NFL Power Rankings Week 9: Steelers, Ravens Still Chasing AFC East At Top
We're midway through the season, and at this point you get a better picture of what teams are made of. The pretenders start separating themselves from the contenders by playing poorly, and the contenders start separating themselves from the pretenders by winning football games.
It's not rocket science. You have talent, a good game plan, and you execute, you're going to start distinguishing yourself from the rest of the league.
A few intriguing matchups this week, with the Jets facing the Packers, the Patriots hosting the Vikings, and one top 10 team receiving a slap to the face that left them stunned and red-faced (from the slap and from anger).
Here are the updated NFL Power Rankings for the upcoming Week 9.
Bottom of the Pile
32. Buffalo Bills: The only winless team played a nail-biter in Kansas City, but just didn't produce enough offense to pull through. Funny, their offense was the only thing that was starting to show some life. Fail.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Sure, they beat Denver 24-17 in London, but I'm not ready to have any faith in this squad yet..not after this 49ers fan showed faith before the season and the Niners proceeded to go 1-6. Plus, they have QB Troy Smith at the helm now. He looked better than Alex Smith or David Carr this season, but that's not saying much.
On Top of the Bottom of the Pile
30. Carolina Panthers: Their only win came against the horrid San Francisco 49ers, and they lost 20-10 Sunday to a team in the Rams that was supposed to be last place in the weak NFC West this season. Looks like Jake Delhomme wasn't the only one dragging this franchise down.
29. Denver Broncos: They lost 59-14 to the Oakland Raiders in Week 7, then lost to a Niners team that was 1-6. London was calling Sunday (that's a Clash reference), and the Broncos forgot to show up.
Near the Bottom of the Pile
28. Detroit Lions: No doubt, the Lions are always bad, but they showed something in a 35-17 whipping of Washington on Sunday. They showed heart. Hey, at least they're trying at this point. They have an emerging QB in Matthew Stafford. And they always have Calvin Johnson, who had 101 yards and three touchdowns Sunday.
27. Cleveland Browns: The Browns upset the Saints in Week 7. You like to think that's a sign. The problem is they've beaten the Saints three years in a row. It's just some weird anomaly that can't be explained. Kind of like how good the Spicy Chicken Burger is at Jack in the Box.
Still Pretty Bad
26. Dallas Cowboys: David Garrard's return came at a bad time for the Cowboys. They're now 1-6 and they have Top 10 talent. Must be the coach. Off with his head! Here come the grumbles...at least the Texas Rangers are doing well!
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: The difference in the 4-4 Jags and the 1-6 Cowboys is one has a lot of talent but can't execute, the other does the most with the talent it has. Can that be attributed to the coaching? Oh what the heck...off with his head!
Hey...We're Not Horrible
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco have a new show now: it's called the "T.Ocho Show." Unfortunately, this show only airs off the field. It's time to call this team what they are. A team that relies on two inconsistent receivers. T.O. and Ochocinco have only played well in the same game once this year. And Carson Palmer doesn't help either.
23. Arizona Cardinals: A win against Tampa Bay would have nudged this team up a space or two. Unfortunately, they lost 38-35 to an offense that's not exactly electric. Ugh.
Not Bad, Not Bad
22. St. Louis Rams: They won 20-10 against the Panthers Sunday. Does that really show anything? I'll tell you this though: they look a lot better than I thought they would before the season. They now have a .500 record.
21. Oakland Raiders: They win 59-14 against Denver in Week 7 then beat a decent team in the Seattle Seahawks. The 4-4 Raiders and their dangerous running game haven't disappeared yet...and it's eight weeks into the season! Jason Campbell threw for over 300 yards and two scores in this one...what the heck is going on in Oaktown?
20. Seattle Seahawks
A 33-3 loss to the Raiders is not the end of the world for this team in a weak division, but they've got to wonder what happened after playing well in their first six games of the season.
I believe in Pete Carroll and I expect him to get them back to playing well next week. But a 4-3 record isn't exactly a winning percentage that's going to clinch a division for you...even in this division. Their pass defense better improve.
19. Minnesota Vikings
Haha, you thought Brett Farve led the Vikings to victory over the Patriots based on my leading photo didn't you?
Wrong. Farve came close in the fourth quarter, pulling the Vikes within three points, but he got injured on the last touchdown and had to be helped off the field. The Patriots proceeded to score a TD of their own and ice the game.
This team is 2-5 now after the 28-18 loss. They have all the talent in the world but this just isn't their year. Better luck next year Farve...I still don't believe you will ever retire.
18. San Diego Chargers
Huge win for the Chargers Sunday in the midst of a three-game losing streak. A losing streak that included the Raiders and the Rams.
But they came out on fire Sunday against a very good team in Tennessee, and held off a late drive by the Titans to win, 33-25.
These types of wins can turn around seasons for teams. If the Chargers play the way they did Sunday, they will have a chance. If they play the way they played before that, clouds will loom over San Diego...not literally, of course.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have surprised everyone this year and its 38-point explosion, albeit against Arizona, was another surprise. The team is now 5-2 and young QB Josh Freeman is playing solid football.
This team finds ways to win, exemplified by LeGarrette Blount's huge day Sunday, rushing for 120 yards and two scores.
Receiver Mike Williams is the real deal.
16. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins did what they needed to do in Week 8: beat a beatable team in the Cincinnati Bengals.
They are now 5-3 and their only losses have come against the Jets, Patriots, and Steelers.
Ricky Williams can still inexplicably make it happen, and this team is coached well enough to play like this the rest of the season.
15. Chicago Bears
Their last two games haven't been too hot. Jay Cutler needs to stop hurting himself. This team has a strong defense, a good core of receivers, and a solid running back in Matt Forte. Cutler had seven touchdowns and three interceptions before Week 7. Then he threw four interceptions.
This team will only go as far as Jay Cutler can take them.
14. Washington Redskins
This team was playing solid football until this week: then they came out and got embarrassed 37-25 against the Lions.
Donovan McNabb has this team pointed in the right direction overall and the defense has played well, but a week like this makes you start questioning a team's drive and focus.
37-25 against the Lions? Really?
13. New Orleans Saints
This team is just not the same team as it was last year for whatever reason. But the talent is there to win the division and you get the feeling it's only a matter of time before this team starts clicking.
But the team needs to play with more urgency: a 30-17 loss to the Browns in Week 7 is not what the doctor ordered.
If and when Pierre Thomas comes back, he can definitely help this team by boosting the running game.
12. Kansas City Chiefs
The team is rolling right now behind a solid game plan and exciting young players in Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster. Thomas Jones stabilizes a dynamic running game that has the ability of dominating a football game.
The defense ain't bad too.
The Chiefs eked out a 13-10 win over the poor Buffalo Bills on Sunday, but they got the win, and a 5-2 record is looking pretty good right now for this emerging squad.
11. Philadelphia Eagles
The team is solid on both sides of the ball. The defensive schemes will always lend to turnovers, and Kevin Kolb is a good starting quarterback.
A loss to Tennessee in Week 7 is nothing to be ashamed of, and with LeSean McCoy and this team's receiving core the offense always has a chance of exploding.
Week 9 the Eagles play the Colts. That should show how good this team really is.
10. Tennessee Titans
Losing to the Chargers hurt this team, but it's still a dynamic team on both sides of the field and Chris Johnson is just scary good.
You wonder how much load Johnson can carry though. Jeff Fisher always seems to find a way to get things done though. He's an immeasurably asset.
9. Green Bay Packers
Not ready to place this team ahead of the New York Giants yet, but they got mighty close with a grind-it-out 9-0 win against the mighty New York Jets.
Aaron Rodgers didn't look great against the Jets Sunday, but he got them enough to win. This defense proved itself immensely on Sunday and is always a difficult defense to score on.
8. New York Giants
Tom Coughlin has this team playing its best ball of the season, and its 41-point outburst against Dallas in Week 7 should worry many defenses in the league.
I believe Eli Manning still hasn't tapped into all his potential, and the team has significantly improved its run offense with Ahmad Bradshaw in there instead of Brandon Jacobs.
This team should not be taken lightly.
7. Houston Texans
This offense is enough to make any defense cringe, with Matt Schaub once again proving to be one of the better passers in the league and Andre Johnson making it easy for him.
It's the offense that makes this team so good, and its win against KC in Week 7 was a huge morale-booster.
6. Atlanta Falcons
Roddy White is an absolute beast. That is all.
No, but really, this team is really starting to come together. With Matt Ryan at the helm and a dangerous running game-not to mention a better defense than it displayed against Cincy in Week 7- this team has finally reached an elite level.
Nobody wants to face this sound team.
5. Indianapolis Colts
This should come as no surprise to anyone. This team is always there, mainly because of Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne.
It's well-coached and showed heart in its 27-24 win over Washington in Week 6. The defense isn't too shabby either. The team's matchup against Houston on Monday will be huge.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers went 3-1 without Ben Roethlisberger behind a defense that flies all over the place and creates turnovers and a new Pittsburgh staple in Rashard Mendenhall.
They are 2-1 with Big Ben and after eking out a 23-22 win over Miami in Week 7 are only getting better. This team has the reigns to make it to the Super Bowl.
Don't get too sidetracked by the Saints loss. They got defeated by a team fighting for playoff life in their home building that provides one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL.
3. Baltimore Ravens
One of the leagues best defenses, an emerging QB in Joe Flacco, an always-dominant running game, and a new addition in former Pro Bowler Anquan Boldin. Need I say more?
This team is poised for a Super Bowl run.
2. New York Jets
The Jets fell to 5-2 Sunday on the heels of a 9-0 loss to Green Bay. That's enough to drop the team in my opinion.
This team is still a Super Bowl contender, that hasn't changed. And signing LaDainian Tomlinson was one of the most overlooked moves in the improvement of this team.
The defense will always be ferocious, and Mark Sanchez, despite Sunday's shutout, is still a guy anyone wouldn't mind leading their squad.
1. New England Patriots
Watch out everybody, the Patriots gaining steam heading into the second half of the season. It's no secret why this team wins. They have a winning formula. Losing Randy Moss didn't hurt this team one bit.
Tom Brady is all you need. And a defense that can keep offenses from simply exploding.
They proved that in two crucial stands Sunday against the Vikings. This defense is young and only getting better.
Brady is still finding his way without Moss, but the running game is becoming more of a threat each week, which will continue to open up the field for Brady to air it out.