2023 NFL regular season action has now come down to one final regular-season matchup before playoffs commence, so now is an opportune time for team leaders and executives alike to determine who truly are the “best teams”. While Super Bowl 58 will ultimately decide this contest’s ultimate victor, now is also an essential opportunity for everyone watching to identify which squads have shown potential by keeping pace with other contenders at critical moments in time.
On the opposite end, there are also teams making attempts to climb out of their respective pits of despair. From 1 to 32 teams occupy this range, each offering something unique in terms of team makeup from top to bottom.
Here is Sporting News’ final non-playoff edition of NFL power rankings after Week 17’s games:
NFL Power Rankings of Week 18 have been released.
1. Baltimore Ravens 13-3 (Previous week: 1)
The Ravens made sure there was no mistaking who they would face at Super Bowl 58 by dominating both 49ers and Dolphins teams consecutively, including Lamar Jackson, who nearly sealed his second MVP Award through impressive offensive displays.
2. San Francisco 49ers 12-4 (2)
The 49ers found solace from an early-season loss with an all-round performance against Washington at Beltway stadium en route to getting some much-needed rest and recuperation before likely making deeper playoff runs after they secured their top seed bye before Week 18. They can rest, rejuvenate and recharge before embarking upon their playoff journey if that option opens up ahead.
3. Dallas Cowboys 11-5 (9)
The Cowboys needed to flex a bit, and even though the Lions tested them hard, they made both offensive and defensive big plays to go undefeated at home and give themselves an opportunity to enter playoff play with confidence.
4. Cleveland Browns 11-5(6)
Why can’t Joe Flacco just come back on track again? Assumed to have signed with Cleveland before leaving Baltimore for Baltimore back in September 2017, Flacco is already turning heads outside Baltimore as both mini-season MVP and Comeback Player of the Year contender. Now, the Browns look poised to face his former team once more when facing off in divisional round playoffs this coming January.
5. Detroit Lions 11-5 (4)
The Lions seemed lost until an impressive late comeback from defence and big pass plays enabled a late rally against Dallas, saving their season and forcing themselves into postseason play after 30 years’ hibernation. To stay competitive, they must remain sharp as Matthew Stafford and the Rams remain formidable competitors for them to beat in round two of playoffs.
6. Miami Dolphins 11-5 (3)
The Dolphins struggled offensively vs. Baltimore without Jaylen Waddle and Raheem Mostert on offense, and the defensive meltdown vs. Jackson is cause for great concern that next week could hold out before the Bills claim the AFC East championship.
7. Philadelphia Eagles 11-5(5)
The Eagles remain vulnerable in every game due to defensive problems on defence that have worsened against passing and have started leaking against running attacks, which will likely shorten their playoff stay unless they improve at winning shootouts.
8. Buffalo Bills (10-6) 7
The Bills remain an unpredictable team in the conference, poised for a turnaround with just one victory away from competing for an AFC North title alongside Ravens and Chiefs in 2018. There has never been more uncertainty than this season for this squad, whose outcomes vary so widely between games compared with any team alive today in AFC Race history.
9. Kansas City Chiefs 10-6 (8)
Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive efforts had to struggle mightily to put enough points on the board against the Bengals, but their reliable defence stepped up with timely stops, ultimately defeating Cincinnati 62-49. If Kansas City repeats, their success may stem from Patrick Mahomes and their counterparts playing well on defence.
10. Los Angeles Rams 9-7 (10)
The Rams have found their offensive groove with Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams forming the “fearsome foursome”, making for an explosive offence capable of lasting deep into NFC playoffs with enhanced pass defence.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-12)
The Steelers have pulled off an offensive magic trick this holiday season thanks to Mason Rudolph, George Pickens and their running game. Mike Tomlin’s leadership has secured another winning season and may lead them back into contention for playoff contention next season.
12. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)
The Jaguars needed their defence to step up without Trevor Lawrence on offence, and it did just that against Carolina, blanking them completely while Travis Etienne got going with their running game as well. Next up for them will be another tough test against Tennessee – this should provide another good tuneup before a potential playoff appearance.
13. Houston Texans 9-7 (15)
C.J. Stroud’s return was an instant game-changer for the Texans as they immediately put pressure on Tennessee early and kept it there, both offensively and defensively, for an easy victory before facing the Colts again on Sunday night.
14. Indianapolis Colts 9-7 (17)
The Colts found themselves back on track thanks to Jonathan Taylor, who had strong defence and running play, as well as more downfield pop in their passing game. They are an underrated playoff contender, should they make it as wild cards.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-8 (11)
Baker Mayfield and his offence came crashing to a halt just at the wrong time against New Orleans Saints; realigned defence could not recover in time and failed to secure victory against them. Luckily, they get another key opportunity against the Carolina Panthers this coming Week 18.
16. Green Bay Packers 8-8 (20)
The Packers are still in contention entering Week 18. Jordan Love continues to improve, and Jayden Reed helps build up his confidence, with Matt LaFleur doing an admirable post-Aaron Rodgers job regardless.
17 Seattle Seahawks 8-8 (13)
The Seahawks struggled with run defence issues against Pittsburgh and were unable to recover quickly offensively, giving up big pass plays at the same time. Next week, on their road game with the Arizona Cardinals, they will need to pay attention as there may be surprises ahead.
18. Denver Broncos (8-8-18)
The Broncos’ offence struggled without Russell Wilson and Courtland Sutton; however, facing an anaemic Chargers team made this even more evident. Overall, Sean Payton-Wilson’s season proved more disastrous than Nathaniel Hackett’s under Nathaniel Hackett due to their ineptitude in defence and offence, respectively.
19. Cincinnati Bengals 8-8 (16)
The Bengals did their best to remain competitive in the AFC playoff race without Joe Burrow and found an adequate replacement in Jake Browning. Yet, ultimately, their defensive problems against running games and tight ends cost them dearly.
20. New Orleans Saints 8-8 (22)
The Saints entered Tampa Bay more confident and composed, thanks to Derek Carr playing well over the past month or so. Their disappointing defence may take its own sweet time in improving.
21. Chicago Bears 7-9 (24)
Given his contributions to their offence and ongoing growth, Matt Eberflus should maintain this potential into next season.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (7-9) (19)
The Raiders did their best to remain competitive offensively as they adjusted from Josh McDaniels, showing some bright signs from Aidan O’Connell and Zamir White late. With Maxx Crosby as their defensive leader, this remains an attractive proposition for their next coach.
23. Minnesota Vikings (7-9) players
The Vikings attempted to remain as an offensive-oriented playoff team without Kirk Cousins for as long as possible without success, yet have recently experienced significant regression due to his absence. Now, they must decide if this season was proof they needed him back immediately or if they require further evidence that they require a more immediate rebuild.
24. Atlanta Falcons’ 7-9 (23)
Arthur Smith still has one more week to salvage the NFC South title due to its weakness; however, after consistently shifting personnel usage against the New Orleans Saints, it doesn’t look promising for him.
25. New York Jets (6-10) (Week 25)
The Jets’ season has unravelled quickly due to a lack of offensive consistency that caused defence issues against run plays late on. Now they appear committed to giving Robert Saleh another go, meaning it’ll only become harder as soon as Aaron Rodgers returns healthy in 2019.
26. Arizona Cardinals 4-12 (30)
The Cardinals have shown their true colours, with Kyler Murray leading an explosive offence with help from running backs and receivers who remain healthy. Jonathan Gannon should see an increase in young talent within his defence unit next season.
27. New York Giants 5-11 (27)
The Giants have demonstrated their relentlessness both defensively and offensively over recent seasons. Therefore, Brian Daboll’s injury-marred second campaign should receive another chance.
28. New England Patriots (4-12, 26 points)
Bill Belichick and the Patriots have put on an excellent final show, with them playing hard defensively and rallying behind Bailey Zappe, even with his frequent passing errors. Hard to believe it comes down to one last game for this iconic coach!
29. Tennessee Titans 5-11 (28)
The Titans need to revamp their offensive play with Will Levis taking centre stage as an offensive powerhouse and upgrades on both their offensive line and secondary for them to remain competitive in an unexpectedly tough division.
30. Los Angeles Chargers 5-11 (29)
After their injury-riddled, coach-firing mess to end this season, the Chargers appear destined for big changes this off-season. While their potential may be high, several schematic/ personnel issues must be rectified around Justin Herbert and their defensive foundation in order to improve.
31. Washington Commanders 4-12 (31)
The Commanders looked promising offensively and defensively against the 49ers before all their overall talent and quarterback shortcomings were exposed once more. Ron Rivera may no longer see this rebuilding step through to completion.
32. Carolina Panthers Are 2-14 (32)
Jacksonville’s shutout loss highlighted recent play from Bryce Young and an underperforming defence, but what followed next in terms of their owner’s antics proved far more disgraceful.