NFL Power Rankings Week 9: Patriots Lose No. 1 Spot to 49ers


Getty The Niners are running past the competition midway through the NFL season.

Teams are beginning to separate themselves from the pack and our latest NFL power rankings break down the squads that are cementing their status at the top. Taking a page from ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, we are asking NFL teams, “How good is your good?”

This is one way of emphasizing a team’s best performance against top competition. San Francisco appeared to provide us with an early answer by destroying the Panthers. The 49ers and Patriots are both undefeated but neither team has faced a gauntlet of a schedule. Yet, when paired against a good Panthers team the 49ers looked to be at their best, which is just what we want to see from a team at the top of the standings.

Drew Brees made a successful return in Week 8 which means the Saints went undefeated with Teddy Bridgewater as their starting quarterback in his short absence. Saints’ fans are hoping Brees is fully healthy and there are not any complications with his thumb later this season.

The Colts, Seahawks and Texans were among the other top teams who notched a win in Week 8. All three teams still have a good bit to prove before we place them in the NFL elite category, but each has chance to be in the conversation for a first-round bye if they can continue their success down the stretch.

Top 5: The Niners Take Over the No. 1 Spot

The Patriots have mostly possessed the No. 1 spot this season except on the rare occasion where they dropped down to No. 2. This is once again the rare occurrence where an undefeated team somehow drops in the rankings. The reason has more to do with the 49ers than how the Patriots played against the Browns.

San Francisco put on a show against a Panthers team previously ranked inside our top 10. The 49ers defeated what is believed to be a solid Panthers team by 38 points.

The criticism of both San Francisco and New England so far this season has been the teams they have played. If either team had a more difficult schedule, there is a chance they would have a couple losses on their resume. That said, we can only judge a team by the games they have played and not our thoughts on hypothetical matchups.

We also try to reward teams for their play this season and not for past accomplishments. If that is the standard, you would be hard-pressed not to have the Niners topping the Patriots in the latest rankings. San Francisco is winning in an old-school way by relying on a dominant defense and tiring out their opponents with a physical run game. It is not flashy, but it is good enough for the Niners to snag the top spot, at least for this week.

Admittedly, this makes the Saints a casualty to the 49ers jump despite New Orleans welcoming back their QB1 heading into their bye. As best we can tell, there appear to be a clear top three teams in the NFL with little separation among the Saints, Patriots and 49ers. As New England and San Francisco begin to play higher-caliber teams, it will be interesting to see if they can sustain their stellar play.

Bottom 5: The Dolphins & Bengals Remain the Only 2 Winless NFL Teams

Miami put their winless record on the line against Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football as they continue to battle Cincinnati in the Tank for Tua race for the No. 1 pick. While the Dolphins are still winless, we moved them above the Bengals simply because they showed a little more promise. Cincinnati will start Ryan Finley at quarterback when the team returns from its bye in Week 10, and he may have A.J. Green as a target as the Bengals did not move the receiver at the trade deadline.

Elsewhere, Sam Darnold has thrown seven interceptions in the last two weeks. The Jets quarterback has been a major disappointment since returning to the field after battling mono.

Despite missing Matt Ryan, the Falcons showed a little bit of life against the Seahawks. Dan Quinn has surprised a lot of people by holding onto his job so far despite only notching one win this season. It will be interesting to see if Quinn survives the Falcons’ bye week and is on the sideline when Atlanta takes on New Orleans in Week 10. The Falcons trading of Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots prove that Atlanta is likely to be a seller at the deadline.

Here’s a look at our latest NFL power rankings

NFL Power Rankings: After Week 8

1. San Francisco 49ers (7-0)
2. New England Patriots (8-0)
3. New Orleans Saints (7-1)
4. Green Bay Packers (7-1)
5. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
6. Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
7. Kansas City Chiefs (5-3)
8. Seattle Seahawks (6-2)
9. Houston Texans (5-3)
10. L.A. Rams (5-3)
11. Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
12. Carolina Panthers (4-3)
13. Buffalo Bills (5-2)
14 Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
15. Detroit Lions (3-3-1)
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4)
17. Tennessee Titans (4-4)
18. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)
19. Oakland Raiders (3-4)
20. Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1)
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4)
22. Chicago Bears (3-4)
23. L.A. Chargers (3-5)
24. Cleveland Browns (2-5)
25. Tampa Bay Bucs (2-5)
26. New York Giants (2-6)
27. Denver Broncos (2-6)
28. Atlanta Falcons (1-7)
29. New York Jets (1-6)
30. Washington Redskins (1-7)
31. Miami Dolphins (0-7)
32. Cincinnati Bengals (0-8)