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When you look through our top ten there are few surprises compared to preseason expectations with two exceptions, the Philadelphia Eagles and L.A. Rams. It just so happens the top two quarterbacks from the 2016 draft class, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, are a big part of each team’s success.
Both teams have thrived thanks to their offenses looking much improved from a season ago, but for different reasons. New Rams coach Sean McVay has overhauled the L.A. offense. McVay has also been aided by a bolstered receiving group including rookie Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins.
For the Eagles, the main difference has been the progression of Wentz as a quarterback. Wentz’s play has put him in the conversation among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, but he must prove he has staying power by sustaining the Eagles success for the rest of the season.
There has always been talk of defense winning championships, but recent years may be showing a shift in this philosophy. Last year’s Super Bowl featured the Falcons and Patriots, who both had success thanks in large part to their offense. The Rams and Eagles are both ranked inside the top five in points per game behind second-year quarterbacks. It is their success on offense that had helped the teams shoot up the standings.
Here’s a look at our latest NFL power rankings.
NFL Power Rankings: Top 10 Teams Week 9
No. 1 New England Patriots
Last Game: Defeated Chargers 21-13
Next Game: Bye
New England is on a four-game winning streak, and the Patriots are doing so with the No. 6 ranked offense in the NFL scoring 27.9 points per game. The flip side is New England’s defense is ranked in the bottom third giving up 23.7 points. The Patriots defense has shown the ability to perform better than their stats indicate as we saw last week against the Falcons on Sunday Night Football.
The Patriots might prefer to keep their win streak going, but will head into a bye week before an extremely difficult stretch of games. Five of the Patriots next six games are on the road, and it starts with two AFC West opponents. After their bye, the Patriots head to Denver for a Sunday Night Football matchup then take on the Raiders in Oakland.
No. 2 Philadelphia Eagles
Last Game: Defeated 49ers 33-10
Next Game: vs. Broncos
The Eagles are the hottest team in the NFL with six straight wins. For those wondering whether Wentz could take a step forward in his sophomore season, Wentz has answered in a big way by putting his name on the short list of top NFL quarterbacks. Wentz has thrown for 2,063 yards, 19 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
Despite the Eagles lacking an elite receiver, Philadelphia is third in the league in receiving yards with 2,037 as the Eagles wide receivers have outperformed expectations.
No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Game: Defeated Lions 20-15
Next Game: Bye
It has been an interesting week in Pittsburgh as Martavis Bryant continues to want out, and is willing to take anyone out with him. Bryant recently took a shot at rookie teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster in a now deleted Instagram post.
The reality is had Bryant not received multiple suspensions over his career, the Steelers may not have been in a position to draft Smith-Schuster, but Pittsburgh felt they needed to add depth at the position. Despite the drama, the Steelers continue to win, and head into their bye week before facing a winable four-game stretch.
No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs
Last Game: vs. Broncos (Monday Night Football)
Next Game: at Cowboys
After the best start in football, the Chiefs have lost two straight, and will look to get back on track Monday night against the Broncos. The Chiefs have benefited from Alex Smith having a career year. Smith has thrown for 1,979 yards, 15 touchdowns and no interceptions while completing over 72 percent of his passes.
Fans may be surprised to know the Chiefs only trail the Rams in points scored per game with 29.6. Kansas City has long been known for their defense, but the play of Smith combined with the emergence of rookie running back Kareem Hunt has the Chiefs looking like a complete team. If the Chiefs continue to lose, their hot start may not matter.
No. 5 Seattle Seahawks
Last Game: Defeated Texans 41-38
Next Game: vs. Redskins
The Seahawks strayed from their traditional formula by giving up 38 points, but still managed to extend their win streak to four games. It was not typical for a team that leads the league in points allowed by giving up just 15.7 points per game. Despite the shootout, it is fitting that a Richard Sherman interception clinched the game for the Seahawks.
Here’s the scary thing for the NFL, the Seahawks are 5-2 without coming close to playing their best football. Seattle has a history of hitting their stride during the playoff push. There are no guarantees, but the Seahawks are in a good position if they are able to make another late-season push.
No. 6 New Orleans Saints
Last Game: Defeated Bears 20-12
Next Game: vs. Bucs
After an 0-2 start, the Saints have won five straight games which places them behind only the Eagles for the NFL’s longest win streak. The Saints success is not just a product of their offense, as the New Orleans defense has shown improvement this season. The Saints rank fifth in take-away differential with five, as New Orleans has forced 10 turnovers compared to giving the ball away five times.
If the Saints defense can continue to hold its own, New Orleans has enough weapons on offense to be competitive with any team in the league. I do fear the Saints are due for regression in their next four games. After New Orleans takes on the Bucs, the Saints face the Bills, Redskins and Rams.
No. 7 L.A. Rams
Last Game: Bye
Next Game: at Giants
After being hard to stomach last year on HBO’s Hard Knocks, the Rams are one of the most exciting teams in the league. Name an offensive stat and chances are the Rams are near the top in the league. Los Angeles leads the league in the one stat that counts the most, points scored per game with 30.3.
Todd Gurley had fans (and fantasy owners) worried after his disappointing second season. Gurley has bounced back this season, and a big reason is his involvement in the passing game. Gurley has 293 receiving yards to go with his 627 rushing yards, and has added eight total touchdowns. Goff also looks to have a bright future thanks to McVay’s new offense.
No. 8 Minnesota Vikings
Last Game: Defeated Browns 33-16
Next Game: Bye
The Vikings have won four straight games, but Minnesota fans with a weak stomach may want to turn away. Four of the their next five games are on the road against solid opponents. Minnesota faces the Redskins, Rams, Lions, Falcons and Panthers. All five games are winnable, but put altogether makes for a difficult stretch for the Vikings.
Luckily, the Vikings have a week off to prepare. Minnesota has been able to survive the absence of Sam Bradford thanks to a fifth-ranked defense that only allows 17 points per game.
No. 9 Buffalo Bills
Last Game: Defeated Raiders 34-14
Next Game: at Jets
For years, the Bills have been one of the league’s punching bags, and fans may think the Bills record is a fluke. However, when you look at the Buffalo resume you find solid wins against the Broncos, Falcons and Raiders. The Bills have managed to win despite being ranked 29th in total yardage.
The strength of Buffalo lies in their defense as the unit ranks 4th in points allowed with 16.8 per game. The Bills do their best work against the run allowing just 84.5 yards per game, which ranks them 6th in the NFL.
No. 10 Dallas Cowboys
Last Game: Defeated the Redskins 33-19
Next Game: vs. Chiefs
There is not a major difference between the Cowboys and the next five teams in our rankings. We give the edge to Dallas given how their offense has looked the last two games. How this offense looks moving forward could depend on Ezekiel Elliott’s availability as Elliott has another hearing to finalize a decision on his suspension for the rest of the season.
With Elliott in the lineup, the Cowboys rank second in the league with 147.5 rushing yards per game. Dallas could survive without Elliott as they would turn to Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. Dallas has an opportunity to prove they are close to last year’s team as they take on the Chiefs next week.
NFL Power Rankings: All 32 Teams
|1||New England Patriots (6-2)||1|
|2||Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)||2|
|3||Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)||3|
|4||Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)||4|
|5||Seattle Seahawks (5-2)||6|
|6||New Orleans Saints (5-2)||7|
|7||L.A. Rams (5-2)||7|
|8||Minnesota Vikings (6-2)||9|
|9||Buffalo Bills (5-2)||8|
|10||Dallas Cowboys (4-3)||13|
|11||Carolina Panthers (5-3)||14|
|12||Tennessee Titans (4-3)||11|
|13||Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3)||12|
|14||Atlanta Falcons (4-3)||15|
|15||Green Bay Packers (4-3)||16|
|16||Miami Dolphins (4-3)||10|
|17||Denver Broncos (3-3)||19|
|18||Baltimore Ravens (4-4)||23|
|19||Houston Texans (3-4)||21|
|20||Washington Redskins (3-4)||17|
|21||Los Angeles Chargers (3-4)||28|
|22||Detroit Lions (3-4)||20|
|23||Cincinnati Bengals (3-4)||28|
|24||Oakland Raiders (3-5)||22|
|25||New York Jets (3-5)||27|
|26||Arizona Cardinals (3-4)||24|
|27||Chicago Bears (3-4)||25|
|28||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5)||26|
|29||Indianapolis Colts (2-6)||29|
|30||New York Giants (1-6)||30|
|31||San Francisco 49ers (0-8)||31|
|32||Cleveland Browns (0-8)||32|