With Week 9 officially kicking off with the Cincinnati Bengals taking on the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football, it's time to take a look at the most recent power rankings.
Six teams will be on bye this week, including a few playoff-caliber teams. Several teams will be looking to gain some ground in the divisional races as we're finally starting to get a feel of what the playoff picture will look like at the end of the regular season.
Let's take a look at the most updated power rankings heading into Thursday Night Football, with a breakdown of all 32 teams.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
At this point, it's looking like the Jacksonville Jaguars have a real shot at going 0-16 this season.
A 42-10 loss against the San Francisco 49ers confirmed what many believe, and that's that this is the worst team in the NFL. The Jags are near the bottom of the league in almost every category, the quarterback situation is a mess, and the team just doesn't have a lot of talent right now.
The Jaguars will keep trying to rebuild through the draft and free agency, but it will likely be a few more years before we see them become a successful team.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It certainly hasn't been a fun season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It won't get much better this week, either, as they will be taking on the Seattle Seahawks.
Things were supposedly supposed to get better after the bye week, but the Buccaneers have given up 31 points in three straight games. Mike Glennon hasn't been terrible, but he certainly hasn't been good enough to carry this team to some wins.
30. Minnesota Vikings
The quarterback situation is a complete mess right now for the Minnesota Vikings, but the defense should be the real concern.
The Vikings have given up at least 23 points in every game and most recently gave up 44 points to the Green Bay Packers, who were without Randall Cobb and James Jones. They've given up 401.6 total yards and 32.1 points per game, both ranking 30th in the NFL.
Josh Freeman will have an opportunity to turn things around. However, even if he's able to play at a high level and keep the offense moving, he's not going to be able to help that struggling defense.
29. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans won two close games to start the year, but now they're on a five-game losing streak that could extend to six games this week.
Matt Schaub very well may be done in Houston, as it appears that he has lost his starting job. According to the team's Twitter account, rookie quarterback Case Keenum will be making his second career start on Sunday Night Football.
While the offense is dysfunctional, the defense has tried to keep them in games. J.J. Watt is leading a defense that's allowing just 145.6 passing yards per game, the best in the league. However, the injury to Brian Cushing could open some holes, much like we saw in 2012.
It's going to be up to the offense to pull this team out of its slump. That's going to be hard to do if the Texans keep switching quarterbacks.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Things were starting to look up for the Pittsburgh Steelers after winning two straight games, but then they lost to the Oakland Raiders.
The offense isn't productive this season, scoring just 17.9 points per game. The running game has especially struggled, with the entire team averaging 3.3 yards per carry.
Ben Roethlisberger has already been sacked 26 times, and he's doing what he can to lead the offense. Without weapons to throw to or a running game to lean on, it's likely going to be an ugly season for him and the rest of the Steelers.
27. Cleveland Browns
The inspiring three-game win streak after the Cleveland Browns traded away Trent Richardson seems like a distant memory now, as the team has lost three straight.
Brian Hoyer sparked the comeback, but with him out and Brandon Weeden being a disappointment, the Browns decided to give Jason Campbell the starting nod last week. He actually played pretty well, throwing for 293 yards and two touchdowns.
Ian Rapoport from NFL.com announced that the Browns will start Campbell again this week against the Baltimore Ravens:
With how bad the offense has been, the Browns need a Hoyer-like spark once again, but until Campbell can pull out a win, they will stay near the bottom of the power rankings.
26. New York Giants
Don't look now, but the New York Giants are two games back in the NFC East.
That's not saying a lot, considering the Dallas Cowboys lead the division at 4-4. However, with two straight wins and an upcoming game against the Oakland Raiders, the Giants have a shot to make a run in the division.
Tom Coughlin has been known for leading some crazy comebacks in the second half of the season, but can he seriously pull off a comeback like this after going 0-6 to start the season? It's highly unlikely, but we will have to wait and see if something changes with this team during the bye week.
25. Oakland Raiders
For a team trying to rebuild, the Raiders have actually had a pretty solid season so far.
At 3-4, the Raiders aren't going to make a playoff run in the AFC West, but they have a chance to pull off some upsets this season.
Terrelle Pryor has been a big surprise, and while he has thrown seven interceptions, he's also put up over 1,500 total yards and six total touchdowns.
Overall, this team doesn't have a lot of talent, but it is playing solid football and taking home some good wins to start the year.
24. Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles was able to lead the Philadelphia Eagles to two straight wins, but with injuries to both him and Michael Vick, things have gotten ugly once again.
The good news for Eagles fans is that Foles will start once again in Week 9, according to Chris Burke from Sports Illustrated:
Chip Kelly may be working hard on making an exciting offense, but he really needs to work on that defense that's giving up over 400 yards per game.
Maybe Foles can turn things around, but I doubt it. The Eagles are proving to be a very inconsistent team, and they're going to have some tough games ahead of them.
23. Washington Redskins
The score shows that the Washington Redskins got blown out by the Denver Broncos, but through three quarters of play, the Redskins were actually winning.
The Redskins had held the Broncos to just 14 points through the first three quarters, but they gave up 31 points in the final 15 minutes. Peyton Manning threw for a season-high three interceptions, showing that at least the defense is starting to force some turnovers.
Robert Griffin III didn't have a good game, yet we're seeing that he feels much more comfortable on his knee. With Alfred Morris and Roy Helu in the backfield, this offense could be able to pull out some wins down the road.
22. Buffalo Bills
A 1-3 record over their past four games has moved the Buffalo Bills to 3-5. However, some solid wins against the Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens this season show that the Bills can come up with some big plays when healthy.
Unfortunately, the big issue right now is keeping players on the field. E.J. Manuel is working on coming back in the next few weeks, and according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com, Thaddeus Lewis is questionable to play this week with a rib contusion, meaning that either Matt Flynn or Jeff Tuel could be starting this week if Lewis can't play.
Things will likely get worse before they get better, but the future is bright for this team with so many young and talented players on the roster.
21. Atlanta Falcons
Things are going from bad to worse for the Atlanta Falcons, who are now 2-5 and losing a number of key players to injuries.
Julio Jones is done for the year, and Roddy White has been out for the past few games, but Matt Ryan is trying to carry his team. It didn't look too good last week, however, as Ryan threw four interceptions in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
An inexperienced secondary and injured front seven has hurt this team on defense as well, and this season could be lost for a team that was in the Super Bowl discussion at the start of the year.
20. Miami Dolphins
Everything was looking up for the Dolphins after starting the season with a 3-0 record. However, four straight losses officially have the Dolphins falling quickly down the power rankings.
Ryan Tannehill has showed signs of progression in his sophomore season, but he's thrown seven interceptions during this losing streak, which isn't what coaches wanted to see. Meanwhile, the defense just hasn't looked the same, allowing at least 23 points in each of the team's last five games.
19. St. Louis Rams
Against all odds, Kellen Clemens nearly led the St. Louis Rams to a fourth-quarter comeback against the Seahawks, but he wasn't able to do so, falling 14-9 on Monday.
I expect the Rams to fall down the rankings without Sam Bradford. Robert Quinn is having a fantastic season with 10 sacks while the rest of the defense is improving, but the unit won't be able to keep up without an effective offense.
18. Tennessee Titans
With three straight losses, the Tennessee Titans have moved to 3-4, yet they're still second in the AFC South race.
Jake Locker is finally healthy again, which is great news considering the impressive season he's had so far. When he's played, Locker has completed 61.8 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and just one interception for a 97.1 passer rating.
With some upcoming games against the St. Louis Rams and Jaguars, the Titans have a chance move above .500 in the coming weeks, but it's really going to be hard for them to grab a playoff spot unless Locker blows up for the rest of the season.
17. Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are in the bottom half of the power rankings after winning the Super Bowl nearly nine months ago, and that's mostly because they're failing to live up to expectations offensively.
With Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce in the backfield, the Ravens should have an effective run game. However, they're last in the league, running for 2.8 yards per carry, and neither guy is having a good season.
The issue isn't the defense, as that unit starting to click. But if Joe Flacco and the rest of that offense can't pick it up, they're going to be left behind in the AFC North.
16. Arizona Cardinals
They likely won't be going to the playoffs, but the Arizona Cardinals are making a lot of noise coming out of the NFC West.
The secondary has been making some big plays lately, and that's been huge for the defense. The team has forced 12 interceptions this season and is holding opponents to just a 79.8 passer rating.
Carson Palmer hasn't lived up to expectations, but at least he's getting Larry Fitzgerald the ball more than the other QBs were able to in 2012. Andre Ellington had an exciting game on Sunday, so perhaps he could make this offense a bit more dangerous.
15. San Diego Chargers
With two straight wins before their bye week, the San Diego Chargers started showing everyone once again that they can make big plays.
The defense that was so bad before Week 6 has allowed just 15 total points in its last two games. Meanwhile, Philip Rivers is having a big season, throwing for 2,132 yards, 15 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
The Chargers aren't going to make a run in the AFC West, but at least this team is starting to turn things around.
14. New York Jets
Perhaps the most inconsistent team in the league, the New York Jets haven't won or lost two consecutive games this season.
Geno Smith has looked good in some games and terrible in others. He has eight touchdowns through the air, but he's also thrown 13 interceptions and fumbled six times. The defense has kept bailing him out, however, as its holding opponents to just 315 total yards and 77.9 rushing yards per game.
If they keep this pattern up, the Jets would win this week against the New Orleans Saints, but that pattern might finally be broken with a second consecutive loss.
13. Dallas Cowboys
At 4-4, the Cowboys are on pace for their third straight 8-8 season, which would make them the masters of mediocrity.
There have been times this season that the Cowboys have looked like a very good team, and others they've had bad breaks or made some questionable plays. Tony Romo is still having a great year, completing nearly two-thirds of his passes with 18 touchdowns and five picks.
With Romo playing well and the offense putting up big numbers, that unit doesn't seem to be a problem. Unless the defense steps up, however, this will be an 8-8 team once again.
12. Carolina Panthers
Through the first few weeks, the Carolina Panthers weren't very impressive. Now, they've blown out their last three opponents by a combined score of 96-38.
Cam Newton has looked like one of the most exciting players in the NFL over these past three games. He's thrown eight total touchdowns and zero interceptions, leading the Panthers to several blowouts.
With an electric playmaker under center and a much-improved defense, the Panthers are the real deal in 2013.
11. Chicago Bears
Until we see how the Chicago Bears can play without Jay Cutler or Lance Briggs, it's unfair to drop them too far in the power rankings.
Josh McCown will be starting against the Packers this Sunday, and he had a pretty solid game against the Redskins. However, the Redskins have a weak defense, so this will be McCown's first real test.
The defense has not been good at all, so losing Briggs makes that even worse. The Bears are No. 11 for now, but it's unlikely they stay there for long.
10. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are coming off of a wild 31-30 win over the Cowboys, and they showed that their offense can be almost unstoppable with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
Johnson went off for a career-high 329 receiving yards last week, the second-most in NFL history. This season, he already has 47 receptions for 821 yards and seven touchdowns. Stafford is hot as well, already throwing for 2,617 yards and 16 touchdowns, and this team will keep winning games as long as these two keep putting up monster numbers.
9. New England Patriots
It seems like there are a number of problems with the New England Patriots, but they're still 6-2 on the year, and Tom Brady is still their quarterback.
With Vince Wilfork out, the Patriots needed some help on defense. According to Adam Schefter, the Patriots got some help by trading for Isaac Sopoaga on Tuesday:
With Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola back, this offense should start rolling once again, and that's bad news for the rest of the league.
8. Green Bay Packers
There may be a few injuries on offense, but the Packers can do anything with Aaron Rodgers under center.
Rodgers actually has a running game this season to help him out. The Packers are running for 141.4 yards per game, the third-most in the NFL, with Eddie Lacy leading the way.
Even without Clay Matthews, the defense is looking good with players like Mike Daniels and A.J. Hawk stepping up. With an improved running game and defense, the Packers are a clear Super Bowl contender.
7. Cincinnati Bengals
With a dominant performance in their 49-9 win over the Jets, the Bengals are arguably the hottest team in football right now.
Andy Dalton is on fire in the team's last three games. He's thrown for 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions in those three wins, posting a QBR of over 90 in two of them.
Meanwhile, the defense is allowing just 18 points per game and holding opposing quarterbacks to just a 79.4 passer rating. If both sides of the ball keep playing like they have been, the Bengals will have no problem taking the AFC North and possibly making a run at a first-round bye.
6. San Francisco 49ers
Remember when everyone thought that the 49ers were going to struggle after starting the season with a 1-2 record? Those thoughts have completely faded away thanks to five straight wins.
Colin Kaepernick isn't having as impressive of a season as he did in 2012, but the team is still winning games thanks to a strong defense and ground game. They may not be the best team in the NFC West, but they're still a team that's capable of a deep playoff run.
5. Seattle Seahawks
Sometimes you're not going to get the prettiest wins, but what's important is that the Seahawks came away with their seventh win on Monday Night Football against the Rams.
The Seahawks are allowing just 15.6 points and 289.3 total yards per game, some of the best marks in the league. On offense, they rank ninth in the league with 25.6 points per game.
4. New Orleans Saints
After having one of the worst defenses ever in 2012, the Saints have stepped up big, thanks to Rob Ryan.
Brees was dangerous enough on his own. Now he has a tough defense, making them the best team in the NFC right now.
3. Indianapolis Colts
It seemed like an almost impossible task for the Indianapolis Colts to have a season as successful as last year, yet they've been able to thanks to huge wins over the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos.
Andrew Luck continues to show that he's an elite quarterback, even if he doesn't have the best numbers. However, the numbers look pretty impressive in the wins over those three teams, with Luck throwing for 616 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions with another two touchdowns on the ground.
The stats don't look impressive, but the Colts find ways to grind out wins against tough teams, and that makes them the No. 3 team for this week's power rankings.
2. Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning and that offense makes the Broncos one of the best teams in the NFL, but there are some legitimate concerns emerging that keep them from being the league's best team.
The defense in particular has struggled. It has allowed 27.3 points and 299.1 passing yards per game, which are numbers you don't want to see for a team trying to prove itself as the best in the NFL.
Manning may have already thrown for 2,919 yards and 29 touchdowns, but the Broncos can't be considered the best team until that defense improves.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Not only are the Kansas City Chiefs the best team in football, they're also arguably the most complete team in football across the board.
The Chiefs lead the NFL with just 12.3 points allowed per game and a turnover differential of plus-12. They haven't allowed more than 17 points in any game, and the defense has already forced 20 turnovers.
After going 2-14 last season, the Chiefs brought in Alex Smith and Andy Reid. Thanks to a strong defense, efficient offense and a number of incredibly talented players, the Chiefs are officially the best team in the NFL.
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