NFL Power Rankings: Chiefs rise to the top; Cowboys, Commanders move up
This feels almost like a reset.
The NFL's two longest winning streaks have finally ended. It was Philly's turn last week, and Week 11 brought an end to the Vikings' winning ways — and in shocking fashion.
With no more gaudy win streaks to consider, it feels a bit easier to suss out the season-long accomplishments of each team. For the first time in forever, we can safely examine teams based largely on the most recent results — because really, who cares about what happened in September?
Let this be the dividing line between the early going and the home stretch.
Of course, we'll have more hot streaks to weigh in the coming weeks, but for right now, at least, it feels like there's some clarity at the top of this crazy league. Let's not waste any time.
Those Thanksgiving games will be kicking off before we know it.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-2) Ho, hum. Another game-winning drive for Patrick Mahomes, another multi-touchdown night for Travis Kelce, another unblockable effort from Chris Jones. For as much as we hyped up the AFC West this offseason, the Chiefs look like they're about to have this thing on ice by Christmas.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (9-1) This felt like a big moment for Jalen Hurts. The Eagles haven't trailed often this season, so it was encouraging to see their quarterback calmly guide them downfield for the game-winning points with time running out. That doesn't mean this was a particularly pretty or convincing win, but a nice benchmark for a growing quarterback.
3. Miami Dolphins (7-3) Hope you enjoyed the downtime, Dolphins. The difference between first place and last place in the AFC East is one game, and three of your next four games are against teams in the thick of the playoff chase. The home stretch is looking fun for Tua & Co.
4. Dallas Cowboys (7-3) A 40-3 win against a playoff team? That's what you'd call a tantalizing glimpse of the Cowboys' potential. When the offense is humming and the pass rush is hunting, this is one of the scariest teams in the league. The challenge now is to channel that into some week-to-week consistency.
5. Buffalo Bills (7-3) It says a lot about our expectations for the Bills that they struggled a bit coming out of the gate — on a weekend when they had to be shoveled out of their homes by helpful Bills fans — gradually built a 28-10 lead, and their win against Cleveland still didn't seem all that impressive.
6. Minnesota Vikings (8-2) Suffice to say the Vikings' efforts to earn more respect didn't go as planned. One week after the most exhilarating win of the year came one of the most lopsided beatdowns you'll ever see on an NFL field. Fortunately for Minnesota, they have a Thursday game and won't have to wait long to move past that 40-3 drubbing at the hands of the Cowboys. The loss isn't a season-ender, but a setback that casts a lot of doubt on the Vikings' legitimacy.
7. Tennessee Titans (7-3) The narrative all last week was about whether the Packers could build on a win and turn their season around, and the Titans proceeded to bully them for three hours. It's just what they do. Tennessee's passing game actually had a breakout night at Lambeau Field, which is a development worth watching.
8. San Francisco 49ers (6-4) That was every bit the fire-breathing monster we figured we'd see. Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk all looked like stars in this beatdown of Arizona, and Jimmy Garoppolo got them the ball flawlessly. At the same time, the 49ers pass rush mauled the Cardinals quarterbacks. This once again looks like a team that's rounding into form at the right time.
9. Baltimore Ravens (7-3) A power-ranking nightmare if ever there was one. Sure, the Ravens got the all-important win, but what exactly do you feel good about coming out of a 13-3 performance against Carolina? Sure, the defense was dominant — but against one of the worst offenses in the league. This offense has a concerning lack of weapons outside of Lamar Jackson.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) If you can believe it, Joe Burrow has elevated his play since Ja'Marr Chase got hurt. In two wins, he's accounted for six touchdowns with a combined passer rating of 106. Chase is back to practice this week, which means one of the league's best offenses will soon get a boost.
11. New York Giants (7-3) The Giants got to this point by running the ball well, avoiding turnovers and playing good red-zone defense. None of that stuff happened against Detroit, and now injuries make you wonder if New York's winning ways are sustainable. The Giants' next five opponents boast a winning record right now. This could be a bumpy ride to the finish line.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) A team that has needed a week off since August finally got one, and now we get to see if Tom Brady can work his usual magic. Between a weak division and a favorable schedule, few teams are set up for the home stretch as well as the Bucs. Can they take advantage?
13. Seattle Seahawks (6-4) Is it safe to call the NFC West a two-team race? San Francisco moves into the top spot by virtue of tiebreakers, but the Seahawks still have everything out in front of them. Whether they can maintain their early run of strong play will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the second half of the season.
14. New England Patriots (6-4) Maybe the Pats aren't a true contender, but this has been an impressive effort from a roster that doesn't look particularly great on paper. Outside of Matthew Judon, the Patriots don't have a ton of impressive pieces, but Sunday's 10-3 win against the Jets vaulted them into the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff picture. Their defense has been exceptional enough to make up for a passing game that has regressed.
15. Washington Commanders (6-5) Sure, Taylor Heinicke deserves a lot of love for leading the Commanders to a 4-1 record since taking over as the starting quarterback. Quietly, though, their star-studded pass rush is starting to look like its old self — and Chase Young is on his way back from injury. Look out.
16. New York Jets (6-4) Regardless of whether he wants to admit it, Zach Wilson was the biggest factor hampering the Jets in a hideous loss to New England. This franchise hasn't been to the playoffs in more than a decade. If Robert Salah thinks Joe Flacco or Mike White can provide a spark, he owes it to the rest of his team to consider it.
17. L.A. Chargers (5-5) Yes, this team is banged up. Yes, the Chiefs are one of the best teams in the league. It'd still be fun to see the Chargers either preserve a late lead, or to watch Justin Herbert steal a win with some late game heroics.
18. Detroit Lions (4-6) Don't look now, but the Lions are riding the longest win streak in the NFC — their first three-game streak in five years. Not only is their much-maligned defense playing much better, but they're welcoming first-round draft pick Jameson Williams back to practice. Is that optimism I smell in Detroit?
19. Atlanta Falcons (5-6) Losing Kyle Pitts is a blow, but what an all-around team effort — which feels like a theme for the Falcons. How fun for Cordarelle Patterson to set the NFL kickoff return touchdown record in a game where his special-teams spark helped provide the difference.
20. Cleveland Browns (3-7) The irony is that, despite not having their starting quarterback, the Browns offense hasn't been bad. Even with the run game struggling against the Bills, Jacoby Brissett and Amari Cooper generated plenty of offense. The bigger culprit in what's looking more and more like a lost season has been a shockingly bad defense.
21. Green Bay Packers (4-7) It felt so plausible that the Packers would pull off one of their patented late-season runs, right up until Tennessee showed up in town and bullied them into submission. Without a dominant ground game, the Green Bay offense reverted to its old, maddening self. Technically, there's still hope. But it feels like it's on life support.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) Fresh off a bye week, the Jags have seven games remaining. Five of those seven opponents currently own a winning record. If they're going to turn their record around to any degree, they're going to earn it.
23. Indianapolis Colts (4-6-1) It's an interesting story that the Colts seem to have some life since Jeff Saturday was hired, as they beat Las Vegas and pushed Philadelphia to the brink. Setting aside that narrative, this offense has work to do if Indy is going to push for a winning record. The Colts scored a touchdown on their first possession of the day on Sunday. They followed that up without a drive that covered more than 47 yards the rest of the afternoon.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-7) We know the Steelers offense is a work in progress, and that group had its fair share of struggles against Cincinnati. It's slightly more disconcerting, though, that Pittsburgh had T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick back in the lineup against a Bengals offense without Ja'Marr Chase, and still got torched.
25. New Orleans Saints (4-7) Uh, hello Andy Dalton. The Rams offense might be depleted, but their defense still has talent, and Dalton absolutely shredded them in one of his best-ever games. They play in one of the worst divisions in football, so maybe the playoffs aren't out of the question if the Red Rifle can build on that momentum.
26. Chicago Bears (3-8) It's going to be a major bummer for Justin Fields if his shoulder injury forces him out for significant time. Not just because he's fun to watch, but because the Bears need him getting reps and growing as a passer. As Sunday's loss to Atlanta emphasized, there's still plenty of growing left to do.
27. Denver Broncos (3-7) Aside from the obvious disappointment of their record, the Broncos remain a chore to watch. Russell Wilson's decline from just a couple short years ago is hard to fathom. Denver has scored more than 20 points in just two of 10 games. It's all bad, and it's fair to wonder if it'll necessitate change when this forgettable season is over.
28. Arizona Cardinals (4-7) At the risk of sounding rude, I have my doubts that the Cardinals would have fared any better against San Francisco with Kyler Murray. Against the 49ers, this looked like a roster lacking in both talent and identity — particularly on offense.
29. Las Vegas Raiders (3-7) Finally, something fun happened. It's probably too late to salvage the season, but at least the Raiders got the joy of a walkoff win — plus, the added fun of dominating their division rivals in Denver. With this season sweep in the books, the Broncos haven't beaten the Raiders since 2019.
30. L.A. Rams (3-7) The Rams offense was hopelessly broken when Matthew Stafford was healthy. With Stafford once again sidelined, things figure to get uglier. Next up, the Chiefs. This might be one of the worst seasons from a defending champion we've ever seen.
31. Carolina Panthers (3-8) You can win with this Panthers defense. They flustered Lamar Jackson all afternoon, and they're only 20th in scoring defense despite playing with a putrid offense. And yes, this offense is putrid. It'll be interesting to see how the Panthers' next coach tries to reshape it.
32. Houston Texans (1-8-1) The Texans fell behind on the fifth play from scrimmage against Washington, and never looked up from there. Take a look at the rest of the schedule, and you have to squint pretty hard to find another win. Week 17 against Jacksonville might be the best bet.
David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports. 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 @davidhelman_.