2023 NFL Power Rankings, Week 17: A Statement Win Vaults a New Team to No. 1, Vikings Take a Big Step Back

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates his touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Week 16 of the NFL season is officially behind us.

With two weeks left, there is plenty of playoff jostling yet to come, and the final 32 games of the season promise to be filled with entertaining, playoff-type football. As we head into Week 17 and a new year, here is an updated look at the NFL power rankings.

The Super Bowl Contenders

NFL Power Rankings
Dec 25, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Baltimore Ravens linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips (53), safety Marcus Williams (32), and cornerback Daryl Worley (41) celebrate in the end zone after Williams intercepted a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

1. Baltimore Ravens

  • Last Week: 33-19 win @ SF
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. MIA

This was Lamar Jackson’s best MVP case. The only thing that could stop him on Monday night was a ref tripping him in the end zone. Baltimore’s defense wreaked havoc on Brock Purdy all night as well, consistently putting pressure on the young QB and forcing four interceptions.

2. Miami Dolphins

  • Last Week: 22-20 win vs. DAL
  • Trending: +2
  • This Week: 12/31 @ BAL

Jaylen Waddle had to leave this game because of an ankle sprain, but Miami’s defense was able to shut down Dallas’ offense for much of Sunday afternoon. Tyreek Hill had another big receiving game too, which bolstered the Dolphins offense just enough to grab this win.

3. San Francisco 49ers

  • Last Week: 19-33 loss vs. BAL
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 12/31 @ WSH

It was an ugly stat line for Brock Purdy, but at the end of the day, San Francisco should be fine. A couple of the interceptions that he threw were very unlucky, and the 49ers should remain the favorites in the NFC.

4. Detroit Lions

  • Last Week: 30-24 win @ MIN
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 12/30 @ DAL

The Detroit Lions clinched their first division title in 30 years, and it came behind an explosive offensive performance against a Vikings defense that has been one of the better units in the league all year. The backend of Detroit’s defense continues to make big plays when they matter as well.

5. Buffalo Bills

  • Last Week: 24-22 win @ LAC
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. NE

The Bills still have plenty of the same flaws that have plagued them all season, but the difference is that they are able to overcome them in order to win games. Buffalo fell into multiple different deficits in this game, but Josh Allen led the way to a win.

6. Cleveland Browns

  • Last Week: 36-22 win @ HOU
  • Trending: +3
  • This Week: 12/28 vs. NYJ

A huge game from Amari Cooper led the way for the Browns offense against Houston. Cleveland has now won three consecutive games with Joe Flacco at QB, and they need one more win to officially clinch themselves a playoff berth.

Strong Playoff Teams

Oct 15, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) reacts as he walks off the field during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

7. Philadelphia Eagles

  • Last Week: 33-25 win vs. NYG
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. ARI

The Eagles got back to their bread and butter this weekend and consistently pounded the ball down New York’s throat. D’Andre Swift is a terrific player, and Philadelphia needs to continue finding ways to utilize him behind this stout offensive line.

8. Dallas Cowboys

  • Last Week: 20-22 loss @ MIA
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. DET

Dak Prescott faced constant pressure against the Dolphins this weekend, and the Cowboys could not get anything going with their rushing attack on Sunday. They fell out of the NFC East lead with this loss, and now, they need to get a win against the Lions in Week 17.

9. Los Angeles Rams

  • Last Week: 30-22 win vs. NO
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 12/31 @ NYG

Los Angeles looks scary heading into the playoffs. They can’t win the NFC West, but there isn’t a team in this conference that wants to play them on Wild Card weekend. Their offense is rolling, and the defense can suffocate opposing offenses like they did for much of Thursday night against the Saints.

10. Kansas City Chiefs

  • Last Week: 14-20 loss vs. LV
  • Trending: -4
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. CIN

The Chiefs offense remains completely out of sorts. They could generate absolutely no production against the Raiders throughout much of the night even despite Aidan O’Connell not completing a single pass after the first quarter.

The “Swing” Teams

Jan 8, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) embraces wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) following a touchdown pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

11. Seattle Seahawks

  • Last Week: 20-17 win @ TEN
  • Trending: +3
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. PIT

Geno Smith was clutch on Sunday when it mattered. The Seahawks spammed Tyler Lockett’s routes down the stretch, and Smith hit Colby Parkinson for a game-winning TD to leap Seattle into the playoff picture.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Last Week: 30-12 win vs. JAX
  • Trending: +5
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. NO

Another huge Mike Evans game propelled Tampa Bay to a win that put them solidly at the top of the NFC South. Baker Mayfield found him time and time again, and now, Tampa can all but lock down the division with a win over the Saints this weekend.

13. Cincinnati Bengals

  • Last Week: 11-34 loss @ PIT
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 12/31 @ KC

The Steelers simply have Cincy’s number this season. Perhaps this game means more than that, but for now, let’s not completely overreact to this ugly loss. The Bengals can bounce back against the Chiefs this weekend.

14. Denver Broncos

  • Last Week: 23-26 loss vs. NE
  • Trending: -3
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. LAC

Right when it seems like the Broncos are starting to figure things out, they’ve now lost two games in a row, and this one was very winnable against a reeling Patriots team at home. Russell Wilson was unable to take care of the football, and Denver’s defense is floundering again at precisely the wrong time.

15. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Last Week: 12-30 @ TB
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. CAR

The Jaguars very desperately need a healthy Trevor Lawrence if they are going to compete. He didn’t look right throughout this entire game, and he eventually would leave with a shoulder injury. Luckily, they have a “get right” game on their schedule this weekend against the Panthers.

16. Green Bay Packers

  • Last Week: 33-30 win @ CAR
  • Trending: +3
  • This Week: 12/31 @ MIN

Green Bay played with their food for much of the fourth quarter, but at the end of the day, Jordan Love was able to string together some heroics to lead the Packers to a win and keep their playoff hopes alive.

17. Houston Texans

  • Last Week: 22-36 loss vs. CLE
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. TEN

The Texans need to get C.J. Stroud in the lineup if they are going to sneak into the playoffs over the final two weeks. They couldn’t string together any drives against a very tough Browns defense.

18. Las Vegas Raiders

  • Last Week: 20-14 win @ KC
  • Trending: +5
  • This Week: 12/31 @ IND

The Raiders offense is not that great without Josh Jacobs in the lineup, but this defense is legit again. Las Vegas scored two defensive touchdowns, which proved to be enough against Kansas City.

19. Atlanta Falcons

  • Last Week: 29-10 win vs. IND
  • Trending: +6
  • This Week: 12/31 @ CHI

Taylor Heinicke deserves to be the Falcons QB for the rest of this season. He is their best chance at generating consistent offense, and he proved it again in this win over a solid Colts team.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Last Week: 34-11 win vs. CIN
  • Trending: +2
  • This Week: 12/31 @ SEA

You can always count on Mike Tomlin putting out all the stops in order to get above .500 by the end of the year. George Pickens made some huge plays in this game, and Mason Rudolph played an excellent game at QB.

21. Indianapolis Colts

  • Last Week: 10-29 loss @ ATL
  • Trending: -5
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. LV

It was just one of those games for the Colts on Sunday. Gardner Minshew had a classic backup QB dud, and Jonathan Taylor could not lead the way in the ground game, either.

22. Chicago Bears

  • Last Week: 27-16 win vs. ARI
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. ATL

The Bears move slightly down the power rankings this week, but that is not to say that they played a bad game against Arizona. They dominated the time of possession by totaling 250 rushing yards. It would be nice to see Justin Fields be more efficient as a passer, but running the ball and relying on their defense is how they are going to win games.

23. Minnesota Vikings

  • Last Week: 24-30 loss vs. DET
  • Trending: -5
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. GB

The Vikings are reeling on back-to-back losses and now have to deal with the fact that they’ve lost T.J. Hockenson for the final two weeks of the season. It’s going to be a tough ask for any QB to lead this offense next weekend even against a porous defense like Green Bay’s.

On the Outside Looking In

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams
Dec 21, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) leave the field after the game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

24. New Orleans Saints

  • Last Week: 22-30 loss @ LAR
  • Trending: -3
  • This Week: 12/31 @ TB

The Saints fell into a huge hole early on, and while some solid fourth quarter production made the score look close by the end, this doesn’t feel like a playoff team right now. They can change that outlook with a road win against Tampa Bay next week, but it will be a very tough ask.

25. New England Patriots

  • Last Week: 26-23 win @ DEN
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 12/31 @ BUF

Bailey Zappe did it again. He completely outplayed Russell Wilson last weekend, and New England’s defense forced a couple turnovers that proved to be the difference.

26. Tennessee Titans

  • Last Week: 17-20 loss vs. SEA
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 12/31 @ HOU

Derrick Henry put together a solid game and did everything he could to push Tennessee towards a win. However, it simply wasn’t enough as the Titans defense was unable to get a stop at the end of the fourth quarter.

27. New York Giants

  • Last Week: 25-33 loss @ PHI
  • Trending: —
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. LAR

Tyrod Taylor relieved Tommy DeVito in this game and managed to make it close on the scoreboard. This offensive line remains a problem though, and other than a few “flash in the pan” performances from their QBs, the offense as a whole doesn’t seem like much of a threat.

28. New York Jets

  • Last Week: 30-28 win vs. WSH
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 12/28 @ CLE

This was a very entertaining game, and it ultimately ended with a Greg Zuerlein field goal to win it. Breece Hall refused to let the Jets lose this one, and he made play after play all afternoon, totaling nearly 200 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns on the day.

29. Los Angeles Chargers

  • Last Week: 20-22 loss vs. BUF
  • Trending: +3
  • This Week: 12/31 @ DEN

Credit to the Chargers, they made this game very competitive. In fact, they probably would have found a way to win if Justin Herbert was playing. However, Herbert is not in the lineup, and this offense was unable to take advantage of opportunities down the stretch and had to kick five field goals rather than score touchdowns against Buffalo.

30. Arizona Cardinals

  • Last Week: 16-27 loss @ CHI
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 12/31 @ PHI

Arizona simply didn’t have the firepower to hang with an improving Chicago Bears team. They had no answers for Chicago’s rushing attack, which allowed the Bears to eat clock and control the game throughout.

31. Carolina Panthers

  • Last Week: 30-33 loss vs. GB
  • Trending: —
  • This Week: 12/31 @ JAX

Carolina didn’t have a ton of juice for the first three quarters of this game, but they began stringing together drives in the fourth quarter to make this a close contest. The Panthers still aren’t a good team by any means, but it’s nice to see them at least put up a fight in some of these games.

32. Washington Commanders

  • Last Week: 28-30 loss @ NYJ
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 12/31 vs. SF

The Commanders fell down by 20 points early on, and Jacoby Brissett’s comeback effort fell just short. Washington has now lost six in a row and likely are going to get stomped by the 49ers this weekend.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.