National Football League
NFL Power Rankings, Week 14: Cowboys, Bengals rise into contender tier
National Football League

NFL Power Rankings, Week 14: Cowboys, Bengals rise into contender tier

Updated Dec. 6, 2022 6:16 p.m. ET

It's so refreshing to get a glimpse of what contender-on-contender football can look like. 

In this season with so few haves and so many have-nots, the NFL schedule has at times felt a bit like a waiting game for the postseason. 

Games between the league's elite have been few and far between, as much of the last month has been a slog between middling matchups. 

That changed in Week 13. Headliners like Miami vs. San Francisco and Kansas City vs. Cincinnati guaranteed we'd see some movement at the top. 


If that wasn't enough, we got to see action between playoff contenders in three other games. Finally, a measuring-stick weekend. 

Now that the dust has settled on a wild weekend, here's how the hierarchy shakes out.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-1): If there's an argument to be made that this isn't the most complete team in the NFL, I'd love to hear it. The Eagles can adapt their offense to do whatever the game situation requires. Their defense allows an average of just 18 points per game. Few, if any teams, have as deep of an arsenal as this one.

2. Dallas Cowboys (9-3): Since Dak Prescott's return from injury, the Cowboys are 5-1, outscoring their opposition by an average score of 37-18. Their only loss came on the road, in overtime. Sunday's win against the Colts didn't even look that great — right up until they exploded for 33 points in the fourth quarter. Can we fast-forward to the Christmas Eve rematch with Philadelphia already?

Was Cowboys 54-19 win vs. Colts in Week 13 something or nothing?

The Dallas Cowboys rolled through the Indianapolis Colts for a 54-19 win in Week 13. The Cowboys rushed for four touchdowns and their defense forced five turnovers. David Helman discusses whether Dallas' win was meaningful.

3. Minnesota Vikings (10-2): However miraculous and stressful their wins might be, the point still stands that the Vikings' only two losses this season are to the teams above them on this list. Credit to Minnesota's defense for repeatedly turning the Jets away in crunch time of a thrilling game.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4): The Bengals didn't even need to lean on explosive plays to beat Patrick Mahomes. They ran the ball surprisingly well, played solid defense and let Joe Burrow be the coolest guy in the building. The efficiency and determination with which they outlasted Kansas City was truly impressive.

5. Buffalo Bills (9-3): It still didn't look as fun as we'd probably prefer on Thursday night, but let's not be too critical of a dominant road win against a division rival. The Bills also climbed back into the AFC's top spot during their weekend off, so it'll be fun to see how they respond to being the leader of the pack once again.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3): I don't for a second believe the Chiefs are actually the sixth-best team in the NFL, but this ranking is a testament to how many teams across the league are surging right now. The Chiefs' loss in Cincinnati wasn't even particularly troubling, as it felt like a case of losing the turnover battle. Denver and Houston are on deck, so there's plenty of time to right the ship.

What's most disappointing about Chiefs' third straight loss to Bengals

Much to Nick Wright's frustration, for the third straight time, the Cincinnati Bengals found a way to best the Kansas City Chiefs.

7. San Francisco 49ers (8-4): It feels harsh that the 49ers wouldn't move up after such an impressive win, but it's awfully deflating to lose your starting quarterback for the season. Brock Purdy was phenomenal in his first meaningful action of the season. If he can continue that level of play, the Niners defense will give them a chance.

8. Miami Dolphins (8-4): He rebounded late, but it was a tough day at the office for Tua Tagovailoa. Of course, San Francisco's pass rush is a force. But even when Tua had time to throw, his accuracy looked off. It's not alarming just yet, but it's something to watch with two more playoff contenders (the Chargers and Bills) coming up on the schedule.

9. New York Giants (7-4-1): As if the NFC playoff picture wasn't muddy enough, now there's a tie mucking it up. The Giants had the ball at midfield early in overtime, and they moved close to field goal range at the end. It's got to sting to miss both opportunities. No time to dwell on it, though. The best team in the league is coming to town this week. 

10. Baltimore Ravens (8-4): Ugly, forgettable, unimpressive game. But give the Ravens credit for finding a way to win even though Lamar Jackson left before halftime. All eyes will now be on Jackson's recovery timeline, but this could be a sneaky good win when it comes time to determine the AFC playoff seeding. 

11. Washington Commanders (7-5-1): Genius proposal: when they're done with their bye week, the Commanders play the Giants again. What if we just give the winner credit for both wins, rather than bother with this tie nonsense?

12. Seattle Seahawks (7-5): You'd probably prefer it to be less stressful against a Rams team that looks ready to hit the beach, but ultimately the Seahawks broke the losing streak. Watching Geno Smith try to keep his great season going against San Francisco is going to be fun TV in a couple weeks.

13. New York Jets (7-5): It's fair to wonder if Zach Wilson is going to get his job back. Mike White didn't even play a particularly great game. He threw two picks and the Jets were forced to settle for five field goals. But White has provided a spark that had been missing. If the Jets can move the ball like this reliably, they look a lot more dangerous. 

Jets fall to Vikings, disappointing Craig Carton yet again

Craig Carton's New York Jets couldn't pull off a win against the Minnesota Vikings. After battling their way back from a terrible first half, Mike White was in position to turn things around for the Jets, but fell just short.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6): Well, that was a wild ride. It was hard not to write the obituary for a disappointing Bucs season when they trailed, 16-3, midway through the fourth quarter. A handful of Tom Brady moments later, they're on top of the division. Stop if this sounds familiar, but they're going to have to sort out their offense if they expect to make any noise this season. But for now, they continue to buy themselves time. That'll do. 

15. Tennessee Titans (7-5): The Titans have shown flaws all season long, but this beating at the hands of Philly flew in the face of their ethos these past few years. Tennessee prides itself on being physical, determined, tenacious and well-coached. None of that translated against the Eagles, who made them look positively pedestrian.

16. Detroit Lions (5-7): It's probably too soon to daydream about the playoffs, but what a fun stretch this has been for Detroit. The Lions scored on 9-of-10 possessions, and the one that didn't yield any points was when they took the victory formation. Given the youth on this roster, it's fun to see them click.

17. Cleveland Browns (5-7): The Browns and Texans combined for 41 points, and the first offensive score of the day came with 1:57 to play in regulation. Have two teams ever combined to score so many points between defense and special teams? Suffice to say, Deshaun Watson was rusty in his return from an 11-game suspension.

18. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6): Granted, injuries have hit the Chargers hard. Joey Bosa and J.C. Jackson haven't played in weeks. It's still disheartening to see them struggle so completely on defense. It's honestly amazing they were able to limit the Raiders in the fourth quarter considering the way they were hemorrhaging yards to Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7): It's often said the mark of a well-coached team is in its continued improvement throughout the season. The Steelers opened the year 1-4 and benched their starting quarterback, which was uncharted territory for Mike Tomlin on a lot of levels. Since then, they're 4-3 and playing competent football. That might not meet the high standard in Pittsburgh, but it's an encouraging sign for a team transitioning into a new era. 

20. Green Bay Packers (5-8): Regardless of how forgettable this season might be, it had to feel good for Aaron Rodgers to snag a win against Chicago and improve his record against them to 25-5. Even in a startlingly down year for the Packers, they still own the Bears. 

Packers' 28-19 win over Bears is BAD for the team moving forward

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers defeated the Bears 28-19 in Week 13. Nick Wright says the Packers should be focusing on playing Jordan Love to decide on whether to pick up his fifth-year option.

21. New England Patriots (6-6): Neither horrendously awful, nor appreciably good. Their defense is exceptional, but their passing offense so poor that it doesn't matter. More so than any other team this year, the Patriots just seem to exist. It feels safe to assume they're never going to fade away, while also never surging into the postseason picture. 

22. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7): The Raiders have to be kicking themselves for some of those mind-numbing early losses. With Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs balling out like this, this team looks playoff-worthy. Unfortunately, the math makes it tough in a crowded AFC. It sure would have been nice to pull out one of those clunkers.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8): It was predictable that Jacksonville would follow up a huge win against Baltimore by laying in egg in Detroit. It's not the loss that was surprising, but the way the Jaguars let the Lions walk all over them.

24. Arizona Cardinals (4-8): If you're looking for optimism in Arizona, the Cardinals don't play a team that currently has a winning record until the season finale in San Francisco. I'm not saying you should believe they're capable of a run, but at least the opposition isn't daunting.

25. Atlanta Falcons (5-8): Look, we know the Falcons are not a very good team. But we also know they're scrappy enough to be a pain to deal with. Considering that the Buccaneers are doing everything imaginable to leave the NFC South open for the taking, it's pretty brutal that Atlanta hasn't found ways to beat fellow cellar-dwellers like Carolina and Pittsburgh.

26. Carolina Panthers (4-8): The Baker Mayfield experiment is officially a flop, though it feels like we've known that for a couple of months at this point. The Panthers have tried every method imaginable to bring in a franchise quarterback these last two years. It'll be interesting to see whether they turn toward free agency or the draft in the spring.

27. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1): It's not often you see such a sudden demolition. One minute, the Colts were scrapping in a two-point game; the next minute, they had surrendered the biggest point total of the 2022 season. There are a few reasons for that, but Indy's inability to cope with the Cowboys pass rush is right at the top.

28. New Orleans Saints (4-9): A positively brutal way to effectively end your season. Had the Saints managed to hold on to a 13-point lead with just 5:31 to play, they'd be 5-8 and fighting for the NFC South lead. Instead, they've now been swept by the Bucs after one of the worst choke jobs of the season. And their first-round pick — currently No. 5 overall — belongs to our top-ranked Eagles.

29. Chicago Bears (3-10): We can be encouraged by Justin Fields' continued growth this season while also pointing out that he threw two interceptions late in this game, when the circumstances forced him to try to throw the Bears back into the game. This season feels like a positive for Fields in the long run, but there's a lot more improving to do – and patience won't be part of the equation in 2023.

30. Los Angeles Rams (3-9): Props to the champs for hanging in there. John Wolford played a solid game, and the Rams defense made life difficult for Seattle. The bottom line is still that the Rams are rapidly heading toward the worst season ever by a defending Super Bowl champ.

Is Russell Wilson playing himself out of the Hall of Fame?

LeSean McCoy and Joy Taylor discuss whether Denver Broncos quarterback Wilson's Hall of Fame candidacy will be built on what he accomplished in Seattle.

31. Denver Broncos (3-9): Lamar Jackson obviously doesn't play defense, so the Ravens losing their star quarterback didn't exactly change the game for Russell Wilson & Co. Still, even against Baltimore's nasty pass rush, you'd think Denver could find a way into the end zone at least once. It bears repeating that if the Broncos were scoring even 20 points per game, they'd be 9-3.

32. Houston Texans (1-10-1): The Texans' next three opponents have a combined record of 25-11. Thank goodness for two divisional games against the lowly Jags and Colts at the end of the year — otherwise, it's hard to imagine Houston even sniffing a second win.

Top stories from FOX Sports:

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_.


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