Baseball

NFL Power Rankings Week 13: Cowboys, Steelers moving up, plus best-case scenarios

The homestretch of the NFL season is upon us, and the Power Rankings are in an optimistic mood. That means that this week we’ll look at the best-case scenario for all 32 teams the remainder of the season.

For some, it’s a Super Bowl ring, for some, it’s a postseason appearance and for some, it’s a new head coach under the Christmas tree.

(Last week: 1)

Sunday: Beat Buffalo Bills 37-34 in overtime

Best case: Super Bowl ring

Three coaches in NFL history have started 10-1 in back-to-back seasons, according to Elias Sports. They are Don Shula, Tony Dungy and … Nick Sirianni. The Eagles, who played without offensive tackle Lane Johnson (groin), have beaten the Cowboys, Chiefs and Bills in consecutive games, and their next three are against the 49ers, Cowboys and Seahawks. Jalen Hurts, who had five touchdowns Sunday, is second in the NFL in rushing touchdowns (11) and has 18 passing touchdowns. This team can erase the bad taste of last year’s Super Bowl loss.

Up next: vs. San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

NFL Week 12 takeaways: Are Bills’ playoff hopes over after OT loss to Eagles?

(Last week: 4)

Sunday: Beat Los Angeles Chargers 20-10

Best case: Super Bowl ring

The Ravens are the most balanced team in the AFC. They are second in scoring defense (15.6) and defensive success rate (62.9 percent). Offensively, they lead the league in rushing (158.6 per game) and are seventh in yards overall (366.1 ypg). Linebackers Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen each have more than 100 tackles, and Jadeveon Clowney has 7 1/2 sacks. Baltimore hasn’t advanced past the divisional round since its 2012 Super Bowl win. That looks like it’ll change.

Up next: Bye

3. Kansas City Chiefs (8-3)

(Last week: 2)

Sunday: Beat Las Vegas Raiders 31-17

Best case: Super Bowl ring

It would be the second in a row for the Chiefs. Any worries about the state of Kansas City’s wide receiving corps should be offset by the fact that this team won its last Super Bowl with the same group plus JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has 24 catches this season for 159 yards for the Patriots. Rashee Rice was a bright spot Sunday, catching eight passes for 107 yards. With Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, the best case is a ring. On Sunday, Reid became the first coach in NFL history to become the winningest coach for two franchises.

Up next: at Green Bay Packers, Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET

4. San Francisco 49ers (8-3)

(Last week: 5)

Thursday: Beat Seattle Seahawks 31-13

Best case: Super Bowl ring

Since acquiring defensive end Chase Young at the trade deadline, the 49ers are second in the league with 15 sacks. They have at least four sacks in each game since then, and they got Geno Smith six times on Thanksgiving Day. Plus, they still have Brock Purdy and that offense. San Francisco has played one other contender this season. It beat the Cowboys 42-10 in that game. This team could finally get Kyle Shanahan his championship.

Up next: at Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

5. Dallas Cowboys (8-3)

(Last week: 7)

Thursday: Beat Washington Commanders 45-10

Best case: Super Bowl ring

Dallas hasn’t been able to do better than regular-season rings for a while now, so there’s some understandable skepticism about this team, but the Cowboys are a very real threat. They lead the NFL in scoring margin (162). They are second in offensive EPA, third in defensive EPA and 10th in special teams EPA. Dak Prescott received PFF’s highest game grade (97) of any quarterback since 2007 for his Thursday performance. He has topped 300 yards passing and a 115 passer rating four times in the last five games.

Up next: vs. Seattle Seahawks, Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET


Tyreek Hill and the Dolphins’ explosive offense gives coach Mike McDaniel’s team a chance against everyone. (Mike Stobe / Getty Images)

(Last week: 6)

Friday: Beat New York Jets 34-13

Best case: Super Bowl

The Dolphins are second in the league in scoring (30.82 ppg) despite having 19 turnovers (the sixth most in the league). If Miami’s offense plays cleanly, this team can beat anyone. However, a defense that ranks 22nd in points allowed (22.82 per game) and lost Jaelan Phillips to an Achilles injury Friday combined with the fact that the Dolphins didn’t top 20 points against the Bills, Eagles or Chiefs makes it hard to think this group can beat three really good teams in a row.

Up next: at Washington Commanders, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

(Last week: 3)

Thursday: Lost to Green Bay Packers 29-22

Best case: Super Bowl ring

Even Jared Goff’s most ardent fans get nervous this time of year, and Goff wasn’t great Thursday against the Packers. Still, in an off game, he produced 332 yards, two touchdowns and a 103.6 passer rating. The Lions play the Saints, Bears, Broncos and Vikings (twice) down the stretch. If Detroit can get home-field advantage, it can make a run with this offense, which ranks second in the league in yardage (405.5).

Up next: at New Orleans Saints, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Explaining the inexplicable Denver Broncos and other NFL mysteries: Sando’s Pick Six

(Last week: 9)

Sunday: Beat Houston Texans 24-21

Best case: Two playoff games

Jacksonville’s stars are getting hot at the right time. Linebacker Josh Allen had 2 1/2 sacks Sunday and now is second in franchise history with 38 for his career. On the offensive side, Calvin Ridley has 192 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the last two weeks. Jacksonville has won seven of its last eight with the only loss coming to San Francisco.

Up next: vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET

9. Buffalo Bills (6-6)

(Last week: 12)

Sunday: Lost to Philadelphia Eagles 37-34 in overtime

Best case: Super Bowl

We’re having a hard time giving up on the Bills even though they lost for the third time in four games Sunday. The reason? That very game. Buffalo gained 505 yards and went toe-to-toe with the defending NFC champions in Philadelphia. The Bills are fifth in scoring (27.33 per game) and fourth in scoring margin (101). It’s not going to be easy to claw back into the picture with the Chiefs, Cowboys and Dolphins still on the schedule, but if they do …

Up next: Bye

(Last week: 10)

Sunday: Lost to Jacksonville Jaguars 24-21

Best case: Two playoff games

This team will be dangerous in the playoffs, if it makes it, because of C.J. Stroud. The rookie topped 300 yards passing for the fourth consecutive game (an NFL rookie record) and sixth time this season Sunday and also led Houston in rushing with 47 yards. The Texans are one spot outside the playoff picture but still play the Titans twice and the Jets once down the stretch.

Up next: vs. Denver Broncos, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

(Last week: 15)

Sunday: Beat Cincinnati Bengals 16-10

Best case: Two playoff games

Firing Matt Canada seems to have served its purpose. After failing to top 400 yards in 44 games with Canada as the offensive coordinator, the Steelers gained 421 the week after firing him. Pairing an actual offense with a defense that ranks fifth in points allowed (18.6 ppg) is a winning formula, but it’s hard to imagine Kenny Pickett (31st in EPA per attempt, minus-.05) making much of a playoff run.

Up next: vs. Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

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GO DEEPER

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12. Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

(Last week: 11)

Thursday: Lost to San Francisco 49ers 31-13

Best case: Playoffs

There was a time not long ago when the Seahawks looked like a threat to San Francisco in the NFC West. That thought died Thursday when Seattle had three first downs compared with San Francisco’s 16 in the first half. It was the Seahawks’ third loss in the last four games, but they are holding onto the sixth seed in the NFC right now. Still, a defense that ranks 22nd in points allowed (22.6) puts a ceiling on this team.

Up next: at Dallas Cowboys, Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET

13. Denver Broncos (6-5)

(Last week: 16)

Sunday: Beat Cleveland Browns 29-12

Best case: Playoffs

Denver won its fifth straight Sunday, giving it the longest active winning streak in the league. In that stretch, the Broncos are third in the league in scoring defense (16.8 ppg allowed). Prior to the winning streak, Denver was giving up 33.3 points per game, which ranked last in the league. Russell Wilson threw for only 134 yards Sunday, but he’s fifth in the league in passer rating (103.4). The Broncos only play two more teams with a winning record — the Lions and Texans. They are a very real playoff contender, but it’s hard to forecast much more considering all the energy it will take to get there.

Up next: at Houston Texans, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

(Last week: 8)

Sunday: Lost to Denver Broncos 29-12

Best case: Playoffs

The Browns would be the No. 6 seed in the AFC if the playoffs started today. Now, they just have to see if they can hold on to that spot. Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson was knocked out of Sunday’s game with a head injury and was replaced by P.J. Walker, who completed 6 of 13 passes for 56 yards. That puts more pressure on a defense that ranks first in the league in success rate (67.6 percent) and sack percentage (10.6) and seventh in points allowed (19 per game).

Up next: at Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET


With running back Jonathan Taylor hitting his stride, the Colts could be dangerous down the stretch. (Lauren Leigh Bacho / Getty Images)

(Last week: 20)

Sunday: Beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-20

Best case: Playoffs

The Colts are the seventh seed at the moment and play only two more teams with a winning record — the Steelers and Texans. And this is with Gardner Minshew at quarterback. Jonathan Taylor had his second 90-plus-yard rushing game of the season (91 on 15 carries), and Indianapolis is 11th in the league in scoring (23.3). Shane Steichen has entered the Coach of the Year conversation.

Up next: at Tennessee Titans, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

16. Green Bay Packers (5-6)

(Last week: 23)

Thursday: Beat Detroit Lions 29-22

Best case: Playoffs

After upsetting the Lions on Thanksgiving, the Packers are only one spot out of the playoff picture. The reason is the improvement of Jordan Love, who is fourth in the league in EPA per attempt (.32) and passing yards (1,193) in November. He threw three touchdowns versus no interceptions on Thanksgiving against the Lions. After throwing eight interceptions in the first seven games, he has only two in the last four games.

Up next: vs. Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

(Last week: 24)

Sunday: Beat New Orleans Saints 24-15

Best case: Playoffs

The Falcons are in first place in the NFC South despite winning for the first time since Oct. 22 on Sunday. The run game produced a season-high 228 yards against New Orleans. Combining more of that with a defense that ranks sixth in the league in success percentage (61 percent) might be enough to keep the Falcons in front in this division. The best part of the weekend for Atlanta was the team’s celebration of 50 years of hip-hop music at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Ludacris even came out of the ceiling.

Up next: at New York Jets, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

18. Minnesota Vikings (6-6)

(Last week: 14)

Monday: Lost to Chicago Bears 12-10

Best case: Playoffs

Despite Josh Dobbs throwing four interceptions and despite losing to the Chicago Bears, the Vikings are still in the playoffs as the No. 7 seed for the moment. The problem is they still have to play the Lions twice. The Dobbs story was fun for a while, but the Vikings should have started working on a new deal for Kirk Cousins at some point in the second half Monday night.

Up next: Bye

(Last week: 25)

Sunday: Beat Arizona Cardinals 37-14

Best case: Playoffs

The Rams are in the ninth spot in the NFC after their second consecutive win. Kyren Williams had 143 yards on 16 carries and led the team with six catches (for 61 yards) in his first game since Week 6. Williams has topped 100 rushing yards in three of the last four games he has played, and Los Angeles looks like a different team with him in the lineup. “That was a big deal getting him back,” coach Sean McVay said.

Up next: vs. Cleveland Browns, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

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(Last week: 13)

Sunday: Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers 16-10

Best case: Marvin Harrison Jr.

They’ve probably already won too many games to get into the top three of the draft, but we are talking about the best-case scenario after all. The Joe Burrow-less Bengals have the second-toughest remaining schedule in the league. They aren’t going to the playoffs, so why not solve their Tee Higgins problem in the best possible way? Lose out. Root for the Patriots, Bears, Commanders and Giants to stumble into a few wins, let Higgins walk and put Harrison, the Ohio State star, with Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase.

Up next: at Jacksonville Jaguars, Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET

21. New Orleans Saints (5-6)

(Last week: 17)

Sunday: Lost to Atlanta Falcons 24-15

Best case: Playoffs

Three of the four teams in the NFC South remain in the playoff hunt simply because the division stinks. The Saints had 444 yards of offense but failed to get into the end zone against Atlanta on Sunday. The performance dropped them to 24th in the league in scoring (18.17 ppg). That’s even with Chris Olave having seven catches for 114 yards before leaving with a concussion in the third quarter.

Up next: vs. Detroit Lions, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

(Last week: 22)

Sunday: Lost to Indianapolis Colts 27-20

Best case: Playoffs

The Buccaneers have lost six of their last seven. We should be able to count them out of the playoff race, but they’re only one game back in the win column for first place in the NFC South. Mike Evans is second in the NFL with nine receiving touchdowns after two more Sunday, but Tampa Bay is 23rd in the league in scoring (19.27 ppg). The rest of the Buccaneers have only 13 touchdowns combined.

Up next: vs. Carolina Panthers, Sunday, 4:05 p.m.

(Last week: 19)

Sunday: Lost to Kansas City Chiefs 31-17

Best case: Jim Harbaugh

The Antonio Pierce interim coach bump appears to be over. Las Vegas went up 14-0 on Kansas City on Sunday but was outscored 31-3 in the final 37 minutes and has now dropped two in a row. They trail the Broncos in the division and have four teams between them and sniffing a playoff spot. Harbaugh is the type of big name the Raiders love to hire. He’s 49-22-1 all-time in the NFL. And there are reasons to believe his time at Michigan is short.

Up next: Bye

24. Los Angeles Chargers (4-7)

(Last week: 18)

Sunday: Lost to Baltimore Ravens 20-10

Best case: Ben Johnson

The Chargers were flagged for having 12 men on the field on their first defensive snap Sunday night, which may be their only hope defensively. Los Angeles is last in the league in defense (390.6 ypg allowed), and Justin Herbert’s talents are being wasted. Herbert is fifth in the league in EPA per attempt (.19) and ninth in passing yards (2,826). Herbert needs an offensive-minded head coach, and the Lions’ offensive coordinator looks like the perfect match. The problem is the Panthers might outspend the Chargers for Johnson.

Up next: at New England Patriots, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

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GO DEEPER

QB future of all 32 NFL teams: Justin Fields, Russell Wilson and other intriguing scenarios

25. New York Giants (4-8)

(Last week: 29)

Sunday: Beat New England Patriots 10-7

Best case: Stop winning

Tommy DeVito has more passing touchdowns (seven) than Zach Wilson and Kenny Pickett (six each) this season. DeVito, the undrafted free agent who is living with his parents, has started the last three games, and New York has won two of them. The problem is that has cost them valuable draft positioning. They now sit sixth in the order. The good news is they still have to play the Eagles twice.

Up next: Bye

(Last week: 21)

Thursday: Lost to Dallas Cowboys 45-10

Best case: Dan Quinn

Washington fired defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer on Friday. Head coach Ron Rivera is almost certainly next. Quinn, the former Falcons head coach and current Cowboys defensive coordinator, would bring the kind of energy and confidence-building style this organization desperately needs. Quinn might even be able to keep pass-happy offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on board.

Up next: vs. Miami Dolphins, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

27. Chicago Bears (4-8)

(Last week: 27)

Monday: Beat Minnesota Vikings 12-10

Best case: Brian Johnson

Jalen Hurts is a powerful, athletic, strong-armed quarterback. Justin Fields is a powerful, athletic, strong-armed quarterback (who is faster than Hurts). In Brian Johnson’s three seasons with the Eagles — two as quarterbacks coach and this one as offensive coordinator — Hurts has gone from a question mark at the position to an MVP candidate. It’s folly to assume Fields could follow the same path, but at least Johnson knows what the path looks like. Or, they could just draft Caleb Williams.

Up next: Bye

28. Tennessee Titans (4-7)

(Last week: 28)

Sunday: Beat Carolina Panthers 17-10

Best case: Losing out

Right now, Tennessee would have the No. 9 pick in the 2024 draft, but it can do better than that. Its five remaining opponents all have winning records, and it’s not inconceivable that Sunday’s win could be the Titans’ last. That would leave them picking in the top five, where they could nab one of the top tackles available — Olu Fashanu of Penn State or Amarius Mims of Georgia.

Up next: vs. Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

29. New York Jets (4-7)

(Last week: 26)

Friday: Lost to Miami Dolphins 34-13

Best case: A media blackout

No one needs to see the rest of this season, for their sake or for the Jets’. Having Robert Saleh do a television interview moments after New York gave up a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown on a Hail Mary attempt to end the first half against Miami felt cruel. Of course, the Jets bring a lot of this on themselves by doing things like starting Tim Boyle over Trevor Siemian (or a long list of other quarterbacks who could have been acquired during the season).

Up next: vs. Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

(Last week: 30)

Sunday: Lost to Los Angeles Rams 37-14

Best case: A beneficial Kyler Murray trade

The Cardinals got a Murray bump in his first game back from a torn ACL, but they have returned to form now. Murray had an 83.2 passer rating, rushed for only 2 yards and was sacked four times Sunday. The Cardinals are in position to draft either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, and Murray is dynamic enough that he can bring them a good return on the trade market.

Up next: at Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

31. New England Patriots (2-9)

(Last week: 31)

Sunday: Lost to New York Giants 10-7

Best case: An amicable parting

The Patriots are 4-14 in their last 18 games. Their best quarterback options are Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe. Both played Sunday, and neither topped 100 passing yards. Bill Belichick spoke for four minutes in his postgame news conference before he walked out. Owner Robert Kraft has been quiet about Belichick’s job status, but it’s hard to imagine him coaching in New England next year.

Up next: vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

32. Carolina Panthers (1-10)

(Last week: 32)

Sunday: Lost to Tennessee Titans 17-10

Best case: Ben Johnson

In what may be the weirdest stat in the league right now, Carolina has seen its point total stay level or decrease in each of the last six games — 24, 21, 15, 13, 13, 10. That’s the kind of thing that gets a head coach fired, and it did Monday as the Panthers dismissed Frank Reich. Rookie quarterback Bryce Young could use a dose of Johnson’s offense. Carolina won’t be the most attractive job this offseason, but Panthers owner David Tepper can afford to pay to lure Johnson, and now he has a head start on the competition.

Up next: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Bears, Patriots land new QBs; Jayden Daniels crashes top 10

(Top photo of DaRon Bland, left, and Dak Prescott: Kevin Sabitus / Getty Images)


“The Football 100,” the definitive ranking of the NFL’s best 100 players of all time, is on sale now. Order it here.

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