Power Rankings Week 9

It's week 9 of a season rattling by quickly, so who is on top so far in 2020? We break down the winners and losers as the season hits the midway point.

Pickwatch

3 Nov, 2020

 

Rank

Change

Team

Record

1

 

-

7-1

Well, it was only the Jets, but the Chiefs put up more yards and touchdowns on them than anyone else in the league. At this stage, not only are the playoffs assured, but a deep playoff run is expected. There are vulnerabilities, but it will take a special defense to hold them on a good day.

2

 

 

-

7-0

The Steelers are still in second place. They were one of my picks of the week in Upset Watch and I still believe that while they can be wasteful of opportunities, they have a defense that is a game changer. In fact, that's exactly what they did against the Ravens, with critical interceptions, sacks and fumbles when the game was in the balance. 

3

 

 

 

-

6-1

They navigated a tricky test against the 49ers while relatively short-handed on offense. Russell Wilson is the only thing that matters on this team, and has thrown 3 or more tocuhdowns in all but one game this season. I don't see any team hanging with the Seahawks in the NFC - the determination of Wilson to prove himself the best in the game seems overwhelming, and he is my mid-season MVP.

4

 

 

3

7-1

Mike Evans said it best - last year, the Bucs would have lost Monday's game against the Giants. They aren't at their best against these strong defensive teams - Chicago and Carolina have caused them similar problems - but in an NFC where nobody seems particularly apt to separate from the pack, the Bucs are the best of a mediocre bunch. 

5

 

 

1

5-2

Unfortunately Baltimore can't hang with the best teams in the league, a fact ably demonstrated by their losses to the top two teams in these rankings. They should have enough for the playoffs, but the Ravens have a lot of work to do on offense, where they don't look anywhere near the potent threat they were last year. Good to see Lamar Jackson running again, however.

6

 

 

1

  6-2

The Packers don't really like that matchup. In both of their losses this season, the opponent has put up over 150 yards rushing, the only times the Packers have allowed that many yards. They will face run first teams like San Francisco, Carolina and Tennessee over the next 9 games, and while the division is secure enough, they must improve to have any kind of meaningful January.

7

 

 

1

5-2

There has to be a worry about the Titans. Let's not just look at the loss to the Bengals, but the narrow overtime win against the Texans 3 weeks ago now looks like anything but an anomaly. They've given up 17 TD's in 7 games through the air, and that is going to be a serious problem in a loaded AFC. Don't look now, but here come...

8

 

 

1

5-2

...the Colts. I still think the Titans are the better team, but with two flawed teams, it's going to be a dogfight for the AFC South. The Colts had a favorable matchup against the Lions, but they dispatched them in style. If you're wondering? Philip Rivers has thrown 2 interceptions in their two losses, and never more than 1 in any other game. They'll struggle against Baltimore this week.

9

 

 

1

 

5-2

Jumping up on a bye week, the Cardinals may fancy a playoff run after watching the Rams and 49ers both fall off again. The NFC West looks so competitive, but somehow, the Cardinals find themselves with the best short term prospects, having a healthy team and a forgiving schedule that starts against Tua's Dolphins this week.

10

 

 

3

  

5-2

The Raiders look like a more ruthless team and it was nice to see them grind on the ground in wet conditions. This is a team that has been terrible when the rain is falling, yet they not only went to the ground on offense, but held the top-ranked Browns run game to just 101 yards rushing. The Raiders are averaging just 82 yards against on the ground over the last 4 games, that is a meaningful change for a team that averaged 163 over the first 3 games.

11

 

 

1

6-2

Buffalo have looked shaky in their two division wins on the spin - and should have gone to overtime on Sunday against a poor Patriot team. They're clearly in with a great chance of winning the division at 6-2, but their schedule is decidedly tough. They'll face Seattle, Arizona and Pittsburgh over the back half of the season, games that will tell us a lot about the Bills.

12

 

 

 

1

4-4

I'm torn. I think the Jimmy G injury is severely limiting for the 49ers' prospects, but equally, it will force them to do what they are good at - run the ball. The grim reality is that the 49ers are now going to struggle against the Rams, Saints and possibly even the Cardinals in week 16 if Garoppolo's injury is as bad as feared. Losing all three would all but guarantee the 49ers missed the playoffs...

13

 

 

3

5-2

You know my thoughts on the Saints by now - they're a very limited team and Sunday's narrow in against the Bears was yet more evidence that they are in the death throes of their Super Bowl dynasty. The biggest plus side is the strong run defense, which has given up just two 100yd games this season. The schedule has been kind to them in the back stretch, but I think 9-7 is still a very realistic porospect for them.

14

 

 

6


5-3

 

It is time to face the clear facts: The Rams are bizarrely broken and it starts at the QB position. Jared Goff has weapons, he has time, and yet ultimately, the Rams cannot seem to get a start against any team. They have looked unconvincing over the last few weeks and somehow managed to lose while putting up 471 yards on offense and giving up just 145 yards on defense. That shouldn't theoretically even be possible, but the Rams did it and now face a tough stretch of games to boot.

15

 

 

 

2

5-2

The Browns looked like the league's best running team for the first 5 weeks of the season, but now look the complete opposite - reliant on the pass, and a player in Baker Mayfield who is inconsistent at best. There are some good elements to the Browns and they have a kind schedule (Giants, Jets, Jags, Eagles and Texans) that means it's quite conceivable that they get to 10 wins and a wild card spot even if they aren't particularly competitive within the division.

16

 

 

3

4-3

Can you feel it? That's the feeling that my preseason prediction of a competitive Miami team is starting to materialize. The only problem? We have to hope that the Tua Tagovailoa experiment yields more than 90 passing yards in future, because not every team will give up defensive points and plays the way the Rams did.

17

 

 

 

2

5-3

The Bears have not had a hundred yard risher in any game this season. For a team without a great passing game, that's a serious problem. David Montgomery is a good change of pace back, but he's not in the mould of Dalvin Cook or Aaron Jones who are NFC North workhorse backs. With Nick Foles playing Nick Foles football, I think there's every chance the Bears move back to Mitch Trubisky in the next 3 weeks.

18

 

 

 

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3-4

Detroit lost a game I very much thought they would. The Colts matched up well against them and as expected, the Colts had time to throw. They even yielded some rushing yards to a team that hasn't been good at it. Flip side? The Lions have a run of 3 winnable games and could conceivably end it 6-4.

19

 

 

 

-

 

2-5 

I'm not going to bump them down... yet. But for Bill Belichick to essentially admit defeat on a season is extremely unusual and tells us that the Cam experiment is likely over. Interestingly, they play the Jets on the road this week in what is arguably New York's most winnable game left on the season. That really would knock them down. Pretty much to last place.

20

 

 

3

 

3-4

I've had the Broncos above most in my rankings all year, so while some will see them leap up their boards, this is about the sweet spot for a bunch of teams such as Denver and Cincinnati who have bright long term futures, but will lose a bunch of games in 2020. There are still huge issues on offense, but given the nature of this season and Drew Lock's injury issue at the start of it, let's not downplay their good form, winning 3 of the last 4 since he returned.

21

 

 

1

 2-5-1

Honestly, the Bengals are a frustrating team. If you look at the totality of their performances over the last 8 weeks, they've been in games they had no right to be on paper. They've finally converted that into a win against a big team in Tennessee, in fact not only did they win, but they did so in style. The future is bright, but more the medium term, as the Steelers are the next trip for the Bengals after their bye week.

22

 

 

  

2

3-5

The Panthers aren't going to set the world alight, but if Teddy Bridgewater stays healthy, their 2021 figures to be a lot better than their 2020. Unfortunately, losing their last 3 games will make the playoffs pretty much a non-starter, but 8-8 is very achievable. Not this week though, this week they head to Kansas City...

23

 

 

3

2-5

Finally, the Vikings get back to the same dynamic that took them so far in previous seasons. Give the ball to Dalvin Cook, set timer for 40 seconds, and repeat. Do not under any circumstances use Kirk Cousins except in a dire emergency. Fun fact, Cousins has thrown for 248 yards three times this season, which is weird. The Vikes have enough divisional games and a critical week 16 Saints road trip that make it theoretically possible for them to clamber into the Wild Card spots, but it's a tough road, and more likely, they'll settle in for 5 wins.

24

 

 

3

2-5

Still loitering above the league's detritus, the Chargers should have won on Sunday and they'll know it. It's now even more likely that Anthony Lynn will be fired at the end of the season after one too many wins has turned into a loss. It's also notable that the Chargers have struggled against any team with even remotely competent offense, with their two wins coming against the only two teams to throw less than 200 yards on them.

25

 

2

2-6

A win! That's 2 of their last 3. If I'm Atlanta I'm deeply concerned that Matt Ryan is not throwing touchdowns anymore. He's now thrown none in 3 of their last 5 games, and the win will overshadow that they are still in desperate need of an identity. On the plus side, the Todd Gurley acquisition looks to have worked reasonably well. That's it. That's the positive.

26

 

2

 

 1-6

A week off and it cemented that the Texans are a step down from the group above. While everyone else is moving, somehow it reinforces that there really is not much good happening in Houston. A solitary win against a bad Jags team is hard to compare with the longer term signs of life and positivity of those above them.

27

 

 

-3

3-4=1

Yikes. The Eagles remain in first place in the NFC East, but they won't be there long if they keep playing as badly as they did on Sunday. The Eagles underperformed against the average Dallas defensive shambles in every measure, and it says a lot when the Cowboys and Ben DiNucci outgain you in the air and on the ground. The road matchup against the Giants next week after a bye will likely decide the division, as it's fairly possible that Philly don't win another game until week 16 in Dallas.

28

 

2

1-7

The Giants are not out of the playoffs at 1-7. Seriously. Their defense stacks up well by any measure and has not allowed over 100 yards rushing in 5 of their last 6 games. Unfortunately, the offense continues to be a fundamental problem, but that said, there is a pulse here. They've scored 7 offensive touchdowns in the last 3 weeks, after racking up just 3 in the previous 4 combined. If Daniel Jones cuts out the mistakes, they have a potential for a huge swing if they beat Washington again and then the Eagles next week.

29

 

 

2

2-5

Washington are 29th in life. but no.2 in the NFC East and in the end, the latter is all that matters. Again, like the Giants, this week is critical - can they get a division win for the third time this season? If so, the WFT may feel that with a healthy schedule (their next 4 games are the Giants, Lions, Bengals and Cowboys) they are actually the favorites, which would be... insane. Someone is winning this division with 6 wins, you just know it.

30

 

2

1-6

The Jags go down with the news that Gardner Minshew has a finger injury. He is the only thing between them and being the Jets. The Jags may have engineered this situation to get a look at rookie Jake Luton, which I guess makes more sense than trying to get a look at Mike Glennon. That's the best I can say for them.

31

 

-

 

2-6

Yeah, the Ben(ched) DiNucci era is over, it's now the *checks notes* Cooper Rush era. It doesn't matter. The Cowboys are done and need to just suck it up and get a good draft pick. I;m not usually in favor of tanking, but in their case, they have no choice. Interestingly, they probably won't be in for Trevor Lawrence either, so getting pick 2 or 3 will be pretty much perfect for the Cowboys, who desperately need defensive help.

32

 



 

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0-7

I mean... it was a 20 point spread. The Jets actually showed the first signs of life for many weeks against the Chiefs - possibly because they had no pressure - but soon reverted to type. Tragically, today GM Joe Douglas implied that Adam Gase is not the problem, which is either bad news because Gase has a chance of staying, or bad news because the root cause of the problems may actually be even higher up the chain even if Gase does leave. Right now, I'd bet on a Jets clear out after week 17, front office and coaching included.