With upsets abound around the league and inferior teams overcoming teams with better records, the league’s standings tightened after a slate of Week 9 matchups. Instead of division leaders pulling away as the season enters its second half, the league-wide standings became closer, and nearly all of the league’s teams still have a shot at making the playoffs.
The Jacksonville Jaguars may be one of the few teams that doesn’t have a path to the postseason, but that doesn’t make their 9-6 win over Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills any less important. Buffalo takes a step back in the race for the best record in the AFC, and even has to worry about their AFC East lead with Mac Jones and the New England Patriots heating up.
The AFC West race got especially tight this week, with the division-leading Las Vegas Raiders being upset by the New York Giants. The Denver Broncos pulled off an upset of their own with a shocking performance in Dallas to improve to 5-4 and enter the NFL’s only true four-team divisional race with the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs.
Other important results, like the Cleveland Browns waking up and bouncing back against the Cincinnati Bengals, as well as the Tennessee Titans surprising win over the Los Angeles Rams without Derrick Henry, sent ripple effects through this week’s Power Rankings.
Read on for my full Power Rankings, and if you’d like to debate or discuss any rankings, join the conversation with @SakSports on Twitter.
Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
- Arizona Cardinals (8-1) [Last Week: 1]
- I had kept the Arizona Cardinals in the top spot last week, even after their loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and I couldn’t feel better about it now. Arizona and Green Bay both took the field in Week 9 without their starting quarterback: the Packers scored just seven points, while Colt McCoy and the Cardinals handled the 49ers 31-17 to improve to 8-1. Kyler Murray is a front-runner for NFL MVP, but the Cardinals ability to win without him (as well as without Deandre Hopkins) is a testament to how solid Arizona’s roster is.
- Tennessee Titans (7-2) [Last Week: 7]
- After losing Derrick Henry for what look like the entire season, the Tennessee Titans ceiling as a team would seem to be lower. But don’t tell that to Ryan Tannehill and the Titans defense. Tennessee smothered the usually high-flying Rams offense on Sunday Night Football, grabbing a couple interceptions in a 28-16 win in Los Angeles. With five straight victories, the Titans are as hot as anyone right now.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) [Last Week: 6]
- Despite not playing in Week 9, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers find themselves up a few spots after losses by the Rams, Packers, Bills, and Cowboys. Tampa Bay has the highest scoring offense in the league (32.5 PPG) with a pretty strong scoring defense to boot (22.9 PPG allowed, 13th in the NFL.)
- Los Angeles Rams (7-2) [Last Week: 2]
- The Los Angeles Rams have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, but for the second time this season, they were unable to keep up with their opponent. The Rams two losses have come against the Cardinals and Titans: literally the two best teams in the NFL according to these Power Rankings. Los Angeles’ 28-16 loss to the Titans was disappointing, but I’m still taking the Rams in almost any other matchup.
- Green Bay Packers (7-2) [Last Week: 3]
- Losing without Aaron Rodgers doesn’t hurt the Green Bay Packers pedigree too much, although putting up just seven points against a historically bad Chiefs defense doesn’t exactly bode well for the Packers if Rodgers were to ever miss extended time. Jordan Love was 19-of-34 for 190 yards and one touchdown, as well as an interception, in is NFL debut.
- Baltimore Ravens (6-2) [Last Week: 8]
- Most of the league’s top teams like to get a good amount of their wins from dominant victories, but not this Baltimore Ravens squad. Four of the Ravens six wins have come in single-score fashion, with Lamar Jackson and company outdueling the Vikings 34-31 in overtime this week. While it would be nice if Baltimore could put teams like Minnesota, Indianapolis, and Detroit away earlier, a win is a win, and the Ravens are 6-2 with the 7th-best scoring offense in the NFL.
- Dallas Cowboys (6-2) [Last Week: 5]
- Teddy Bridgewater and the Broncos absolutely stunned Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys on their home turf, jumping out to a 30-0 lead and ultimately winning 30-16. For a Dallas team that had looked so good over a six-game winning streak, it can be written off as a fluke for now, but the Cowboys still need to fall a couple spots for their disappointing performance.
- Buffalo Bills (5-3) [Last Week: 4]
- But in terms of disappointing showings in Week 9, Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills take the cake. Allen had an ugly game, throwing an interception and allowing a fumble recovery by the Jaguars’ Josh Allen, and the Bills lost 9-6 in what should have been a winnable game in Jacksonville.
- Los Angeles Chargers (5-3) [Last Week: 11]
- The Los Angeles Chargers snapped a two-game losing streak with a 27-24 win over Jalen Hurts and the Eagles in Philadelphia this week. Justin Herbert had a great game, completing 32-of-38 passes for 356 yards and two passing touchdowns. Still, the Chargers haven’t looked like the team that beat the Chiefs, Raiders, and Browns in consecutive weeks prior to their losing streak at the hands of the Ravens and Patriots.
- Cleveland Browns (5-4) [Last Week: 18]
- Jumping up eight spots in one week might be a little drastic, but after beating their AFC North rival Bengals 41-16, the Cleveland Browns look like a playoff contender again. Baker Mayfield had an easy passing day, completing 14-of-21 passes for two scores, and running back Nick Chubb destroyed Cincinnati’s rush defense with 137 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries.
- Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) [Last Week: 12]
- Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals were the talk of my Post-Week 7 Power Rankings, but have since lost back-to-back games against the Jets and Browns. The loss to Mike White and the Jets was puzzling, but at least it was close: Cincinnati fell 41-16 to Cleveland with a lot on the line in the AFC North rivalry matchup.
- Las Vegas Raiders (5-3) [Last Week: 10]
- The Las Vegas Raiders couldn’t close out a tumultuous week with a win, as they were outplayed by the Giants in MetLife Stadium. A pick six thrown by Derek Carr was ultimately the difference in a 23-16 loss that dropped Las Vegas to 5-3.
- Kansas City Chiefs (5-4) [Last Week: 13]
- Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs have won back-to-back games, but they shouldn’t really feel great about either of them. The Giants very well could’ve beaten Kansas City at home last Monday night, and this week, the Chiefs barely squeaked by a Rodgers-less Packers squad, winning 13-7. The Chiefs subpar record to start the season was one thing, but if Mahomes can no longer score in bunches, Kansas City will have even bigger problems on their hands.
- New England Patriots (5-4) [Last Week: 15]
- The New England Patriots are heating up on the heels of three straight wins and four in their last five games. When the Patriots were 3-4, but had only beaten the Jets and Texans, I was skeptical on their prospects, but after downing the Chargers and Panthers, New England’s pedigree is growing. The Patriots defense picked off old friend Sam Darnold three times in a 24-6 win, and New England’s points against mark is the 4th-lowest in the NFL (18.9 PPG allowed.)
- Minnesota Vikings (3-5) [Last Week: 14]
- Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings couldn’t get it done in overtime against the Ravens, falling 34-31 for their fifth one-score loss of the season. Obviously, one-score loses are still losses, but Minnesota has played Cincinnati, Arizona, Cleveland, Dallas, and Baltimore to the bitter finish. These are some good teams, and the Vikings are an above average team themselves despite the 3-5 record.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3) [Last Week: 16]
- The Pittsburgh Steelers overcame the Bears in the last minute on Monday Night Football, winning 29-27 for their fourth straight victory. So why isn’t Pittsburgh higher in the Power Rankings? Three of the four teams the Steelers beat, Denver, a Wilson-less Seattle, and Chicago, rank lower than Pittsburgh, and all four wins have come by a single score. Pittsburgh also doesn’t do anything particularly well, with the 23rd-best offense (20.1 PPG) and 24th-best defense (21.1 PPG allowed) in the league in terms of points allowed.
- New Orleans Saints (5-3) [Last Week: 9]
- I kept the New Orleans Saints high in the rankings after a feel-good win over the Buccaneers, but now that we’ve officially entered the Trevor Siemian era, the Saints take a tumble. New Orleans scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to temporarily lead a game they were once being blown out in, but ultimately lost 27-25. The 5-3 Saints still have a chance to compete, with a well-rounded roster and a great head coach in Sean Payton, but until they win a game that Siemian started, I feel justified lowering the New Orleans’ ranking.
- Indianapolis Colts (4-5) [Last Week: 19]
- The Indianapolis Colts bounced back from a loss to the Titans with a 45-30 win over the Jets on Thursday Night Football. The Colts defense allowed New York to pass for four touchdowns, one from Mike White and three from backup Josh Johnson, but Carson Wentz threw three of his own and Jonathan Taylor rushed for 172 yards and two scores in the victory.
- Denver Broncos (5-4) [Last Week: 22]
- Teddy Bridgewater and the Denver Broncos absolutely stunned the Cowboys on their own turf, taking a 30-0 lead en route to a 30-16 road victory in Dallas. At 5-4 after winning back-to-back games, Denver still has a chance to make some noise this season.
- Atlanta Falcons (4-4) [Last Week: 25]
- Younghoe Koo kicked his second walk-off field goal of the season as the Atlanta Falcons recovered from allowing 22 points to the Saints in the fourth quarter. Now the Falcons, who I once considered the worst team in the league, have won four of six matchups since an 0-2 start.
- Philadelphia Eagles (3-6) [Last Week: 21]
- Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles lost a narrow 27-24 game to Justin Herbert and the Chargers, dropping their record in Philadelphia to 0-4 on the season. The Eagles have yet to put together back-to-back wins this season, but have been improving on offense. Philadelphia’s offense is the 11th-best in the NFL (25.2 PPG) with a 6th-ranked rushing offense and 28th-ranked passing offense. If Hurts can find more success in the air, the Eagles could be a scary team.
- New York Giants (3-6) [Last Week: 26]
- The up-and-down New York Giants were up this week, with a 23-16 win over the Raiders at home, spearheaded by a 41-yard pick six off Derek Carr from cornerback Xavier McKinney.
- Seattle Seahawks (3-5) [Last Week: 20]
- The Seattle Seahawks enjoyed a bye week at the perfect time, with quarterback Russell Wilson being cleared to return in Week 10. Wilson will face an uphill battle to get Seattle back in the playoff hunt, with back-to-back games against the Packers and Cardinals coming up.
- San Francisco 49ers (3-5) [Last Week: 17]
- The San Francisco 49ers faced a Cardinals team without Kyler Murray or DeAndre Hopkins this week, and unlike their last meeting with Arizona, Jimmy Garoppolo was the 49ers starting quarterback. But while San Francisco lost their first game against the Cardinals 17-10, they couldn’t keep it that close against Colt McCoy in a 31-17 loss. The 49ers have now lost five of six games after a 2-0 start, and get the luxury of hosting the 7-2 Rams next.
- Chicago Bears (3-6) [Last Week: 24]
- There’s no room for moral victories in the NFL, but Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears looked better in Week 9 despite their fourth straight loss. Chicago took the lead in the fourth quarter with a 21-point surge, but fell 29-27 as they were unable to answer a late Steelers field goal.
- Carolina Panthers (4-5) [Last Week: 23]
- Christian McCaffrey returned to the field for the Carolina Panthers in Week 9, but even with the star running back on the field, Carolina continued to struggle, losing 24-6 to Mac Jones and the Patriots. Sam Darnold threw three crippling interceptions against his former AFC East rival.
- Miami Dolphins (2-7) [Last Week: 28]
- Jacoby Brissett and the Miami Dolphins ended a seven-game losing streak dating back to Week 2 with a 19-7 win over the Texans in Week 9. Even though Tyrod Taylor returned for Houston, Miami still doesn’t deserve too much credit for beating one of the league’s weakest squads.
- Washington Football Team (2-6) [Last Week: 27]
- Washington Football Team was off this week after losing their last four games. It doesn’t get easier in Week 10 either, with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers coming to town on Sunday.
- New York Jets (2-6) [Last Week: 29]
- Budding New York Jets legend Mike White was knocked out of Thursday’s loss to the Colts, but Josh Johnson threw three touchdown passes in the 45-30 affair. The Jets defense couldn’t contain Jonathan Taylor at all, but the offense seems to churn whenever someone not named Zach Wilson is in at quarterback.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) [Last Week: 31]
- I’m sure the Jacksonville Jaguars would like to be higher after pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the season, but their 9-6 win over the Bills was most likely an anomaly. I’m still taking the Dolphins, Jets, and even Washington Football Team in a head-to-head matchup with Jacksonville, so they’re still just the 30th-best team in the league.
- Detroit Lions (0-8) [Last Week: 30]
- Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions had the week off before they search for an elsuive victory in the season’s second half.
- Houston Texans (1-8) [Last Week: 32]
- Tyrod Taylor returned for the Houston Texans this week, but the results were nothing like the 37-21 win over the Jaguars he orchestrated in Week 1. Instead, Houston’s offense was non-existent in a 17-9 loss to the Dolphins, giving the Texans their eighth straight loss.
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Header Photo: Titans Wire/USA Today