NFL Power Rankings: Reviewing Week 9 Standings After Sunday's ActionOctober 29, 2018
The gap between the elite teams and the average franchises in the National Football League continued to grow in Week 8.
Only a handful of teams, led by the undefeated Los Angeles Rams, can be considered seriously as Super Bowl contenders.
The majority of the ball clubs in the NFL are stuck together, as 12 teams sit either one game above. 500, one game below .500 or directly at .500.
Because of the mess in the middle of the standings, the playoff picture is far from clear, and there's even a few division leaders at risk of dropping into the murky wild-card waters with one loss.
At the bottom of the standings, a few teams have established themselves as the worst in the NFL, which could make the race for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft a riveting competition all the way until Week 17.
Standings After Week 8
1. Kansas City (7-1)
2. New England (5-2)
3. Pittsburgh (4-2-1)
4. Houston (5-3)
5. Los Angeles Chargers (5-2)
6. Cincinnati (5-3)
7. Baltimore (4-4)
8. Miami (4-4)
9. Tennessee (3-4)
10. Jacksonville (3-5)
11. New York Jets (3-5)
12. Indianapolis (3-5)
13. Denver (3-5)
14. Cleveland (2-5-1)
15. Buffalo (2-5)
16. Oakland (1-6)
1. Los Angeles Rams (8-0)
2. New Orleans (6-1)
3. Washington (5-2)
4. Chicago (4-3)
5. Carolina (5-2)
6. Seattle (4-3)
7. Minnesota (4-3-1)
8. Green Bay (3-3-1)
9. Philadelphia (4-4)
10. Atlanta (3-4)
11. Tampa Bay (3-4)
12. Dallas (3-4)
13. Detroit (3-4)
14. Arizona (2-6)
15. San Francisco (1-7)
16. New York Giants (1-7)
Week 9 NFL Power Rankings
1. Los Angeles Rams
2. Kansas City
3. New Orleans
4. New England
5. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Green Bay
22. Tampa Bay
23. New York Jets
31. San Francisco
32. New York Giants
Rams Face Tough November Clashes
The Los Angeles Rams have an opportunity to further their cause as the Super Bowl favorites over the next three weeks.
After fending off a challenge from the Green Bay Packers in Week 8, the Rams face their biggest road test of the season against the New Orleans Saints in Week 9.
Over the next three weeks, the Rams will face three different types of challenges in an attempt to remain undefeated going into the bye week.
The first test comes in New Orleans against the Drew Brees-led side that went into Minnesota and pulled out a victory over the Vikings in Week 8.
The Saints are the Rams' only competition for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and a loss at the Superdome would make the race for home-field advantage one worth watching for the final eight weeks of the regular season.
Second on the upcoming three-game slate is Seattle, which will attempt to avenge the Week 5 loss at CenturyLink Field and move itself into a decent position in the NFC wild-card race.
Then there's the showdown we've all been waiting for November 19 in Mexico City, as the Rams clash with the Kansas City Chiefs in a potential Super Bowl preview.
The high-powered offenses led by Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes should be on display from the start, and it could be the highest-scoring and most entertaining game of the season.
Each of the three hurdles will be hard to clear, and if the Rams even take two of their next three games, they'll be in great shape, but if they come away with three more victories to add to their current haul of eight, we'll start having a serious discussion about an undefeated regular season.
Race For No. 1 Pick Heats Up In Week 9
An important game takes place at the other end of the standings Thursday night between the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders.
Neither Bay Area team is particularly good, which will make the contest at Levi's Stadium one of the least watchable games of the season.
But since we all have an unhealthy football addiction, we'll be tuning in for every misstep made by the 49ers and Raiders, who are in the middle of the fight for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
Thursday's loser will be in direct competition with the New York Giants for the top selection, while the winner likely picks third in April.
You could argue San Francisco needs the No. 1 pick more since Oakland has three first-round picks to work with after acquiring selections in the trades for Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, respectively.
But since the picks brought in from the Bears and Cowboys aren't expected to come up until the middle of the first round, the Raiders would love to add someone like Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver or Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa to their roster with the top pick.
From the 49ers' perspective, they're in a perfect position to take control of the No. 1 pick if they lose Thursday because they take on the New York Giants in a battle of one-win teams in Week 10.
Of course, Cleveland, Arizona and Buffalo could all work their way into the mix for the No. 1 pick, but the loser of Thursday's game has the inside track to top the draft order.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.