NFL Power Rankings: Ravens, 49ers enter playoffs 1-2, plus what’s next for all 32 teams


Staff member

The regular season is over, but the Power Rankings know that the NFL season never really ends, so today we’re looking at what’s next for every team in the league. For a couple, it’s rest. For some, it’s a playoff matchup. And for everyone else, it’s a draft pick (and maybe a new coach).

For the draft pick analysis, we’ll lean heavily on The Athletic draft analyst Dane Brugler, as you should this time of year.

1. Baltimore Ravens (13-4)​

(Last week: 1)

Saturday: Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10

What’s next: A bye week

The Ravens’ frontline players are going to be very rested. With the top seed in the AFC already clinched, Baltimore sat Lamar Jackson, Roquan Smith, Zay Flowers, Marlon Humphrey, Kyle Hamilton and others against Pittsburgh on Saturday and still almost won. The team that finished the regular season fourth in scoring (28.41 ppg) and first in scoring defense (16.5) doesn’t lose its top spot over losing a game like that.

2. San Francisco 49ers (12-5)​

(Last week: 2)

Sunday: Lost to Los Angeles Rams 21-20

What’s next: A bye week

Like the Ravens, the 49ers basically gave their stars a bye week on Sunday. Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle did not play because they already had locked up the No. 1 seed in the NFC. And like Baltimore, San Francisco lost on Sunday. No matter, this is still the clear favorite in the NFC. The 49ers beat the Cowboys and Eagles by a combined 84-29. The only NFC playoff team that beat the 49ers this season was the Rams on Sunday, and that hardly counts.

3. Cleveland Browns (11-6)​

(Last week: 3)

Sunday: Lost to Cincinnati Bengals 31-14

What’s next: The Texans in the playoffs

The Browns rested their stars, meaning of course they rested Joe Flacco. The matchup between the 38-year-old Flacco and Texans 22-year-old rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, which is Saturday in Houston, will be one of the most interesting of the postseason. So will Stroud against a Browns defense that is second in the league in pressure percentage (42.5 percent) and sixth in sacks (49).

4. Detroit Lions (12-5)​

(Last week: 4)

Sunday: Beat Minnesota Vikings 30-20

What’s next: The Rams in the playoffs

What happened to the Lions on Sunday is the reason the Ravens and 49ers rested their frontline players. Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, who was fifth among tight ends this season with 889 receiving yards, suffered a hyperextended knee and bone bruise. His timeline for return hasn’t been determined, but he could miss their playoff opener. That could be a problem for a team that leans heavily on the league’s fifth-most prolific offense (27.12 ppg).

5. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)​

(Last week: 5)

Sunday: Beat Washington Commanders 38-10

What’s next: The Packers in the playoffs

The Cowboys know they won’t have to go on the road in the playoffs unless it’s to face the 49ers in the conference championship game. That’s great news for the team that led the NFL in scoring (37.38 ppg) and scoring margin (plus-172) at home this year. The last time Dallas lost a home game was the 2022 season opener against Tampa Bay. The Cowboys lost 31-28 to the Packers earlier this year in Green Bay.

Tight end Dawson Knox and the Bills made a remarkable turnaround to win the AFC East and the No. 2 seed in the conference. (Peter Joneleit / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

6. Buffalo Bills (11-6)​

(Last week: 7)

Sunday: Beat Miami Dolphins 21-14

What’s next: The Steelers in the playoffs

The Bills have won five games in a row, three of which have come against playoff teams. In that stretch, Buffalo is fourth in the league in scoring margin (plus-39). Sunday night’s win against the Dolphins not only gave the Bills the AFC East crown, it also means they will play Sunday at home, where they are 7-2 this season.

7. Kansas City Chiefs (11-6)​

(Last week: 8)

Sunday: Beat Los Angeles Chargers 13-12

What’s next: The Dolphins in the playoffs

The Chiefs sat Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce on Sunday because they were locked into the third seed. However, the argument could be made that the pair needs some more work. What has been the NFL’s scariest offense finished the regular season 15th in scoring (21.82 ppg) and ninth in yards (351.3). At least receiver Mecole Hardman got going a little Sunday, catching six passes for 77 yards.

8. Los Angeles Rams (10-7)​

(Last week: 9)

Sunday: Beat San Francisco 49ers 21-20

What’s next: The Lions in the playoffs

The Rams’ playoff matchup is the reason everyone jokes about the NFL being scripted. The storylines don’t get much stronger than Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford going back to Detroit, where he spent 12 mostly fruitless seasons, to face Jared Goff, the quarterback the Rams included as an afterthought in the Stafford deal who is now playing the best football of his career. The smart money says the Detroit crowd will cheer Stafford in his return … right up until kickoff.

9. Houston Texans (10-7)​

(Last week: 10)

Saturday: Beat Indianapolis Colts 23-19

What’s next: The Browns in the playoffs

Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud is seventh in the league in EPA per attempt against four or fewer pass rushers (.12). He is 15th in the league in EPA per attempt against five or more pass rushers (.08). The Browns, who visit Houston on Saturday, bring five or more rushers more often than 30 teams in the league (42.5 percent of the time).

10. Miami Dolphins (11-6)​

(Last week: 6)

Sunday: Lost to Buffalo Bills 21-14

What’s next: The Chiefs in the playoffs

The high in Kansas City, where this game will be played Saturday night, is expected to be 13 degrees. This group of Dolphins has not played in a game that kicked off with a temperature below 45 degrees this season. Throw in all their injuries and the fact they have averaged 18.3 points per game the last three weeks (all in games against playoff teams), and this might be the end of the road for what has been one of the league’s most fun teams this season.

11. Green Bay Packers (9-8)​

(Last week: 13)

Sunday: Beat Chicago Bears 17-9

What’s next: The Cowboys in the playoffs

After starting the season 2-5, Green Bay won seven of 10 down the stretch. That and the development of Jordan Love might have to be enough considering Dallas is a 7.5-point favorite. That’s not nothing, though. Love finished the season sixth in EPA per dropback (.12) while throwing for 4,159 yards, the third most by any quarterback in his first year as a starter. Only Patrick Mahomes and Kurt Warner had more. Love also had 32 touchdown passes, which ranked second in the league.

12. Indianapolis Colts (9-8)​

(Last week: 12)

Saturday: Lost to Houston Texans 23-19

What’s next: The No. 15 pick

Quarterback Anthony Richardson will return next season, so the Colts have to decide if they’re going to use their first-round pick to help him or tighten up a rushing defense that allowed 123.8 yards per game, 24th in the NFL. If Indianapolis chooses offense, LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers might be available. If it’s defense, defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton out of Illinois could be an option.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (11-6)​

(Last week: 11)

Sunday: Lost to New York Giants 27-10

What’s next: The Buccaneers in the playoffs

The Eagles have lost five of their last six games. Since Week 12, they are 31st in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 30.3 points per game. On top of that, Jalen Hurts hurt a finger on his throwing hand and A.J. Brown suffered what is believed to be a minor knee injury Sunday. Philadelphia beat Tampa Bay 25-11 in Week 3, but that feels like decades ago to Eagles fans.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-7)​

(Last week: 14)

Saturday: Beat Baltimore Ravens 17-10

What’s next: The Bills in the playoffs

T.J. Watt recorded his 19th sack Saturday and became the first player to lead the NFL in official sacks in three seasons. (Deacon Jones is credited with doing it five times before the league started keeping sacks as an official stat.) The problem is Watt also suffered an MCL sprain late in that game. His brother and aspiring media member J.J. (who also happens to be one of the players who has led the NFL in sacks in two seasons) thinks T.J. can return if the Steelers manage to get a win this weekend.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-8)​

(Last week: 15)

Sunday: Beat Carolina Panthers 9-0

What’s next: The Eagles in the playoffs

The Bucs clinched the NFC South with Sunday’s win, but they don’t exactly enter the postseason on a hot streak. Yes, Tampa Bay has won five of its last six games, but it has averaged 11 points in the last two games. The Bucs versus a Philadelphia team that has lost five of its last six is the Monday night game, which can’t be thrilling for ESPN.

16. Seattle Seahawks (9-8)​

(Last week: 16)

Sunday: Beat Arizona Cardinals 21-20

What’s next: The No. 16 pick

The Seahawks gave up 138.4 rushing yards per game this season, which ranked 31st in the league. They need defensive help and are picking in the middle of the first round, which means somebody like Florida State edge rusher Jared Verse or Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton. The passing defense wasn’t much better, though (6.7 yards per attempt), so maybe Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (9-8)​

(Last week: 20)

Sunday: Beat Cleveland Browns 31-14

What’s next: The No. 18 pick

The Bengals look like they are facing a fork-in-the-road moment in the upcoming draft. Both paths lead toward offensive help. Offensive line is still an issue, especially right tackle. Amarius Mims, a 6-foot-7, 330-pounder monster from Georgia, might slot right into that spot. But there’s also an argument to be made for guarding against the loss of wide receiver Tee Higgins with someone like Emeka Egbuka out of Ohio State.

18. New Orleans Saints (9-8)​

(Last week: 21)

Sunday: Beat Atlanta Falcons 48-17

What’s next: The No. 14 pick

The Saints need help on offense and defense. The middle of the first round looks like it has more options on defense. Clemson’s Nate Wiggins, Iowa’s Cooper DeJean and Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry would shore up the cornerback spot as the Saints might need to replace Marshon Lattimore soon. He has played only 17 games in the last two seasons.

19. Las Vegas Raiders (8-9)​

(Last week: 23)

Sunday: Beat Denver Broncos 27-14

What’s next: The No. 13 pick

The Raiders need to decide how far down the road they think they are. If they think they’re close and can’t afford to waste another year of Davante Adams, quarterback is an option, which would mean moving up in the draft or eyeing someone like Jayden Daniels or Michael Penix Jr. If they are content to take their time, they might give Aidan O’Connell another shot next season and add to the lines of scrimmage.

20. Denver Broncos (8-9)​

(Last week: 18)

Sunday: Lost to Las Vegas Raiders 27-14

What’s next: The No. 12 pick

The Broncos need just about everything, including a quarterback, considering it sure looks like they are in the process of pushing Russell Wilson out the door. They’re out of range at the moment for one of the elite prospects, but cornerbacks Nate Wiggins and Cooper DeJean or even edge rusher Jared Verse might be an option. If you’re wondering about trading up, it’s hard to imagine that’s an option given how much the Broncos already have given up to get Wilson and coach Sean Payton.

21. Chicago Bears (7-10)​

(Last week: 19)

Sunday: Lost to Green Bay Packers 17-9

What’s next: The No. 1 pick

The most compelling NFL story outside the playoffs — and maybe including some of the playoff games — is what the Bears are going to do. They have two first-round picks, two second-round picks and wide receiver DJ Moore from Carolina for last year’s top pick, and if they decide to keep Justin Fields at quarterback, they could get a similar haul for this year’s No. 1 pick, maybe more considering all the hullabaloo around Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. Are they committed to Fields is the question.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)​

(Last week: 17)

Sunday: Lost to Tennessee Titans 28-20

What’s next: The No. 17 pick

In a win-and-you’re-in game, the Jaguars fell behind 21-10 and failed to score on their final four possessions. They finished the season losing five of six and will miss the playoffs for the 14th time in the last 16 seasons. Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, finished the season 25th in EPA per attempt (minus-.03) and 24th in passer rating (88.5). He also threw more interceptions (14) than all but three quarterbacks in the NFL.

23. Minnesota Vikings (7-10)​

(Last week: 22)

Sunday: Lost to Detroit Lions 30-20

What’s next: The No. 11 pick

The first order of offseason business probably will be working out a new contract with Kirk Cousins. After that, it’s finding an edge rusher. Chop Robinson, the 6-3, 250-pound Penn State pass rusher, or Laiatu Latu, the 6-5, 265-pounder out of UCLA, will be tempting options.

24. New York Jets (7-10)​

(Last week: 25)

Sunday: Beat New England Patriots 17-3

What’s next: The No. 10 pick

Protecting Aaron Rodgers feels more important now than ever, and there are three offensive tackles who could go in the top 10 — Penn State’s Olu Fashanu, Notre Dame’s Joe Alt and Alabama’s JC Latham. The Jets should draft a big man and hope that Rodgers is the miracle worker they think he is.

25. New York Giants (6-11)​

(Last week: 26)

Sunday: Beat Philadelphia Eagles 27-10

What’s next: The No. 6 pick

The Giants are in an odd spot. They have a premium pick and need a dominant defensive tackle, but there’s probably no one in this class that’s worth taking that high. That makes them a wild card. Move up some and make another big play at quarterback? Move down and acquire assets and then take a big man? This offseason plan will be fun to watch.

26. Atlanta Falcons (7-10)​

(Last week: 24)

Sunday: Lost to New Orleans Saints 48-17

What’s next: The No. 8 pick

The Falcons are getting a quarterback one way or another. If it’s not a free agent and they don’t move up in the draft, keep an eye on Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. Atlanta has spent three consecutive top-10 picks on offensive skill-position players, so this pick has to be a quarterback or a defensive player. The 6-5, 265-pound Laiatu Latu out of UCLA would be a good option considering Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree are both free agents.

27. Tennessee Titans (6-11)​

(Last week: 28)

Sunday: Beat Jacksonville Jaguars 28-20

What’s next: The No. 7 pick

The last time the Titans took a receiver in the first round (Treylon Burks, 16th, 2022) it didn’t work out great, and they find themselves still in need at the position. It feels very un-Mike Vrabel to take a receiver in the top 10 (Washington’s Rome Odunze maybe?), but if Tennessee is going to help Will Levis grow, that’s probably what it needs to do. As for Sunday, it might have been Derrick Henry’s last game in Tennessee. If so, he went out in style with 153 yards on 19 carries.

28. Arizona Cardinals (4-13)​

(Last week: 27)

Sunday: Lost to Seattle Seahawks 21-20

What’s next: The No. 4 pick (and the No. 21 pick, etc., etc.)

This is the offseason Arizona has been waiting for. It has three picks in the top 35 and seven in the top 104. The Cardinals have committed to Kyler Murray as their quarterback, so now they can get him some help on offense and start rebuilding the defense, too. Arizona finished 31st in the league in points allowed (26.8 ppg) this season.

29. Los Angeles Chargers (5-12)​

(Last week: 29)

Sunday: Lost to Kansas City Chiefs 13-12

What’s next: The No. 5 pick

The Chargers really need a cornerback, but they’re drafting more in elite offensive tackle territory, and they could use one of those, too. We might get a clue which way they are heading after they hire a head coach to replace Brandon Staley. Jim Harbaugh? Seems like an offensive line guy. Bill Belichick? Defense all the way.

30. New England Patriots (4-13)​

(Last week: 30)

Sunday: Lost to New York Jets 17-3

What’s next: The No. 3 pick

There were some scenarios Sunday that ended with New England getting the No. 2 pick. The Patriots did their part, gaining 119 yards and losing to the Jets. However, they didn’t get the help they needed, so now they are outside of the Caleb Williams-Drake Maye zone. Bill Belichick’s future has to be determined before that, though.

31. Washington Commanders (4-13)​

(Last week: 31)

Sunday: Lost to Dallas Cowboys 38-10

What’s next: The No. 2 pick

The stage is perfectly set for the Commanders to take a new quarterback. Every new owner wants to put his stamp on the team, and Josh Harris is going to do just that this offseason. It started with moving on from coach Ron Rivera on Monday. Washington will be at the mercy of whoever picks No. 1 in the draft, but there doesn’t appear to be a bad choice between Caleb Williams and Drake Maye.

32. Carolina Panthers (2-15)​

(Last week: 32)

Sunday: Lost to Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-0

What’s next: The No. 33 pick

This week is when the weight of last offseason’s bad trade really lands on the Panthers. They have to send the No. 1 pick they wrapped up last week to the Chicago Bears and, barring another trade, will have to wait until the second round to get started on their rebuild. They still need a wide receiver, and Oregon’s Troy Franklin or Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk might be options in that range. To put the Panthers’ struggles in perspective this season, they did not take an offensive snap in the fourth quarter while leading at any point this season.