So Bill Belichick said the season doesn’t really start until Thanksgiving. We’re here, and—while teams can certainly get hot and go on a run—there are arguably about a dozen teams I feel can go on a deep postseason run. Here’s where I see all 32 squads ranking heading into Week 13.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) | Last week: 1
The Chiefs won comfortably and covered but found themselves in somewhat of a gritty game against an undermanned Rams team. Nick Bolton and the Kansas City defense were very good in the victory, and the unit has sneaky upside to be a late-season factor under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo—particularly when playing at home.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) | Last week: 2
Jalen Hurts is coming off another NFC Offensive Player of the Week performance, throwing a couple of touchdowns while racking up 157 rushing yards (of an insane 363 for Philadelphia) against the Packers on Sunday night. With Jordan Davis (ankle) being designated to return with a shot to play this Sunday against the Titans, the Eagles weakest spot (run defense) should be deep and improved down the stretch.
3. Buffalo Bills (8-3) | Last week: 3
Josh Allen and the Bills found themselves in a battle on Thanksgiving, but Allen delivered a strike to Stefon Diggs late to set up a game-winning field goal by Tyler Bass. With all the talk about Buffalo not being able to win close games, doing that on a big stage—after also doing it in Kansas City earlier in the year—is huge. Next up, the Bills go to Foxboro for Thursday Night Football to face a Pats team they dominated last postseason. It’s great to hear that Von Miller did not suffer a season-ending knee injury and should be back soon.
4. Dallas Cowboys (8-3) | Last week: 4
Micah Parsons starred with two sacks in the Cowboys’ win over the Giants on Thanksgiving, and he and Dallas got the victory in the most watched regular season game in NFL history.
Up +49% over last year's game on FOX and up +3% over last year's comparable window.
NY: 11.2/38 | DAL: 24.5/69 pic.twitter.com/EN0jXKMJsC
— FOX Sports PR (@FOXSportsPR) November 25, 2022
5. San Francisco 49ers (7-4) | Last week: 6 (+1)
The Saints defense slowed down the Niners offense a bit, but the San Francisco defense got a shutout—which included forcing an Alvin Kamara fumble at the goal line. The talented defense coordinated by DeMeco Ryans is on fire.
The @49ers defense:
❌ 94 straight game minutes of shutout defense
❌ Four straight games with 2nd-half shutouts
Unreal. 😤 pic.twitter.com/x73YE6mtVT
— NFL (@NFL) November 28, 2022
6. Minnesota Vikings (9-2) | Last week: 7 (+1)
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings put up ten fourth-quarter points to come back and defeat the Patriots to cap off Thanksgiving, and Justin Jefferson again performed in a big moment as one of the best players in the league. Minnesota will face another stingy defense when they play the Jets this Sunday.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) | Last week: 11 (+4)
The Bengals were able to top the Titans in Nashville, and they’ve done an excellent job of containing Derrick Henry on the ground in their past two matchups (the long catch-and-run last week aside). Now the ultra-confident Cincinnati squad will get Ja’Marr Chase (hip) back for an AFC title game rematch with the Chiefs.
8. Tennessee Titans (7-4) | Last week: 5 (-3)
The personal foul on a late field goal attempt by the Bengals cost the Titans an opportunity to win the game, which was a tough way to lose. Expect Mike Vrabel’s guys to find a way to keep this Sunday at Philadelphia close with a shot to win.
9. Miami Dolphins (8-3) | Last week: 9
They ultimately won by only two possessions, but the Dolphins coasted at home versus the Texans, pulling Tua Tagovailoa early. Every game and matchup is different, but after the Chiefs torched the Niners earlier this season, I’m curious to see how Mike McDaniel and Miami fare against a team he was with before becoming head coach of the Dolphins.
10. Baltimore Ravens (7-4) | Last week: 8 (-2)
The Ravens defense has shown improvement throughout 2022, but they blew another lead in their loss to the Jaguars. All four losses have come when leading by nine-plus points in the fourth quarter, so it’s obviously a problem at this point. However, the offense deserves some blame for not being able to finish drives with touchdowns.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6) | Last week: 10 (-1)
I thought the Bucs were over their struggles entering their bye week, but that was not the case in their first game back in action. The defense played well all afternoon until a couple of touchdown drives late—perhaps too much was asked of them with the offense stalling too often. On the bright side, my hope for Chris Godwin (12/110/1 in the loss) to look like himself in the second half looks like it’s coming to be.
12. New England Patriots (6-5) | Last week: 12
Anyone that watched the Thanksgiving Night game saw that officiating was horrible against the Patriots, and it’s fair to wonder if it cost them a win with how bad it was. We’ve seen poor officiating too much over the past couple of seasons. Anyway, Mac Jones looked very good in the loss at Minnesota, and he’s going to have to continue to step up with two matchups with the Bills coming up.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) | Last week: 16 (+3)
I’ve been clear that I’m not a fan of how heavy into analytics the Chargers are, but truly (not just hindsight being 20/20 after they got it) I was good with them going for two to get the win at Arizona—the offense was feeling it, and it just felt like the right move to end it right there while playing on the road. Now, Los Angeles will need to get ready for Josh Jacobs and the Raiders within the division this week.
14. New York Giants (7-4) | Last week: 13 (-1)
Despite a strong start, a backdoor cover made the game appear closer than it was for most of the Thanksgiving matchup with the Cowboys. The Giants, especially while dealing with injuries, arguably just aren’t on the same talent level of some top teams like Dallas. But it speaks to the job Brian Daboll has done in his first year leading the franchise.
15. New York Jets (7-4) | Last week: 15
Mike White came out firing, throwing for 315 yards and three touchdowns while going 22/28 in his first start of the season for the benched Zach Wilson. I like White and believe he can start for the Jets long-term, but things will undoubtedly get more challenging than the Bears.
16. Seattle Seahawks (6-5) | Last week: 14 (-2)
The Seahawks had a disappointing defensive outing coming out of their bye week, but remember it’s a young group that’s still coming together and gaining experience. The loss to the Raiders was crushing in the tight NFC, but Seattle delivered one of the funniest moments of the week when linebacker Darrell Taylor ran onto the field during an interception to celebrate and figured he might as well block when he realized it was too early:
After Derek Carr's first Interception, a 12th player from the Seahawks bench ran onto the field and started blocking 😂 pic.twitter.com/x4CDDSfdlI
— Sanjit T. (@Sanjit__T) November 28, 2022
The officials didn’t catch that.
17. Washington Commanders (7-5) | Last week: 17
Rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. continued his epic comeback and rookie season with his first 100-yard rushing performance—while also adding his first touchdown reception—in the Commanders’ win over the Falcons. Washington has the late Week 14 bye, which is sandwiched by two matchups with the Giants in the tight NFC wild-card race.
18. Detroit Lions (4-7) | Last week: 18
The Lions gave a heck of an effort versus the Bills to kickoff Thanksgiving, and it might have alerted the country that they are a team on the rise both for the end of this season and into 2023. This is a one-week-at-a-time game, but the schedule sets up for Detroit to go on a streak.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) | Last week: 25 (+6)
The first matchup for the Lions comes against the Jaguars, who are also quietly playing well since the tight London loss to the Broncos. Trevor Lawrence threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns in the comeback win over the Ravens, including two absolute dimes to Marvin Jones Jr. (touchdown) and Zay Jones (two-point conversion) to win it.
20. Atlanta Falcons (5-7) | Last week: 19 (-1)
The Falcons are hanging around in the NFC, but another close loss (five of their seven losses have been by one possession) might be an indication that they don’t have quite enough to be legitimate contenders this season. Still, Arthur Smith is doing a very good job with his team, and Atlanta will host Pittsburgh before their late bye week. Second-year tight end Kyle Pitts is unfortunately done for the season with an MCL injury.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-7) | Last week: 24 (+3)
Kenny Pickett took care of the ball, and the Steelers were able to get their run game going in the 24-17 Monday night win against the Colts. Again, you can’t take anyone for granted in this league, but Pittsburgh’s lone two games versus teams with a winning record are against the rival Ravens. With T.J. Watt (though he was relatively quiet on MNF) healthy, don’t count them out entirely even in the crowded AFC.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (4-7) | Last week: 28 (+6)
Dealing with a calf injury, Josh Jacobs had one of the most memorable performances by a running back in recent memory, rushing for 229 yards and two touchdowns including the game-winning 86-yard touchdown run in overtime in Seattle. When the Raiders have had success in 2022, it’s been with a heavy workload for Jacobs.
23. Cleveland Browns (4-7) | Last week: 30 (+7)
I think it’s totally ridiculous what the Browns have done with the Deshaun Watson situation, but he’s making his debut against his former Texans team this Sunday. Cleveland should continue feeding Nick Chubb, who on the flipside is an awesome player to root for and came off a fantastic outing with a game-winning overtime touchdown to topple the Bucs last week, to see if they can make a run.
24. Green Bay Packers (4-8) | Last week: 21 (-3)
The Green Bay run defense was borderline disgusting to watch on Sunday night, particularly for a team that was thought to be one of the most balanced in the league entering the year. Aaron Rodgers was banged up (he thankfully appears set to play this week), but I was impressed with the way Jordan Love looked when he entered at Philadelphia. Overall, things just haven’t come together for the Packers this season, but they’ll look to get a win before the bye week.
25. Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1) | Last week: 20 (-5)
It’s easy to pile on, but I think Jeff Saturday, who admitted he didn’t play things right with the clock at the end of the loss to the Steelers, was trying to keep his timeouts in case the offense was stopped—so that they could get the ball back with a stop. Regardless, I think Matt Ryan just about sums up the situation for the Colts:
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) November 30, 2022
26. Arizona Cardinals (4-8) | Last week: 22 (-4)
Kyler Murray, on the fourth-n-1 interception, said play wasn’t designed to go to Hopkins.
“Schematically, they … we were kinda f***ed.”
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) November 28, 2022
Frustration is very high for the Cardinals for what looks like will be a missed playoff berth after making it in 2021. I’ve been watching Hard Knocks and like what I’ve seen from Kliff Kingsbury despite the team struggles, but it feels like Kyler Murray clearly wants something to change. It’s a situation to watch with Black Monday approaching.
27. Carolina Panthers (4-8) | Last week: 27
In Sam Darnold’s first start of the season, Steve Wilks again made a case to keep the head job in 2023 by shutting down the Broncos. The Carolina defense has allowed points totals of 15, 13, and 10 over the past three games.
28. New Orleans Saints (4-8) | Last week: 23 (-5)
The New Orleans defense had a strong showing in the loss to the Niners, but the offense couldn’t build off the win over the Rams. Without their first-round pick (in possession of the Eagles), the Saints look like they’ll be playing for major pride over the final five games. It shouldn’t take much motivation for this Monday when they take on the heated rival Bucs.
29. Los Angeles Rams (3-8) | Last week: 26 (-3)
As stated above regarding the Chiefs, the Rams played pretty tough in Week 12 all things considered. Bryce Perkins made some plays in his first career start, and the LA defense showed fight. But now the defending champs might be without Aaron Donald, who is dealing with a high-ankle injury.
30. Chicago Bears (3-9) | Last week: 31 (+1)
Justin Fields (left shoulder) was held out of last week’s loss to the Jets, but I think he’s going to push to play the Packers this weekend, which would give a lift to the entire team and offense. Unfortunately, the Bears lost safety Eddie Jackson and wide receiver Darnell Mooney for the season.
31. Denver Broncos (3-8) | Last week: 29 (-2)
Mike Purcell had some words for Russell Wilson has he returned to the Broncos sideline pic.twitter.com/FL6RaFwAT8
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) November 27, 2022
Russell Wilson is locked into Denver for years due to his monstrous contract, but it’s clear that there are going to be major changes for the Broncos—remember, the franchise is now under new ownership—after the season. Personally, I’m pulling for Wilson to get this turned around; just about everyone is piling on him right now.
32. Houston Texans (1-9-1) | Last week: 32
The Texans are fortunate to have gotten a win in early October (when they were outgained 422-248 by the Jaguars), because they do not look good at all (obviously, as a 1-9-1 team). Houston simply must show something when facing their former quarterback this Sunday. Hopefully they play with a chip on their shoulder.