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Blake Pace’s NFL power rankings through Week Nine

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NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A day late on the power rankings but fortunately was able to get it going before Week 10 kicked off. Lots of movement around the board this week, but I already know there’s one team in particular most will have wanted me to have move a little bit more. Let’s get through the piece and discuss in the comments.


32. The Cincinnati Bengals (0-8) / LW: 31

They weren’t on the field this past week, but they’re now the only remaining winless team in football. I’m excited to see what they have in Ryan Finley this week as he makes his first start, but there’s still little doubt the Bengals are the worst team in football.

31. The New York Jets (1-7) / LW: 29

When the Miami Dolphins beat you, pretty soundly at that, you’re one of the worst teams in football. Adam Gase was a whiff, players want out, and now Sam Darnold is showing us he consistently misses throws and makes poor decisions with the ball. This team is an absolute mess.

30. The Washington Redskins (1-8) / LW: 30

Tough opponent in the Bills last week, and now they’ve got the week off. As Dwayne Haskins slowly improves, look to their rookie quarterback getting his first win as a starter two weeks from now against the Jets.

29. The Miami Dolphins (1-7) / LW: 32

Huge congrats to Brian Flores on the first career win, I really do like his chances of a total rebuild in Miami. Still a bad team, but it has to feel pretty good to get your first win of the year and taking down your old head coach at the same time.

28. The Atlanta Falcons (1-7) / LW: 28

Went into its bye week after playing two tough opponents in the Seahawks and Rams, and now Atlanta is faced up against the surging Saints and Drew Brees. Don’t expect much from the Falcons the rest of the way through, but I do expect a ton of changes through this roster and coaching staff in the offseason.

27. The New York Giants (2-7) / LW: 27

They had Dallas on the ropes for a little, but this team still shouldn’t be expected to play a full 60 minutes of good football. Too many holes on the roster, young and inexperienced playmakers and a head coach that looks lost at times.

26. The Cleveland Browns (2-6) / LW: 24

When it rans, it pours. I thought Cleveland would blow the lid off against Denver, and instead Brandon Allen (who?) handed the Browns their sixth loss of the season. Cleveland is in desperation mode now, and won’t have it easy this Sunday against the Bills.

25. The Chicago Bears (3-5) / LW: 23

Not sure where to begin with the Bears. Their defense isn’t as great as it was in 2018, Matt Nagy looks nothing like the 2018 NFL Coach of the Year, the offensive line is among the worst in football and Mitchell Trubisky is not a starting-caliber quarterback. I actively try to avoid watching this team play on Sundays.

24. The Denver Broncos (3-6) / LW: 26

Props to Vic Fangio for stringing together some wins this season, now 3-2 in Denver’s last five. If the Broncos can turn in at least a 6-10 season, the AFC West will be extremely interesting to watch in 2020.

23. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6) / LW: 25

Is there a weird world where Jameis Winston is actually still the Buccaneers quarterback next year? Management loves him (even though they basically have to in order to feel validated) but do they love him to the point to stick with him for another year? This offense is fun when it’s rolling, and their run defense is one of the best in football.

22. The Arizona Cardinals (3-5-1) / LW: 21

Strong showing for Kyler and Co. against a great San Fransisco team last Thursday night. If this “rebuild” can kick into high gear this offseason, there could be four good teams in the NFC West next season.

21. The Los Angeles Chargers (4-5) / LW: 22

The Chargers are on on the come-up, but I’m not putting a ton of weight into what we’ve seen. Aside from the Packers last week — which I toss up as a fluke — Los Angeles’ wins since Week 4 have come against teams with a combined record of 7-18 with tougher opponents on the horizon to close out the season.

20. The Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4) / LW: 20

This season will go down as a huge year for Mike Tomlin. His Steelers have put out solid efforts each week after losing Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger. This last one against Indy was a little lucky, but they’re still around as the second-best team in the AFC North.

19. The Tennessee Titans (4-5) / LW: 17

Tennessee’s first half of the season had much easier strength of schedule, and after only going 4-4 through eight weeks there’s no reason to expect it gets any better the rest of the way through. Definitely looking forward to seeing who’s taking snaps under center in 2020.

18. The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) / LW: 18

Of course as soon as I come around to growing out a mustache, Gardner Minshew gets benched. Nick Foles will make his return against the Colts in Week 11 as they try to run the table, but it seems like the Jags would be better off just trying to get as high of a draft pick as possible.

17. The Detroit Lions (3-4-1) / LW: 16

Not really sure what to say about the Lions. I like Matt Patricia, and I like Matt Stafford too. Their secondary is rough, and the loss of Kerryon Johnson really limits the balance on offense. This year, at the end of the day, is more so a step in the right direction toward building a playoff contender.

16. The Oakland Raiders (4-4) / LW: 19

Really like what Jon Gruden has going on in Oakland, and like what he’s going to take to Las Vegas even more. One of the most underrated stories of the year has been the bounce-back season from Derek Carr — he’s looked much better than his shaky 2018 campaign.

15. The Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) / LW: 15

Don’t put your eggs in this Philadelphia basket just yet, as they’ll come out of their bye week with two brutal games against the Patriots and the Seahawks. It gets a lot lighter after that, but I just have a hard time trusting we’ll consistent play in Philly.

14. The Minnesota Vikings (6-3) / LW: 13

I’m telling you all right now, short your stocks on the Minnesota Vikings. Kirk Cousins took advantage of poor secondaries during their run in October now have to play the fourth-, fifth- and 14th-best pass defenses in their remaining six games.

13. The Carolina Panthers (5-3) / LW: 14

I thought the Titans could’ve been a trap game for Carolina, who could’ve had its eyes set on Green Bay a little too soon, but the Panthers showed up and controlled the majority of the game. They’re not title contenders, but they’ll be around as one of the final teams fighting for a Wild Card slot.

12. The Dallas Cowboys (5-3) / LW: 12

Dallas, to me, is the best team in a bad division. The Cowboys will end up as the four seed in the NFC playoffs, and could very easily lose that first playoff game despite home-field advantage. While I’m not necessarily high on them as far as their total package, Dak Prescott has put out an amazing season as his contract extension awaits.

11. The Indianapolis Colts (5-3) / LW: 7

Everything seemed to go against Indianapolis’ favor on Sunday and they still found themselves one made field goal away from stealing the win. Two light(ish) games coming up against Miami and Jacksonville, which will put them right back in position to win the AFC South.

10. The Seattle Seahawks (7-2)/ LW: 11

It’s not a good look when you’re a 7-2 team and Jameis Winston has his best game of the year against your secondary. I’ve been very bullish on the Seahawks this year and that Bucs win still left me uneasy, but we’ll see how they show up Monday against the 49ers in their biggest game of the season.

9. The Buffalo Bills (6-2) / LW: 9

This is a really good Bills team that we’ll never blow out it’s opponents, that’s just what we need to accept with Buffalo. The Bills conservative style on offense and physical play on defense will make their wins seem unconvincing, but this is a good team that plays it close to the vest.

8. The Houston Texans (6-3) / LW: 10

Every week I talk about how I need to stop doubting the Texans and every week I still choose to doubt them. I don’t like the roster, I don’t like the head coach, but none of that seems to matter with Deshaun Watson at quarterback. They’ll go as far as he can take them.

7. The Los Angeles Rams (5-3) / LW: 8

General consensus is people aren’t that high on the Rams after a three-game losing streak followed by wins over the Falcons and the Bengals, but they’re certainly on the rise and have a favorable schedule the rest of the way too. I don’t love Jared Goff and their offensive line worries me at times, but the skill players on offense and studs on defense should help mask those concerns.

6. The Baltimore Ravens (6-2) / LW: 6

Great, great game from Baltimore on Sunday. I’ll admit I probably have them too low compared to what most of you would do, but I think their offense can be too reliant on the run and their pass defense still ranks 26th in the NFL. The win over New England was huge, now I need to see how they carry that momentum through the remainder of the regular season.

5. The Green Bay Packers (7-2) / LW: 3

Hands down the worst team of Week 9 was the Green Bay Packers, sleeping their entire way through that brutal loss to a bad Chargers team. I’m chalking that up as a fluke loss, and I fully expect them to have a strong showing against Carolina this weekend.

4. The Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) / LW: 5

Anyone who though that the Chiefs would take a step back without Patrick Mahomes obviously doesn’t know the career success that Andy Reid has had with backup quarterbacks. Now at 6-3 with Mahomes coming back in, they’ll reassert themselves as the second-best team in the AFC with a shot at being the top team with New England on the calendar in just a month.

3. The New England Patriots (8-1) / LW: 1

I know, guys. Get your comments typed up and ready to push send. I know I’m still going to get crap for having this high, and I know it was their first real game against an elite team, but I think this Patriots team will look much different when they’re carving their way through the postseason. In a weird way Bill Belichick got what he wanted in his loss to the Ravens. He now knows Baltimore’s gameplan in order to take New England down, and has almost two months to prepare to see them again.

2. The New Orleans Saints (7-1) / LW: 4

Great head coach, strong offensive line, solid defense and decent quarterback play. The Saints are playing great, well-rounded football right now and should have no problem securing one of the top seeds in the playoffs.

1. The San Francisco 49ers (8-0) / LW: 2

Let’s finally give San Francisco a stop at the top. The 49ers defense is continuing to get better, their running backs provide a unique depth that we don’t really see anywhere else, and Jimmy Garoppolo showed us on Thursday that he can pull out the victory with a majority of the weight on his shoulders. They better not make me look dumb and screw it up this week, when they take on Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks in what should be a great closer to Week 10.