Splash’s NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

Splash’s NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

by November 9, 2021 1 comment

Welcome back to the futile exercise of ranking the 32 NFL teams. There are new faces at the top and the bottom after an eventful Week 9. As always, these will be updated weekly, so be sure to watch out as teams move up and down. If teams continue to win, they will rise. If teams continue to lose, they will fall. Similarly, a loss does not necessarily equate to a team being ranked lower than their opponent.

Numbers in parentheses refer to last week’s rankings.

No.32: Detroit Lions (+0)

It took a bye week, but the Lions finally did not lose this week. Nothing changes in Detroit, and the Lions announced they were not interested in Odell Beckham, so they are not going to be adding a gamechanger. The Lions will likely drop to 0-9 after a trip to Pittsburgh. This is a joke of a football team, but at least they only have nine games left to play.

No.31: Houston Texans (-3)

After weeks of optimism that the Texans would be remotely competent with Tyrod Taylor at the helm, Taylor took that optimism and gave it a middle finger. It was a laughable performance from the offense against one of the worst defenses of 2021. The defense had its moments, forcing several turnovers, but the offense was a catastrophe. It was ugly in every capacity, and Taylor was one of the worst quarterbacks of Week 9.

No.30: Washington Football Team (+0)

Washington enjoyed their bye week, watching the rest of the NFC East troll the NFL with an upset win, upset loss, and last-gasp loss. As long as Taylor Heinicke is the starting quarterback, Washington has a low ceiling. When coupled with an underperforming defense, Washington would be the worst team in the NFL in most seasons. Despite having two wins, this team is a full-scale comedy act.

No.29: Carolina Panthers (-5)

J.C. Jackson’s Wikipedia should read “father of Sam Darnold” because it is the truth. Calling Darnold a pumpkin after Week 9 is disrespectful to the month of November. Darnold would have been better had he been blind. Carolina’s defense continued to be stout, forcing Mac Jones into several uncharacteristic mistakes, but the offense with Darnold needs a new language to describe its ineptitude. Words such as terrible, pitiful, and horrendous come to mind if I am forced to speak English.

No.28: Miami Dolphins (+3)

Congratulations, Dolphins. You won a football game for the first time since Week 1. It was one of the worst displays of football in 2021, but the Dolphins outlasted the zombies of the Texans squad for a 17-9 win. Tua Tagovailoa was a late scratch, so that hurt the Dolphins offense, but the defense finally played within 100 standard deviations of its preseason expectations. Tagovailoa may be unavailable for Miami’s next game, however.

No.27: New York Jets (+0)

Is there a quarterback controversy in East Rutherford? After an electric Week 8 performance from Mike White (earning a Team of the Week nod), Josh Johnson had to relieve the blossoming superstar after White was injured early in Week 9. Johnson was fiery, but the Jets were no match for Jonathan Taylor. It is far from a bad loss, but the Jets’ upcoming clash with the Buffalo Bills might devolve into a disaster.

No.26: Jacksonville Jaguars (+3)

For the first time in the joint careers of Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer, they have won a game played in the United States. Matthew Wright celebrated the occasion by making the Jaguars’ first field goal of the season on U.S. soil. As a whole, defensive end Josh Allen won the day while quarterback Josh Allen reverted to 2018 form. The Jaguars sit at 2-6, but Week 9 was a solid moral victory.

No.25: Philadelphia Eagles (-2)

It was a gritty game from beginning to end, but the Eagles came up just short against a superior Los Angeles Chargers team. Jalen Hurts was passable, but DeVonta Smith flashed his elite potential. He was not only the best receiver in the game or the 4 p.m. window, but he was also the best receiver of Week 9. He turned the Chargers inside-out to the tune of more than 100 yards and a touchdown.

No.24: Chicago Bears (-2)

The Bears were unfortunate to lose on Monday Night Football, but they had far too many unforced errors. They benefited from a Ray-Ray McCloud to score seven of their 27 points, but the end game is with Justin Fields. After a difficult first half, Fields had a stellar second half. He was firing deep shots and connecting on many of them. His best completion was a gutsy down-field shot to Allen Robinson.

No.23: Atlanta Falcons (+3)

The Falcons are the physical embodiment of the shrug emoji. One week, they are a superior team with home-field advantage. The next week, they face a team that Instagram comment sections claim should be in the top 10 in that team’s home stadium. Guess which game the Falcons won. In a moment of catharsis, the Falcons choked away Week 9 before Matt Ryan and Cordarrelle Patterson combined to splinter Louisiana to its core. Younghoe Koo knocked down the game-winning field goal, and the Falcons are in a playoff spot.

No.22: San Francisco 49ers (-7)

Everything seemed to be trending in the 49ers’ favor. George Kittle was cleared to play. MVP frontrunner Kyler Murray was ruled out. DeAndre Hopkins was also ruled out. Kittle even had the best week of any tight end. However, the 49ers forgot that holding onto the ball is a necessity in the NFL. They also forgot how to tackle, particularly against James Conner. As a whole, the 49ers graciously gave another win to a divisional opponent.

No.21: New York Giants (+0)

One might joke that the “Bye Week Bystanders” can beat a team like the Lions, but in Week 9, it seemed that the Las Vegas Raiders would be the ones to lose in such a matchup. The Giants showed up at MetLife Stadium, ran around for three hours, and finished with a victory because the Raiders could not stay out of their way. The Giants are somehow only 1.5 games out of the NFC’s last wild card spot.

No.20: Denver Broncos (+5)

In Week 8, the Broncos had the worst performance by a team that won. The Dallas Cowboys likely had the best performance by any team, given the circumstances. In Week 9, these teams colluded to make sure the NFL descended into pure chaos. Before the Cowboys scored 16 points in the depth of garbage time, the Broncos had built up a 30-0 lead. The Broncos had the stupidest win of all time against one of the worst teams in the NFL, proceeded to trade away one of their franchise’s Mount Rushmore players, and then whacked one of the hottest teams in the NFL on the road. How?

No.19: New Orleans Saints (-1)

Much to the chagrin of Instagram commenters everywhere, the Saints with Trevor Siemian are not a good football team. Despite facing a porous Falcons’ defense, the Saints failed to gain traction until the fourth quarter. After they finally took a 25-24 lead, the defense took the opportunity to throw the game away. It was an all-around joke of a performance. However, the Saints do hold the No.6 seed in the NFC, and they are near-locks to make the playoffs because the No.8-16 seeds in the conference are SEC-level teams.

No.18: Seattle Seahawks (+2)

Yes, the Saints came to Seattle and knocked off the Seahawks in Week 7. That game is practically meaningless now as both teams have new quarterbacks. The aforementioned Siemian is historically poor, and the return of Russell Wilson swings open Seattle’s playoff chances. Sitting at 3-5 now, the Seahawks need to heat up quickly, but they are only a game back of the No.7 seed. With Wilson at the helm, anything is possible.

No.17: Minnesota Vikings (-4)

The Vikings lost in overtime, but the score is a bit misleading. The Vikings were poor for most of the day. However, they had three huge momentum swings in the form of a Dalvin Cook 60-yard run, Justin Jefferson 50-yard touchdown, and a 100-yard kickoff return. Between these huge plays, the Vikings were quite pedestrian. These random explosions hurt the defense in the long run as they ended up having to play nearly 100 snaps.

No.16: Indianapolis Colts (+3)

The Colts took care of business at home on Thursday Night Football. Taylor is beginning to sprint away with the All-Pro spot for running backs, and Kwity Paye had an explosive game with nine pressures. The Colts have a tough row to hoe the rest of the way, but they are just one game behind the Patriots for the No.7 seed in the AFC. Currently, the Colts hold the No.12 seed, but they are two collapses away from being the best team in the conference. Football is weird.

No.15: Kansas City Chiefs (-1)

Patrick Mahomes had the worst game of his career in Week 8. It was his worst for six days as he and the Chiefs struggled mightily. They benefitted from multiple muffed punts, and there were no stupid Mahomes interceptions for the first time since Week 1. Despite this run of fortune, the Chiefs only beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers by six. This is a loss in every manner except the official win-loss record. With that said, the Chiefs have managed to be the worst team in football while simultaneously being tied for a playoff spot. They could be on top of the division in time for next week’s power rankings.

No.14: Cincinnati Bengals (-7)

The Battle of Ohio was quite one-sided. Joe Burrow led the Bengals on a strong opening drive before finding Denzel Ward. Ward, naturally, is no longer one of Burrow’s teammates (they played together at Ohio State). Ward took the interception back for a 99-yard touchdown, and the Bengals slept for the rest of the day. Joe Mixon cashed in two touchdowns, but that is mere consolation for the now last-place Bengals. On Oct. 30, they were the No.1 seed in the AFC. By Nov. 8, they were out of the playoffs.

No.13: Cleveland Browns (+4)

Speaking of the Battle of Ohio, the Browns had an electric 25-point win in their trip across the state. Baker Mayfield was excellent in every facet, and the defense made a mockery of the Bengals’ passing attack. Nick Chubb was clinical and even Donovan Peoples-Jones obliterated the Bengals’ defense. It was a statement win from the Browns who are still in the thick of the AFC playoff picture. They have a matchup with the No.7 seed New England Patriots in Week 10.

No.12: Pittsburgh Steelers (+4)

It ended up being an ugly win, but the Steelers controlled the Bears for most of the game. If not for a fluky special teams touchdown, the Steelers would not have needed a last-second drive to win the game. Ben Roethlisberger was competent for one of the few times on the season, and Najee Harris seemingly broke 100 tackles. T.J. Watt found his way to Fields three times in another huge performance.

No.11: Las Vegas Raiders (-2)

As mentioned in the Giants blurb, the Raiders self-destructed in Week 9. Derek Carr had one of the worst games of his career, and the once-elite pass rush was neutered to some degree by the Hall of Shame caliber Giants’ offensive line. It could just be an aberration, but it was a rather ugly loss to an inferior team. For all of the excuses that the Raiders could use, they do not match how bad of a loss this could end up being in a tight AFC.

No.10: Los Angeles Chargers (+2)

After two awful games, Justin Herbert remembered how to play football. He was productive as a passer and as a rusher, helping a rather stagnant offense overcome the Eagles. It was ugly, but it was a win in hostile territory. The aforementioned Raiders should take notes on how to close out games against bad teams on the road. The Chargers are back on top of the AFC West.

No.9: New England Patriots (+2)

Suddenly, the Patriots are the hottest team in the NFL. They have beaten up on a pair of bottom-feeders, but at least they dominated both the Jets and Panthers. Defensively, Bill Belichick called an excellent game, and the Patriots added a new tool to their winning tool belt. They can beat teams at the point of attack on offense, but they can also erase whatever an offense wants to do.

No.8: Dallas Cowboys (-3)

What was that? In one of the weirdest NFL weeks in recent history, the Cowboys managed to steal every available headline. They were coming off one of the highest highs of the season; the Cowboys went on the road without Dak Prescott and won. With Prescott back in the fold, the Cowboys went on autopilot, and the Broncos plastered them. This is the ugliest loss of the season, and there is no second place.

No.7: Buffalo Bills (-1)

Unlike the Cowboys, the Bills at least keep their terrible losses close. With that said, Allen (the quarterback, not the defensive end) had all of the turnover misfortune he lacked from the first eight weeks. Defensively, the Bills kept a lid on the Jaguars, but the offense was stuck in the mud for 60 minutes. There are zero possible excuses for a loss of this caliber. Allen choked one of the easiest wins on any team’s schedule this season.

No.6: Baltimore Ravens (+2)

It was far from pretty, but the Ravens got rolling for the last 40 minutes of the game. The offense and defense were strong for most of the second half. On the other hand, the special teams unit collapsed twice, permitting a kick return touchdown and a crucial fake punt. Lamar Jackson had a dominant statistical day, but he did have a bad interception and nearly lost a fumble before it was called back after a penalty call. Marquise Brown continued to shine.

No.5: Tennessee Titans (+5)

With Derrick Henry, the Titans had one of the NFL’s best offenses. Without Henry, the defense said “my turn” and made Matthew Stafford look like Jared Goff. Jeffery Simmons had a monster game, and Harold Landry continued his quarterback onslaught. Kevin Byard is playing at an All-Pro level, and he should get some fringe Defensive Player of the Year consideration. Ryan Tannehill and the offense were slow, but if the defense continues to be exceptional, the road to Super Bowl LVI will run through Nashville.

No.4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+0)

The Buccaneers enjoyed their Week 9 bye. Their players were able to heal up from their accumulated injuries. Moving forward, the Buccaneers are safe bets to win the NFC South with the Saints, Panthers, and Falcons tripping over themselves. Their sights are set on a second straight Super Bowl, and this is the time of the season that the pieces fall into places and offense starts rolling once again.

No.3: Los Angeles Rams (-2)

The Rams had eight weeks of elite line play on both sides of the ball. In Week 9, the Titans asserted their dominance from the opening kickoff (quite literally; they kicked off while the Rams were doing an off-field introduction). Stafford was egregious, and the rest of the offense was kept in a box until garbage time. Defensively, Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey were up to their usual tricks.

No.2: Arizona Cardinals (+1)

Despite not having their best two players, the Cardinals walked into Santa Clara and beat down the 49ers. Colt McCoy was one of the quarterbacks of the week, and the defense swarmed. Markus Golden had a stand-out day, and Conner will join him on the Team of the Week. With Murray and Hopkins coming back in Week 10, the Cardinals have regained their footing as a legitimate threat to make the Super Bowl.

No.1: Green Bay Packers (+1)

Yes, the Packers lost on Sunday. Jordan Love was quite poor in his starting debut. However, the Packers are not the Saints, Dolphins, or early-season Seahawks. Rodgers will be back for Week 10, so there is no need to overreact to a loss. As far as this ranking is concerned, the Packers did everything they could without Rodgers (similar to the Cowboys missing Prescott in Week 8). The Packers came up short, but it required Rodgers to test positive for COVID. The Packers are fine, and they are the best team in the NFL.

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I’m Ryan Potts. Some people affectionately call me Splash. I am renowned for being a misplaced Ravens, Cavs, Wings & Braves fan. Twitter: MrSplashMan19

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