2023 NFL Power Rankings, Week 12: Lions join league’s best; Broncos keep rising

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Some quick sincerity as we hurtle toward Thanksgiving: I’m very thankful for football, and the opportunity to talk about it for a living.

But am I thankful for the power rankings — specifically the middle of the power rankings, where we must sort out a dozen different versions of the same flawed team? That’s the real question.

It’s a weekly headache, but one I’m grateful to have. And another wild weekend in the NFL made it more difficult than ever.

Before we tuck into some turkey, here are the Week 12 power rankings.

NFL Power Rankings

1. Philadelphia Eagles (9-1) no change

Unlike the one in your oven, these Birds never seem to be done. It never seems to look pretty, but at this point who cares? The versatility and resilience of this team is the only constant in a league of mediocrity. For the better part of two years, they’ve been damn near impossible to kill. Stealing a win at Arrowhead is one of the most impressive on their long list of wins going back to the start of 2022, and they’re pretty easily the best team so far in 2023.

2. Detroit Lions (7-3) +2

I was hesitant to jump the Lions over a Baltimore team that thumped them, but that miracle rally was enough to vault Detroit into second place. The game is supposed to be over when you’re down by 12 with 4: 15 to play, but the toughness and confidence of this Lions team looked special in a big moment. If this season goes somewhere memorable, that game will be looked back on as a launching pad.

[This Thursday at 12:30 p.m. ET: Packers vs Lions on FOX and the FOX Sports app]

Jared Goff, Lions pull off epic comeback vs. Bears

3. Baltimore Ravens (7-3) no change

Baltimore wound up with a big, big division win, but losing Mark Andrews is a steep price to pay. Hopefully, Odell Beckham Jr.’s shoulder injury isn’t severe, because the Ravens need all hands on deck to replace Andrews’ production in the passing game — particularly in the red zone.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) -2

You don’t have to panic about the Chiefs if you don’t want to, but can someone please step up and be dependable? The defense is great. Patrick Mahomes is still That Dude. Can someone, anyone, reliably catch a pass? I don’t blame you if you’re starting to think the answer is no.

Jalen Hurts, Eagles come back to beat Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

5. San Francisco 49ers (7-3) no change

This will be an insane 17-day stretch in San Francisco, featuring two games against Seattle with a huge date in Philadelphia sandwiched in between. The 49ers have gotten on track without really breaking a sweat the last two weeks, but these three games can go a long way toward setting them up for playoff success.

6. Miami Dolphins (7-3) no change

It never truly felt like the Dolphins were in danger of giving up the lead to Las Vegas. And yet, somehow, the Raiders were throwing toward the Miami end zone with a chance to tie the game in the final minute. Jalen Ramsey’s game-sealing pick was worth celebrating. So was the fact that Tyreek Hill’s hand injury doesn’t seem serious. The rest of Sunday was forgettable.

7. Dallas Cowboys (7-3) +1

The Cowboys have been favored by a combined 27.5 points in these last two games, and they have won them by a combined 55 points. That’s all you can ask for. Up next, one last game as a heavy favorite on Thursday (against the Commanders), before the schedule picks back up in a big way.

Cowboys dominant against Panthers in Week 11

8. Cleveland Browns (7-3) -1

This was not a fun watch, but give credit to Dorian Thompson-Robinson for going 4-of-4 for 39 yards to set up Cleveland’s game-winning field goal. If the Browns reach the postseason, this will be a memorable moment. All of that said, the combination of DTR and Joe Flacco is easily the worst QB situation among the Top 10, which is why I dropped the Browns one spot.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) no change

Similar story to the Cowboys — not exactly a win that’s going to move the needle, but at least it was dominant. It was nice to see Calvin Ridley show back up. It’s a trend the Jags need to continue.

10. Houston Texans (6-4) +1

On the day when C.J. Stroud finally made some mistakes, his defense was there to pick him up. Arizona went for it on fourth down three times in the fourth quarter alone — all three attempts coming on the Texans’ side of the field. DeMeco Ryans’ defense stood tall every time. This is not just a good, young team in Houston but a complementary one.

11. Buffalo Bills (6-5) +3

Not a bad debut from Joe Brady as Bills OC. The much-maligned offense scored 30 points for the first time since Oct. 1, Josh Allen managed his best passer rating since the Week 5 loss to Jacksonville and the team grabbed an easy win against a division rival that has tortured them in recent years. A solid start.

NFL power rankings: Russell Wilson helps Broncos rise, Chiefs fall & Lions rise to two?

12. Seattle Seahawks (6-4) -2

I’m playing armchair quarterback, and that’s not fair. But with no timeouts and his headset not working, it makes a ton of sense for Geno Smith to spike the ball and get the lay of the land. Obviously, there are a million other variables that could’ve swung the game in the Seahawks’ favor in L.A. and it doesn’t all come down to one missed kick. But I bet Seattle’s feeling the pressure of this Thanksgiving game against San Francisco a heck of a lot more at 6-4 than they would’ve been at 7-3.

[2023 NFL midseason awards picks, playoff predictions: Who wins MVP, Super Bowl?]

13. Denver Broncos (5-5) +9

They’re officially .500 and three of these four straight wins have come against winning teams. I’m not trying to tell you the Broncos are a pretty watch, but they do look like a pain in the butt for every team they play. Looking over the long list of mediocre teams in the AFC right now, there aren’t many I like more than the Broncos.

Has Russell Wilson silenced doubters with Broncos’ fourth straight win?

14. Minnesota Vikings (6-5) -1

Even when Kirk Cousins was healthy, the Vikings fell into an 0-3 hole because they couldn’t hold on to the football. If that’s what happens when the starter is available, it’s probably not going to get better with a backup. Denver beat Minnesota by one point, having scored nine points off Vikings turnovers. Few teams are capable of overcoming turnover issues, and the Josh Dobbs-led Vikings aren’t one of them.

15. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) -3

Obviously, the 34-20 loss in Baltimore is not why I’m dropping the Bengals. There’s no shame in losing to the Ravens on the road when your starting quarterback goes down. The issue is that Joe Burrow won’t be back this season, which changes the calculus of what the Bengals are capable of the rest of the way.

16. Indianapolis Colts (5-5) +2

It’s easy to forget about the Colts because they’re .500 and starting a backup quarterback. But look at their remaining schedule and tell me which opponent they can’t beat — especially now that Cincinnati is playing without Joe Burrow. There’s plenty of opportunity in front of the Colts, which is more than I thought about them in September.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) -2

This is why people have been critical of the Steelers’ offense. It isn’t hating, it’s just that winning isn’t sustainable without scoring points. Granted, the Browns are as good of a defense as they’ll play this year, but it’s still been abysmal. Pittsburgh has failed to manage even 300 yards of offense in more than half of their games. On Tuesday morning, a desperate fanbase was appeased: Offensive coordinator Matt Canada was let go.

18. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) -2

There’s no need to point fingers when everyone had a hand in an ugly loss. Chargers receivers dropped at least four balls, the offense was 1-of-4 in the red zone, and the defense allowed Jordan Love to throw for 300 yards for the first time in his career. It’s objectively true that this team underperforms relative to its talent level, and it makes you wonder about Brandon Staley’s future.

Chargers fall to Packers: Is Brandon Staley on the hot seat?

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) -2

The Bucs don’t belong in the conversation with any of the NFC’s best, but I’m pretty sure we already knew that. The funny thing about Sunday’s loss to San Francisco is that it doesn’t do much to change their outlook. There are four games remaining against the NFC South, and plenty of time to win the league’s worst division.

20. New Orleans Saints (5-5) no change

An experienced quarterback with quality receivers, yet an overall uninspiring offense. A veteran defense that has had mixed results. Am I describing the Saints or the Bucs? Does it even matter? A flawed team not named the Panthers is going to win the NFC South, and the Saints have every bit as good a chance as the Buccaneers or Falcons.

21. Atlanta Falcons (4-6) +2

Why not just lump all the NFC South contenders into one category? Much like New Orleans and Tampa Bay, it’s all out there in front of the Falcons. Someone’s going to host a playoff game. Can Desmond Ridder find some consistency, starting this weekend against the hated Saints?

22. Las Vegas Raiders (5-6) +2

This was definitely a more competitive showing than I anticipated in Miami. I don’t think the Raiders have enough to truly compete, especially not stuck in the AFC West, but it’s beyond obvious the effect Antonio Pierce has had on these guys. Even if they aren’t a playoff team, they don’t look like they’ll be an easy out the rest of the way.

23. Green Bay Packers (3-6) +2

If I’m being completely honest, I think Sunday was more about the Chargers finding a way to lose than the Packers finding a way to win. But you also can’t discount the effect a come-from-behind win can have on a young team’s confidence. It matters that Jordan Love and the players around him are having these moments. It may pay dividends in the long run.

24. New York Jets (4-6) -3

There’s no point whining about how badly the Jets bungled the backup quarterback spot. What’s done is done, and now we wait to see if they can hold the rope long enough for this supposed Aaron Rodgers return. I can’t say I love Tim Boyle’s chances against Miami, but what other choice did they have but to make a switch?

Zach Wilson benched in Jets 32-6 loss to Bills

25. Washington Commanders (4-7) -6

It’s mind-boggling to see an NFL team turn the ball over six times in one game. That type of stuff is typically reserved for bad high school teams. What might’ve been even worse, though, was the way the Washington secondary was diced up by Tommy DeVito and a woeful New York offense. I still think the future is bright for the team itself, but it’s starting to feel like a matter of “when,” not “if” big changes come for the coaching staff.

26. Los Angeles Rams (4-6) no change

Just when you think you’re out on the Rams, they pull you back in. They’ve now swept Seattle and are within shouting distance of a wildcard spot. The problem, of course, is that we don’t know when Cooper Kupp comes back and the schedule’s not easy. You’ve still got to consider these guys a pleasant surprise. 

I appreciate Jonathan Gannon empowering his team by letting them go for it on fourth down in so many crucial spots. Unfortunately, the Cards didn’t pick any of them up. Adding Kyler Murray to a team that was already scrappy makes them an opponent you’d rather not have to play.

28. Chicago Bears (3-8) +1

Getting outscored 17-0 in the last four minutes of a game you were easily winning is honestly pretty embarrassing. But that failure is offset by a solid performance from Justin Fields. That’s how important it is for the Bears to figure out the quarterback spot: a this exact moment in time, Fields’ individual development is more valuable than wins. The challenge now is building on it.

29. Tennessee Titans (3-7) -2

All things considered, this was not a bad day from Will Levis! It says a lot about where the Titans are that Levis not completely melting down in Jacksonville is an accomplishment, but that’s where we’re at when you’re breaking in a rookie QB.

30. New York Giants (3-8) +2

Where were you when the legend of Tommy DeVito took on a new life? No matter what happens from here, it’s incredible that the guy was sacked nine times and still managed to finish with the third-best passer rating of the week. And no matter what else happens, Giants fans can always say this sorry team swept the Commanders. 

‘We’re a tough group’ – Saquon Barkley on Giants’ 31-19 victory over Commanders

31. New England Patriots (2-8) -1

The Pats travel to face the Giants coming off their bye, and it’s not a stretch to say this is their best shot at a third win for the rest of the year. Maybe this is a chance to correct the vibes coming off a disastrous game in Germany. Realistically, maybe not.

Why Bill Belichick’s coaching tree isn’t working around the league

32. Carolina Panthers (1-9) -1

Credit to them: Sunday saw the Panthers march 70 yards in 17 plays for a touchdown — their longest scoring drive of the season! That’s about all the good that happened, as Bryce Young was sacked five times and threw a pick-six. Baby steps, I guess?

David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports and hosts the NFL on FOX podcast. He previously spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team’s official website. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in producing “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion” about the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State. Follow him on Twitter at @davidhelman_.

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