In the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings, the Denver Broncos hold onto the top spot after beating the San Diego Chargers Thursday night, while the Chicago Bears climb into the top five after narrowly defeating the Atlanta Falcons.

By Chris Burke
October 29, 2014

It might be time to hit the reset button on the Power Rankings. Tracking which teams moved up or down from week to week is part of the whole procedure, but trying to find any pattern this year has been darn near pointless.

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Through eight weeks of the regular season, the Broncos have emerged as the clear No. 1 team, New England and Arizona are both rising toward the top, and then there's about a 15-spot jumble of teams who could emerge -- or implode -- over the season's second half. 

Realistically, what is the gap between, say, Philadelphia and New Orleans? They're 14 spots apart in this week's rankings but a matchup between the two might be a toss-up. You could say the same for most head-to-head comparisons this season.

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But the show must go on.

1Denver Broncos
last week: 1
record: 6-1

Last season, Eric Decker caught 87 of the 135 passes thrown his direction, equaling a 64.4 completion percentage. Emmanuel Sanders, his replacement in the Broncos' passing attack this season, is working at a 78.3 percent completion clip with Peyton Manning (47-of-60).

2New England Patriots
last week: 9
record: 6-2

New England's won four straight and has a chance to make a real statement against Denver this Sunday.

3Arizona Cardinals
last week: 6
record: 6-1

Like the Giants and Royals in the World Series, Arizona could go all the way this season and still have a few bemused critics tossing out the "But they're not even that good" line. Two things: 1. That's not true -- this team is more talented than it might appear on paper; and 2. The Cardinals' success goes to show what great coaching can do given a decent roster.

4Philadelphia Eagles
last week: 4
record: 5-2

Can't punish the Eagles too much for a late loss at Arizona. (Also, can't reward any other teams that heavily, so Philadelphia sticks at No. 4.) However, they won't stay this high for much longer if Chip Kelly's team cannot solve its turnover issues. With three more miscues Sunday, the Eagles now have committed 17 turnovers this season, worse than everyone but Jacksonville.

5Detroit Lions
last week: 8
record: 6-2

The Lions are in the top five now because they're 6-2 overall and 3-0 without Calvin Johnson. But to get their latest victory, they needed two timely holding calls on Atlanta (one on the Falcons defense, one on their offense), a head-scratching Matt Ryan incompletion and a borderline delay-of-game call that granted Matt Prater a reprieve on his game-winning field goal try. It was like watching someone let it ride at a casino.

6Dallas Cowboys
last week: 2
record: 6-2

Pretty sure that the Cowboys had other ways of alerting Jason Garrett to his quarterback's injury status Monday night. Did they really need Jerry Jones to walk onto the sideline and tell him? At least Jones brought good news. This team would be dead in the water without Tony Romo.

7Green Bay Packers
last week: 3
record: 5-3

It will be a long two-week wait between games, but after their bye, the Packers play just three of their final eight away from home: at Minnesota, Buffalo and Tampa Bay. They might be favored in every remaining game.

8Kansas City Chiefs
last week: 12
record: 4-3

Derrick Thomas holds the Chiefs' single-season sacks record with 20 in 1990. Michael Strahan holds the NFL's all-time mark at 22.5, set in 2001. Justin Houston, now at 10 sacks through seven games, is on pace to break both marks.

9Seattle Seahawks
last week: 11
record: 4-3

This ranking is still based more on what we all know the Seahawks are capable of than what they've shown in recent weeks. And yet, the rest of the league could not have been thrilled that Carolina let the defending champs off the hook Sunday. With upcoming home games versus Oakland and the Giants, Seattle should be at 6-3 before its tricky stretch run begins.

10Indianapolis Colts
last week: 5
record: 5-3

"Didn't matter what we did," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "We tried everything. Threw everything that we had at [Roethlisberger]. They picked it all up."

11San Diego Chargers
last week: 10
record: 5-3

San Diego allowed 24 points total during Weeks 3 through 5 of the season. The Broncos put up 28 points over the span of about 21 minutes Thursday night, the third straight subpar outing from the Chargers defense.

12Cincinnati Bengals
last week: 16
record: 4-2-1

It's been a roller-coaster seven games for the Bengals, but had you asked the players before the season if they would take a 4-2-1 start with a season sweep of Baltimore, they'd have signed on the dotted line. (OK, half probably would have asked, "You can tie in the NFL?" but that's beside the point.)

13San Francisco 49ers
last week: 13
record: 4-3

Following their bye week last season, the 49ers immediately lost two straight before running off a 6-0 finish. They might need a similar closing stretch to reach the playoffs this year, especially if the plan is to leapfrog Arizona and Seattle in the division.

14Baltimore Ravens
last week: 7
record: 5-3

The Ravens permitted 100-plus yards rushing in a whopping 10 games last season. They've allowed it just twice so far in 2014, against Indianapolis and Cincinnati, but both games have resulted in losses.

15Buffalo Bills
last week: 14
record: 5-3

Don't read too much into Buffalo dipping a spot after a 20-point road win. This is a legitimate wild-card contender at this point, thanks in large part to the move from EJ Manuel to Kyle Orton at quarterback. Orton is completing more than 67 percent of his passes and has helped Sammy Watkins make the quick jump to stardom.

16Pittsburgh Steelers
last week: 19
record: 5-3

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley unleashing his passing attack Sunday was right on par with Tom Hanks discovering fire in Castaway or the apes learning to use tools in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

17Miami Dolphins
last week: 15
record: 4-3

Since taking down New England in Week 1, the Dolphins have lost to three teams ahead of them in our Power Rankings (Buffalo, Kansas City and Green Bay) and beaten three teams below (Oakland, Chicago, Jacksonville). Next up on their schedule: four straight games against teams in the top 15.

18New Orleans Saints
last week: 20
record: 3-4

With a 44-23 win over Green Bay last weekend, Drew Brees is now something like infinity-and-0 in night games at home during his career. The Saints keep on holding serve -- they're 3-0 on their own turf and 0-4 away. Maintaining that trend to finish 8-8 might be enough to win the NFC South.

19Cleveland Browns
last week: 17
record: 4-3

In losing to Jacksonville and stumbling past Oakland, did the Browns just complete a two-week hiccup? Or are they regressing back toward mediocrity with the second half of the season looming?

20Houston Texans
last week: 22
record: 4-4

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick needs two more wins to match his career-high as a starter -- he finished 6-10 for the Bills in both 2011 and '12. Of course, with five home games plus a trip to Indianapolis left, the Texans are aiming much higher than a six-win season.

21Carolina Panthers
last week: 21
record: 3-4-1

That 2-0 start was great and all, but Week 3 of the season might have been a tad bit early to start trying to back into the playoffs, eh? Carolina's just 1-4-1 since then (but still in first place!), with Cam Newton completing about 55 percent of his passes in the losses.

22Minnesota Vikings
last week: 27
record: 3-5

The Vikings are starting a rookie quarterback, rookie running back and won Sunday's game when their rookie linebacker scored a touchdown. Things are about as promising as they can be for a 3-5 team still dealing with an off-field nightmare surrounding their one-time franchise star.

23New York Giants
last week: 24
record: 3-4

Does that mean a more aggressive look from Eli Manning? His 10.8 yards-per-completion mark matches the lowest of his career.

24Chicago Bears
last week: 18
record: 3-5

(Cards on the table, I almost compared the Bears' current situation to when the Muppets all go their separate ways in The Muppets Take Manhattan, but I'm aware that I am probably more tapped into that reference than about 99 percent of the population.)

25Washington Redskins
last week: 25
record: 3-5

Johnny Appleseed. Davy Crockett. Colt McCoy. OK, OK, so maybe Washington's new-found folk hero has not reached that level of legend just yet, but he took the first step Monday night. Too bad he's going to head back to the bench as soon as Robert Griffin III's ready. Appleseed didn't have to put up with that crap.

26St. Louis Rams
last week: 23
record: 2-5

Ever been to a restaurant like Mongolian Grill, where they cook the food for you but you have to pick all your ingredients, so you just toss a bunch of random crap in a bowl and hope it tastes OK? The Rams are essentially taking the same approach to their RB situation. A little Tre Mason here, some Zac Stacy there, top it with a couple Tavon Austin carries ...

27Atlanta Falcons
last week: 28
record: 2-6

The NFC South is there for the taking. The Falcons are not capable of taking advantage.

28Tampa Bay Buccaneers
last week: 31
record: 1-6

The Buccaneers traded away Mark Barron and Jonathan Casillas at Tuesday's deadline, and they reportedly tried to move Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin. All that's left now is to perform the final exorcism in an attempt to remove Greg Schiano's spirit from the locker room.

29Tennessee Titans
last week: 30
record: 2-6

This might get worse before it gets a lot better. The Titans simply do not have a lot to hang their hats on right now, even in a scuffling AFC South. The move to Zach Mettenberger at quarterback indicates that, wisely, this franchise has begun preparations for 2015.

30Jacksonville Jaguars
last week: 29
record: 1-7

Blake Bortles has been intercepted on 5.8 percent of his pass attempts this season, by far the worst rate of any quarterback in the league. Kirk Cousins (4.4), Geno Smith (4.3) and Jake Locker (3.6) are the closest contenders, and all of those guys have been benched.

31New York Jets
last week: 26
record: 1-7

As if it wasn't bad enough for the Jets to faceplant at home versus the Bills, forcing Rex Ryan to make a switch away from Geno Smith at quarterback, GM John Idzik had to follow the weekend up with a bizarre, stilted press conference. Someone should have put a mirror in front of him, because it was as much a forced self-affirmation as anything that provided useful info for how Idzik plans to fix this team.

32Oakland Raiders
last week: 32
record: 0-7

At Seattle, Denver, at San Diego. That is what lies ahead for the Raiders, who now are staring an 0-10 start in the face. It still feels like they're going to squeak out a win or two, but figuring out exactly where is increasingly difficult.

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