Welcome to Week 13 of the NFL regular season — we are now two-thirds of the way through.
Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — has evaluated how teams are stacking up through 12 weeks.
After the Jacksonville Jaguars took home a dramatic come-from-behind win over the Baltimore Ravens, where does that leave the Ravens in the rankings? The Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Commanders won on Sunday, so how close are they to the top 10? And of course, the most important question, is there a new No. 1?
In addition to our updated rankings, we checked in with NFL Nation reporters across the league and asked them what the expectations for the rest of the season are for each team entering December.
Now, let’s take a look at the updated rankings.
Week 12 ranking: 1
Realistic expectation: Winning the AFC’s top playoff seed.
At 9-2, the Chiefs have the best record in the conference and a schedule conducive to holding on to their lead over the rest of the field. Winning another Super Bowl is also a realistic goal with QB Patrick Mahomes having an MVP-like season. He has thrown for over 300 yards in six straight games. — Adam Teicher
Week 12 ranking: 2
Realistic expectation: Representing the NFC in Super Bowl LVII.
They have the best record in the league at 10-1, an MVP candidate in Jalen Hurts and a cold-weather-friendly offense that can suck the life out of you on the ground and rip it up through the air when need be. The defense is opportunistic and leads the league in takeaways (23). The Eagles are as deep and well-rounded as any other team in football, and have already beaten the conference’s top contenders in the Vikings and Cowboys, though the Cowboys were without Dak Prescott in that Week 6 matchup. The rematch on Christmas Eve in Dallas should be fun. — Tim McManus
Week 12 ranking: 3
Realistic expectation: Winning a Super Bowl.
It’s realistic even though the Bills are not looking as sharp since the team’s bye. These next three weeks will go a long way toward determining just how possible winning it all will be for Buffalo. Securing home-field advantage in the playoffs will be a priority. The team is currently 0-2 in AFC East play and has three straight games against division opponents — at Patriots, vs. Jets and vs. Dolphins — next. If the Bills can come out on top in those games, there’s no reason they couldn’t go all the way. — Alaina Getzenberg
Joe Fortenbaugh explains why he is taking the Patriots plus the points for their Thursday night matchup against the Bills.
Week 12 ranking: 5
Realistic expectation: Getting to the Super Bowl.
Why not? The Cowboys are 8-3. They beat both of last year’s Super Bowl teams. They won at Minnesota. They get a chance to show how good they can be with a Christmas Eve meeting against the Eagles. They have a top defense. They have a running game that can control the tempo of a game. They have a passing game that has improved. What they don’t have is a history of rising to the occasion. That doesn’t mean they can’t. There is no reason to fear any of the heavy hitters in the NFC. — Todd Archer
Week 12 ranking: 4
Realistic expectation: Winning the AFC East.
The Dolphins are in the driver’s seat to win their first division title since 2008, and right now, they’re playing better than the Bills — against whom they currently own a tiebreaker. Their Week 15 showdown could end up deciding the division, although Miami does have two more division games in Weeks 16 and 17. Fans in western New York aren’t going to like hearing it, but the Dolphins have placed themselves in position to win the division, and it’s what they should expect moving forward. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Week 12 ranking: 6
Realistic expectation: Split their final six games, win the NFC North and host two playoff games.
It is realistic to think the Vikings will have a record of at least 12-5 (or better). It’s true the Vikings have the seventh-easiest remaining schedule, and that there are only two teams on it with winning records (Jets and Giants). But they still have to play all three NFC North rivals on the road, and it’s tough to project a sweep there even in a down year for the division. — Kevin Seifert
Week 12 ranking: 8
Realistic expectation: Going to the Super Bowl.
The Niners haven’t shied away from this being the objective, even going so far as to tell the world they believe they can when they traded for running back Christian McCaffrey. Anything less would be considered a disappointment, with the question then becoming whether they can actually win it. Whether they can knock off a team like the Kansas City Chiefs is a different issue, but realistically, this team has everything it needs to at least be in the big game. — Nick Wagoner
Week 12 ranking: 11
Realistic expectation: Repeating as AFC champions.
While it might seem like a stretch for a team currently seeded sixth in the AFC standings, the defending conference champions are really finding their form as they enter December. The defense remains a solid unit, and the offense is one of the best in the league. Cincinnati ranks fourth in the NFL in points per drive and offensive points per game — despite the fact that WR Ja’Marr Chase has missed the past four games with a hip injury. The team also owns the AFC’s best net touchdown differential (plus-13). — Ben Baby
Week 12 ranking: 9
Realistic expectation: Winning the AFC South.
Despite a frustrating loss to the Bengals, the Titans have a two-game lead over the Colts in the AFC South. All things are pointing toward the Titans winning the division, although they have two games against the Jaguars on the horizon. Tennessee’s passing game is starting to come alive, but the rushing attack hasn’t been the same over the past three weeks. The Titans will be a dangerous team if they can find balance on offense. And the defense hasn’t allowed an opposing team to score more than 20 points in eight weeks. — Turron Davenport
Week 12 ranking: 7
Realistic expectation: Winning the AFC North.
Despite getting upset by the Jaguars, the Ravens have a favorable schedule the rest of the way. Baltimore plays five straight games against teams with losing records before playing at the Bengals in the regular-season finale. That’s why Baltimore has a 78.2% chance to win its first division title since 2019. The bigger question is how far the Ravens can advance in the postseason. Lamar Jackson is 1-3 in the playoffs for his career, throwing three touchdowns and five interceptions. — Jamison Hensley
Week 12 ranking: 15
Realistic expectation: Finishing 10-7 to snag a wild-card spot.
It won’t be easy, especially with four of the remaining six on the road, but the Jets are 4-1 on the road this season, and defense travels. They’re ranked fourth in scoring defense, and if the Mike White-led offense can be middle-of-the-road, the Jets should be fine because they’re 6-0 when scoring at least 18 points. — Rich Cimini
Week 12 ranking: 13
Realistic expectation: Making the postseason.
The Commanders hold the seventh spot, which is remarkable considering they were 1-4 after five games this season. It won’t be easy, as four of their final five games are against teams with winning records — the New York Giants (7-4) twice, San Francisco (7-4) and Dallas (8-3). The Commanders also play Cleveland (4-7) — Washington is 6-1 vs. teams currently under .500. It’s likely that the Commanders will have to go at least 2-3, so splitting with the Giants and winning one other game, especially vs. an NFC opponent for tiebreaker purposes. Three wins in five games? Book the postseason. — John Keim
Week 12 ranking: 10
Realistic expectation: Making the playoffs.
The Giants are sitting sixth in the NFC. It’s shaping up to be a three-team race between them, the Commanders and the Seahawks. The Giants already lost to Seattle but have two games in a three-week stretch against Washington. Winning one of two would put them into a pretty solid position. It’s entirely possible to get into the postseason with nine wins in the NFC, but splitting the final six would get the Giants to a healthy 10 wins — and complete a wildly overachieving season. — Jordan Raanan
Week 12 ranking: 12
Realistic expectation: Getting to 10 wins.
The Seahawks were cruising toward at least that many when they were riding a four-game win streak, but they’ve come back down to earth with back-to-back losses, including a disappointing overtime defeat to the Raiders in Week 12. Ten wins is still a reasonable expectation, though it will require beating at least one good team (either the 49ers, Chiefs or Jets) in addition to taking care of business in the three games in which they’ll likely be favored (Rams twice and Panthers). It should help that four of their final six are at Lumen Field. Then again, they just lost to the previously three-win Raiders at home. — Brady Henderson
Week 12 ranking: 14
Realistic expectation: Finishing above .500.
Bill Belichick’s 6-5 team has the following remaining schedule: vs. Buffalo, at Arizona, at Las Vegas, vs. Cincinnati, vs. Miami and at Buffalo. Squeezing out three wins would ensure a finish over .500, but the Patriots might need four to qualify for the postseason. — Mike Reiss
Week 12 ranking: 16
Realistic expectation: Winning the NFC South.
Winning the division is in jeopardy after slipping one game below .500 and holding just a half-game lead over the Falcons. The Bucs’ offense can’t seem to clear the 17-point threshold, and the defense is still struggling to put together complete games. On top of that, the coaching staff has made questionable decisions with playcalling, game management and personnel — most notably the decision not to use all timeouts prior to the end of regulation against Cleveland. If the Bucs reach the postseason, it’s hard to see them being more than a one-and-done. — Jenna Laine
Ryan Clark weighs in on Tom Brady and Buccaneers’ underwhelming performance this season.
Week 12 ranking: 17
Realistic expectation: Making the playoffs.
The Chargers bolstered the roster over the offseason with the intention of making a deep postseason run. That goal has largely been derailed because of an overwhelming number of injuries that have resulted in edge rusher Joey Bosa, cornerback J.C. Jackson, left tackle Rashawn Slater and defensive lineman Austin Johnson being placed on injured reserve. However, the Bolts still have a shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 2018, with their chances improving to 60% following a gutsy decision — as coach Brandon Staley opted to go for the 2-point conversion rather than kick an extra point and go to overtime in a Week 12 win over the Cardinals. — Lindsey Thiry
Week 12 ranking: 18
Realistic expectation: Being in the playoff conversation entering Week 17.
Atlanta is a half-game out of first place in the NFC South and faces one team with a winning record — Baltimore — the rest of the season. Plus, the Falcons still have games against the Saints (Week 15) and Bucs (Week 18), which could spell the difference between being NFC South champs and out of the playoffs. The fact that we’re still talking about this speaks to how Atlanta has overachieved this season and put together strong game plans to maximize what the team does well (run the ball, control clock). — Michael Rothstein
Week 12 ranking: 19
Realistic expectation: Getting a closer look at what they have in Jordan Love.
After Love came on in relief for Aaron Rodgers on Sunday night vs. the Eagles, it opened the conversation of what the Packers should do the rest of their season, given their record. It could be a delicate situation depending on what Rodgers wants to do next season, but his injuries (to his thumb and ribs) make it a little easier to sit him. The bottom line is the Packers need to see what they have in Love, and playing several weeks in a row will help make that clearer. — Rob Demovsky
Week 12 ranking: 27
Realistic expectation: A six-game win streak.
The Raiders, coming off two straight OT wins, seem to have rediscovered the lucky charm they had in closing last season with four straight wins to get into the playoffs. The Raiders’ next four games are against teams with a combined record of 18-25 in the Chargers (6-5), Rams (3-8), Patriots (6-5) and Steelers (3-7), before closing out against the 49ers (7-4) and Chiefs (9-2). — Paul Gutierrez
Week 12 ranking: 21
Realistic expectation: Evaluating young players.
The Saints mathematically have a shot at the NFC South like everyone else, but they’ve squandered every opportunity they’ve gotten to make any progress in the division by beating themselves with poor play. While a best-case scenario has them winning out to finish with a winning season, a more realistic one has them getting more snaps for players like Trevor Penning, Rashid Shaheed and Alontae Taylor to get them ready for next season. — Katherine Terrell
Week 12 ranking: 26
Realistic expectation: Getting to six victories.
It doesn’t sound like a lofty goal, but that would be the most games the franchise has won in a season since 2019. Since then, the Jaguars have won a total of eight. They have won two of their past three, including an upset of Baltimore this past Sunday, and if they somehow go on a roll — and that’s asking a lot, since they play four playoff contenders — they could even have a chance to finish 8-9 — which would mark only the second time in the past 12 seasons that they didn’t finish with double-digit losses. — Michael DiRocco
Week 12 ranking: 23
Realistic expectation: Doubling their win total from last season.
The expectations were higher in Year 2 of the Dan Campbell era. Although they got off to a rough 1-6 start, lately the Lions have been among the hottest teams in the league, winning three of their past four games. The Lions might not finish at .500 this year, but they do have an opportunity to double their win total from 3-13-1 in 2021 to at least six wins this season, which is a big improvement as they continue to take steps toward their rebuild. Detroit has not won six games since 2018. — Eric Woodyard
Week 12 ranking: 29
Realistic expectation: Hanging around the playoff conversation.
Expecting to make the AFC playoffs might be too much for a team with a record of 4-7. But it’s not unthinkable that Cleveland could at least hang in the playoff picture. The Browns can afford only one more loss in their final six games, at most. Even then, they might need help elsewhere from a loaded AFC. But if the Browns can avoid being mathematically eliminated in December, that would constitute a success at this point for a team that remains a long shot to make the postseason. — Jake Trotter
Week 12 ranking: 20
Realistic expectation: Winning one, maybe two games.
The final five games are no joke for the Cardinals, who fell to 4-8 on Sunday. With the Patriots, Broncos, Bucs, Falcons and 49ers left, two of those seem winnable on paper after how this season has played out. The turnaround that coach Kliff Kingsbury talked about happening hasn’t materialized and likely won’t. But the question down the stretch will be whether his job is safe in 2023. — Josh Weinfuss
Keyshawn Johnson breaks down why it would be hard for the Broncos to part ways with Russell Wilson or coach Nathaniel Hackett.
Week 12 ranking: 28
Realistic expectation: Developing Kenny Pickett.
The Steelers aren’t making the playoffs this year. Even though the AFC North is in a down year, that’s the reality they face after starting 4-7. But the back half of the season can be all about developing the rookie quarterback, who was unceremoniously inserted at halftime of the Week 4 loss to the Jets. The final weeks are Pickett’s on-the-job training and can establish a baseline for him to build from for his second season. — Brooke Pryor
Week 12 ranking: 22
Realistic expectation: Evaluate the roster for next season.
This is the second consecutive year the Colts have fallen short of their own preseason expectations. It might be time to take a step back and reevaluate where this roster is heading into 2023. The Colts have already fired their head coach and are expected to conduct a legitimate coaching search when the season ends. The changes won’t stop there, considering their apparent needs and the lack of production they are getting from an offensive line that is the NFL’s most expensive. Something the Colts might also have to consider is whether they want to keep Matt Ryan on the roster next season to mentor another QB. The last five games could help determine that. — Stephen Holder
Week 12 ranking: 31
Realistic expectation: Staying in the NFC South mix.
Only one of Carolina’s last five opponents has a winning record, and the Panthers already have beaten two of them (Tampa Bay, New Orleans). The defense is playing well enough to keep Carolina in games if quarterback Sam Darnold can simply manage the offense without making catastrophic mistakes. The Panthers are a long shot for sure, but they also were in 2014 when they won the last four games to win the division at 7-8-1. — David Newton
Week 12 ranking: 25
Realistic expectation: Focusing on Justin Fields‘ development.
The Bears should put all their efforts toward building for 2023. When Fields returns from an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, everything should be geared toward helping him develop his skills as a passer and being able to win from the pocket. Fields has yet to attempt more than 28 passes or throw for more than 208 yards in a game this season. Therefore, the Bears’ goal of creating a sustainable offense for their future franchise quarterback needs to be the focal point the rest of the way. — Courtney Cronin
Week 12 ranking: 24
Realistic expectation: Finding future contributors on this roster.
One of the few bright spots to the number of injuries the Rams have had this season is that the team is getting an extended look at the depth it has. At 3-8, the Rams’ focus can be on figuring out whether some of these players can play a bigger role next season. Coach Sean McVay said Sunday that the evaluation has “got to occur,” and as a result of those injuries, “guys are going to get some opportunities like you’ve seen each of the last couple weeks.” That group could include running back Kyren Williams and the group of wide receivers behind the injured Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson II: Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek and Brandon Powell. — Sarah Barshop
Week 12 ranking: 30
Realistic expectation: Not being the lowest-scoring team in franchise history.
The Broncos, who are last in the league and averaging 14.3 points per game, need to stop their current tumble. They have scored fewer than 10 points in four games this season. Their lowest-scoring (non-strike year) team in history scored 196 points; that’s 14 points per game in a 14-game AFL season. Their lowest-scoring team of the 16-game era (post-1978) was in 1992, when they scored 262 points, or 16.38 points per game. The Broncos, with 157 points, are currently the lowest-scoring team since the 2000 Browns. — Jeff Legwold
Week 12 ranking: 32
Realistic expectation: Dameon Pierce getting to 1,000 rushing yards.
Pierce has 788 yards rushing so far this season. The fourth-round rookie is averaging 71 yards a game, but recently defenses have centered their game plan on stopping him. In the past two games against the Commanders and Dolphins, Pierce has totaled 16 yards. If that continues, he won’t hit 1,000 yards. The offensive line must return to creating holes for Pierce, and the passing attack must take the pressure off him for Pierce to have a chance to hit that milestone. — DJ Bien-Aime