2023 NFL power rankings, Week 18: Ravens, 49ers secure top seeds, Cowboys make move

Dec 31, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs through
Dec 31, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs through / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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In the span of seven days, John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens vanquished the San Francisco 49ers (33-19) and Miami Dolphins (56-19) by a combined score of 89-38, won the AFC North for the first time since 2019 and also wrapped up the top seed in the AFC.

They are the top team in the NFL Power Rankings for the second week in a row, and this time it is a resounding number one. Meanwhile, a few other teams in the Top 10 from a week ago weren’t so fortunate.

. 2-14 | Previous Rank: 32nd | Week 17: Lost to Jaguars, 26-0. . . 87. 2023 NFL Power Rankings. . . . 32

The Panthers were in Jacksonville to take on the slumping Jaguars. Carolina’s offense managed a mere 124 yards on 53 plays, a dismal 2.3 yards per play. Quarterback Bryce Young was under pressure all afternoon, threw for only 112 yards and one interception, and was sacked six times. The Panthers’ defense gave up 155 yards rushing.

The setback dropped Carolina’s mark to 2-14 and ensured they would finish with the NFL’s worst record in 2023. Unfortunately for the club, it will not have the top pick in April’s draft. The Bears own that via last year’s trade.

. 4-12 | Previous Rank: 31st | Week 17: Lost to 49ers, 27-10. 2023 NFL Power Rankings. . 31. . . . 58.

Ron Rivera had opted to start Jacoby Brissett against the visiting 49ers on Sunday, but he was injured during the week and Sam Howell was back behind center. The Commanders spotted San Francisco a 10-0 lead before tying the score in the second quarter thanks to a field goal and Howell’s three-yard TD pass to wideout Terry McLaurin.

It was all Niners after that. Washington gained only 94 yards in the second half, while San Francisco scored the last 17 points of the game. It was the seventh straight setback for the Commanders, the league’s longest active streak.

2023 NFL Power Rankings. . 30. . 5-11 | Previous Rank: 30th | Week 17: Lost to Broncos, 16-9. . 13. . .

It’s been a very long year for a team that was a playoff participant in 2022 with a 10-7 record. On Sunday, the Chargers lost their 11th game of the season and were swept by the rival Denver Broncos this season. Easton Stick was the club’s starting quarterback again. The Bolts settled for three field goals and lost their fourth straight game.

Stick hit on 24-of-38 passes for 220 yards, and also ran five times for 31 yards. However, the Chargers were a dismal 2-of-11 on third down. The Bolts wrapped up last place in the AFC West for the first time since 2019.

. 29. . . . 5-11 | Previous Rank: 27th | Week 17: Lost to Texans, 26-3. . 2023 NFL Power Rankings. . 35

The last-place Titans had dropped seven straight games to their AFC South rivals when they battled the Texans at Houston. In the 19-16 home loss to the Texans two weeks ago, quarterback Will Levis was sacked seven times. On Sunday, he exited the game with a foot injury after being sacked once and Ryan Tannehill was dropped five times.

Mike Vrabel’s team totaled just 187 yards and dropped their third straight game since stunning the Dolphins. With a loss to the Jaguars next week, the Titans will finish 0-6 in the AFC South for the first time in franchise history.