It’s weird to think that, even nearing midseason, there’s still so little we know about some of these NFL teams.
A team that I errantly ranked as the NFL’s best a few weeks ago, the Green Bay Packers, is now plummeting. (Can a big trade save them?) A team that I had been fiercely defending, the Miami Dolphins, is finally beginning to prove me right. And a team that’s finally hitting its stride, the Arizona Cardinals, are firing up the rankings. We’re done with the frazzled, speed-dating portion of the NFL season. It’s time to really get to know these teams as we get closer to the playoffs.
Here are the Week 9 power rankings.
32. New York Jets (0-8) — Can we fast forward to 0-16? (Unless they beat the Patriots this weekend?!?!?)
31. New York Giants (1-7) — Daniel Jones, we hardly knew ye. When (not if) the Giants fire David Gettleman, the turnover could (and should) be swift.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars — This defense is truly horrendous.
29. Dallas Cowboys (2-6) — Ben DiNucci is bad, somehow worse than Andy Dalton.
28. Washington Football Team (2-5) — This conference is unwatchable.
27. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1) — Don’t let the record make you think they’re good. They’re merely beneficiaries of a historically bad schedule.
26. Houston Texans (1-6) — I’ve said it before in these power rankings: The only reassuring element of their rebuild is that they have Deshaun Watson.
25. Atlanta Falcons (2-6) — They should probably go back to being bad at winning games. It’ll be better for 2021 and beyond.
24. Minnesota Vikings (2-5) — They beat the Packers, which proves … well, I honestly don’t know.
23. Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) — Justin Herbert is special. I imagine he’ll regress at some point, maybe in Year 2. But he’s been fun to watch, even in losses.
22. New England Patriots (2-5) — They’re bad. Competitive. But bad.
21. Denver Broncos (3-4) — The jury is still out on Drew Lock, but maybe the decision is moving toward his favor as he steers the team in the right direction since returning from injury. *Cue the Drew-Lock-dancing Tik Tok*
20. San Francisco 49ers (4-4) — Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t a reliable or impressive quarterback, but he’s better than the rest of the 49ers QBs. Garoppolo and George Kittle’s injuries are likely to sink San Francisco’s season.
19. Carolina Panthers (3-5) — Their three-game losing skid is likely to stretch to four (against the Chiefs) and probably even five (against the Buccaneers). Christian McCaffrey can’t return soon enough.
18. Detroit Lions (3-4) — Matt Patricia is going to keep his job, isn’t he? He’s like a coaching cockroach.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1) — Here come … the Bengals? They beat the Titans, with both coach Zac Taylor and quarterback Joe Burrow maturing.
16. Chicago Bears (5-3) — Their quarterback problem will ensure their regression in the second half of the season.
15. Cleveland Browns (5-3) — Their quarterback problem will ALSO ensure their regression in the second half of the season. (That — and a tough division.)
14. Los Vegas Raiders (4-3) — I’m not taking them seriously for the playoffs, because they’re so inconsistent. But for the regular season, they’re a pretty good team.
13. L.A. Rams (5-3) — In retrospect, their wins don’t actually look so impressive. Their performance against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9 should be fun and informative.
12. Miami Dolphins (4-3) — I’m not going to take my victory lap yet, but I HAVE been high on the Dolphins for months. (MONTHS!) *Cue the Drew-Lock-dancing Tik Tok*
11. Tennessee Titans (5-2) — They lost to the Bengals. THE BENGALS?! Can the Titans get right against the Bears this week or will Tennessee struggle again for a three-game losing streak?
10. New Orleans Saints (5-2) — They continue to almost lose games, but their record looks pretty good, even if their game tape doesn’t.
9. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) — Indy’s season imbues the same confidence as a floppy fish handshake.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-2) — Justin Zimmer deserves a freaking statue. That man forced a fumble that delivered the Bills’ first win over the Patriots at home in nine years. Zimmer may have broken the big-brother, little-brother dynamic in the AFC East.
7. Green Bay Packers (5-2) — I deeply regret ranking them No. 1. I apologize. Forgive me? OK, cool.
6. Arizona Cardinals (5-2) — Good defense, good quarterback, good coach, DeAndre Hopkins. What’s not to like?
5. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) — Let’s not put too much stock into losses to the Steelers or the Chiefs. Those teams are ranked higher, because they’re better. That doesn’t mean the Ravens should move down these rankings.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) — Tom Brady and Gronk looked might old in Week 1. They look young again now. But will they still look fresh in Week 17?
3. Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) — Patrick Mahomes’ Week 8 stat line: 73.8 completion percentage, 416 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs, 1 underhanded pass. Oh, he’s good.
2. Seattle Seahawks (6-1) — There’s no stopping Russell Wilson, not even his defense can do it.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-0) — This defense made Lamar Jackson look ordinary, which is not easy to do.