NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

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Sports Desk

NFL POWER RANKINGS

The Appalachian Sports Desk will be releasing collaborative weekly NFL Power Rankings. The Appalachian sports reporters will be ranking NFL teams that will be averaged out to determine their rankings. Each writer will cover 2-3 teams and give their take on them.

This weeks biggest riser: Oakland Raiders moved up 4

This weeks biggest drop: Kansas City Chiefs moved down 6

 

1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) (Last week: 1↔️)

What more is there to say about the 2017-2018 Philadelphia Eagles? The team added some depth in the backfield by picking up former Dolphins workhorse Jay Ajayi, letting short yard specialist LeGarrette Blount stick to what he does best and making the already potent offense that much harder to cover. Carson Wentz threw for almost 200 yards and four touchdowns before getting pulled for back up Nick Foles, making this his third four-touchdown game in the last five weeks. The defense also had a field day, holding Denver to less than 25 and making Brock Osweiler’s first game back under center less than ideal. Every aspect of this Eagles team is firing on all cylinders, from the coaching staff to the players, everything they do just seems to work out. If they look like the best team in the league and they play like the best team in the league, it might be safe to say the Eagles are the best team in the NFL right now. Go Birds. -Garrett Wold

2. New England Patriots (6-2) (Last week: 3⬆️)

The Patriots had a bye last week giving Tom Brady a week to rest his sore shoulder. The Patriots are sitting at a good place with a chance to win the AFC conference. Coming off of a bye week, Bill Belichick’s record is an outstanding 12-4. Beating the Patriots any week is hard but when they have an extra week to prepare, the Denver Broncos should worry.  -Michael Pigg

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) (Last week: 4⬆️)

Even when the Steelers don’t play, they still gain ground in their division. Welcome to the wonderful world that is the AFC North, possibly the worst division in the NFL. When you’re competing against Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and one of those Browns’ quarterbacks (it’s hard to keep up, honestly), then it’s going to be a fun season as a Pittsburgh fan. Well-rested and holding a sizable lead in their division, the Steelers can set their eyes to larger goals, which could be a top playoff spot in the AFC. -Tyler Hotz

4. Los Angeles Rams (6-2) (Last week: 6⬆️)

This past week the Rams took on the New York Giants in the Meadowlands, facing a struggling Giants team who haven’t seemed to have a beat on offense or defense. The Rams made sure to continue these pains for Giant’s fans. The Rams’ NFL leading offense looked great once again in New York with Jared Goff throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. Goff has continued to look great this season, taking the next step to becoming an elite quarterback that several thought he would be coming out of college. Todd Gurley and Mack Brown looked good on the ground, combining for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Some big plays by the receivers highlighted the day for the Rams as they coasted to a dominant 51-17 win.  -Aman Hyrams

5. New Orleans Saints (6-2) (Last week: 7⬆️)

Believe it or not the Saints have cruised their way to the top of the NFC South. They started the season off real shaky but have really turned themselves into the New Orleans Saints of 2010. Drew Brees is commanding the offense well, and the defense is something for teams to fear now. With the Panthers barely scraping by with their wins, don’t be surprised if the Saints take the division and maybe even more. A team that can play like this and hold opposing quarterbacks to 68 yards through the air, is a team to look out for. -Noah Gerringer

6. Minnesota Vikings (6-2) (Last week: 8⬆️)

In many people’s eyes this is one of the surprise teams of the year. What makes this team more special is the fact that they are winning without a star quarterback. During the bye week for the Vikings they announced that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is now active to play. That does not mean he will play next week, but when the Vikings get him back they are going to be a team to beat in the NFC. -Michael Pigg

7. Dallas Cowboys (5-3) (Last week: 9⬆️)

This was a quality win for the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, it seemed to be the Dallas Cowboys of last year who decided to show up. Zeke was Zeke and did Zeke things, rushing for 93 yards and a touchdown. Dak Prescott has commanded the offense well and threw a nearly identical game to that of counterpart Alex Smith. And man oh man can we talk about the Dallas D. Holding the Chiefs scoreless in both the first and fourth quarters, that is by far the best the defense has played all season. If, and I mean if, Dallas can continue to play team games like this one, then mark my words: they WILL make the playoffs and make a run for the NFC championship game. The Boys are back! -Noah Gerringer

8. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) (Last week: 2⬇️)

Getting off to a blistering 5-0 start, the Chiefs have lost three of their last four games and are starting to tumble down the ranks of the NFL elite. What’s apparent is that when Kansas City cannot establish the run, then they are in serious trouble offensively. In their three losses this season, Kansas City has rushed for under 100 yards. Chewing up the clock and then popping off major chunk plays has carried Andy Reid’s offensive scheme all season long, but as Kareem Hunt’s rookie magic continues to wane, so too does Kansas City’s chances at being a major player in the AFC. Taking a much-needed bye week, the Chiefs will gladly take a road trip to battle a bad, injury plagued Giants team on Nov. 19. -Tyler Hotz

9. Seattle Seahawks (5-3) (Last week: 5⬇️)

The Seahawks experienced a rather shocking setback this week in a 17-14 loss to the Redskins. At the end of the third quarter, the score was actually 10-2 in the favor of Washington. Seattle would storm back late within the fourth to take a 14-10 lead with only 1 minute 34 seconds left to play. However, 1 minute 34 seconds  proved too much time for Kirk Cousins and company as the Redskins sealed the deal with a Rob Kelly 1-yard touchdown in the final minute. Russell Wilson completed only 24 of his 45 pass attempts for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson also led the team in rushing yards with 77. Doug Baldwin came to life, fantasy speaking, with seven receptions for 108 yard and a touchdown. The Seahawks now sit one game back out of first place within the NFC West once again due to the fact that Goff and LA Rams dominated the pathetic Giants last week. Seattle will make the trip down to Arizona this week to face off against the fluttering 4-4 Cardinals on Thursday night. -Shane Harvell

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3) (Last week: 11⬆️)

Jacksonville had an all-around dominating performance this week, grinding out a win from a chippy, emotional game for both teams. The big news leading into Sunday was the one-game suspension of rookie back Leonard Fournette, who missed the game for not showing up for workouts, a team photo and an offensive team meeting. While many were worried what sort of impact this would have on the offense, Blake Bortles and his boys would still have a day scoring 23 points including Marqise Lee’s first reception for a touchdown. Defensively, the Jaguars held the Bengals to a season-low 148 yards and a single touchdown. The biggest story out of the Jaguars defense was the violent exchange between wide receiver AJ Green and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who decided to “drop the gloves” after the two exchanged words for multiple quarters. Jacksonville has a consistency problem, that is a fact, however, when this team plays on the same level they played at on Sunday, the Jags look like a serious playoff contender. Whether or not they make an appearance is totally up to them. -Garrett Wold

11. Carolina Panthers (6-3) (Last week: 14⬆️)

Rushing for over 200 yards and throwing the ball just 24 times, Carolina’s offense looked like the blueprint offensive coordinator Mike Shula set out at the beginning of the Panthers’ memorable 2015 season. Getting off to a rocky start in the first quarter with two Jonathan Stewart fumbles, Carolina rebounded to dominate the second and third quarters, outscoring the Falcons 20-0 in that span. Turning the tide with two touchdowns right before the half, Carolina utilized timely defensive stands to revitalize their offense. Seeing Kelvin Benjamin get traded mid-week to the Buffalo Bills, many Panthers’ fans were in full-on crisis mode, but they also must remember how efficient the Carolina offense was when Benjamin missed the season in 2015. The right pieces are starting to fit together in Charlotte, and if Christian McCaffrey can have more games like he did on Sunday, then the Panthers can become real contenders in the NFC. -Tyler Hotz

12. Washington Redskins (4-4) (Last week: 15⬆️)

The Redskins played one of the better games in Week 9 and came out on top over the Seattle Seahawks 17-14 and now sit at 4-4, good for third in the NFC East just one game behind Dallas for second. Washington did something that they have struggled with as of late: beat a team with a winning record. Some more good news for the Redskins is that they will only have to do that twice in the entire second half of the season, as they have just two teams better than .500 remaining on the schedule. Look for Washington to string together some wins and put themselves in the wild card conversation. -Silas Albright

13. Detroit Lions (4-4) (Last week: 16⬆️)

Detroit played a very nice game on Monday night and knocked off their division rivals, the Green Bay Packers, to improve to 4-4 overall. The Lions are only two games behind the Vikings for the division lead, so Detroit is very much still in the mix. Matthew Stafford had a great night, passing for 361 yards on 26/33 completions and two touchdowns. Both Golden Tate and Marvin Jones caught seven passes and each finished with over 100 yards on the night, with Jones finding the end zone twice. With upcoming matchups with the Browns and Bears, Detroit is presented with the opportunity to move up in the standings and find some momentum before a huge matchup with the Vikings on Thanksgiving Day. -Silas Albright

14. Atlanta Falcons (4-4) (Last week: 10⬇️)

Missed opportunity after missed opportunity cost the Falcons a crucial divisional game against the Carolina Panthers. Atlanta has now fallen back to the .500 mark with a record of 4-4 after starting the season off 3-0. Matt Ryan and company surged the Dirty Birds out in front of the Panthers with a quick 10-0 lead. It looked as if Atlanta has found some of its lost mojo when Keanu Neal forced two early momentum killing fumbles. However, Carolina was not phased one bit and would then score 20 unanswered points in route to a 20-17 victory. Speaking of a missed opportunity, Julio Jones flat out dropped a wide open home run ball that inevitably would have put Atlanta over the top. Let us not forget that Ryan essentially gave Carolina the chance to take the lead by throwing an untimely interception shortly before half. The Falcons currently sit two games back out of the first place in regard to NFC South standings. The Brotherhood is technically still in the hunt for possible playoff spot, but they must take care of business first this week during the hosting of the 5-3 Dallas Cowboys. Who knows if Ezekiel Elliott will be able to play? -Shane Harvell

15.Buffalo Bills (5-3) (Last week: 13⬇️)

Facing the Jets on a short week, the Bills ended up with a disappointing loss. The Bills could not get LeSean “Shady” McCoy going who only had 20 yards rushing. Maybe the big news coming out of Buffalo was the trade they made to acquire wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin is going to give Tyrod Taylor a big target to throw to and hopefully spread the field to free up room for McCoy. For the Bills to compete in their division they must continue to win games or the Patriots will win again. -Michael Pigg

16. Tennessee Titans (5-3) (Last week: 19⬆️)

Don’t look now, but the Titans are 5-3 and tied for the lead in the AFC South. Tennessee has rattled off three straight wins, all in the same way: they just won. The Titans have spent the season doing enough to get the job done. There’s nothing wrong with that, but Tennessee needs to step it up if they are going to be a contender down the stretch and compete with the Jags for the division crown. -Ian Taylor

17. Houston Texans (3-5) (Last week: 12⬇️)

After losing Deshaun Watson to injury, it was obvious that the Texans’ offensive struggles were coming. With Tom Savage at QB, the Texans had less than 300 yards against the worst defense in the NFL, the Colts. They only had one offensive touchdown, which was also Savage’s first career TD pass. The Texans are going to continue to struggle on offense without Watson, so this loss is not really surprising. -Eric Jackson

18. Oakland Raiders (4-5) (Last week: 22⬆️)

The Raiders flew down to Miami for a matchup against the Dolphins on Sunday. This game was back and forth much of the time with the Raiders eventually coming on top 27-24. Derek Carr looked good this game minus a few plays here and there. He had two fumbles on the day and three turnovers as a whole with only one touchdown. He still hasn’t looked like his old self before the back spasms and maybe you start to wonder if he’s still feeling the effects. Marshawn Lynch was able to get it going on the ground with 57 yards and a couple of scores. The big story was the play of Jared Cook as he was able to haul in eight catches for 126 yards. Cooper and Crabtree had some receptions but weren’t able to turn those into very many yards. The Raiders are going to have to limit the turnovers on offense and put some more pressure on the opposing quarterbacks if they want to become playoff contenders late in the season. The defense was only able to produce one turnover and a sack.  -Aman Hyrams

19. Green Bay Packers (4-4) (Last week: 18⬇️)

Ever since gunslinger Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone Oct.15, Green Bay has been struggling to fill the void that he left in their offense. Brett Hundley is a good quarterback, he threw for 245 yards and rushed for a touchdown, but he isn’t Rodgers. Much of their offense relies on Rodgers’ intelligence at the line and his rocket arm, and Hundley is a totally different QB. The Packers’ defense looks strong and continually puts up a fight week after week, but without an offense that scores consistently, it doesn’t do them much good. Detroit and the highest paid quarterback in the league Matthew Stafford put on a clinic, blazing past Green Bay 30-17. So far, the Packers have dropped three straight games and are fighting off some serious injury concerns. There are some tough times ahead for the Green Bay faithful; the talent is there, it all depends on how this team can adapt to the situation they are in.  -Garrett Wold

20. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) (Last week: 21⬆️)

Somehow, even when on a bye week, the Chargers moved up the standings in their division. While the Denver Broncos continued to plummet and lose, the Chargers leapfrogged Denver and they now sit in third place in the division. Even though they are still a few games behind Kansas City for the division lead, the Chiefs lost this week making the division very vulnerable. Los Angeles plays Jacksonville this week in a game that will likely make or break their season. -Jason Huber

21. Denver Broncos (3-5) (Last week: 17⬇️)

The Broncos are slowly falling apart as the season goes on. They lost to the Eagles, giving up over 50 points and were unable to get anything going on offense. Brock Osweiler got the nod at QB and he looked the same as he did in Houston: terrible. The Broncos need to solve their QB issue if they want to get any better-Eric Jackson

22. Baltimore Ravens (4-5) (Last week: 20⬇️)

Once again, the Ravens’ Achilles heel is their atrocious offense. While the Titans only beat them by three points, 23-20, it was the Ravens defense and special teams that kept them in the game, forcing five punts while safety Eric Weddle caught their league-leading 13th interception of the year and kicker Justin Tucker was successful on both of his field goal attempts, one from 49 yards away. Joe Flacco produced his third highest quarterback rating of the season while throwing two interceptions, a testament to how inefficient the Ravens’ offense really is. While Titans’ QB Marcus Mariota completed fewer passes and the same amount of touchdown passes (two), the Titans were more successful finding the end zone, adding a rushing TD and needing only one field goal. The Ravens can still win their division, with the struggling Bengals and lowly Browns making up the cellar, but they will need to turn things around quickly and win the remainder of their divisional matchups. -Brooks Maynard

23. Miami Dolphins (4-4) (Last week: 23↔️)

The Dolphins showed up to play the Raiders on Sunday. If Miami didn’t collect over 100 yards in penalties and lose a couple of big plays to those mistakes, they would be 5-3 right now. There was a lot of concern over the loss of Jay Ajayi and the return of Jay Cutler from a nasty rib injury, but both of those turned out to be non-factors. Ajayi’s replacements combined for a better game than he’s had all season, and Smokin’ Jay had one of the three best games of his career. The defense is still a solid-unit in the league and the offense is starting to really come together. Without having to carry the weight that was Ajayi’s ill-fit in the system, Miami can gel a lot easier. -Ian Taylor

24. New York Jets (4-5) (Last week: 27⬆️)

The Jets got the upset win at home this week, defeating their division rival Buffalo Bills 34-21. Josh McCown had another productive game, completing 70 percent of his passes for 140 yards and a touchdown, while the Jets racked up 194 rushing yards and three touchdowns as a team. New York’s defense impressed, stealing three fumbles and forcing the Bills to punt six times. While the Jets are currently sitting in last place in the AFC East, they have only two fewer wins than the division-leading New England Patriots. While it’s a long shot that they could overtake a team as good as New England, with a defense that is currently top 15 in both interceptions and fumbles recovered and an offense that is top five in completion percentage and rushing touchdowns, anything is possible. -Brooks Maynard

25. Chicago Bears (3-5) (Last week: 24⬇️)

The Bears had a much-needed bye week this past week. They are able to rest players such as Jordan Howard who have taken a beating this season. They’ll pick back up against the Packers next Sunday in the best rivalry in the NFL. -Aman Hyrams

26. Arizona Cardinals (4-4) (Last week: 28⬆️)

Adrian Peterson saved the Cardinals from ultimately losing to the winless San Francisco 49ers. Peterson rushed for 159 yards on a career-high 37 carries in route to a 20-10 victory. Backup quarterback Drew Stanton also played quite well by throwing for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, Arizona’s win did not come easily. San Francisco only trailed the Cards by four heading into the fourth quarter. Arizona’s defense improved by holding the 49ers to only 63 rushing yards after giving up 197 last week to a divisional foe in the LA Rams. Future Hall-of-Famer and reliable Larry Fitzgerald hauled in five passes for 70 yards. The Cardinals are currently perched at 4-4 and only two games back out of first place in the NFC West. Arizona faces a tall task this week when they look to battle the 5-3 Seahawks, who are coming off of a 17-14 loss to the Redskins, on Thursday night. -Shane Harvell

27. Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) (Last week: 25⬇️)

The Bengals may not have won the game, but AJ Green made sure that he won the fight. The Cincinnati Bengals have no shot at a productive season anymore. Green is obviously showing frustration, especially if he lets a second-year corner get in his head. However, what I have continuously said throughout the weeks is that the Bengals will not go anywhere without a run game. They have put their faith in a sorry excuse for a running back named Joe Mixon and until they find a better option, Cincinnati will stay at the .500 team they are. They have the right guy in Andy Dalton, but that’s it. -Noah Gerringer

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6) (Last week: 26⬇️)

The Bucs are 0-4 on the road this season. You know, this was the season where they were going to be the breakout team in the league, make the playoffs and become the start of a long run of contention. Jameis Winston is injured, and there are rumors he may be shut down for the season. Mike Evans was suspended for a cheap shot and will miss the next game. The Bucs haven’t been looking good for a few weeks, now it might just be best to look forward to next year. The biggest question is who will be around for it? -Ian Taylor

29. Indianapolis Colts (3-6) (Last week: 29↔️)

The Colts knocked off the Texans in Week 9 and moved to 3-6 on the year but still sit last in the AFC South. The Texans showed some upside; they played some good teams close and Deshaun Watson was in rookie-of-the-year if not MVP form, but he tore his ACL and was ruled out for the season in Week 8. So even though it was a division win, it was a win over a depleted team that was never that good to begin with. From here, the season only gets tougher, so that probably won’t do the Colts’ record any favors. Their next four games are against above .500 teams. -Silas Albright

30. New York Giants (1-7) (Last week: 30↔️)

New York has hit rock bottom … actually past rock bottom. The Giants were obliterated by the LA Rams 51-17 sending them to a more than disappointing 1-7 record. Eli Manning looks like a shell of his former self, the defense finally wore out and the Giants are now in serious contention for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Head coach Ben McAdoo seems to have completely lost any faith that the team has in him, and at this point, the Giants need to continue losing to blow up the team after the season. They face the 49ers next week, who are currently winless. It should be a battle of the worsts.  -Jason Huber

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-9) (Last week: 31↔️)

The 49ers dropped their ninth straight this week, 20-10 to the Arizona Cardinals at home. Their offensive struggles continued; quarterback C.J. Beathard threw no touchdown passes to two interceptions while the 49ers punted the ball eight times. This was their sixth game this season punting six times or more and their second straight week of eight boots. Four different rushers produced only 63 yards on 17 attempts, an average of less than 4 yards per carry. The 49ers are also currently 21st in penalty yards, averaging 63.2 yards lost per game this season and adding 53 on Sunday. With a talent level like theirs, they can’t afford to be beating themselves. With some very tough matchups ahead, the 49ers are running out of time to find that elusive first win.  -Brooks Maynard

32. Cleveland Browns (0-8) (Last week: 32↔️)

Good news, the Browns did not lose. Bad news, it was their bye week, so there is not much to talk about here. Eric Jackson 

Rankings By: Jason Huber, Brooks Maynard, Tyler Hotz, Silas Albright, Eric Jackson, Shane Harvell, Aman Hyrams, Michael Pigg, Ian Taylor, Noah Gerringer and Garrett Wold