NFL Power Rankings, Week 14: NFC East owns top two spots; 49ers fall after Jimmy Garoppolo injury

The beasts of the NFC East rule the NFL Power Rankings.

With five weeks remaining in the regular season, the top two spots on our big board go to the Eagles and Cowboys, two longtime rivals who each fit the profile of a Super Bowl favorite. Only one team can win the division title, but both these squads have the talent, depth and coaching to go all the way.

The 49ers possessed those same attributes before Jimmy Garoppolo's season-ending foot injury turned San Francisco's campaign upside-down. Does a Brock Purdy-led team deserve top-10 real estate in the Power Rankings? For now, we say yes.

And then there are the Lions, who have become a more organic version of "America's Team" in recent years. Detroit's climb up the rankings has been slow and steady -- what would a win over the 10-2 Vikings mean for the Fighting Campbells?

The football. It's good. Let's talk about it.

Don't forget to check out the NFL Power Rankings Podcast with Dan Hanzus and Colleen Wolfe. New episodes every Tuesday all season long.

NOTE: Up/down arrows below reflect team movement from the Week 13 Power Rankings.

Previous rank: No. 1

The Eagles continue to prove themselves to be a tier above nearly every team in football. On Sunday, they took the Titans apart at the Linc, outgaining the AFC South leaders by nearly 250 yards in a 35-10 laugher. A.J. Brown went full Jefferson-against-Lincoln High mode in his Titans revenge game, piling up 119 yards and two touchdowns before telling reporters how personal this matchup truly was against his former team. "It's been personal since the trade," he said. "I was just trying to keep it down. That's where I wanted to be. Things just didn't work out. It was like here, we don't want you anymore." Tennessee's big loss is Philly's massive gain.

Dallas Cowboys

Previous rank: No. 4

The Cowboys turned a nail-biter into a howler in the fourth quarter, scoring 33 unanswered points in the final 15 minutes -- checks notes -- yes, thirty-three unanswered points in the final fifteen minutes of a 54-19 pasting of the Colts on Sunday Night Football. Former Indy first-round pick Malik Hooker put the game away with a fumble-return score early in the final quarter, Dallas’ third defensive touchdown of the season. The Cowboys have now won five of six while averaging 39.8 points per game since Week 8. The Eagles remain atop the NFC East, but only a fool would count the Cowboys out of the race for the division and No. 1 seed. America’s Team is firing on all cylinders.

Previous rank: No. 8

Joe Burrow is The Truth. On Sunday, Bengals coach Zac Taylor asked his young quarterback to put a dagger through the heart of the mighty Chiefs on third-and-long in the final two minutes. Burrow happily obliged, delivering a perfect 14-yard strike to Tee Higgins that allowed Cincinnati to run out the clock on their fourth straight win and third victory over Kansas City in this calendar year. The Bengals currently sit in second in the AFC North because of their Week 5 loss to the Ravens, but there’s little question which team feels more like a legitimate Super Bowl contender right now. So much of that goes back to the guy under center. When asked Sunday if he thinks his quarterback is playing at an MVP level, Taylor didn't hesitate: "Absolutely. ... I wouldn't trade him for anybody in the world."

Buffalo Bills

Previous rank: No. 5

Life without Von Miller started off in encouraging form for the Bills, who shut down a tepid Patriots attack during a prime-time win in Foxborough. Buffalo pressured Mac Jones on 39.5 percent of his dropbacks (the second-highest rate of the QB's career, according to ESPN) and surrendered just 242 yards of total offense in the 24-10 conquest. With Miller's availability in doubt after his move to IR, it's essential that Buffalo gets impact play from its remaining pass rushers; Greg Rousseau and A.J. Epenesa both made an impact in their return to the lineup in Week 13. The victory, coupled with Sunday losses by the Dolphins and Chiefs, moved Buffalo from the fifth seed all the way to No. 1 in the AFC with five games to play. Nice little weekend! 

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Von Miller will miss the rest of the 2022 season due to a torn ACL, Bills coach Sean McDermott announced Wednesday.

Previous rank: No. 2

The Chiefs’ hopes of landing the No. 1 seed in the AFC took a major hit Sunday with their 27-24 loss to the Bengals, the one team in the conference that appears to have Kansas City’s number. That’s three straight losses to Joe Burrow and Co. in the past calendar year; all taut, one-score affairs that ended with Cincy making the type of crunch-time money play that Kansas City has been known for during its extended run of greatness. With a favorable schedule, the Chiefs can still right the ship and nab the top seed and bye that comes with it … but you wonder if some doubt has crept in when it comes to the team from Cincinnati.

Minnesota Vikings

Previous rank: No. 7

The Vikings’ astounding success in one-score games (9-0) continued Sunday with another narrow win, this time a 27-22 conquest against a stubborn young Jets team. The Vikings won because their defense stood strong in the red zone, holding New York to one touchdown in six trips inside the Minnesota 20. You can’t argue with the Vikings’ record, but Kirk Cousins will need to play better if Minnesota is to be taken seriously as a Super Bowl contender. The veteran missed some layups against the Jets and continues to perform at levels below his career norms. Does that mean a hot streak is coming for one of the NFL’s most consistent producers? We wouldn’t bet against it.

Previous rank: No. 3

The 49ers had their best win of the season on Sunday against the Dolphins, but it won't be remembered that way. Jimmy Garoppolo is done for the year after suffering a foot injury that will require surgery, a cruel twist of fate that left a dour Kyle Shanahan visibly dazed as he addressed the media during his postgame availability. It remains to be seen if Jimmy G's loss will serve as the death of San Francisco's title hopes, but there is some optimism to be found in the relief effort by Brock Purdy, who piloted the offense with surprising efficiency in his first career game action. If Purdy -- the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft -- can get this team back to the Super Bowl, we have ourselves a movie script.

Miami Dolphins

Previous rank: No. 6

Sunday brought a sobering reality check for the Dolphins, who found the art of scoring points not quite so effortless when pitted against an elite opponent like the 49ers. Tua Tagovailoa connected on a 75-yard scoring strike to Trent Sherfield on the first play from scrimmage, but most of the QB's day was characterized by heavy pressure from San Francisco's talented front seven, along with surprising accuracy issues, in a 33-17 loss. Tua should be fine -- especially when his offensive line gets healthy -- but questions will persist about the tenacity of Miami's high-octane attack when facing the best defenses in football.

Previous rank: No. 9

It’s been a humbling two weeks for the Titans, who went from everyone’s darling after a prime-time win over the Packers to a reeling contender with troubling question marks following consecutive losses to the Bengals and Eagles. Tennessee was never competitive on Sunday, hopeless to stop Jalen Hurts and Philly’s rolling offense, while Ryan Tannehill and a slumping Derrick Henry sputtered in drive after drive. Perhaps most concerning is the way the Titans have been beaten in the past two Sundays -- profiling as the less physical side in both contests. It’s the antithesis of what Mike Vrabel’s teams have been about for years. Said the coach: “I think we’re at a crossroads in how we want to continue down this season.”

New York Jets

Previous rank: No. 10

It’s never boring with these Jets. Robert Saleh’s team fell behind 20-3 in the first half to the host Vikings before putting together a second-half comeback that fell painfully short thanks to a waterfall of red-zone failures. New York went 1-for-6 inside the Minnesota 20, culminating with a last-gasp fourth-down pass by Mike White that was intercepted at the goal line in the final minute. A frustrating loss, no doubt, but the rising Jets again proved they can battle with anyone on their schedule. White, meanwhile, looks like the team’s obvious answer at QB after another 300-yard performance with several big-time throws. Said star rookie wideout Garrett Wilson: “I’d go to war for that boy.” Get comfortable, Zach Wilson.

Baltimore Ravens

Previous rank: No. 11

The Ravens escaped with a 10-9 win over the Broncos on Sunday, but the victory came at a significant cost. Lamar Jackson exited in the first half with a knee injury, and John Harbaugh acknowledged Monday that the center of Baltimore's universe will likely miss time as a result. "I would say it's kind of week to week," the coach said of Jackson's availability. "It's probably less likely for this week, but it's not impossible. And then after that, it'll become more and more likely." If Jackson can't go on Sunday against the Steelers, backup Tyler Huntley will get the call as the Ravens attempt to keep pace with the surging Bengals atop the AFC North. If Jackson misses several weeks, we'll watch Baltimore free-fall out of playoff contention for the second consecutive December.

Seattle Seahawks

Previous rank: No. 14

When it's money time, Geno Smith will look for DK Metcalf. That's exactly what happened in the final minute on Sunday at SoFi Stadium, as the quarterback took the shotgun snap, drifted to his right, then fired a perfect dart to Metcalf, who snagged the game-winning touchdown with Jalen Ramsey all over him. It was just another clutch play in a season full of them for Geno. "He may do it again next week," Metcalf said of Smith's heroics. "He's been doing it ever since he got here. Whenever we put him in and ask him to carry the load of being a leader as a quarterback, he's done nothing but exceed expectations." Geno's rise might be the NFL's most surprising success story in 2022.

Previous rank: No. 13

Taylor Heinicke isn't as naturally talented or consistent as you might want your starting quarterback to be, but then he hits a throw like we saw on Sunday with the game hanging in the balance at the Meadowlands, and you're reminded why the quarterback has endeared himself to so many Commanders fans. Heinicke's clutch fourth-down conversion to Curtis Samuel set up a game-tying touchdown pass to Jahan Dotson, and even a scoreless overtime period couldn't shake the feeling that these Commanders aren't going away in the NFC playoff chase. Up next: A long-awaited bye before a pivotal rematch with the Giants at FedExField.

New York Giants

Previous rank: No. 16

The Giants had multiple chances to close out the Commanders on Sunday but had to settle for a tie after Graham Gano's 58-yard field goal attempt fell well short of the uprights on the final play of overtime. Had New York's defense made a final stand at the end of regulation, we'd be talking about the Giants rediscovering the spirit and resolve that defined the early portion of their season. Instead, this remains a team that, while still in playoff position, has just one win (against the lowly Texans) in the past six weeks. It doesn't get any easier this week against the Eagles before a rematch with the Commanders in their building. Big Blue is about to reach a fork in the road of its season.

Las Vegas Raiders

Previous rank: No. 17

Riddle me this: How is it that the Raiders can have two legitimate Offensive Player of the Year candidates (Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs) and a leading contender for Defensive Player of the Year (Maxx Crosby), yet still find themselves two games under .500 after winning their third consecutive game? The answer: The Raiders are weird. The Raiders are weird as hell, man. Sunday's 27-20 conquest showed Josh McDaniels' squad in full bully mode against a Chargers team that was outclassed after jumping out to an early lead. We know Las Vegas is better than its record indicates ... but can these Raiders actually find their way back into playoff contention? They can take another step in that direction with a win against the battered Rams on Thursday.

Previous rank: No. 18

Tom Brady is 45 years old. There is no earthly reason he should still be able to lead the type of comeback we saw on Monday Night Football in Tampa, where the Buccaneers wiped out a 13-point deficit in the final five minutes to beat the rival Saints, 17-16. The stunning effort reaffirmed the Bucs as the clear favorite to come out of the soggy NFC South while also reminding the football world that Brady might still have a special run in his bones if/when this team punches its ticket to the tournament. And if the game ends up meaning nothing in the big picture and Brady walks away after the season? Well, maybe we all got to see the G.O.A.T. do his thing one more time.

Detroit Lions

Previous rank: No. 20

This offense is for real. That was a clear takeaway as the Lions went up and down the field on the Jaguars in a 40-14 rout at Ford Field -- Detroit's fourth win in five games. The Lions have been scoring all season, of course, but the version of Ben Johnson's attack that we saw Sunday carried with it an air of long-term sustainability. There's more explosiveness in the mix when D'Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown are healthy, and strong protection up front has allowed Jared Goff to be the most efficient version of himself. After the dust cleared, Goff -- who played on some superpower Rams teams in an earlier NFL life -- called Sunday "as complete a team win as I've ever been part of." Dan Campbell is doing the damn thing.

Previous rank: No. 12

Injuries continue to limit the Chargers during a time when they should be making their playoff push. On Sunday, Justin Herbert was under constant duress during a 27-20 loss to the Raiders in which the Bolts played without their starting left tackle, right tackle and center. It's not just the offensive line, either. Star pass rusher Joey Bosa (groin) remains sidelined without a timetable to return, while it's unclear if wide receiver Mike Williams will make it back following his latest high ankle sprain. It's fair to wonder if -- and perhaps time to admit that -- this is another year where the Chargers will look back at their roster in August, then compare it to what they finished with in January, and wonder aloud who they ticked off in a prior life.

Previous rank: No. 15

The boo birds were once again out in Foxborough on Thursday night, as an ineffectual Patriots attack failed to keep up with the Bills in a deflating prime-time loss. Mac Jonessideline outburst ("Throw the f---ing ball! The quick game sucks!") revealed the criticism extends beyond the paying customers at Gillette Stadium. On Monday, Bill Belichick acknowledged the issues, while also explaining the impracticality of a factory reset in the middle of December. "I think we need to do what we're doing better. I don't think at this point making a lot of dramatic changes -- it's too hard to do that," Belichick said on WEEI's The Greg Hill Show. That’s not what frustrated Patriots fans want to hear, but it’s probably as close as you’ll get to a Belichick admission he miscalibrated his operation in this regard.

Cleveland Browns

Previous rank: No. 19

Deshaun Watson made his Browns debut in Sunday’s 27-14 win over the Texans and looked ... very much like a quarterback who hadn’t played a regular-season snap in 700 days. He routinely skipped passes into the turf at NRG Stadium and acknowledged after the win he profiles as a work in progress after serving a suspension for the first 11 games for violating the league's personal-conduct policy. "It's not going to be perfect, especially playing in December football where guys are [in Week 13], and this is Week 1 for me," the QB said. Watson had less to say about the loud chorus of boos that rang out from what looked like a half-empty stadium -- his former home venue -- each time he came to the line of scrimmage on Sunday. Watson’s new reality remains a complicated one.

Previous rank: No. 21

After the two-point conversion that sealed a comeback win over the Bears, Aaron Rodgers delivered a military salute to all the fans at Soldier Field who’d been giving him the one-finger salute for the previous 3.5 hours. Such is the nature of the relationship between the Green Bay QB and the Chicago fan base he continues to “own.” Rodgers wouldn’t have gotten the last word without the help of Christian Watson, who continues his unlikely charge in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. Watson scored through the air and on the ground, his eighth and ninth touchdowns in the past four weeks. The Packers need a miracle finish to return to the playoffs, but the sudden emergence of Watson gives the offense something to build on moving forward.

Previous rank: No. 24

You just know Mike Tomlin had to love how the Steelers closed out the Falcons on Sunday. Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett connected on a second-down pass to Diontae Johnson to move the chains and bleed valuable time off the clock in the final two minutes. After three runs, special teams perfectly executed a punt to down the ball at the Atlanta 2-yard line. Then Minkah Fitzpatrick, playing the part of closer, snagged the interception to seal a gritty 19-16 win. With Pickett progressing and T.J. Watt back in the fold, the Steelers are poised to finish their transition season in optimistic fashion.

Arizona Cardinals

Previous rank: No. 22

Even during their bye, chaos and controversy seem to follow the Cardinals. Last week, former teammate Patrick Peterson used his podcast to put Arizona’s QB1 on blast: “Kyler Murray don’t care about nobody but Kyler Murray,” the Vikings cornerback said. “That’s just a matter of fact.” Murray shot back at Peterson via social media, which prompted a response from the eight-time Pro Bowler, before the story mercifully drifted away. This isn’t the first time Murray’s leadership skills have been questioned, of course: Name another franchise quarterback whose own team felt compelled to challenge his work habits in contract-stipulation form? Ultimately, Murray can quiet the doubters with his play on the field. He has five more games to do that this season.

Previous rank: No. 23

You can never get too satisfied with yourself in the NFL. The Jaguars were no doubt feeling confident after their dramatic Week 12 win over the Ravens, but Sunday served as a nasty hangover in the form of a relentless Lions attack that piled up 437 yards in a 40-14 blowout at Ford Field. Jacksonville's defense was completely overmatched, failing to force so much as a single punt in four quarters. When it was over, Doug Pederson offered a blunt assessment of his dazed team. "We were kind of shocked to start the game," the coach said. "We were not ready." Pederson can only hope the embarrassing loss serves as a teachable moment.

Atlanta Falcons

Previous rank: No. 25

The Falcons operate an offense that relies heavily on the run, but no team can succeed in the modern NFL without the ability to move the ball through the air when necessary. Week after week, Atlanta has been hamstrung by its one-dimensional nature, and we saw that again in a frustrating 19-16 loss to the Steelers. The weak NFC South has remained up for grabs, which might explain why Arthur Smith has decided to stay with Marcus Mariota at quarterback to this point. With Atlanta's bye this week, though, it feels like the time to turn to rookie Desmond Ridder -- both for a spark in 2022 and a look at what the team might have for 2023 and beyond.

Previous rank: No. 26

"It sucks, it stings, it hurts." That's how Dennis Allen summed up Monday's unthinkable collapse against the Bucs, a contest the Saints seemed to have in their back pocket before Tom Brady ripped a season-revitalizing victory away from the visitors from New Orleans. The Saints' defense had been dominant for so much of the game, but Brady's precision passing in crunch time -- coupled with a New Orleans offense that could not make a big play to bleed the clock and keep Brady off the field -- conspired to create one of the more deflating regular-season losses in recent memory. This is the kind of meltdown that can get people fired.

Carolina Panthers

Previous rank: No. 28

Baker Mayfield hit the scene in Carolina with plenty of fanfare, but he exits as just another failed experiment at the game’s most important position for the Panthers. The veteran quarterback was waived Monday, ending an unproductive stay in Carolina that featured just one win in six starts for the former No. 1 overall pick. The move leaves Sam Darnold entrenched as Carolina's clear QB1 with P.J. Walker in a backup role. Barring a stunning career renaissance for Darnold, the Panthers are merely counting down the days until they can hopefully identify a quarterback of the future in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Chicago Bears

Previous rank: No. 29

The Bears got Justin Fields back on Sunday, and with him, another electrifying highlight in the form of the young QB’s 55-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter against the rival Packers. Unfortunately, a talent-deficient Bears defense was again exposed in Aaron Rodgerslatest conquest in Soldier Field. The bye week finally arrives for the Bears in Week 14, giving Chicago the chance to get healthy in the banged-up secondary while also providing Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy an opportunity to plot out how they want to close the season with Fields, who's playing with an injured non-throwing shoulder.

Los Angeles Rams

Previous rank: No. 30

Moral victories don't mean much in the NFL, but the Rams battled for four quarters against the Seahawks before Geno Smith's dagger of a touchdown pass to DK Metcalf in the final minute sealed a 27-23 defeat for Los Angeles. John Wolford spread the ball around in a serviceable start in place of Matthew Stafford (moved to injured reserve with a neck issue), but L.A. lacks explosive playmakers, with Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson out of the lineup with injuries. One bright spot? Bobby Wagner, the veteran linebacker who had an interception against the Seahawks, his former team. Wagner believed he was joining a contender when he signed with the Rams last March -- now he's one of many veteran players whose futures feel uncertain, with an important offseason ahead in Los Angeles.

Denver Broncos

Previous rank: No. 31

The offensive struggles of the Broncos have long since entered the realm of the absurd. Sunday's 10-9 loss to the Ravens was more of the same sad story. Denver managed just 272 total yards against a Baltimore defense that was sliced and diced by Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars in the previous week. Russell Wilson was again completely ineffective, as the Broncos scored one touchdown or fewer for the 10th time this season. Whether Denver fans want it or not, Wilson's huge contract means he'll get another shot to redeem himself come 2023. It's becoming increasingly apparent rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett might not be so fortunate.

Indianapolis Colts

Previous rank: No. 27

The Jeff Saturday pop -- presupposing such a thing ever actually existed -- is no more for the Colts, who have reverted to the same hopelessly adrift operation they appeared to be before Frank Reich’s firing last month. Sunday night’s 54-19 massacre at the hands of the Cowboys was bizarre, given the lopsided nature of a 33-0 fourth quarter, but also because -- prior to those final 15 minutes of carnage -- the Colts were very much alive and in position to register a massive upset. Until they weren’t. On Monday, Saturday sounded like a coach ready to move some furniture around: “We’re gonna look at everything.” We suggest not too closely, Jeff.

Houston Texans

Previous rank: No. 32

Texans fans served up loud boos for Deshaun Watson on Sunday, expressing their displeasure with the Browns quarterback who began the second half of his career as a visitor in the stadium once packed with fans who adored him. So much has changed since the final game of the 2020 season, and the Texans are still very much digging out from the wreckage caused by Watson’s alleged misconduct, their internal reaction to those actions and the resulting blockbuster trade that sent the quarterback to Cleveland. The result of Sunday’s game -- a 27-14 loss -- was an afterthought: This game was less a competition and more like another hurdle this team needed to clear in its attempt to start over.

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