NFL Power Rankings Week 9: Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans Remain On Top
We're at the halfway point in the NFL season, and the power rankings are getting more and more difficult to determine. To say parody is alive and well in the NFL would be an understatement. Few teams have set themselves apart from the rest of the league, and there are not that many awful teams either. There are just eight teams who have at least two more wins than losses, and just nine that have at least two more losses than wins. That means 15 teams are either 3-4, 4-4, or 4-3 at the halfway point.
The playoff picture is not even remotely clear at this point, save for maybe a couple of divisions in the NFC. The New York Giants have a 2.5 game lead in the East and the Atlanta Falcons have a four game lead in the South. Every other division leader is two games ahead or worse.
Even the Falcons, who are the only remaining undefeated team in the league, still have their doubters. Some are even calling the Chicago Bears the best team in the league, despite struggling this weekend and having one loss on the year. The Bears are swarming defensively, but their issues on offense cannot be ignored.
In a league where we have gotten used to at least a couple of teams setting themselves apart from the rest, no team has been able to do that yet. Last year it was the Green Bay Packers and the year before it was the New England Patriots. The Falcons can get on their level, but they have to start dominating teams.
The team that made the biggest jump was the Indianapolis Colts at seven spots, and the team that dropped the farthest was the San Diego Chargers after their questionable loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Chargers fell five spots.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-6) (Last Week: 31)
The Brady Quinn era lasted all of less than one quarter, and questions are starting to arise about Romeo Crennel's job security.
23. San Diego Chargers (3-4) (Last Week: 18)
The Chargers looked solid to begin the year, but after this week's lose to the Browns it's impossible to take them seriously. The Broncos are going to run away with this division.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) (Last Week: 27)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked very solid against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football. They hammered a top 10 team, but it wasn't that surprising given that Tampa Bay has shown much potential at times and Minnesota has had poor games this season. Still, it was an impressive win that the Bucs will hope to build on moving forward.
19. Washington Redskins (3-5) (Last Week: 16)
Robert Griffin III is one of the most explosive players in the league, even as a rookie, but if the Washington Redskins cannot find a way to play better defense they won't be competitive.
18. Detroit Lions (3-4) (Last Week: 20)
The Detroit Lions bounced back from their loss to the Bears to get a solid win against the Seattle Seahawks. They have to keep making up ground in the very crowded NFC if they have a prayer of making the playoffs. Seattle is in the wild card race, so getting the tie breaker could prove big time.
16. Dallas Cowboys (3-4) (Last Week: 15)
The Dallas Cowboys nearly pulled off a miracle comeback against the Giants, but their six turnovers proved to be their undoing.
15. Indianapolis Colts (4-3) (Last Week: 22)
It may seem like too much of a move for the Colts to go up seven spots, but they have a winning record now and that's more you can say about the teams behind them. Andrew Luck is playing well.
14. Seattle Seahawks (4-4) (Last Week: 10)
The Seahawks have now lost two in a row, but still have to feel good about their chances with the way their defense is playing. Their four losses have each been by seven points or less.
13. Arizona Cardinals (4-4) (Last Week: 13)
The Cardinals got off to a hot start winning their first four games, but they have now lost four in a row and have too many questions at their quarterback position. The reason they did not move down after the latest loss is the mediocrity behind them.
12. Miami Dolphins (4-3) (Last Week: 17)
The Dolphins went to New York and dismantled the Jets, which could give them a ton of confidence moving forward. If the season ended they would be in the playoffs, which I don't think anyone expected from them.
11. Minnesota Vikings (5-3) (Last Week: 9)
After an embarrassing loss at home to the Buccaneers, the Vikings may be coming back down to Earth.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) (Last Week: 12)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are improving each week and look like they may have found their running game with Jonathan Dwyer. Filling in for Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman the last two weeks, Dwyer has 229 rushing yards on just 34 carries.
9. Denver Broncos (4-3) (Last Week: 11)
The Broncos looked impressive on defense with a win over the Saints on Sunday night. They could be the first team to clinch a playoff spot as they have the easiest schedule the rest of the way and are in a terrible division.
8. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) (Last Week: 8)
After getting two weeks to get over their loss to the Houston Texans, the Ravens have to bounce back defensively against the Browns this week. I like their chances.
7. New England Patriots (5-3) (Last Week: 7)
The Patriots get a much deserved bye week after they traveled all the way to London to destroy the Rams in front of 80,000 people.
6. Green Bay Packers (5-3) (Last Week: 6)
After starting 2-3, the Packers have ripped off three straight impressive wins and Aaron Rodgers is one of the top MVP candidates again.
5. San Francisco 49ers (6-2) (Last Week: 5)
I see no reason to move the 49ers up in the rankings. The Cardinals are playing terribly right now and the top four teams all won.
4. New York Giants (6-2) (Last Week: 4)
Eli Manning has had two questionable games the previous two weeks but the Giants have still found a way to win. I didn't think they could win unless Manning played well, but they are proving me wrong.
3. Chicago Bears (6-1) (Last Week: 3)
The Bears survived a close one at home against the Panthers, but showed the resolve in coming back from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to win by one.
2. Houston Texans (6-1) (Last Week: 2)
The Texans are without a doubt the top team in the AFC and it's not even close, but without Brian Cushing how good can they really be? They'll get a test this week with the Bills and their tough rushing offense.
1. Atlanta Falcons (7-0) (Last Week: 1)
The Falcons showed me something by putting up 30 against the Eagles. I realize the Eagles fired their defensive coordinator, but frankly they weren't that bad. Some people still do not totally believe in them, but as long as they stay undefeated I see no reason to place them anywhere but No. 1.
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