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|
|1||New Orleans Saints (6-1)|
|2||Denver Broncos (7-1)|
|3||Kansas City Chiefs (8-0)|
|4||Seattle Seahawks (7-1)|
|5||Green Bay Packers (5-2)|
|6||Indianapolis Colts (5-2)|
|7||San Francisco 49ers (6-2)|
|8||Cincinnati Bengals (6-3)|
|9||New England Patriots (6-2)|
|10||Detroit Lions (5-3)|
|11||Chicago Bears (4-3)|
|12||San Diego Chargers (4-3)|
|13||Baltimore Ravens (3-4)|
|14||Buffalo Bills (3-5)|
|15||New York Jets (4-4)|
|16||Dallas Cowboys (4-4)|
|17||Carolina Panthers (4-3)|
|18||Miami Dolphins (4-4)|
|19||Cleveland Browns (3-5)|
|20||Arizona Cardinals (4-4)|
|21||Oakland Raiders (3-4)|
|22||St. Louis Rams (3-5)|
|23||Atlanta Falcons (2-5)|
|24||Tennessee Titans (3-4)|
|25||Philadelphia Eagles (3-5)|
|26||Houston Texans (2-5)|
|27||Washington Redskins (2-5)|
|28||New York Giants (2-6)|
|29||Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5)|
|30||Minnesota Vikings (1-6)|
|31||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7)|
|32||Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8)|
|Chris Roling's Rankings|
No. 8 Cincinnati Bengals (6-3)
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.