2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

At the halfway point of the season, teams are finally beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the league as it is becoming clear who the real contenders are. There wasn’t as much shake up this week, but there was still plenty of movement throughout the middle of the rankings heading into Week 9. So with that, lets take a look at my updated rankings.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-8, Previous Ranking: 32)

Last Week: L, 33-16, vs. Vikings
Next Week: Bye

The way things are going at this rate, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Browns go winless this season. There aren’t many positives to pull from this season beyond their stout run defense.

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-8, Previous Ranking: 31)

Last Week: L, 33-10, at Eagles
Next Week: vs. Cardinals (3-4)

The 49ers are 0-8, but trading for Jimmy Garoppolo for one of their two 2nd-rounders was a fantastic move. This will allow Kyle Shanahan to begin building a team around Tom Brady‘s former backup and approach the draft with a best player available mindset in 2018.

30. Indianapolis Colts (2-6, Previous Ranking: 30)

Last Week: L, 24-23, at Bengals
Next Week: at Texans (3-4)

At this point, it seems that Andrew Luck might just be out for the rest of the season, especially with the Colts postseason hopes fading away. The Colts let this one get away against the Bengals. While Jacoby Brissett threw the game-losing pick-6, he has shown some positives this season. But the Colts need to start over this offseason.

29. New York Giants (1-6, Previous Ranking: 29)

Last Week: Bye
Next Week: vs. Rams (5-2)

The Giants defense has been good enough to get by this season. The offense? Not so much. Eli Manning‘s days are coming to an end and beyond Evan Engram, there are virtually no weapons to get anything going. Look forward to a top 5 pick in April, Giants.

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28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5, Previous Ranking: 27)

Last Week: L, 17-3, vs. Panthers
Next Week: at Saints (5-2)

Four straight losses. This team does not look like the one we thought they would be heading into the season, especially with the talent they have all over their roster. Putting it bluntly, the Buccaneers are bad. And after losing to the Panthers, they are looking up at the rest of the division. That could get even worse after their trip to New Orleans in Week 9.

27. Arizona Cardinals (3-4, Previous Ranking: 28)

Last Week: Bye
Next Week: at 49ers (0-8)

How will this team rebound after losing Carson Palmer? They have a chance to get a win against the winless 49ers, but remember that this is the same 49ers team that went to overtime with the Cardinals in their previous meeting. That was with Palmer. Oh, and the team doesn’t think that David Johnson will return this season. Good luck, Cardinals.

26. Oakland Raiders (3-5, Previous Ranking: 23)

Last Week: L, 34-14, at Bills
Next Week: at Dolphins (4-3)

Derek Carr will continue to be a matchup-dependent quarterback this season, but the real reason this team has struggled is because of their porous defense. Even after adding NaVorro Bowman, this defense is no where close to being productive.

25. New York Jets (3-5, Previous Ranking: 26)

Last Week: L, 25-20, vs. Falcons
Next Week: vs. Bills (5-2)

It’s crazy to think that if a few plays would’ve gone differently, the Jets could be 6-2 right now and sitting in first place in the AFC East. The Jets have put forth great effort this year and for a team that many thought could go winless, being 3-5 is not a bad thing. But at the end of the day, this team doesn’t have the offensive weapons to be a true contender.

24. Miami Dolphins (4-3, Previous Ranking: 19)

Last Week: L, 40-0, at Ravens
Next Week: vs. Raiders (3-5)

There’s no other way to say this: their 40-0 loss to the Ravens on TNF was painful to watch. After trading away Jay Ajayi, the offense will have a different look going forward, but in the midst of a poor season and questionable longevity, I can’t say that this move is surprising.

23. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4, Previous Ranking: 24)

Last Week: W, 24-23, vs. Colts
Next Week: at Jaguars (4-3)

If it weren’t for a Michael Johnson pick-6 to win the game, the Bengals would’ve dropped a disappointing game to the meh Colts. At the end of the day, the Bengals are going to have to pick it up on both sides of the ball but they have shown improvements.

22. Green Bay Packers (4-3, Previous Ranking: 22)

Last Week: Bye
Next Week: vs. Lions (3-4)

The Packers protected the ball well in their first game without Aaron Rodgers. But if they start turning the ball over, I’m not sure how well they’ll be able to stay in the game.

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21. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5, Previous Ranking: 17)

Last Week: L, 21-13, at Patriots
Next Week: Bye

Moral victories don’t always feel great, but this game was close. But that’s the problem: the Chargers struggle closing out close games, as indicated by their 9-22 record in games decided by 8 or less points since 2015. Not a recipe for success.

20. Tennessee Titans (4-3, Previous Ranking: 21)

Last Week: Bye
Next Week: vs. Ravens (4-4)

Just like the Raiders and Buccaneers, the Titans have been one of the bigger disappointments of this season after having high expectations for 2017. This offense doesn’t carry the punch it needs to really scare opposing teams. They have had their ups but they’ve also had many more downs.

19. Denver Broncos (3-4, Previous Ranking: 18)

Last Week: L, 29-19, at Chiefs
Next Week: at Eagles (7-1)

This team has one major weakness: Trevor Siemian. At some point, the Broncos need to seriously consider shaking up their starter at quarterback. The biggest issue with this is that Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch shouldn’t instill much confidence in anyone. Look for the Broncos to aggressively pursue another option at quarterback this offseason (hint hint: Kirk Cousins).

18. Chicago Bears (3-5, Previous Ranking: 20)

Last Week: L, 20-12, at Saints
Next Week: Bye

Mitchell Trubisky’s stat line wasn’t pretty, but if you go back and watch the tape, his receivers were rarely open. There’s only so much a quarterback can do with targets that wouldn’t even be #4 options on other rosters. Side note: prayers out to Zach Miller after suffering a devastating knee injury.

17. Baltimore Ravens (4-4, Previous Ranking: 25)

Last Week: W, 40-0, vs. Dolphins
Next Week: at Titans (4-3)

At the end of the day, a 40-0 win is impressive no matter what team does it or what team it’s against. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, we shouldn’t be 100% sold on the Ravens just yet. This Joe Flacco-led offense is still one of the league’s worst units.

16. Detroit Lions (3-4, Previous Ranking: 14)

Last Week: L, 20-15, vs. Steelers
Next Week: at Packers (4-3)

The Lions don’t fall far because they still were able to move the ball in Week 8. Their biggest issue? They couldn’t reach the endzone once. Going 0/5 for touchdowns on redzone trips is not good, no matter how you spin it. If they had converted even one of those redzone trips, this would’ve been an entirely different game. The Lions still have a chance to make some moves, especially facing the Rodger-less Packers in Week 9.

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15. Washington Redskins (3-4, Previous Ranking: 12)

Last Week: L, 33-19, vs. Cowboys
Next Week: at Seahawks (5-2)

The Redskins aren’t good. They aren’t bad, either. They’re just kind of… bland. Injuries and inconsistencies are derailing any chance this team has of making the playoffs and after losing to the Cowboys, it is clear that this team is the third-best team in the NFC East, which likely won’t be good enough to make the playoffs.

14. Atlanta Falcons (4-3, Previous Ranking: 15)

Last Week: W, 25-20, at Jets
Next Week: at Panthers (5-3)

This Falcons team continues to underwhelm, even when they are victorious. This win was important for Atlanta after losing three in a row, but you still have the feeling that this is a team that isn’t as dangerous as they were in 2016. Factor in the fact that the Falcons have the hardest remaining schedule of any team in the league and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see them missing the playoffs altogether.

13. Carolina Panthers (5-3, Previous Ranking: 16)

Last Week: W, 17-3, at Buccaneers
Next Week: vs. Falcons (4-3)

The Panthers secured the win even with a below average showing from Cam Newton. How will the offense look going forward after trading away Kelvin Benjamin, though? No one else on the roster really feels like a true #1 and their rookie Swiss army knife Christian McCaffrey has not lived up to the hype at all this season.

12. Houston Texans (3-4, Previous Ranking: 7)

Last Week: L, 41-38, at Seahawks
Next Week: vs. Colts (2-6)

I know the Texans are 3-4, but I almost put them further up the list because don’t be mistaken: this is an excellent football team. Deshaun Watson should be in the league MVP race by seasons end and is quickly blossoming into one of the biggest faces in the NFL. This team is a couple heartbreaking losses away from being (record wise) one of the best teams in the league. They still have a shot in the pathetic AFC South.

11. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3, Previous Ranking: 13)

Last Week: Bye
Next Week: vs. Bengals (3-4)

How in the world did this already loaded defense find a way to add an All-Pro defensive tackle during the season in the form of Marcell Dareus? And for a 6th-round pick, no less. If Dareus can be half the player he was between 2012-2014, he will be a welcome addition inside for the Jaguars elite defense. Blake Bortles still concerns me as a player that could hold this team back, but as long as he’s consistently average, they’re good enough to get the job done.

10. New Orleans Saints (5-2, Previous Ranking: 11)

Last Week: W, 20-12, vs. Bears
Next Week: vs. Buccaneers (2-5)

With this unspectacular win over Chicago, the Saints have now won five games in a row (the second-longest active streak in the NFL). With the rest of the NFC South not doing much to impress, it appears that this division is theirs to lose.

9. Dallas Cowboys (4-3, Previous Ranking: 9)

Last Week: W, 33-19, at Redskins
Next Week: vs. Chiefs (6-2)

The Cowboys have established themselves as the second-best team in the NFC East, but they are still clearly behind the Eagles right now. And it isn’t close. Losing Ezekiel Elliott (officially) to his six-game suspension won’t help the team, but they seem to finally be clicking on both sides of the ball, meaning that they could still be dangerous even without their best player.

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8. Buffalo Bills (5-2, Previous Ranking: 10)

Last Week: W, 34-14, vs. Raiders
Next Week: at Jets (3-5)

This team was using virtually all no-name receivers but that quickly changed with the addition of Kelvin Benjamin. They have been particularly lethal at home, where they are currently undefeated. This defense is a strong unit and the Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy-led offense does enough to win games. This is a Bills team that not many thought would be in the position they are in now.

7. Minnesota Vikings (6-2, Previous Ranking: 8)

Last Week: W, 33-16, at Browns
Next Week: Bye

The Vikings beat the Browns like they should have. While Case Keenum is an average quarterback, the Vikings’ defense has been one of the best units in the NFL. With the Packers not having Aaron Rodgers, this Vikings firmly sit in the drivers seat to take the division. But don’t forget, they were in a similar position last season as well.

6. Seattle Seahawks (5-2, Previous Ranking: 6)

Last Week: W, 41-38, vs. Texans
Next Week: vs. Redskins (3-4)

Just like every year, the Seahawks come along slowly before becoming one of the NFL’s toughest teams to beat. The addition of Duane Brown is bigger than a lot of people realize and could be the piece this offense needs to really take off. The defense looked a bit weaker than we have become accustomed to in recent years, but mark that up to the brilliance of Deshaun Watson more than anything. They hunkered down when they needed to.

5. Los Angeles Rams (5-2, Previous Ranking: 5)

Last Week: Bye
Next Week: at Giants (1-6)

Sean McVay should be the front runner for Coach of the Year when this season is over. To take a pathetic team and turn them into one of the league’s most surprising teams has been nothing short of impressive. They currently have the second-biggest point differential in the NFL and they should be able to continue putting up some big scores.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (6-2, Previous Ranking: 3)

Last Week: W, 29-19, vs. Broncos
Next Week: at Cowboys (4-3)

The Chiefs really needed to bounce back with a win after losing two straight. After securing a win against the division rival Broncos, the Chiefs were able to gain some ground in the AFC West after the remaining three teams lost. I don’t think there was any question that this division still belongs to the Chiefs, even during their two-game losing streak.

3. New England Patriots (6-2, Previous Ranking: 4)

Last Week: W, 21-13, vs. Chargers
Next Week: Bye

It wasn’t a blowout performance, but the Patriots are doing what they need to do to win. Defensively, they appear to be stepping up their game from what was a historically bad unit in the early weeks of the season. They still aren’t perfect, but Tom Brady will continue to lead this team to victory. If he gets hurt, though, all hope will be lost with both of his backups now traded away.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2, Previous Ranking: 2)

Last Week: W, 20-15, at Lions
Next Week: Bye

It was far from a perfect win, but two things that stood out from this game: the redzone defense and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Preventing the Lions from scoring a touchdown in 5 trips to the redzone brought back memories of their “bend-don’t-break” defense of recent years. Entering the bye week, the Steelers get the chance to regroup and enter the second half of the season as a team that typically finds their stride at this point of the year. Expect them to become a more complete team in Week 10.

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1. Philadelphia Eagles (7-1, Previous Ranking: 1)

Last Week: W, 33-10, vs. 49ers
Next Week: vs. Broncos (3-4)

Carson Wentz should be the NFL MVP at the end of the year. The Eagles should walk away with the NFC East. The Eagles should claim the #1 seed in the NFC before Week 17. Their win against the 49ers wasn’t perfect, but they still found a way to win by three scores. This team is by far the best team in the league at this point and only got potentially stronger by trading for Jay Ajayi. They are equipped to make a run now and should do just that this postseason.

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