Week 9 NFL Power Rankings: New team at the top
Somewhere the 1972 Miami Dolphins were popping champagne bottles as once again no team will duplicate their 17-0 season that included a Super Bowl title.
The Los Angeles Rams (8-1) went unbeaten for eight weeks and were ranked No. 1 in these power rankings since the start of the season. That all came to an end Sunday when they lost 45-35 at New Orleans (7-1).
So, what to do about No. 1?
The Saints, Rams, Kansas City (8-1) and New England (7-2) form the NFL's elite quartet at the moment. An argument could be made for each to be No. 1, even the Rams, who have a much better loss on their record than New Orleans' opening day debacle against Tampa Bay.
Kansas City has a case, but then again so do does New England, which is red hot and defeated the Chiefs. However, the Patriots lost to Detroit and Jacksonville.
This is not an easy choice. But...here goes nothing.
New Orleans Saints (7-1). Last week: 4.
Fentress says: They just defeated the former No. 1 team and have the longest current winning streak in the NFL at seven games. At this point, I believe that the Saints would defeat Kansas City in a matchup because of the Chief's very weak defense. So, N.O. deserves the top spot. Running back Alvin Kamara delivered an inspired performance following the shooting death of his friend, Theodore Jones, who was a rapper by the name of "Young Greatness." Kamara gained 116 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns.
2. Los Angeles Rams (8-1). Last week: 1.
Fentress says: The Rams only fall only to No. 2 because, after all, their only loss came on the road against No. 1. This still remains the team to beat in my opinion but the race is on between the Rams and the Saints for home field advantage should they meet in the NFC Championship game. The big positive from the loss was that the Rams battled from 35-17 down to make it 35-35.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1). Last week: 2.
Fentress says: I'm not going to give in to the hype surrounding QB Pat Mahomes II this week. I have grown tired of updating his grand statistics and pointing out how amazing he is. Who cares if through nine games he has passed for 2,901 yards and 29 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. Oh. Damn. Did it again. Well, there is one negative: All seven of his interceptions have occurred in the last five games.
4. New England Patriots (7-2). Last week: 3.
Fentress says: Tom Brady own the battle of the G.O.A.Ts. Sunday night when the Patriots took down Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay, 31-17 in New England. I’m not sure what the game proved but it certainly did not live up to the pregame hype. Too bad these two likely will never matchup in a Super Bowl.
5. Carolina Panthers (6-2). Last week: 5.
Fentress says: The Panthers’ offense has caught fire as of late, scoring 99 points in three games. Of course - like with all points scored on Tampa Bay - one must take the 48 Carolina scored on the Buccaneers with a grain of salt. That can’t be said about the 36 dropped on Baltimore the previous week. The Panthers must find all of the offense it can to have a chance of breaking through in the NFC.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (6-2) Last week: 6.
Fentress says: The Chargers got their best win of the season on Sunday, 25-17 at Seattle to earn their fifth consecutive victory and just might rattle off three more in a row. The Chargers play this week at Oakland then host Denver and Arizona. Things get tougher after that but as long as this team does nott fall to pieces, at least a 10-6 record awaits the Chargers.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1). Last week: 7.
Fentress says: The first-place Steelers got a huge win at Baltimore that fully established them as the team to beat in the AFC South. Holdout running back Le’Veon Bell has until Nov. 13 to report to the Steelers or he cannot play this season. It’s an unfortunate situation that does not have a predictable end.
8. Houston Texans (6-3). Last week: 9.
Fentress says: Houston has now won six in a row after a win at Denver. The Texans have a two game lead in the win column over Tennessee. The defense has been exceptional, allowing just 76 points over the last five games.
9. Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1). Last week: 11.
Fentress says: Minnesota does not have one win against a team with a winning record. Its best victory came against Philadelphia (4-4). The Vikings can change that in two weeks when after taking a weekend off they play at the Chicago Bears (5-3) in a game that will certainly have NFC North title implications.
10. Washington (5-3). Last week: 8.
Fentress says: Washington did not look good in a 38-14 loss to Atlanta at home. In the game, Washington lost both starting guards, Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao for the season. WR Paul Richardson also went down. That’s all bad news, especially given that Washington has just a slim, one-game lead over Philadelphia (4-4) in the NFC East.
11. Chicago Bears (5-3). Last week: 12.
Fentress says: The Bears dominated Buffalo, 41-9. However, defeating the Bills with Nathan Peterman at quarterback is next to meaningless. The Bears’ offense managed just 11 first downs and 190 yards of total offense. That's a red flag. Granted, Buffalo has the No. 3 defense in the league, but it’s increasingly clear that an inconsistent offense will hold back this team.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3). Last week: 10.
Fentress says: The Bengals position in the top 12 will likely end after they get hammered this weekend at home against the Saints. The Bengals have proven to be a solid team but they have tended to fold up against elite competition. Complicating matters is that WR A.J. Green will miss two weeks with an injured toe.
13. Atlanta Falcons (4-4). Last week: 17.
Fentress says: The Falcons now have wins over Washington and Carolina.
14. Seattle Seahawks (4-4). Last week: 13.
Fentress says: Seattle has lost four games by a total of 20 points.
15. Miami Dolphins (5-4). Last week: 18.
Fentress says: Dolphins still unsure when QB Ryan Tannehill will return.
16. Green Bay Packers (3-4-1), Last week: 15.
Fentress says: Back-to-back losses to the Patriots and Rams hurt but the Packers will make a run.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4). Last week: 16.
Fentress says: Off last week, the Eagles could still be a threat in the second half.
18. Tennessee Titans (4-4). Last week: 22.
Fentress says: The Titans could make the playoffs with that defense as long as they consistently protect QB Marcus Mariota
19. Baltimore Ravens (4-5). Last week: 14.
Fentress says: The Ravens have lost three consecutive games but there is no way coach John Harbaugh should be on the hot seat.
20. Detroit Lions (3-5). Last week: 19.
Fentress says: The Lions teased their fans then fell to pieces right on cue.
21. Indianapolis Colts (3-5). Last week: 21.
Fentress says: Four of next five games area against South Division foes.
22. Dallas Cowboys (3-5). Last week: 20.
Fentress says: The addition of WR Amari Cooper did not help Dallas much in his first outing against the Titans.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5). Last week: 25.
Fentress says: The dysfunctional Jaguars face a must-win game at the Colts.
24. Denver Broncos (3-6). Last week: 23.
Fentress says: Denver has several close losses to good teams. Another one awaits at the Chargers
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5). Last week: 26.
Fentress says: It’s now or never for the Bucs. If they can defeat Washington they could get back over .500 following games against the Giants and the 49ers.
26. Cleveland Browns (2-6-1). Last week: 27.
Fentress says: The Browns have one game remaining against a team with a losing record (Denver).
27. New York Jets (3-6). Last week: 24.
Fentress says: Coach Todd Bowles probably needs to finish at least close to .500 to keep his job.
28. Arizona Cardinals (2-6). Last week: 29.
Fentress says: The Cardinals released QB Sam Bradford.
29. San Francisco 49ers (2-7). Last week: 32.
Fentress says: QB Nick Mullens will likely get another start against the Giants.
30. Buffalo Bills (2-7). Last week: 28.
Fentress says: QB Nathan Peterman should not be in the NFL. Three touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in eight games.
31. New York Giants (1-7). Last week: 30.
Fentress says: QB Eli Manning will start this week after arrest of backup Kyle Lauletta.
32. Oakland Raiders (1-7). Last week: 31.
Fentress says: The Raiders hit rock bottom getting blown out by the 49ers and their third-string QB. But, give Jon Gruden time before declaring him a failure.