We are over halfway through the season, and our latest NFL power rankings are starting to give us an early sense of the playoff race. There is a famous quote that coaches often say about big games. Teams either gain exposure or get exposed in big-time moments.
The 49ers and Patriots exemplified this but in opposite ways. For weeks, we have wondered just how good the Patriots are given their schedule, but if any team in the history of football deserves the benefit of the doubt it is New England. A loss to the Ravens is far from embarrassing, but it is the way the Patriots lost that is a reason to at least question just how good the Patriots are this season.
Baltimore jumped on New England early to build a sizable lead, and the Patriots did not truly respond until the second half. The Ravens still managed to pull away in the fourth quarter despite the Patriots making it a game. This matchup does not signal the end of New England, but it is true the Patriots have benefited from a generous early schedule. We know how good this franchise has been, but the next few games should give us an indication of what their ceiling is for this season.
Top 5: Niners & Ravens Headline the Group
Meanwhile, on the west coast, the 49ers are playing the best football in the league. Everything for the Niners starts with their defense led by an interesting mix of a rookie and veteran castoff.
Nick Bosa not only looks like the best rookie in the league, but one of the best overall defenders in the NFL. Richard Sherman had a very public breakup with the Seahawks, but appears rejuvenated in San Francisco. The Niners will face their biggest test of the season in Week 10 as the Seahawks come to town for Monday Night Football. The 49ers gained exposure on Thursday Night Football against the Cardinals for just how good they are playing this season.
Much will be made about what the Patriots loss to the Ravens means, but Baltimore deserves credit for the performance they displayed. Lamar Jackson is proving the critics wrong and even Bill Belichick did not have much of an answer for how to contain the Ravens quarterback. Baltimore now has wins over two top ten teams in our rankings (Patriots and Seahawks), and both times did it in impressive fashion.
Bottom 5: The Dolphins Are No Longer Winless
When the season started, it looked like the Dolphins would never move out of the bottom spot. There is little question the front office is doing their best to tank to improve their draft stock, but it is also true that the players want to win. Dolphins have looked much better over the past few weeks of the season and are no longer our worst team.
Miami is still going to be picking high in the draft, but the Dolphins can hold their heads up high for at least one week. Elsewhere at the bottom of the standings, there is still no news in Atlanta where many expected the Falcons to make a move during the bye week. It looks like the Dan Quinn era will continue for at least the rest of the season.
Cincinnati was on a bye but still managed to make news by benching Andy Dalton. The veteran quarterback has been vocal about his displeasure, but it has been clear for some time that Dalton does not move the needle on offense. A.J. Green will remain with the Bengals at least through the rest of the season and will have Ryan Finley throwing him passes once he returns from injury.
Here is a look at our latest NFL power rankings after Week 9. We will continue to update these rankings as more games are completed.
NFL Power Rankings: After Week 9
|1.||San Francisco 49ers (8-0)|
|2.||Baltimore Ravens (6-2)|
|3.||New England Patriots (8-1)|
|4.||New Orleans Saints (7-1)|
|5.||Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)|
|6.||Seattle Seahawks (7-2)|
|7.||Houston Texans (5-3)|
|8.||L.A. Rams (5-3)|
|9.||Green Bay Packers (7-2)|
|10.||Indianapolis Colts (5-3)|
|11.||Minnesota Vikings (6-3)|
|12.||Dallas Cowboys (5-3)|
|13.||Carolina Panthers (5-3)|
|14||Buffalo Bills (6-2)|
|15.||Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)|
|16.||Oakland Raiders (4-4)|
|17.||Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)|
|18.||Detroit Lions (3-4-1)|
|19.||L.A. Chargers (4-5)|
|20.||Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5)|
|21.||Tennessee Titans (4-5)|
|22.||Arizona Cardinals (3-5-1)|
|23.||Chicago Bears (3-5)|
|24.||Denver Broncos (3-6)|
|25.||Tampa Bay Bucs (2-6)|
|26.||Cleveland Browns (2-6)|
|27.||New York Giants (2-7)|
|28.||New York Jets (1-7)|
|29.||Atlanta Falcons (1-7)|
|30.||Washington Redskins (1-8)|
|31.||Miami Dolphins (1-7)|
|32.||Cincinnati Bengals (0-8)|