As the NFL regular season enters its final full month, many of the preconceptions about the 2023 campaign are falling by the wayside, and it's reflecting in the latest power rankings after Week 13.
While injuries to star quarterbacks across the league have shaken up several division races, as a whole the NFC has emerged as the deeper and more competitive conference while the AFC has devolved into a war of attrition.
After several contenders made statement victories, and others fell by the wayside, victims of upset losses, here's a look at where things stand after Week 13, in the latest FanBuzz power rankings.
1. San Francisco 49ers (9-3)
Previous: No. 2
The 49ers' star power shone through in a complete drubbing of the Philadelphia Eagles that not only elevated San Francisco into the role of the NFC's team to beat, but quarterback Brock Purdy into a legitimate MVP candidate. Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel combined for 271 yards from scrimmage and four total touchdowns while leading the charge in a 42-19 message-sending blowout. Maybe most concerning for the rest of the league is that the pass-rush is starting to really show its teeth. There aren't many teams as complete or explosive as the 49ers have become in the NFL.
2. Dallas Cowboys (9-3)
Previous: No. 5
There aren't many more offenses across the league playing at as a high a level as Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are right now. Not only have the Cowboys won four straight, but Dallas is averaging 42 points per game having outscored opponents 168-72 over that span. With the suddenly desperate Eagles coming to Arlington Sunday night, the Cowboys have the opportunity to not just avenge an earlier-season loss to their division rivals, but also gain some legitimacy both in terms of Prescott's MVP chase and Dallas' standing as a Super Bowl contender.
3. Baltimore Ravens (9-3)
Previous: No. 4
Baltimore emerges from the bye week in a virtual tie for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Dolphins currently own the tiebreaker, but the Ravens got to watch the Chiefs come up short against the Packers in Lambeau, further improving the chances of the road to the Super Bowl going through Inner Harbor. When we last saw the Ravens, rookie Zay Flowers and Odell Beckham Jr. were hitting their stride, which should give Lamar Jackson and the offense a nice boost down the stretch.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (10-2)
Previous: No. 1
Suddenly, the Eagles look like they could be in real trouble. Sunday night, we'll find out just how much of the Niners' systematic dismantling in Philadelphia was a byproduct of the Eagles playing three games in 13 days, and whether Jalen Hurts and Co. are capable of bouncing back against the Dallas Cowboys, who now smell blood in the water and opportunity in the NFC East. Suddenly, Week 14 enters must-win territory for the Eagles' hopes of both winning the NFC East and securing the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
5. Miami Dolphins (9-3)
Previous: No. 6
Tyreek Hill went wild, and the Dolphins did what you would expect them to do against the skeletal remains of the Washington Commanders. If the regular season ended today, the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC would go through Miami. The Dolphins still need to prove they have postseason staying power, and can beat a team with a winning record, but the explosiveness on offense is unmatched across the league.
6. Detroit Lions (9-3)
Previous: No. 7
Detroit sprinted out to a 21-0 lead that made it look like Sunday's game against the Saints was over before it really began. But, the Lions' defense let New Orleans come storming back, which might wind up being lethal against actual playoff-caliber opponents. Still, the explosiveness of Jahmyr Gibbs and Jameson Williams helped Dan Campbell's team close out a ninth win that this team can build on.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
Previous: No. 3
Two weeks in a row the Chiefs started flat, and this time around against Jordan Love and the Packers, Patrick Mahomes couldn't lead Kansas City back. Sunday night's final Chiefs possession was marred by some of the shoddiest officiating you'll see on an NFL Sunday, but there are now very real concerns about Kansas City's receiving corps and the offense at large.
8. Houston Texans (7-5)
Previous: No. 12
In a game that had legitimate playoff implications in the AFC, the Houston Texans showed that they not only can match one of the hottest teams punch-for-punch offensively, but have also developed a defense that's capable of playing complementary football against top competition. Losing wide receiver Dank Dell is certainly a difficult blow for C.J. Stroud and the offense, but Derek Stingley's emergence and ability to pull down timely turnovers has been huge for the Texans' defense.
9. Buffalo Bills (6-6)
Previous: No. 10
The bye week came at exactly the right time for the Bills, who had a week to continue to get up to speed on whatever changes interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady has implemented. Buffalo is going to need to get the most out of Josh Allen down the stretch, if they are going to hang on and make a return trip to the postseason. If the Bills can survive the myriad injuries they have suffered on defense and wind up in the playoffs, it will be quite the feat in its own right.
10. Green Bay Packers (6-6)
Previous: No. 15
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and the Green Bay Packers are legitimate playoff contenders, too. After showing against the Lions that he can be a deadly-accurate deep-ball thrower, Jordan Love went out on Sunday night and proved that his performance in Detroit wasn't a fluke as he outplayed Patrick Mahomes. Love seems to be coming of age during this stretch run, and the Packers' defense is finding its footing. That can be a lethal combination as the games become more meaningful.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4)
Previous: No. 8
Monday night was a disaster in Duuuval. Not only did the Jaguars fall to the Bengals, as double-digit favorites, against backup quarterback Jake Browning, but more consequentially Trevor Lawrence was knocked out with an ankle injury. Lawrence's availability from here dictates the Jaguars' ceiling the rest of this season.
12. Indianapolis Colts (7-5)
Previous: No. 13
Gardner Minshew's chemistry with Michael Pittman Jr. is really starting to gain some steam, and even without Jonathan Taylor, the Colts have been able to find some explosiveness thanks to Shane Steichen's innovative play-calling. If nothing else, the foundation is being set for Indianapolis this season, and they just might tip over the apple cart come NFL playoff time.
13. Denver Broncos
Previous: No. 9
C.J. Stroud was able to dictate against the Broncos' defense, even without Tank Dell for much of the game, which is a worrisome sign for Denver. So, too, is the fact that Russell Wilson tossed three interceptions, including on the Broncos' final two possessions of the game. When the Broncos were able to cut down on Wilson's turnovers, and play fundamental football, they were one of the hottest teams in the league. But, that wasn't the formula Sunday in Houston, the opposite, really.
14. Seattle Seahawks (6-6)
Previous: No. 14
The Seahawks made a run of it against the Cowboys, with D.K. Metcalf absolutely going off for 134 yards with three touchdowns. However, Seattle couldn't pull off the upset because the defense wore down late, against the onslaught from Dak Prescott and the Cowboys' offense, and the offensive line failed Geno Smith in the game's biggest moments. Neither of those developments are promising for the road ahead.
15. Atlanta Falcons (6-6)
Previous: No. 16
Atlanta rolled up to East Rutherford, and a baseball game broke out against the Jets. The Falcons better figure out how to play ball control against teams with a semblance of an offense, which the Jets do not possess, or it could be a bumpy road to the finish line.
16. Minnesota Vikings (6-6)
Previous: No. 17
The good news for the Vikings is that Justin Jefferson is back. The bad news is that Minnesota still has two games remaining against the Detroit Lions, and one against the Green Bay Packers, down the stretch. A return trip to the NFL postseason is far from guaranteed.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
Previous: No. 11
The Steelers' offense seemed to come off the tracks when Kenny Pickett went down with a high ankle sprain that required surgery, and threatens to end his season. Whatever Pittsburgh hoped to learn about Pickett and the offense, under interim offensive coordinators Mike Sullivan and Eddie Faulker the rest of this season went up in smoke during a disastrous loss to the Cardinals.
18. Los Angeles Rams (6-6)
Previous: No. 19
Los Angeles' offense was firing on all cylinders against the Browns, getting key contributions from Kyren Williams, Puka Nacua, and a defense that wound up slamming the door on the Joe Flacco-led Browns late.
19. Cincinnati Bengals (6-6)
Previous: No. 18
Jake Browning pulled off an overtime upset over the Jaguars, who entered Monday night with aspirations of finishing the weekend in a virtual tie for the AFC's No. 1 seed. Ja'Marr Chase showed that hes as dynamic a deep threat as he ever was, even without Joe Burrow behind center, and Cincinnati's defense made several key late stops.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)
Previous: No. 21
Much of Sunday's game against the Panthers was played amid a Tampa monsoon, but that didn't stop Mike Evans from making history. The prolific Buccaneers wide receiver caught seven passes for 162 yards with a touchdown. By game's end, Evans had surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the season, a feat he's accomplished every year since being drafted. If Mayfield and Evans continue at this pace, the Buccaneers just might steal the NFC South.
21. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7)
Previous: No. 24
If nothing else, Antonio Pierce has the Raiders playing loose and inspired football. It's unlikely that Las Vegas has its 2024 quarterback on the roster for the 2023 stretch run, and the entire organization will likely get a refresh this offseason.
22. Cleveland Browns (7-5)
Previous: No. 22
Cleveland's postseason hopes are hanging by a thread. Joe Flacco was the proficient enough, but the Browns' defense couldn't get off the field and were gashed by the duo of Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams on Sunday afternoon.
23. Los Angeles Chargers (5-7)
Previous: No. 23
Few teams play further down to their competition than the Chargers do. Sunday, the offense couldn't get anything going, but couldn't possibly lose to the Patriots. Los Angeles escaped with a 6-0 win over New England, but the victory didn't inspire much confidence or do much to ease the mounting pressure on head coach Brandon Staley.
24. New Orleans Saints (5-7)
Previous: No. 24
New Orleans simply couldn't close out the Lions, and don't seem to have much of an identity on either side of the football right now. The NFC South is very much up for grabs, and in theory the Saints have the best quarterback, but Derek Carr hasn't quite lived up to that mantle.
25. Tennessee Titans (4-8)
Previous: No. 25
Derrick Henry was a bowling ball against the Colts, rushing for 102 yards with a pair of touchdowns, just as Will Levis' connection with DeAndre Hopkins started to heat up with the pair combining on five passes for 75 yards and a score. But, the Titans came up short in overtime, at home, and now Levis and Henry are a bit banged up. Not what you want to see, in Tennessee.
26. New York Giants (4-8)
Previous: No. 27
The Giants emerge from the bye, with the possibility of getting Tyrod Taylor back off of injured reserve, but, Brian Daboll and Co. should resist the urge of pulling Tommy DeVito who seemingly has sparked the offense a bit. New York won't be making the postseason, but could possibly play spoiler based on how they've looked in recent weeks.
27. Arizona Cardinals (3-10)
Previous: No. 30
Sure, Kenny Pickett was knocked from Sunday's game, but in the second half Pittsburgh wasn't even competitive against the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Arizona threw a wrench in the Steelers' postseason hopes as James Conner returned home and ran roughshod over his former team for 107 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Committing to the run and using it to set up Kyler Murray and the passing game might be the Cardinals' winning formula.
28. Chicago Bears (4-8)
Previous: No. 28
The Bears will return from the bye week with five games left. Those five games are effectively an audition for Justin Fields, both for the fleeting chances that he returns as Chicago's quarterback in 2024, and for potential suitors who could trade for him if they get boxed out of the top of next spring's draft and can't get one of the top prospects in the incoming class.
29. Washington Commanders (4-9)
Previous: No. 29
The bloom has officially fallen off the Sam Howell rose. Sunday, Howell passed for 127 yards with an interception en route to a 50.5 passer rating. Howell has surpassed 300 yards just once over the past three weeks and has thrown five interceptions with only one touchdown during that span. Washington should absolutely be in the market for a quarterback next spring, and should absolutely let the next general manager and head coach identify who that is.
30. New York Jets (4-8)
Previous: No. 26
The only time the Jets found the end zone against the Falcons was when the defense recorded a safety against running back Bijan Robinson. How putrid is New York's offense, one might ask? The Jets only reached the red-zone one time Sunday afternoon. Tough to compete, let alone win, playing that way.
31. Carolina Panthers (1-10)
Previous: No. 32
Bryce Young showed some signs of life in Tampa Bay, giving some hope that perhaps Carolina shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater and can build around the No. 1 overall pick in 2023, after all.
32. New England Patriots (2-10)
Previous: No. 31
There might not be a bottom for the Patriots. New England has no quarterback, and no defined future at the position. Bill Belichick's Patriot future may be shorter than anyone envisioned.
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