Home / frontnfl / 2023 NFL Power Rankings: Wild Card Round
AP Photo/Wade Payne

2023 NFL Power Rankings: Wild Card Round

The 2023 NFL Wild Card Round power rankings include thoughts on every team in the league at the conclusion of the regular season.


1. Baltimore Ravens (13-4) | Last week: 1

Not everyone rested for Baltimore—including Jadeveon Clowney hilariously celebrating his sack incentive—but I am a bit concerned about the rust factor for a franchise that’s struggled to make a deep postseason run the past handful of years (not that doing so is an easy task).


2. San Francisco 49ers (12-5) | Last week: 2

The 49ers also rested for most of Week 18, but the starters aside from Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey at least got a little bit of run to begin the game. Looking ahead, a win by any of the wild card teams in the NFC would create for an interesting Divisional Round matchup at San Francisco.


3. Buffalo Bills (11-6) | Last week: 3

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Bills were able to win five consecutive games to not only make the postseason but take the AFC East and No. 2 seed in the AFC. So, they’ve basically been playing playoff football for over a month now, and we’ve seen these types of teams go on championship runs. Josh Allen’s 44 touchdowns led the NFL, and Buffalo is going to be a tough out if he’s locked in.


4. Dallas Cowboys (12-5) | Last week: 4

Considering their struggles on the road this season, I think it was a positive for the Cowboys to secure the division and No. 2 seed in the NFC emphatically away from home—even against a subpar team like Washington. Dallas is confident with massive upside on both sides of the ball.


5. Detroit Lions (12-5) | Last week: 5

The Lions have some boosted motivation for Super Wild Card Weekend, as they should arguably be the No. 2 seed in the NFC—and a quarterback they go to bat for in Jared Goff, though downplaying the storyline, is facing the team that traded him away. We know Goff can get it done in the postseason, but the Detroit defense must hold up. Unfortunately, rookie tight end Sam LaPorta (knee) looks like he’ll be out for the matchup with LA.


6. Kansas City Chiefs (11-6) | Last week: 7 (+1)

The Chiefs chose the path of rest, but they were still able to beat the Chargers to finish the regular season with two consecutive wins for an 11-6 finish. The struggles have led to disappointment more than usual in 2023, but Patrick Mahomes and company have at least played in a ton of tight games throughout the season—which is likely to be the case in a potential playoff run.


7. Miami Dolphins (11-6) | Last week: 6 (-1)

While teams like the Bills and Browns have dealt with major injuries throughout the year, the Dolphins have been hammered by crazy injuries at the wrong time—with linebackers Bradley Chubb, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Jerome Baker all being knocked out for the season in the past two weeks. Hopefully Raheem Mostert (knee/ankle) and Jaylen Waddle (ankle) are good to go for a freezing matchup at Arrowhead on Saturday night.


8. Cleveland Browns (11-6) | Last week: 9 (+1)

The Browns were another team that rested in Week 18, which I feel makes a little more sense considering they are playing right away in the Wild Card Round—though Joe Flacco was cooking and hopefully can keep the magic going after a week off. The Cleveland defense will look to play at a high level away from home.


9. Los Angeles Rams (10-7) | Last week: 10 (+1)

Carson Wentz had a solid outing in his first start of the season, helping lead a comeback win over the Niners—and setting up the intriguing Lions-Rams Sunday night matchup. When Kyren Williams and Cooper Kupp were together this season, the Rams were 6-2 while averaging nearly 30 points and 400 yards per game. They’re a legit NFC threat.


10. Philadelphia Eagles (11-6) | Last week: 8 (-2)

I can’t remember a team playing so poorly entering the postseason. But the Eagles have the ability to get elite play from the offensive line, which could help them suddenly get on track and make some noise if other things click and the defense can provide close to average play—as unlikely as that seems.


11. Houston Texans (10-7) | Last week: 12 (+1)

C.J. Stroud and DeMeco Ryans became the first rookie quarterback-coach duo to win a division title, and the future looks bright in Houston. Stroud was clutch in last Saturday night’s playoff-clinching win at Indy, and he was not available for the regular season matchup with the Browns (a 36-22 loss) last month.


12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-8) | Last week: 13 (+1)

The Tampa Bay offense has suddenly gone cold over the past two games, but Todd Bowles’ defense—headlined by superstar safety Antoine Winfield Jr.—has been fantastic as of late. They’ll need Baker Mayfield to get on track to make a playoff run, though.


13. Green Bay Packers (9-8) | Last week: 14 (+1)

The Packers are the youngest team in the league with a first-year starting quarterback and a group of receivers that are all in their first or second season. So, they profile as a group that is going to fly around and might play carefree in the NFC playoffs.


14. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-7) | Last week: 16 (+2)

As we have seen in recent years, the Steelers are a much different team when all-world pass rusher T.J. Watt—coming off his record third season leading the NFL in sacks, with 19.0—is not on the field. Going to Buffalo is going to be an incredibly challenging task, but Mike Tomlin gets the most out of his team and again exceeded outside expectations this year.


15. Seattle Seahawks (9-8) | Last week: 17 (+2)

The Seahawks could not get the help they needed to make the playoffs like they did last year, but they at least ended their season on a high note after Geno Smith and Tyler Lockett helped them come back to defeat the Cardinals. The young foundation in Seattle thanks to two consecutive strong draft classes is encouraging.


16. Cincinnati Bengals (9-8) | Last week: 21 (+5)

The Bengals make a big leap in the final power rankings for all 32 teams, as they reason they were low last week is because teams ahead of them were still alive for the postseason. All things considered, Zac Taylor and his staff did another fine job and should have Cincy back in the championship mix in 2024.


17. New Orleans Saints (9-8) | Last week: 18 (+1)

The Saints also ended the year on a high note despite missing the playoffs at 9-8, and Derek Carr might have built some momentum heading into the offseason with the way he finished his first go in New Orleans. Players going rogue to get Jamaal Williams a touchdown at the end of the game was not a great look, but it’s clear the locker room was firmly behind the move.



18. Indianapolis Colts (9-8) | Last week: 15 (-3)

Give credit to Tyler Goodson for standing up and saying he should have caught the fourth-down pass, but I hope he knows that was no easy catch with the way it was drifting away and that Gardner Minshew (as he said himself) could have given him a better ball. Anyway, the Colts are on the right track with Shane Steichen leading the franchise.


19. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8) | Last week: 11 (-8)

The epic collapse by the Jaguars this season led to big staff changes on both sides of the ball, but the bottom line is general manager Trent Baalke must do a better job in the draft.


20. Las Vegas Raiders (8-9) | Last week: 24 (+4)

Antonio Pierce made a compelling final case to remain the head coach of the Raiders after handling the Bronocs to finish 5-4 in the interim job. The players support him, and it would probably take a massive hire like Jim Harbaugh for Mark Davis to go in another direction.


21. Denver Broncos (8-9) | Last week: 23 (+2)

I like Jarrett Stidham, but the Denver offense didn’t improve with him in the lineup—and now it sounds like the Broncos are open to bringing back Russell Wilson in 2024 (maybe because they have to pay him anyway, or perhaps because they think they can trade him and not give up a draft pick to get rid of the contract).


22. Minnesota Vikings (7-10) | Last week: 19 (-3)

The quarterback situation is also a question for Minnesota this offseason, with Kirk Cousins to hit free agency. We’ll also have to watch the contract status of Justin Jefferson, who was able to hit 1,000 receiving yards in just ten games this season.


23. Chicago Bears (7-10) | Last week: 22 (-1)

The biggest quarterback question of all might come in Chicago, as their decision on Justin Fields could have ripple effects throughout the entire 2024 draft. I think a win over the Packers could’ve made it a tougher decision, but factoring in that Fields is due a contract soon and Chicago might be leaning toward a fresh start at the position.


24. New York Giants (6-11) | Last week: 25 (+1)

If there was any doubt at all (I don’t think there should have been), the stellar outing from the Giants in Week 18 made it a lock that Brian Daboll will be back next season. However, the Giants will have to replace resigning defensive coordinator Wink Martindale.


25. Atlanta Falcons (7-10) | Last week: 20 (-5)

Arthur Smith just couldn’t find consistent success at quarterback, and it cost him his job after three seasons leading the Falcons. They might get creative in making a move for a signal-caller this offseason.


26. New York Jets (7-10) | Last week: 29 (+3)

The Jets are giving it another crack with Aaron Rodgers returning along with the entire regime in New York. The way running back Breece Hall played down the stretch—remember, coming off a torn ACL—was eye-opening.


27. Tennessee Titans (6-11) | Last week: 28 (+1)

Mike Vrabel gets his guys to play hard but dealt with poor personnel decisions/team management throughout his time with the Titans. At least he (and probably Derrick Henry) went out with an upset win over a division rival. His firing is puzzling, and I’ll just leave it at that.


28. Arizona Cardinals (4-13) | Last week: 27 (-1)

The foundation is set for the Cardinals to take a jump in Year 2 under Jonathan Gannon. The team played extremely hard for him, and they will have a healthy Kyler Murray in 2024. But Arizona certainly needs an infusion of talent.


29. New England Patriots (4-13) | Last week: 26 (-3)

It’s now a waiting game for the status of legendary head coach Bill Belichick, but I am leaning towards him staying for the final year of his contract and seeing how next season goes. The offensive roster was the worst in football, but the team always played hard, and the defense at least kept them in games. If Belichick is fired, teams should be lining up to bring him in.


30. Los Angeles Chargers (5-12) | Last week: 30

Jim Harbaugh, given his supposed love for Justin Herbert, seems like the obvious hire for the Chargers. Whatever happens, there’s some work to do cap wise for Los Angeles.


31. Washington Commanders (4-13) | Last week: 31

The Commanders must start getting results on the field at some point to avoid home games turning into road games because of the crowd filling up with opposing fans, as has happened very often in recent years, including this season. Hiring competent people—especially with player personnel and building the roster—is the key for Washington’s new ownership.


32. Carolina Panthers (2-15) | Last week: 32

I think the Panthers have their franchise guy in Bryce Young, but they cannot break him—i.e., they better do a better job of surrounding him with talent and getting better play on the offensive line right away. Like with Washington, that means getting people that know what they are doing.