Seattle has won four in a row to claim a share of first place in the NFC West
The week that was in the NFL started with a runaway, had some thrillers on Sunday and ended with a bit of a whimper on Monday night. Throw in a bunch of byes and there weren’t a ton of major moves up or down the ladder on the field. An active trade deadline has shaken things up however, making things much more interesting down the stretch for many franchises in what are still some wide-open playoff races.
Doing as much as one can to sort through all that and factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the coaching staff, here is the latest edition of NFL power rankings and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.
Week 9 NFL Power Rankings
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week: 1
Destroying the 49ers doesn’t mean a lot, other than giving the team the Eagles their sixth straight win to make them the prohibitive favorite to win the NFC at this point. The continued development of Carson Wentz has been a joy to watch and you have to wonder how much higher his ceiling will be this year.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Last week: 2
A relative breeze of a victory over the Broncos helped get the team back on track and nobody in Kansas City will take a division win for granted. Between the Steelers and Patriots though, the gap between the Chiefs and everybody else in the AFC is slowly closing as each week passes.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week: 4
No team has a more favorable schedule when it comes to securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs than the Steelers, who passed big tests in back-to-back weeks. Big Ben still doesn’t quite look right but the offense has some home-run hitters and those defensive stands against the Lions were a huge sign of progress this season.
4. New England Patriots
Last week: 3
While you would have liked to have seen more of those field goals converted into points against the Chargers, that was still a nice effort on Sunday for a fourth straight win. The defense is improving week by week it seems and could be set for even more improvement as the trade deadline approaches.
5. Seattle Seahawks
Last week: 8
There’s little doubt as to what the game of the week was, as that thriller against the Texans was a great way to wrap up an otherwise lackluster slate of games. Though the defense wasn’t as stingy as you’ve come to expect (especially at home), the offense seems like it’s starting to find its groove with Russell Wilson (and it will have a new left tackle soon too) as the Seahawks enter a relatively easy stretch in November.
6. Minnesota Vikings
Last week: 6
We didn’t learn anything new from that romp over the Browns in London, but a big question is going to be looming as Teddy Bridgewater gets a step closer to playing while Case Keenum continues to make plays.
7. Los Angeles Rams
Last week: 5
The bye week comes at a good time as the young Rams can celebrate their first 5-2 start in over a decade while also buckling up for a tough stretch in the next month.
8. New Orleans Saints
Last week: 7
Outside of the Eagles, this might be the hottest team in football. Though they had to hold on against the Bears, the defense has really developed into a solid unit and these next few games offer the chance to really get into the mix for home-field advantage, to say nothing of securing the NFC South lead.
9. Houston Texans
Last week: 13
People might harp on the interceptions but Deshaun Watson has gone toe-to-toe with New England and Seattle — on the road — and come out looking better and better each time. As we saw on Sunday afternoon though, the defense will be key to this team making (or missing) a playoff run.
10. Carolina Panthers
Last week: 15
While the Buccaneers are a shell of themselves right now, Carolina’s trip to Tampa Bay gives the Panthers an impressive four road wins at this point. Though they’re yet to click on all cylinders like they’re capable of, keeping pace with the Saints in the division is huge as the team enters a very winnable stretch of games.
11. Dallas Cowboys
Last week: 9
A quality victory in Washington for the Cowboys, who established the run early in those conditions and saw Mike Nugent have a solid debut taking over the kicking duties. Still, this team’s future will likely be determined over these next few games — which will be without Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield.
12. Buffalo Bills
Last week: 11
It’s time to consider the previously unthinkable: the Bills hosting a playoff game. We’re still a long ways from that of course, but at 5-2 after beating up the Raiders, it’s starting to look more like something that could happen.
13. Detroit Lions
Last week: 10
Hard to believe this team, which looked like an NFC contender, is now below .500. While the Lions have been close, they may rue all those missed chances against a number of opponents, most recently the Steelers on Sunday night.
14. Tennessee Titans
Last week: 19
Even at the midpoint, it’s still hard to get a firm grasp on how good Tennessee is as a football team. Hopefully the bye week allowed Marcus Mariota to return to full health and will let us find out in the next few weeks.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week: 16
Of the six teams on a bye this past week, nobody had a better one than the Jaguars did in adding Marcell Dareus to an already ferocious defensive line. If only the team could have added reinforcements at quarterback too, because Blake Bortles continued improvement is not something to count on going forward.
16. Atlanta Falcons
Last week: 20
The Jets were the perfect opponent to snap that three-game losing streak against but the Falcons didn’t quite dominate that game like they should have. We’ll find out over this next three-game stretch whether the Super Bowl hangover is for real or if Atlanta can climb back into the mix.
17. Washington Redskins
Last week: 12
Washington is better than its 3-4 record suggests but there are a bunch of issues along the offensive line and that’s been an anchor weighing down this team.
18. Denver Broncos
Last week: 18
John Elway has to kick himself at hearing the 49ers got Jimmy Garoppolo for only a second-rounder. Given the state of the franchise under center at this point, he clearly would have paid a first-rounder at least.
19. Baltimore Ravens
Last week: 25
This team has gotten some lucky breaks and playing a backup QB on a short week (such as Miami on Thursday) is one of them. Perhaps the Ravens can string something together in the next few weeks but this has the look of a .500 team that can maybe surprise you if they can get some solid quarterback play.
20. Miami Dolphins
Last week: 17
It probably says more about the AFC that the Dolphins are only a game out of a playoff spot and have been outscored by 60 this season. That mark was one of the worst in the conference even before the blowout in Baltimore.
21. Los Angeles Chargers
Last week: 22
Mental mistakes doomed them on the road in Foxborough to snap a rare three-game winning streak. We’ll see if those issues get corrected while the Chargers remain on the East Coast or if attention turns to the future by the time December rolls around.
22. Green Bay Packers
Last week: 23
It will be fascinating to see what adjustments Mike McCarthy made over the bye week to get Brett Hundley more comfortable running the offense.
23. Oakland Raiders
Last week: 14
It goes without saying that the Raiders are the most disappointing team in the AFC after that effort in Buffalo on Sunday. The bigger question going into that game at Miami is whether we’ll see a coaching staff shakeup before the big one that will eventually happen at the end of the year.
24. Chicago Bears
Last week: 24
That’s a fourth straight week with a close game out of the Bears even if they couldn’t quite get the victory in New Orleans. The upcoming bye will help them close that gap some more after an encouraging past few weeks and allow the team to hopefully see Zach Miller return to Chicago after that scary injury.
25. Arizona Cardinals
Last week: 26
Even a week off isn’t enough to solve all the issues facing the Cardinals but it could allow them to all get on the same page going into the most winnable game left on the schedule in San Francisco this coming Sunday.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week: 21
The Bucs can thank the struggles of the Giants this year or else they’d be the consensus pick for most disappointing NFC team in the league. Even if Jameis Winston returns to form, this has a chance to really spiral out of control over the next few weeks.
27. New York Jets
Last week: 27
You can’t complain about the effort this team gives as the Jets have been in all but one game this season. It will be interesting if New York gets pretty active in terms of dealing guys to bring in extra draft ammo in the next few days though.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week: 28
While Bengals fans might have enjoyed that defensive performance against the Colts to seal a rare win, keep it in mind come draft time and having a big-time player inevitably go one spot in front of them.
29. New York Giants
Last week: 29
Ben McAdoo said he’s on the same page with GM Jerry Reese, which is good because their future is very likely tied at the hip come the end of the season.
30. Indianapolis Colts
Last week: 30
The only question at this point is whether Andrew Luck will be okay on opening day of next season and who’s the next head coach — because that’s all that matters.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Last week: 31
After being so close to a win early in the year, it seems this team has taken a few steps back. Will the Jimmy Garoppolo trade light a fire under this group and provide some clarity as to the future? Given the opponents coming up, its’ possible the 49ers get that elusive victory before the month is up.
32. Cleveland Browns
Last week: 32
Speaking of the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, how upset do you think the Cleveland front office was? The Browns are 0-8 again at this point but it sure seems like the product on the field is getting worse and not better as we hit November.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.