NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 10
And then there was one.
Thanks to the Baltimore Ravens' impressive smackdown of the New England Patriots on Sunday night, there's one undefeated team left in the NFL. That undefeated team plays in the NFC West, which isn't a huge surprise—the reigning conference champion hails from that division.
But it's not the Los Angeles Rams. Or the Seattle Seahawks. It's a San Francisco 49ers team that has already doubled last year's win total—and that most assuredly is a surprise.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Miami Dolphins won their first game of the season Sunday at home against the New York Jets.
That leaves one winless squad in the NFL—the Cincinnati Bengals, who somehow managed to get worse during their bye week.
There was no shortage of shakeup across the NFL in Week 9, highlighted by a one-loss Green Bay Packers team getting stunned in Los Angeles by the flailing Chargers. The NFL's pecking order went full snow globe this week.
As has been the case every week this season, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski have gathered to sift through the rubble of another wild week in the NFL and rank the league's teams from worst to first.
There's a new No. 32. And a new No. 1.
And plenty movement at all points in between.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (0-8)
Last Week: 31
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
Well, the good news for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 9 is that for the first week this season, they didn't lose.
The bad news for the Cincinnati Bengals is that the only reason they didn't lose is because they didn't play. And by virtue of the Miami Dolphins' win over the New York Jets, the Bengals are now the lone winless team left in the NFL.
Actually, in a way, that last part may be good news. The Bengals' decision to bench Andy Dalton in favor of rookie Ryan Finley shows that Cincinnati is closing the book on "The Red Rifle" era in the Queen City.
With the inside track now on the first pick in the 2020 draft, the Bengals could either have their pick of a presumably deep crop of signal-callers in next year's class or (if Finley plays well) the opportunity to flip that selection for a bevy of draft picks.
Either way, it's rebuild time in Cincinnati—again. And Sobleski's not exactly filled with confidence that the franchise can pull one off.
"Only the Bengals can lose during their bye week," he wrote. "Since the Miami Dolphins actually won a game, the Bengals became the league's only winless team. They might not even be as good as their record indicates. The front office certainly doesn't know how to plan long term despite the franchise's disastrous season by holding onto A.J. Green and Andy Dalton at the trade deadline. Can Cincinnati be ranked lower than 32nd overall?"
31. New York Jets (1-7)
Last Week: 28
Week 9 Result: Lost at Miami 26-18
So this is what rock bottom looks like.
When Sam Darnold led the New York Jets to an upset of the Dallas Cowboys back in Week 6, it appeared they may have turned a corner.
That game was followed by a shutout loss to the Patriots. Then a two-touchdown loss to a so-so Jacksonville Jaguars team. And now an eight-point defeat on the road against a Miami team that had won a grand total of zero games in 2019.
An injury-ravaged Jets defense allowed 316 total yards to a Dolphins team that entered Week 9 31st in the league offensively. The one team ranked below Miami?
The Jets, who were 5-of-14 on third downs and 1-of-3 in the red zone.
"The Jets have now gone full dumpster fire," Davenport said. "A few days after reportedly shopping a number of big-name players, they got rolled by a winless Dolphins team and now sit in the AFC East basement. The first year of the Adam Gase era has been a full-blown catastrophe, and given how things have completely fallen apart for Gang Green, it's fair to wonder if there will be a second one."
"Adam Gase was brought in to revamp the Jets offense, which has way more talent than Miami's or Washington's or Cincinnati's," Gagnon added. "And yet New York is the only team in the NFL averaging fewer than 12 points per game. Utterly unacceptable. The Gase hire was a joke at the time, and the team would be best-served moving on now."
30. Miami Dolphins (1-7)
Last Week: 32
Week 9 Result: Won vs. New York Jets 26-18
Break up the Dolphins!
It can be argued that all the Miami Dolphins did in winning their first game of the season Sunday is cost themselves draft position in 2020. This is still a terrible football team in the early stages of a ground-up rebuild.
But for the players who have suffered through defeat after defeat this season and watched as Miami traded away players like offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, it had to feel good to get a taste of success, fleeting though it may be.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't going to be in Miami's long-term plans. He's a temporary band-aid—the definition of a stopgap solution at quarterback. But the king of the journeymen showed once again he's capable of the occasional big game, throwing three touchdown passes and posting a passer rating of 118.8.
Fitzmagic strikes again.
And the Dolphins are in last place in the AFC East no more.
29. Washington Redskins (1-8)
Last Week: 30
Week 9 Result: Lost at Buffalo 24-9
Sunday in Buffalo, the player the Washington Redskins hope is their quarterback of the future made his first career start.
Here's hoping the future's brighter than the present—because Dwayne Haskins didn't exactly shine in Buffalo.
Granted, it came against one of the best pass defenses in football, and to his credit, Haskins didn't turn the ball over. But he also failed to pass for 150 yards, and the Redskins were shut out of the end zone in a lopsided loss.
Washington's offense entered Sunday's action dead last in the NFC in total offense, averaging 261.4 yards per game. With Haskins at the helm, the Redskins came in about 20 yards under that admittedly low bar, and the only offensive player who had any real success was veteran tailback Adrian Peterson.
The Redskins are awful, and that's not likely to change anytime soon—regardless of who starts under center the rest of the way.
At least they play the Jets after a Week 10 bye.
New York will make any team look good.
28. Atlanta Falcons (1-7)
Last Week: 29
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
As Jeff Schultz wrote at The Athletic, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he was going to use the bye week to take a hard look at what has gone wrong with his 1-7 team and where to go from here—including the future of head coach Dan Quinn.
"We'll take the next couple of weeks during this bye period and evaluate where we are, and whatever decision we make, it will be for the right reasons and long term," he said, adding later with punctuation, "I'm not bashful about making those decisions."
Quinn survived the bye week, and as such probably won't be fired in-season. But it's still hard to imagine him being Atlanta's head coach in 2020. This is a team that's been barreling in the wrong direction since blowing a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI—from 11-5 that season to 10-6 in 2017, 7-9 in 2018 and then this year's catastrophe.
The biggest indictment against Quinn in 2019 is no doubt Atlanta's 27th-ranked defense—a unit that has struggled in just about every way imaginable this year.
Not a good look for a coach whose defensive acumen got him the gig in Atlanta to begin with.
27. New York Giants (2-7)
Last Week: 27
Week 9 Result: Lost vs. Dallas 37-18
There was plenty of frustration at MetLife Stadium after yet another turnover-filled performance from Daniel Jones in New York's fifth consecutive loss.
All the momentum that the rookie quarterback built up during wins in his first two games is now long gone. After losing two fumbles and throwing a pick Monday night, Jones now has 16 turnovers in seven games.
To be fair, it's not entirely Jones' fault the Giants are mired in this funk. The young quarterback still doesn't have a full complement of pass-catchers at his disposal, with Sterling Shepard sitting out another game with a concussion. The defense is terrible. Rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker is somehow worse than terrible.
But it's no secret that in the NFL, turnovers are the absolute kiss of death.
And until Jones learns to take better care of the football, victories are going to be few and far between for the Giants.
26. Cleveland Browns (2-6)
Last Week: 25
Week 9 Result: Lost at Denver 24-19
The Cleveland Browns stink.
After laying an egg in Denver against a team led by a backup quarterback who had never attempted a regular-season pass, it's time to stop with the talk of a second-half rebound borne of a soft schedule. If the Browns couldn't beat the Broncos, they probably aren't beating Buffalo in Week 10. Or Pittsburgh in Week 11.
The problems are legion. For the first time in a long time, the Browns avoiding committing costly penalties and turnovers Sunday, but they were also a pitiful 1-of-5 in the red zone. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has regressed severely in his second season. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has mostly been a non-factor—and he (maybe) isn't happy about it.
Then there's first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens.
"Choosing a QB sneak over handing the ball to a tailback averaging over five yards a pop is one thing," Davenport said. "But for Nick Chubb to have not even been on the field for that pivotal play is just the latest example of how out of his depth Kitchens is. Questions regarding whether he could handle the jump to head coach have been answered with a resounding no. At this point, the question is becoming less about whether Kitchens will be a one-and-done head coach and more about whether he'll make it to the end of the season. It's that bad."
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6)
Last Week: 24
Week 9 Result: Lost at Seattle 40-34 (OT)
After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers squandered a 21-7 lead and fell to 2-6 on the season after an overtime loss in Seattle, quarterback Jameis Winston was apparently feeling rather philosophical about the status of the franchise.
"The glass is always full," Winston said, via Greg Auman of The Athletic. "Just because it might be half full of water, it's still full of air. So we've got to keep that glass full, got to keep a chip on our shoulder and we've got to find a way to win."
It was just the latest disappointment in a season filled with them for the Buccaneers. Tampa has now dropped five of its last six, with the only bright spot during that dark stretch a win over the Los Angeles Rams that looks weirder by the week.
Per Auman, it's the third time in just over a year that the Buccaneers have scored 34 points in a loss.
Now five back of the Saints in the loss column, Tampa's season is over at the halfway point…again.
24. Denver Broncos (3-6)
Last Week: 26
Week 9 Result: Won vs. Cleveland 24-19
As it turns out, all the Denver Broncos needed to do to notch a win was start a quarterback who hasn't started a game since the 2016 Liberty Bowl.
When Brandon Allen last threw a pass in a game that counted, he was at the University of Arkansas and Peyton Manning was about to make the final playoff run of his Hall of Fame career.
Allen's not going to solve Denver's issues at quarterback—issues that have existed since Manning rode off into the sunset. But in throwing for 193 yards and two scores against the reeling Cleveland Browns, Allen showed that he can at least keep the Broncos in games until rookie Drew Lock is healthy enough to play.
"The Broncos might have found something in Brandon Allen," Sobleski said. "By no means should he be viewed as a potential long-term answer after only one start, but he worked well within Denver's offensive scheme and didn't make any major mistakes against the Cleveland Browns defense—which may not be saying much. Denver's season may not fall completely apart as it appeared to be heading into last week's trade deadline."
Once Lock is healed up, he'll probably give way to the second-round pick. The Broncos need to see what (if anything) they have in Lock. This is a team with a stout defense, solid skill-position talent and a pair of good young tailbacks.
If the Broncos can get improved play at football's most coveted position, they could turn things around relatively quickly.
23. Tennessee Titans (4-5)
Last Week: 22
Week 9 Result: Lost at Carolina 30-20
The Tennessee Titans are not a bad football team.
However, the Tennessee Titans are also not a good team.
After winning his first two starts, veteran Ryan Tannehill looked a lot more like the quarterback who was mediocre during his tenure with the Miami Dolphins. The 331 passing yards were nice. The pair of costly interceptions, not so much.
In some respects, the Titans are stuck in a place no team wants to be. At 4-5, a postseason trip is highly unlikely. But six or perhaps even seven wins are a real possibility.
The Titans are too good to earn the sort of high draft pick it often takes to land a franchise quarterback, and they're too bad to make it anywhere near the playoffs.
There's no worse place to be in the NFL than the middle—and it can be a hard trap to escape once you're mired there.
22. Arizona Cardinals (3-5-1)
Last Week: 21
Week 9 Result: Lost vs. San Francisco 28-25
The schedule hasn't been doing the Arizona Cardinals any favors of late. Just four days after getting blown out in New Orleans, the Cardinals squared off Thursday against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers—and they were forced to do so without their top two tailbacks in David Johnson and Chase Edmonds.
The Redbirds came up short at home, but if there's such a thing as a moral victory, they may well have notched one in giving the 49ers all they could handle.
Just a few days after joining the team, Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake lit up the conference's best defense for over 150 total yards and a score. Arizona piled up 357 total yards against a San Francisco defense that entered the week surrendering well fewer than 250.
The Cardinals aren't going to the playoffs in 2019. But there's no denying Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray have the franchise headed in the right direction.
21. Chicago Bears (3-5)
Last Week: 18
Week 9 Result: Lost at Philadelphia 22-14
Earlier this week, head coach Matt Nagy pointed to the World Series champion Washington Nationals as inspiration for the Bears. If the Nats could turn their season around after starting 19-31, so could the Bears.
On Sunday, Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky struck out against the Philadelphia Eagles—on three pitches.
Trubisky has struggled in a big way this season, but Week 9 may have been the nadir. Facing a banged-up Eagles secondary that had allowed the sixth-most touchdown passes in the NFL entering Week 9, Trubisky was awful—10 completions in 21 attempts for 125 yards.
At 3-5 with road games still to go at Green Bay, Minnesota and the Los Angeles Rams, the odds of the Bears making the playoffs are essentially nil. The chances of the team finishing with a .500 record aren't much better.
"Here's the cold, hard truth," Davenport said. "Trubisky's not a franchise quarterback. Chicago's defensive success masked that last year, but in 2019, it's been laid bare for all to see. The question now is whether the Bears have the sense to admit it. Whether it's now with Chase Daniel or in the offseason, a change under center needs to be made. Until that happens, the Bears aren't going anywhere."
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5)
Last Week: 17
Week 9 Result: Lost vs. Houston 26-3 (London)
We may have seen the end of Minshew Mania in London on Sunday.
Granted, it's not entirely Gardner Minshew II's fault that the Jaguars were destroyed by the Houston Texans in Week 9. He wasn't on the field when the Jags were gashed for 216 yards on the ground.
But when Minshew was on the field, it wasn't pretty. The rookie signal-caller was responsible for all four turnovers by the Jaguars, throwing two interceptions and losing a pair of fumbles.
It was an ugly performance at the worst possible time—by the time the Jaguars return from their Week 10 bye, it's believed that veteran Nick Foles could be ready to return from the broken collarbone he suffered in Week 1.
Per John Oehser of the team's website, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said he plans to "step away" before making a decision regarding who will start under center when the Jags head to Indianapolis in Week 11.
Minshew didn't do anything to help his case against the Texans.
"Gardner Minshew II has now struggled in three of his last four games, and the Jaguars shouldn't think twice about going back to Nick Foles if Foles is ready on the other side of the ball," Gagnon said. "Minshew isn't consistent enough, and neither are the Jags right now."
19. Los Angeles Chargers (4-5)
Last Week: 23
Week 9 Result: Won vs. Green Bay 26-11
The National Football League can be impossible to figure out sometimes.
The Los Angeles Chargers entered 2019 a playoff contender, but they didn't look the part for much of the early-going. After their third consecutive defeat at Tennessee in Week 7, the Chargers fell to 2-5 and looked finished.
However, since then, the team has rallied. Well, sort of—the Chargers would have lost in Chicago were it not for a missed field goal. But Sunday's win over the Green Bay Packers was legit—and decisive.
The Chargers completely shut down the Green Bay offense, surrendering just 184 yards of total offense. Meanwhile, the Bolts piled up 442 yards of their own, building a 19-0 lead before the Packers even got on the board.
The Chargers have two more games before the bye—next week at an improved Oakland team, and then in Mexico City against the Kansas City Chiefs.
If they can somehow pull those out and hit the bye at 6-5, L.A.'s once-dead postseason aspirations may just have some life after all.
18. Detroit Lions (3-4-1)
Last Week: 15
Week 9 Result: Lost at Oakland 31-24
It's official—the Detroit Lions are in free-fall mode.
After going undefeated over the first three weeks of the 2019 season, the Lions have now dropped four of five after losing a heartbreaker late in Oakland in Week 9. The reason for that slump isn't hard to pinpoint, but it is surprising.
Matt Patricia's defense has been awful. Over this skid, the Lions are surrendering over 31 points per game. They now rank dead last in the NFC in total defense (424.1 yards per game) and 25th in scoring defense.
It's not quite panic time yet—three of Detroit's next four games come against bottom-four offenses, including a pair of contests against the reeling Chicago Bears.
But even if the Lions win all three of those games and head to Minnesota in Week 14 with a 6-5-1 record (assuming a Week 11 loss to Dallas), it's difficult to see this Lions team—with this leaky defense—making a run in December and getting into the postseason.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)
Last Week: 20
Week 9 Result: Won vs. Indianapolis 26-24
Between starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's season-ending elbow injury and the team's 1-4 start, the Pittsburgh Steelers were written off by most some time ago.
The Steelers aren't going to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LIV. Making the playoffs at all is a tall order too. But it's been impressive to see this banged-up squad peel off three wins in a row to get back to .500.
Roethlisberger wasn't the only key offensive player who missed Sunday's win over the Indianapolis Colts. With running back James Conner on the shelf with a shoulder injury, the Steelers turned to Jaylen Samuels in the backfield. Samuels wasn't much of factor as a runner, but he piled up 13 receptions for 73 yards and helped keep the chains moving.
It's the story of these Steelers over the past month-plus. One player goes down, another steps up.
And while the season hasn't gone how Pittsburgh had planned, there's reason for the team to be proud of its 4-4 record at the halfway point.
"The Steelers aren't a great team," Gagnon said, "but that high-flying, opportunistic defense will continue to keep them in games down the stretch. They now have 20 takeaways in their last six outings. In the weak AFC, they've got a shot at the playoffs."
16. Oakland Raiders (4-4)
Last Week: 19
Week 9 Result: Won vs. Detroit 31-24
The Oakland Raiders are in relatively uncharted waters after beating the Detroit Lions in Week 9. The Raiders are 4-4—just one back of the division-leading Chiefs in the AFC West.
Rookie tailback Josh Jacobs came up huge yet again in the win over the Lions, with 28 carries, 120 yards and two touchdowns. At the halfway mark of his first season, the former Alabama standout is averaging almost five yards a carry and is on a pace that would bring him up just shy of 1,500 yards for the season.
The Raiders are also well-positioned to keep the good times rolling. Next week's matchup with the Chargers presents a stiff test after what the Bolts did to the Green Bay Packers, but the two games that follow come against Jets and Bengals teams that have combined for all of one win in 2019.
The Raiders could easily be 6-5 (or maybe even 7-4) when their Week 13 rematch with the division-leading Chiefs rolls around.
In other words, Oakland could be playing meaningful games in December—just like exactly no one predicted.
15. Carolina Panthers (5-3)
Last Week: 16
Week 9 Result: Won vs. Tennessee 30-20
When we last saw the Carolina Panthers, they were being completely dismantled by the San Francisco 49ers.
Luckily for the Panthers, the Tennessee Titans are not the San Francisco 49ers.
Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey provided further evidence on Sunday to back up his Most Valuable Player Award candidacy. McCaffrey was responsible for 166 total yards and all three of Carolina's touchdowns against the Titans, scoring twice on the ground and once on a reception.
Quarterback Kyle Allen had a better game, but it still wasn't especially great—17-of-32 for 232 yards, two scores and a pick. Those numbers aside, though, Allen's also won five of his six starts and kept the Panthers in the hunt for a playoff spot.
"The Panthers are a good team with a very good defense and a great tailback in McCaffrey," Davenport said. "But Carolina's also a tier below teams like San Francisco, New Orleans, Green Bay and Seattle. They may make the playoffs in 2019, but they aren't doing any damage in the second season."
14. Dallas Cowboys (5-3)
Last Week: 14
Week 9 Result: Won at New York Giants 37-18
From a quick glance at the score, one would think the Dallas Cowboys dominated the New York Giants on Monday night. And in some respects, they did. The defense forced three turnovers, notched five sacks and returned a fumble for a score.
But while the Dallas offense amassed 429 yards of offense, Dak Prescott threw a pair of 40-plus-yard touchdowns and Ezekiel Elliott topped 100 rushing yards, it was a game in which the Cowboys started sluggishly on offense, made far too many unforced mistakes and led by just a point at the half.
That a black cat ran on the field at MetLife Stadium in the second quarter was fitting. It was a contest with a weird vibe.
"When you look at the personnel on the roster, the Cowboys look like a team that should be able to hang with the big dogs in the NFC," Davenport said. "But unless this team plays with more consistency on offense over the season's second half, I can't see it beating the New Orleans Saints or San Francisco 49ers on the road in the postseason."
13. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)
Last Week: 13
Week 9 Result: Won vs. Chicago 22-14
A couple of weeks ago, the Philadelphia Eagles looked to be in real trouble after getting blown out in Dallas by the rival Cowboys.
However, the Eagles followed that up with their best effort of the season in Buffalo, and after downing the Bears at home in Week 9, Philadelphia heads into the bye week at 5-4 and back in the playoff hunt.
The bye week is coming at the perfect time for the Eagles. The team got veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson back against Chicago for the first time since Week 1, but his return was short-lived. Per ESPN's Tim McManus, Jackson will need surgery on the core muscle injury he suffered all the way back in Week 1.
It's a big blow, but it's also emblematic of an Eagles team that seemingly has guys banged up all over the place.
Philly needs to get as healthy as possible if the Eagles are going to keep the pressure on the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. The first two games coming out of the bye are big ones—home dates with the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.
But the team has at least built a little momentum as it gets some badly needed rest.
12. Indianapolis Colts (5-3)
Last Week: 6
Week 9 Result: Lost at Pittsburgh 26-24
That the Indianapolis Colts lost at Pittsburgh when Adam Vinatieri's last-second field goal sailed wide left was bad.
The knee injury suffered by starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the game could be much, much worse.
Per John Breech of CBS Sports, Colts head coach Frank Reich indicated the injury is likely a knee sprain (possibly the MCL), although further testing will be required in order to determine its exact severity.
Losing Brissett for an extended period would be a brutal blow to a Colts team that already saw Andrew Luck retire suddenly in the offseason. Veteran backup Brian Hoyer filled in for Brissett against the Steelers just fine, but there's only so many times a team can go to that well before it dries up.
The schedule at least cut the Colts a bit of a break. Indy has a massive showdown looming with the Houston Texans on November 24, but in the interim, the team has a pair of winnable games against the one-win Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars.
"The Colts have been a great story this year," Davenport said. "But you have to wonder how many more injuries this team can sustain before it reaches the breaking point. It doesn't help that while the Colts keep losing prominent players, the Texans are playing as well as they have all season long."
11. Buffalo Bills (6-2)
Last Week: 12
Week 9 Result: Won vs. Washington 24-9
The perception of the Buffalo Bills as a legitimate force in the AFC took a hit last week when they got pasted at home by the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Bills got back on the right track by returning the favor Sunday against the hapless Washington Redskins, and while there's still some debate as to whether the Bills are for real, their record says they are.
At 6-2, barring a major collapse over the second half, the Bills are going to the postseason.
Yes, there's still a second meeting on tap with a New England Patriots team that handed Buffalo one of its two losses this year. There's also a home date with the Baltimore Ravens and a trip to Dallas to face the Cowboys.
But Buffalo's next three games come across opponents that had fewer wins combined entering Week 9 than the Bills had by themselves. The Bills finish up the season with a home tilt against what's left of the New York Jets.
It's not hard at all to envision the Bills winning double-digit games in 2019—a feat the team hasn't accomplished in two decades.
"It's easy not to believe in the Bills," Sobleski said, "especially with Josh Allen leading the league's 23rd-ranked offense. At the same time, the Bills still own a top-three defense, and their schedule will keep them as the frontrunner for the top wild-card spot. This roster may be flawed but so is the rest of the AFC."
10. Los Angeles Rams (5-3)
Last Week: 13
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
After representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams entered the 2019 season with high expectations. By most estimations, the Rams have failed to meet those expectations. At 5-3, the team entered Week 9 in third place in the NFC West.
The Rams have struggled this year in areas where the team excelled during their Super Bowl run. Last year, the Rams ranked third in the NFL in rushing. This season that number has fallen to 20th heading into Week 9.
A year ago, the Rams' offensive line ranked in the top six in both run blocking and pass protection at Football Outsiders. This year, that number has dropped to ninth, and consistency has been an issue for the team up front.
None of this is to say the Rams aren't still a good team. But with the San Francisco 49ers steamrolling their way to a perfect 8-0 record, the Rams are already three back in the division.
As loaded as the NFC is this season, the Rams aren't going to have much margin for error when their second half starts next week at Pittsburgh.
9. Minnesota Vikings (6-3)
Last Week: 5
Week 9 Result: Lost at Kansas City 26-23
Just when you thought it was safe to trust the Minnesota Vikings as a Super Bowl contender.
Usually, there would be no shame in losing to the Chiefs in Kansas City. But these Chiefs weren't led by MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. They were led by journeyman backup Matt Moore.
And Moore played every bit as well as Kirk Cousins in Week 9—maybe better.
Cousins wasn't the only Vikings star who didn't have the best game. Tailback Dalvin Cook had 116 total yards, but he averaged just 3.4 yards per carry. Wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were complete non-factors in the game, with the latter aggravating his injured hamstring.
The Vikings have beaten the teams they were supposed to for the most part. But just one of Minnesota's six wins this year came against a team with a winning record. All three of Minnesota's losses happened in outdoor stadiums.
Things aren't going to get easier from here, either—two of the Vikings' next three games are on the road against playoff contenders in the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks.
At least one of those games will be indoors.
"The Vikings like to occasionally remind us not to overrate them," Gagnon said. "Reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Month Kirk Cousins was terrible in a game Minnesota had no business losing, and games like those remind me that I shouldn't trust Minnesota in December and January."
8. Houston Texans (6-3)
Last Week: 10
Week 9 Result: Won vs. Jacksonville 26-3 (London)
It's been an up-and-down week for the Houston Texans. The team notched a come-from-behind win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 8, but that victory came at a hefty price—star defensive end J.J. Watt went down in the game with a torn pectoral muscle that ended the three-time Defensive Player of the Year's season.
There was no such drama Sunday in London—just a thorough dismantling of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Texans dominated every aspect of the game. Offensively, they piled up a jaw-dropping 216 yards on the ground, including 160 yards on just 19 carries from tailback Carlos Hyde. Defensively, a banged-up unit made Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II miserable, sacking the rookie three times and forcing four turnovers.
It was arguably the Texans' most impressive effort of the 2019 season, and Houston heads into the bye week sitting at 6-3 and looking the part of the best team in the AFC South.
7. Green Bay Packers (7-2)
Last Week: 4
Week 9 Result: Lost at Los Angeles Chargers 26-11
For most of the 2019 season, the Green Bay Packers have looked like one of the best teams in the NFC.
Sunday in Los Angeles, the Packers looked like—something else.
This was a performance that was as ugly as it was baffling. Despite getting star wide receiver Davante Adams back, the Green Bay offense could do nothing against the Chargers—just 184 total yards. Green Bay didn't score a touchdown until the fourth quarter—when the game was already out of hand.
The defense didn't fare much better, surrendering almost 450 yards of total offense, including 159 on the ground.
"Green Bay's face-plant in La-La Land had to be the most surprising performance of Week 9," Davenport said, "but luckily for the team, the entire NFC North lost this week. Still, it was concerning to see a supposed Super Bowl contender get so thoroughly dominated by a Chargers team that hasn't looked impressive in quite some time. If the Packers rebound Sunday against Carolina, it can be written off as an aberration. If the Packers don't, though, then they'll head into the bye with some real doubts hanging over them."
6. Seattle Seahawks (7-2)
Last Week: 9
Week 9 Result: Won vs. Tampa Bay 40-34 (OT)
Russell Wilson is pretty good at the whole playing quarterback thing.
In a shootout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Wilson strengthened his case as the front-runner to be named the NFL's most valuable player in 2019, throwing for 378 yards and a franchise-record five touchdown passes. He led the Seahawks back from a 21-7 deficit to move to 7-2 and kept them from falling too far off the breakneck pace being set by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West.
It's those same 49ers the Seahawks will face next, and as the team enters preparation for that massive showdown, it'll do so with some major concerns on the defensive side of the ball after getting torched at home again to the tune of 418 yards of offense.
"The Seahawks are a really good team led by a great quarterback," Davenport said. "And with Russell Wilson playing out of his mind, Seattle's capable of beating anyone. But there's a big gap in defenses between the Seahawks and 49ers—a gap that could cost Seattle dearly in Week 10."
5. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
Last Week: 8
Week 9 Result: Won vs. Minnesota 26-23
When Patrick Mahomes went down with a fractured kneecap against the Denver Broncos, the edict for backup quarterback Matt Moore was clear.
Tread water. Don't try to do too much. Lean on Kansas City's skill-position talent. Weather the storm until the reigning NFL MVP returns.
By just about any estimation, Moore's done an excellent job in that regard—especially when you consider Moore was out of football altogether in 2018 and started 2019 as a scout for the Miami Dolphins.
The 35-year-old got plenty of help in Week 9 from running back Damien Williams, who topped 100 rushing yards and peeled off a franchise-record 91-yard score. And from wideout Tyreek Hill, who caught six passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. But Moore did his part, too, passing for 275 yards and posting a passer rating over 100.
Mahomes reportedly has a "realistic" shot of returning in Week 10 against the Tennessee Titans. But even if he doesn't, Moore's given the Chiefs plenty of reasons to be confident they can get a win without him.
4. Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
Last Week: 7
Week 9 Result: Won vs. New England 37-20
The Baltimore Ravens may have just peeled off the single most impressive victory of the 2019 season.
It's not just that they beat the undefeated New England Patriots by 17 points. Or that they gashed one of the NFL's best defenses for 210 yards on the ground. Or that quarterback Lamar Jackson once again showed he is arguably the hardest NFL player to defend.
This game wasn't as close as the final score indicated. Half of New England's points came on short fields after turnovers. There wasn't a facet in which the Ravens weren't markedly better.
Baltimore didn't just beat New England. It spanked the defending Super Bowl champions.
"The NFL can be flabbergasting," Sobleski said. "These Ravens, who toppled the previously undefeated Patriots on Sunday, lost handily to a Browns squad that's coming apart at the seams in September.
"But head coach John Harbaugh's squad rebounded with a four-game winning streak because it has what no one else does: Jackson at quarterback. The offense is like the service academies' triple-option schemes; it's nearly impossible to prepare for."
3. New England Patriots (8-1)
Last Week: 1
Week 9 Result: Lost at Baltimore 37-20
The mighty have fallen.
Actually, the previously unbeaten New England Patriots didn't so much fall on Sunday night. They were pushed down a flight of steps. The Ravens punished New England's vaunted defense, piling up over 200 rushing yards.
The Patriots have problems. The offensive line isn't especially good. The receiving corps is better after adding Mohamed Sanu, but it's still far from exceptional. The ground game didn't even get 75 yards against Baltimore.
"It's fair to at least ask if we were overrating the Patriots during the first half of the season," Gagnon said. "They were outplayed badly by the Ravens in a game that was more lopsided than the score would seem to indicate. It wouldn't be surprising if they had trouble against Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston and/or Kansas City following their Week 10 bye. But will that matter? They're almost certain to have home-field throughout the AFC playoffs anyway."
Davenport is more in tune with the end of that statement.
"Yes, the Patriots have some issues that were exposed Sunday night," he said. "But it seems like every year there's a 'What's wrong with the Pats?' game, which is usually followed by a winning streak and a deep playoff run. The Patriots are the Patriots partly because of their ability to bounce back from adversity and fix problems as they arise.
"All due credit to the Ravens, but New England remains the class of the AFC until someone knocks it out of the postseason."
2. New Orleans Saints (7-1)
Last Week: 2
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
You can't say enough about how well the New Orleans Saints played over the first half of the season.
It's not surprising that they are in first place in the NFC South. They entered 2019 as the favorites in the division and one of the leading candidates to represent their conference in Super Bowl LIV.
But they played five of their first eight games without superstar quarterback Drew Brees and two contests without starting tailback Alvin Kamara.
They didn't miss a beat.
Teddy Bridgewater threw nine touchdown passes against just two interceptions in Brees' stead, winning all five of his starts. In his first season in New Orleans, running back Latavius Murray has averaged 4.5 yards a carry and peeled off 100-yard rushing games in both of the contests Kamara missed.
It's a testament to the players—who rallied with Brees out—and to the coaches, who held things together while undermanned.
Now the Saints should come out of their bye at full strength (or close to it) and be poised to make a run over the second half.
1. San Francisco 49ers (8-0)
Last Week: 3
Week 9 Result: Won at Arizona 28-25
On one hand, it was a successful week for the still-undefeated San Francisco 49ers.
Playing on the road against an opponent they hadn't beaten since 2014, the Niners took care of business on a short week. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had easily his best game of the season, throwing for 317 yards and four scores. Emmanuel Sanders had a huge performance as well, catching seven passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in his second contest with San Francisco.
But the usually potent ground game managed just 101 yards and 3.3 yards a carry. And the defense was gashed by a tailback who had only been with the Cardinals a few days. Kenyan Drake recorded 162 total yards.
One week after destroying the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco looked…mortal.
"The Niners deserve credit for gutting out a win on a short week," Davenport said, "and they are still (by virtue of their record) the highest-ranked team in the NFC for me. But the running game struggled against Arizona, and the defense had real problems when the Cardinals went uptempo. Both are cause for concern heading into next week's Monday night showdown with the division rival Seahawks."
Still, the Niners won...and that leaves them as the league's lone undefeated team and the new No. 1 in these power rankings.
"All hail to the new kings of the mountain," Sobleski said. "The reason behind the upward movement is simple: An undefeated record with quality play from both sides of the ball deserves such recognition. The 49ers are going to get better in the coming weeks too. Starting offensive tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey and fullback Kyle Juszczyk are expected back for San Francisco's next contest against Seattle."