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SQ NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

With a calm week amongst the NFL’s elite, what seperates pro football’s best teams?

Stability: It’s something we haven’t had much of this NFL season, but were finally granted in Week 8. The top nine teams in our power rankings last week all won and it could have been top 10 if our 10th-ranked Texans hadn’t taken on our fifth-ranked Seahawks. Now is the time of the season where the dust start to settles and we understand who are the real threats. Some major moves were made this week with the Eagles acquiring RB Jay Ajayi and the Seahawks getting OT Duane Brown. Were those moves enough to shake the balance of powers in our rankings? Find out below.

   Ranking (Change)

1 (-)

Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)

Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)

It was another ho-hum week for the Eagles, as they cruised to an easy win over San Francisco by a score of 33-10. Carson Wentz didn’t have his best game, but he tossed a pair of scores and spread the ball around well, completing passes to nine different players. The defense continued its impressive play as well, picking C.J. Beathard off twice and limiting him to 167 passing yards. However, the biggest story out of Philadelphia this week has to be the shocking trade for Jay Ajayi, which should bolster the rushing attack and give Wentz another weapon as the Eagles gear up for the postseason. (Kyle Trapp)

2 (-)

Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)

Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)

After a divisional win over the Broncos, the Chiefs now have a 2.5 game advantage in the AFC West. Offensively, Kansas City is averaging 29.5 points per game, behind only the Texans and Rams. It’s the defense that needs work. While the Chiefs have been one of the league’s best teams this year, they’re also 30th in total defense. Despite the clear imbalance, it’s hard to argue with Kansas City’s results. Bad defense can be negated with lots of takeaways, and the Chiefs are currently seventh in that category with 13. Look for this team to maintain their stranglehold on the division. (Nick Cardozo)

3 (-)

New England Patriots (6-2)

New England Patriots (6-2)

It almost feels right that the Patriots are 6-2 and riding a four-game win streak in a year when many felt they were declining. The offense is still the best in the NFL, and the defense has now held its past two opponents under 400 total yards, a feat it had previously failed to do. Tom Brady is leading the NFL in passing yards and has a 16-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Combine the ageless Brady with an ascending defense, and you’ve clearly got a team ready for another title run. (Nick Cardozo)

4 (-)

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)

The Steelers have now won three straight and are right there with the AFC’s other contenders. The team has shut down the pass all season and Big Ben has looked much better after his meltdown against Jacksonville. It’s clear Pittsburgh’s plan is to feed Le’Veon Bell as much as possible, and with a top-ranked defense, the Steelers seem built for the colder months. Judging by the state of the AFC North, Pittsburgh can fully expect to be around in January. (Nick Cardozo)

5 (-)

Seattle Seahawks (5-2)

Seattle Seahawks (5-2)

According to reports out of the Seahawks camp in preseason, Russell Wilson looked the best he had in his whole career, but after the season’s first two weeks that notion looked like false hype. Since then, Wilson has absolutely exploded, throwing for 14 touchdowns and averaging 330 passing yards per game in the past five contests. He was especially dominant against Houston this past week, throwing for 452 yards and four TDs. With virtually no help from the rushing attack (Seattle running backs managed just five yards on 16 carries), Seattle will need Wilson to continue his stellar play. (Kyle Trapp)

6 (-)

Los Angeles Rams (5-2)

Los Angeles Rams (5-2)

Rams fans were pulling for Deshaun Watson and the Texans on Sunday, but to no avail. Still, the Rams find themselves at 5-2, atop the NFC West, and coming off a bye week rested, healthy, and ready to take on a battered New York Giants team. The Rams have jumped onto the scene quickly, and they have done it with offense. They rank second in the league in points, scoring just over 30 a game. Rookie head coach Sean McVay has quickly proven that the hype around him as one of the youngest and brightest offensive minds in the league has not been overstated. (Adrian Nelson)

7 (-)

Dallas Cowboys (4-3)

Dallas Cowboys (4-3)

Dallas put together its first back-to-back victories of the season after defeating Washington, 33-19. Although the Cowboys seem like they’re trending in the right direction, the team’s future outlook is murky now that Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension finally looks like it’s beginning. Up until now, the Cowboys have had the league’s second-best rushing attack, which will be hard to maintain with Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden in the backfield. Look for the offense to lean on Dak Prescott more than usual. If the Cowboys can take down the Chiefs without Zeke, it would go a long way in convincing the rest of the league they’re for real. (Nick Cardozo)

8 (+1)

Buffalo Bills (5-2)

Buffalo Bills (5-2)

Another week, another big win for the Bills, as they dominated the Raiders from the start in a 34-14 victory. The defense was phenomenal once again, forcing four Oakland turnovers. At this point, they’re certainly in the conversation for the best defense in the league. On offense, LeSean McCoy provided another workhorse Shady performance, and Tyrod Taylor continued to protect the ball. What he’s done with a limited supporting cast has been impressive this season, and that cast gained some reinforcements on Tuesday, as Buffalo pulled off a shocking trade for Kelvin Benjamin. The move proves that the Bills are serious about winning this season. (Kyle Trapp)

9 (-1)

Carolina Panthers (5-3)

Carolina Panthers (5-3)

The Panthers rode a strong defensive performance to a divisional win over Tampa in Week 8. Carolina’s defense is now second in sacks, second in total yards allowed, and fifth in points allowed. Statistically, the Panthers’ defense is right around where it was in 2015. So why is the team just 5-3? The key still lies with Cam Newton and the offense. Right now, the unit has the fifth-most giveaways in the NFL with 14. In addition, Carolina just traded Kelvin Benjamin, one of the offense’s few weapons. For the Panthers to truly compete, Cam will have to take care of the ball and score at a higher rate — it just feels like the odds of that happening are slim. (Nick Cardozo)

10 (-)

Houston Texans (3-4)

Houston Texans (3-4)

Deshaun Watson is playing at a level that makes you wonder why so many teams passed on him, and why the Bears, Chiefs, and Browns in particular—who all made draft day trades—didn’t decide to taken him instead. That being said, it’s important to not be too much of a prisoner of the moment and calm down on the Watson hype. RG3 won rookie of the year in 2012 and now five years later he is out of football. Carson Wentz looked like a godsend at the beginning of 2016 and although he’s been good this year, he struggled towards the middle and end of last season once teams got tape on him. I hope Watson succeeds because his style of football is fun to watch, but when he struggles, it’ll be important to keep everything in perspective. (Adrian Nelson)

11 (+3)

New Orleans Saints (5-2)

New Orleans Saints (5-2)

The last three years of Saints’ defensive football have looked like this: ranked 31st in yards per game in 2014, 31st in 2015, and 27th in 2016. Halfway through this NFL, however, they find themselves ranked 20th. While not great, it does mean the the Saints have achieved average status, and given the play of Drew Brees and the offense, that’s all they’ve ever really needed to be. The main reason for the Saints no longer being a laughing stock has been the play of cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Likely a name you haven’t heard of before, this rookie was drafted out of Ohio State and is currently Pro Football Focus’s No. 1 ranked corner. With him locking down a whole side of the field, it’s no wonder the Saint have improved. (Adrian Nelson)

12 (-)

Minnesota Vikings (6-2)

Minnesota Vikings (6-2)

The Vikings looked sloppy early in London, as they headed to the locker room at halftime down a point to the Browns. However, the defense took over in the second half, holding Cleveland to just a single field goal. Even with journeyman Case Keenum at quarterback, Minnesota has looked impressive this season on both sides of the ball. This was expected on defense, where Harrison Smith and company have long been tormenting opposing quarterbacks. But for an offense that has been without Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook for large chunks of the season, their performance is all the more noteworthy. (Kyle Trapp)

13 (+3)

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3)

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3)

The Jags were off in Week 8, and the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time, with star running back Leonard Fournette on the mend. The rookie standout looks poised to play this week in a very winnable game against Cincinnati. The AFC South is as up for grabs as any division in football, and Jacksonville could stake their claim with another impressive performance. (Kyle Trapp)

14 (-1)

Atlanta Falcons (4-3)

Atlanta Falcons (4-3)

The Falcons ended their three-game skid with a close win against the Jets. While a win is encouraging, Atlanta still doesn’t seem to have a true strength this year. The team is ranked near the middle in almost every main category on both offense and defense. Yes, last year’s offensive numbers were never going to be matched, but the Falcons have too much talent on offense to not be performing better. It’s unclear if the main issue has been Matt Ryan, Steve Sarkisian, or something else entirely. Regardless, Atlanta needs to elevate its game in order to keep up with division-leading New Orleans. (Nick Cardozo)

15 (-4)

Denver Broncos (3-4)

Denver Broncos (3-4)

The Denver Broncos have now lost three straight games, and four of their last five. On Wednesday, coach Vance Joseph, no longer having the time of his life, announced that they would be turning to Brock Osweiler as their starting quarterback for the immediate future. Although Trevor Siemian played well to start the season, he has hit a wall, and the Broncos cannot win games at his current level of play. When Osweiler assumed starting duties in the wake of Peyton Manning’s injury a few seasons ago, the Broncos found success by relying on the running game and asking Brock to do just enough. It’s doubtful, but they are hoping that that formula will work again now. (Adrian Nelson)

16 (-1)

Detroit Lions (3-4)

Detroit Lions (3-4)

Although they put up 482 yards of offense, the Detroit Lions managed only 15 points and no touchdowns in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night. This has not been an isolated incident in 2017. The Lions have consistently slung the ball up and down the field, ranking 12th in passing yards per game, but they struggle mightily in the red zone and are ranked 27th in red zone TD percentage. For Detroit to have any chance of making a run in the playoffs or even winning their division, it will be crucial that the Lions find a way to get seven rather than settling for three. Whether it’s play calling or the lack of a running game, something has to change. (Adrian Nelson)

17 (-)

Washington Redskins (3-4)

Washington Redskins (3-4)

The Redskins are now 3-4, but it’s their 0-3 divisional record that’s making matters much worse. In addition, many key players are banged up, and it showed in their loss to Dallas on Sunday. Kirk Cousins has been good enough to keep the offense moving, but with three starters out on the line, the opposing pass rush has had any easy time getting to him. Washington has some impressive performances this year, but until the team gets healthy, remaining in playoff contention will be difficult. (Nick Cardozo)

18 (+3)

Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)

Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)

The Chargers’ three-game winning streak finally came to an end, with a one score loss on the road against New England. Despite the outcome, this game demonstrated that the Charges are a solid team. But for some key penalties by the team and potentially the worst special teams play all year by Travis Benjamin, they Chargers could have very easily found themselves coming out of Foxborough with a win. The Chargers are a team that specializes in not having a specialty. They pay solid defense and good offense, and when they put both of those performances together on the same Sunday, they come away with the win. The challenge for them has been consistency, and making sure that they avoid beating themselves. (Adrian Nelson)

19 (+1)

Tennessee Titans (4-3)

Tennessee Titans (4-3)

Tennessee has two straight wins and now comes off its bye week to play Baltimore. Seems like things are looking good, right? In reality, its hard to gauge where the Titans stand right now. Their last win was an overtime victory against the hapless Browns, who are supposed to get demolished by good teams. Meanwhile, the Titans were able to put up more than 30 points against both the Jaguars and Seahawks, showing they cannot just score on good defenses, but win against them. The team shares a lead of the AFC South, but will have to be more consistent before receiving any more praise. (Nick Cardozo)

20 (-2)

Oakland Raiders (3-5)

Oakland Raiders (3-5)

What the heck is happening in Oakland? The Raiders were supposed to be one of the better teams in football, but at the season’s midway point they sit at 3-5. On Sunday, they were bludgeoned by the Bills by a score of 34-14. The offense accounted for four turnovers, including two Derek Carr interceptions and a pair of running back fumbles. On the other side of the ball, LeSean McCoy ran all over the defense to the tune of 151 yards and a TD. It was an ugly game, it’s been an ugly season, and Oakland is running out of time to turn things around. (Kyle Trapp)

21 (-2)

Green Bay Packers (4-3)

Green Bay Packers (4-3)

With Rodgers out for the foreseeable future, the Packers are squarely on the shoulders of Brett Hundley which is not a winning proposition for a team so heavily dependent on their quarterback. Many thought that Kaepernick would be a good stopgap option here, but McCarthy said that they had everything they needed in their quarterback room. Although, something must have changed as the reports were the Packers were trying to snag Hoyer before he signed with the Patriots, so maybe there was some other reason that they passed on Kaep … *sips tea* (Adrian Nelson)

22 (-)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5)

Pegged by many to be this year’s breakout team, the Bucs have had an abysmal season, and Sunday’s matchup against the division rival Panthers was no different. The offense, despite a variety of playmakers, scored just three points. Jameis Winston threw a pair of picks, and chipped in a fumble for good measure. Turnovers have always been his Achilles’ heel, but he’s been able to combat those issues with touchdowns. That wasn’t the case against Carolina, and it hasn’t been the case for most of this season. (Kyle Trapp)

23 (+3)

Chicago Bears (3-5)

Chicago Bears (3-5)

The conclusion on the Chicago Bears should be that they are a good bad football team. Let’s start with the bad football team part. Besides the running game, there is really nothing exciting or overtly competent about this team. The defense has played well at times and Trubisky has shown flashes, but when the ball is not in the hands of Jordan Howard or Tarik Cohen, the team is thoroughly underwhelming. Now the good bad part. The Bears may be bad, but they play hard and can give teams a scare. They straight up beat the Steelers, Ravens, and Panthers, and this past week they played the Saints in a close game all the way to the end. The Bears have a long road ahead of them, but it could be a lot worse. (Adrian Nelson)

24 (+1)

Cincinnati Bengals (3-4)

Cincinnati Bengals (3-4)

A late Carlos Dunlap pick-six propelled the Bengals to victory over the Colts on Sunday, and it was a win Cincinnati needed if they want a shot at the playoffs. They looked dead in the water after the season’s first three weeks, but after winning three of their past four they have new life. Despite some hiccups against Indianapolis, the defense has been solid this year. The main concern has been the offense, although Andy Dalton’s play on Sunday was encouraging. This week’s matchup against the Jaguars will be a true test, and it would be the ideal time for a Joe Mixon breakout. (Kyle Trapp)

25 (+2)

Baltimore Ravens (4-4)

Baltimore Ravens (4-4)

After a 40-0 drubbing of the Miami Dolphins, the Ravens seem to be right on track. However, don’t trust this team as they are one of the most bipolar teams in the league. One week they’ll get embarrassed on a neutral field against Blake Bortles and the Jaguars and the next week they’ll go into Oakland and put the clamps on. One week they’ll fail to score on offensive touchdown until the last play of the game in Minnesota, and the next week they’ll look like the 2000 Ravens against Miami. The Ravens will likely have a couple more good wins by the time the season ends, but don’t be fooled. The offense is bad and the defense is not what it used to be. The Ravens are a mediocre team. (Adrian Nelson)

26 (-2)

Arizona Cardinals (3-4)

Arizona Cardinals (3-4)

The Cardinals are coming off a bye, but when we last left them, they were having the brakes beaten off them at home by a Los Angeles Rams team that won 33-0. The over the hill gang just couldn’t get anything going, which will likely be a thread throughout the remainder of the season. With Carson Palmer on IR and the Cardinals recently saying that we likely won’t see David Johnson again this season, all signs point for it being a brutal final nine games for this team. This is only made worse by the fact that after playing the Niners this week, they have a five-game stretch against Seattle, Houston, Jacksonville, the LA Rams, and Tennessee. Ouch. (Adrian Nelson)

27 (-4)

Miami Dolphins (4-3)

Miami Dolphins (4-3)

Why is a team with a 4-3 record ranked this low, you might ask? An absolutely atrocious offense is how. Miami is bottom-three in both rushing and passing, and the team has now been shut out three times this season. It seemed like veteran Matt Moore could bring the offense to a somewhat competent level, and he may have actually made it worse. Despite a weaker AFC in which a wild card spot is easier to secure than usual, the Dolphins still feel very much off the radar. (Nick Cardozo)

28 (-)

New York Jets (3-5)

New York Jets (3-5)

In what has become a growing trend recently, the Jets led early against a tough opponent, as they entered halftime with a four-point lead over the Falcons. Unfortunately, that trend also includes relinquishing that lead in the second half, and Sunday was no different. Josh McCown played well once again, especially given the rainy conditions, and the defense forced a pair of fumbles. But given the dearth of talent in New York, they need to play near-flawlessly if they’re going to come out on top. (Kyle Trapp)

29 (-)

New York Giants (1-6)

New York Giants (1-6)

The Giants were off this past week, and at this point, you have to believe they’re ready for the season to be over. At 1-6, they’ve been perhaps the league’s biggest disappointment, especially on offense. For what it’s worth, the defense has largely impressed, checking in as PFF eighth-best unit on the season. They’ll look to play spoiler this week against Jared Goff and the Rams. (Kyle Trapp)

30 (-)

Indianapolis Colts (2-6)

Indianapolis Colts (2-6)

A costly fourth-quarter pick-six thrown by Jacoby Brissett gave the Bengals a one-point lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and the Colts dropped a close one in Cincinatti. As tough as this season has been, give this team credit for continuing to fight without Andrew Luck, who remains without a timetable for his return. Brissett has largely performed admirably in his place, but there simply aren’t enough playmakers on either side of the ball for this team to win more than a handful of games. (Kyle Trapp)

31 (-)

San Francisco 49ers (0-8)

San Francisco 49ers (0-8)

The 49ers have now suffered two straight blowout losses, but a team starting C.J. Beathard with half its defense injured shouldn’t expect to be in games, anyway. To address the future, the team acquired Jimmy Garoppolo from New England for a second-round pick, and will have to pay him big money to keep him around since his contract expires after this season. Normally, fans of 0-8 teams have little to get excited about, but the pairing of Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan could be very rewarding down the line. (Nick Cardozo)

32 (-)

Cleveland Browns (0-8)

Cleveland Browns (0-8)

The Browns lost yet another game and are now 1-23 over the last two seasons. They are once again well on their way to a one-win season, and I don’t know if Hue Jackson can survive this. Yes he’s proven to be a great offensive mind, yes he’s proven to be a quarterback whisperer, yes the Browns haven’t given him the pieces he needs to win, but this is the NFL. This is the league where literally any team can win any week and no one would be all too surprised. In 24 games he should have lucked into at least a couple wins by now. I typically avoid calling for coaches to be fired for things out of their control, but if the Browns go 1-7 down the stretch then Jackson needs to go. (Adrian Nelson)

Edited by Emily Berman, Coleman Gray.

In what round was Jay Ajayi drafted?
Created 11/1/17
  1. 2nd
  2. 4rd
  3. 5th
  4. 7th

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