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NFL Power Rankings Week 13: New York Jets fly, Buccaneers plummet into December

NFL power rankings
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Who is the best NFL team in 2022? Sportsnaut’s Week 13 NFL power rankings examine the National Football League after Week 12, reviewing all 32 teams following an exciting weekend of football.

A three-game slate on Thanksgiving providing more than enough for football fans to feast on. The Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills played like Super Bowl contenders, while the Detroit Lions and New York Giants displayed signs of a promising future.

Related: NFL standings

Sunday also delivered plenty of NFL Week 12 excitement. Trevor Lawrence had a defining moment, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens suffered alarming defeats. It creates the discussion about playoff contenders even more interesting as December arrives.

Let’s dive into the Week 13 NFL power rankings.

32. Houston Texans

  • Previously: 32nd in NFL power rankings

Lovie Smith isn’t making it another year. The Houston Texans are the worst NFL team in 2022 and it’s not remotely close. As they race towards the No.1 pick, though, it’s fair to wonder if the front office had always planned to use Smith as a sacrificial lamb, just like they did with David Culley.

31. Los Angeles Rams

  • Previously: 31st in NFL power rankings

Even if Matthew Stafford is cleared to play anytime soon, there is no incentive for the Los Angeles Rams to bring him back. At 3-8 with one of the worst point differentials in the NFL, Sean McVay and Les Snead must see the writing on the wall. Shut everyone down and start planning serious changes for the offseason.

Related: Caleb Williams receives glowing praise from NFL scouts

30. Chicago Bears

  • Previously: 30th in NFL power rankings

Fans didn’t need a reminder of what this team looks like without Justin Fields, but the Chicago Bears provided it on Sunday. All that matters moving forward is that Fields stays healthy and Chicago maximizes its assets to build a great offense around him.

29. Denver Broncos

  • Previously: 27th in NFL power rankings

Nathaniel Hackett isn’t calling plays and he is receiving assistance with clock management. With the losses stockpiling, the Denver Broncos might as well fire a coach who now seems like a mascot representing a lot of the offense’s problems. Unfortunately for Denver, getting out of Russell Wilson‘s contract won’t be nearly as easy.

Related: Denver Broncos coaching candidates

28. New Orleans Saints

  • Previously: 24th in NFL power rankings

Playoff contention was out of consideration weeks ago for the New Orleans Saints. Once that is off the table, our focus is on the future. New Orleans won’t have its top-10 pick in Round 1 and it is $54 million over the cap. It’s time for a rebuild, one that starts with a Sean Payton trade.

27. Indianapolis Colts

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Armond Feffer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: No. 22 in NFL power rankings

Ugly. Just ugly. For the first time in his new role, head coach Jeff Saturday looked like an amateur late in Monday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It pretty much ended any hopes that Indianapolis had for playoff contention moving forward. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan continues to prove that he’s a shell of his former self. It’s in this that the Colts drop down in our Week 13 NFL power rankings.

26. Arizona Cardinals

  • Previously: 25th in NFL power rankings

The list of the Arizona Cardinals’ problems is long, with many capable of writing a dissertation detailing how the franchise got to this point. With so many central figures holding a sizable stake of responsibility, it’s not out of the question to think ownership contemplates sweeping changes once this disastrous season mercifully ends.

25. Carolina Panthers

NFL: Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 29th in NFL power rankings

It’s time to give serious consideration to Steve Wilks being the Carolina Panthers’ head coach in 2023. The team looks better and more disciplined since he took over, even as quarterback play continues to limit the offense most weeks.

Related: Carolina Panthers coaching candidates

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Previously: 28th in NFL power rankings

We have to give Mike Tomlin’s squad credit for not playing out the string. Pittsburgh’s performance in a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday adds another layer to that. Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett played mistake-free football. Meanwhile, the Steelers defense played extremely well on the road in Indy. It’s not enough to compete for a playoff spot. But things could be looking up here.

23. Green Bay Packers

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 23 in NFL power rankings

Aaron Rodgers can both be in decline and severely limited by an avulsion fracture. It also certainly doesn’t help that the Packers’ offensive line and defense haven’t played up to expectations this year. If Packers fans are looking for something to feel good about, the sudden availability of Jim Leonhard could compel Matt LaFleur to fire Joe Barry.

22. Las Vegas Raiders

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Seattle Seahawks
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 26 in NFL power rankings

FInally, a statement victory for the Las Vegas Raiders. Beating the worst NFL teams doesn’t say much, but going on the road and outlasting the Seattle Seahawks in a shootout is a positive sign. It doesn’t change the fact that Las Vegas isn’t close to sniffing a .500 record, but these are much-needed bright spots in a dark season.

21. Atlanta Falcons

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Washington Commanders
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 19 in NFL power rankings

Marcus Mariota hasn’t posted a QBR of 60-plus since Oct. 30 and he’s cleared that mark only twice in the last six games. There is nothing Mariota does for the Falcons’ offense that Arthur Smith couldn’t try with Desmond Ridder. Sadly, the quarterback change won’t come until Atlanta is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Related: Best NFL dynasties ever

20. Cleveland Browns

Syndication: USA TODAY
  • Previously: 21st in NFL power rankings

Sunday changed everything for the Cleveland Browns. Instead of dropping to 3-8, effectively eliminated from playoff contention, Cleveland is now 4-7 with Deshaun Watson return. From Week 13 on, there’s a distinct possibility the Browns look like one of the better teams in the NFL. Even if it doesn’t earn a playoff berth, it could be a sign of things to come next year.

20. Detroit Lions

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
  • Previously: 18th in NFL power rankings

The Detroit Lions’ record in one-score games might suggest it’s time to replace Dan Campbell. In reality, the first step is finding a franchise-caliber quarterback to take over for Jared Goff. Find the passer who can make the big throws in critical moments and lift the ceiling on this offense. Accomplish that and the Lions are a playoff contender.

18. Seattle Seahawks

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Seattle Seahawks
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 16th in NFL power rankings

Well, it isn’t hard to point to positions the Seattle Seahawks will need to spend their first-round picks on. It is becoming evident that the Seahawks are gliding back down to earth, but the descent is softened for fans watching one of the best offenses in the NFL. Whether or not the Seahawks make the playoffs, this season exceeded expectations and the future is bright.

Related: NFL RB rankings

17. Jacksonville Jaguars

Syndication: Florida Times-Union
Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 20th in NFL power rankings

Sunday felt like a turning point for the Jacksonville Jaguars. We’ve mentioned in previous editions of our NFL rankings that the one thing this young team needed was to prove it could step up in clutch moments. Trevor Lawrence‘s game-winning drive delivered just that. Remember Week 12, it could be the launching point for an AFC contender in 2023.

16. New York Giants

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 17th in NFL power rankings

Odell Beckham Jr. likely witnessed on Thanksgiving what should’ve been obvious. The New York Giants aren’t a contender right now. This is a well-coached team with insufficient talent at critical positions, which proved costly in this two-game losing skid. Considering how the Commanders have played lately, New York could lose three of its next four games.

15. New England Patriots

NFL: New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 13th in NFL power rankings

There are no moral victories, especially for the New England Patriots, but Bill Belichick had to feel a little better about Mac Jones after Thanksgiving. Heading into Week 13, Jones boasts a 77.3% completion rate and 116.2 QB rating over his last 66 attempts. It’s a step in the right direction after he played like one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL for most of the season.

Related: New England Patriots schedule

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cleveland Browns
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 11th in NFL power rankings

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to win the NFC South and host a playoff game, but that says far more about the division itself. This is the most disappointing NFL team in 2022 and its wild inconsistency has a lot to do with it. When Tom Brady leaves this offseason, we’ll likely see the Buccaneers retool the roster.

Related: Tampa Bay Buccaneers schedule

13. Los Angeles Chargers

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals
Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 12th in NFL power rankings

Apparently the Los Angeles Chargers just love playing in close games. They should have had an easier time knocking it Arizona, but all that matters is the final result. Back over the .500 mark, the next three weeks (@ LV, vs MIA, vs TEN) will determine if the Chargers are a playoff team.

12. Washington Commanders

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Washington Commanders
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 16th in NFL power rankings

The Washington Commanders are a kaleidoscope. Look at them one way and you see a 7-5 team that has won six of its last seven games. Of course, the other view points toward an offense averaging under 21 points per game during that stretch. Considering Washington sandwiches a bye between two matchups against the Giants, eight wins before mid-December is plausible.

11. Baltimore Ravens

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 9th in NFL power rankings

The Baltimore Ravens are just far too flawed of a team to be a real threat in the AFC. Lamar Jackson can do a lot of things, but he isn’t Superman. It seems hard to believe Baltimore went through Jackson’s entire rookie contract without ever surrounding him with great weapons or even a No.1. receiver. It’s going to be the thing that costs Baltimore, in more ways than one.

Week 13 NFL power rankings: Bonafide playoff contenders

10. New York Jets

NFL: Chicago Bears at New York Jets
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 14 in NFL power rankings

All the New York Jets needed was stability at quarterback with a passer who could make the quick, easy reads. Mike White might not be the future, but he actually makes the Jets’ offensive weapons look explosive. When you combine that with quality coaching and an elite defense, you have a playoff team that could even win a Wild Card game.

9. Tennessee Titans

Syndication: The Tennessean
George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: No. 7 in NFL power rankings

The Tennessee Titans are who we thought they were. This is a very good football team, one that is very capable of taking care of business in winnable games. However, a pedestrian offense is always going to be exposed against top competition and that means Tennessee is on track to repeat history, a first-round playoff exit.

Related: Highest paid NFL players in 2022

8. Cincinnati Bengals

Syndication: The Tennessean
George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: No. 10 in NFL power rankings

The Cincinnati Bengals are in the driver’s seat for the AFC North, heading into Week 13 with an opportunity to heat up quickly. We just saw the Bengals beat Tennessee on the road, doing it without Joe Mixon and Ja’Marr Chase. Joe Burrow‘s weapons are coming back next Sunday and it comes at the perfect time with a litmus test against the Kansas City Chiefs.

7. Minnesota Vikings

NFL: New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 8th in NFL power rankings

The Minnesota Vikings recovered nicely from their most humbling loss in years. It’s nice to see the offense get back on track, but a defense allowing a 102.9 QB rating and 7-3 TD-INT rate in November, paired with an offensive line that can be spotty, are massive warning signs when we look ahead to playoff matchups.

6. Miami Dolphins

Syndication: Palm Beach Post
  • Previously: 6th in NFL power rankings

Don’t let the score fool you, the Miami Dolphins wiped Houston off the map on Sunday. Tua Tagovailoa enjoyed some rest after taking a 30-0 lead, with a performance that reminded everyone why Tagovailoa deserves MVP votes. The only thing that keeps Miami a tier below the best NFL teams – Super Bowl favorites – is a shaky defense.

NFL power rankings: Super Bowl contenders

5. San Francisco 49ers

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 5th in NFL power rankings

Even when the San Francisco 49ers offense can’t get anything going, its defense is capable of single-handedly winning games. It’s why the 49ers are No. 1 in our NFL defense rankings and Sunday’s victory perfectly captures the variety of ways San Francisco can win games. The Dolphins vs 49ers game is must-see TV in Week 13.

4. Buffalo Bills

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
  • Previously: 3rd in NFL power rankings

The Buffalo Bills will likely get Tremaine Edmunds, Greg Rousseau and AJ Epenesa back soon, but now Von Miller is out indefinitely. Minus their top edge rusher and a game-changing player, there are new concerns about the defense. It’s also fair to wonder how long Josh Allen’s elbow will hold up before a setback with him returning to 40-plus attempts. The Bills are still one of the best NFL teams in 2022, but injuries have raised a few red flags.

3. Dallas Cowboys

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 4th in NFL power rankings

Coming off a Thanksgiving victory over the New York Giants, things could soon get even better for the Dallas Cowboys. Odell Beckham Jr. to Dallas feels inevitable and he would be the last piece that truly puts this offense over the top, especially if Tyron Smith returns for the playoffs. The Cowboys are neck-and-neck with Philadelphia, which makes that Dec. 24 battle must-see television.

Related: Dallas Cowboys schedule

2. Philadelphia Eagles

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 2 in NFL power rankings

This is going to be one of the best races to the finish we can remember. Right now, the Philadelphia Eagles hold the edge over Dallas because of a superior roster from top to bottom and a better coaching staff. It’s a coin flip to determine who wins the NFC East, but it’s not difficult to envision either team hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Kansas City Chiefs
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 1 in NFL power rankings

The Kansas City Chiefs are the best NFL team right now, even if some recent opponents have made them sweat. Patrick Mahomes makes all the difference, playing at a level of excellence that feels reminiscent of Michael Jordan carrying the Chicago Bulls. As long as Mahomes is around, the Chiefs can win the Super Bowl.

Related: NFL MVP race