Week 9 in the NFL was a wild one with a slew of big upsets. Several upstarts shocked some strong favorites at midseason. That led to a big shakeup in this week’s Sporting News’ NFL power rankings.
From the top, the new No. 1 team is the former No. 1 team. Half of the first-place teams lost on Sunday. While the bottom overall team was off, a few other cellar dwellers surprised.
Here’s trying to make sense of the wackiness that happened. Here’s how SN sees all the teams stacking up against each other, 1-32, going into Week 10:
NFL power rankings
1. Arizona Cardinals 8-1 (previous ranking: 2)
The Cardinals proved their completeness as a team by ripping the 49ers without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. They pivoted their offense to a rushing force with Colt McCoy and backed it up with more active, aggressive defense. They keep giving reasons to believe they have what it takes to keep it up and win the NFC under Kliff Kingsbury.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-2 (5)
The Buccaneers avoided the upset madness by getting a much-needed bye as look forward getting healthy everywhere at some point in the second half. They are still in great position for a repeat as they got closer to winning the division with the Saints losing after beating them.
3. Tennessee Titans 7-2 (6)
The Titans threw down again in a big spot against the Rams in prime time, building on their wins over the Chiefs and Bills. The defense put it all together for Mike Vrabel and the offense proved it could be effective in different ways without Derrick Henry.
4. Green Bay Packers 7-2 (1)
The Packers pretty much guaranteed they would lose in Kansas City when Aaron Rodgers was ruled out. Their defense fought hard and they did their best to win with the running game, but Jordan Love’s quarterback limitations confirmed Rodgers’ indispensable presence. When he gets back, they’ll be right on track with their NFC aspirations.
5. Baltimore Ravens 6-2 (9)
The Ravens came out of a bye with a slow start against the Vikings but kicked their offense and defense into high gear, fueled by Lamar Jackson and their other on-field leaders for John Harbaugh. When Jackson takes over games like that, even one with mistakes, they are hard to beat.
6. Los Angeles Rams 7-2 (3)
The Rams had been facing lesser competition for multiple weeks and weren’t physically ready for the relentless Titans to smack them around and take away the dazzle of their offense. Matthew Stafford was overdue for a big-game lapse.
7. Dallas Cowboys 6-2 (4)
What was that? The Cowboys got roped by the Broncos with Dak Prescott looking rusty and the run defense getting dusted. They were overdue for a clunker. Chalk it up to a bad situational day at the office. They won’t take the Falcons lightly next week.
8. Buffalo Bills 5-3 (7)
What was that? The Bills’ loss got most attention for Josh Allen struggling vs. the other Josh Allen. But the rest of the offense went into the tank and also failed to reward more dominance from the defense. Allen the QB needs to get out of his midseason funk, fast.
9. Los Angeles Chargers 5-3 (13)
The Chargers got back to having electric and more versatile offense helmed by Justin Herbert. They also shored a few things up against the run and overcame secondary injuries in Philadelphia. That was a key rebound victory for Brandon Staley’s team to get back into first place in the AFC West.
10. Kansas City Chiefs 5-4 (11)
The Chiefs focused on the fundamentals of cutting out the turnovers and the costly penalties, and it worked, even though their offense didn’t go back to its old explosive ways with Patrick Mahomes. A grinding victory may have been just what they needed to raise the defensive pop, knowing bigger offense will come soon.
11. Las Vegas Raiders 5-3 (8)
Derek Carr and the offense looked sloppy after the bye after a good start. The passing mistakes get harder to overcome in November in the elements. Perhaps they got caught looking ahead to the Chiefs next Sunday night.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-3 (12)
The Steelers need to win on Monday night to keep pace with the Ravens and Browns and keep up the thought of sending the same three teams to the AFC playoffs again. Najee Harris and the running game will become a bigger factor down the stretch.
13. New Orleans Saints 5-3 (10)
The Saints marched as well as they could offensively with Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill. But their defense had a big letdown against the Falcons after frustrating the Buccaneers. There should be more ups and downs in the second-half push for a wild card.
14. Cleveland Browns 5-4 (16)
The Browns played like the Browns one thought could be in 2021 with their running game churning with Nick Chubb, the passing game dealing with Baker Mayfield and the defense cleaning up for them wire to wire. They might be ready for another big second half.
15. Cincinnati Bengals 5-4 (11)
The Bengals bungled against the Jets and couldn’t recover with the Browns coming out throwing haymakers in “The Jungle.” They’ve gone from the best in Ohio to “oh no” for the second half with Joe Burrow.
16. New England Patriots 5-4 (15)
The Patriots have gone from written off to alive and well in the AFC playoff hunt. The running game and defense keep growing in combined confidence, and with, is lifting Mac Jones a little more every week.
17. Denver Broncos 5-4 (21)
The Broncos rallied around talk of them giving up in 2021 and came through with a post-Von Miller dominant defensive performance in Dallas. Let’s see if that ends up being a short-lived Vic Fangio reprieve or a springboard to a big second half.
18. Atlanta Falcons 4-4 (23)
The Falcons keep reinventing themselves with Matt Ryan as needed for Arthur Smith, showing he’s a keeper coach. When their offense is grooving in getting everyone involved, it adds up to figuring out the Saints and their defense.
19. Indianapolis Colts 4-4 (22)
The Colts have overcome their tough early schedule to fight for .500, but having already lost twice to the Titans, they need to think wild card with Carson Wentz. That’s difficult, knowing so many teams are ahead of them in the AFC.
20. Minnesota Vikings 3-5 (19)
The Vikings and close games do not go well together, save for that trip to Carolina. Bottom line, they can cannot bring their offense, defense and special teams together at the right time often, and that points to coaching and the quarterback.
21. Seattle Seahawks 3-5 (17)
The Seahawks didn’t play and will hope somehow Russell Wilson can return from his finger injury, just in time for a post-bye challenge against presumably a returning Rodgers and the Packers. Otherwise, the winning-season streak will end and with it playoff hopes dashed.
22. Carolina Panthers 4-5 (20)
The Panthers are a competitive team when considering the defense and the play of a healthy Christian McCaffrey. But throw in the mess of Sam Darnold and they often have no chance when they should.
23. San Francisco 49ers 3-5 (18)
The 49ers got George Kittle back. Although that was.a big help to the offense, a lot of other things didn’t materialize, including Jimmy Garoppolo showing efficient-enough play again. The defensive wilting
24. Chicago Bears 3-5 (24)
The Bears go into Monday night’s game at Pittsburgh fading from contention fast with rookie QB Justin Fields. Soon, Matt Nagy will be coaching out the string in the second half.
25. New York Giants 3-6 (27)
The Giants were giant-killers again at home, adding the Raiders to the list after the Saints upset earlier. Daniel Jones worked to keep it clean and their defense came through. Don’t give up on Joe Judge and his staff just yet.
26. Philadelphia Eagles 3-6 (25)
The Eagles didn’t have enough finishing offense to take down the Chargers as the wrong buttons keep getting pushed offensively and defensively despite all the array of talent. Jalen Hurts is keeping the jury out on him just enough.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-6 (29)
The Jaguars got their biggest win under Urban Meyer and shouldn’t care it came ugly at home (and not in London) with Josh Allen and the defense dominating Josh Allen and the offense.
28. New York Jets 2-6 (26)
The Jets did their best to find a backup QB spark with Josh Johnson following Mike White, but their defense came up lame all game against the Colts. The Robert Saleh rookie roller coaster continues, but there have been more promising flashes.
29. Washington Football Team 2-6 (28)
Washington was off trying to rest up and get healthier to finish with more respectability in the second half. A repeat in the division won’t happen, but Ron Rivera will hope to save face with much-needed help from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
30. Miami Dolphins 2-7 (30)
The Dolphins don’t get style points for grinding home a second win with Jacoby Brissett needing to start again at quarterback. But their defense has responded better to Brian Flores of late to look more like the 2020 form.
31. Houston Texans 1-8 (31)
The Texans got Tyrod Taylor back but it didn’t improve their chances to be competitive in Miami. He was caught trying to do too much when he didn’t need to do so with the defense having its best game of the season.
32. Detroit Lions 0-8 (32)
The Lions picked the wrong week to be off given several more bad teams added to their win total. Will they create some winless separation as the worst team? Back-to-back road trips to Pittsburgh and Cleveland are next on their schedule.