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2023 NFL Power Rankings: Week 16

Three weeks remain in the 2023 NFL regular season, and the Week 16 power rankings continue to shuffle behind the conference leading Niners and Ravens.


1. San Francisco 49ers (11-3) | Last week: 1

The vibes around the 49ers appear to be impeccable, with everyone playing at a high level and sharing the love—with Brock Purdy saying Christian McCaffrey should be MVP while McCaffrey says left tackle Trent Williams has a case. As Kyle Shanahan said following the win over the Cardinals, the defense played better than the 29 points allowed indicate.


2. Baltimore Ravens (11-3) | Last week: 2

Lamar Jackson was working some magic in the Sunday night win at Jacksonville, and the connection between Jackson and tight end Isaiah Likely is encouraging with All-Pro Mark Andrews out. It’ll be a highly intriguing matchup to see Baltimore’s elite defense try to contain the Niners on Christmas.


3. Buffalo Bills (8-6) | Last week: 5 (+2)

As much of a treat the Christmas Night matchup between San Francisco and Baltimore is, I almost feel like the 49ers and Bills are on a collision course with the way they are both playing right now. Following wins over Kansas City and Dallas—with second-year running back James Cook starring—the Bills are in prime position to get to 10-6 with the Chargers and Patriots on their schedule ahead of Week 18 at Miami.


4. Miami Dolphins (10-4) | Last week: 7 (+3)

While Buffalo is at just 8-6, I have them as a clear top-three team right now and feel these next five spots could vary a great deal. For the Dolphins, it was a good sign to see the defense play angry and bounce back from their stunning Week 14 loss to the Titans. Mike McDaniel’s club demolished the rival Jets in both matchups this year.


5. Detroit Lions (10-4) | Last week: 8 (+3)

Jared Goff threw five touchdowns, including three to star rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, and I’m tired of all the disrespect the undoubted franchise quarterback gets. The Detroit defense could use more pieces to keep up with top teams in the league, but they can score with anyone when the offensive line is healthy and protects Goff.


6. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5) | Last week: 6

The receiving group outside of Rashee Rice again had some trouble, but Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire both stepped up at running back with Isiah Pacheco (shoulder) out again at New England. I’d like to see the defense get back to being more dominant when they face the Raiders on Christmas.


7. Dallas Cowboys (10-4) | Last week: 3 (-4)

The relative struggles away from home continued for the Cowboys, as they drop to 3-4 on the road—and it was an ugly outing at Buffalo. They’re on the road again to face Miami this week.


8. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4) | Last week: 4 (-4)

The Eagles have lost three consecutive games, and the sky feels like it’s falling for fans in Philadelphia. But the team still has control of the NFC East if they can get on track and win their final three games (two against the Giants and one against the Cardinals). We’ve seen what Buffalo has done by making changes on offense, and—while I’m not saying a coordinator change is necessary—running the ball behind that offensive line is an obvious potential recipe for success.


9. Cleveland Browns (9-5) | Last week: 11 (+2)

Joe Flacco threw three interceptions last week, but he kept firing in the win over the Bears and made some clutch jaw-dropping throws as well. Ahead of everyone in the wild card race, Cleveland goes to Houston this weekend for another critical battle.


10. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6) | Last week: 9 (-1)

The Jaguars are another team that’s been in a funk as of late, and the story in the Sunday night loss to Baltimore was an inability to find the end zone despite moving the ball. Not having receiver Christian Kirk (core muscle) in the lineup might be more of a factor than people realize.


11. Houston Texans (8-6) | Last week: 12 (+1)

It was not looking promising, but Case Keenum led a comeback victory to help the Texans keep pace for a playoff spot in the AFC by beating the Titans in overtime. DeMeco Ryans—coming off a shutdown of Derrick Henry in December—is clearly among the top candidates for Coach of the Year.


12. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) | Last week: 13 (+1)

Jake Browning and Tee Higgins eventually got going and made enough plays to win an overtime thriller over the Vikings in a fun interconference matchup between playoff hopefuls. Defensive lineman DJ Reader (quad) being out for the season is a massive blow to the Cincy defense, though.


13. Denver Broncos (7-7) | Last week: 10 (-3)

As we’ve seen with the Broncos themselves, bad games happen in the NFL, and they had a down night at Detroit last Saturday. However, they face the Patriots—it will not be an easy matchup, but it comes at home on Christmas Eve night—and Chargers the next two weeks.


14. Los Angeles Rams (7-7) | Last week: 15 (+1)

Things got much closer than they were all afternoon in the victory, but the bottom line is the Rams held on to beat the Commanders and get to 7-7 ahead of a Thursday night matchup with the fellow 7-7 Saints. It’s great to see All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp healthy and looking like himself the past couple of weeks.


15. Seattle Seahawks (7-7) | Last week: 16 (+1)

I could have the Seahawks (and the Rams) higher than this after a very gutsy win on a 92-yard drive by Drew Lock capped by a touchdown throw to rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba, as the Eagles were the biggest test on paper and they might be favored the final three games while at 7-7 in the crowded NFC. Thanks in large part to the past two draft classes, the talent is there to make some noise.


16. Indianapolis Colts (8-6) | Last week: 18 (+2)

A slow start was erased and both sides of the ball stepped up in the Saturday win versus the Steelers, with the buy-in under first-year head coach Shane Steichen continuing throughout 2023. And the Colts might get superstar runner Jonathan Taylor (thumb) back for Week 16—but it was cool to see Trey Sermon step up with his opportunity when Zack Moss (arm) left last week.


17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7) | Last week: 20 (+3)

Baker Mayfield posted the only perfect passer rating by a visiting quarterback in Lambeau Field history in Tampa’s win over Green Bay, and it was nice to see him spread the ball around with four different players catching a touchdown while Chris Godwin (ten receptions for 155 yards) did damage despite not finding the end zone. The offense has found its groove under first-year offensive coordinator Dave Canales.


18. Green Bay Packers (6-8) | Last week: 14 (-4)

I mentioned the Packers getting through the early-season growing pains, but those pains have popped up the past couple of games for quarterback Jordan Love. He again missed some relatively simple throws in the loss to the Bucs, and the Packers defense struggled on the other side. They obviously need a win versus the Panthers this Sunday.


19. Minnesota Vikings (7-7) | Last week: 19

Nick Mullens made some mistakes in his first start of the season and must avoid putting the ball in harm’s way, as his potential steadiness is a big reason Kevin O’Connell is giving him the nod at quarterback. I couldn’t believe the Vikings were considering parting ways with star defensive end Danielle Hunter (two sacks in the loss last week, 15.5 this season) this offseason, and his presence has helped keep Minnesota in contention.


20. New Orleans Saints (7-7) | Last week: 22 (+2)

The Saints quickly shut down the mania surrounding Tommy DeVito, delivering a throwback type of defensive performance with seven sacks. A healthier Rams offense will be more of a challenge tomorrow night.


21. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) | Last week: 17 (-4)

A win over the Bengals this week to end a three-game skid is imperative if Pittsburgh wants to not only have a decent shot at the postseason but avoid their first sub-.500 year since Mike Tomlin took over in 2007. Mason Rudolph will now start at quarterback for the Steelers, and he’s played pretty well when he’s had opportunities throughout his career.


22. Las Vegas Raiders (6-8) | Last week: 27 (+5)

Talk about a bounce back effort for the Raiders offense, going from a 3-0 shutout loss to the Vikings to running it up on the division rival Chargers. The defense was also outstanding, with two scores themselves including a highlight pick-six by Jack Jones. NFL fans are now hoping the Raiders deliver a good game versus the Chiefs on Christmas.


23. Chicago Bears (5-9) | Last week: 23

The Hail Mary attempt was inches away from putting the Bears at 6-8 and just a game back of a playoff spot in the NFC, but I remain encouraged by the way they played in a tough environment at Cleveland. Chicago hosts Arizona and Atlanta before playing the Packers at Lambeau to conclude the year.


24. Atlanta Falcons (6-8) | Last week: 21 (-3)

After promising not to go back and forth at quarterback when inserting Desmond Ridder back into the lineup, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith clearly felt that he had no choice following a very bad late red-zone interception by Ridder last week that really hurt in a close loss to the one-win Panthers. It sounds like Smith might be coaching for his job the final three games.


25. New York Giants (5-9) | Last week: 24 (-1)

New Orleans is still a challenging place to play, and the Giants might have run out of gas to some extent after the high-energy Monday night win over the Packers in Week 14. I’m looking for tight end Darren Waller to be more of a boost and a difference-maker in his second game back against the vulnerable Eagles this week.


26. Tennessee Titans (5-9) | Last week: 26

Derrick Henry was shockingly held to ten yards on 20 touches in a 19-16 overtime loss to the Texans, and poor play up front is going to make it difficult for a team like the Titans to win games. Henry is hinting that he might be reaching the end of the line with Tennessee, so he’ll be looking to go out strong the final three games if that is the case.


27. New York Jets (5-9) | Last week: 25 (-2)

Zach Wilson and then Trevor Siemian had no chance at Miami, and the Jets are a prime example of the importance of strong offensive line play—something that general manager Joe Douglas has not been able to solve in a handful of years on the job. Eliminated from playoff contention, Aaron Rodgers will not be coming back this year despite an inspiring recovery from his torn Achilles.


28. Arizona Cardinals (3-11) | Last week: 29 (+1)

The Cardinals are not in an ideal spot roster wise, making it difficult to compete with top teams like the 49ers. But, while it’s understandable to be frustrated and competitive, Kyler Murray might be showing his despondency a little too much at times. Murray will be intriguing to watch these final three games ahead of big decisions for Arizona in 2024.


29. New England Patriots (3-11) | Last week: 30 (+1)

The Patriots started hot, but you could feel the limitations again on offense in the home loss to the Chiefs. And ultimately, Kansas City made plays offensively to overcome more solid play from Bill Belichick’s defense.


30. Los Angeles Chargers (5-9) | Last week: 28 (-2)

It was a matter of when the Chargers were going to part ways with Brandon Staley (and likely general manager Tom Telesco, which turned out to be the case), and the blowout Thursday night loss at Vegas gave an easy opportunity for ownership to pull the trigger. There’s some work to be done with the cap, but the Chargers are an appealing spot with Justin Herbert and some talent that should compete in 2024.


31. Washington Commanders (4-10) | Last week: 31

Veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett entered late for the Commanders and gave them an immediate jolt to nearly bring them back at the Rams. I think Sam Howell can learn from Brissett in giving his weapons opportunities to go up and make plays.


32. Carolina Panthers (2-12) | Last week: 32

Congrats to Panthers interim head coach Chris Tabor on getting his first win. Low-scoring contests are the best shot for Carolina to pick up wins down the stretch, but we’ll see if Bryce Young and the offense can get something going against a Packers defense that struggled last week.