NFL Power Rankings: Last-Minute Standings Before Sunday's Action

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 2, 2013

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 24:  Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after a touchdown run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers October 24, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Carolina won 31 - 13. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Week 9 of the NFL season got under way on Thursday Night Football, when the Cincinnati Bengals met the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins scored a major upset in front of the national audience to remain relevant, but the best action of the week will come on Sunday in an impressive slate of games.

Before the contests get under way and shake up everything we think we know about the NFL once again, here's a review at how the league stacks up.

Week 9 NFL Power Rankings
1New Orleans Saints (6-1)
2Denver Broncos (7-1)
3Kansas City Chiefs (8-0)
4Seattle Seahawks (7-1)
5Green Bay Packers (5-2)
6Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
7San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
8Cincinnati Bengals (6-3)
9New England Patriots (6-2)
10 Detroit Lions (5-3)
11Chicago Bears (4-3)
12San Diego Chargers (4-3)
13Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
14Buffalo Bills (3-5)
15 New York Jets (4-4)
16Dallas Cowboys (4-4)
17Carolina Panthers (4-3)
18Miami Dolphins (4-4)
19Cleveland Browns (3-5)
20Arizona Cardinals (4-4)
21Oakland Raiders (3-4)
22St. Louis Rams (3-5)
23Atlanta Falcons (2-5)
24 Tennessee Titans (3-4)
25Philadelphia Eagles (3-5)
26Houston Texans (2-5)
27Washington Redskins (2-5)
28New York Giants (2-6)
29Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5)
30Minnesota Vikings (1-6)
31Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7)
32Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8)
Chris Roling's Rankings


No. 8 Cincinnati Bengals (6-3)

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 31: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to pass the ball against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on October 31, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

This one hurts.

The Cincinnati Bengals didn't just lose in overtime with quarterback Andy Dalton taking a sack, although that certainly stings:

Cincinnati also lost elite defensive tackle Geno Atkins for the season to a torn ACL, as documented by ESPN's Adam Schefter:

Without Atkins, the Bengals may be a candidate to drop out of the top 10 in a hurry. Cincinnati has now lost its top two defensive players, with corner Leon Hall the victim of a torn Achilles weeks ago.

The Cincinnati offense will have to carry the defense from this point onward, and that's not encouraging after Dalton's 338 yards and three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) on Thursday.


No. 12 San Diego Chargers (4-3)

No one is giving San Diego a chance.

The Chargers have quietly been one of the best teams in the league over the past four weeks. Philip Rivers and Co. have won three of four, and the defense has not surrendered a touchdown in 11 quarters.

Rivers is in the middle of a career renaissance under new head coach Mike McCoy. He is completing 73.9 percent of his passes and has 15 touchdowns to just five interceptions.

The aforementioned defense? It allowed just 309.5 yards on average in the last four games—it allowed an average of 470.7 through the first three.

San Diego is a major comeback story this season, and there's no end in sight.


No. 17 Carolina Panthers (4-3)

Don't look now, but Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers appear ready to jump into the top 15, not to mention the playoffs.

They have won three straight, and Newton has played like an MVP in that same timespan with 773 total yards and eight touchdowns. The Panthers have won each contest by two or more scores.

As ESPN pointed out, Newton and Co. don't have much of an opponent that will stop them on Sunday either:

All of this goes without mentioning the Panthers have a top-three defense that excels in all areas. Carolina has an outside shot of catching New Orleans in the NFC South, but if not, this team could make some major noise if it were to sneak into the postseason.