Vilardo: 2023 Week 17 NFL West Power Rankings & Previews

The Chiefs' offensive woes continue as they failed to wrap up an eighth-straight division title

Posted on December 28, 2023


  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

The potential Super Bowl preview in Santa Clara turned out to be shockingly one-sided. The Niners still control their fate but the margin for error has shrunk.

The Chiefs’ offensive woes continue as they failed to wrap up an eighth-straight division title.

Week 16 saw me hover just above the .500 mark for the week among all the NFL contests.

For my picks for the entire NFL this week, I went 9-7 with a 7-8-1 mark against the spread and an 8-8 over/under totals.

(Season long, I’m 151-93, overall, 123-108-8 ATS, 135-97-8 O/U.)

Below are my Week 17 Power Rankings for the eight teams with a quick look at the upcoming week’s matchups and my game picks.

1. San Francisco 49ers (11-4) ◄►

Ravens Review 

In a battle of the NFL’s best, it was the Ravens who left the Bay Area looking like the class of the NFL.

The 49ers turned it over five times, four of them interceptions of Brock Purdy. It was the first time in his career he was picked off as many times in one game.

The Ravens shut down the 49ers’ potent offense and outclassed San Francisco on their home field. Dropped passes did not help the Niners case on offense and neither did injuries.

Most notable and noticeable was Trent Williams being sidelined and as San Francisco tried to mount a comeback the line offered no protection and the run game disappeared.

The line was so decimated they used all the available linemen. San Francisco did a nice job on defense of limiting the damage from the turnovers keeping Baltimore out of the endzone on trips to the Red Zone.

The 49ers also were able to keep the Ravens rushing game in check limiting them to just 102 yards on the ground.

Definitely an improvement over Week 15 against Arizona. If this indeed was a Super Bowl preview the Niners will have to get things fixed up front on offense to keep the Baltimore pass rush at bay if they meet in February.

Washington Commanders Preview 

Sunday, December 31
10:00 am PT, FOX

Next up for San Francisco is a cross-country trip to Washington to face the Commanders. Washington has lost six in a row and is looking like a lost team at the moment.

The Commanders have turned to Jacoby Brissett in replace of Sam Howell in each of the last two weeks. It is probably time to start a game with Brissett.

The offense has not looked good under Howell in the last two weeks. Howell has been a combined 17 of 48 passes for 158 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions.

The young QB could be in a good spot watching one from the sideline to learn from the journeyman vet. San Francisco suffered through a losing streak earlier this season and righted things.

The sky was not falling then, and it certainly is not falling after the loss to Baltimore.

But the Niners need to win out and pick lock up home-field advantage for the playoffs and more importantly, a First-Round bye to get players healthy. San Francisco rebounds in Week 17.

My Pick: 49ers 38, Commanders 22

[Advice: The 49ers will cover the 13 points and the total will be over 48.]

2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-6) ◄►

Raiders Review 

After a 6-1 start to the season, the Chiefs have gone 3-5 in their last eight games.

Patrick Mahomes has thrown a career-high 14 interceptions this season. He had two turnovers that led to 14 points for the Raiders. The Kansas City offense is just not that good at the moment.

Odds are the Chiefs will wrap up the AFC West for the eighth consecutive season. The defense is too good for this team not to win the division and the defense did the job against Las Vegas.

Both TDs the Raiders scored were by their defense. They did allow the Raiders to run for 5.4 yards per carry, but they completely shut down the Las Vegas passing game.

The KC offense has to get better on the ground as Mahomes was the leading rusher with 53 yards vs. Vegas. Kansas City continues to lead the NFL in passes dropped.

Cincinnati Bengals Preview 

Sunday, December 31
1:25 pm PT, CBS

Kansas City will get a chance to right things this week against Cincinnati. The Bengals are 3-1 against the Chiefs since the start of the 2022 season, and 7-2 against KC since 2008.

Cincinnati has had the Chiefs’ number recently. There will be no Joe Burrow for the Bengals in this one, though.

Jake Browning has been good, but the Steelers got the best of him and the Bengals last week. The Chiefs should be able to produce enough to seal up the AFC West in this one.

My Pick: Chiefs 24, Bengals 17

[Advice: The line is KC by 7, which looks pretty spot on. I’ll go with the Chiefs to cover. Total is under 44.5.]

3. Los Angeles Rams (8-7) ◄►

Saints Review

The Thursday Night win over the Saints was dominant and was doubly big for their playoff push. Not only did they strengthen their playoff hopes but put a serious dent in the hopes of New Orleans.

As it sits now, the Rams would be the sixth seed in the playoffs if they started today. They have the tiebreaker over Seattle and are a game clear of the teams on the outside looking in.

The Rams are now 5-1 in their last six games, that six-game run corresponds with the return of Kyren Williams to the field. The Rams are averaging 32.2 points per game in their last five games.

The offense is playing well and was hitting the marks against New Orleans.

Matthew Stafford threw multiple TD passes for the fifth straight game, his longest streak since coming to the Rams. He also has now gone four straight without an interception.

New York Giants Preview 

Sunday, December 31
10:00 am PT, FOX

The Rams travel across the country to face the Giants. This is a huge game for Los Angeles—a very winnable road game—and with the season-ender taking them to San Francisco, this needs to be a win.

The Rams cannot afford to drop this one and keep their playoff chances alive. L.A.’s offense is playing at too good of a level at the moment not to get the win in New York.

The Tommy DeVito effect for the Giants has played out and the Giants have not looked good the last two weeks.

Tyrod Taylor came in at half against the Eagles and made it a close game, but the comeback was fueled by Philadelphia turnovers.

Los Angeles will keep things rolling and ring in the new year with a win.

My Pick: Rams 24, Giants 16

[Advice: Rams will cover the 5.5 points while the total is under 42.5.]

4. Seattle Seahawks (8-7) ◄►

Titans Review

Geno Smith returned and had a good outing against Tennessee.

Smith and the Seahawks opened a little sluggish in the first half with just 69 passing yards and some errant throws in the opening half. Smith ended the game with 227 yards and a pair of TD passes.

Seattle scored on all three of their second-half possessions to erase a 10-3 deficit and get the road win.

Seattle also got some help from the Lions with their win over Minnesota to push the Seahawks to the seventh seed in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers Preview 

Sunday, December 31
1:05 pm PT, FOX

Seattle has a pair of winnable games left on the schedule, beginning with the Steelers visiting the Pacific Northwest this week.

Pittsburgh suddenly regained some form against the Bengals. Seattle needs to clean some things up. The slow start last week cannot be repeated against the Steelers.

The Seahawks are also the most penalized team in the NFL. They were flagged six times for 47 yards against the Titans and had some key flags to keep the Tennessee go-ahead drive alive in the fourth quarter.

The penalties will have to be cleaned up. If the Seahawks can get an early lead on the Steelers, they will be in good shape.

My Pick: Seahawks 24, Steelers 20

[Advice: Seahawks will have another close one and just cover the 3.5 points. The total will go over 41.5.]

5. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8) ▲1

Chiefs Review

The Raiders have gone 4-2 in their seven games with Antonio Peirce at the helm. The last two weeks have seen the Raiders outscore opponents 59-7 in the first half.

On Christmas Day the Raiders snapped a six-game losing streak to the Chiefs. The 3-0 loss at home to the Vikings notwithstanding, Pierce certainly seems to have done enough to earn the position beyond the interim tag.

The Raiders defense created two scores themselves and got to Patrick Mahomes four times.

Vegas was able to get the win despite Aidan O’Connell not completing a pass after the first quarter and finishing the day with just 62 yards passing.

O’Connell may not be the answer at QB in 2024, but Pierce has got the Raiders in playoff contention and the defense playing opportunistic football.

Indianapolis Colts Preview 

Sunday, December 31
1o:00 am PT, CBS

The Raiders have a chance at the playoffs. It is a long shot, but they need to keep winning. For that matter, the division is not out of the question but KC would need to implode.

The Colts are a team fighting for the playoffs along with the suddenly resurgent Raiders. Indianapolis is riding a backup QB in Gardner Minshew and he had one of his worst performances of the season last game.

The Raiders defense should once again be able to create turnovers and sacks.

The Colts’ offense is probably a little better than what the KC offense is at the moment, so the Raiders will have to produce more on offense to get another road win.

My Pick: Colts 31, Raiders 30

[Advice: Raiders are getting 3 points; I like them to cover that but Indy to win at home. The total will go over 44.5.]

6. Denver Broncos (7-8) ▼1

Patriots Review

The Broncos playoff hopes took a major hit with the loss on Sunday Night.

Falling to the Patriots was not just a loss to a team battling for the top draft pick, but it also drops Denver to 4-6 against AFC opponents and that is almost surely a killer for tiebreaker situations down the line.

Denver has now lost three of their last four games following their five-game win streak. Quite simply, the Broncos were not good enough on offense against New England.

Courtland Sutton has been their most consistent performer on offense, and with him injured, no one stepped up. Jerry Jeudy was not even targeted until nine minutes remained in the game.

Los Angeles Chargers Preview 

Sunday, December 31
1:25 pm PT, CBS

Denver gets a chance to recover a bit with the Chargers visiting in week 17.

In the Week 14 win over the Chargers, the Broncos defense looked dominant and Russell Wilson looked to have found his form. He has lost that form the last two weeks and Denver will turn to Jarrett Stidham for this one.

Courtland Sutton played last time, and that makes a huge difference for this offense. Whether Sutton is able to play or not in this one, I think the Broncos should have enough to get past Los Angeles.

Easton Stick and the Chargers looked better against the Bills than they did in the beatdown at the hands of the Raiders, but the motivation is gone, and the Broncos are still eying the playoffs—barely.

Denver will do enough to get the win.

My Pick: Broncos 20, Chargers 17

[Advice: Denver will get the win, but they won’t cover the 5.5 points. The total will stay under 38.5.]

7. Los Angeles Chargers (5-10) ▲1

Bills Review

The Chargers looked like they had some more energy against the Bills. A change at the top can ignite things sometimes.

For the Chargers, we will wait and see how the last two weeks ago, but they certainly played better against the Bills. Easton Stick didn’t turn the ball over and did a pretty good job passing the ball.

L.A.’s passing defense also looked better against the Bills, keeping Josh Allen and company in check for much of the contest.

Derwin James played just two snaps at safety and 40 for the game, mostly in the nickel corner spot; both those figures were season lows.

That could be something to watch as James has made a name for himself as one of the best safeties in the NFL since entering the league.

Denver Broncos Preview 

Sunday, December 31
1:25 pm PT, CBS

The Denver passing offense did not look good in week 16. The Chargers’ passing defense has not been good this season but looked better.

If the Chargers are to get the win, they will need to keep the Broncos offense in check. Easton Stick will need to play another turnover-free game and continue to improve.

We will see if the Chargers still have any fight left or if they are truly just playing out the string on a disappointing season.

My Pick: Broncos 20, Chargers 17

[Advice: Denver will get the win, but they won’t cover the 5.5 points. The total will stay under 38.5.]

8. Arizona Cardinals (3-12) ▼1

Bears Review

The good news is that the Cardinals have just about wrapped up one of the top two spots in next April’s draft.

The bad news? Arizona is not good.

The Cardinals were beaten badly by the Bears in Chicago. The passing game was non-existent for Arizona.

Kyler Murray was playing in just his sixth game of the season, and it certainly did not look like he was in late-season form. More specifically, Murray looks rusty and he does not have a playmaker to throw the ball to.

That can be fixed in the draft with the high selection, but the question seeping into the equation is if Murray is the guy to be slinging it for Arizona.

Philadelphia Eagles Preview 

Sunday, December 31
10:00 am PT, FOX

Philadelphia is next up for the Cardinals. And let’s be honest: If the trip to Chicago did not go well, the trip to the City of Brotherly Love may not be kind.

Philadelphia has not been playing their best football in recent weeks but started to look better against the Giants on Christmas Day.

But even in the win over New York, the Eagles had a lot of costly mistakes and turnovers that let the Giants climb back in it with a chance to tie things at the end.

Arizona is tied for 26th in the league with just 1.1 turnover forced per game this season. If the Cardinals are to pull off the upset they will need to get some takeaways.

My Pick: Eagles 27, Cardinals 17

[Advice: The Eagles are favored by 11, Arizona should cover that spread. The total will stay under 48.]




—More from Stephen Vilardo—