NFL Power Rankings: A great team this season? It always has been the 49ers

The Philadelphia Eagles are going to tell themselves that they need to play better if they meet the San Francisco 49ers again, and if they do the result will be different. And with a good coaching staff, talented roster and more than a month before a potential playoff meeting, maybe it will be different.

But the Eagles have to know deep down, after Sunday, they're not in the 49ers' class. Everyone could see it. The rest of the NFL has to understand after Sunday that it's not on the same tier as San Francisco.

What the 49ers did to the Eagles, a 10-1 team playing at home, was remarkable. San Francisco won 42-19. It's even more astonishing when you consider that through the first quarter, the Eagles outgained the 49ers 124 to minus-6. In the final three quarters, the 49ers turned it around and outgained Philadelphia 462-209. It's incredibly rare to see a team that's 10-1 or better get destroyed like the Eagles did Sunday.

We can make a strong argument that the Eagles are the second-best team in the NFL. And they didn't belong on the same field as the best team.

We've been waiting to see something truly great in this topsy-turvy 2023 NFL season, and it turns out the answer is the 49ers. Their three-game losing streak was weird, but it happened through injuries and with three losses that don't look too bad in retrospect (missed a last-second field goal at the Browns, a tight five-point loss at the Vikings and an off day against a then-hot Bengals team). It shows that the 49ers are beatable in the right circumstances. But the way the 49ers have looked in their wins shouldn't give the rest of the NFL much hope.

It's arguable the five most dominant performances in the NFL this season against quality opponents are all from the 49ers:

• In Week 1, the 49ers blew the doors off the Steelers 30-7 in Pittsburgh. Before the final drive of the first half, Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett had 9 yards passing. Pittsburgh is 7-5 and would be a playoff team if the season ended today.

• In Week 5, San Francisco beat Dallas 42-10. The 49ers held a Cowboys team that now has an MVP favorite in Dak Prescott to 197 total yards. The Cowboys are 9-3 and in play for the NFC East title and No. 1 seed.

• In Week 10, the 49ers went on the road and beat the Jaguars 34-3. Jacksonville came into Monday night's game leading the AFC South by multiple games with a shot at the No. 1 seed, though Trevor Lawrence's injury and a loss to the Bengals might change that. It doesn't change how impressive that 49ers win was.

• On Thanksgiving, the 49ers beat the Seahawks 31-13 in Seattle, and the game wasn't that close. The Seahawks' first five possessions gained 1, minus-1, 10, 9 and 8 yards. Seattle, who is 6-6 and in the NFC wild-card race, trailed 24-3 at halftime.

• The Eagles were 10-1 before Sunday and were not competitive against the 49ers. San Francisco went on a 35-7 run after falling behind early. The Eagles had been getting by on furious rallies and close wins, but it was still shocking to see a 10-1 team dominated in such a manner.

That's five games against playoff-level teams, four of them on the road. Three of those opponents still have a decent shot at the No. 1 seed in their respective conference. And the 49ers made every one of those games look like Alabama playing a Conference USA opponent in a buy game.

Linebacker Fred Warner and the San Francisco 49ers look like the class of the NFL after their win over the Eagles. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

We probably should have seen it coming, too. Aside from that three-game losing streak — it's cherry-picking to eliminate a bad stretch for any team, but it seems fair with the 2023 49ers — the 49ers haven't been just the best team in the NFL. They look historically good.

San Francisco still has a long way to go. Injuries happen. Teams like the Eagles, Cowboys and even the Lions could have a great day in the playoffs and keep the 49ers from the Super Bowl. The 2007 Patriots didn't win a Super Bowl, so it's not like the 2023 49ers are guaranteed anything. But after Week 13, we have identified our one great team of this 2023 NFL season. There's no question about the No. 1 team in the league. From now until the Super Bowl, everyone is chasing the 49ers.

Here are the power rankings after Week 13 of the NFL season:

32. Carolina Panthers (1-11, Last Week: 32)

You have to search for Panthers positives, but running back Chuba Hubbard had 104 yards and two touchdowns and rookie Jonathan Mingo continued to emerge with six catches for 69 yards Sunday. It's not much, but what else is there to be excited about in Carolina?

31. New England Patriots (2-10, LW: 31)

The Patriots being shut out by a bad Chargers team at home is a new low, but the real story for New England was happening in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals won their third game, opening up the path for the Patriots to cruise to a top-two pick and a new era at quarterback. The Patriots have four tough opponents (Steelers, Chiefs, Broncos, Bills) and only one bad one (Jets) remaining. Because the Patriots are likely to beat the Cardinals in the tiebreaker (weaker strength of schedule gets the better pick, and New England has the weaker SOS right now), New England would probably need to win at least twice to screw up getting a top two pick.

30. Washington Commanders (4-9, LW: 28)

The Commanders apparently seem OK letting Ron Rivera finish out the season, because if the 45-15 loss to the Dolphins before the bye didn't cause a change, it probably won't happen anytime soon. It won't be a fun final month of the season for the Commanders.

29. New York Giants (4-8, LW: 29)

Tyrod Taylor seems to be close to a return, but why change from Tommy DeVito? After a horrid start, DeVito has been much better. If Devito crumbles down the stretch, it's not like he's costing the Giants a playoff spot. And maybe the Giants will find they have something in the 25-year-old.

28. Arizona Cardinals (3-10, LW: 30)

Most teams who "screw up the tank" by winning should be very conflicted. Ask the 2020 Jets, who won twice late in the season and as a result drafted Zach Wilson second overall instead of Trevor Lawrence first. Arizona is a little different. Kyler Murray is just 26 years old. The third pick could be Marvin Harrison Jr., maybe the best receiver prospect we've seen in many years. Arizona getting Harrison third overall would be exciting for a team that isn't desperate at quarterback.

27. Tennessee Titans (4-8, LW: 27)

The Titans had to try hard to lose Sunday's game. They outplayed the Colts. Special teams fiascos were the only reason Indianapolis made it to overtime. In OT, a huge penalty negated a Titans sack and then Tennessee gave up a 55-yard pass to set up the Colts' game-winning score. Bad teams find ways to lose, and the 2023 Titans are a bad team.

26. New York Jets (4-8, LW: 24)

Undrafted rookie receiver Xavier Gipson had five catches for 77 yards, and that's a monster day for a 2023 Jets wideout. Gipson, the team's hero in Week 1 for his game-winning punt return in overtime, may become one of the rare feel-good stories of this lost Jets season.

25. Chicago Bears (4-8, LW: 26)

The Bears finally gave rookie running back Roschon Johnson a long look in Week 12 before their bye. He has looked good in flashes. The Bears would be wise to let him be the lead back the rest of the season. He has the talent to be a good starter for the next few years, but the Bears need to figure that out before the offseason.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7, LW: 25)

Mike Evans had 162 yards on Sunday to reach 1,000 yards for the 10th straight season. That's an accomplishment that deserves as much attention as we can give it. Evans, at age 30 and with a new quarterback, has been as good as ever this season.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 19: Las Vegas Raiders interim dead coach Antonio Pierce applauds his team from hear the sidelines during the game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, November 19, 2023 at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Fla. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce is auditioning for the full-time gig in Vegas. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

23. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7, LW: 22)

Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce said last week, before the Raiders' bye, that he's "racing time."

“I’ve got five weeks,” Pierce said, via the Las Vegas Sun. “Get right. If I don’t get right, I’ll have a lot more time off — 52 weeks. I can do the math.”

If nothing else, this stint coaching the Raiders will put the 45-year-old Pierce on the map for upcoming coaching cycles. Or maybe he does enough to get the Raiders job permanently. As he said, he has five weeks.

22. Los Angeles Chargers (5-7, LW: 23)

It's hard to get too excited about a 6-0 win over a horrible Patriots team, but a loss would have been much worse. While injuries haven't helped and drops were plentiful Sunday, you'd still like to see more than zero touchdowns for a Justin Herbert-led offense against a 2-10 team.

21. New Orleans Saints (5-7, LW: 18)

Derek Carr is in the concussion protocol after his second one in less than a month, and that might lead to a week off. Jameis Winston would start if Carr can't play. Carr got booed on Sunday as he continues a miserable first season in New Orleans, and it won't get better with his injuries piling up.

20. Los Angeles Rams (6-6, LW: 21)

What about Sean McVay for NFL Coach of the Year? Nobody thought the Rams would be good this season. The roster has obvious flaws. And yet, Los Angeles is at .500 and in the playoff race. McVay probably won't get Coach of the Year because the Rams are still unlikely to make the playoffs, but this season has been a reminder of how good he is.

19. Minnesota Vikings (6-6, LW: 20)

Justin Jefferson should be coming back this week and adding the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year probably isn't getting enough attention in the playoff race. The Vikings' quarterback situation is a lot shakier after Joshua Dobbs' disaster against the Bears in Week 12, but anyone would be helped out by throwing to Jefferson.

18. Atlanta Falcons (6-6, LW: 17)

Hey, at least the Falcons are back to .500. Given their soft schedule it seems they have a decent shot to get to nine wins, and at least we'd be spared a second straight season of an NFC South champ finishing with a losing record.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5, LW: 13)

Well, it wasn't all Matt Canada's fault. The Steelers have scored 26 points in two games since changing offensive coordinators. Kenny Pickett will miss some time after ankle surgery, but that's not some big loss based on how he was playing. It's just a bad offense no matter who is calling plays or playing quarterback.

16. Seattle Seahawks (6-6, LW: 14)

As bad as blowing a lead to the Cowboys was on Thursday, Sunday might have been even worse for the Seahawks. Wins by the Rams and Packers pushed both of them ahead of Seattle in the wild-card race. Both of those teams have much easier remaining schedules than Seattle. The Seahawks are in a lot of trouble.

15. Cleveland Browns (7-5, LW: 11)

Joe Flacco played fairly well considering all the circumstances. It wasn't great, but he at least gives the Browns hope that the offense can be functional with him at quarterback. The best thing going for Cleveland might be that not many other teams seem to want those AFC wild-card spots.

14. Denver Broncos (6-6, LW: 9)

Russell Wilson had just four interceptions on the season before Sunday and had gone five straight games without throwing a pick. His three-interception game Sunday came at a terrible time. The Broncos didn't have much room for error and losing to fellow wild-card contender Houston puts them in a bad spot.

13. Cincinnati Bengals (6-6, LW: 19)

Jake Browning played an absolutely unbelievable game, with 354 yards and a game-winning drive in overtime. The Jaguars don't have a terrible defense either. Who knows what will happen with the rest of Browning's career, but at the very least he'll always be remembered for what he did Monday night.

12. Indianapolis Colts (7-5, LW: 16)

It's rarely pretty when it comes to the Colts this season, but they are winning. After an overtime win against the Titans in which they made just enough plays to escape with a victory, DVOA has the Colts' odds to make the playoffs up to 64.9% before Monday's game. We've been trying to tell you to not let the Colts' playoff push sneak up on you.

11. Green Bay Packers (6-6, LW: 15)

The transformation of Jordan Love has been stunning. Through seven games the Packers were 2-5 and his rating was 78.2. Since then the Packers are 4-1 and Love has a 106.3 rating. He looks like an entirely different player. The Packers are likely going to the playoffs after Sunday's upset win of the Chiefs — Green Bay has the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, via Tankathon — but seeing Love come alive as a starting quarterback might be even more important.

10. Houston Texans (7-5, LW: 12)

C.J. Stroud had 274 yards, averaging 10.1 yards per attempt, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 106.1 passer rating in a win. Let's not get too used to what Stroud is doing. It's still a big deal for a rookie to have games like that. We're watching a truly special rookie season, and that might go for his head coach DeMeco Ryans as well.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4, LW: 8)

What a horrible Monday night for the Jaguars. They were eyeing ending the night as the No. 1 seed with a win over the Bengals. Instead, they got upset by a big underdog at home and also lost Trevor Lawrence to an ankle injury. If that's not enough, receiver Christian Kirk left the game in the first quarter with an injury too. Obviously, the news on Lawrence is more important than the loss (initial reports said it was a sprained ankle and coach Doug Pederson said the team is still evaluating Lawrence), but the entire night was a gut punch.

8. Buffalo Bills (6-6, LW: 10)

The Bills are still 10th in the AFC standings and they have tough games left. But the good news is other AFC playoff hopefuls keep losing. The Bills are just one game behind the top wild-card contenders. There's a lot of work to do, but it's not too late for the Bills to make a run.

7. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4, LW: 3)

Amazingly enough, the Chiefs have played 16 playoff games since their last true road playoff game, which was at the end of the 2015 season. Maybe that changes this postseason. Kansas City's shot at the No. 1 seed took a big hit with the loss to the Packers. The Chiefs have the worst record among the AFC division leaders with five games to go. They're practically a lock to win the AFC West and get one home game, but the rest of their playoff path might come on the road.

6. Detroit Lions (9-3, LW: 5)

It was odd to see the Lions let the Saints get back in the game after jumping out to a quick 21-0 lead. Cynically you can wonder if it was a continuation of the Lions' midseason lull, but ultimately it was a needed road win over a decent opponent. The Lions will be fine.

5. Miami Dolphins (9-3, LW: 6)

Tyreek Hill's explanation of his 60-yard touchdown — that he ran the wrong route but Tua Tagovailoa lofted his pass a bit to allow Hill to adjust while it was in the air — was interesting for a few reasons. It really illustrates that plenty of times when Tagovailoa gets criticized, it's unjustified.

4. Dallas Cowboys (9-3, LW: 7)

The Cowboys had a big week. They pulled out a win against a desperate Seahawks team. Then they watched the Eagles come back to them in the NFC East race with a loss. The Eagles still have some tiebreaker edges, but a Week 14 Cowboys home win over the Eagles would tie up the division race.

3. Baltimore Ravens (9-3, LW: 4)

The Ravens still have games left against the Jaguars and Dolphins, two of the other top contenders for the AFC's No. 1 seed (they also have to face the 49ers). There are a lot of high-stakes games left for the best teams in the AFC this season. Whoever gets the all-important top seed will have earned it.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 3: Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts against the San Francisco 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field on December 3, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-2, LW: 1)

The Eagles can't allow the 49ers loss to linger. The Cowboys are up next. The Eagles are still OK in the NFC East race even if they lose, due to tiebreakers, but they can't afford to lose their grip on the No. 1 seed. If the game against the 49ers was that lopsided in Philadelphia, what would a playoff rematch in San Francisco look like?

1. San Francisco 49ers (9-3, LW: 2)

Deebo Samuel has played nine full games this season. The 49ers are 9-0 in those games. Samuel missed two games and most of another due to injury, and San Francisco went 0-3 in those games. That's not a coincidence.