Midseason NFL Power Rankings Poll: Chiefs Top Undefeated Steelers

Author:
Publish date:

We’re back! Longtime readers know that the Power Rankings Poll has a been a staple here at The MMQB for years. This year we switched to a rotating system, but promised we’d break the poll back out at various times throughout the year. We are treating Week 9 as the midpoint of the season, which means we have our official midseason poll today and our midseason predictions coming tomorrow.

You can check out our preseason power poll to see how things have moved this season. There’s plenty we got right, and notably no change at the top spot. But if you can remember that far back, we also had the Eagles and 49ers as top-five teams. Welp. Miami has moved up considerably from their preseason No. 26 mark. And the Cowboys have fallen from preseason No. 9 to … well, you’ll see.

This week’s NFL Power Rankings Poll voters:

Albert Breer, Senior NFL Reporter
Andrew Brandt, Business of Football Columnist
Gary Gramling, Senior Editor
Mitch Goldich, Editor/Writer
Conor Orr, Staff Writer
Jenny Vrentas, Senior Writer

mmqb-nfl-midseason-power-rankings-poll-chiefs

1. Kansas City Chiefs (8–1)

Points in poll: 188
Highest-place vote: 1 (2)
Lowest-place vote: 2 (4)
Last week: Win vs. Carolina 33–31
Next week: Bye

The Steelers may be undefeated, but the defending champs remain dangerous. They get to our unofficial midpoint at 8–1, with Patrick Mahomes playing as well as ever. The defense can be vulnerable, but any playoff foe will have to outscore them. Good luck!

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (8–0)

Points in poll: 183
Highest-place vote: 1 (3)
Lowest-place vote: 5 (2)
Last week: Win at Dallas 24–19
Next week: vs. Cincinnati

The Steelers are the last remaining unbeaten team, on the strength of the best defense in the league and an offense that has its veteran QB back. Only one team gets a first-round bye, thanks to the expanded playoff field, and the Steelers have the inside track.

3. Baltimore Ravens (6–2)

Points in poll: 174
Highest-place vote: 3 (3)
Lowest-place vote: 7 (1)
Last week: Win at Indianapolis 24–10
Next week: at New England

The Ravens seem a little under the radar, with Lamar Jackson failing to post the eye-popping numbers he did a year ago, but the team has still won every game except against the two AFC teams above them here.

4. New Orleans Saints (6–2)

Points in poll: 172
Highest-place vote: 2 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 6 (2)
Last week: Win at Tampa Bay 38–3
Next week: vs. San Francisco

The Saints just took control of the NFC South with a major butt-kicking against Tampa Bay, but their season (perhaps Drew Brees’s last?) won’t be remembered for what they do in the regular season. Still, in a jumbled NFC playoff picture, they’re the top team on our list.

5. Green Bay Packers (6–2)

Points in poll: 163
Highest-place vote: 1 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 9 (1)
Last week: Win at San Francisco 34–17
Next week: vs. Jacksonville

Who is the best team in the NFC? It’s hard to say right now. But several very good teams have embarrassing losses, and at least the Packers have rebounded from theirs. The Aaron Rodgers revenge MVP tour got a boost from Russell Wilson’s Sunday turnovers, and they have already beaten the one NFC above them on our list.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6–3)

Points in poll: 159
Highest-place vote: 3 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 8 (1)
Last week: Loss vs. New Orleans 38–3
Next week: at Carolina

Things were going swimmingly until Sunday night against the Saints. But this is still a very good team, especially on defense. One of our voters still sees them as a top-three team.

T-7. Buffalo Bills (7–2)

Points in poll: 158
Highest-place vote: 3 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 9 (2)
Last week: Win vs. Seattle 44–34
Next week: at Arizona

The Bills have been a little inconsistent, but they’ll be a tough out for anybody in the playoffs and they should celebrate their first division title since 1995. Somehow they are in a dead heat with the Seahawks in our rankings, even though they clearly didn’t look like equals on Sunday.

T-7. Seattle Seahawks (6–2)

Points in poll: 158
Highest-place vote: 5 (2)
Lowest-place vote: 9 (2)
Last week: Loss at Buffalo 44–34
Next week: at Los Angeles Rams

Russell Wilson has been magical, but—paradoxically as this may sound—he may not be able to take home that much-discussed first career MVP award if the defense doesn’t help him win some more games.

9. Tennessee Titans (6–2)

Points in poll: 148
Highest-place vote: 3 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 12 (1)
Last week: Win vs. Chicago 24–17
Next week: vs. Indianapolis (Thursday)

The Titans doubled down on their playoff run this offseason, paying both Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. So far that looks like the right decision.

10. Miami Dolphins (5–3)

Points in poll: 138
Highest-place vote: 8 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 11 (3)
Last week: Win at Arizona 34–31
Next week: vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The Dolphins have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season, and they’re a legit threat to make the playoffs even after handing the offense over to Tua Tagovailoa. Who thought they’d be a top-10 team back in the first week of September?

11. Los Angeles Rams (5–3)

Points in poll: 131
Highest-place vote: 7 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 13 (2)
Last week: Bye
Next week: vs. Seattle

The Rams swept the NFC East within the first five weeks of the season, but now they’ll need to beat their NFC West counterparts. They ought to be good enough, but the second-half schedule is loaded with tougher games.

12. Arizona Cardinals (5–3)

Points in poll: 126
Highest-place vote: 10 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 15 (1)
Last week: Loss vs. Miami 34–31
Next week: vs. Buffalo

Everyone wanted Kyler Murray to have a second-year breakout like some of the MVP quarterbacks who’ve done it in recent years. He hasn’t quite had that type of season but he and the Cardinals are on track to meet realistic expectations in Year 2 under him and Kliff Kingsbury.

13. Indianapolis Colts (5–3)

Points in poll: 123
Highest-place vote: 10 (2)
Lowest-place vote: 15 (1)
Last week: Loss vs. Baltimore 24–10
Next week: at Tennessee (Thursday)

The Colts have a very good defense, but they’ll need to play better on offense to climb up a tier in the AFC. They play two of their next three games against the Titans, which should tell us how seriously we should take them.

14. Las Vegas Raiders (5–3)

Points in poll: 116
Highest-place vote: 12 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 16 (1)
Last week: Win at Los Angeles Chargers 31–26
Next week: vs. Denver

Around this time last year, the Raiders looked like they could be headed to the playoffs. Will this year be different? The lone team to beat the Chiefs is absolutely in the hunt in its first season in Vegas, with plenty of winnable games left on the schedule.

T-15. Carolina Panthers (3–6)

Points in poll: 100
Highest-place vote: 14 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 21 (1)
Last week: Loss at Kansas City 33–31
Next week: vs. Tampa Bay

Matt Rhule has his Panthers ahead of schedule, even if some of their moral victories haven’t turned into actual wins. But where we thought they were before the season kicked off, consider this panel very impressed.

T-15. Cleveland Browns (5–3)

Points in poll: 100
Highest-place vote: 14 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 19 (1)
Last week: Bye
Next week: vs. Houston

The Browns have mostly rebounded from last year’s disaster of a season, but the losses this year have been ugly. If the good Browns keep showing up, they have enough talent to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

The Weak-Side Podcast now has its own feed! Subscribe to listen to Conor Orr and Jenny Vrentas every week. 

17. Minnesota Vikings (3–5)

Points in poll: 93
Highest-place vote: 13 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 20 (1)
Last week: Win vs. Detroit 34–20
Next week: at Chicago (Monday)

Are the Vikings surging? Maybe not quite yet. But if they can beat the struggling Bears on Monday night, a date with the Cowboys is the only thing between them and getting back to the .500 mark. Dalvin Cook is playing like the best running back in the league right now.

18. Chicago Bears (5–4)

Points in poll: 89
Highest-place vote: 16 (2)
Lowest-place vote: 22 (1)
Last week: Loss at Tennessee 24–17
Next week: vs. Minnesota (Monday)

The Bears have already made a quarterback change, and now some fans want them to change back (once Mitch Trubisky is healthy again). Average quarterback play could be enough to push them into the playoffs, with the defense they have, but therein lies the problem so far.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1)

Points in poll: 85
Highest-place vote: 16 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 22 (2)
Last week: Bye
Next week: at New York Giants

The Eagles are now pretty big favorites to win one of the worst divisions we’ve ever seen. But they should get some of their injured players back, and could still be dangerous come playoff time, no matter how embarrassing their three NFC East rivals may look by then.

20. San Francisco 49ers (4–5)

Points in poll: 82
Highest-place vote: 16 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 21 (1)
Last week: Loss vs. Green Bay 34–17
Next week: at New Orleans

The 49ers have been ravaged by injuries as much as anyone this season. At some point it just becomes too much. A high draft pick could make the quarterback situation pretty interesting this offseason.

21. Los Angeles Chargers (2–6)

Points in poll: 67
Highest-place vote: 18 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 25 (1)
Last week: Loss vs. Las Vegas 31–26
Next week: at Miami

The Chargers seem to have found themselves a gem in Justin Herbert. They’ve suffered a string of heart-breaking losses (and we mean suffered, on some of them) but those are going to turn into wins someday. Even if not in 2020.

22. Atlanta Falcons (3–6)

Points in poll: 66
Highest-place vote: 21 (2)
Lowest-place vote: 24 (1)
Last week: Win vs. Denver 34–27
Next week: Bye

The Falcons are now recovering from a slow start under interim coach Raheem Morris. That might be more inspiring if they hadn’t gone on a hot streak last year to recover from a similarly disastrous start.

23. New England Patriots (3–5)

Points in poll: 62
Highest-place vote: 19 (2)
Lowest-place vote: 27 (2)
Last week: Win at New York Jets 30–27
Next week: vs. Baltimore

The Patriots just barely escaped MetLife Stadium with a win against the Jets. Now that they’ve avoided what would have been the embarrassing low point of the season, let’s see if they can hang around and get back in this thing. One thing’s for sure: We’re all giving this particularly group a little more benefit of the doubt because they’re wearing Patriots jerseys.

24. Denver Broncos (3–5)

Points in poll: 55
Highest-place vote: 23 (3)
Lowest-place vote: 25 (2)
Last week: Loss at Atlanta 34–27
Next week: at Las Vegas

On one hand, the Broncos seem like one of the tougher teams to figure out in the league. But everyone in our poll had them in a pretty tight range. They have shown flashes of who they want to be, but still have plenty of room to grow.

25. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1)

Points in poll: 52
Highest-place vote: 20 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 27 (1)
Last week: Bye
Next week: at Pittsburgh

The Bengals look to have the whole quarterback thing figured out, which officially means last year was worth it. So it’s not a one-year turnaround, but the future looks promising if they can build around Joe Burrow.

26. Detroit Lions (3–5)

Points in poll: 43
Highest-place vote: 23 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 28 (2)
Last week: Loss at Minnesota 34–20
Next week: vs. Washington

The Lions are careening toward the end of the Matt Patricia era, and it doesn’t seem like many people will be upset to see that day come.

27. New York Giants (2–7)

Points in poll: 40
Highest-place vote: 23 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 28 (2)
Last week: Win at Washington 23–20
Next week: vs. Philadelphia

The Giants are alive in the NFC East! We have three NFC East teams in the bottom six, but rank the Giants as the best one. Unfortunately for them, they’ll have to beat somebody besides Washington.

28. Houston Texans (2–6)

Points in poll: 37
Highest-place vote: 25 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 28 (2)
Last week: Win at Jacksonville 27–25
Next week: at Browns

The Texans have had an absolutely brutal schedule so far. Even if they have dug themselves too deep a hole in the AFC playoff picture, the ought to be better in the second half.

T-29. Dallas Cowboys (2–7)

Points in poll: 20
Highest-place vote: 29 (3)
Lowest-place vote: 31 (1)
Last week: Loss vs. Steelers 24–19
Next week: Bye

Dak Prescott’s contract situation was destined to be the dominant storyline of Dallas’s offseason, but his catastrophic injury and the team’s spiral to the bottom of the standings means the Cowboys will have to take a long hard look at how this roster is built before they fork over all that money.

T-29. Washington Football Team (2–6)

Points in poll: 20
Highest-place vote: 29 (2)
Lowest-place vote: 30 (4)
Last week: Loss vs. New York Giants 23–20
Next week: at Detroit

Ron Rivera came to Washington with an almost impossible job to do, and we can’t judge his progress on a mere eight games. But so far, any culture changes have not translated on the field.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1–7)

Points in poll: 14
Highest-place vote: 29 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 31 (5)
Last week: Loss vs. Houston 27–25
Next week: at Green Bay

The Jags decided against a major overhaul last offseason, and it looks like they merely prolonged the inevitable for one year.

32. New York Jets (0–9)

Points in poll: 6
Highest-place vote: 32 (6)
Lowest-place vote: 32 (6)
Last week: Loss vs. New England 30–27
Next week: Bye

We knew some lucky team would end up with the chance to draft Trevor Lawrence, but few could have guessed the Jets would be this bad.