Grumblings Media

Del Pilar's Diatribe: NFL Power Rankings Broken Down - Final Edition

As our NFL power rankings end, it's been great to do the most comprehensive rankings anywhere; breaking down data, and sharing truths about your teams with you.
Published on January 9, 2024

NFL Power Rankings

As our NFL power rankings come to an end, it’s been a long season doing these with the data and breaking each team down. We’re proud at Grumblings Media with the work we’ve done here. These are our final rankings, and we’ll be back next season. Until then, much love to your fantasy teams, and we now have the postseason to see who the best team in the NFL is! Let’s get to it, my friends!

Note – Numbers in parentheses by team name indicate the previous week’s rank.

The Elites

1. Baltimore Ravens (1) Record: 13-4 (loss vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10) – No. 1 Seed – Homefield Advantage – AFC North Champions

The Ravens ended the season on top despite losing as they were resting critical players for the playoffs. They have all the perks of homefield advantage: resting their injured and nursing their wounds. This team is peaking at the right time.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 14
    • Season Rank Passing: 21
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 12
    • Season Rank Rushing: 1

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 16
    • Season Rank Opponent Passing: 6
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 26
    • Season Rank Opponent Rushing: 14

Playoff Schedule:

  • Bye, then, the lowest seed in the AFC divisional playoffs.

2. San Francisco 49ers (2) Record: 12-5 (loss vs. Los Angeles Rams 21-20) – No. 1 seed – Homefield advantage – NFC West Champions

Sam Darnold is a backup waiting for his opportunity. However, he hasn’t changed the needle in wins in two appearances. However, he did perform admirably enough leading backups; thus, if starting quarterback Brock Purdy goes down, he can handle the reins. That and their rushing attack didn’t falter without RB Christian McCaffrey, which is another positive sign. This game is a loss that doesn’t matter as they give their starters two weeks of rest as they prepare for what they believe should be a Super Bowl run.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 12
    • Season Rank Passing: 4 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 7
    • Season Rank Rushing: 3

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 9
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 14
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 9
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 3

Playoff Schedule:

  • Bye, then, the lowest seed in the NFC divisional playoffs.

Elitism is on their Radar!

3. Buffalo Bills (3) Record: 11-6 (win vs. Miami Dolphins 21-14) – No. 2 seed – AFC East Champions

The Bills are playing the best football outside the Ravens and have won seven out of their last eight. Despite their miscues, they beat the Dolphins to end their season comeback after being written off by many to claim the division title. They must control the turnovers and not abandon their rushing attack to go deep. Finally, I’ve had the Bills at No. 3 for weeks now – understanding dynamics is my expertise, and I never doubted this team once they committed to a more balanced attack. Can they win it all? Unlikely, but any given Sunday, people, any given Sunday!

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 9
    • Season Rank Passing: 8
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 13
    • Season Rank Rushing: 7

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 6
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 7
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 13
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 15

Playoff Schedule:

  • No. 7 seed – Steelers – Home

4. Cleveland Browns (4) Record: 11-6 (loss vs. Cincinnati Bengals 31-14) – No. 5 seed – Wildcard

The Browns rested anyone and everyone they could. Led by QB Jeff Driskel – a journeyman – they crumbled against the Bengals. However, the point of the game was to rest their players and evaluate some backups. The backups are terrible; thus, they better hope no one of note goes down in the playoffs.

This week and the upcoming week were and is likely more time for the team to focus on veteran and old man (38) QB Joe Flacco, who is still learning the playbook. The rest are just trying to get healthy. They have an elite defense and now a capable quarterback. This team is a team that can beat anyone right now, including the Ravens and Niners. They’re trending up at a time when that means everything.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 5
    • Season Rank Passing: 19
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 23
    • Season Rank Rushing: 12  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 11
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 1
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 20
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 11

Playoff Schedule:

  • No. 4 seed – Texans – Away  

5. Detroit Lions (5) Record 12-5 (win vs. Minnesota Vikings 30-20) – No. 3 seed – NFC North Champions

The bench your starters or play them dilemma teams already in the playoffs must make. This one proved critical as head coach Dan Campbell started all his players hoping for a Dallas loss, taking the second seed.

You can say anything about how right he was – the injury proves he wasn’t, and that’s how this works. Play the starters, no injuries, and you’re a genius. Play them, and someone gets hurt – see TE Sam LaPorta (knee) and WR Kalif Raymond (knee) – and you’re an idiot. I wouldn’t have played them, as his emotional brain fart that cost them the Cowboys game should’ve made him realize that taking a week’s rest to prepare for your most crucial game has greater precedence. I can’t fault him for starting them based on the playoff situation.

He said he had made a prayer the night before the game. As a god-fearing man who comes from a fundamental family, I don’t think God cares enough about a football game when the world is on the brink of war. This week, they’re losing their most significant “X” factor in LaPorta. They’re saying he has an outside shot to play, but I find that hard to believe, but we’ll see – never say never.

They need LaPorta in a revenge game for Detroit and QB Jared Goff against the red-hot Rams – oh, it’s also their first playoff home game in 30 years.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 3
    • Season Rank Passing: 2
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 18
    • Season Rank Rushing: 5    

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 32
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 27
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 1
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 2

Playoff Schedule:

  • Rams – No. 6 seed – Home  

Better than Average but Still has Kinks to Work Out.

6. Dallas Cowboys (6) Record: 12-5 (win vs. Washington Commanders 38-10) – No. 2 seed – NFC East Champions

They beat a team that you could tell had quit, had their U-hauls ready to go, and were protecting themselves from injury. The Cowboys are sitting in a great spot with the upcoming playoffs. However, their veneer of dominance at home is no longer there, with the world knowing their home win streak is a lie. It’s still going because a referee refused to change a bad call and help Dallas secure a win.

This week is a time of looking in the mirror and determining if they’re tough enough to win it all – they’re not, but “the Boys” will give it a shot as they have done since the Jimmy Johnson era and their last Super Bowl in 1995. They have 28 years of failure to try to overcome. They won’t this year, either.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 2
    • Season Rank Passing: 3 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 22
    • Season Rank Rushing: 14  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 23
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 5
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 6
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 16   

Playoff Schedule:

  • No. 7 seed – Packers – Home  

7. Kansas City Chiefs (7) Record: 11-6 (win vs. Los Angeles Chargers 13-12) – No. 3 seed – AFC West Champions

This game meant nothing, but you hoped for a better outing from their “B” team. They rested players in preparation as most others do, hoping they’re as close to 100 percent as possible next week.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 24
    • Season Rank Passing: 6  
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 17
    • Season Rank Rushing: 19 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 2
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 4
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 21
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 18

Playoff Schedule

  • No. 6 seed – Dolphins – Home  

NFL Power Rankings: Pretenders or Contenders?

8. Los Angeles Rams (8) Record: 10-7 (win vs. San Francisco 49ers) No. 6 seed – Wildcard

This game was one of the name-starters resting, but the win elevated the Rams to Detroit, where all the talk is on quarterbacks – Matthew Stafford versus Jared Goff. This game brought rookie Puka Nacua into the record books with rookie records in receptions with 105 and 1,480 receiving yards. They head to Detroit to face a team without one of its most clutch receivers, TE Sam LaPorta (knee).

On the final note, Rams’ backup Carson Wentz played solid football to secure the win, and you know he knows Stafford’s at the end of his career. He’s likely hoping the team may look at him as a possible option for the franchise.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 7
    • Season Rank Passing: 10 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 15
    • Season Rank Rushing: 11     

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 28
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 20
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 5
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 12   

Playoff Schedule:

  • No. 3 seed – Lions – Away  

9. Miami Dolphins (10) Record: 11-6 (loss vs. Buffalo Bills 21-14) – No. 6 seed – Wildcard

The Dolphins lost their final two games against superior teams they should be competing against at a higher level and aren’t. I stated earlier that this team hasn’t faced cold weather, and it’s always been a Phins weakness. When they did, they lost (Bills) and now must travel to Kansas City, a team that beat them once already.

Injuries are finally affecting this team. Their offensive output made analysts ignore the continual injuries because the Dolphins were winning. It’s a massive factor and can’t be overlooked, especially after this last loss – both on offense and defense.

The Rails are coming off, but they’re still good enough to beat the Chiefs despite Kansas City being the obvious and deserving favorite. The term “paper tiger” is being thrown around with this team, which is also deserving. This game can work wonders for this team, but if they lose, critics will see it as a failed season for only beating one team over 500.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 17
    • Season Rank Passing: 1
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 14
    • Season Rank Rushing: 6   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 30
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 15
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 22
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 7

Playoff Schedule

  •  No. 3 seed – Chiefs – Away

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (14) Record: 10-7 (win vs. Baltimore Ravens 17-10) – No. 7 Seed – Wild Card

The team did what they needed to do in bad weather against a “B” team, the Ravens, who gave them all they could handle. As I’ve said, Mike Tomlin brings his team to bear as the season progresses. Once he got QB Mason Rudolph in there, they started winning.

Which bears the question – Rudolph has always been a capable, if not starter-quality quarterback. Why did he wait so long to go with him? Per one report, it sounds as if he was making excuses for why, but regardless, he did, and they won their final three and made the playoffs.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 16
    • Season Rank Passing: 25
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 3
    • Season Rank Rushing: 13    

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 22
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 17
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 4
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 19 

Playoff Schedule:

  • No. 2 seed – Bills – Away

11. Philadelphia Eagles (9) Record: 11-6 (loss vs. New York Giants 27-10) – No. 5 seed – Wildcard

I’m sorry – since becoming an adult – hell, in my teens, I’ve always known and seen what locker room cancers can do. The Eagles are struggling, but when you have a team leader who lacks leadership qualities in someone such as WR A.J. Brown consistently complaining and pointing the finger, all he’s doing is destroying the team from within. There’s minimal the coaches or management can do outside of removing the player. They can’t afford to do that with Brown.

They’ve lost five of their last six games and are trending in the wrong direction. They have the talent, but arrogance and winning ugly through perseverance kept them from fixing what needed fixing. That said, losing both coordinators last offseason is turning out to be much harder to overcome than the team, players, or media is even acknowledging.

On top of that, now they have their two top dogs, QB Jalen Hurts (finger) and Brown (knee), not 100 percent for next week. Luckily, they face the Bucs and not an elite playoff team.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 19
    • Season Rank Passing: 16
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 8
    • Season Rank Rushing: 8 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 24
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 31
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 28
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 10

Playoff Schedule

  • No. 4 seed – Buccaneers – Away

12. Green Bay Packers (15) Record: 9-8 (win vs. Chicago Bears 17-9) – No. 7 seed – Wildcard

The Packers deserve to be in the playoffs, but more importantly, as I kept reminding you, this is a development year for QB Jordan Love, and he’s exceeding all expectations. They won a game they should’ve won to get in, but it almost wasn’t to be. That’s on the playcalling and, in some cases, lack of execution.

This team isn’t strong enough to win it all, and at best, they’re inconsistent, but it’s been a year where they exceeded expectations. Sadly, their front office history and mentality are the next battle in the offseason. For now, they have a playoff game to prepare for. It’s ironic as the Packers well-deserved reputation for a pathetic defense came in and shut down a mighty Bears rushing attack to secure the win. Regardless, their defensive coordinator, Joe Barry, is likely gone.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 4
    • Season Rank Passing: 12 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 4
    • Season Rank Rushing: 15   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 10
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 9
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 2
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 28

Playoff Schedule:

  • No. 2 seed – Cowboys – Away

13. Houston Texans (13) Record: 10-7 (win vs. Indianapolis Colts 23-19) – No. 4 seed – AFC South Champions

All you hear about is QB C.J. Stroud, and deservedly so. His first play was a highlight reel bomb, but that’s all he needed to continue impressing analysts. This game showed the Texans aren’t ready for a deep playoff run. They let a mediocre team hang around all game, and if not for the Colts’ ineptitude, the Texans’ season would be over. As they do, the Colts started too slow and, in some cases, on defense, chose not to show up.

They owned the Colts in all phases but rushing, and because of Indianapolis’s inept playcalling, their season continues. Stroud is the real deal and handles himself with a veteran’s composure. When on the field, he makes all the difference, and even one-and-done will give him greater experience and help with this team’s growth into legitimate contenders.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 21
    • Season Rank Passing: 7 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 28
    • Season Rank Rushing: 22  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 13
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 23
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 17
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 6

Playoff Schedule

  • No. 5 seed – Browns – Home

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17) Record: 9-8 (win vs. Carolina Panthers 9-0) – No. 4 seed – NFC South Champions

What can you say? A win is a win, but you don’t want to beat the league’s worst team with field goals. This team’s simply not good enough to go deep in the playoffs but making them did likely accomplish two things.

  1. Baker Mayfield sticks around and gets a long-term deal.
  2. Head coach Todd Bowles keeps his job.

That’s not all good on either front. Mayfield has shown himself to be emotional and wants to lead but struggles to find followers, and he’s streaky. Bowles isn’t a good head coach. He’s won the division twice now, but only because it’s the weakest division in the NFC and arguably weaker or just as bad as their pathetic counterparts, the AFC South. He won it with a .500 record this year and a losing record two years ago.

They’re likely a one-and-done, especially as Mayfield (ribs, ankle) isn’t 100 percent and struggled against the lowly Panthers. However, if they lose in a blowout, neither Mayfield nor Bowles’s future is secure despite winning the division.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 18
    • Season Rank Passing: 17
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 29
    • Season Rank Rushing: 32   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 7
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 29
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 11
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 5  

Playoff Schedule

  • No. 5 seed – Eagles – Home

The Rest of the Best or Pretenders

15. New Orleans Saints (19) Record: 9-8 (win vs. Atlanta Falcons 48-17)  

The Saints purposely ran up the score without head coach Dennis Allen’s permission. Whether he’s a lousy human is up to you, but when the bounty gate scandal hit, Allen was in New Orleans but escaped all punishment.

As defensive backs coach, there’s no way he didn’t know what was happening, and by not reporting it, he condoned it. As a reminder, the team put or likely put bounties to hurt and, in hurting, possibly end the careers of quarterbacks Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Matt Hasselbeck, Jay Cutler, Josh Freeman, RB Marshawn Lynch, and WR Mike Williams.

In essence, he should not be leading men, yet he is, and he leads them to underperform, and then they ignore him.

A supposedly elite defense never showed up against the better teams. A so-called top-tier quarterback is no better than the current backup. Finally, Dennis Allen is 24-46 as a head coach – a loser, and no one can debate that. Why? It’s a fact. As the Saints’ head coach, he’s 16-18, and now you know why he ran up the score.

The kicker that should get him fired but won’t: the final touchdown was supposed to be a victory formation, and the Saints ignored it and went for another touchdown and got it. Remember, in that formation, like a kneel down, most defenses, if not all in today’s NFL, understand and expect it, whereas the Saints purposely knew that and took advantage for another touchdown. He can’t even get his team to listen to him.

The team should investigate, fine, release the players involved, and fire Allen. It’s obvious he has no control over his team, and likely a big reason they were mediocre this season. However, the odds are that they keep him, and the Saints will enter 2024 with mediocrity as their only attainable bar.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 8
    • Season Rank Passing: 11
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 21
    • Season Rank Rushing: 21  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 31
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 10
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 8
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 22  

Offseason Priority

  • This team needs to retool, but it likely won’t be enough with its current makeup in the coaching staff, a lack of veteran leadership, and the fact they’re in salary cap hell. Mediocrity also breeds mediocrity, and that’s what the Saints are – mediocre. 

16. Indianapolis Colts (12) Record: 9-8 (loss vs. Houston 23-19)  

Regarding the Colts loss, we’re seeing it too much. Playcallers are getting too cute in short-yardage situations. The Colts were running all over the Texans and hanging around despite being outplayed in every other phase. Yet, they didn’t secure the first down and lost the game because they went away from their best player in the game for QB Gardner Minshew to throw a pass behind the player but catchable.

The problem is that RB Tyler Goodson, a rookie, has nine targets for the season with six receptions. You don’t even go to an accomplished player on the most critical play of the season. Not only was that disgusting, but it’s inexcusable, and this loss is directly on the coaching staff and Minshew.

My coach of the year boiled down to Shane Steichen and DeMeco Ryans. I give it to DeMeco. Well-earned and well-deserved.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 28
    • Season Rank Passing: 20
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 6
    • Season Rank Rushing: 10   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 27
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 16
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 15
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 24  

Offseason Priority

  • It’s an offseason wondering about the stupidity of their offensive coordinator and getting Anthony Richardson going again while shoring up their defense.

17. Seattle Seahawks (18) Record: 9-8 (win vs. Arizona Cardinals 21-20)  

This team isn’t a playoff-caliber team, but they’re exciting to watch and end on a high note. Look for head coach Pete Carroll to return, but he’s 72, so his time in the NFL is ending sooner than later. He may have one more run left in him.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 15
    • Season Rank Passing: 14
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 25
    • Season Rank Rushing: 28   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 14
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 21
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 32
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 31

Offseason Priority

  • It will be an offseason to retool their rushing attack and defense.

18. Las Vegas Raiders (22) Record: 8-9 (win vs. Denver Broncos 27-14)

Interim head coach Antonio Pierce wants the gig and ended his run at 5-4, whereas his predecessor ended it at 3-5 before being fired. Pierce had the support of the locker room, but McDaniels lost it. Is Pierce Mark Davis’s man? No, he’s not. He was merely a linebacker’s coach and currently has no coordinator experience. He has a lot of questions about him, and his 5-4 record isn’t enough to answer them.

This decision boils down to Davis putting his trust in an unproven leader but a leader that the men respect and will go to war with. Is that enough? Davis is making a killing financially, and the Raiders aren’t even winning. He’s gone through this with Tony Sparano and Rich Bisaccia. Pierce will get the job if Davis can’t find a Jim Harbaugh-type who wants the job. Understand, despite the ignorant press talking elite this, elite that about aspects of this team or players – this team has a lot of retooling to do.

I’d give Pierce the job if I couldn’t land a proven winner with the resume to back it up – no whiz kid head coaches for this analyst.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 25
    • Season Rank Passing: 23  
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 11
    • Season Rank Rushing: 30 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 19
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 12
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 7
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 21

Offseason Priority

  • Whether to hire Antonio Pierce or not and go from there.

19. Cincinnati Bengals (20) Record: 9-8 (win vs. Cleveland Browns 31-14)  

This game reminded me of a preseason game where the starters face second and third-string players. The Bengal ended on a high note but fell short of all their expectations. As QB Joe Burrow’s (wrist) goes, this team goes. In the end, backup Jake Browning can lead a team to the playoffs, but he needs more seasoning. However, he’s shown he’s a capable quarterback.

Hopefully, their head coach, Zak Taylor, will relearn the importance of a solid rushing attack to create balance and take pressure off the quarterback. Once Joe Burrows showed he could carry a team, Taylor stopped caring about a rushing attack. Hopefully, since Burrow’s injury, he won’t forget the valuable lesson he learned by creating balance to help Browning.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 23
    • Season Rank Passing: 15
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 16
    • Season Rank Rushing: 31  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 17
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 28
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 15
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 26

Offseason Priority

  • To get healthy and rebuild their defense, they should re-establish their rushing attack with RB Joe Mixon or bring in a Saquon Barkley or Barkley-type back (unlikely – they’re too cheap).

NFL Power Rankings: Get it Together and Overachievers

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (11) Record: 9-8 (loss vs. Tennessee Titans 28-20)  

QB Trevor Lawrence is taking a lot of heat for the Jaguars’ collapse, deservedly. Still, he was hurt all season – ankle, high ankle sprain, concussion, shoulder, and that’s not even mentioning the traditional nick-nacks and wear and tear from a beat-down big quarterback like him take in short-yardage situations. Because the Jaguars don’t have an in-between the tackles rusher, even with a high ankle sprain, they used him.

This season’s collapse falls on the doorstep of the general manager and head coach, Doug Pederson. They lost five of their last six games because Pederson and company couldn’t scheme properly and didn’t have the right players in typical situations that happen every week – think short-yardage. Most importantly, I’ve said all season in these NFL Power Rankings – the Jaguars are soft – that too is on the coaching staff and veteran leadership.

Validation is a powerful word when proven, and the embarrassment of losing to the Titans when it’s a win and in, including the division championship, only to lose proves my beliefs correct.

What do you do with an underperforming coach who’s been the best coach they’ve had in a long while? Has Pederson taken this team as far as he can? I think so, and I’d love to see Mike Vrabel in Jacksonville. Maybe this is the team he can take to the next level – the Super Bowl. However, Pederson will stick around for another season, at least.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 11
    • Season Rank Passing: 9 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 26
    • Season Rank Rushing: 23  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 5
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 26
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 12
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 9  

Offseason Priority

  • Find a power runner with depth and tweak other positions of need – they’re good enough to go deep in the playoffs if they can also sign a veteran who can provide leadership, get in a player’s face, and uplift the team around him.

21. Chicago Bears (19) Record: 7-10 (loss vs. Green Bay Packers 17-9)

QB Justin Fields is improving, and that’s true with his intangibles and decisions. However, this team’s strength is a potent rushing attack. The hapless Packers somehow shut it down; thus, the loss and sour note ended a season that was turning around and turning around because the Bears were finally trending up in all categories, including maturity and team growth. Now they enter an offseason where the speculation is if Fields should return. That’s silly, but the grass is always greener on the other side, and it wouldn’t shock me to see the Bears chase another pot that’s not at the end of the rainbow.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 27
    • Season Rank Passing: 27
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 2
    • Season Rank Rushing: 2 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 20
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 25
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 19
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 1 

Offseason Priority

  • It will be an offseason to continue the rebuild that should bear competitive and a potential playoff run in 2024, but it could also be a setback if they decide to scrap Justin Fields.

22. Denver Broncos (26) Record: 8-9 (loss vs. Las Vegas Raiders 27-14)

Did the Broncos not show up Sunday against the Raiders? Some didn’t and didn’t care, as they’d lost respect for the franchise and were out of the playoff hunt. After all, they quit on the team by benching their best shot to get in.

The Broncos were playing well, turning their season around, and appeared to be playoff-bound at one point, but they lost three of their final four, and that’s on the shoulders of head coach Sean Payton. His handling of QB Russell Wilson backfired, and veterans no longer on the team are bad-mouthing Payton. It’s deserving, as he’s always been a bully, well before he authorized the taking out of opponents for money.

Wilson will hurt the team with the salary cap, and they’ll likely struggle to find a legitimate quarterback who wants to come in. Payton has a specific system he wants to run. One reason the Saints only had one Super Bowl win and more upset playoff losses than most other head coaches in this generation is his unwillingness to adapt. That was the case in 2023.

He’s building a winner, but the Wilson debacle will likely end him in the long term. If he goes youth at the quarterback position, the fans, and ownership may not have the patience as they expect Payton to begin winning, not rebuilding. Fair or not, we’re in an era of quick fixes or get fired. This team is more than just a quarterback away from Super Bowl contention.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 20
    • Season Rank Passing: 24 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 30
    • Season Rank Rushing: 18

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 18
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 22
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 10
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 32

Offseason Priority

  • An offseason trying to convince free agents why playing for a man who shows no respect is in their best interest and looking for a new quarterback – no, Jason Stidham isn’t the answer.  

23. New York Giants (28) Record: 6-11 (win vs. Philadelphia Eagles 27-10)

This team had a reality check this year but ended the season on a high note. We learned the foolishness of management’s offseason decisions in how much they paid players. We learned head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka aren’t as good as advertised when you don’t have the players in place and a weak schedule. All that said, they took out the Eagles, thus securing the Daboll administration from being forced to make many, if any, changes by management.

This team has massive decisions to make in the offseason, but one thing is certain – the players played hard for him once the staff showed they could put them in a  position to compete. Daboll was on the verge of losing the locker room at one point, but it’s a testament to the coaches and players that they came together instead of falling apart.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 6
    • Season Rank Passing: 31
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 19
    • Season Rank Rushing: 16 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 25
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 19
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 25
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 29 

Offseason Priority

  • What do you do with the quarterback issue – a big contract for a player you’re now not sure is the answer? They have to rebuild specific areas on defense, running back (Saquon Barkley’s likely gone), and wide receiver to start. The Giants’ salary cap issues may keep them from being playoff-legitimate until 2025.

24. New York Jets (27) Record: 7-10 (win vs. New England Patriots 17-3)

People will talk about how the Jets ended up on a positive note, and they did win the game, but this team is terrible. A lousy head coach, one of the worst offensive coordinators of this generation, and an owner who doesn’t know how to win. Do you know how disappointing it is to see the team rush the ball 42 times, with Breece Hall seeing 37 rush attempts? The rushing attack should’ve been part of their offensive schemes when QB Aaron Rodgers went down.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 26
    • Season Rank Passing: 30
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 5
    • Season Rank Rushing: 22   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 3
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 2
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 14
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 25  

Offseason Priority

  • An offseason praying Aaron Rodgers can carry this team because they won’t make changes in the offseason when they need to. It is that simple with this team – coaching, front office, and ownership have been more detrimental than the players ever have, and they’ll tweak the roster as that’s all it needs, but you can’t fix a terrible coaching staff.

25. Tennessee Titans (29) Record: 6-11 (win vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 28-20)

What a win! The Titans came out with a subpar quarterback in Ryan Tannehill – a chocker – an over-the-hill running back in King Henry, and an underachieving wideout in DeAndre Hopkins over the past two seasons. They came out and destroyed the Jaguars.

Now the question moves to head coach Mike Vrabel and if he’s returning, as well as Henry. We know Tannehill’s gone and will be a backup somewhere where the fans will pray, he never starts. Rightfully so. You don’t judge someone like Tannehill on statistics but by the “X” factor of how he does in big games. That’s where he consistently fails.

He’ll never take a team to the Super Bowl, and truthfully, Henry’s not quite done but not elite, and he can’t handle a full game workload. Hopkins just isn’t worth the money. This team is in a rebuild scenario whether they want to admit it or not. Mediocre in the run and mediocre overall in defense. They need young bodies with all-pro potential to rebuild.

Does Vrabel want to stay? Especially if the Patriots’ job opens, as the team believes he could be the next generational head coach to take over for Bill Belichick.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 32
    • Season Rank Passing: 29
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 9
    • Season Rank Rushing: 17      

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 21
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 18
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 3
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 13  

Offseason Priority

  • Convince or move on from Vrabel and go from there.

26. Atlanta Falcons (23) Record: 7-10 (loss vs. New Orleans Saints 48-17)

Former head coach Arthur Smith got fired not soon after his blowout loss against the Saints. Owner Arthur Blank assured him he would return, but that never holds if blowouts continue. The truth is that Smith’s downfall came about because the team chose not to upgrade the quarterback position and ride it out with third-year quarterback Desmond Ridder. He cost Smith his job. It’s that simple.

The team needs a quarterback, and it will never advance toward a winning season, division championships, playoffs, etc. until they get one. Their team is not far off; thus, the only option is a quality, proven free agent with at least 3-5 years left in the tank. If you go youth in the draft, you’re setting this team back by at least two years, if not three.

In Smith’s defense, he had an over-the-hill Matt Ryan, who left and proved he was even worse than most thought. Then Marcus Mariota, who lacked the mental toughness, and Ridder proved mediocre enough to be a backup.

You combined that with a terrible salary cap when Smith took over, and it was too much. Without a top-tier quarterback to rebuild around, what you see is what you get. Mind you, a new head coach will do nothing to better the situation without a quality quarterback, and NO! Neither Baker Mayfield nor Ryan Tannehill should be a target for this team. They need someone with a proven track record of winning and carrying a team. Not a choker like Tannehill or the inconsistent Mayfield.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 10
    • Season Rank Passing: 22
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 10
    • Season Rank Rushing: 9  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 15
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 8
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 29
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 20

Offseason Priority

  • Find a quarterback who can win more than two games in a row for this franchise, and find TE Kyle Pitts, who disappears too much considering expectations and how high a draft pick he was (4th overall).

27. Minnesota Vikings (24) Record: 7-10 (loss vs. Detroit Lions 30-20)  

There wasn’t much pushback when the media and analysts began talking about QB Kirk Cousins and the team wanting and likely moving on from him. There were whispers that head coach Kevin O’Connell wanted to move on, and it didn’t matter what he did under O’Connell’s first year.

Until last season, Cousins was a target for the media because he couldn’t win the big games. He proved them wrong but needs to win more big games, but the talk was stupid.

The reality is you need a franchise quarterback and the players around him to win. Former head coach Mike Zimmer didn’t like Cousins and rarely let the offense cut loose or help them in positions of need. However, they’ve seen their future without Cousins – a 3-6 record. They must drop to their knees and beg him to re-sign with him.

They also need to help defensive coordinator Brian Flores, who has excellent schemes but struggles to adapt in-game once offenses figure out and counter them. That happened because the defense needed an upgrade in players, and they didn’t do it this past offseason when they should’ve. Flores’s lack of adapting to his opponents at times and thus not knowing when to blitz or teaching his players to contain at times cost this team dearly.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 1
    • Season Rank Passing: 5  
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 32
    • Season Rank Rushing: 29 

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 29
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 24  
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 23
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 8

Offseason Priority

  • They need to find a quarterback and a running scheme, retool their defense, and not overpay free agents who become busts.

NFL Power Rankings: Rebuild and Retool Teams

28. Arizona Cardinals (25) Record: 4-13 (loss vs. Seattle Seahawks 21-20)

This team played hard for their rookie head coach Jonathan Gannon, but they’re still not going to get over the hump with QB Kyler Murray. He’s seeing praise by many, and the Cardinals will stick with him. However, technically, he’s only in Week 8 if you look at when Murray returned.

He plays well enough to win in the first half of his seasons, but once the nicks and knacks begin, history shows he falters. He falters badly. Murray’s small and can’t see above his linemen; thus, Murray’s scrambling. However, that’s a strength but not his size (5-10), hence injuries. The team is likely fooling itself, looking ahead as if he’s the answer – he’s not.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 13
    • Season Rank Passing: 26
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 1
    • Season Rank Rushing: 4

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 8
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 13
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 31
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 32

Offseason Priority

  • It’s an offseason where they think they have their quarterback issues resolved – they don’t.

29. New England Patriots (26) Record: 4-13 (loss vs. New York Jets 27-21)

This loss epitomized the Patriots’ season – turnovers, sacks allowed, third-down efficiency (execution), and lousy playcalling. The actual storyline is now if Bill Belichick will remain as head coach. My take? Fire Belichick, the general manager, as he’s been terrible from day one with the NFL draft, and one reason they’re struggling is they’ve not had a good draft in over a decade and quality free agents who want a ring and still have gas in the tank are no longer wanting to play in New England. Especially once QB Tom Brady retired.

Then there’s the fact Belichick has a losing record without Brady. He’s not as good as anyone claims, but not as bad as his post-Brady record shows. However, Belichick, the general manager, is responsible for this massive lack of talent and deserves to be fired. Bottom line: if Belichick is willing to give up all personnel duties and coach only, keep him. If not, jettison him. That simple!

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 29
    • Season Rank Passing: 28 
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 27
    • Season Rank Rushing: 26   

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 1
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 11
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 24
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 4

Offseason Priority

  • Find competent coordinators, fire the general manager, and finally have a great draft. Yes, a quarterback, receivers, and a rushing attack. In essence, it is almost a complete rebuild.

Playing for Draft Positions: NFL Power Rankings Worst of the Worst

30. Los Angeles Chargers (30) Record: 5-12 (loss vs. Kansas City Chiefs 13-12)

This team didn’t play well all season. QB Justin Herbert crumbled when the team needed him to put them on their back. For all his talk about running backs not being treated fairly financially, RB Austin Ekeler proved he still couldn’t run between the tackles as he had one of his lesser seasons.

The incentives the team gave him in the offseason to get him to come into camp went for naught, as Ekeler failed to hit the numbers necessary to earn them. Now he’ll be seen as past his prime, and less money will be coming his way next season wherever he goes. His tale epitomizes the Chargers – close but never reaching their goals.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 22
    • Season Rank Passing: 13
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 20
    • Season Rank Rushing: 25

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 12
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 30
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 16
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 17

Offseason Priority

  • This team will search for a coach, but 2024 will repeat 2023 if he’s not one of mental toughness. The Chargers and Jaguars are arguably the softest teams with the most talent in the NFL.

31. Washington Commanders (31) Record: 4-13 (loss vs. Dallas Cowboys 38-10)

This team quit on their head coach and themselves. It exponentially went into hyperdrive (the quitting) after the team traded away its two edge rushers, Montez Sweat and Chase Young. Head coach Ron Rivera is now a former head coach, and although you can’t blame all the Commanders’ faults on him, you can blame a lot as he’s not a very good head coach.

He had a magical run with the Panthers for a few years, but it wasn’t because of him. The Commanders prove that theory true. He deserved his firing.

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 30
    • Season Rank Passing: 18
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 31
    • Season Rank Rushing: 27

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 26
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 32
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 30
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 27

Offseason Priority

  • To find a head coach and begin a complete rebuild that will make them non-playoff competitive for at least two, if not three years.

32. Carolina Panthers (32) Record: 2-15 (loss vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-0)

Despite the statistics and scoreboards showing otherwise, this team lost but played hard the final few weeks. This team needs a complete rebuild. Well, it’s not a complete rebuild, but they have to shore up the offensive and defensive lines and determine if QB Bryce Young is the future. The truth is, I would try to trade him – oops, you can’t do that as they no longer have the overall No. 1 pick. Oh well.

This team is going to struggle to find a quality head coach. Whoever takes the job should have a buyout clause that forces owner David Tepper to pay tens of millions more than the contract states. Why? Tepper is an idiot who has no patience and fires head coaches on a whim, not caring that he’s setting the team back even more. Outside of that, there is no guarantee the new coach will have enough time to build a winner.

If a decision’s made today, you must conclude Young’s not the franchise quarterback answer. However, it takes about 20ish games to determine that, and we’re close to it. Young must make exponential leaps next season to validate his place as this franchise’s quarterback.   

Offense – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Passing: 31
    • Season Rank Passing: 32
  • 3-Game-Trend Rushing: 24
    • Season Rank Rushing: 20  

Defense (vs) – Trend vs. Season Rank

  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Passing: 4
    • Season Rank vs. Passing: 3
  • 3-Game-Trend Opponent Rushing: 27
    • Season Rank vs. Rushing: 23  

Offseason Priority

  • Find a head coach with enough spine to stand up to the owner. Then, ensure his contract creates financial pain and burdens to the team if he’s fired before he should be. Oh, and rebuild the team and pray Young’s the answer at quarterback because they have no first-round pick to find someone else. 

There you have it – our 2023 final NFL power rankings. Don’t forget, check out our Points on the Board podcast where we talk NFL and every other sport that’s in the news and you want to hear about. Until 2024, take care and be safe, my friends.