NFL Power Rankings Heading into Week 9

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

It is hard to believe but we are now halfway through the 2016-2017 NFL season. We have seen numerous bizarre and surprising games as well as the highs and lows of every team.

Week 8 of the NFL season featured Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr proving to all NFL fans that he should be in the Most Valuable Player conversation as he passed for 513 yards and four touchdowns in a road overtime win against the Bucs. The Patriots burned the Bills for 41 points as they now hold a firm three game lead in the AFC East. The Panthers got back on track with a close win against the Cardinals in a rematch of the NFC Championship game. The heroics of Drew Brees led the Saints to a clutch home win against the Seahawks.

After eight weeks of the NFL season, here are the NFL Power Rankings heading into week nine. Note: here are last week’s power rankings. 

  1. New England Patriots (7-1) – Ranked #1 last week
  • At this rate, Tom Brady will end up becoming a candidate for the Most Valuable Player Award regardless of the fact that he missed the first four games of the regular season. Brady has completed over 70% of passes with 12 touchdown passes and he is playing like vintage 2007 Brady. Rob Gronkowski is unguardable in the NFL and Chris Hogan has become just another reliable target for Tom Brady. With Brady back, the Patriots received some sweet revenge against Rex Ryan and the Bills as the offense scored 41 points. 7-1 record with a three game lead in the division and the best record in the NFL? Not bad as the Patriots head into the bye week in week nine.
  1. Dallas Cowboys (6-1) – Ranked #2 last week
  • We are at the halfway point of the season and the Cowboys have not allowed a 100 yard receiver or a 100 yard rusher in any game this season. It is remarkable considering they have faced some of the game’s best wide receivers and running backs. On Sunday Night Football against the Eagles, Dak Prescott led two touchdown scoring drives in the 4th quarter and overtime to win the game. Looking ahead Prescott will start against the Browns but that is all that is guaranteed for the Cowboys. It is no doubt that Prescott is the future quarterback for the Cowboys but if he begins to give average performances, then you can all welcome back Tony Romo.
  1.  Denver Broncos (6-2) – Ranked #4 last week
  • The Broncos defense are finally playing like the elite defense that carried Peyton Manning and Denver to the Super Bowl. After they shut down Brock Osweiler, they collected three interceptions against Philip Rivers on Sunday en route to their eight point win versus San Diego. DeMarcus Ware made his long-awaited return and Von Miller is playing like the Defensive Player of the Year.
  1. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) – Ranked #6 last week
  • It is to no one’s surprise but the Chiefs are flying under the radar with a 5-2 start. With the Broncos and Raiders garning all of the national attention, the Chiefs have reeled off a three game win streak. Chiefs fans should be concerned with Jamaal Charles’ lingering knee issues while Alex Smith will be limited in practice this week due to the concussion that he suffered in the Chiefs game against the Colts.
  1. Oakland Raiders (6-2) – Ranked #8 last week
  • 5-0 Raiders on the road. All aboard the Raiders hype train. Even if you are not a Raiders fan, you should feel good about the rise of the Raiders this season unless you are a fan of another AFC West team or you just dislike the Raiders. Derek Carr has played like an MVP and he proved once again on Sunday where he destroyed the Buccaneers pass defense with 513 pass yards and four touchdowns. The Raiders will play the Broncos on SNF this week and it should be a good one between Oakland’s top five offense and Denver’s top five defense.
  1. Minnesota Vikings (5-2) – Ranked #3 last week
  • Wonder what Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will say this week about the Vikings performance against the Bears. Zimmer called them “soft” last week and they played like it this week. Vikings offensive line struggled to prevent the Bears edge rushers from getting to Sam Bradford and run blocking was below average as the Vikings rushed for 3.2 yards per carry. Sam Bradford looked clueless in the pocket and the defense suddenly can not stop the run. The Vikings still lead the NFC North but with the way they have played on the road against the Eagles and Bears, their fans are on the verge of panicking.

7. Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1) – Ranked #5 last week

  • Has anybody seen the Seahawks offense? Seattle has scored a total of just one offensive touchdown in their last two games… against the Cardinals and Saints struggling defenses. Russell Wilson is not playing like a top 10 quarterback and the rush offense is in need of a Marshawn Lynch return. Seahawks will face a tough defensive front with Lorenzo Alexander and the Buffalo Bills this week.

8. Atlanta Falcons (5-3) – Ranked #10 last week

  • The Falcons offense keeps on rolling. At the halfway point in the NFL season, the Falcons rank #1 in points per game and yards per game. The high-powered offense led by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have scored on 50.6% of drives. Against the Packers, Ryan’s clutch game-winning drive sealed the Falcons 33-32 victory. In college football, players have their Heisman moment but Matt Ryan might have just had his MVP moment.
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) – Ranked #9 last week
  • The Steelers were on a bye this week as they look ahead to their showdown matchup against their rivals Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers are optimistic that Ben Roethlisberger can return from injury but if not, Landry Jones will run the offense for the 2nd game in a row.
  1. Philadelphia Eagles (4-3) – Ranked #7 last week
  • When you run 43 pass plays, you would expect your quarterback to get to the 300 yard mark and efficiently convert first down after first down. On Sunday against the Cowboys, Carson Wentz went 32/43 for 202 yards and a touchdown. Eagles receivers were limited by the Cowboys excellent coverage and tackles as the longest pass play of the night went for 14 yards. The Eagles offense is not the story of the game nor was it the sole reason that they lost but rather the defense’s inability to get crucial stops in the 4th quarter and overtime. The Cowboys scored 16 straight points en route to a clutch win. Golden opportunities like this do not come around much in the NFL but the Eagles will now have to look forward to another NFC East showdown against the Giants.
  1. Houston Texans (5-3) – Ranked #15 last week
  • It was another mediocre performance by the Texans offense but they did just enough to secure the win over the Detroit Lions. With the surging Titans, the Texans need to come up with three or four wins in a row to hold off Tennessee. The Texans will have a bye week and then take on the Jaguars.
  1. New York Giants (4-3) – Ranked #12 last week
  • On their bye week, the Giants jumped from last place in the NFC East to 2nd place with the Redskins tie result and Eagles loss. Eli Manning and the Giants will host the Eagles this week. 
  1. Green Bay Packers (4-3) – Ranked #11 last week
  • Everything looks to be back to normal now for the Packers offense after two strong performances. Against the Falcons, Aaron Rodgers went 28-38 for 246 yards and four touchdown passes with 60 rushing yards. The Packers offense did their part but their defense collapsed at the end with a late touchdown drive by Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense. Considering the numerous injuries to players such as Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb that were out in this game, the Packers performed very well.
  1. Detroit Lions (4-4) – Ranked #13 last week
  • Matthew Stafford was not able to add another 4th quarter comeback win to his resume as the Lions lost another road game, this time to Houston. The Lions, like the Chargers, will be in every game and they will fight until the end but this team looks like another 8-8 team. Lions will travel to Minnesota next week to face the Vikings.
  1. Buffalo Bills (4-4) – Ranked #14 last week
  • It would have been a dream for Rex Ryan to have the Bills sweep the Patriots but instead, their defense was burned all game long by Tom Brady and the Patriots. This team went from having realistic hopes of being in 1st place in the division after week eight to suddenly out of the playoff picture. The Bills will need to turn it around and avoid a potential three game losing streak as they visit the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. Expect LeSean McCoy to be the focal part of this offense. 
  1. Washington Redskins (4-3-1) – Ranked #16 last week
  • We could be talking about the 5-3 Redskins but thanks to a missed field goal by Dustin Hopkins in overtime, the Redskins add a tie game to their record. A tie is not a dismal result but in the surging NFC East, it is as good as losing the game. After a slow start to the season, Kirk Cousins has played well as he ranks 2nd behind Matt Ryan in passing yards and he has completed 67% of passes.
  1. Tennessee Titans (4-4) – Ranked #23 last week
  • Watch out Texans, here come the Tennessee Titans. The Titans recorded their 4th straight game with at least 100 rushing yards and now they have returned to the .500 mark. Marcus Mariota has played well with executing good throws on 3rd down. The Titans have a chance to have a winning record if they can find a way stop Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry will be ready to extend the 100 rushing yards streak to eight games.
  1. New Orleans Saints (3-4) – Ranked #27 last week
  • For Drew Brees, the Saints 25-20 win against the Seahawks was bittersweet. Brees did his job once again as usual with a 265 passing yard day with a touchdown and 375 total yards against the Seahawks top-notch defense. The Saints defense were finally able to string together multiple scoreless drives as the Seahawks rush defense was non-existent and the Saints defense were able to lower missed tackles, a glaring flaw for this team over the last month. The Saints will take on the 49ers this week with a chance to get back to the .500 mark.
  1. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1) – Ranked #19 last week
  • After eight games last season, the Bengals reigned at the top of the mountain with an 8-0 record. This season is a completely different story. The Bengals missed dozens of opportunities and they deserved to lose but with the help of kicker Dustin Hopkins, their game against Washington finished in a tie. The Bengals offense ranks #4 in total yards but it means nothing when you can not score as they rank 21st in points per game with 20.9.
  1. Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1) – Ranked #18 last week
  • The Cardinals just can not find a way to beat the Panthers. Carson Palmer had one of his best games over the last two seasons with 363 passing yards and three touchdown passes but it ultimately was not enough. The Panthers rushed for 141 yards with two touchdowns by Jonathan Stewart. Questionable officiating calls and mental mistakes ended up burning the Cardinals. After winning the NFC West last season, the Cardinals could be watching the playoffs from home this season.
  1. San Diego Chargers (3-5) – Ranked #17 last week
  • The Chargers made it a game but three turnovers and the inability to break Denver’s defense were the x-factors in the Chargers loss. One positive of this game was Melvin Gordon going for 111 rushing yards, Gordon’s 2nd game this season with at least 100 rushing yards.  I feel like this Chargers team could end up finishing 8-8; they make every game a competitive one but it is 50/50 on whether they will be able to finish off with the win. 8-8 would be a positive accomplishment considering the devastating injuries that the Chargers have suffered this season.
  1. Miami Dolphins (3-4) – Ranked #21 last week
  • Dolphins fans should hope that the bye week will not slow down Jay Ajayi‘s momentum as they will host the Jets this week.
  1. New York Jets (3-5) – Ranked #25 last week
  • Against the Browns awful pass defense, you’d expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to have his best game of the season. Well, that was not the case as he completed under 50% of his passes for 228 rushing yards but that did not matter as the Jets rush offense bailed him out. Matt Forte and Bilal Powell rushed for 158 yards. Darrelle Revis and the Jets pass defense had another inconsistent day in coverage but they did enough to stop Josh McCown and the Browns offense in the 4th quarter.
  1. Carolina Panthers (2-5) – Ranked #28 last week
  • A loss to the Cardinals last Sunday would have all but ended their small hopes at another playoff run but that was not the case. It was an ugly win against the Cardinals but for the Panthers, they will take it. They will look for their first win streak of the season when they face the Rams this week.
  1. Los Angeles Rams (3-4) – Ranked #24 last week
  • The Rams were on a bye this week and they will host the Panthers this Sunday. Can Todd Gurley finally rush for over 100 yards?
  1. Indianapolis Colts (3-5) – Ranked #22 last week
  • The Colts sad downfall continued on Sunday with a loss to the Chiefs. The Chiefs defense allowed 30 points and 422 total yards to a team without Jamaal Charles and with Nick Foles playing the majority of the game. It has been a tough year in coverage for players such as Darius Butler and Vontae Davis.
  1. Baltimore Ravens (3-4) – Ranked #26 last week
  • The Ravens rested well on their bye week but they will host their hated rival Steelers this Sunday. With an extra week to prepare, newly named offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will look to jumpstart this offense and look to run the ball effectively.
  1. Chicago Bears (2-6) – Ranked #30 last week
  • With Jay Cutler returning, the Bears offense played their best game in their last two years and in their 4th and final primetime game of the year, the Bears pulled off the biggest upset of the year with a 20-10 win over the Vikings. Jordan Howard shined with 202 total yards and he proved that he can be as good as anyone in the open field. Leonard Floyd and Pernell McPhee had a solid pass rush game and the Bears were able to sack Sam Bradford five times. The Bears playoffs hopes are very likely gone but a win like this is can go a long way for the fans and players.
  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) – Ranked # 20 last week
  • The Bucs have had plenty of horrendous performances over the past few seasons but nothing will beat what occured on Sunday. The Bucs were unable to take advantage of the Raiders errors, 23 penalties to exact, and the defense allowed a whopping 626 total yards. Jameis Winston can only watch in pure disappointment.
  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5) – Ranked #29 last week
  • After the Jaguars disappointing loss to the Titans on Thursday Night Football, the team fired offensive coordinator Greg Olson. Somehow, 14-41 head coach Gus Bradley is still the head coach. For a young team like the Jaguars, Gus Bradley is evidently not the answer. With the exponential amount of raw talent on this team, they need a high-energy coach who will go after this team.
  1. San Francisco 49ers (1-6) – Ranked #31 last week
  • 49ers were on a bye in week eight and every 49ers fan should hope that Chip Kelly has extensively watched film of the team’s past three games, particularly the 49ers rush defense.
  1. Cleveland Browns (0-8) – Ranked #32 last week
  • The best news for the Browns this season is that they acquired linebacker Jamie Collins from the New England Patriots. Other than that, it looks like they are on their way to a 0-16 season. Looking at the rest of their schedule, they will regret losing to the Jets since they were very likely the best chance to win a game. All they can look forward to now is the return of Cody Kessler from injury.