NFL Power Rankings: Week 9
The Arizona Cardinals return to the top spot in our Power Rankings after defeating the San Francisco 49ers with no Kyler Murray or Deandre Hopkins.
We are half way through the NFL regular season and if Week 9 showed us anything, it’s that nothing is a given in this league. The Bills lost to the Jaguars, the Cowboys got crushed by the Broncos and the banged up Titans manhandled the Rams. The shock results meant plenty of movement in our NFL Power Rankings coming out of Week 9.
1) Arizona Cardinas: 8-1 (In 3rd last week)
The Cardinals return to the top spot following an impressive bounce back win a week after dropping their first game of the season. The Arizona response was stellar against the 49ers this weekend, especially when you consider they were without their top two offensive weapons, Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins. Murray has an ankle injury that shouldn’t keep him out too long, and Hopkins is recovering from a hamstring injury. Back up QB Colt McCoy and the defense took care of business on Sunday. McCoy had 250 yards and a touchdown while the defense held their opponent to under 20 points for the seventh time in nine weeks.
2) Green Bay Packers: 7-2 (down a spot from last week)
The immediate ramifications of Aaron Rodgers’ positive COVID test was evident on Sunday afternoon in Arrowhead. The long term consequences remain to be seen as the NFL investigates the Packers enforcement of COVID protocol, but the offense felt the effects of Rodgers’ absence against the Chiefs. While the special teams did first time starter Jordan Love no favors (missed FG, blocked FG, muffed punt) the offense had it's fair share of problems. The defense held up their part of the bargain, limiting the Chiefs to just 13 points. If the defense play like that, with Rodgers under center, you would put the house on the Packers to come out of KC with their eighth straight win.
3) Tenessee Titans: 7-2: (up from 8th last week)
One thing a Mike Vrabel coached team will always be, is physical. They might have been dealt their biggest blow of the season, losing Derrick Henry for 6-8 weeks with a foot injury, but they put on a showcase performance in prime time against the Rams in Tinseltown. The Titans got to Matt Stafford all night, and forced him into back to back interceptions in a second quarter in which Tennessee exploded for 21 points. Jeffery Simmons had a hat trick of sacks in the first half, in route to the Titans five sack night. Who knows how long Henry will be out of service, but the Titans showed a lot of character going on the road and taking down one of the top teams in the league.
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-2 (up from 6th last week)
The Bucs had a bye week, but with of some of the top teams in the league going down they move up with out having to put the pads on this weekend. The Bucs remain one of the steadiest teams in the league. Their two losses came on the road against the Saints and the Rams, two teams with a combined five losses on the season. The Bucs have been exactly what they need to be, consistent, even keeled and victorious in their bid for back to back campaigns. They continue to look like a team that no one will want to see in the playoffs, especially if they can keep winning and earn home field advantage.
5) Los Angeles Rams: 7-2 (down a spot from last week)
The Rams have been called out in the aftermath the the loss to the Titans. They let a team that saw their MVP candidate go down for a lengthy spell manhandle them at home in primetime. The Rams are a pretty team, and I say that with all due respect. They have a high flying offense, and they have star names on the defensive end. But when it comes to winning ugly, that’s where the Rams struggle. Sandwiched in between the loss to the Cardinals in Week 4 and this Sunday’s loss to the Titans the Rams played the Seahawks (who lost Russell Wilson in that game), Giants, Lions, and Texans. Not exactly top quality competition, but they do have a win over the Bucs earlier in the season. Their offense is still a Top-5 unit, but they need to steady up on the defensive end, and their O line will have to do a better job protecting their QB against the physical teams that await them.
6) Baltimore Ravens: 6-2 (up four spots from last week)
There are two ways to look at the Ravens’ campaign up to this point of the season. Five of their eight games have been decided by one possession, with three of those games going to overtime. Of those five one-possession games, the Ravens won four of them. That means that Lamar Jackson knows how to win close games late on, but it also means they are way to prone to finding themselves in snug situations in the fourth quarter. I’ll repeat, what they are doing after losing their top three running backs in the preseason is nothing short of amazing, and Lamar Jackson deserves a heavy load of the credit for that, but John Harbaugh’s boys need to start winning some games by comfortable margins before they wear themselves out physically and emotionally, and all the Ravens fans in Baltimore go gray.
7) Dallas Cowboys 6-2 (down from 1st last week)
The good news for the Cowboys was Dak Prescott came back from the injury he suffered against the Patriots. The bad news was the Cowboys got destroyed by the Denver Broncos in Dak’s return. Dallas was down 30-0 at home in the fourth quarter before scoring two meaningless touchdowns in garbage time. Going into their bye, the Cowboys were one of the hottest teams in the league, and coming off of their bye beating the Vikings with Cooper Rush under center was a sign that the Cowboys were a great team even with Prescott on the bench. But Sunday’s stomping at the hands of the Broncos tosses all of the Cowboys' progress from the first eight weeks of the season into the fire. Dallas loves their drama, and everything is bigger in Texas, that means the Cowboys will be even more under the microscope for the weeks to come.
8) Buffalo Bills 5-3 (down from 5th last week)
Some of the top teams in the league have had some really ugly losses. Think Tennessee against the Jets, or the Saints against the Falcons, but none were as aesthetically unappealing as the Bills loss to the Jags on Sunday. Just 15 points were scored between the two teams, and Buffalo managed just two field goals. This is a team that came into Week 9 as the top offensive side in the league, but Josh Allen has looked a bit off since the the Titans loss in Tennessee. Allen threw two picks in the Bills loss at `Jacksonville, and the red zone conversion numbers were dreadful against a Jags side that has a shaky defense at best.
9) Pittsburgh Steelers 5-3 (outside Top-10 last week)
The Steelers have rattled off four straight wins after toppling the Chicago Bears on Monday night. It may not have been pretty, but the Steelers were able to hold off a late comeback bid by the Bears in the fourth quarter. After losing three straight earlier in the season, Big Ben and the Steelers have restored order in the Steel City. Roethlisberger barley grazed 200 yards, as Pittsburgh struggled to move the ball for the majority of the game, but the defense did just enough, and if Najee Harris continues to play as he has been over the four game win streak, the Steelers are going to be a dangerous team later this season.
10) Los Angeles Chargers 5-3 (outside Top-10 last week)
The Chargers needed a last second field goal to beat the struggling Philadelphia Eagles 27-24 over the weekend. The victory ended a two game skid against the Ravens and the Patriots. QB Justin Herbert threw for 356 yards and two touchdowns and no picks. When Herbert doesn’t throw an interception the Chargers are 4-0. Things are getting quite snug in the AFC West, and don’t be surprised if we see those teams interchange positions over the second half of the season.
28) New York Jets: 2-6 (out of the bottom 5 last week)
The Jets got off to a tough start against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night. Not only did Carson Wentz and the Colts have a nearly perfect first half, but the Jets also lost their second sting quarter back Mike White who had a fantastic showing against the Bengals in his first career start in the NFL. The back up to the back up Josh Johnson came in after White suffered a forearm injury in the first quarter. It took Johnson a while to get warmed up, but he almost led a late comeback charge, ending the game with 317 yards and three touchdowns. Once Zach Wilson and Mike White are healthy Robert Saleh will have an interesting decision to make.
29) Miami Dolphins 2-7 (Up from 30th last week)
A win will bump you up substantially when you’re at the bottom of the rankings, but when you beat the lowly Houston Texans it won’t get you too far. The Dolphins offense has been suspect all season long, but a win might just bump the confindence of starting QB Tua Tagovailoa
30) Washington Football Team 2-6 (out of the bottom 5 last week)
The Football Team are coming off of their bye week, but before their break they had lost four straight scoring more than 13 points just once in that span. Taylor Heinicke hasn’t had a multi-touchdown game since the Falcons game in the first week of October. They play in the worst conference in football, which could come in handy over the second half of the season as they play the Giants once and the Eagles twice.
31) Houston Texans 1-8 (down two from last week)
The Texans lost a battle of futility against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, solidifying their place in the penultimate spot on the rankings. The Texans won their first game of the season against the Jags, but have lost 8 straight since, and have scored more than 10 points in just two of their last seven games. Tyrod Taylor came back after injuring his hamstring in Week 2, but it didn’t make much of a difference in the game against the Dolphins. He threw three interceptions, and no touchdowns in his third start of the season.
32) Detroit Lions 0-8 (same position as last week)
The Lions’ year went from bad to worse when the Philadelphia Eagles came to town and gave Detroit the worst beat down of their 0-8 season. They allowed Jalen Hurts and the rest of the Eagles 236 yards rushing, and gave up 41 straight points before Jemar Jefferson punched in the lone field goal of the day late in the game. Looking at the upcoming schedule, it could be a while until the Lions get their first win.