NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

With their win over Dallas Sunday night, the Atlanta Falcons became just the 15th team since the league expanded to a 16 game schedule in 1978 to start the season 8-0. So obviously Atlanta is the NFL’s best team, right? Not so fast. I would argue that the Bears, Texans and 49ers are all superior teams to the Falcons.

Over the past five years, we’ve seen some dominant teams win their first eight games. The 2007 New England Patriots, the 2009 New Orleans Saints and the 2011 Green Bay Packers, come to mind. The 2012 Falcons do not fit this mold. Atlanta isn’t a statistical juggernaut on either side of the ball, nor have they consistently blown teams out.

In fact, in four games against Carolina, Washington, Oakland and Dallas, teams with a combined record of 11-22, the Falcons have an average margin of victory of just 4.5 points. With all this said, being undefeated halfway through the season ensures that the dirty birds will maintain the top spot until they lose.

With half the season in the books, it seems as if the early-season parity has sorted itself out. Teams expected to contend are beginning to flex their muscles. With the exception of the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens, the entire top ten has won at least two games in a row.

Onlyeight games remain and there are a few questions that will be resolved shortly: When will Atlanta lose its first game? Can rookie and top-pick Andrew Luck lead Indianapolis to the playoffs in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year? Will coaches on the hot seat, such as Andy Reid, Norv Turner and Jason Garrett last until the end of the season? And finally, with a few great offensive teams and a few great defensive teams, which side of the ball will ultimately reign supreme?

Stay tuned folks!

 

Photo courtesy of planetexpress/Flickr

 

Team Rank Previous Rank Record Thoughts

Atlanta Falcons

1

1

8-0

Tony Gonzalez has voiced his displeasure over the lack of attention devoted to the undefeated Falcons. If they are still undefeated come their Week 15 matchup against the Giants then it is a guarantee that everyone will be watching.

 

 

 

 

 Chicago Bears

2

2

7-1

This Bears’ defense is a turnover-forcing machine. Only halfway through the season, they have seven pick-sixes; two shy of the record set by the Chargers in 1961

 

 

Houston Texans

3

3

7-1

 Houston took care of business on Sunday. Next week we should witness a defensive battle as two of the top five stingiest defenses, in terms of points allowed, collide in Chicago.

 

 

San Francisco 49ers

4

5

6-2

San Francisco has a chance to put a stranglehold on the NFC West when they host St. Louis next weekend. They better make sure they don’t overlook the Rams ahead of their matchup with Chicago.

 

 

Green Bay Packers

5

6

6-3

Green Bay has won four games in a row heading into their bye. Though they have endured the most difficult part of their schedule, their final four road games, including one at Chicago, will be tough.

 

 New York Giants

6

4

6-3

Pittsburgh’s defense completely shut down Eli Manning during crunch time on Sunday. Regardless, a 4-1 record over their past five games is nothing to be worried about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New England Patriots

7

7

5-3

On paper, New England should win at least six of their remaining eight games. It’ll be interesting to see how new addition Aqib Talib fits into the equation.

 Denver Broncos

8

8

5-3

Peyton Manning has led the Broncos’ offense to 30+ points in three straight games. Their schedule only gets easier from here.

 

 

 

 

Baltimore Ravens

9

9

6-2

People continue to want to bury the Ravens due to their numerous injuries. Let’s not forget that they’re still sitting first in the AFC North.

 

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

10

10

5-3

Sunday’s victory at New York was unquestionably Pittsburgh’s most impressive win of the year. The defense was stellar, limiting Eli Manning to only 125 yards passing.

 

Seattle Seahawks

11

12

5-4

Seattle got a huge win against Minnesota to keep themselves in the thick of what should be a close wild card race.

 

 

 

 

 Indianapolis Colts

12

14

5-3

Everyone knew Andrew Luck was a great talent. But who would’ve thought that he’d have his team in the playoff hunt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Detroit Lions

13

16

4-4

It’s too early to say if Detroit has truly turned the corner, but they’re definitely headed in the right direction. Surprisingly, Megatron has only one receiving TD on the season.

 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

14

20

4-4

Tampa Bay continues to be surprisingly good on offense. With their latest 42 point outburst, they now rank fifth in points per game.

 

 

 

 

Miami Dolphins

15

13

4-4

Miami saw their three game win streak ended in Indianapolis on Sunday. The game surely provided great theater though, as rookie QBs Luck and Tannehill battled until the end.

 

 

 

 

 Minnesota Vikings

16

11

5-4

Two straight losses have soured Minnesota’s 5-2 start. With four games left against Chicago and Green Bay, as well as an inter-conference game at Houston, the Vikings are in trouble.

 

 

San Diego Chargers 17

22

4-4

A game against lowly Kansas City was just what the doctored ordered for the scuffling Chargers. Don’t close the book on this team just yet.

 

 

 

New Orleans Saints

18

29

3-5

And just like that the Saints find themselves ranked at the top of a crowded list of teams who sit at 3-5. A 3-1 record over their past four games sets New Orleans up for a late season push.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dallas Cowboys

19

15

3-5

Chalk up another single-digit loss against a quality opponent for America’s team. Winning just seems to elude Tony Romo and company.

 

 

Arizona Cardinals

20

17

4-5

Their four game win streak has been erased by a five game losing streak. Over their losing streak, Arizona has averaged only about 11 points per game.

 

 

 

 

Philadelphia Eagles

21

18

3-5

The Eagles could only manage 13 points against a Saints’ defense that hadn’t allowed fewer than 20 points in a game all season. Philadelphia’s offensive line is simply awful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington Redskins

22

19

3-6

I think Mike Shanahan knows deep down that this season is over, as reflected by his controversial comments. Even so, this team is set up for future success with all their young talent.

 

 

St. Louis Rams

23

23

3-5

The Rams haven’t forced a turnover in three games; a formula for success that helped them get off to a 3-2 start.

 

 

 

 

 

Cincinnati Bengals

24

21

3-5

Cincinnati is one of many teams to see their fast starts tempered by long losing streaks. With the Giants visiting next week, the losing streak could reach five games.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Jets

25

25

3-5

The Jets face two must win games against NFC West opponents if they have any hope of making the playoffs. New England looks ready to run away with the East.

 

Carolina Panthers

26

30

2-6

In another matchup of rookie quarterbacks, Cam Newton out-dueled RGIII to give Carolina a much needed win. The Panthers should start looking ahead to next season

 

 

Oakland Raiders

27

24

3-5

With three divisional games remaining, Oakland is theoretically still in the AFC West race.

 

 

 

Tennessee Titans

28

26

3-6

Chicago’s defense completely manhandled the Titans on Sunday. It was so bad, in fact, that owner Bud Adams left the game in the third quarter.

 

Buffalo Bills

29

27

3-5

The Bills have a key divisional matchup with New England on the horizon. It can’t be comforting that Buffalo has never won at Gillette Stadium.

 

 

 

Cleveland Browns

30

28

2-7

Cleveland continues to be competitive, despite their anemic offense. They could certainly play spoiler for some teams.

 

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

31

31

1-7

I can’t really say that the future looks too bright in Jacksonville. We’ll see if they decide that Blaine Gabbert is truly their quarterback of the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Kansas City Chiefs

32

32

1-7

Kansas City could definitely use the number one overall pick in next year’s draft. Their quarterback situation is dire.

 

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