in even more detail on Hard Knocks In Season. Episodes will air weekly as Kyler Murray quarrels with former teammates online and Kliff Kingsbury marches on his fourth consecutive season without a playoff win. Get your popcorn ready.
28. Carolina Panthers (4-8 | last week: 27)
Baker Mayfield’s release from the Panthers isn’t surprising. He was among the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL this season; he ranks 32nd among the 36 QBs The Ringer’s Steven Ruiz has analyzed this season, and no starter has a lower EPA per dropback through 13 weeks than Mayfield. In a carousel of nightmarish quarterback play dating back to 2020, from Teddy Bridgewater to Sam Darnold to Cam Newton to Mayfield to P.J. Walker and back to Darnold again, Mayfield was the worst of the bunch.
29. Chicago Bears (3-10 | last week: 31)
What else is there to say about the Bears at this point? Chicago is on a fast track for a top-five pick after dropping six consecutive games, but second-year quarterback Justin Fields continues to flash his physical brilliance during the barrage of losses. Fields ranks eighth in EPA per pass play and first in EPA per rush since Week 7. If there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the Bears, 100 percent of it is Fields.
30. Denver Broncos (3-9 | last week: 29)
Even Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett’s biggest doubters couldn’t have predicted the Broncos would enter Week 14 with an NFL-low 166 total points. Denver has scored more than 16 points in a game just twice this year, and couldn’t even get to double digits Sunday against Baltimore. How bad is it? There’s a TikTok account dedicated to a weekly update of the number of Wilson touchdown passes (eight) versus the number of bathrooms (12) in his new house in Denver, and glass-half-empty attendance reports from the quarterback’s birthday party. Calling this Broncos season laughable would be an understatement.
31. Los Angeles Rams (3-9 | last week: 30)
The Rams have now lost six straight games in what has been one of the worst Super Bowl hangovers the NFL has ever seen. According to ESPN, L.A.’s 3-9 record is the worst start of any reigning Super Bowl champion in league history. And with Matthew Stafford—who has been placed on injured reserve with a spinal cord contusion—Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp all hurt, there’s no reason to believe it’s going to get any better before the end of the season.
Eyeing No. 1 Overall Pick
32. Houston Texans (1-10-1 | last week: 32)
Whether it’s Davis Mills or Kyle Allen, the Texans’ quarterback situation is horrid. Mills ranked 36th among qualifying starters in EPA per dropback through the first 11 weeks of the season; Allen ranks 33rd in the same metric in his two weeks as the starter. The only thing Houston has to look forward to is that it’s almost a sure thing it’ll own the no. 1 pick in the draft and get its choice of QBs around whom it can rebuild.