Led by intimidating running back Steven Jackson, the Rams got their first win of the season and are moving up this week’s Power Rankings.
The midpoint of the 2009 NFL season is upon us, and throughout the league there is a pretty good understanding of who the “Contenders”, and “Pretenders” are. With nine more weeks of NFL action ahead of us, there are many compelling storylines to follow in the second half the season.
- Can either the New Orleans Saints, or Indianapolis Colts go undefeated for the entire 2009 season?
- Can the Vikings and veteran quarterback Brett Favre continue their magic carpet ride into the playoffs?
- Are the Patriots and Steelers truly back after producing winning streaks going into their recent bye weeks?
- Could it be possible that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not win a game in 2009, and match the 2008 Detroit Lions (0-16)?
- Which coach is currently on the hot seat (Browns Eric Mangini, Redskins Jim Zorn, Raiders Tom Cable, Bills Dick Jauron, Panthers John Fox and others) will be the first one issued their pink slip?
And so many other storylines that will be written as the 2009 season continues to unfold.
In looking at the current NFL standings here’s the breakdown: The “Elite” – Saints (7-0), Colts (7-0), Vikings (7-1), Broncos (6-1), Steelers (5-2), Bengals (5-2), and Patriots (5-2); “Teams on the Cusp” — Eagles (5-2), Cowboys (5-2), Texans (5-3), Giants (5-3), and Ravens (4-3); “Stuck in the Middle” inconsistent teams, who are caught in the NFL’s parity-filled middle and either need to join the playoff hunt or fall back – Chargers (4-3), Falcons (4-3), Jets (4-4), Bears (4-3), Cardinals (4-3), Niners (3-4), Dolphins (3-4) and Panthers (3-4); The “Pretenders”, who are only a shade away from the league’s bottom rung – Jaguars (3-4), Bills (3-5), and Seahawks (2-5); and lastly the “Putrid” (i.e. These teams should just skip to the 2010 NFL Draft) – Redskins (2-5), Raiders (2-6), Chiefs (1-6), Lions (1-6), Titans (1-6), Browns (1-7), Rams (1-7), and Buccaneers (0-7)
Now on to the rankings for this week.
1. Colts (7-0)
The Niners, led by comeback kid QB Alex Smith, gave the Colts all they could handle. But eventually the NFL’s cream of the crop rose to the occasion, and disposed of the Niners by a score of 18-14. Indy better not get caught looking ahead to Week 10’s mega-showdown with the New England Patriots, as the Houston Texans are coming to town for a crucial AFC South battle.
2. Saints (7-0)
“Who Dat, Who Dat is gonna beat them Saints”…another week, another foe bit the dust against Sean Payton’s crew. The Saints, fueled by turnovers, finally kicked the Falcons to the curb on Monday Night Football. Another home NFC South battle awaits the undefeated Saints as the inconsistent, but dangerous Carolina Panthers come to the French Quarter.
3. Vikings (7-1)
It was sweet revenge for Vikes QB Brett Favre as he returned to Green Bay to pin a second ugly loss on the Packers in less than one month. Brad Childress’ team will enjoy a much-deserved bye week before continuing their fight to be the NFC’s No. 1 seed going into the playoffs.
4. Steelers (5-2)
Mike Tomlin’s team used the bye to heal-up, and hopefully safety Troy Polamalu, and the rest of the Steelers are ready to defend their title in the second half of the season. In a Monday Night Football game that could definitely be a playoff preview, the Steelers will travel to Denver to face a Broncos team coming off their first loss of the season.
5. Broncos (6-1)
Head Coach Josh McDaniels’ team were no match for the rested Ravens, who beat them in every phase of the game from offense, to defense, to special teams. In a game that will truly tell us if the Broncos have put their 2008 inconsistent ways behind them, the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers come to tonight for a big Monday Night Football showdown.
6. Patriots (5-2)
The Patriots, after throttling the poor Tampa Bay Bucs in Merry Ole England, took a week off to rest their weary jet-lagged legs. he second half of the 2009 NFL Season begins for the Pats with a crucial AFC East home game against the Miami Dolphins, who surely will be bringing the"‘Wildcat” back to the place where it debuted in 2008.
7. Bengals (5-2)
The bye week allowed the Bengals to get away from the long grind of an NFL season, and it even for all loquacious WR Chad Ochocinco to plug his new book everywhere, including on The David Letterman Show . Next up is a home grudge match with AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens, who are still fighting mad over their Week Five loss at M&T Bank stadium.
8. Eagles (5-2)
The Birds moved closer to the top of the NFL food chain with their dominating over NFC East rival, the NY Giants during the NYC-Philly Sunday challenge. For the third week in a row, the Eagles will face an NFC East foe, this time the hated Dallas Cowboys will come to town for a huge NBC Sunday Night Football game.
9. Cowboys (5-2)
The ‘Boys were all business as they thumped the reeling Seattle Seahawks for their third straight win. The road to respectability runs through Lincoln Financial Field, and the Cowboys should expect the Eagles, and inhospitable crowd, to be ready for the bright lights of NBC Sunday Night Football.
10. Texans (5-3)
For the first time in their brief history, the Texans are two games above .500 this late in the season. The Texans may have found a new offensive weapon in emerging RB Ryan Moats as they rolled over the Bills. If the Texans are to break their 8-8 streak and make it to the playoffs for the first time in team history, they will need to bring their “A” game this week when they battle the undefeated Colts in a huge AFC South game.
11. Ravens (4-3)
John Harbaugh’s team put together their best all-around effort of the 2009 season, as they beat the formerly undefeated Broncos in every phase of the game. Next up is a huge AFC North road game against the mouthy Cincinnati Bengals, who are looking to keep pace with the Steelers.
12. Cardinals (4-3)
It was deja vous all over again, but this time the Carolina Panthers turned the tables on the Cards, and turnover prone QB Kurt Warner in a blowout win that avenged their embarrassing 2008 playoff loss. The Cardinals must prove that their current 3-0 road record is not a fluke as they travel to the Windy City to face an equally puzzling Bears squad.
13. Giants (5-3)
It is hard to believe that this is the same G-Men squad that started 5-0, and were the toast of the NFL for the first part of the season. The Philadelphia Eagles embarrassed the Giants as it was big play, after big play in a laugher. The Giants cannot be caught looking ahead to their much-needed bye week, as the Chargers come to town looking to continue on their roll.
14. Packers (4-3)
Despite QB Aaron Rodger’s best efforts, the Packers were no match for the surging Vikings, and revenge-minded quarterback Brett Favre, as the legend made a triumphant return to Green Bay. I feel bad for the winless Tampa Bay Bucs, as the Packers are angry, and will look to run up and down the field in this old-time NFC Central match-up.
15. Falcons (4-3)
Mike Smith’s team started fast on Monday Night Football, but the New Orleans Saints weathered the storm on their way to another victory. Look for the Falcons to bounce back as they host the dysfunctional Washington Redskins, and lame-duck head coach Jim Zorn.
16. Chargers (4-3)
The Bolts look to be rebuilding their season as they thumped the pitiful Raiders in the return of former superstar veterans RB LaDainian Tomlinson, and LB Shawne Merriman, to the boxscore. In a statement game, the Chargers will look to continue their two game win streak against the Giants as former 2004 NFL Draft bonus babies, QB’s Eli Manning, and Phillip Rivers face-off.
17. Bears (4-3)
Following in their inconsistent patter, the Bears destroyed the putrid Cleveland Browns in a game that showed the ineptness of Browns QB Derek Anderson. In a game that could have future playoff implications, the Bears will host the Cardinals in battle of the two teams involved in the 2006 “They are who we thought they were” game.
18. Jets (4-4)
For a team that has a lot of mouth, the J-E-T-S do not back it up. The Miami Dolphins didn’t need much offense as their special teams and defense led the way in their second straight win over the Jets. I am sure during the bye week, Jets head coach Rex Ryan will be searching for consistency from his quarterback (Mark Sanchez), and special teams.
19. Panthers (3-4)
Carolina looked like their 2008 regular season version as they dismantled the host Arizona Cardinals in game that could possibly get them back on track. In a season defining game, the Panthers will travel to New Orleans in search of a win against the undefeated Saints, who are looking to run away with the NFC South crown.
20. Dolphins (3-4)
In the Meadowlands, demoted receiver Ted Ginn Jr. had many happy returns in a big win over AFC East rival, the New York Jets. The Dolphins will look to climb back to .500 as they face off with the rested New England Patriots in “The Return of the Wildcat” game.
21. 49ers (3-4)
Led by emerging TE Vernon Davis, the Niners gave the undefeated Colts all they could handle, but in the end Indy’s experience won out. In a battle of two comebacking former high-round draft pick quarterbacks, Niners QB Alex Smith will lead his team against the Titans, and QB Vince Young.
22. Jaguars (3-4)
The Jags have got to be the NFL’s most inconsistent team, as they fell under .500 again after losing badly to the Titans, and comeback quarterback Vince Young. Jack Del Rio’s team will look to climb back to .500 as they host the in-fighting Kansas City Chiefs.
23. Bills (3-5)
Not even the re-introduction of WR Terrell Owens to the endzone could keep the Bills from being blown out by the Houston Texans. I am sure during the Bills’ bye week that head coach Dick Jauron will be working on his resume, and superstar receiver T.O will be bitching to his gal pals Mo and Kita.
24. Seahawks (2-5)
After another bad loss, this time to the Dallas Cowboys, Hawks head coach Jim Mora had seen enough, and sent several players packing, including veteran running back Edgerrin James. In one of the NFL’s least anticipated games, the Seahawks will host the equally weak Detroit Lions in this week’s version of the “Toilet Bowl”.
25. Titans (1-6)
See Titans owner Bud Adams was right, insert V.Y at quarterback, and the Titans got their first win of the season over the Jacksonville Jaguars—also don’t forget the franchise-record day of RB Chris Johnson. The Titans will look to make it two in a row as they travel to the Bay to face an inconsistent Niners squad.
26. Redskins (2-5)
During the bye week, many Redskins players left town to recharge, and I am sure beleaguered head coach Jim Zorn was trying to do the same. The ‘Skins will look to turn the heat down on Zorn from Mr. Snyder with a win over the Falcons in “Hotlanta”.
27. Raiders (2-5)
This past week the big Tom Cable news was that the head coach allegedly has hit more people than one of his assistant coaches. Of course, all the Raiders off field drama did not help them against the Chargers, who thumped them good. Unfortunately for Cable, the bye week will only bring further digging into his past when he needs to be concentrating on fixing his downtrodden team.
28. Chiefs (1-6)
During the bye week, the Chiefs decided to work out a settlement with troubled RB Larry Johnson, but the former franchise back will still be suspended for one game. The Chiefs' head coach will be looking to forget about Johnson, and a myriad of team injuries as the Chiefs go on the road to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.
29. Rams (1-7)
Fueled by battering ram RB Steven Jackson, the Rams got off the schnide as they won Week eight’s “Toilet Bowl” in Detroit. After their first win since 2008, Steve Spagnuolo’s squad can enjoy their bye week in peace.
30. Lions (1-6)
Not even the return of high draft pick QB Matthew Stafford could keep the Lions from losing Week eight's “Toilet Bowl” against the previously winless St. Louis Rams. In another low-level NFL game, the Lions travel to Seattle to face a Seahawks team that always seems to have a black cloud over their heads.
31. Browns (1-6)
The Bears were more than happy to have the hapless Browns waiting for them in a spot where they badly needed a win. Sans departed GM George Kokinis, at least the Browns don’t have to worry about losing this week as they are on a bye.
32. Buccaneers (0-7)
After a long trip home from London, England maybe having a bye week was just what the doctor ordered for the NFL’s last winless team. With youngster quarterback Josh Freeman at the helm, the Bucs will look to get their first much-needed win against the Green Bay Packers.
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)Posted in Indianapolis Colts Tagged: 2009 NFL Power Rankings, Football, Indianapolis Colts, NFL, NFL Week 9 Power Rankings, Sports, St Louis Rams, Steven Jackson, Weekly Rankings.