NFL Power Rankings: Eagles back on top as Chiefs, Dolphins stumble


After what turned out to be one of the most impactful weekends of the NFL season, it’s time to reassess. Kyle Shanahan’s victory over his protege may turn pyrrhic after the season-ending injury suffered by Jimmy Garoppolo. Joe Burrow and the Bengals extended their ownership of the Chiefs and should now be fully respected as Super Bowl contenders. The Bills and Eagles both regained top form, and the Colts got fully into the holiday spirit with their fourth-quarter giveaways.

With five weeks remaining in the regular season, it’s time to run through another edition of our power rankings, with a focus on what would constitute a successful finish for all 32 teams.

All odds courtesy of The Athletic’s Austin Mock.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-1)

(Last week: 2)

Make the playoffs: 100 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 15.1 percent

The Eagles put together their most complete performance of the season in dismantling the visiting Titans 35-10. Jalen Hurts continued his MVP chase by backing up his record-setting rushing performance a week ago with 380 yards passing, including three touchdowns of 29 yards or more. Two of those were to A.J. Brown, a particularly cruel reminder for Titans fans watching their stubborn offense entirely shut down by a suddenly stout Eagles run defense. Even the Eagles’ special teams bounced back with its best performance of the season.

The stakes at this point for the Eagles are clear: No. 1 seed or bust. They hold a one-game edge over the Vikings with a tiebreaker in hand thanks to their head-to-head victory. The Cowboys loom two games behind, with all eyes on the Dec. 24 showdown in Arlington, Texas. The difference between the prospect of having to win two home games to make the Super Bowl instead of potentially having to win three straight road games is obvious. Win on the road against Dallas and Philadelphia might be in position to really take it easy on its veteran starters down the stretch. Right now, Mock projects the Eagles with a 78.9 percent chance of earning the NFC’s bye.

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

2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)

(Last week: 1)

Make the playoffs: 100 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 11.9 percent

In their three successive losses to the Bengals, including last season’s AFC Championship Game, the Chiefs have mystifyingly scored a combined six fourth-quarter points. Travis Kelce’s costly fumble and Harrison Butker’s missed 55-yard field goal attempt came back to bite the Chiefs, but there’s also probably a sense in Kansas City that Joe Burrow would have found a way to lead a game-winning drive at the end if he needed to.

Still, the Chiefs are in good position. They have the league’s best offense by a significant margin and their schedule down the stretch includes just one team with a winning record (Seattle in Week 16). The Bills hold the tiebreaker for the AFC’s top seed — and Mock’s model gives Buffalo a 46.7 to 40.6 percent edge in the race for the No. 1 seed — but their schedule features three teams with a winning record, including the Bengals in Week 17. That’s good news for Kansas City, as long as it can avoid the Bengals come January.

Up next: at Denver, Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET

3. Buffalo Bills (9-3)

(Last week: 5)

Make the playoffs: 99.4 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 12.3 percent

The No. 1 seed would be nice, but Buffalo’s top priority ahead of the playoffs is to get healthy. Tre’Davious White settled in by playing 61 percent of the snaps against the Patriots while the Bills figure out the plan opposite him. The absence of left tackle Dion Dawkins was felt in a big way, and it’s hard to imagine the offensive line holding up without him come playoff time. Meanwhile, Gregory Rousseau’s return helped Buffalo’s pass rush deal with Von Miller being on injured reserve. Letting Miller recover until playoff time makes plenty of sense, since that’s what he was signed for.

Goal No. 2 is getting Josh Allen to be a little more careful with the football without sapping him of the creativity that makes him special. Only Matt Ryan and Justin Fields have more combined interceptions and fumbles than Allen’s 21.

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

4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)

(Last week: 7)

Make the playoffs: 91.1 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 5.5 percent

Figure out a way for the playoffs to start now? The Bengals’ deserved faith in Burrow was on display on the game-clinching play — third-and-11 from the Chiefs’ 28-yard line with a three-point lead and 1:59 left, no timeouts for Kansas City. So many teams in that situation would call something safe, be it a handoff or quick pass, to keep the clock running and hopefully extend the lead to six. But the only way to guarantee Patrick Mahomes doesn’t get his chance to win the game is to keep the ball out of his hands entirely.

“I changed the play call probably three times,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said, according to Paul Dehner Jr.

Joe Cool as ever, Burrow stood in the face of a certain hit before delivering a perfect pass over the middle to Tee Higgins, who became a No. 1 receiver in his own right during Ja’Marr Chase’s absence. Game over.

Up next: vs. Cleveland, Sunday 1 p.m. ET

5. Dallas Cowboys (9-3)

(Last week: 4)

Make the playoffs: 100 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 6.3 percent

How does Dallas drop a spot after scoring 33 unanswered fourth-quarter points in its 54-19 romping of the Colts on Sunday Night Football? Because someone has to rank fifth among the league’s emerging upper echelon and Dallas is the only one facing the likely prospect of starting the playoffs on the road. Dak Prescott was a touch underwhelming in going 20-of-30 for 170 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, and at least one more throw worthy of being a turnover. By EPA (expected points added) per pass, it was his worst game in a win this season. Never mind, as the Cowboys’ hellacious defense and suddenly balanced running game did the heavy lifting. Poor Matt Ryan will be waking up in the middle of the night years from now with nightmares of those four consecutive fourth-quarter turnovers.

Dallas’ aim over the final five weeks? Avenge its earlier Cooper Rush-led loss to the Eagles.

Up next: vs. Houston, Sunday 1 p.m. ET

6. Minnesota Vikings (10-2)

(Last week: 8)

Make the playoffs: 100 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 11 percent

Embrace the magic. When people say things like, “The Vikings have the worst point differential of any team in the past 20 years with at least 10 wins through 13 weeks,” there’s an instinct to get defensive. When someone points out that Minnesota ranks 20th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average), 18th in offensive EPA per drive (per TruMedia) and 17th in defensive EPA per drive, you might want to look for bias. When another person says the Vikings’ perfect 9-0 record in games decided by eight points or fewer is unsustainable or that one more Mike White completion would have cost Minnesota a game in which it was outgained by 199 yards, they probably don’t understand the team’s will to win.

All of that is fine! Just because the underlying metrics might not say great things about the Vikings’ quality doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride of overperformance. And if Justin Jefferson and company can nab the NFC’s top seed — Mock’s model gives them a 9.3 percent chance to do so — this could absolutely be a Super Bowl team. Well, maybe not with Kirk Cousins.

Up next: at Detroit, Sunday 1 p.m. ET

7. San Francisco 49ers (8-4)

(Last week: 6)

Make the playoffs: 98.4 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 5.2 percent

Brutal. Just as the 49ers delivered one of their most impressive wins of the year, they lost their second starting quarterback for the season. It feels like a death blow to San Francisco’s title chances, but crazier things have happened. The defense is still one of the league’s two best and maybe there’s just enough on offense to get by. Brock Purdy carries the weight of all the past Mr. Irrelevants on his shoulders as he tries to steady the ship. If he plays the rest of the season like he did Sunday, San Francisco has a chance.

Up next: vs. Tampa Bay, Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

Brock Purdy entered the game vs. Miami and completed 25 of 37 passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns and an interception to lead the 49ers to a victory. (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

8. Miami Dolphins (8-4)

(Last week: 3)

Make the playoffs: 92.8 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 6 percent

By EPA per drive, Miami’s loss in San Francisco was its worst offensive performance of the season (-1.30). It also looked like the Dolphins’ worst offensive performance of the season, with Tua Tagovailoa missing receivers when they were open and affected by pressure as the game went on. So what did DeMeco Ryans and Kyle Shanahan do against Mike McDaniel, the offensive signal caller they knew so well? For one, they outright refused to play man coverage against the league’s best offense in exploiting man-to-man. According to TruMedia, San Francisco played zone on 95.6 percent of its snaps, the highest percentage the Dolphins have faced this season and the highest percentage of zone the Niners have played all year. It also helps to have Nick Bosa while Miami was without Terron Armstead.

Up next: at Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET

9. New York Jets (7-5)

(Last week: 11)

Make the playoffs: 52.7 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 2.7 percent

Figure out a red zone offense. The Jets went 1-for-6 on trips inside the Vikings’ 20-yard line in the five-point loss, including the would-be go-ahead drive late in the fourth quarter when they failed to get in despite three shots from the 1. On the season, the Jets are 26th in the league in red zone touchdown percentage (48.7). Those margins will make the difference for a team very much on the precipice of its first playoff trip since 2010.

Up next: at Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m. ET

10. Baltimore Ravens (8-4)

(Last week: 9)

Make the playoffs: 83.1 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 4 percent

Get in with a healthy Lamar Jackson and see what happens from there. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Jackson is unlikely to play this week against Pittsburgh, but that he could return the following week at Cleveland. With the red-hot Bengals seemingly in position to take the division, Baltimore might be looking at a wild-card spot if Tyler Huntley has to play for an extended period. That’s fine. Better to have Jackson with the full extent of his powers in the playoffs as he tries to make a lasting impression before what should be a wildly profitable offseason. The Ravens defense, meanwhile, has been the second-best in the league over the past four weeks by DVOA.

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

11. Tennessee Titans (7-5)

(Last week: 10)

Make the playoffs: 96.6 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 4.4 percent

Figure out a Plan B. The Titans have one of the league’s most established identities, but Sunday’s drubbing at the hands of the Eagles was an example — like the blowout loss to Buffalo earlier in the year — of how quickly things can snowball once they get behind. Granted they were without defensive end Denico Autry and lost both wide receiver Treylon Burks and linebacker David Long during the game, but Tennessee’s bully ball fell flat once it got punched back. With the division all but wrapped up, the Titans’ sights are on what will work come playoff time.

Up next: vs. Jacksonville, Sunday 1 p.m. ET

12. Seattle Seahawks (7-5)

(Last week: 14)

Make the playoffs: 85.7 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 3.8 percent

Just get in. Those playoff odds look a little high considering the three-game stretch the Seahawks have starting on Dec. 15 when they play San Francisco, then at Kansas City, then home to the Jets. This week’s Panthers tilt and a finale against the Rams are also included on the schedule, but 9-8 might not get it done if the NFC East also-rans hold up their ends of the bargain. But it would sure be a lot worse if Geno Smith hadn’t pulled off his signature game-winning drive Sunday. He has been the feel-good story of the season.

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

Geno Smith led a game-winning drive vs. the Rams to keep the Seahawks in the thick of the NFC playoff picture. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

13. Washington Commanders (7-5-1)

(Last week: 15)

Make the playoffs: 45.5 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 2 percent

Make sure Chase Young still exists. It has been a frustratingly long wait for Young’s return for a Washington defense that nevertheless ranks 10th in DVOA. But it could use his pass-rush juice, which could have made the difference in Sunday’s stilted tie. Now, the Commanders kiss their wounds over the bizarrely timed bye before a rematch with the Giants that feels like someone in charge of the schedule simply wasn’t paying attention.

Up next: Bye

14. New York Giants (7-4-1)

(Last week: 16)

Make the playoffs: 41.3 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 1.6 percent

Keep tying. Not trying, tying. A 7-4-6 record would almost definitely get Brian Daboll into the playoffs, which is good news since he seems to enjoy playing for the tie. The Giants neglected to go for a fourth-and-3 from the Commanders’ 45-yard line with 1:42 left in overtime, opting to punt instead.

“We had the two timeouts. (If) we go for it, miss it, there was a short field,” Daboll explained after the game. “They go and get a win against a division team. So, that’s what we decided to do.”

Hindsight, like the game itself, is 20-20.

Up next: vs. Philadelphia, Sunday 1 p.m. ET

15. Detroit Lions (5-7)

(Last week: 19)

Make the playoffs: 16.2 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 0.6 percent

Find out just how good the offense can be. Detroit ranks ninth in offensive DVOA following its 40-point outburst in Sunday’s jubilant win over Jacksonville. Amon-Ra St. Brown had another big day with 11 receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns, while Jared Goff threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions are not dead yet in the playoff chase and probably have the best vibes of any sub-.500 team. With Jameson Williams making his season debut in a limited capacity, Detroit has a chance down the stretch to find out just how explosive it can be. All the more important with the Rams’ first-round pick at its disposal.

Up next: vs. Minnesota, Sunday 1 p.m. ET

16. New England Patriots (6-6)

(Last week: 12)

Make the playoffs: 30.5 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 1.3 percent

Avoid negative plays. For a team supposedly built on a good defense and a ball-control offense, the Patriots offense has been as sloppy as any in the league. If we define negative plays as sacks, interceptions, fumbles and rushes for negative yards, New England’s offense has a negative play 14.5 percent of the time, per TruMedia. That’s the second-highest rate in the league, behind only the Bears. Oh, and apparently the quick game needs work.

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

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)

(Last week: 17)

Make the playoffs: 78.8 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 3.1 percent

Don’t count out Touchdown Tom. The guy can do anything, from leading the latest game-winning touchdown drive of his career that erased a 13-point deficit halfway through the fourth quarter to selling $250 footballs. What a world.

But with the NFC South now theirs for the taking after Monday night’s comeback, the Bucs can use the rest of the regular season to prepare for what figures to be a wild-card round matchup with the NFC East runner-up.

Up next: at San Francisco, Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

18. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)

(Last week: 13)

Make the playoffs: 33.9 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 1.3 percent

Stop hitting yourself. Despite Las Vegas entering Sunday’s game with one of the most feckless pass rushes in the league, Justin Herbert was hit 13 times, tied for the fifth-most for any quarterback in a game this season. Also tied with 13 quarterback hits in a game? Herbert from last week in the last-minute win over the Cardinals. The Chargers’ offense is in shambles — they were playing backups at four of the five positions at one point Sunday — but this is the franchise’s crown jewel we’re talking about protecting. Another year without the playoffs might necessitate change at the top.

Up next: vs. Miami, Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET

19. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7)

(Last week: 23)

Make the playoffs: 6.6 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 0.1 percent

Keep it going. If the Raiders can take care of business against the ghost of the Rams Thursday night, that’ll be four wins in a row and they’ll officially get themselves into the playoff picture. Never mind that the last two games of the season are against the 49ers and Chiefs, deal with that when it comes. The difference for Las Vegas during this three-game winning streak? Aside from Davante Adams exploding, its defense has gone from the worst in the league (32nd in DVOA from Weeks 1-10) to merely below average (20th in DVOA over the last three weeks).

Up next: at Los Angeles Rams, Thursday 8:15 p.m. ET

20. Green Bay Packers (5-8)

(Last week: 20)

Make the playoffs: 8.9 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 0.3 percent

Keep Christian Watson’s streak going. The rookie speedster has a whopping seven touchdown receptions (and one rushing) over the last four games, with at least one in each. If he can double that streak over the team’s final four games, he’ll tie the franchise record set by who else but Davante Adams in 2020 for consecutive games with a touchdown catch. That would tie the storyline together nicely, right? It would also top Randy Moss’ rookie record of seven. If Green Bay isn’t going to get a closer look at Jordan Love, what else is there to root for?

Up next: Bye

Packers rookie wide receiver Christian Watson has seven touchdown receptions over the last four games. (Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)

(Last week: 25)

Make the playoffs: 5.2 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 0.2 percent

Keep it going. That’s three wins out of their last four for the Steelers, who have what looks like a gettable schedule down the stretch, especially with Lamar Jackson out this week. Sunday’s win in Atlanta was an emotional one for Cameron Heyward and his younger brother Connor, who caught his first career touchdown on a day they honored their late father.

Meanwhile, these power rankings would like to come clean about a clerical error in last week’s edition. We noted that Kenny Pickett and George Pickens must be the best tandem of rookies in NFL history with the same first four letters in their last names. While that may be true, we were negligent in failing to note they actually share the first five letters. They also have one other key ingredient in common: itty bitty hands. Both measured below the 10th percentile for hand size at their positions at the combine.

Up next: vs. Baltimore, Sunday 1 p.m. ET

22. Cleveland Browns (5-7)

(Last week: 22)

Make the playoffs: 4.1 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 0.1 percent

Get better quarterback play. Of the 386 games played by quarterbacks this season, Deshaun Watson’s debut ranked 381st in EPA per dropback, according to TruMedia. He completed 12 of 22 passes for 131 yards and an interception while rushing for 21 yards. The offense was responsible for only six of the Browns’ 27 points. It was a bizarre scene in Houston.

Up next: at Cincinnati, Sunday 1 p.m. ET

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)

(Last week: 18)

Make the playoffs: 4.1 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 0.1 percent

Figure out a pass rush. The Jaguars’ long-term hopes rest on the arm of Trevor Lawrence, but there’s little now for him to do after Jacksonville’s long-shot playoff hopes were dashed in the blowout loss in Detroit. But it would be nice to see some juice from a pass rush that features three recent first-round picks once K’Lavon Chaisson returns from injured reserve. Despite that, Jacksonville ranks 31st in sack rate (4.5 percent) while No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker has just 2 1/2 to his credit. After a hot start to the season defensively, the Jaguars rank 29th in defensive DVOA, and 30th against the pass.

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

24. New Orleans Saints (4-9)

(Last week: 26)

Make the playoffs: 10.6 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 0.4 percent

In one of the most painful losses of the NFL season, the Saints went from pulling within a half-game of the division lead entering a get-healthy bye to their season being over. That it happened in such a way that was both improbable and completely expected will only make the week off more bewildering. With their first-round pick headed to the Eagles, the only thing New Orleans can really do to make the rest of its season a success is pretend it’s already over.

Up next: Bye

25. Atlanta Falcons (5-8)

(Last week: 21)

Make the playoffs: 6.9 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 0.3 percent

Enough already, play Desmond Ridder. It was fun while it lasted with Marcus Mariota (sort of), but we’ve reached the point of the season when obstinance would be the only excuse for not getting a close look at the rookie third-rounder with a potential top-10 pick on the way.

“Every job is open,” said Arthur Smith after the 19-16 loss at home to the Steelers, seemingly hinting at a potential switch. With the bye week ahead, now seems like the time to make the move, even if the NFC South is still within reach. And after Mariota’s 13-of-24 performance for 167 yards, one touchdown and an interception, there’s also a chance Ridder could be better right now.

Up next: Bye

26. Arizona Cardinals (4-8)

(Last week: 24)

Make the playoffs: 1.3 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 0 percent

Enjoy the weather. That’s why people live in Arizona, right? To be warm in December? Why bother bickering about play calls when you could go play some golf? It’s not like any of these people are going to be working together again next season.

Up next: vs. New England, Monday 8:15 p.m. ET

27. Carolina Panthers (4-8)

(Last week: 28)

Make the playoffs: 6.6 percent

Win the Super Bowl: 0.2 percent

Send flowers to DeMeco Ryans’ agent. Here’s hoping Steve Wilks can do enough to keep the job next season, and maybe David Tepper prefers an offensive-minded coach. But Ryans looks like the most surefire head coach to be hired this offseason, and rightly so given what he’s done with the Niners’ defense over the last two seasons. Absent that, wish Baker Mayfield well in his future endeavors.

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

28. Chicago Bears (3-10)

(Last week: 29)

Make the playoffs: 0 percent

No. 1 pick: 9.7 percent

For the love of Ditka, don’t let the quarterback get hurt. Justin Fields took some steps forward as a passer in the loss to the Packers, going 20-of-25 for 254 yards in addition to his 71 yards rushing (including a dazzling 55-yard touchdown run). But he still threw two interceptions and the Bears extended their losing streak to six. Theoretically, every rep will count for Fields’ long-term development as the team needs to retool in the offseason ahead of his third year. But he’s already playing banged up. Be smart.

Up next: Bye

29. Los Angeles Rams (3-9)

(Last week: 30)

Make the playoffs: 0 percent

No. 1 pick: 1.9 percent*

Pretend that asterisk doesn’t exist. Wouldn’t everything be fine if the Rams at least had the promise of an early draft pick to recoup for their bottoming out? Alas, though no one who lived through last season’s Super Bowl run would trade it for anything (sorry, Bobby Wagner), it’s hard to see where the team goes from here. Matthew Stafford is out for the season with a spinal cord injury. The stars are only getting older and the head coach might flirt with television again this offseason. Classic Hollywood burnout.

Up next: vs. Las Vegas, Thursday 8:15 p.m. ET

30. Denver Broncos (3-9)

(Last week: 32)

Make the playoffs: 0 percent

No. 1 pick: 1.9 percent

Finish things off on defense. The poor Broncos defense is having one of the great wasted seasons in recent memory, especially in the red zone, where they’re allowing opponents to score touchdowns just 32.1 percent of the time. That’s the best season-long rate in the league since the 2001 Eagles (30.4 percent). No unit in the league deserves to resent its other side more than Ejiro Evero’s defense.


Up next: vs. Kansas City, Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET

31. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1)

(Last week: 27)

Make the playoffs: 0.1 percent

No. 1 pick: 0.1 percent

Smoke the whole pack. OK, Jim. You wanted to show off to your friends by doing something wild and crazy and now look where it’s got you: with a chance for a top-five pick in next year’s draft, which is probably where you’re best off anyway. Don’t abandon the plan now, no matter how nauseated it makes you to watch.

Up next: Bye

32. Houston Texans (1-10-1)

(Last week: 31)

Make the playoffs: 0 percent

No. 1 pick: 86 percent

Find out Bryce Young’s correct measurements. He’s kind of small for a quarterback, so just double check you have the right size equipment ready for him so he doesn’t feel bad on his first day.

Up next: at Dallas, Sunday 1 p.m. ET

(Top illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic; photo: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)


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