Week 9 of the 2013 NFL season is almost upon us, and the excitement over Sunday’s slate of games has the frenzy through the roof.
Football fans will be treated to blowouts, upsets and enough fun for an entire season this week, but here is how the NFL landscape currently looks before the madness happens.
*All stats and information via NFL.com.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-0)
The Kansas City Chiefs are the NFL’s last unbeaten team, and with a stellar running game led by Jamaal Charles and a top-10 defense, the Chiefs have a legitimate chance to shock the world and make a deep run at a Super bowl.
2. Denver Broncos (7-1)
With a bona fide legend like Peyton Manning under center and a defense that will continue to improve as pass-rushing specialist Von Miller—who missed the first six games of the season due to suspension—returns to game shape, the Denver Broncos enter the bye week in great position to thrive for the rest of the season.
3. New Orleans Saints (6-1)
After suffering a heartbreaking loss to the New England Patriots in Week 6 and dwelling on it during the Week 7 bye, the New Orleans Saints came out and destroyed the Buffalo Bills last Sunday. With the New York Jets coming off a lopsided 49-9 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans should dominate their matchup against them this week.
4. Seattle Seahawks (7-1)
There is no questioning how talented the Seattle Seahawks have been this season, but their schedule hasn’t exactly been stacked with the best competition. Add in another game against the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, and Seattle will cruise to a victory in Week 9.
5. Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
As if the pressure of facing off against Manning and the Broncos last week wasn’t enough for second-year Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, the team will be back on primetime television on Sunday night against the Houston Texans. The Colts must win this game decisively and prove they are the cream of the crop in the AFC South.
6. San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
The San Francisco 49ers come into their Week 9 bye as one of the best teams in the NFC, despite a slow start to the season. With a chance to rest and get healthy, the 49ers are once again showing glimpses of a franchise that can make it all the way to the Super Bowl.
7. Green Bay Packers (5-2)
Despite being hit hard by the injury bug on both sides of the ball, the Green Bay Packers have overcome the odds and played well. The team has the chance to square off against the division rival Chicago Bears this week, and the Aaron Rodgers-led offense should show it has plenty of firepower left in a Monday Night Football matchup.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2)
Of all the teams that have shocked people this season, none have rounded into shape the way the Cincinnati Bengals have thus far. After a slow start, the Bengals will have a chance to win their fifth game in a row against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday.
9. New England Patriots (6-2)
The New England Patriots have not looked elite over the last four weeks. With Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski still building a rapport on the fly, it’s just a matter of time before the offense gets pumping once again. The Pittsburgh Steelers are in trouble on Sunday.
10. Detroit Lions (5-3)
Led by the best wide receiver in the NFL, Calvin Johnson, the Detroit Lions proved they are a team that possesses the necessary grit to make a run at the postseason by beating the Dallas Cowboys via a last-minute drive on Sunday. The Lions are on a bye in Week 9, and other teams should expect a rested and healthier Detroit squad for the rest of the season.
11. Carolina Panthers (4-3)
Cam Newton and the entire Carolina Panthers offense has been improving, but it is the stellar play of the defense—ranked second against the run and 10th against the pass—that will give the team the victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9.
12. Chicago Bears (4-3)
The Chicago Bears are already dealing with an injury to star quarterback Jay Cutler, but the matchup against the Packers on Monday night has the potential to be a lop-sided beatdown. Things are about to go from bad to worse in Chicago.
13. Arizona Cardinals (4-4)
After a wild start to the 2013 season, the Arizona Cardinals reach the Week 9 bye as one of the most unpredictable teams in the NFL. If the Cardinals can find any consistency on offense to support their solid defense, there is no doubt that the franchise will find success in the second half of the season.
14. San Diego Chargers (4-3)
Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers offense has lived up to the hype, but the San Diego defense hasn’t been holding up its end of the bargain. With a possible shootout looming with the Washington Redskins, the Chargers could become the biggest winners of the upcoming week.
15. Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
The Baltimore Ravens are a shell of the team that won the Super Bowl last season. After back-to-back losses and a bye over the last three weeks, respectively, the Cleveland Browns should be ready to square off against a desperate Ravens team.
16. Dallas Cowboys (4-4)
The Dallas Cowboys have shown all the talent on offense to be a viable playoff contender, but their lackluster defensive performance against Detroit this week will be the team’s undoing if it can’t get these problems sorted out fast.
17. New York Jets (4-4)
After suffering the team’s worst blowout of the season (a 49-9 loss to the Bengals), the New York Jets will be looking for redemption in Week 9. Too bad the team must square off against the Saints in what could be a lopsided loss for New York.
18. Oakland Raiders (3-4)
The Oakland Raiders stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers last week and will take on a Philadelphia Eagles team that has struggled on both sides of the ball on Sunday. With another possible big win, the Raiders can once again climb in the rankings.
19. Tennessee Titans (3-4)
After three-straight losses heading into the bye, the Tennessee Titans will look to come out fast and furious against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. With Jake Locker back under center and finding his rhythm, look for Tennessee to find second-half success.
20. St. Louis Rams (3-5)
The St. Louis Rams are coming off a tough loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and the road will only get tougher as they face a rested Titans team looking for a season-changing victory. St. Louis won’t be able to defend its home field this week.
21. Buffalo Bills (3-5)
While the Bills have been strong at home, injuries continue to take their toll on the team. Add in a brutal matchup against the undefeated Chiefs that will result in yet another loss for Buffalo, and the train will come completely off the tracks this week.
22. New York Giants (2-6)
The New York Giants now have two wins and somehow still have a chance to win the division. If Eli Manning and the Giants use the bye week to get healthy and refocused for the second half of the season, there is an outside chance that New York could make the postseason.
23. Washington Redskins (2-5)
Robert Griffin III’s recovery continues to show signs of progress, and the Washington Redskins are glad to have the dual-threat quarterback returning to his best form. The team faces a tough test against San Diego on Sunday, but the focus will be on Washington’s defense and whether it can stand up to the pressure or not.
24. Miami Dolphins (3-4)
The Miami Dolphins take center stage on Thursday Night Football. After losing each of the last four games, the Dolphins will look to stun the Bengals in Miami and build momentum for the second half of the year.
25. Cleveland Browns (3-5)
While the struggles on offense have been well documented, the Cleveland Browns possess one of the most underrated defenses in the league. The team is in for a battle this week against the division rival Ravens.
26. Atlanta Falcons (2-5)
There was a time when many considered the Atlanta Falcons a Super Bowl favorite. Not anymore.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are starting to find a consistent rushing attack and overall offensive stability, but a lackluster run defense has sabotaged the season. With a lackluster overall defense and running game, this is not your father’s Steelers team.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5)
The Philadelphia Eagles opened the season with an offensive package that stunned teams. As each week passed and injuries took their toll on the roster, however, teams have learned how to game plan for the unusual style. Despite the lack of success, the lackluster NFC East offers the team a reprieve if it can take advantage.
29. Houston Texans (2-5)
As if the situation in Houston could get any worse, the Texans have announced that backup Case Keenum would get the start on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, per Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com. Another tough loss would signal the end of any potential playoff hopes that Houston had.
30. Minnesota Vikings (1-6)
No matter who is under center this week—Josh Freeman or Christian Ponder—the quarterback will have to lead the Minnesota Vikings offense to a huge statistical game against a Dallas team looking to make a statement after a tough loss.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7)
In the battle to be the worst team in the league, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are slightly trailing the Jacksonville Jaguars. Depending on if head coach Greg Schiano is fired before the end of the season or not, Tampa Bay could get much worse before it gets any better.
32 Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8)
The Jacksonville Jaguars are the worst team in the league. With eight losses and futile play across the roster, all hope is lost for the team. The focus has already shifted to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.