The Washington Post
Each week, national NFL writer Mark Maske provides his ranking and commentary on all 32 teams. Dive deeper daily at washingtonpost.com/sports.
1. Arizona Cardinals, 9-2 PREVIOUS: 1
The Cardinals return from their bye with the prospect of having quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver Deandre Hopkins back in the lineup soon. Arizona has hung tough without them and already has demonstrated more staying power than it showed last season.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8-3 PREVIOUS: 2
The defending champs have two straight wins on the heels of their two-game skid. But it still doesn’t appear Tom Brady and the Buccaneers have kicked it into high gear.
3. New England Patriots, 8-4 PREVIOUS: 3
The Patriots ran their winning streak to six with Sunday’s convincing triumph over the Titans. Now they’re squarely in the running for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
4. Kansas City Chiefs, 8-4 PREVIOUS: 4
The Chiefs return from their bye for a final push toward the playoffs and, they hope, another deep postseason run.
5. Baltimore Ravens, 8-3 PREVIOUS: 5
The Ravens are far from perfect. Yet they are, somehow, in position to be the AFC’S No. 1 seed after beating the Browns.
6. Green Bay Packers, 9-3 PREVIOUS: 6
Aaron Rodgers was superb in Sunday’s triumph over the Rams, fractured toe and all. The Packers are on their bye week, and Rodgers reportedly will put off surgery for now.
7. Cincinnati Bengals, 7-4 PREVIOUS: 10
The Bengals were back to looking formidable in Sunday’s victory over the Steelers. They’re on a two-game winning streak after back-to-back losses before their bye.
8. Tennessee Titans, 8-4 PREVIOUS: 7
The Titans were no match Sunday for the Patriots. They simply cannot keep pace with the top contenders minus running back Derrick Henry and wide receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones.
9. Buffalo Bills, 7-4 PREVIOUS: 17
That was more like it on Thanksgiving night in New Orleans. The lopsided victory over the Saints showed the Bills still can play like the team that was so dominant early in the season.
10. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-5 PREVIOUS: 23
The Raiders played well in the victory over the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and halted the downward spiral of their season. But the remaining schedule is relatively difficult.
11. Dallas Cowboys, 7-4 PREVIOUS: 8
The Cowboys have made the NFC East race at least mildly interesting again by losing two straight and three of four.
12. Los Angeles Rams, 7-4 PREVIOUS: 9
If the Rams can just add a few more big-name players, maybe they can play their way out of the playoffs entirely. Their Super Bowl-or-bust season is trending decidedly toward bust.
13. San Francisco 49ers, 6-5 PREVIOUS: 13
Watch out for this team. The 49ers made it wins in three straight and four of five with Sunday’s triumph over the Vikings. They continue to control games with time-consuming drives.
14. Denver Broncos, 6-5 PREVIOUS: 21
The Broncos got it done against the Chargers and continue to hang around the AFC playoff chase. The first of two meetings with the Chiefs comes Sunday night.
15. Miami Dolphins, 5-7 PREVIOUS: 19
It’s time for everyone to notice what this team is doing, posting four straight victories following a 1-7 start. The Dolphins have the Giants and Jets next.
16. Indianapolis Colts, 6-6 PREVIOUS: 11
The Colts were right with the Buccaneers in Sunday’s loss before succumbing late. A few more opportunities for running back Jonathan Taylor might have made a difference.
17. Cleveland Browns, 6-6 PREVIOUS: 12
Sunday night’s loss in Baltimore means the Browns have alternated losses and wins over their past seven games.
18. Minnesota Vikings, 5-6 PREVIOUS: 14
The shoulder injury suffered by Dalvin Cook is likely to deprive the Vikings of a key part of their offense for a few weeks.
19. Los Angeles Chargers, 6-5 PREVIOUS: 15
Just when it’s tempting to begin trusting the Chargers, they go and lose to the Broncos.
20. Washington Football Team, 5-6 PREVIOUS: 20
Ron Rivera won a division title in Carolina at 7-8-1. He won a division title last season with Washington at 7-9. Now he’s in the No. 7 playoff spot in the NFC at 5-6.
21. New York Giants, 4-7 PREVIOUS: 25
Winning cures all. So it doesn’t particularly matter that the offense didn’t look any more potent with Freddie Kitchens calling the plays than it had with Jason Garrett in charge.
22. Atlanta Falcons, 5-6 PREVIOUS: 26
Coach Arthur Smith and his players get some credit for pulling things together to beat the Jaguars after losing their previous two games to the Cowboys and Patriots by a combined 68-3.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-5-1 PREVIOUS: 16
Ben Roethlisberger was back to looking old and the Steelers reverted to being overmatched in their loss to the Bengals.
24. Chicago Bears, 4-7 PREVIOUS: 28
The Bears are firmly in the playing-out-the-string portion of their season, and there’s not much reason to pay attention.
25. Philadelphia Eagles, 5-7 PREVIOUS: 18
The Eagles squandered their chance, with a loss to the Giants, to put some pressure on the Cowboys in the NFC East.
26. New Orleans Saints, 5-6 PREVIOUS: 22
The Saints probably could have used Drew Brees on the field rather than in the NBC broadcast booth against the Bills.
27. Carolina Panthers, 5-7 PREVIOUS: 24
It’s tough to escape the feeling that the Panthers are basically done in light of Christian Mccaffrey’s season-ending ankle injury and Cam Newton’s issues as a passer.
28. Seattle Seahawks, 3-8 PREVIOUS: 27
Russell Wilson’s return to the Seahawks’ lineup following finger surgery was supposed to be a good thing.
29. New York Jets, 3-8 PREVIOUS: 31
Rookie Zach Wilson returned to the lineup as the Jets beat the Texans. So the bottom-line results were acceptable.
30. Houston Texans, 2-9 PREVIOUS: 29
It was back to reality for the Texans as they lost to the Jets one week after beating the Titans.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-9 PREVIOUS: 30
The Jaguars are limping toward the finish line, with three straight losses following a comparatively encouraging stretch.
32. Detroit Lions, 0-10-1 PREVIOUS: 32
Thanksgiving is over, and the nation no longer has to watch the Lions play football.