Will Brown is a passionate sports fan who has previously managed his own sports blogging site and served as a digital sports editor
NFL Power Rankings, Week 9
At this point in the 2020 NFL season, each team is about halfway through their schedule, and teams are beginning to separate themselves from each other. The playoff field is expanded from 12 teams to 14 teams this year, and while there are several strong teams at the top no one has really established themselves as a runaway favorite at this point in the season. Here is a ranking of where I believe each team stands at this point in the season, what their record is, and what I predict will happen to them going forward.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers- The only undefeated team in the NFL won a closer than expected game against the Cowboys this week by a score of 24-19. The Steelers trailed for most of the game, but got a fourth quarter touchdown and two critical stops at the end of the game to secure their eighth victory of the season. With upcoming games against the Bengals and Jaguars, the Steelers could very well be undefeated when the Ravens come to Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night.
2. Kansas City Chiefs- It seems like the defending Super Bowl Champions are flying somewhat under the radar, but the Chiefs are 8-1 after holding off the Panthers 33-31 this week. Patrick Mahomes is having an MVP caliber season, and the offense has the potential to be even better than it was last year with the addition of Le'Veon Bell. Looking ahead, the Chiefs still have four road games against teams currently with winning records (Dolphins, Raiders, Buccaneers, and Saints) so it could be difficult, but not impossible, for them to overtake the Steelers as the top seed in the AFC
3. New Orleans Saints- The Saints made a statement this week when they came into Tampa and smashed the Buccaneers 38-3. The offense is fully healthy for the first time since Week 1, and the defense appears to be rounding into form after struggling at the beginning of the season. The win over the Buccaneers is enormous going forward because the Saints now have a 1 game lead on Tampa in the NFC South and control the tiebreaker should these two teams finish with the same record. The Saints now have a path to the number 1 seed in the NFC.
4. Baltimore Ravens- The Ravens bounced back from a loss to the Steelers with a 24-10 road win over the Colts. The criticism of the Ravens so far this season has been that they can't win big games, and they will get opportunities to prove doubters wrong with upcoming games against the Titans and a Thanksgiving rematch with the Steelers.
5. Green Bay Packers- The Packers responded well to a loss against the Vikings by going into San Francisco and beating the injury depleted 49ers on the road. With a manageable remaining schedule, it looks like the Packers could win around 12 or 13 games which would put them in a position to finish at the top of the NFC.
6. Buffalo Bills- The Bills got their biggest win of the season this week when they defeated the Seahawks 44-34. Josh Allen continues to improve and the Bills proved they could beat a strong team, which bodes well for their chances of holding off the Dolphins in the AFC East and competing with the Steelers, Chiefs, and Ravens in the postseason.
7. Seattle Seahawks- I still believe the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC West, and that Russell Wilson is the MVP favorite at this point in the season, but the defense has issues that could cost them down the road. When everything is clicking, the Seahawks look like Super Bowl contenders but they can't seem to put teams away and every game seems to come down to the finish. The Seahawks will need to bounce back quickly with critical games against the Rams and Cardinals coming up in the next two weeks.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- This was supposed to be the week the Buccaneers emerged as legitimate Super Bowl contenders with a statement Sunday Night Football win against a division rival. Instead, the exact opposite happened and the Buccaneers looked alarmingly bad in a 38-3 loss to the Saints. The Buccaneers offense is loaded with talent, and the defense can make plays as well, but both units had arguably their worst game of the season. The talent is here, but with upcoming games against the Panthers, Rams, and Chiefs this team needs to start clicking with each other quickly.
9. Tennessee Titans- The Titans snapped a 2 game losing streak with a 24-17 win over the Bears that was never as close as the score suggested. The Titans now lead the Colts by 1 game for first place in the AFC South, and those two teams face off for the first of two times this season Thursday night in Nashville. The Titans have impressive wins against teams like the Bills and Bears so far this season, but also have an embarrassing loss to the Bengals, and none of their wins have been by more than 7 points. Are they more lucky or good?
10. Los Angeles Rams- Halfway through the season, the Rams look more like the 2018 team that made the Super Bowl than the 2019 team that missed the playoffs. This year's teams feels like a safe bet to make the playoffs, games like the 28-17 loss to the Dolphins a week ago make it difficult to believe they could go on the road in the playoffs and beat a contender. The Rams had a bye this weekend, and have 2 games each against the Cardinals and Seahawks going forward, which will determine if they can win the NFC West and host a playoff game.
11. Indianapolis Colts- The Colts did not score in the second half during a 24-10 loss to the Ravens, and must bounce back quickly with a critical Thursday night game coming up against the Titans. The Colts have a strong defense, but Phillip Rivers has struggled in all 3 of their losses so far and it is fair to wonder if the quarterback position is what is holding them back from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
12. Miami Dolphins- At this time last year, the Dolphins were winless and many wondered if they were on track to go 0-16. They finished last season strong by winning 5 of their final 8 games, and have carried over the momentum to 2020. The Dolphins have won 4 games in a row following a 34-31 road win in Arizona. The Dolphins may lack talent compared to other teams in this part of the rankings, but they are well coached, play hard, and make plays defensively which have put them in the unexpected position of being in the playoff picture at this point of the season.
13. Arizona Cardinals- In Kyler Murray's second season, the Cardinals look like a playoff team and a contender in a wide open field in the NFC. The offense is fun to watch, but the defense still has issues as was evident in their 34-31 loss to the Dolphins this week. The Cardinals are just one game behind the Seahawks for first place in the division, and after a game against the Bills next week they travel to Seattle for a rematch with the Seahawks.
14. Las Vegas Raiders- Another team many are surprised to see in the playoff race is the Raiders. Coming off a 31-26 road win over the Chargers, the Raiders now sit at 5-3 on the season and have won back to back games on the road. The Raiders are unlikely to catch the Chiefs in the AFC West, but they should remain in the playoff hunt for the rest of the season.
15. Cleveland Browns- The Browns haven't been getting a great deal of respect for a team that is 5-3, but a favorable remaining schedule could help them break the longest active playoff drought in the league. 4 of their final 8 games come against teams currently with 2 wins or fewer and a late season game against the Steelers may not mean much if Pittsburgh is already locked into their playoff spot. The Browns were struggling going into their bye week, and Baker Mayfield needs to be more consistent in the second half of the season if the Browns are going to hold onto their playoff spot.
16. Chicago Bears- The Bears have lost 3 in a row after a 5-1 start, and cannot seem to find an answer at quarterback. Both Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles have struggled, and the offense as a whole has dealt with a variety of issues. Next Monday's game against the Vikings seems like a must win for the Bears, who could be at risk of falling out of the playoff hunt if they can't turn things around fast.
17. San Francisco 49ers- No team has been hit harder by injuries than the 49ers have this year. It seems almost every key contributor from last year's Super Bowl runner up has spent time on the injury list, and many of those players won't return this season. To their credit, the 49ers have been resilient despite all the injuries but it is beginning to feel like they are reaching their breaking point. With a tough upcoming schedule and being a part of the toughest division in the league, I expect the 49ers to fall out of the playoff hunt in the next few weeks.
18. Philadelphia Eagles- Someone's got to win the NFC East, and the Eagles feel like the safest bet at the halfway point of the season. Injuries have been an issue, but it does feel like they are getting a little healthier following their bye week. The Eagles have managed to beat the other bad teams in their division to get into first place, and as long as they continue to do so they should make the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
19. Minnesota Vikings- The Vikings are starting to show signs of life after a 1-5 start to the season. With back to back wins over the Packers and Lions, the Vikings are hoping they can get back into the playoff race in the NFC. Dalvin Cook has looked like one of the best running backs in the league, and the remaining schedule is somewhat manageable even with road games against the Bears, Buccaneers, and Saints. The margin for error is very small, but Minnesota looks like they are better than their record indicates.
20. Carolina Panthers- The Panthers have lost four in a row since starting the year 3-2, but have stayed competitive against some of the league's top teams including this weekend when they lost 33-31 in Kansas City. In Matt Rhule's first season as coach, a young roster has shown potential on both sides of the ball. The Panthers may not win many more games going forward, but they should be competitive in most games and could catch a couple teams by surprise.
21. Detroit Lions- The Lions have lost two games in a row ever since getting to 3-3, and a loss to the Vikings this past week could be particularly damaging. Every time it looks like this team could turn a corner, they get in their own way and find new ways to lose. It looks like Head Coach Matt Patricia may not survive this season, as the team has not won more than 6 games since he arrived in 2018.
22. Atlanta Falcons- The Falcons narrowly avoided another collapse when they blew a 27-6 lead against the Broncos but held on to win 34-27. They have won back to back games, but still sit at 3-6 on the year and have a difficult remaining schedule with 2 games against the Saints, 2 games against the Buccaneers, and a trip to Kansas City to play the Chiefs. It is fair to wonder where the Falcons could be if they had started the season off better and not blown so many big leads, but it seems like that is a questions we ask every year about the Falcons.
23. Denver Broncos- After a thrilling comeback victory against the Chargers 2 weeks ago, the Broncos could not replicate that magic against the Falcons this weekend. At 3-5, their playoff hopes are fading fast and the Broncos should use the rest of the season to get Drew Lock comfortable moving forward. The Broncos have shown glimpses of their potential at times this year, but injuries and inconsistency have them likely to miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season.
24. Cincinnati Bengals- Lead by rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, the Bengals are clearly better than last year's 2-14 disaster. The Bengals have been competitive in most of their losses, and as Burrow gets better so does the team around him. Expect the Bengals to be competitive the rest of the way, and possibly win a few more games down the stretch to build some momentum for the 2021 season.
25. New England Patriots- After a 2-1 start, the Patriots endured a rough month of October which began with Cam Newton testing positive for Covid-19 and ended with two postponed games, several cancelled practices, and four consecutive losses. Newton has struggled since returning, and the Patriots lack the overall talent to continue their 11 year playoff streak. It remains to be seen if the Patriots will stick with Newton or turn to Jarrett Stidham, who has struggled in limited appearances this year.
26. Los Angeles Chargers- How many different ways can a team find to lose games? The 2020 Chargers are finding out each week, with the latest painful loss coming to the Raiders this past week when a last second game winning touchdown was overturned and the Chargers lost 31-26. Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert has played well and the Chargers are probably better than a few teams ahead of them on this list, but each week has just been one collapse after another.
27. Houston Texans- Only two wins in eight games so far for the Texans, and those were both against the Jaguars. If the Texans are going to try and turn things around, it needs to start now with upcoming games against the Browns, Patriots, and Lions. This team has more talent than their 2-6 record suggests, but they need a new head coach and to figure out how to better build around Deshaun Watson. With no first or second round picks in this year's draft, it could be a difficult turnaround.
28. Dallas Cowboys- At least they were competitive against the Steelers. In his first career NFL start, Garrett Gilbert looked better than anyone expected him to, but it doesn't change the fact the Cowboys are 2-7 and down to their fourth quarterback. It's been a long year so far, but the NFC East is very forgiving and we can't yet rule out a playoff appearance.
29. New York Giants- The Giants are 2-7 with both wins coming against Washington, but they have been more competitive as of late and played a couple other of teams close. With a big game against the Eagles coming up next weekend, first place in the division is still within reach. Have I mentioned the NFC East is bad? Very very bad?
30. Washington- Not much has gone right for Washington this year. They have already been through 3 different quarterbacks and it looks like the QB of the future probably isn't on the roster. That's a tough realization for a team that drafted Dwayne Haskins in the first round just two year ago, but he has already been benched and the team seems like they're moving on.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars- Seven straight losses for the Jaguars after winning their opener against the Colts. They were competitive with the Texans last week in Jake Luton's first career start, but lost 27-25. It remains to be seen if the Jaguars will stick with Luton at QB or go back to Gardner Minshew once he is healthy, but Head Coach Doug Marrone might not survive the season and Jaguars fans are probably hoping Trevor Lawrence is their quarterback next year.
32. New York Jets- Absolutely awful in every way. I'm still a believer in Sam Darnold, but it looks like he will have to turn things around on a different team. I'm not sure if the Jets are 0-16 levels of bad, but their remaining schedule does not give them many opportunities for a win. It would be stunning if Adam Gase is still the coach at the end of the year given how much has gone wrong since he took over.