December 20, 2022   6 MIN READ

Feel The Surge

ITB Power Rankings: White-Hot Bolts Finding Late-Season Spark


In our weekly NFL team rankings, we’ll grade them by:

– Roster
– Current Injury Issues
– Coaching
– Performance
– Record

Chargers QB Justin Herbert has the healthier Bolts surging, winners in three of last four.

We don’t subscribe to the theory that a team with a lesser record can’t be ranked higher than a team with a better record. It’s about how they look as of now based on the criteria listed above:

1) Philadelphia Eagles (13-1, previous ranking: #1): The Eagles are lucky starting QB Jalen Hurts didn’t suffer a serious shoulder injury last week, but the good news is they have a very solid backup in 4th-year pro Gardner Minshew.

2) Kansas City Chiefs (11-3, previous ranking: #2): They’ve won 8 out of their last 9 games, but the defense has regressed of late. Simply put, QB Patrick Mahomes is carrying the team.

3) Cincinnati Bengals (10-4, previous ranking: #3): That’s now six wins in a row and they’re starting to play at last year’s championship level.

4) Buffalo Bills (11-3, previous ranking: #4): The offense under OC Ken Dorsey remains a work in progress, but the Bills still are one of the AFC’s top teams and they still won five games in a row.

5) San Francisco 49ers (10-4, previous ranking: #5): This week’s game against the visiting Commanders will be a good test for rookie QB Brock Purdy, who has handled himself very well during the three games he’s played.

6) Dallas Cowboys (10-4, previous ranking: #6): They won’t win the NFC East, but the biggest concern has to be their defense, which hasn’t played at a high level the past two games.

7) Minnesota Vikings (11-3, previous ranking: #8): No team has won more close games than this team, and last week’s was historic. But they can’t keep doing the same thing in the playoffs.

8) Los Angeles Chargers (8-6, previous ranking: #13): That’s two big home wins in a row and they have a very good schedule the rest of the way (at IND, vs LAR, at DEN).

9) Detroit Lions (7-7, previous ranking: #11): That’s now three wins in a row and wins in six out of their last seven. The story for this team is the defensive turnaround to go along with much improved play from QB Jared Goff.

10) Miami Dolphins (8-6, previous ranking: #9): They’ve lost three straight, but still are a good bet to earn an AFC Wild Card spot.

11) Baltimore Ravens (9-5, previous ranking: #7): The dam finally broke last week when the offense continued its struggle. That’s now 16 points or fewer in four out of their last five games.

12) Washington Commanders (7-6-1, previous ranking: #10): They’re barely clinging onto the final NFC Wild Card spot, and the Lions are right on their heels.

13) Jacksonville Jaguars (6-8, previous ranking: #18): This is a very talented, young team, but the back end of the defense and the loss of starting LT Cam Robinson are concerns.

14) New York Giants (8-5-1, previous ranking: #16): We told Giants fans before the season that the team would be better than they thought because the coaching staff that head coach Brian Daboll put together was outstanding — and that’s turned out to be true. The fact that this team, with all of its roster issues, has a good chance to make the playoffs is a reminder that coaching matters.

15) New York Jets (7-7, Previous ranking: #14): That’s three straight losses and four out of their last five games, but at least the team has shown very good progress of improvement over last season.

16) Seattle Seahawks (7-7, previous ranking: #12): That’s now losses in four out of their last five games and their next two games won’t provide any relief (at KC, vs NYJ).

17) Tennessee Titans (7-7, previous ranking: #17): Their injury problems on both sides of the ball are a big reason why they’re only barely hanging on to their AFC South lead.

18) New England Patriots (7-7, previous ranking: #15): That brutal loss to the host Raiders last week is going to make it difficult for them to make the playoffs when you consider their schedule the rest of the way (vs CIN, vs MIA, at BUF).

19) Green Bay Packers (6-8, previous ranking: #21): They do have an outside chance to make the playoffs, but this team has still clearly come short of expectations this season.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8, previous ranking: #23): A nice road win last week, but they’ll have to finish at least 2-1 to prevent head coach Mike Tomlin from having his first losing season.

21) Cleveland Browns (6-8, previous ranking: #24): This team needs some help in its front seven to return to the playoffs.

22) Las Vegas Raiders (6-8, previous ranking: #25): A crazy win last week, but the Raiders are a long way away from being a playoff team.

23) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8, previous ranking: #19): They’ll still likely win the NFC South, but based on what we’ve seen recently, it’s likely to be an early exit from the playoffs.

24) Carolina Panthers (5-9, previous ranking: #20): Their defense had been playing at a very high level until last week’s game against the visiting Steelers.

25) New Orleans Saints (5-9, previous ranking: #28): The defense isn’t the issue with this team when all key players are healthy.

26) Atlanta Falcons (5-9, previous ranking: #22): This is yet another team in our bottom 10 that needs a talent infusion.

27) Denver Broncos (4-10, previous ranking: #29): This team has fallen way short of expectations this season, which is why rumors of a potential coaching change remain.

28) Indianapolis Colts (4-9-1, previous ranking: #26): Their off-season plan has to start at quarterback.

29) Arizona Cardinals (4-10, previous ranking: #27): What a disaster the season has been for this team.

30) Los Angeles Rams (4-10, previous ranking: #30): They went from being one of the NFL’s healthiest teams over the past two seasons to one of the most injured, which is why they have such a poor record this season.

31) Chicago Bears (3-11, previous ranking: #31): At least they gave the Eagles a game last week.

32) Houston Texans (1-12-1, previous ranking: #32): You can’t ask much more from head coach Lovie Smith. The Texans have one of the least talented teams in the NFL, but the coaches are still getting a lot out of the players.

– Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for

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