NFL Power Rankings Week 9: The Power Five?

Week 8 was a topsy-turvy kind of weekend. Lots of upsets, and more of the same from Kansas City and Pittsburgh. Seattle did Seattle things, and somehow the top five has remained unchanged.

As will happen every Tuesday throughout the season, nine of our contributors — Zach Lyons, Mike HerndonJustin MeloJimmy MorrisRobert GreenlawWes WisleyAustin NelsonJosh Hong, and Justin Graver — have submitted their power rankings, 1 to 32. Below is the aggregate results of those rankings.

Biggest Risers: The Indianapolis Colts got healthy and took the Detroit Lions to school. This latest win saw them jump six spots up the power rankings and into the top-10.

Biggest Fallers: The New England Patriots continue their free fall, while a combination of a loss and injuries have the San Francisco 49ers reeling. Both teams fell four spots.

Here’s where we landed with our rankings as we head into Week 9 of the regular season…

To see the full list of everyone’s individual rankings click here.

Highest Rank:1stLowest Rank:2ndPreviously:1st
Highest Rank:1stLowest Rank:2ndPreviously:2nd

Justin G: The Steelers remain undefeated after a defensive-led victory that could prove decisive both for the AFC North and the eventual first-round playoff bye. While the Chiefs continue to make their loss to the Raiders look like a bump in the road, the Steelers will prove a tough competitor because their defense is arguably the league’s best unit.

Acquiring Avery Williamson won’t replace Devin Bush, but he’s a capable fill-in piece for what’s already a talented defensive group. The playmakers on offense are finally healthy and all playing together, and if things stay that way, it’s easy to see Pittsburgh replacing Kansas City as our top-ranked team in the coming weeks.

Highest Rank:3rdLowest Rank:3rdPreviously:3rd
Highest Rank:4thLowest Rank:4thPreviously:4th
Highest Rank:5thLowest Rank:8thPreviously:5th

Zach: You may have caught me saying it for the last few weeks, but I continue to be proven right: The Baltimore Ravens are an average team. 

The only reason they maintain a top-10 vote from me is because of their defense. However, their offense is so bland and predictable. This is a team that is hoping for help from Dez Bryant of all places.

Lamar Jackson has played seven games this season. He’s been sacked 19 times and thrown just 12 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. And oh, he has zero 300-yard passing games. He took 23 sacks and threw 6 interceptions in all of 2019. He’s fallen off quite a bit since being the unanimous league MVP a season ago.

I’m not sure what’s happened to Jackson. He’s off the mark and wildly missing his receivers. The Ravens have lost two massive games to the defending-champion Chiefs and the in-division rival Steelers. 

This defense is good enough to get them into the playoffs in one of those final spots, but they will see a quick first round exit because average teams stay average.

Highest Rank:5thLowest Rank:7thPreviously:7th
Highest Rank:6thLowest Rank:9thPreviously:6th

Robert: After a valiant but failed comeback against the Steelers, the Titans followed it up with a dud against the Bengals. They were unable to sack Joe Burrow despite facing an offensive line in tatters and their defense continued to be horrific on third down.

Reinforcements are on the way in the form of Desmond King, and hopefully the return of Adoree Jackson. Those two players will not be the cure-all for this defense, but it should help tremendously.

Big tests are on the way as their next five games are against teams with winning records.

Highest Rank:5thLowest Rank:11thPreviously:9th
Highest Rank:8thLowest Rank:9thPreviously:10th
Highest Rank:7thLowest Rank:12thPreviously:16th

Wes: The Indianapolis Colts have joined the Tennessee Titans as the only legit contenders for the AFC South crown. Winners of five out of their last six, the Colts are entering a difficult stretch on their schedule, facing the Ravens, Titans, Packers and Titans again over their next four games. 

Philip Rivers has played fairly well, settling into his new offense and utilizing the weapons around him. The Colts are a well-rounded team, well coached and appear primed to make a playoff run. The big question for me is whether or not they can win against good teams. Up to this point, they have only played two teams with winning records, beating the Bears in Chicago and losing to the Browns in Cleveland. Their next four games will prove if they are legit or a team that is benefiting from an easier schedule. 

They are currently 0-1 against AFC South teams, dropping their opener to Jacksonville back in Week 1. The two upcoming games against the Titans will shape how both teams sit in the division race. 

Highest Rank:10thLowest Rank:14thPreviously:12th
Highest Rank:10thLowest Rank:17thPreviously:8th

Josh: The post-Super Bowl slump is real, and it’s hitting the 49ers very hard via injuries. They currently have more than a third of their roster out due to injury. This list includes starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo, starting RB Raheem Mostert, starting TE George Kittle, starting DE Nick Bosa, starting CB Richard Sherman, starting DE Dee Ford, and many more. The roster just does not have the same talent available that it did last year.

Even when healthy, Garoppolo has not been very good. Not even Kyle Shanahan’s elite play design and calling has been enough to compensate for Garoppolo’s lapses in performance — throwing for three interceptions and zero touchdowns in his last two games.

To top it all off, the 49ers play in the most difficult division in the NFL. The NFC West currently holds a combined record of 20-10, which is the best in the NFL. The 49ers are not a bad team, but the level of competition they have to face may push them out of the playoffs this year.

Highest Rank:12thLowest Rank:13thPreviously:15th

Austin: The Raiders are… good? I still don’t know what to think of this team on a week-to-week basis. Derek Carr needs to be more consistent for me to take the Raiders seriously. But, Jon Gruden has to be happy with how his running game attacked the Browns. Josh Jacobs was back and ran for 128 yards on 31 carries. Their defense needs to improve, but they played terrific on Sunday in the bad weather. They’re just a half game out of 7th place in the AFC with a big three-game stretch coming up against division rivals.

Highest Rank:12thLowest Rank:16thPreviously:11th
Highest Rank:14thLowest Rank:17thPreviously:14th
Highest Rank:15thLowest Rank:18thPreviously:13th

Wes: The Chicago Bears started the season with three straight wins, and Mitchell Trubisky appeared to have taken a step forward. Unfortunately for him and the Bears, his good performances didn’t last very long. Fast-forward to the present: the Bears have lost three of their last five and have a very inconsistent Nick Foles running an even more inconsistent offensive unit. 

It has to be frustrating for the defense, which has been one of the best in the NFL. They handle their business week-in and week-out, doing everything they can to put the Bears in a position to win. I don’t see this changing anytime soon. Matt Nagy has got to figure out how to get more out of his offense if he wants to make the playoffs, or even more importantly, if he wants to keep his job. Nagy is without a doubt on the hot seat.

Highest Rank:15thLowest Rank:18thPreviously:18th

Jimmy: TUA TIME BEGINS WITH A BANG!! Okay, so Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t great in his debut, but these Dolphins are a better team than people have given them credit for. Miami still has a lot of draft capital from moves over the last couple of years. They will be a contender sooner than later.

Highest Rank:18thLowest Rank:23rdPreviously:17th

Justin Melo: The Chargers are gonna… Charge? I’m still trying to understand how they lost this game, but they’ve done a very good job of losing contests such as this one for a number of years now. They had a 24-3 lead in the third quarter before the Denver Broncos started to mount their comeback. This one hurts.

The loss drops the Chargers to 2-5 on the year. They’re probably not a playoff team this year. They just traded cornerback Desmond King to the Titans. It’s going to remain an up-and-down year, but Justin Herbert gives this franchise and its fan base plenty of reasons to smile. Herbert has been an absolute sensation. It’s early, but he looks like a franchise quarterback.

Highest Rank:18thLowest Rank:20thPreviously:20th

Robert: Who are the Vikings? A team typically known for a stout defense has been poor in that area this year given the injury to Danielle Hunter and the necessity to start rookie cornerbacks.

What is clear is Mike Zimmer’s desire to run the ball. In their latest win, Kirk Cousins attempted just 14 passes, while Dalvin Cook ran 30 times for 163 yards and had 4 total touchdowns.

The ball-control plan worked on Sunday, but it has not been very successful this year. In their next five games, they only play one team with a winning record, so they will have a chance to go on a bit of a run.

Highest Rank:19thLowest Rank:22ndPreviously:24th
Highest Rank:17thLowest Rank:24thPreviously:19th
Highest Rank:21stLowest Rank:23rdPreviously:26th

Justin G: It’s hard to know what to make of this Broncos team. One week after the Chiefs beat them handily in all three phases, Denver allowed Hebert to build a 24-3 lead in the 3rd quarter. Then, Drew Lock started slinging the rock and hit three fourth-quarter touchdowns en route to a miraculous 31-30 victory.

The win inspired us to collectively move Denver up four spots in our rankings, but it’s hard to be inspired by their most recent win. Was it more of a classic Chargers collapse or did the Broncos offense finally start to click? Watching the final game-winning drive, I have trouble believing the latter. The Broncos were helped by penalty after penalty before finally getting in the end zone for the go-ahead score.

That said, I do expect better days ahead for this defense. This is an up-and-down team in the midst of an up-and-down season.

Highest Rank:21stLowest Rank:25thPreviously:25th
Highest Rank:21stLowest Rank:26thPreviously:22nd
Highest Rank:20thLowest Rank:26thPreviously:21st

Jimmy: I told you before the season that Cam Newton isn’t good and that the Patriots would fall off the cliff this season. It’s just too bad I couldn’t bet on the under for their win total legally in Tennessee back then.

Highest Rank:25thLowest Rank:28thPreviously:23rd

Mike: The demise of the Eagles since their Super Bowl is a fascinating topic to me. Just two years ago GM Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson were the “smartest guys in the room” and running circles around their NFL counterparts thanks to an analytics-based approach to running their football team. Now, they’re one of the worst teams in the league despite the fact that they’re almost certainly going to win their division and host a playoff game again.

Yes, they’ve had offensive line injuries to deal with, but their big trade for Darius Slay hasn’t produced the results on defense that they’d hoped. The Eagles pass defense is currently ranked 22nd in DVOA and their three wins on the season have come against Nick Mullens, Daniel Jones, and Ben DiNucci.

Then you have Carson Wentz, whose regression from one-time MVP frontrunner in 2017 to the player he is now has been startling. Wentz’s yards per attempt by season tell the story pretty well.

  • 2017: 7.5
  • 2018: 7.7
  • 2019: 6.7
  • 2020: 6.2

His boneheaded mistakes are also way up and the Eagles don’t have a viable path out of his contract until 2022 at the earliest (and that would still leave behind over $24-million in dead cap). But hey, at least they’ve got Travis Fulgham.

Highest Rank:24thLowest Rank:28thPreviously:28th
Highest Rank:26thLowest Rank:28thPreviously:27th
Highest Rank:29thLowest Rank:31stPreviously:31st
Highest Rank:28thLowest Rank:31stPreviously:29th

Zach: The Jacksonville Jaguars have decided to start Jake Luton and officially end Minshew Mania. Not only is Minshew being benched, but he won’t even be active as the Jaguars are deciding to go with Luton and Mike Glennon as his back up.

Here is what Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone had to say about his mindset going into the bye week: 

“I’m fired up. I’m gonna bust my ass. I wanna look at some things. I wanna go outside the box. I’m gonna do whatever I can to get the best out of this team and these players. People will mock me but I don’t give a shit. I’ve done crazy shit before. Took a chance on a kid named James Robinson and he’s playing his ass off. So let’s go.”

Is this guy for real? Is he so freaking deluded about who he is and what his place is in the hierarchy of NFL coaches that he actually thinks the way to get the best out of this team and out of these players is to start Jake freaking Luton? JAKE LUTON!?!

Give me a break! If it wasn’t for the Jets, Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles burning my eyeballs last weekend, I probably would’ve ranked the Jaguars even lower (I have them at 28 while the group is lower overall).

Highest Rank:29thLowest Rank:31stPreviously:30th
Highest Rank:32ndLowest Rank:32ndPreviously:32nd

Who is too high? Who is too low? Drop a comment down below!

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Comments

  1. “ Reinforcements are on the way in the form of Desmond King, and hopefully the return of Adoree Jackson. Those two players will not be the cure-all for this defense, but it should help tremendously.”

    I may be wrong. But I humbly and respectfully disagree. I think the Achilles Heel is about to be fixed. And the latent potential of this defense is about to be revealed. With major deficiencies in the most important position on defense, we have been less than the sum of our parts. With the deficiencies soon repaired (via Adoree and Desmond) the whole will become greater than the sum of its parts. Synergy will spark, and the various tipping points will become a landslide.

    Mark my words if you’re willing ?

    1. There’s still the problem of linebackers being terrible at fitting the run game. This will solve the current problem of easily finding quick open receivers. But it could simply turn opponents to running the ball more, where the Titans defense hasn’t had much success… we’ll see!

      1. I agree with you. I think those linebackers are capable of better run fits, though. They’ve done it successfully in the past.

        A couple questions whose answers I don’t know for sure, but I believe might support my position.

        (1) how much is the demand for LBs to provide extra coverage support affecting their efficiency in run support this past 7 games?

        (2) how much more creative could our defensive play calling collaboration be when they aren’t hamstrung by impossibly bad CB play?

        1. 1 – not really the issue. They just aren’t triggering downhill and then aren’t getting off blocks. the only hope is how jayon has played in the past, and maybe David Long providing a spark.

          2 – definitely possible that playcalling changes with better secondary players. could bring more men into the box if run defense is really a problem and just leave some or all of the corners with no help over the top. I suppose you can do that when the corners are better haha

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