NFL Week 16 Power Rankings 2023: How all 32 teams stack up

Welcome to Week 16 of the 2023 NFL season. There are only a few editions of rankings left in the regular season. As we turn our attention to playoff races, which teams are heating up and which teams are on the trend downward? With some movement in our top 10 this week, the middle of this list was the most shuffled, as these are the teams fighting for a spot in the wild-card playoff race.

In addition to the updated rankings, our NFL Nation reporters found one stat — good or bad — that each team is No. 1 in. And yes, even the Carolina Panthers are No. 1 in something. Who has the best run defense, most punts or best red zone conversion rate?

We are starting with the San Francisco 49ers, who again come in at the top spot.

Our power panel of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities evaluates how NFL teams stack up against one another, ranking them from 1 to 32.

Previous rankings: Preseason | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15

Jump to a team:
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF

Week 15 ranking: 1

We’re No. 1 … in point differential.

The Niners lead the NFL in plenty of important categories, but nothing matters more than the score. San Francisco is plus-191 on the year, 24 points clear of Dallas, which ranks second. What’s more, the 49ers haven’t just been beating up on the dregs of the NFL. They’ve beaten contenders like the Cowboys, Eagles and Jaguars by a combined 86 points. Were it not for a meaningless last-second field goal by the Rams in Week 2, all of the Niners’ 11 wins would be by double digits. — Nick Wagoner



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Week 15 ranking: 3

We’re No. 1 … at running the ball.

The Ravens lead the NFL in rushing, and it’s not even close. Behind quarterback Lamar Jackson’s elusive scrambles, Baltimore is averaging 163.8 yards per game on the ground, which is at least 22 yards more per game than the rest of the league. It’s impressive that the Ravens have been so dominant in running the ball, because they lost featured back J.K. Dobbins to a torn Achilles in the season opener. To compound matters, Baltimore will now be without its most explosive running back in Keaton Mitchell, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Sunday night. — Jamison Hensley

Week 15 ranking: 2

We’re No. 1 … in non-offensive touchdowns.

This is what happens when somebody sets an NFL record, like Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland has by scoring five touchdowns on interceptions this season. But Bland isn’t the only one in on the act. Leighton Vander Esch returned a fumble for a touchdown and Noah Igbinoghene returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown. The Cowboys have seven on the season, followed by Indianapolis (five) and Miami (four). — Todd Archer



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Week 15 ranking: 5

We’re No. 1 … in yards per game.

The Dolphins also average the most passing yards per game and points per game, giving them a legitimate claim at the title of best offense in the NFL. At full strength, Miami features four players with home run ability, including the NFL’s leading receiver in Tyreek Hill and leading scorer in Raheem Mostert. With a defense that has sneakily been one of the league’s best over the past two months — allowing an average of 15 points per game since Week 9 — the Dolphins are a powerhouse on either side of the ball. However, mounting injuries — especially to Hill — could derail them from reaching their potential. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Week 15 ranking: 4

We’re No. 1 … in fourth-down conversion rate.

The Eagles convert on 72.7% of their attempts. It helps that they are just about automatic on their tush push tries from a yard out, picking up a first down more than 90% of the time. Philadelphia has a success rate of 50% on third and fourth down combined, which also leads the league. — Tim McManus

Week 15 ranking: 6

We’re No. 1 … in percentage of plays with five pass-catchers in pass routes.

Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson could be a head-coaching candidate this offseason, as he has the Lions’ offense in a great spot through 14 games. Under Johnson’s playcalling, it makes sense that Detroit would attack with five pass-catchers 70.5% of the time on passing plays. The Lions have seen big production from receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond, Josh Reynolds, Jameson Williams and Donovan Peoples-Jones while even lining up running backs Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery and tight ends Sam LaPorta and Brock Wright for pass routes at points. The Lions average the third-most offensive points per game, and a big part of that stems from the creativity on offense. — Eric Woodyard

Week 15 ranking: 7

We’re No. 1 … in sack percentage.

The Chiefs bring down the opposing quarterback on 8.8% of dropbacks, which is tied with the Dolphins for the best percentage in the league. The pass rush has been a consistent factor for the Chiefs, who are no longer dependent on Chris Jones to have a big game. Jones is second on the team in sacks with 7.5, which is 1.5 behind George Karlaftis. Three others have at least 4.5 sacks, and 15 players have at least a half-sack. — Adam Teicher

Week 15 ranking: 8

We’re No. 1 … in first downs.

The Bills lead the league in both first downs per game (22.9) and third-down conversion percentage (49.2%). Buffalo has been able to string together long drives, including four of 11 or more plays Sunday vs. the Cowboys. With a running game that is playing the best it has all season paired with quarterback Josh Allen’s arm, this is currently a hard offense to stop. — Alaina Getzenberg

Week 15 ranking: 9

We’re No. 1 … at forcing three-and-outs.

Cleveland has forced more three-and-outs than any other defense in the NFL with 55 and tops the league with a whopping 34.4% three-and-out rate. No other defense is even above 28%. In Sunday’s comeback victory over the Chicago Bears, the Browns forced eight three-and-outs. That was a major reason Cleveland was able to give its offense a chance to rally from the double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter for the 20-17 win. — Jake Trotter



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Week 15 ranking: 13

We’re No. 1 … at timely turnovers.

Big plays from the Cincinnati defense have helped keep postseason hopes alive. The Bengals have forced a league-high nine turnovers inside their own 25-yard line, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Three of those have been interceptions during Cincinnati’s current three-game winning streak. That has helped offset a leaky defense that also has allowed the most plays of 20 or more yards to opponents (70). — Ben Baby

Week 15 ranking: 10

We’re No. 1 … at flipping the field.

The Jaguars are making opponents start drives inside their own 20-yard line, and it’s giving the defense a little help from an inconsistent offense. Exactly 50% of Logan Cooke’s 56 punts have pinned opponents within 20 yards of their own end zone. — Michael DiRocco

Week 15 ranking: 11

We’re No. 1 … in snaps from offensive rookies.

The Texans have won eight games, more than the past two seasons combined (seven). Their offense has played a significant factor in this turnaround; it’s 10th in total offense, averaging 353.7 yards per game. The most impressive part is the Texans have had the most snaps from rookies on the offensive side of the ball (614), led by quarterback C.J. Stroud, who at one point led the league in passing yards entering Week 14. — DJ Bien-Aime

Week 15 ranking: 16

We’re No. 1 … in defensive snaps.

With the Indianapolis defense spending 943 snaps (tied with Seattle for the league’s most), you’d expect more negative results. But the Colts have bent without breaking. They rank 13th in defensive efficiency and defensive expected points added (EPA), and they are 18th in opponent red zone efficiency (56.8%). Another big variable in the defense making it work is that it is tied for third in takeaways with 24. — Stephen Holder

Week 15 ranking: 15

We’re No. 1 … in red zone scoring percentage.

The Rams have scored a touchdown or field goal on 97.7% of their trips to the red zone. And while head coach Sean McVay said Monday that the Rams have overall “been pretty good in the red area,” he stressed that he needs to do a better job with his playcalls to make sure they’re scoring touchdowns instead of field goals more consistently. “Once we do get in the tight red area, we’ve been consistent [at] making those kicks,” McVay said. “… But ultimately you want to come away with touchdowns. I think there’s been a heightened awareness, which you have to acknowledge those things because it’s always about what have you done lately and being able to continue to take steps.” — Sarah Barshop



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Week 15 ranking: 20

We’re No. 1 … in red zone passing defense.

The Buccaneers have allowed just 14.1% of opponents’ pass attempts in the red zone to go for touchdowns (nine total) this season. While the Bucs struggle on third down and in giving up a high number of passing yards (263.9 yards per game), they clamp down when their backs are against the wall. — Jenna Laine

Week 15 ranking: 19

We’re No. 1 … in penalty yards.

The Seahawks have regularly been among the most penalized teams in the NFL during Pete Carroll’s tenure, and right now they lead the way with 882 penalty yards. It has been more of a problem on offense (65) than on defense (48), and while the Seahawks are one of the league’s younger teams, it hasn’t been isolated to their younger players. Veterans DK Metcalf, Phil Haynes and Evan Brown have all been flagged at least six times. — Brady Henderson

Week 15 ranking: 21

We’re No. 1 … at pass breakups.

The Saints have been excellent at both taking the ball away and defending passes. They rank first in the league with 87 pass breakups, a significant lead over the Niners’ 75. Saints cornerback Paulson Adebo leads the team with 15 pass breakups this year. — Katherine Terrell

Week 15 ranking: 18

We’re No. 1 … in blitz rate.

Under new defensive coordinator Brian Flores, the Vikings have sent five or more pass-rushers on 45.7% of opposing dropbacks. The league-wide average is 26.3%, and the next-closest team is the Giants at 39.3%. The heavy blitzing has been largely effective for a team that entered the season with only one proven pass-rusher (linebacker Danielle Hunter ranks second in the league with 15.5 sacks). The Vikings rank among the NFL’s top five in most defensive statistics but have recently given up some late leads when teams have exploited the unusual zone coverages behind the heavy rush. — Kevin Seifert

Week 15 ranking: 12

We’re No. 1 … at recovering fumbles.

Despite an offense that can’t finish often enough in the red zone and some of the other defensive failings that have cropped up this season (e.g., run defense), Broncos defenders have knocked the ball free from opponents more than any other team this season. And it is a big part of the reason a team that was 1-5 is now 7-7 and clinging to wild-card playoff chances. The Broncos have forced 17 fumbles combined on defense and special teams and recovered a league-leading 13 of them. And those recoveries led to plenty of momentum swings and short-field opportunities for a balky offense that has needed them. — Jeff Legwold

Week 15 ranking: 17

We’re No. 1 … in limiting fourth quarter points.

The Steelers’ defense has given up an NFL-low 3.6 points per game in the fourth quarter this season. Big defensive stops and game-sealing interceptions have been a key factor in their seven one-score wins, but lately, opponents haven’t had to score much in the fourth quarter thanks to their ability to build early leads and play from ahead for the majority of the game. — Brooke Pryor



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Week 15 ranking: 14

We’re No. 1 … at being the youngest team in the NFL.

Not only did the Packers have the youngest roster in the league to start the season, they’re especially green at the skill positions. Twenty-five-year-old quarterback Jordan Love has 25 touchdown passes, and 24 have been to players with two or fewer years of NFL experience. That’s the most touchdowns scored by first- and second-year players for any team since the 2015 Jaguars (with 28). — Rob Demovsky

Week 15 ranking: 22

We’re No. 1 … in preventing red zone touchdowns.

Atlanta is tied with Baltimore for fewest red zone touchdowns with 15. It speaks to the improvement in the Falcons’ defense under new coordinator Ryan Nielsen and its focus on keeping opponents out of the end zone even if they reach the red area (the Falcons also lead the league with nine goal-to-go touchdowns allowed). Improving the defense was a focus of the Falcons’ offseason, and it worked out for a unit that’s in the top 10 in a lot of areas. — Michael Rothstein

Week 15 ranking: 28

We’re No. 1 … in fewest penalties.

Talk about culture change. The Raiders, the erstwhile and undisciplined “bad boys” of the NFL who have led the league in penalties 13 times, hold the single-season record (163 penalties in 2011) and single-game record (23 penalties in a 2016 overtime win at Tampa Bay) and were flagged 113 times last season, are suddenly the league’s choir boys? Indeed. Their 64 penalties are three fewer than the Vikings and, for the first time since Dec. 4, 2005, the Raiders had a penalty-free game, in a Week 12 loss to the Chiefs. Las Vegas interim coach Antonio Pierce credits an increased attention to detail. “That’s what you want to see with your team growing,” Pierce said, “especially in the later part of the season.” — Paul Gutierrez

Week 15 ranking: 23

We’re No. 1 … in takeaways since Week 11.

The Bears have 14 takeaways since Week 11 (including 12 interceptions), both of which lead the NFL. That’s remarkable considering Chicago had only six interceptions through Week 10, a sign that the increased pressure the Bears are getting up front due to the presence of edge rusher Montez Sweat is working. The influx started in Week 11 and has continued every game: seven takeaways in two games vs. Detroit, four vs. Minnesota and three vs. Cleveland. The 14 points the Bears scored off Eddie Jackson’s interception and Tremaine Edmunds’ pick-six against the Browns were their most off turnovers in a game this season. — Courtney Cronin

Week 15 ranking: 27

We’re No. 1 … at punts.

It was hard to find something, but nobody has punted more than the Giants. They even have a partner — the Jets also have 81 punts through 14 games — to make it a New York puntfest. It’s only appropriate to stress this category for the Giants because punter Jamie Gillan and the punt coverage unit have been among the few positives (averaging 43.1 net yards per punt) throughout this disappointing season. — Jordan Raanan

Week 15 ranking: 24

We’re No. 1 … in red zone scoring defense.

The Titans’ red zone defense is the best in the NFL, with Tennessee allowing opposing offenses to score touchdowns on 37.3% of their visits inside the 20-yard line. What’s even more remarkable about the stat is how teams have gotten to the low red zone (inside the 10) 15 times over the past three games but scored only three touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Titans have won only one of the three games in which the red zone defense shined. Two of the losses involved late fourth-quarter scores. — Turron Davenport

Week 15 ranking: 26

We’re No. 1 … in forcing safeties.

The Jets and Rams have the most safeties (two apiece). Yeah, we’re reaching here, but it has been that kind of year for the Jets. They’re the only team to record a safety in the first quarter. In fact, both came in the first quarter, which means they have more safeties than touchdowns (one) in the opening period. We’re not making this up. — Rich Cimini



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Week 15 ranking: 25

We’re No. 1 … in attempts on third-and-short.

The Chargers are tied for the league’s best in attempts on third-and-short (63), which is defined as third-down plays with less than or equal to 3 yards to the first-down marker or end zone. But the Chargers are also 29th in third-and-short conversion percentage (49.2%). This stat is likely reflective of the Chargers’ ineffective run game, which they have tried to spark all season but still ranks 27th in rushing yards per game (95.7). The Chargers’ ineffective rushing attack makes them somewhat one-dimensional in these scenarios, relying on short passes that the defense can predict. Against the Broncos, for example the Chargers were 0-for-12 on third down. This stat, like many for the Chargers this season, is reflective of missed opportunities. — Kris Rhim

Week 15 ranking: 30

We’re No. 1 … in completion percentage allowed.

The Cardinals are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 69.6% of their passes, which is tied for the league’s highest (Minnesota). It’s a product of a secondary that’s full of young and inexperienced cornerbacks who have become targets for opposing quarterbacks to pick on. — Josh Weinfuss

Week 15 ranking: 29

We’re No. 1 … in allowing touchdowns.

Nothing sums up Washington’s season like being tied for first with Arizona for touchdowns allowed (43). That’s seven more than the Commanders allowed all last season when the defense ranked third in yards and seventh in scoring. But a main reason Washington went from an 8-8-1 mark in 2022 to 4-10 this season stems from a defense that has plummeted to the bottom of the league. — John Keim

Week 15 ranking: 31

We’re No. 1 … at run defense.

In a lost season primarily due to offensive struggles, the Patriots’ run defense has become a measure of pride for some players. By holding the Chiefs to 43 rushing yards on 22 carries (2.2 average) Sunday, the Patriots’ run defense firmly maintained its top NFL ranking in average yards per rush allowed (3.14). — Mike Reiss

Week 15 ranking: 32

We’re No. 1 … in fewest fourth-quarter plays with a lead.

The number is 0. This is how the team has an NFL-worst record. It’s an odd stat because both of Carolina’s wins, including Sunday against Atlanta, came on walk-off field goals. The Panthers also are tied for first in successful two-point conversions (2-for-2; 100%), but having no plays with the lead in the fourth quarter pretty much sums up this season. — David Newton

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