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NFL 2018 SQ NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

ESPN

With a new team in our top 10, what does the landscape of the league look like half way through the season?

A new team has entered the top 10 of our power rankings on the back of a familiar face. Washington finds itself atop the NFC East with a 5-2 record, and while the Redskins have done it against mostly poor competition, they have beaten the Packers and Panthers as well. And at the end of the day, you can only play your schedule. Adrian Peterson looks reborn, and Alex Smith has this team running on schedule and limiting mistakes. Find out where inside our top 10 they managed to climb and how the rest of our rankings shape out.

   Ranking (Change)

1 (-)

Los Angeles Rams (8-0)

Los Angeles Rams (8-0)

Many gamblers and fantasy players alike were furious when Todd Gurley last week fell down short of the endzone to seal the win for the Rams. His actions simply go to show the team-first mentality and attention to detail that Sean McVay has instilled in his team. Though the Rams have defeated strong teams like the Chargers, Vikings, and Packers, they will face their stiffest test yet against the Saints this week in a battle for NFC supremacy. Winning in the Superdome won’t be easy, but neither was getting to 8-0 thus far. (Nick Cardozo)

2 (-)

Kansas City Chiefs (7-1)

Kansas City Chiefs (7-1)

Kansas City took care of business in Week 8 against Denver, and don’t look now, but the defense might actually be competent. Over the team’s first six games, the defense had allowed 468 yards per game, compared to just 325 over its last two contests. With an offense averaging 36.3 points per game, it’ll be nearly impossible to defeat Kansas City if the defense can play as it has as of late. Next up are Cleveland and Arizona, before the big Week 11 showdown with the Rams. (Nick Cardozo)

3 (-)

New England Patriots (6-2)

New England Patriots (6-2)

When the offense couldn’t get into its usual rhythm against a Buffalo defense that came to play, New England’s defense and special teams stepped up. A mild 25-6 win at Buffalo may raise a few eyebrows, but Pats fans should be encouraged that their defense is making big plays when called upon. (Hunter Bonge)

4 (-)

New Orleans Saints (6-1)

New Orleans Saints (6-1)

Six straight. Six straight wins for the Saints who have been creeping up the top 10 of our rankings following their disappointing 48-40 shootout loss at home against the ‘Bucs in Week 1. Monday night was probably their most impressive win to date, as New Orleans was able to defeat Mike Zimmer and company 30-20 in a rematch of last season’s “Minneapolis Miracle,” in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Saints only needed 120 passing yards from their Hall-of-Fame quarterback Drew Brees, as their thunder-and-lightning combo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara showed flashes of last year’s dominance to seal the victory. Ingram finished with 63 yards on 13 carries, while Kamara racked up 45 rushing yards (13 carries), 31 receiving yards (seven receptions), and two total touchdowns. While they are red-hot, Sunday may get interesting for New Orleans, as they prepare to take on the 7-0 juggernaut Rams in what is sure to be an intriguing shootout contest. (Ryan Grube)

5 (+1)

Los Angeles Chargers (5-2)

Los Angeles Chargers (5-2)

Coming off of their bye week, the Chargers will face the Seahawks, Raiders, Broncos, and Cardinals. Los Angeles has won four straight, but this is exactly the type of “easy” stretch that the Chargers have botched in years past. The team has to win at least three of those next four to assert themselves in the AFC and fully prove the team can contend. The defense is allowing just 14.3 points over their last three games and should have Joey Bosa returning soon, which could really propel the Chargers into the league’s elite. (Nick Cardozo)

6 (+2)

Carolina Panthers (5-2)

Carolina Panthers (5-2)

Carolina is a very quiet 5-2 team. After coming back from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to win in Philadelphia, they followed up that impressive performance with another great win over the Ravens. They have another home game this week against Tampa Bay that they should be able to win, which means if the Rams can knock off New Orleans, the Panthers would be tied for first in the NFC South headed into Week 10. (Max Vukelich)

7 (-2)

Minnesota Vikings (4-3-1)

Minnesota Vikings (4-3-1)

Well, those hoping for a repeat of the “Minneapolis Miracle” will have to await the next Saints-Vikings matchup, as Kirk Cousins and company were unable to recreate the magic that Case Keenum and Stefon Diggs generated in the two teams’ playoff contest last season. Minnesota fell 30-20 Monday night. A late third-quarter pick-six by Cousins proved to be costly for the Vikings, as they were unable to claw themselves back into striking distance. Aside from the dreadful interception, Cousins was efficient, completing 31-of-41 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Adam Thielen continued on his tear to begin this season, eclipsing 100 receiving yards for an eighth straight game. Although 4-3-1 and second in their division is not necessarily where they envisioned themselves midway through the season, it’s not time to panic in Minnesota. They’ll look to bounce back and re-stake their claim atop the NFC North Sunday in a divisional rivalry match-up against the Lions. (Ryan Grube)

8 (+1)

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2-1)

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2-1)

The Steelers look every bit of the dominant team they were projected to be after an uncharacteristically slow start to the season. Brown and Smith-Schuster are two of the most dangerous receivers in the league, making James Connor’s job even easier than it has been. With Le’Veon Bell claiming he’ll return and play this season, its hard to imagine the Steelers slowing down anytime soon. (Matt Fowler)

9 (-2)

Baltimore Ravens (4-4)

Baltimore Ravens (4-4)

After starting the season 4-2, the Ravens have now lost back-to-back games. Although their losses were against worthy opponents, their game this weekend is crucial to their hopes of winning the division. A win will give them the tiebreaker over the Steelers, while a loss would give the Steelers what could be an insurmountable lead. (Max Vukelich)

10 (+3)

Washington Redskins (5-2)

Washington Redskins (5-2)

The Skins are one of the season’s most surprising teams, so far. I had Washington finishing last in the NFC East before the season began, but veteran rejects Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson are lighting it up in the midst of a three-game win streak. (Hunter Bonge)

11 (-)

Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)

Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)

The Eagles escaped Week 8 with a much-needed win in London over the Jaguars before the bye week. Carson Wentz continues to build off of an MVP-caliber sophomore season, throwing for 286 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles head into their bye week on a high note, but there’s still work to be done if this team wants to make the playoffs. Washington holds a 1.5 game lead in the division, meaning the two head-to-head matchups could determine the division. (Matt Fowler)

12 (-2)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-3)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-3)

Cincinnati hung on to snap a two-game losing streak with a win over the Tampa Bay Bucs. With the win, the Bengals find themselves at 5-3 and a quarter of a game behind the Steelers (yes, read that right). While their offense is much improved this season, their defense has faltered. They are giving up the fourth most points per game in the league and on days where Joe Mixon or AJ Green aren’t special, that could prove disastrous for this team in the long run. (Adrian Nelson)

13 (-1)

Green Bay Packers (3-3-1)

Green Bay Packers (3-3-1)

Last week’s Rams-Packers matchup definitely lived up to the hype and delivered us fans the exciting back-and-forth contest we all anticipated coming into the week. Unfortunately for the Packers’ sake, they were unable to complete the upset and come out with a monumental win, as Ty Montgomery coughed the ball up on the ensuing kick-off following the Rams’ go-ahead, fourth-quarter score. A crushing blow, and one that was so depleting that Green Bay opted to trade Montgomery to the Ravens before Tuesday’s trade deadline. If we’re searching for positives, Aaron Rodgers was efficient — even with his limited options at receiver — completing 18-30 passes for 286 yards and a touchdown through the air. Moreover, Aaron Jones impressed on the ground, rushing 12 times for 86 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown. Currently sitting at 3-3-1 (3rd in the NFC North) and having lost two of their past three games, Mike McCarthy and company must figure out their issues, and quick, before their divisional race falls out of reach. (Ryan Grube)

14 (-)

Chicago Bears (4-3)

Chicago Bears (4-3)

Chicago sits at 4-3, with a great chance to go 5-3 against Nathan Peterman this weekend. With the Packers and Vikings both losing, the Bears are back tied for the lead in the division. If the Bears can get Khalil Mack healthy, they could find themselves with a very real chance at winning the division. (Max Vukelich)

15 (-)

Houston Texans (5-3)

Houston Texans (5-3)

The Texans are now the winners of five straight, but their 42-23 victory over the Dolphins came at a price, as Will Fuller was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Fortunately for Deshaun Watson, Houston was quick to add reinforcements, picking up Demaryius Thomas in a deadline deal. The veteran receiver doesn’t have Fuller’s game-changing speed, but he should help Watson build off his season-best performance against Miami (239 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions). (Kyle Trapp)

16 (+1)

Atlanta Falcons (3-4)

Atlanta Falcons (3-4)

Atlanta is facing a potential make-or-break game this Sunday in Washington. A win puts them at 4-4, which keeps them in the hunt going into the second half of their schedule. A loss puts them at 3-5 with a very slim chance of making the postseason. If Atlanta is going to continue their playoff streak, they need to find a way to win this weekend. (Max Vukelich)

17 (+1)

Seattle Seahawks (4-3)

Seattle Seahawks (4-3)

Don’t look now, but if the season ended today the Seahawks would hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC. Pete Carroll has quietly led this team to a 4-3 start, winning four of their last five games, with the loss coming in the final seconds to the undefeated Rams. If Seattle can continue playing like this, one of Minnesota, Green Bay, Carolina, and Atlanta could be on the outside looking in come January. (Matt Fowler)

18 (-2)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5)

The Jags enter their Week 9 bye on a four-game losing streak and their disastrous quarterback situation isn’t fixing itself overnight. The team desperately needs Leonard Fournette to return in order to take pressure off of the passing game. It initially looked as if the offense could thrive without him but that simply isn’t the case. Defensively, Jacksonville is allowing 28.5 points per game over its last four games, compared to just 14 points allowed per game over its first four. The AFC South is by no means decided, but the Jags need to change it up if they want to stay in the mix. (Nick Cardozo)

19 (-)

Tennessee Titans (3-4)

Tennessee Titans (3-4)

The Titans were off in Week 8, giving Mike Vrabel even more time to agonize over his decision to go for two at the end of their matchup against the Chargers. It would’ve been a huge victory for a team on the outskirts on the playoff hunt, but as losers of three straight, they are danger of falling out of contention entirely. A Monday night matchup in Dallas provides a nice opportunity to get back on track. (Kyle Trapp)

20 (-)

Miami Dolphins (4-4)

Miami Dolphins (4-4)

Following their impressive 4-2 start that saw them tied atop the AFC East, Miami has come crashing back down to earth, having dropped two straight, and they now find themselves in a distant second behind the red-hot Patriots. It appears as though the “Brocktober” era and hype has come to a close, as the Dolphins were manhandled by Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans on Thursday night. Watson picked apart Miami’s secondary to the tune of 239 yards and five touchdowns, while Lamar Miller consistently broke through their front seven, ultimately finishing with 133 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries. One of the lone bright spots for the Dolphins came on a trick play — a 28-yard passing touchdown from Danny Amendola to Kenyan Drake (their only passing score of the game). Miami’s playoff hopes are dwindling, as they currently sit at 4-4 in what-looks-to-be a runaway division for New England. However, they’ll get a chance to rebound Sunday against an up-and-down Jets team. (Ryan Grube)

21 (-)

Dallas Cowboys (3-4)

Dallas Cowboys (3-4)

After a week off the Cowboys find themselves in a worse position than they were going into the bye in multiple ways. In terms of the division, both the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles won last week, keeping the Cowboys firmly in third in the NFC East. In terms of the future of this franchise, they made the mind-numbing decision to trade a 2019 first round pick for Amari Cooper. Sure Cooper is 24 and will be the best receiver on the Cowboys when he suits up, but next year he will be owed $14.5M dollars and will be in line for a huge extension that you just know Jerry Jones is going to give him. Plus they lost the ability to add cheap young talent in the first round of the draft. Bad week for Big D. (Adrian Nelson)

22 (-)

Detroit Lions (3-4)

Detroit Lions (3-4)

After a loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks, the Detroit Lions find themselves at the bottom of a very competitive NFC North. They sit at 3-4 behind the Bears, Vikings, and Packers. It will be a tough road ahead and that journey was made even more difficult by the trading away of their number one receiver in Golden Tate. Matthew Stafford will now need to make do with Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay. In the NFC North division, those weapons are likely not enough to get it done. (Adrian Nelson)

23 (-)

Denver Broncos (3-5)

Denver Broncos (3-5)

While the trade of Demaryius Thomas to the Texans was due in large part to the organization’s belief in Courtland Sutton, it may be more telling of their optimism (or lack thereof) in regards to their playoff chances this season. Sunday’s matchup against the Chiefs provided a great opportunity for the Broncos to pick up a marquee win, and while they had their chances, they came up just short again. Sitting in third place in a top-heavy division at the season’s midway point, it will be an uphill battle for Denver to get back into playoff contention. (Kyle Trapp)

24 (-)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)

Although they were unable to pair the 18-point fourth quarter comeback with an impressive victory, the “Fitzmagic” era is back — for now at least. After Jameis Winston was benched having thrown four interceptions, Ryan Fitzpatrick came in, and once again, stole the show. In just over a quarter of action, Fitzpatrick completed 11-of-15 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Absolutely sensational for the 35-year old gunslinger, who despite his age, is first in the NFL in yards per pass attempt at 10.9. However, even though he impressed yet again, it was to no avail, as following Tampa Bay’s game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion, Andy Dalton and company drove right down the field in the final minute to set up Randy Bullock for the game-winning field goal. Fitzpatrick will attempt to right the ship for the struggling ‘Bucs, who have dropped four-of-five, when they travel to Carolina in Week 9. (Ryan Grube)

25 (+2)

Indianapolis Colts (3-5)

Indianapolis Colts (3-5)

The oft-forgotten Colts have quietly rattled off back-to-back wins, and while they didn’t exactly beat the league’s cream of the crop (Bills and Raiders), there have certainly been some positive takeaways. Andrew Luck continues to look like his old self, tossing seven touchdowns versus zero interceptions across that two-game span. He has undeniably been aided by the emergence of Marlon Mack and the Indianapolis run game; since returning from a hamstring injury in Week 6, the second-year back has averaged over 116 rushing yards per game while finding pay dirt four times. (Kyle Trapp)

26 (-1)

Cleveland Browns (2-5-1)

Cleveland Browns (2-5-1)

Well, well, who could have seen this coming? The Browns have fired Head Coach Hue Jackson after a 2-5-1 start. Let’s be honest - if Browns fans were offered a 2-5-1 first half of the season, they would take it. The disaster of the NFL has seemingly found its best quarterback in 20 years, won two games, and has pushed four games into overtime. Get this: Cleveland leads the NFL in turnovers (22) and turnover differential (+11). A significantly improved team has gotten some bad breaks and now has to start from scratch. (Hunter Bonge)

27 (-1)

New York Jets (3-5)

New York Jets (3-5)

After a hot start, the Jets find themselves in a predictable place with a 3-5 record. New York is the epitome of mediocracy this year, ranking both 19th in points scored per game and points given up. The bright spot on the season has been Sam Darnold. Although the offense has looked at times constipated, the buzz around Darnold within Jets circles remains positive. With a generally accepted lack of talent around him, many are encouraged by his performance so far this season and believe that it will lead to success down the road .. just no road we’ll see in 2018. (Adrian Nelson)

28 (-)

San Francisco 49ers (1-7)

San Francisco 49ers (1-7)

After Jimmy Garoppolo went down for the year, not much was expected from this 49ers’ team. No one could’ve expected it to be this bad. The 49ers have proven that, without Jimmy G under center, they’re one of the worst teams in the league. Losing to the inept offense that resides in Arizona only further confirmed this season to be a waste for Kyle Shanahan and San Francisco. (Matt Fowler)

29 (-)

New York Giants (1-7)

New York Giants (1-7)

Giants fans are already keeping their eyes on Oregon’s Justin Herbert. Big Blue is all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions, and offseason moves are already being planned behind the scenes. (Hunter Bonge)

30 (+2)

Arizona Cardinals (2-6)

Arizona Cardinals (2-6)

The Cardinals got their second win of the season on Sunday with a resounding fourth-quarter comeback led by rookie QB Josh Rosen. This was the best quarter Rosen has played in his short NFL career, which is a great sign for the Cardinals moving forward. Their season is over for this year, but continuing their young QB’s development should be their top priority. (Max Vukelich)

31 (-1)

Buffalo Bills (2-6)

Buffalo Bills (2-6)

You wouldn’t guess it just by looking at the final score, but if the Bills had any semblance of an offense, they would’ve given the Patriots a run for their money on Monday night. The Buffalo defense kept the potent New England offense out of the end zone through the game’s first three quarters, but a pair of costly turnovers in the fourth squashed any chance of an upset, as the Bills ultimately fell 25-6. With a now-concussed Derek Anderson and Nathan Peterman as Sean McDermott‘s two options at quarterback, things aren’t looking great in upstate New York. (Kyle Trapp)

32 (-1)

Oakland Raiders (1-6)

Oakland Raiders (1-6)

The Oakland Raiders have officially punted on this season. After hanging tight with the Colts for most of Sunday, Oakland collapsed in the fourth quarter and ended up losing by two touchdowns. Going into the game they signaled their commitment to this season by trading former first-round pick Amari Cooper for a first round pick in the upcoming draft from the Dallas Cowboys. While the move is unquestionably a smart one, that doesn’t help their fans feel better now. Only bad things await this team this year; they are currently ranked third worst in point differential. (Adrian Nelson)

Edited by Jeremy Losak, Emily Berman.

SQuiz
Where did Adrian Peterson go to college
Created 10/31/18
  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio St
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Texas

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