Skip to main content

Week 12 NFL power rankings: Packers, 49ers and Cowboys rise, Bengals plummet after Joe Burrow injury

Week 11 of the 2023 NFL season started ugly with two Super Bowl contenders losing two of their best players for the season. Thanks to those season-ending injuries and some surprises on Sunday, the Week 12 NFL power rankings look very different heading into Monday.

Joe Burrow’s season-ending wrist injury is devastating for the Cincinnati Bengals. It essentially puts the Baltimore Ravens in control of the AFC North and has lasting ramifications on the playoffs. Elsewhere around the league some of Sunday’s developments changed perceptions of some of the best and worst NFL teams in 2023.

Related: Week 13 college football rankings

Let’s dive into our latest NFL power rankings after Week 11, excluding the must-see matchup on Monday Night Football between the two best NFL teams right now.

Week 12 NFL power rankings: Worst NFL teams this year

32. Carolina Panthers

  • Previously: Last in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Tennessee Titans

The Carolina Panthers are the worst NFL team in 2023. It was evident before Week 12 and Sunday’s performance against the Dallas Cowboys further highlighted the alarming weaknesses on the team. It’s also a bad sign that Frank Reich has yanked back the play-calling reigns, that’s significant with an owner who can be very impatient and make quick decisions.

Related: Carolina Panthers draft picks 2024

31. New England Patriots

  • Previously: 30th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: New York Giants

The New England Patriots might classify it as the yips, but the simple fact is Mac Jones isn’t a starting-caliber quarterback right now and this coaching staff deserves a lot of blame for it. Health coming out of the bye should help New England’s defense improve slightly, but this offense is an anchor that makes the Patriots one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Related: New England Patriots coaching candidates

30. Arizona Cardinals

  • Previously: 29th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Los Angeles Rams

Ultimately, losses are what the Arizona Cardinals needed at this point. While Kyler Murray is showing signs of getting back to 100 percent and is worth building this franchise around, the higher the Cardinals’ pick is the more valuable it is on the trade market. We’ve already seen enough to believe in Jonathan Gannon as a coach, now the rest of the season is about Arizona improving its draft position.

29. Washington Commanders

  • Previously: 24th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Dallas Cowboys

That has to be one of the ugliest losses in recent Washington Commanders history and that’s saying a lot. At this point, based on what we’ve seen from this team and especially the defense, the best thing Washington could do after Week 11 is fire Jack Del Rio and Ron Rivera. Washington waved the white flag already, there’s no sense in keeping Rivera and Del Rio around.

Related: Washington Commanders coaching candidates

28. New York Giants

  • Previously: 31st in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: New England Patriots

If there are no moral victories in the NFL, Sunday at least felt like a meaningless win. Securing a victory only pushes the New York Giants further away from Drake Maye or Caleb Williams and this team desperately needs a franchise quarterback. The best thing for the Giants’ future is losing out the rest of the way, but that might be difficult considering the Patriots are on deck.

Related: New York Giants ‘won’t hesitate’ on pivotal 2024 decision

27. Tennessee Titans

  • Previously: 28th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Carolina Panthers

It’s starting to get really ugly for the Tennessee Titans. Will Levis doesn’t stand much of a chance behind this offensive line and the Titans’ defense has taken another step back. At this point, the best thing for Tennessee appears to be a multi-year rebuild and we’re not convinced they have their long-term quarterback yet.

26. Las Vegas Raiders

  • Previously: 25th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs

The Las Vegas Raiders rode a wave of confidence into Week 11, but all of that came from beating up on lesser competition. While the Raiders’ defense played well in Miami on Sunday, it was also evident that Las Vegas doesn’t have the offensive line or quarterback to function. Consider those positions among the many needs the Raiders will need to address in 2024.

Related: NFL insider reveals Raiders’ figure who pushed Derek Carr out

25. Cincinnati Bengals

  • Previously: 9th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Cincinnati Bengals season is over. Not only is Jake Browning one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL, but the change at signal-caller will further highlight a bad offensive line and pedestrian coaching. The Bengals were carried by their best player and now that Burrow is gone for the year, this could be one of the worst NFL teams in the final two months.

Related: Latest on Cincinnati Bengals investigation, potential NFL discipline

24. New York Jets

  • Previously: 22nd in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Miami Dolphins

We’ve said all that needs to be said about the New York Jets. While the collapse point of the 2023 season might’ve been the Aaron Rodgers injury, the unwillingness from the Jets’ front office to improve the offense line and the failure to find a viable backup quarterback all year is an indictment on the general manager. An all-in team shouldn’t be this passive, but that’s what New York has done.

23. Chicago Bears

  • Previously: 23rd in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Minnesota Vikings

Justin Fields played like a franchise quarterback on Sunday and the Chicago Bears defense has now strung together more than a month’s worth of positive performance. We’re not saying a turnaround is imminent, but Chicago’s future looks so much brighter than it did heading into October. Plus, this team will still have two top-10 picks and more than $80 million of cap space in 2024.

Related: NFL insider addresses Justin Fields’ future in Chicago

22. Los Angeles Rams

  • Previously: 26th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Arizona Cardinals

We’ll say this, the Los Angeles Rams are very good when facing the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll has now accounted for two of the Rams’ four victories this season, with the other two coming against Indianapolis and Arizona. With all that said, Los Angeles is still likely headed for 10 losses with the Browns, Ravens, Saints and 49ers remaining on the schedule.

Related: UCLA Bruins coaching candidates

21. Green Bay Packers

  • Previously: 27th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Detroit Lions

Jordan Love is starting to turn little flashes into more consistent play. In Week 11, he became the first Green Bay Packers quarterback in two seasons to eclipse 300 passing yards with two passing touchdowns. He’s doing this despite the Packers’ offensive line being a weakness and without a reliable run game. At this point, wherever Green Bay is picking in the 2024 NFL Draft, it could use that pick to build around Love.

2023 NFL power rankings: Chargers drop, trouble in Seattle

20. Atlanta Falcons

  • Previously: 21st in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: New Orleans Saints

It almost feels like it doesn’t matter who the Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback is coming out of the bye. There’s not much faith in the play-calling right now and the Grady Jarrett injury has taken a significant toll on the Falcons’ defense. Atlanta still has a shot at winning the NFC South because it’s the weakest division in the NFL, but the Falcons might be better off long-term missing the playoffs and finding a new coach.

Related: Atlanta Falcons coaching candidates

19. Los Angeles Chargers

  • Previously: 17th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Baltimore Ravens

That’s it for Brandon Staley. There’s no telling when the Los Angeles Chargers will fire their head coach, but that performance ensured there’ll be a new leader of this organization in 2024. Los Angeles used to be the “What if?” team from 2021-’22, but now it legitimately seems like the Chargers are several years away and a good head coach from being a power in the AFC.

Related: NFL defense rankings

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Previously: 19th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Indianapolis Colts

Good, just not good enough against the San Francisco 49ers. Week 11 made it obvious how big of a gap there is between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the best teams in the NFC, let alone the NFL. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, it only has to battle the Falcons and New Orleans Saints to win the NFC South. At this point, it’s a coin-flip when comparing the Buccaneers and Saints, but we’ll get a definitive answer soon.

Related: NFL coaching hot seat

17. Indianapolis Colts

  • Previously: 20th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Since Week 7, the Indianapolis Colts have a 2-2 record with a +7 point differential. That’s highlighted to credit first-year head coach Shane Steichen, who keeps finding ways to either win or keep games close despite starting a backup quarterback with no Colts’ running back eclipsing 100 yards since Oct. 8. If this team can get off to hot starts, the Colts could be 6-5 heading into December.

Related: NFL Rookie of the Year candidates

16. New Orleans Saints

  • Previously: 18th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Atlanta Falcons

The New Orleans Saints have failed to take advantage of one of the weakest schedules in the NFL and Derek Carr has proven the Raiders might’ve been right about him. Yet, coming out of Week 11, New Orleans still has a path to win the NFC South. The first step is winning a battle between two talented but underperforming teams and the Saints should be favored.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Previously: 14th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

That was a fitting loss for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Great defense and coaching kept them in the game against one of the best teams in the NFL, while Jaylen Warren provided the lone big plays offensively. However, quarterback Kenny Pickett continues to be the anchor that prevents the Steelers from achieving more success. It’s still remarkable Mike Tomlin has won as many games as he has with Pickett and Mitch Trubisky.

14. Denver Broncos

  • Previously: 16th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Minnesota Vikings (SNF)

The Denver Broncos are back. Riding a four-game winning streak, Denver has now taken down two winning teams (Bills, Chiefs) and defeated a scorching-hot Minnesota Vikings squad. Not only is Russell Wilson playing well in Sean Payton’s offense, but Denver’s defense has turned things around. There could be another 3-4 wins on the Broncos’ schedule and that might be enough for a Wild Card spot.

13. Minnesota Vikings

  • Previously: 14th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Denver Broncos (SNF)

The Minnesota Vikings had it on Sunday Night Football, but a fifth trip allowed to the red zone finally resulted in a touchdown for Denver. One thing Week 11 should’ve been a reminder of is that for as wonderful as the Joshua Dobbs story is, he always had limitations as a starting quarterback. He’s still good enough to help this team moving forward, especially with Justin Jefferson returning, but this loss should help dial things back to reality in Minnesota.

12. Seattle Seahawks

  • Previously: 11th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: San Francisco 49ers

Injuries can’t be the Seattle Seahawks’ excuse in Week 11 given Cooper Kupp also left the game. The fact of the matter is that Seattle still has a bad offensive line and Pete Carroll is simply being outcoached by Sean McVay. The Seahawks are still a playoff contender, but they’ve failed to take the next step forward and it’s easy to argue this team has taken a step backward from where it was a year ago.

Related: Week 12 NFL schedule

11. Buffalo Bills

  • Previously: 15th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles

For as bad as the Buffalo Bills have been lately, those are still the games they’re supposed to win. Nothing we saw from the Bills’ offense in Week 11 suggested Ken Dorsey needed to be fired. However, with the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys coming up, head coach Sean McDermott could certainly be coaching with his future at stake. Based on how this entire team has performed as of late, anything but an 0-3 record after that stretch would be a surprise.

Related: Buffalo Bills coaching candidates

NFL power rankings: Best NFL teams right now

10. Houston Texans

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Houston Texans
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 12th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

When C.J. Stroud wasn’t right in Week 11, it was very bad (3 sacks, 3 interceptions), but the rookie quarterback still recorded his third consecutive game with 330-plus passing yards and he delivered a third straight Houston Texans victory. We tend to think Houston might be better than the Jacksonville Jaguars right now, but the 9th spot in the NFL power rankings has to be earned first.

Related: NFL Rookie of the Year candidates

9. Jacksonville Jaguars

Syndication: Florida Times-Union
Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 10th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Houston Texans

After being demolished by the San Francisco a week ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars responded by putting a hurting on the Titans in Week 11. However, it’s no longer about what the Jaguars can do against lesser competition. If they want national recognition, the road to being taken seriously starts in Week 12 in a must-win game against Houston.

Related: NFL expert picks

8. Cleveland Browns

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 6th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Denver Broncos

This is about the Deshaun Watson injury. For as pedestrian as he played as the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback, he could at least operate within the structure of the scheme and make enough plays for Cleveland to score 17-plus points. In Week 11, we saw the Browns narrowly escape with a win despite the fact their defense held Pittsburgh to 10 points and 249 total yards. If this team can only scrape by the Steelers, predicting what happens against the best teams in the AFC isn’t difficult.

7. Miami Dolphins

Syndication: Palm Beach Post
  • Previously: 7th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: New York Jets

It was an ugly victory for the Miami Dolphins in Week 11, but it’s also a testament to their ability to overcome adversity. Miami gave the football away three times on Sunday and went through stretches without Tyreek Hill and De’Von Achane. That’s why this resurgent defense is so important, it takes pressure off the offense. Now, if Miami’s aerial attack and ground game can return to its September form, this can be one of the best NFL teams in 2023.

Related: NFL offense rankings

6. Dallas Cowboys

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 8th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Washington Commanders

Right now, this stretch for the Dallas Cowboys is about finding consistency on both sides of the ball and racking up victories against lesser competition. The offensive flow might not’ve been there on Sunday, but the Cowboys’ defense was phenomenal and Dak Prescott made just enough plays to secure the 23-point win. While the margin of victory might not be quite as wide in Week 12, Dallas should make it three consecutive victories by taking out Washington.

Related: Highest-paid NFL players

5. Detroit Lions

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 3rd in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Green Bay Packers

A win will be all that matters for the Detroit Lions but big concerns are coming out of that game. Detroit’s defense has allowed nearly 400 total yards to three of its last four opponents and Jared Goff has now thrown five interceptions in the last four games. A soft schedule might help Detroit coast to the NFC North crown, but there are some big areas to address before we’d bet on Detroit making a playoff run.

Related: NFL Defensive Player of the Year race

4. Baltimore Ravens

Syndication: The Enquirer
Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 4th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Los Angeles Chargers

The Mark Andrews injury won’t cost the Baltimore Ravens immediately. With upcoming games against the Chargers, Rams and Jaguars, Baltimore has a path to double-digit wins and that should be enough in a division that lost two of its starting quarterbacks within the last week. Unfortunately for Baltimore, a team that has already proven it gets in its way in critical situations, Andrews’ absence will be felt in January.

Related: NFL stats 2023

3. San Francisco 49ers

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 5th in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Seattle Seahawks

A healthy Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel make quite the difference for Brock Purdy. The second-year quarterback has now thrown six touchdown passes with a 150-plus QB rating and over 620 passing yards in the last two games. Far more importantly, the 49ers are starting to look like the team that looked unstoppable heading into mid-October. Based on how Seattle and San Francisco have performed in the last two weeks, San the 49ers should secure a critical victory in a tight NFC West race.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 2 in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Las Vegas Raiders

This is another loss that falls on Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach. Kansas City had one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL coming into training camp and nothing has ever been done to address the problem. Even when it was apparent in October ahead of the NFL trade deadline that Kansas City had a championship-caliber defense to back Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs still didn’t add a wide receiver. The inaction and the overreliance on Mahomes’ ability to turn backup wide receivers into quality starts might ultimately cost Kansas City a third Lombardi Trophy.

Related: NFL MVP race

1. Philadelphia Eagles

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 1 in NFL power rankings
  • Next Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs (MNF)

It wasn’t the prettiest performance for the Philadelphia Eagles offense, but that’s what happens when you face one of the best defenses in the NFL. What mattered in Week 11 is that the Eagles’ defense stepped up, stopping Patrick Mahomes and shutting the Chiefs’ offense down in the second half. If that defense can replicate that performance, this is easily the best NFL team in 2023.

Related: NFL playoff predictions