NFL Power Rankings Week 9: Cowboys, Patriots seperate themselves

Read as Nick Springer takes us through his weekly NFL Power Rankings, which are uploaded every Tuesday during the NFL season.

  1. New England Patriots (7-1)- Previous rank: 1- The Patriots look like they’re on the inside track to the Super Bowl. I don’t see any team in the AFC that can challenge them right now, and it looks like Tom Brady is just warming up. Roger Goodell has to be thrilled with how everything has worked out for Brady. Did I say thrilled? I meant exasperated.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (6-1)- Previous rank: 2- Dak Prescott has shown us that he can do it all. Also, he’s a third-round pick from Mississippi St. But seriously, Prescott is the future of this team at the quarterback position. At this rate, Tony Romo should not play another down in a Cowboy uniform. Prescott wasn’t perfect against Philly, but he came through in the clutch, leading Dallas to its 6th straight win. The Cowboys travel to Cleveland to take on the lowly Browns next week. Might as well ring up a 7th straight win right now.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)- Previous rank: 6- The Chiefs picked up the win at Indy, but they lost Alex Smith and Spencer Ware to concussions in the process. Nick Foles stepped in and led the Chiefs to the victory with two touchdowns passes. The injuries to Smith and Ware are major causes for concern, but Foles and West are both capable of filling in for Kansas City. Reportedly, Smith will play against Jacksonville this week. Dee Ford has played fantastic over the past couple of games, and that’s exactly what the fans and coaching staff were hoping for in Justin Houston’s absence.
  4. Oakland Raiders (6-2)- Previous rank: 7-The Raiders hung on to defeat Tampa Bay in OT on Sunday. It was a record-breaking day for Derek Carr as he threw for 513 yards, and after escaping Tampa, the Raiders are undefeated on the road this season. Amari Cooper has quickly blossomed into a superstar wideout for Oakland. The Raiders host Denver next week in a pivotal divisional matchup.
  5. Atlanta Falcons (5-3)- Previous rank: 10- This was a fantastic win for Atlanta and head coach Dan Quinn. The Falcons have placed themselves in position to bring home the divisional championship this season, and Matty Ice continues to improve his MVP resume as well. The Falcons are at Tampa Bay next week before heading to Philly in two weeks. If Atlanta is 7-3 heading into their bye, they should win the South.
  6. Denver Broncos (6-2)- Previous rank: 9- This wasn’t a very impressive win for Denver, but it was a much-needed divisional win. The Broncos could not afford to get swept by San Diego, especially since they have Kansas City and Oakland twice in the final 8 games. Speaking of Oakland, the Broncos travel to the Bay area for Sunday Night Football this weekend.
  7. Green Bay Packers (4-3)-Previous rank: 5- Even with this loss, the Packers are still fine. Aaron Rodgers is still fine. In fact, he threw for four touchdowns against Atlanta; however, they’ve got no running game (or running backs for that matter) and their secondary is shaky at best. I still don’t see how this team misses the playoffs.
  8. Minnesota Vikings (5-2)- Previous rank: 4- Just as I suspected, all those injuries for Minnesota have finally caught up to them. The offensive line lost Alex Boone against Chicago, and Sam Bradford was sacked five more times. With McKinnon out, the Vikings were completely unable to generate any run game. I’m getting more and more concerned about Bradford’s health each week.
  9. Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1)- Previous rank: 3- Apparently, the Seahawks were still thinking about that tie they had with Arizona last Sunday night. They looked completely out of it for most of the game, and in the end fell short on a last second touchdown attempt. The defense wasn’t bad in this game, but they didn’t get much help from the offense. The Seahawks host Buffalo next week before a big showdown in Foxborough versus New England in two weeks.
  10. Philadelphia Eagles (4-3)- Previous rank: 8- The Eagles lost a heartbreaker in OT to Dallas in Jerry’s World. Carson Wentz played efficiently, but Dallas’ defense didn’t allow him to go downfield all game. The running game with Darren Sproles was better, and the defense held Zeke Elliot under 100 yards. This is a game that the Eagles arguably should have won, and it could come back to bite them later in the year.
  11. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)- Previous rank: 11- What’re the odds we see Big Ben against Baltimore when the Steelers come off their bye next week? At this point I wouldn’t bet on it, but with Ben anything is possible. I think Pittsburgh can handle Baltimore even if Big Ben is a no-go, and as long as Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are healthy, the sky’s the limit for the offense.
  12. New York Giants (4-3)- Previous rank: 13- The Giants get an extra week to prepare for Philadelphia, which has suddenly turned into an important divisional game for both teams, but New York especially. Giants fans better start praying that OBJ doesn’t have a freak-out on the sidelines because they will need him to win that game. As I’ve already pointed out, the Giants might as well stop embarrassing themselves with their ground game.
  13. Washington Redskins (4-3-1)- Previous rank: 12- The London game didn’t disappoint this week, unless you hate ties. But hey, sports fans in London are used to seeing ties, right? All kidding aside, Kirk Cousins torched the Cincinnati defense for over 450 yards, and Robert Kelley did a pretty good job on the ground. Josh Norman couldn’t handle A.J. Green, and the linebackers struggled to stop Tyler Eifert. Washington gets a bye before back-to-back games at home against Minnesota and Green Bay. Those games will tell us a lot more about where this team really is.
  14. Houston Texans (5-3)- Previous rank: 15- Brock Osweiler has been the subject of quite a bit of criticism for Houston so far this season. To his credit, the Texans are 5-3 and in firm control of the AFC South. Granted, the AFC South is horrible, but right now it looks like the Texans have the best shot at winning the division and returning to the playoffs. The Texans have a bye before traveling to Jacksonville to battle the Jaguars.
  15. Detroit Lions (4-4)- Previous rank: 14- No running game for Detroit ultimately contributed to their demise against Houston, as Matt Stafford can’t do it all by himself out there. The defense limited Lamar Miller on the ground, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough for Detroit to get a win. The Lions fall to .500, and now they will travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings.
  16. Buffalo Bills (4-4)- Previous rank: 16- After a four-game win streak, the Bills have dropped two in a row. They’re on the road against Seattle next week, but given how the Seahawks have played, I wouldn’t count Buffalo out. As of right now, the Bills, along with New York and Miami, are light years away from even coming close to challenging New England in the division. Don’t worry Rex, it’s not just you.
  17. San Diego Chargers (3-5)- Previous rank: 17- This was the first definitively bad game Phillip Rivers has had all season, and the Chargers still almost knocked off the Broncos on the road. Melvin Gordon ran well against a stout Broncos front 7, which is a good sign for Chargers fans. San Diego hosts Tennessee next week, and the Chargers’ defensive line can expect to see a lot of DeMarco Murray.
  18. Tennessee Titans (4-4)- Previous rank: 20- The Titans are .500 through eight games. That in and of itself is a win. The Titans realistically have a good shot to win four of their games in the back half of the schedule. I’d say Tennessee fans and the front office would be satisfied with an 8-8 record when all is set and done. Heck, an 8-8 record might win them the division.
  19. New Orleans Saints (3-4)- Previous rank: 25- The Saints secured an impressive win over Seattle at home on Sunday. Drew Brees had a below average game compared to the numbers we’re used to seeing him produce, but New Orleans got the win, which is more important. Tim Hightower came up big for over 100 yards on the ground to help the New Orleans offense. The crazy thing is that the Saints defense finally decided to show up, and they played impressively against Seattle. It helped that Seattle’s offense was struggling quite a bit for most of the game. The Saints are at San Francisco next week.
  20. Miami Dolphins (3-4)- Previous rank: 19- The Dolphins will need Jay Ajayi to produce in the second half of the season if they want to potentially compete for a wild-card spot. I don’t think this team can make the playoffs, but they could mess up Buffalo’s chances when the two teams meet in week 16. Miami has the Jets at home this week.
  21. Indianapolis Colts (3-5)- Previous rank: 18- Once again, Indy’s prize QB took a major beating. Andrew Luck was sacked six times, and he had an interception and a fumble. Something’s got to change, otherwise Luck is going to get seriously hurt. The defense wasn’t very good either. Now, the Colts have to travel to Lambeau before they get a much-needed bye.
  22. Baltimore Ravens (3-4)- Previous rank: 22- Maybe this bye week can help the Ravens get back on track after dropping four straight. They now have Pittsburgh this upcoming weekend, and if Baltimore still wants to win the division, that’s a game they need to have.
  23. Carolina Panthers (2-5)- Previous rank: 28- Will we see the Panthers everyone expected to see at the beginning of the season? If Cam stays healthy, there’s no reason to think this team can’t still compete against Atlanta in the South, but here’s a crazy stat: Cam Newton has not drawn a roughing-the-passer call this season. Coincidence? Cam doesn’t think so, and neither do I.
  24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)- Previous rank: 23- The Bucs were so close to pulling off what would have been a signature win for head coach Dirk Koetter. Tampa Bay is still only 3-4, but I’m sure they would’ve loved to have that one. Jameis Winston didn’t turn the ball over, but his numbers were a little underwhelming. Jacquizz Rodgers continues to be leaned on heavily in the run game. He answered the bell with 69 yards and a touchdown. The Bucs turn around quickly to take on Atlanta on Thursday night.
  25. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1)- Previous rank: 24- Well, I would’ve never guessed there would be back-to-back ties in consecutive weeks. Cincinnati’s secondary was atrocious, but on the bright side, the Bengals run game was revived. Green and Eifert are a hard combination to stop in the passing game. Let us not forget, this game ended in a tie. Cincy gets next week off after being in London.
  26. Los Angeles Rams (3-4)- Previous rank: 26­- I’d be surprised if Jared Goff gets the start against Carolina coming off LA’s bye. The offense needs a spark, but I’m not sure Goff can provide that quite yet. Maybe Todd Gurley can finally start running the way everyone thought he would be coming into the season. That’d be a nice spark. Either way, the Rams need to find a way to halt their losing streak in order to stay alive in the playoff race.
  27. Chicago Bears (2-6)- Previous rank: 30- What a big win for the Bears on Monday night. Jordan Howard ran wild on a stout Vikings front, and Jay Cutler managed not to blow it for Chicago against Minnesota. Now, the Bears are rewarded for their shocking upset of Minnesota with a bye next week. It’s also important to note that Chicago is still 2-6. It would take a miracle for Chicago to make the playoffs at this point.
  28. Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1)- Previous rank: 21- Don’t worry Cardinals fans, I’ve already filed a missing person’s report for David Johnson, and we’ve got our best men on the case. Meanwhile, Carson Palmer did a pretty good job against a weak Carolina secondary. The problem? He was sacked eight times. Not good. Luckily for Arizona, Seattle is playing just as bad right now so the Cardinals are not out of the divisional race.
  29. New York Jets (3-5)- Previous rank: 29- The Jets probably didn’t deserve to beat Cleveland, but they did. Now they’re 3-5. Albeit, the Jets have no chance of winning the division and a slim chance of even making the playoffs this season. Should Todd Bowles be fired after this season? Probably not. Will he? Probably.
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5)- Previous rank: 27- Well, my AFC South pick looks more idiotic with each passing week. Before the season, I honestly believed this team could get over the hump and win nine or ten games. If there is any year to start getting things going, this is the year to do it. The AFC South is weak, but instead, the Jags are probably looking at another top ten pick and a new coach next season.
  31. San Francisco 49ers (1-6)- Previous rank: 31- Ever since that week one win against Los Angeles, this season has been a train wreck for San Francisco. Even with Colin Kaepernick regaining the starting job, the offense has still been well below average this season. The defense has had its fair share of struggles this year as well. The 49ers get the additional week to prepare for New Orleans, and maybe that’s what they need to capture that elusive second win.
  32. Cleveland Browns (0-8)- Previous rank: 32- Before this game, I was leaning heavily towards picking Cleveland to get their first win, but then I remembered something: They’re the Browns. And, in typical Browns fashion, they were defeated in a second-half comeback. Maybe if the Browns just keep throwing QBs under center, they’ll eventually find one that can win. In all honesty, Josh McCown wasn’t horrible. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson were horrible. Each running back had just 29 yards. The Browns are really already 0-9 right now, because they have to play Dallas next week. Browns fans can feel better knowing the Indians are on the cusp of their first World Series title since 1948. Until then, keep dreamin’, Cleveland.

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Feature photo courtesy of Keith Allison.