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NFL

NFL Power Rankings Week 9: Philly stays in first, KC hangs on, and Bengals crack Top 5

The NFL season is at it’s halfway point and it’s the Philadelphia Eagles who are at the top of the charts after their narrow win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Update:
The NFL season is at it’s halfway point and it’s the Philadelphia Eagles who are at the top of the charts after their narrow win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
PATRICK SMITHAFP

Half way through the season and we have already seen one coach fired, quarterbacks getting benched, and a rookie taking the league by storm. One of the few constants this season have been the Philadelphia Eagles, who once again top our Power Rankings as we go into the final half of the regular season. Will they be able to hang on until the playoffs? That’s what these Power Rankings are all about, discussing the issues.

1. Philadelphia Eagles 8-1, last week 1

Even when the Eagles do things to lose games, like almost fumble the ball while trying to run out the clock, or hit opposing quarterbacks late on a potential game winning drive with under a minute to go, they still win. This is a team that neither play like the team we saw go to the Super Bowl, or act with the same amount of poise as the teams that went to the Super Bowl last year. Somehow, someway they are still 8-1 and they are currently surviving the toughest part of their schedule. They go into their well deserved BYE Week with the best record in the league, but have Chiefs, Bills, Niners and Cowboys waiting for them on the other side of that BYE.

2. Kansas City Chiefs 7-2, last week 2

It’s time to start accepting that this Chiefs team is built around it’s defense, and the offense is a compliment. If there was any question about that over the first half of the season, the Chiefs game in Frankfurt should put an abrupt end to those doubts. They shut down the Dolphins historic offense, holding Miami to just two TDs, and creating what would be the game winning play, stripping Tyreek Hill, taking the fumble back for six. Think of what this team has been able to accomplish with Patrick Mahomes and no defense. Now they have a real defense with a two time MVP who will make sure this offense goes into the playoffs playing their best football.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars 6-2, last week 3

BYE

4. Baltimore Ravens 7-2, last week 4

Is it time to start taking the Ravens serious as a real contender in the AFC? Their last four games have been damn near perfect, and it looks like this team can win in a number of different ways. On Sunday, they did it with the run game going for 300 yards on the ground! In their blowout against the Lions Lamar Jackson passed for 350, and in their last 6 games they are allowing less than 12 points a game. Unlike a lot of teams we consider are top teams (looking at you Miami), the Ravens play their best football against the best teams in the league.

5. Cincinnati Bengals 5-3, last week 9

The Bengals have been rehabilitated, reinvigorated, reassimilated and now have been relocated into the Top 5 of our Power Rankings. Burrow had 350 yards passing, and he didn’t need Ja’Marr Chase to go wild to do so. Tee Higgins had 110 yards, and seven different Bengals had three catches or more. Perhaps more importantly, the Cincy defense gave another strong performance, frustrating Josh Allen which at this stage is becoming second nature for those in the Jungle.

6. Detroit Lions 6-2, last week 5

BYE

7. San Francisco 49ers 5-3, last week 7

BYE

8. Dallas Cowboys 5-3, last week 8

For once in Dallas, it doesn’t seem like catastrophe after a Cowboys loss. There actually seems to be more positives coming out of Big D than negatives after the Boys went into Philly and gave the best team in the league all they could handle. Anyone who reads these Power Rankings on a week to week basis knows I’m far from sold on Dak Prescott, and while his 374 yards and 3 TDs in Philly on Sunday afternoon were impressive, Sam Howell did throw for 397 yards and 4 TDs against the Eagles last week. The good news for Dallas is they have three cup cake games coming up before playing the Seahawks, Eagles, Bills, Dolphins and Lions in consecutive weeks.

9. Cleveland Browns 5-3, last week 12

The game against the Cardinals was the perfect game for Deshaun Watson to come back from his shoulder injury. There was very little risk of a loss, even if he wasn’t perfect against Arizona. That’s the luxury the Cleveland QBs have these days. Their defense gives them a wide margin of error, and that’s why they are 5-3 despite being without their starting quarterback for the last month. Now that Watson is back, the Browns offense might be able to allow Myles Garrett and the boys to take some of the burden of winning off of their shoulders.

10. Miami Dolphins 6-3, last week 6

Mike McDaniel might not have shown too much concern after the Dolphins loss in Frankfurt, but his Dolphins have a serious problem. They can not beat good teams. The seemingly unstoppable offense seems to sputter like a nervous teen trying to chat up the prom queen when they go up against one of the league’s heavy hitters. Their wins against the lower level teams around the league will be enough to get them to the playoffs, but unfortunately for the Dolphins those teams aren’t going to be around once the postseason starts. In their three losses to KC, PHI and BUF are averaging 17 ppg, in their five wins they are averaging 38 ppg.

11. Buffalo Bills 5-4, last week 11

Three losses for the Bills in their last five games, and things are going south in a hurry in Western New York. We have already seen Josh Allen giving dejected interviews after uninspired performances, even in the Bills couple of wins over the last month. They ran into a buzz saw that is the Bengals who are going through a mid season renaissance, while the Bills are falling into the Dark Ages portion of their season. Josh Allen is simply asked to do too much. He threw the ball 38 times, and was the Bills leading rushed with 8 carries. If Buffalo can’t establish a run game, and they aren’t willing to take the ball out of Allen’s hands every once in a while, it doesn’t matter how good their QB is, it’s going to make things very easy for opposing defenses.

12. Seattle Seahawks 5-3, last week 10

Throw it in the trash. Burn it. Control-ALT-Delete it. If you are the Seattle Seahawks there is no need to ever have to watch game tape of that debacle in Baltimore. The Seahawks had just 151 yards and six first downs all game long, and losses like the 37-3 beat down Seattle suffered can have a lasting effect on a team. Their lead in the NFC West was short lived, and now it’s time to see if that blow out loss takes it’s toll on Geno and the Hawks for the rest of the season.

13. Los Angeles Chargers 4-4, last week 15

We talk a whole lot about Justin Herbert and the Chargers passing game, even though it’s been less than impressive this season, but it’s time to start giving it up to the LA pass rush. Khalil Mack is an absolute freak and Joey Bosa is starting to looking like Joey Bosa after suffering a broken toe earlier in the season. They went into NY and shut down the Jets, which isn’t that hard to do, but this team in back to .500 and that was a huge win against a potential challenger for a Wild Card spot.

14 New Orleans Saints 5-4, last week 14

Ever seen The Prestige with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman? Derek Carr has to feel like Hugh Jackman’s, character, The Great D’Anton, after he performs the Transported Man to end his show. He’s stuck underneath the stage while his body double basks in the glory as the crowd roars in applause. That has been Derek Carr recently, after having trouble getting the Saints into the end zone when down in the red zone. He is a good QB, and the undeniable starter at the Super Dome, but he has been replaced by Taysom Hill when New Orleans gets into Goal-to-go situations. Hill has three rushing TDs and one passing TDs in the last three weeks, and at least for now, Carr doesn’t seem to mind sharing the spotlight.

15. Minnesota Vikings 5-4, last week 16

It appears that the only ounce of fight that the Arizona Cardinals had this season is now in Minnesota. Josh Dobbs pulled off a miracle leading a come from behind victory over the Falcons in just his fourth day on the job in Minneapolis. The Vikes needed someone or something to rally around after Kirk Cousins season ending injury, and there is no doubt it’s going to be the QB/rocket scientist that led Minnesota to victory and put them over .500 after an 0-3 start to the season.

16. Houston Texans 4-4, last week 18

I can’t wait until the rest of the Texans team catches up C.J. Stroud’s level. This dude is a certified stud, throwing for almost 500 yards and five TDs against Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon. It wouldn’t have been fair for the Texans to lose the game against the Bucs in a game in which their rookie ran circles around a good Bucs defense. Stroud made sure justice prevailed, taking matters into his own hands with 46 second on the clock having to go 75 yards. Rookies aren’t supposed to throw for over 450 yards, and they aren’t supposed to lead game winning TD drives with under a minute to go, but this is not ordinary rookie.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers 5-3, last week 17

The Steelers got back to what they do best, and what they have always done best. Run the ball, and hit people in the mouth, and let Mike Tomlin lead them to victory. They kept the Titans in check and buckled down in the red zone, holding them to 1-4 on their trips inside the 20. Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris went for 157 of the 166 yards on the ground for Pittsburgh, and if they can establish their identity as a running team that will take some of the pressure off of Kenny Pickett.

18. New York Jets 4-4, last week 13

The defense isn’t going to be able to save the Jets butts every week. They did a great job keeping the Chargers to under 200 yards, but when the offense gives away two fumbles and a punt return for a TD in the first quarter it’s going to be impossible for this incompetent offense to get back into the game. After the game Aaron Rodgers was asked by one of the Chargers when he will be back, to which he responded “Gimme a few more weeks.” Jets fans will be on their hands and knees hoping that he gets back before it’s too late, and the playoff window closes.

19. Denver Broncos 3-5, last week 21

BYE

20. Washington Commanders 4-5, last week 25

Second straight game over 300 yards for Sam Howell, which didn’t mean that the Commanders lit up the scoreboard, but they did enough to beat the Patriots and Howell gave another convincing performance to back up his claim for the starting job beyond this season. It’s going to be tough for the Commanders to get a Wild Card spot this season, but the fact that we are even considering them as a potential postseason team means we have to tip our cap to the first year starter.

21. Atlanta Falcons 4-5, last week 19

Taylor Heinicke got the start in Atlanta, and didn’t have a bad debut, but the Falcons turnover woes continued to haunt them against Minnesota. Heinicke had the Falcons up 21-13, but a fumble and an interception on back-to-back offensive plays led to the Vikings taking the lead early in the fourth quarter. Heinicke lifted the Falcons back up after the third quater TOs, but his ATL debut and comeback bid was ruined by the Vikings TD drive with under 2:00 to go in the fourth.

22. Las Vegas Raiders 4-5, last week 24

You think the Raiders were excited to get out and play under a new regime on the sidelines of Allegiant Stadium on Sunday? They had had enough of Josh McDaniels system, or his leadership and his style of coaching and that couldn’t have been more evident in Sunday’s blowout win over the Giants. It’s true that they got a lay up of a game against the Giants, but Mark Davis isn’t dumb. He’s smart. And he deserves respect. He knew if he was going to fire McDaniels, last week was the week to do it so they can immediately take a step in the right direction with a win under interim coach Antonio Pierce.

23. Green Bay Packers 3-5, last week 26

The post Rodgers nightmare took a momentary hiatus on Sunday at Lambeau. The Packers have been sliding down our Power Rankings since a decent first three games of the season. Jordan Love’s regression seemed to be put on hold as he went as he went 20/26 for 228 yards and a TD, while Aaron Jones had 73 of the Packers 184 yards on the ground. It’s a win over the wounded Rams, and even Packers fans know this isn’t something to rally around, but the losing streak had to be snapped ASAP and it came to an end in Week 9.

24. Los Angeles Rams 3-6, last week 20

Things are getting ugly in LA, and the Rams loss to the Packers is going to earn them a spot in the bottom 10 of the league after a toothless performance from Sean McVay’s men. Brett Rypen isn’t Matthew Stafford and never will be, but you would have expected the Rams to respond after getting wiped out in Dallas last week. Instead they put up just three points, and the defense made Jordan Love look like Eli Manning. I’m not sure which loss is more embarrassing the blow out in Dallas or the 17 point loss against a Packers team that was on a four game losing skip.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-5, last week 22

Everything that we have come to know about this Bucs team was turned on it’s head on Sunday in Houston. The oh-so-often stagnant offense exploded for 37 points and, 332 yards. Unfortunately, the season high performance from Baker Mayfield and company came on the same day in which the Bucs defense imploded, allowing 39 points and a game winning TD drive with under a minute left. That’s 4 straight losses after the Bucs early BYE, and they are falling quickly out of the playoff picture with nine weeks to go.

26. Tennessee Titans 3-5, last week 23

Will Levi’s second start of his career was impressive, but it didn’t make headlines like he did in his debut. He made some great throws, and had the Titans in place to win the game late in the fourth quarter, but was picked off in the end zone. Derrick Henry was held short of 20 carries in the game, so if you’re counting at home, that’s five games with less than 20 carries that have translated to all five of their losses this season.

27. Indianapolis Colts 4-5, last week 27

Someone was going to have to step up if Garner Minshew wasn’t going to throw for 300+ yards on Sunday in Charlotte. It wasn’t Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for just 47 yards on 18 carries. In fact, it wasn’t anyone on the offensive side of the ball. It was Kenny Moore and the defense who made the difference after allowing three straight games of 37 points or more. Moore single handily outscored the Panthers, picking off Bryce Young twice and taking both of those interceptions to the house for six. There aren’t going to be too many more wins this season, so Colts fans should savor this one while it lasts.

28. New England Patriots 2-7, last week 28

What is it going to have to take for Bill Belichick to make a change at the QB position in Foxborough? It’s strange to see such a stickler for perfection put up with the impossibly inconsistent Mac Jones on a week to week basis. Sure, he didn’t throw a pick until the last play of the Pats final drive, but he threw the ball 44 times and had just 220 yards passing. That is not going to get it done, especially if you only hand it off to your running backs 15 times. If it wasn’t for Rhamondre Stevenson’s 64 yard TD run the Pats wouldn’t have even been in the game on the final drive of the day.

29. Chicago Bears 2-7, last week 30

There were whispers in Chicago of Justin Fields’ return under center in the week leading up to the Bears game against the Saints, but in the end Tyson Bagent got his third straight start. He has yet to make a strong case to take over as QB1, which means that Fields will return to his role as starter once he is thumb is completely healed. With half a season to go, this could be an audition for Fields and for the Bears. If he doesn’t show signs of improvement in the next few months it could mean his time in the Windy City might come to an end with the Bears likely to have two top 5 picks.

30. New York Giants 2-7, last week 29

You have to feel for Daniel Jones. He has spent the entire season getting beaten up, both in the backfield and when he decides to tuck it and run, which is one of he few options the Giants have moving the ball down field. Sunday it was a non contact drop back that will likely end his season with a serious knee injury, and now with QB2 Tyrod Taylor on the IR, it will be Tommy DeVito filling in as the starter in New York. No offense to former Syracuse QB, but they’d be better off putting Tommy Chong under center. He may not improve the offense, but at least he’d be able to help the Giants self medicate through the rest of the season.

31. Carolina Panthers 1-7, last week 31

Bryce Young, and Carolina had a harsh comedown from the ecstasy of last week’s win over the Texans. The No. 1 overall pick followed up his first victory in the NFL with three picks against the Colts, two of those getting taken to the house by Kenny Moore II. Not many expected the Panthers to rattle off two wins in a row, and the Colts made sure that didn’t happen.

32. Arizona Cardinals 1-7, last week 32

With Josh Dobbs gone and the Cardinals starting a rookie fifth rounder at QB against the leagues best defense, we could have guessed what was going to happen. Clayton Tune passed for less than 60 yards, and Arizona ran 48 plays for a grand total of 58 yards. The situation is spiraling out of control for a Cardinals team that is currently the laughing stock of the league.