NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 10
If one thing is certain in the NFL, it's that nothing is certain in the NFL.
Just look at what happened in Week 9.
In Buffalo, Bills quarterback Josh Allen outdueled MVP front-runner Russell Wilson. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had won six of their past seven games, were on the wrong end of a 38-3 beatdown against the New Orleans Saints.
A bad Cowboys team gave the undefeated Steelers all they could handle in Dallas. A good Miami Dolphins team continued to surprise in Arizona. The Los Angeles Chargers found a new way to lose a close game in excruciating fashion.
As is the case following every week this season, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski have gathered to sift through the week that was and rank the league's teams from worst to first.
There were plenty of risers and fallers this week, including a new No. 1 team.
32. New York Jets (0-9)
Last Week: 32
Week 9 Result: Lost vs. New England 30-27
Oh, Jets. No one Jets like you Jet.
For much of Monday's game against the rival New England Patriots, it looked like they were going to post their first victory of the season. They scored 27 points—more than twice as many as their season average entering Week 9.
Then the Jets remembered they were the Jets.
Joe Flacco (who had played well to that point in the game) decided to throw-punt a first-down pass in the fourth quarter that was easily intercepted. An exhausted defense was forced back onto the field and couldn't get a stop, and kicker Nick Folk put through a 51-yarder as time expired to send his old team to 0-9 for the first time in franchise history.
On some level, this was worse than getting embarrassed by the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8.
The Jets were in this game. The Jets had this game. And with the bye coming up, the Jets will have an extra week to think about that.
At least Gang Green is still on course for the No. 1 overall pick.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7)
Last Week: 30
Week 9 Result: Lost 27-25 vs. Houston
Move over, Minshew Mania. It's time for Luton Lunacy in Jacksonville.
With Gardner Minshew II on the shelf with a thumb injury, sixth-round rookie Jake Luton made his first career start Sunday against the Houston Texans. The Jaguars came up just short at the end, but Luton finished with 304 passing yards, two total touchdowns and a passer rating of 90.2.
While Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone wouldn't officially name him the team's Week 10 starter, he told reporters that he was impressed by how Luton comported himself:
"I thought he made some really nice throws. I'm sure there's some he wants back. First time you're starting and down by a score and two-point conversion and lead your team down the field and potentially tie the game with a two-point conversion, that's a check mark. There's a lot of check marks."
Neither Minshew nor Luton is likely the long-term answer for a Jaguars team squarely in the mix in the Trevor Lawrence/Justin Fields sweepstakes in 2021.
But at the very least, a QB controversy adds some intrigue to another miserable season in Duval County.
30. Dallas Cowboys (2-7)
Last Week: 26
Week 9 Result: Lost 24-19 vs. Pittsburgh
With fourth-string quarterback Garrett Gilbert under center, the Dallas Cowboys jumped out to a 13-0 lead over the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and led the game in the fourth quarter.
But good news has been rare in Big D this season, and the same held true Sunday. Dallas had a last-ditch chance as a game-winning touchdown, but like just about everything else for the Cowboys this year, that came up short.
At this point, it would probably behoove the Cowboys to keep losing. They aren't going anywhere in 2020, even in a bad NFC East. The more losses that pile up, the higher their picks in the 2021 NFL draft.
It isn't what the Cowboys expected to aspire to in 2020. But that's just the kind of year it has been in Dallas.
29. Washington Football Team (2-6)
Last Week: 26
Week 9 Result: Lost vs. New York Giants 23-20
Things just keep getting worse for the Washington Football Team.
It's bad enough that Washington lost to the New York Giants for the second time this season. Or that Washington is the only team the Giants have defeated in 2020. But Washington is also on quarterback No. 3 for the foreseeable future.
In the first quarter of Sunday's game, Kyle Allen was carted off the field with a dislocated ankle, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. That puts veteran Alex Smith on track to start his first game since he suffered a gruesome leg injury of his own on the same field back in 2018.
Smith threw three picks against the Giants, but he topped 300 passing yards and brought Washington back from a 20-3 halftime deficit. However, Smith's offensive line allowed two sacks and seven QB hits, and the Washington defense surrendered 166 rushing yards to a struggling Giants offense.
28. Detroit Lions (3-5)
Last Week: 25
Week 9 Result: Lost 34-20 at Minnesota
A few weeks ago, it appeared as though we had underestimated the Detroit Lions.
As it turns out, we did not.
In fairness, quarterback Matthew Stafford missed practice all week after he landed on the COVID-19 list for the second time this season. But his absence from the practice field wasn't why he threw two costly interceptions against the Minnesota Vikings. Or why Vikings running back Dalvin Cook went off for 252 total yards. Or why Detroit surrendered almost 500 yards of offense.
With the loss, the Lions drop to 3-5 and have retaken a spot that is all too familiar: last place in the NFC North.
And at the rate the season is going, another change at head coach and a high pick in the 2021 draft look to be looming on the horizon.
"Considering they've hardly been competitive in back-to-back losses to teams that aren't exactly juggernauts, it might be time to consider a complete makeover for the Lions," Gagnon wrote. "They've now lost 17 of their last 21 games. Matthew Stafford might never be the quarterback they wanted him to be, and the Matt Patricia experiment hasn't worked at all."
27. New York Giants (2-7)
Last Week: 31
Week 9 Result: Won at Washington 23-20
It's been a long, dark season for the New York Giants. A three-point win on the road at Washington doesn't change that.
But it's at least a small step in the right direction for a Giants team that has seemingly been moving in reverse all season long.
The Giants have been inching toward a win for a while now. After beating Washington to earn their first victory of the season in Week 6, the Giants lost to the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers by three combined points.
On Sunday, the Giants were finally able to hang on, largely because their defense continued to play well.
Washington quarterback Alex Smith threw for more than 300 yards, but he also threw three picks, including the game-sealer late. New York also recovered a pair of fumbles and notched a pair of sacks.
Now it's a matter of notching a win against a team that isn't Washington.
26. Los Angeles Chargers (2-6)
Last Week: 22
Week 9 Result: Lost 31-26 vs. Las Vegas
The Los Angeles Chargers have become the masters of losing close games. Every one of their six defeats this season has been by seven or fewer points.
In Week 8, Broncos quarterback Drew Lock threw a touchdown pass on the final play of the game. In Week 9 against the Las Vegas Raiders, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throw a touchdown pass on the final play of the game, but it was overturned after replays showed Donald Parham Jr. didn't control the ball as he fell to the ground.
The Chargers got another great outing out of Herbert, who threw for 326 yards and two scores even without the would-be game-winner. But just as in all of Herbert's starts save Week 7 against the woeful Jaguars, it amounted to jack squat.
The Chargers have now lost a staggering 15 games over the last two seasons by seven points or fewer.
"Herbert has been spectacular," Sobleski said. "But the Chargers can't find ways to win close games. Some might argue breaks haven't gone their way. While that's true to an extent, the Chargers aren't helping themselves. For example, Herbert shouldn't be throwing a fade—which is a low-probability throw—to a third-string tight end on the final play with a potential win within reach. That alone should be a fireable offense."
25. Denver Broncos (3-5)
Last Week: 21
Week 9 Result: Lost 34-27 at Atlanta
It's just about time to give up on the notion that the Denver Broncos are anything but a bad team.
From a quick glance at the scoreboard, it might appear that the Broncos held their own Sunday in Atlanta. But much like the Broncos themselves, that's a mirage. The Broncos trailed this game 20-3 at halftime and 27-6 before mounting a semi-comeback in garbage time.
By the time this game became competitive, it had already been decided. And at 3-5 through eight games, the Broncos are headed toward a fourth straight losing season and their third season in four years with double-digit defeats.
"Let's get real, Denver," Davenport said. "Vic Fangio isn't the answer at head coach, and Drew Lock isn't the long-term answer at quarterback. Right now, the Broncos are in purgatory: too good to be really bad, but nowhere near good enough to be a real contender. Another 6-10 or 7-9 season isn't going to net the Broncos a high enough pick to get a franchise quarterback. Can we interest you in a lightly used Jameis Winston?"
24. Houston Texans (2-6)
Last Week: 28
Week 9 Result: Won 27-25 at Jacksonville
A two-point win over a terrible Jacksonville Jaguars team doesn't change the disastrous trajectory of the 2020 season for the Houston Texans.
So, let's talk about defensive end J.J. Watt, who became the fourth-fastest player in league history to tally 100 career sacks on Sunday.
In typical Watt fashion, he took little credit for the achievement while speaking to teammates in the locker room, per Matt Young of the Houston Chronicle.
"A hundred sacks is great, but that's a whole bunch of teammates, coaches, coverages, D-linemen, linebackers, that's a whole bunch of people, training staff, cafeteria staff, a whole lot of people helping me make that happen. So, while I may get a lot of media attention today for this, just know that it's because of you, it's because of everybody who helped make it happen. It's never just about one person, so I want to say thank you. I appreciate it."
Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Watt will almost certainly be traded in the offseason after he made it clear that he isn't interested in participating in a rebuild.
So, enjoy these last eight games with the greatest player in Texans history, Houston fans.
23. Atlanta Falcons (3-6)
Last Week: 29
Week 9 Result: Won 34-27 vs. Denver
Here we go again with the Atlanta Falcons...maybe.
For the second straight season, the Falcons were a dumpster fire early in the year. That double dip of dismal cost head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff their jobs.
But just as in 2020, the Falcons have gathered some momentum heading into the second half. Sunday's win over the Denver Broncos was their second in a row and third in four weeks. As Mark Bradley wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, interim head coach Raheem Morris isn't giving up on 2020 just yet.
"When you go 0-5, (confidence is) going to be an issue," Morris said. "When you win (a few), that’s what you call a streak. Let’s see how long we can keep the streak going."
Atlanta heads into a Week 10 bye with somewhat of a head of steam. But before fans start thinking about a second half run a la last year, consider this sobering fact: Of Atlanta's seven remaining games, six are against teams that currently have a winning record, including trips to Tampa, New Orleans and Kansas City.
22. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1)
Last Week: 20
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
It's rare for a team with two wins at the midway point of the season to have optimism. But after a decisive win against the Tennessee Titans in Week 8, that's where the Cincinnati Burrows are.
What? You mean the Bengals haven't named themselves after Joe Burrow yet?
The first overall pick in the 2020 draft has been as advertised for the Bengals. He's completed 67.0 percent of his passes while averaging more than 280 passing yards per game and posting a passer rating of 91.4.
"I'm just scratching the surface on where I can be and where I can go," Burrow told reporters last week. "So, that's the most exciting thing for me. Obviously, there's a lot to improve. I'm nowhere near where I can be or need to be, but I think I'm off to a pretty good start."
There's still work to be done in Cincinnati, especially on defense and along the offensive line. But hitting on a young quarterback can have a seismic effect on the fortunes of an NFL franchise.
From all indications, the Bengals have.
21. New England Patriots (3-5)
Last Week: 23
Week 9 Result: Won at New York Jets 30-27
The New England Patriots felt good about their Week 9 win over the New York Jets for about three seconds—the amount of time it took Nick Folk's 51-yard game-winner to sail through the uprights.
Other than that? Not so much.
This isn't to say there weren't positives. After struggling mightily with turnovers during their four-game skid, the Patriots didn't turn it over and ground out 159 yards on the ground. Cam Newton played a mistake-free game and tallied 290 total yards and two scores, both of which came on the ground. Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers piled up 12 catches for 169 yards.
But had Joe Flacco not gifted a fourth-quarter interception to the Patriots, New England would likely have lost to a winless Jets team that entered Week 9 averaging 11.8 points per game.
New York scored 27 against the Patriots.
"This was less springboard than stay of execution," Davenport said. "The Patriots aren't a bad football team. But they aren't a good one, either. Nothing that happened Monday night changes that."
20. San Francisco 49ers (4-5)
Last Week: 17
Week 9 Result: Lost vs. Green Bay 34-17
There's a relatively long track record of teams losing a Super Bowl and then struggling the following season. But what has happened to the San Francisco 49ers in 2020 is unprecedented.
Injuries have ravaged the Niners. During Thursday's loss to the Green Bay Packers, they didn't field a single player who gained a yard in last year's NFC Championship Game.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was out. So was tight end George Kittle, running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman and wide receivers Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne and Brandon Aiyuk.
Nine games into the season, the 49ers are in last place in the brutal NFC West. And the schedule isn't doing them any favors. Five of their final seven games are against teams with a winning record, including trips to New Orleans and Los Angeles and a home date with the Buffalo Bills over the next three weeks.
Don't be surprised if the defending NFC champions are 4-8 when Washington comes to visit on December 13.
19. Minnesota Vikings (3-5)
Last Week: 24
Week 9 Result: Won 34-20 vs. Detroit
It's Dalvin Cook's world. The rest of us are just living in it.
One week after gashing the Green Bay Packers for 226 total yards and four touchdowns over the Green Bay Packers, Cook went ballistic again against the Detroit Lions. The fourth-year pro averaged over nine yards per carry on 22 totes, piled up a staggering 252 total yards and found the end zone twice.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer talked up his star running back after the game:
"Dalvin is a terrific player because it doesn't matter to him. Obviously he wants to get 200 yards every week but he's going to do all the dirty work ... he's going to do everything. That's why he's a captain. That's why he comes to work every single day. He's a terrific leader, he's energetic and guys in the locker room really love him."
Thanks to Cook, the Vikings have life. And while there's a long way to go before we can start talking about a wild-card berth, they're going to keep ascending these rankings if Cook keeps playing like this.
"Hand the ball to Dalvin Cook and good things happen," Sobleski said. "The running back has saved the Vikings' season since he returned from a groin injury. Cook's 478 total yards and six touchdowns over the last two weeks is an entire season for some running backs. At 3-5 with an established identity, Minnesota still has life in the playoff hunt."
18. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1)
Last Week: 19
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
For a first-place team, the Philadelphia Eagles have quite a few problems.
Injuries have wrecked them on both sides of the ball. But according to Daniel Gallen of Penn Live, perhaps their biggest issue is the poor play of quarterback Carson Wentz.
"Among qualifying quarterbacks. Wentz ranks 32nd in completion percentage (58.4%), 24th in touchdown percentage (3.9%), first in interceptions (12), 30th in yards per attempt (6.2), first in sacks (32), second in fumbles (seven) and 30th in passer rating (73.2). He turned the ball over four times (in Week 8) against the Cowboys, and the defense bailed him out after three of those. The Eagles need to hope that Wentz can turn things around in the second half."
The schedule doesn't do the Eagles any favors after the bye, either. After traveling to New York to face the Giants in Week 10, Philly faces five straight against teams with winning records: at Cleveland, vs. Seattle, at Green Bay, vs. New Orleans and at Arizona.
If they survive that gauntlet, the Eagles will more than likely make the playoffs.
17. Carolina Panthers (3-6)
Last Week: 18
Week 9 Result: Lost 33-31 at Kansas City
The Carolina Panthers might well be the best "bad" team in the NFL.
The Panthers got star running back Christian McCaffrey back in Week 9, and he immediately went right back to being the centerpiece of their offense. Although he piled up 151 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater might have been Carolina's MVP at Arrowhead.
Bridgewater did his best to match Patrick Mahpmes blow for blow, throwing for 310 yards and two scores with a passer rating of 103.3.
But as has been the case far too often this year, Carolina came up short in the end, largely because a defense that allowed almost 400 yards of offense couldn't get stops when it needed to.
The Panthers have now dropped four straight after a 3-2 start, and with an angry Tampa Bay Buccaneers team coming to Bank of America Stadium in Week 10, the Panthers' fading playoff hopes are hanging by the slimmest of threads.
16. Chicago Bears (5-4)
Last Week: 12
Week 9 Result: Lost 24-17 at Tennessee
After downing the Carolina Panthers in Week 6, the Chicago Bears were sitting at 5-1 and were very much in the NFC North hunt heading into a three-game stretch against teams with winning records.
After falling 24-17 to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in a game that wasn't that close, the Bears are now 5-4 and clinging to wild-card hopes.
No one should be surprised the Bears are struggling, though. They've been a hot mess offensively for most of the season. Heading into Week 9, they were a dismal 29th in yards per game and 28th in scoring.
Against the Titans, the Bears managed only 56 rushing yards on 20 carries. Chicago was the last team in the early slate to score a point, and it trailed 17-0 before making the game closer in garbage time.
The Bears have a great defense. Unfortunately, they also have a terrible offense. Add it all together, and you have a moribund morass of mediocrity.
"After a mirage of a start, the real Bears are standing up with three consecutive losses," Gagnon said. Sunday's loss to the Titans was actually far uglier than it looked, with Chicago converting just two of 15 third-down attempts. The defense is good, but Nick Foles isn't the answer under center, and the Bears just don't have enough talent on offense."
15. Cleveland Browns (5-3)
Last Week: 16
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
On many levels, the first half of the 2020 season has been a success for the Cleveland Browns. They're 5-3 at the halfway point for the first time since 2014.
But two of the three losses were to AFC North rivals in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Neither game was close, and quarterback Baker Mayfield played poorly in both games.
However, Browns general manager Andrew Berry dismissed the notion that the second half of the regular season could serve as a referendum on Mayfield's future with the team, per Tom Winters of the Associated Press:
"I really do not get too caught up in that type of narrative. All I know is that I think Baker has played well and he has done a nice job during these first eight weeks. He has allowed us to play winning football. We’ve had winning football from (the quarterback) position. Expect him to keep doing that over the second half of the year."
Over the second half of the season, the Browns have only three contests against games with winning records. But two of them are against the Ravens and Steelers, and they need to fare better in the second go-round of those matchups to be taken seriously as a contender.
14. Los Angeles Rams (5-3)
Last Week: 15
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
The Los Angeles Rams limped into the bye week after playing arguably their worst game of the 2020 season in a 28-17 loss at Miami. Per ESPN's Lindsey Thiry, that loss didn't sit especially well with head coach Sean McVay.
"This is a sick taste in your mouth," McVay said. You've got that disappointing feeling of not accomplishing what we felt like we were supposed to. Unfortunately, you've got to kind of sit on this a little bit longer than what you'd like, but you can't allow it to linger too long."
It was a disappointing performance for a Rams team looking to finish the first half strong and keep pace with the division-leading Seattle Seahawks.
It also sets up what could be a season-defining stretch for the Rams. In Week 10, the Rams host the Seahawks for the first of two meetings this season. That's followed by a trip to Tampa to face Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Two weeks later, they head to Arizona for the first of two meetings with the Cardinals.
Add in rematches with the Seahawks and Redbirds, and the second half of the season is no cakewalk for the Rams.
13. Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)
Last Week: 14
Week 9 Result: Won 31-26 at Los Angeles Chargers
The Las Vegas Raiders may have figured out a winning recipe, and it isn't the vertical passing attack that former owner Al Davis favored for so many years.
In consecutive wins over the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers, the Raiders have leaned heavily on the ground game. Against the Bolts on Sunday, they finished with 160 rushing yards vs. 165 passing yards.
The Raiders were outgained by 120 yards, lost the time-of-possession battle by almost 10 minutes and nearly lot on the final play. But they found a way to hold on and get the W, which is a sign of a team that's figuring it out.
Over the second half of the season, the Raiders face only three teams with winning records. They're also the only team with a win over the defending Super Bowl champions this season.
An AFC West title may be overly optimistic, but a wild-card spot is absolutely in play.
12. Indianapolis Colts (5-3)
Last Week: 10
Week 9 Result: Lost 24-10 vs. Baltimore
Good luck figuring out the Indianapolis Colts.
Against the Detroit Lions in Week 8, the Colts scored a season-high 41 points and looked like a legitimate threat to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South. Against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, they looked like a flawed team with a great offensive line and solid defense that just can't score points consistently.
The Colts were moved the ball fairly effectively against Baltimore, outgaining the Ravens by almost 75 yards. But Indy converted only 2-of-12 third-down attempts, turned it over twice and allowed a defensive touchdown.
The Colts won't have long to shake off the funk from this loss. Next week's trip to Nashville kicks off a wicked three-game stretch that includes two meetings with the AFC South-leading Titans and a home date with the Green Bay Packers.
If the Colts play in those games like they did in Week 9, their 5-3 record could turn into 5-6 quickly.
"Philip Rivers gives the Colts a ceiling," Gagnon said. "He and the team loaded up against inferior opponents in the first half of the season but then continually fell on their face against playoff-caliber teams. That was again the case Sunday as they laid an egg against the Ravens. I have little faith in this team and am wondering if they'll move on from Rivers in a few months."
11. Arizona Cardinals (5-3)
Last Week: 9
Week 9 Result: Lost 34-31 vs. Miami
The Arizona Cardinals came up just short of overtaking the Seattle Seahawks for first place in the NFC West.
First, Arizona running back Chase Edmonds was stuffed on a fourth-and-short play in the fourth quarter of Sunday's contest with the Miami Dolphins. Then Zane Gonzalez's 49-yard field goal try with less than two minutes left in the game came up short of the crossbar.
Add in an excellent performance for rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins, and you have Arizona's third loss of 2020.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was less concerned about missing out on first place in the NFC West and more concerned with how the Redbirds lost.
"Personally, I wasn't really worried about first place in the division," Murray said in his postgame press conference. "I don't think anybody should be worried about that. I don't think anybody should be worried about that. We came out here and laid an egg. We have to be better."
It's a loss that could come back to haunt the Cardinals, who now have to face the surging Bills at home before traveling to Seattle for a rematch with the Seahawks.
10. Miami Dolphins (5-3)
Last Week: 13
Week 9 Result: Won 34-31 at Arizona
It's been quite the year for rookie quarterbacks. Cincinnati's Joe Burrow has been lighting it up since the season began. Justin Herbert took over under center for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2 and hasn't looked back.
Now it's Tua time.
In his second professional start Sunday, Tua Tagovailoa led the Miami Dolphins to an impressive win over the Arizona Cardinals, passing for 248 yards and two scores with a passer rating of 122.3. Dolphins head coach Brian Flores was impressed by his first-year quarterback, per Mark Inabinnett of AL.com, although Tagovailoa didn't do it alone:
"He made a lot of big plays for us, especially down the stretch when we needed it. It was kind of a back-and-forth game. They made plays; we made plays. The stage wasn't too big for him tonight. He played well, but we had a lot guys play well—the offensive line, backs, tight ends. Everyone contributed. It was a team victory. We made plays really on all three sides of the ball, and that's what you need to win a game like that against an opponent like that."
Flores wasn't the only person impressed by Tagovailoa's performance.
"The Dolphins surprised many when they decided to start Tagovailoa out of the blue over veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had been playing well," Sobleski said. "The Dolphins' supposed motivation aside, Tua brings a different demeanor and star power to the game's most important position. Over the last two games, he completed 64 percent of his passes for 341 yards, three touchdowns and only one turnover. Miami is trending in the right direction while seemingly solving the roster's biggest issue."
9. Tennessee Titans (6-2)
Last Week: 11
Week 9 Result: Won 24-17 vs. Chicago
From a quick glance at the stat sheet, one might think the Tennessee Titans lost in Week 9. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed only 10 passes against the Chicago Bears for 158 yards. Running back Derrick Henry had only 68 rushing yards on 21 carries.
But thanks to an excellent defensive performance and four catches for 101 yards from wideout A.J. Brown, the Titans downed the Bears 24-17 in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the score might suggest.
It was a very Titans win. There weren't a ton of splash plays or excitement. Just a businesslike performance that moved the Titans to 6-2 and into first place in the AFC South.
After two straight losses (including a relatively lopsided defeat in Cincinnati), the Titans fell from the top 10 in these rankings. But six wins in eight games is six wins in eight games, and the Titans will have a chance to solidify their status as a legitimate contender in the AFC over the next month.
Starting at home next week against the Colts, the Titans play four straight games against winning teams: Indianapolis at home, at Baltimore, a rematch with the Colts in Indy and a home date with the Cleveland Browns.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)
Last Week: 4
Week 9 Result: lost 38-3 vs. New Orleans
Sunday night's meeting with the rival New Orleans Saints offered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a chance to both avenge their Week 1 loss in New Orleans and establish themselves as the team to beat in the NFC.
Instead, the Buccaneers were blasted in every way imaginable.
After getting pasted by the Saints 38-3, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians didn't mince words during his postgame presser.
"It was shocking," Arians told reporters. "To know just watch[ing] us practice, the way we practiced all week, the confidence we had coming in. ... I give New Orleans credit. They kicked our ass in every phase. ... Everything. Offense, defense, special teams."
It was a sobering reminder that the Buccaneers, while talented, are still a work in progress.
"A siren's call surrounds any franchise that aggressively approaches the offseason and dominates headlines with its acquisitions," Sobleski said. "Too many overlook the importance of continuity and cohesiveness. The Buccaneers are uber-talented, but they're still finding their footing as they enter the second half of the season. Unfortunately, they placed themselves in a difficult position after a second loss to the rival Saints."
7. Seattle Seahawks (6-2)
Last Week: 3
Week 9 Result: Lost at Buffalo 44-34
So, Russell Wilson is mortal after all.
For most of the 2020 season, Wilson has been the MVP front-runner. He put up gaudy numbers yet again in Week 9, passing for 390 yards and two touchdowns. But much of that was in catch-up mode since he also threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles.
Wilson wasn't completely to blame for the loss. Seattle's offensive line was a sieve, and its awful defense surrendered 415 passing yards to Josh Allen.
But in the opinion of at least one of our analysts, that's the problem: Seattle is a passing team with nothing around it.
"I think we've been too quick to discount Seattle's issues this year because Wilson has played at such a ridiculous level," Davenport said. "But the Seahawks have no defense to speak of, and the offensive line isn't much better. Their deficiencies are more pronounced against good teams, and with games coming up against the Rams and a Cardinals team that just beat Seattle, the Seahawks' recent slump may not be over yet."
"What happened to the Seahawks during their Week 6 bye? Ever since then, a team that looked like a prime Super Bowl contender at 5-0 has a negative scoring margin and a 1-2 record," Gagnon added. "The schedule hasn't been easy, but that doesn't change the fact that the pass defense and the pass protection continue to be problem areas."
6. Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
Last Week: 5
Week 9 Result: Won 24-10 at Indianapolis
After losing a nail-biter to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8, the Ravens faced another stiff test on the road in Week 9 against a two-loss Colts team.
Baltimore got back to winning with a fairly convincing victory, but the win didn't do much to erase concerns about its ability to hang with the big dogs in the AFC.
As usual, the Ravens played well defensively. They allowed only one touchdown and notched a pair of takeaways, including a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
However, Baltimore's issues on offense continued.
The Ravens amassed only 266 total yards against a stout Colts defense. They ran for 110 yards on 38 carries, an average of less than three yards per carry. And quarterback Lamar Jackson failed to throw for even 200 yards for the fourth time in five games.
"The Ravens are certainly a top-10 team, and barring a complete collapse, they will make the postseason for a third straight year with Jackson at the helm," Davenport wrote. "But unless Jackson improves as a passer, Baltimore is too one-dimensional on offense to be a real Super Bowl threat. The Ravens are looking like a one-and-done No. 5 seed."
5. Buffalo Bills (7-2)
Last Week: 8
Week 9 Result: Won vs. Seattle 44-34
As statement wins go, there wasn't a bigger one Sunday than Buffalo's 10-point victory over the Seahawks.
After cooling off a bit in recent weeks, Josh Allen was dominant in the win. He tied a career high with 415 passing yards, and he became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era with 400-plus passing yards, three-plus passing touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating over 130 in multiple games in a season, per NFL Research.
However, the Bills' biggest hero Sunday was their defense. Although they allowed 419 yards and 34 points, they also sacked Russell Wilson five times and forced four turnovers.
"It isn't an exaggeration to say that Sunday's win could be a tone-setter for the Bills," Davenport said. "They're after more than just an AFC East title in 2020. This is a team with genuine Super Bowl aspirations, and they showed against the Seahawks that they can take it to one of the better teams in the NFL. It was an impressive victory, and the Bills earned a jump in these rankings as a result."
"What's the best way for an offense to get back on track? Play an awful defense," Sobleski added. "Allen and Co. struggled over the previous four weeks, but the Seahawks proved to be the perfect salve. A 44-point, effort helped reestablish the previous Bills offense seen over the first month. Now, Buffalo has cemented itself as the AFC East's best squad."
4. New Orleans Saints (6-2)
Last Week: 7
Week 9 Result: Won 38-3 at Tampa Bay
Sunday night's showcase game in Tampa Bay was supposed to be a showdown between the two best teams in the NFC South.
It turned into a beatdown of massive proportions.
The visiting Saints dominated every facet of the game. Drew Brees was razor-sharp, throwing for 222 yards and four touchdowns. The Saints piled up 138 yards on the ground against the best run defense in the NFL. The New Orleans defense held the Buccaneers under 200 total yards, sacked Tom Brady three times and notched three interceptions.
It was a fantastic performance by any measure, and it put the Saints squarely in the driver's seat in the division.
"The Saints sent a crystal-clear message to the rest of the NFC on Sunday night," Davenport said. "The notion they had been surpassed by the Buccaneers was...let's go with misplaced. Now the Saints have a season sweep of the Bucs, a much more favorable schedule over the second half of the season and star wideout Michael Thomas back."
3. Green Bay Packers (6-2)
Last Week: 6
Week 9 Result: Won at San Francisco 34-17
After a surprising home loss to the struggling Vikings in Week 8, the Green Bay Packers got back to winning in Week 9, handling an injury-ravaged 49ers team with relative ease.
It was a game where Green Bay's offensive stars shined. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers continued playing at an MVP level, finishing 25-of-31 for 305 yards and four touchdowns. One of those touchdowns went to Davante Adams, who reeled in 10 of 12 targets for 173 yards.
Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters that when those two are clicking, the Packers are hard to stop.
"When you have two great players like Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams and the line affords you the time to hang in the pocket and throw some deep, those were some dime balls that Aaron was throwing to Davante," LaFleur said.
Green Bay now has a mini-bye ahead of a winnable home date against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After that comes a two-game stretch that could go a long way toward determining both the NFC North and playoff seeding in the NFC: a trip to Indianapolis followed by a home game against the rival Bears.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-0)
Last Week: 1
Week 9 Result: Won 24-19 at Dallas
After a come-from-behind five-point win over an injury-ravaged Dallas Cowboys team, the Pittsburgh Steelers moved to 8-0 on the season for the first time in theirs long and storied history.
However, it's concerning that they needed to come back at all.
The Steelers were favored by almost two touchdowns, but they came out flat against a bad Cowboys team, falling behind 13-0. The run game was nonexistent, managing just 46 yards on 18 carries.
That led Gagnon to question Pittsburgh's top spot in these power rankings.
"That's three consecutive wins by five or fewer points now for a Steelers team that has cut it too close and is destined to lose some games eventually," he said. "The Chiefs have a much stronger scoring margin and remain the team to beat in the AFC. "
1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1)
Last Week: 2
Week 9 Result: Won 33-31 vs. Carolina
It's rare for an NFL team to allow 31 points, rush for 30 yards and still get a win.
But there aren't many NFL teams with a Patrick Mahomes under center, either.
With the run game nonexistent and the defense lagging Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, Mahomes went 30-of-45 for 372 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce both went off in the win, combining for 19 catches, 272 yards and two scores.
Was it an overly impressive win? No. But Kansas City's ability to find a way to win was enough for one of our analysts to move the Chiefs back into the top spot in these power rankings.
"The Chiefs aren't as good defensively as the Steelers," Davenport said. "But the Chiefs have one thing that no other team in the league does in Mahomes. And that alone makes Kansas City my favorite to repeat as world champions in February."