Dustin Baker’s 2023 NFL Power Rankings | Post-Draft
The NFL regular season begins in four months — like to the day, September 7th. The frontrunners to win the chip next February are familiar names, including the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Buffalo Bills.
The league’s pecking order — or folks’ perceptions of it — will fluctuate during the summer. That’s the nature of the beast.
Dustin Baker’s 2023 NFL Power Rankings | Post-Draft
But one week removed from the 2023 NFL Draft, these are current power rankings. Teams are ranked from worst to first.
Please note: The principal criteria for any team ahead of another is “would Team X defeat Team Y on a neutral field?”
32. Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray won’t return right away in 2023, and that’s problematic, leaving the enterprise in the hands of Colt McCoy or rookie Clayton Tune. Thankfully for their sake, the Cardinals could easily have two Top 5 picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.
31. Washington Commanders
Sam Howell, huh? Jacoby Brissett if Howell falters? Interesting. Washington is cunningly slipping into the Caleb Williams sweepstakes.
30. Houston Texans
C.J. Stroud will eventually be productive, and Demeco Ryans will become a good hire. But they may not get off the ground right away. The Texans need a year or two to “get there.”
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Welcome to the post-Tom Brady hangover. Folks will convince themselves that Baker Mayfield can be Top 15 once again, but this feels like a transitional season to Drake Maye or the aforementioned Williams in the draft.
28. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts won’t be a joke for too much longer, but one of the knocks on Anthony Richardson is lack of experience. He’ll get playing time at some point in 2023, but Indianapolis won’t be very good until 2024 or 2025.
27. Atlanta Falcons
In a quarterback-driven league, it’s odd that Atlanta trusts Desmond Ridder as the QB1. He does have Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Bijan Robinson in his arsenal. Atlanta plays in a bad division and might win about six games.
26. Carolina Panthers
The foundation has been laid; Bryce Young will excel down the line. Frank Reich is an astute coach, and a 6-11 or 7-10 record would feel like an exciting building block this season.
25. Tennessee Titans
The Titans almost-storybook run to the Super Bowl from recent playoff tournaments is over. Ryan Tannehill isn’t elite, and Derrick Henry is aging. Mike Vrabel will keep these guys relevant, but when will Will Levis take over?
24. Chicago Bears
The Bears overhauled their roster in a hurry under general manager Ryan Poles. Now, though, comes the time to win football games with all the fancy roster moves. Chicago’s success depends on Justin Fields’ ability to pass the football as well as he runs.
23. Los Angeles Rams
When you sell everything — mostly future draft picks — paying the piper is inevitable. That’s happening now to the Rams. With Sean McVay at the helm, this team should be in the Top 16. But they really just feel like Matthew Stafford’s Lions with a better head coach.
22. New England Patriots
The Patriots will remain relevant because of defense, but the AFC East is a murderer’s row now that Aaron Rodgers changed gridiron addresses. Good luck playing Buffalo, New York, and Miami six times.
21. Green Bay Packers
If Jordan Love continues the streak of marvelous quarterback play in Wisconsin, the Packers will be much better than sportsbooks forecast. However, if Love is merely average, Green Bay has a 7-10 roster.
20. Las Vegas Raiders
They swapped QB1s from Derek Carr to Jimmy Garoppolo. This is the Spider-man meme.
19. Denver Broncos
Sean Payton-led teams’ floors are usually 7-9 from the 16-game-season days. Denver just has to be better in 2023 than in 2022. If not, they’ll eat a lot of Russell Wilson’s dead cap next March and move on.
18. New Orleans Saints
The Saints constructed a commendable roster in a weak division with a decent quarterback. They’ll probably finish 9-8 and win the NFC South.
17. Miami Dolphins
Miami is one hit on Tua Tagovailoa away from handing the scepter to Mike White. It also hired Vic Fangio to run the defense. The Dolphins feel like a 9-8 team in the beefy AFC East.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers
Quietly, the Steelers are back. Kenny Pickett played quite well for a rookie in 2022, and many didn’t notice. The defense, as well, is trending up. Now — about that offensive line..
15. Cleveland Browns
Deshaun Watson will continue to be the villain — rightfully so — but his Top-5-in-the-league quarterback play should return in 2023. Sprinkle in Nick Chubb, a smart head coach in Kevin Stefanski, and this could be a 10-7 bunch.
14. Detroit Lions
Detroit is coached well. The offensive and defensive trenches are formidable. They’ve got playmakers on both sides of the ball. In 2023, the Lions will deal with something brand new — the weight of expectation. They’re the odds-on favorites to win the NFC North. Can they deliver?
13. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks were supposed to be one of the NFL’s worst teams in 2022. Wrong. Instead, they authored a transformational season — or what Kwesi Adofo-Mensah would call a competitive rebuild. It worked.
12. Los Angeles Chargers
In Brandon Staley’s tell-all year, the Chargers must reach the postseason and win a playoff game. Otherwise, Justin Herbert is just Matthew Stafford.
11. New York Giants
The Giants dashed to the playoffs, beat the Vikings, and have momentum with Brian Daboll in Year 2. Oddly, New York’s roster wasn’t very sexy in 2022, but it still turned heads. Daniel Jones must pay out his mammoth new contract with more playoff appearances.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence is on his way to becoming phenomenal, and the partnership with Doug Pederson really, really worked last year. Jaguars fans should be excited.
9. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings won’t win 13 games again in 2023. But they can win 11 or 12 and win the NFC North in back-to-back seasons. Everyone knows the offense will be shiny and fun, but can Brian Flores truly be a defensive fix-all?
8. Baltimore Ravens
Pray for Lamar Jackson’s health. His ailments have ruined two straight Ravens seasons. But now he’s in Baltimore for the long haul. He’s due for a full season of good health and the second postseason triumph of his career.
7. New York Jets
This Aaron Rodgers thing will work. Pairing a defense-first coach with a Hall of Fame (but old) quarterback has the makings for an 11-6 or so record. The Jets just have to keep pace with the Bills — a daunting task.
6. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas will win a bunch of games, lose prematurely in the playoffs, and everyone knows it. On paper, though, their roster is tantalizing.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
The 2022 Bengals actually performed a lot better than Super Bowl runner-ups of years past. The AFC North is tough, but Cincinnati should win the thing.
4. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo is one or two seasons from becoming a punchline if it can’t reach or win the Super Bowl. Every offseason since 2020, the Bills are the fashionable pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. But the problem is simple — Josh Allen isn’t quite as steady as Patrick Mahomes. The roster screams 12 wins, however, so Buffalo is a Top 4 franchise.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Let’s face it. Teams never repeat Super Bowl triumphs anymore. No team has done so since 2004. The Chiefs are only “this low” because it seems impossible for a Super Bowl winner to grab the trophy back-to-back.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Once again, it won’t matter who plays quarterback for the 49ers. Sam Darnold, Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, or Brandon Allen — or all. Each or some of these men will help San Francisco tunnel deep into the postseason. It’s the way John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan do business.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Merchants of a stacked roster, the Eagles depth chart looks damn near unbeatable. Their trenches resemble an insurmountable army. Like a real-life army. Even if injuries arise, Philadelphia has another oomph to win the NFC East. Until they’re not, the Eagles are the best team in football.
Vikings Legend Didn’t Want to Leave
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).
All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.
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