There is still one undefeated team in the NFL in 2018. Yet there is still room for a change at the top with a new No. 1. The Rams and their track-meet speed have shot ahead in the sprint halfway through the race to Super Bowl 53, but there’s another team making a more methodical march in the NFC.
The AFC still has two firm teams at the top entering Week 9, but there also is some serious company creeping up behind them.
Here’s a complete look at our updated NFL power rankings going into Week 9.
MORE: Updated NFL playoff picture
NFL power rankings
1. New Orleans Saints 6-1 (last week: 2)
The Saints went on the road and survived in Baltimore and then thrived in Minnesota. Their reinforced running game and defense are back to supporting MVP-worthy play from Drew Brees at an elite level.
2. Los Angeles Rams 8-0 (last week: 1)
The Rams’ defense keeps springing leaks, putting more pressure on their offense not to have “off” games. Good thing Jared Goff and Todd Gurley remain up to the task.
3. New England Patriots 5-2 (last week: 3)
The Patriots go into Buffalo a little beat up, but they’ll be fine putting things in the hands of Tom Brady more often with Sony Michel hurting. This passing game will be near unstoppable when Rob Gronkowski and Josh Gordon are at full strength.
4. Kansas City Chiefs 6-1 (last week: 4)
Patrick Mahomes continues his video game-like assault on the entire league, and Andy Reid is smart to also stay committed to giving Kareem Hunt enough touches. Hunt’s physicality is carrying over to the swarming defense.
5. Carolina Panthers 5-2 (last week: 7)
Cam Newton somehow gets it done every week, and he is getting more comfortable with his new weapons and offense. The biggest development in Week 8 was well-rounded, dominant defense.
6. Los Angeles Chargers 5-2 (last week: 6)
The Chargers probably didn’t want the bye when they got it given how hot Philip Rivers has been. But they do need to get healthier, and there’s still hope that Joey Bosa can return for the final playoff push.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-2-1 (last week: 8)
The Steelers can forget about Le’Veon Bell now. They have their defense back to respectability, and Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and James Conner keep doing their things. The Killer B’s have been traded for BBC, appropriate when there’s a Big Ben involved.
8. Washington Redskins 5-2 (last week: 9)
Adrian Peterson keeps blowing us away with how well he keeps running after all these years. He was a steal of an addition to a run-heavy, run-stopping team.
9. Minnesota Vikings 4-3-1 (last week: 5)
The Vikings’ offensive line issues resurfaced against a strong Saints front, and their defense is hurting. Because they rely so much on their passing game, they can’t afford any mistakes from Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs.
10. Houston Texans 5-3 (last week: 14)
Deshaun Watson is no longer a piñata, as they’ve improved their traditional running game and have been more aggressive and decisive in the passing game. J.J. Watt is also putting less burden on Watson to save the day every week.
11. Philadelphia Eagles 4-4 (last week: 13)
Carson Wentz is in the zone, and he helped them dust both the Giants and the Jaguars to get to .500. But there’s still not a great feeling that they’re ready to compete with the new best teams in NFL. The running game and defense still need plenty of work.
12. Cincinnati Bengals 5-3 (last week: 12)
The Bengals are forced be a mistake-free offensive machine, as injuries are causing their defense to unravel on every level. They need to be at their best after the Week 9 bye with a Who Dey-Who Dat date with the Saints next on the schedule.
13. Baltimore Ravens 4-4 (last week: 10)
The Ravens are going down a familiar path — their defense only looks good against bad teams, and their offense has become out of sync because it’s too pass-reliant with Joe Flacco. John Harbaugh is feeling more heat and can’t afford a second-half collapse after such early promise.
14. Green Bay Packers 3-3-1 (last week: 11)
The Packers had a lot of encouraging things happen around Aaron Rodgers in Los Angeles; their defense came out swarming, and they were a little more dedicated to the running game. Even with the loss, that bodes well for an NFC North race in which they’re still a mild co-favorite with the Vikings.
15. Chicago Bears 4-3 (last week: 16)
The Bears have been good at home, as Mitchell Trubisky is feeling a groove in Matt Nagy’s offense. They must get much better on the road to remain in the NFC North lead.
16. Seattle Seahawks 4-3 (last week: 17)
Russell Wilson is dealing. They’re running the ball effectively with that offensive line and Chris Carson. The defense is making big plays up front and in the secondary. So much for Pete Carroll and his team losing its Boom.
17. Atlanta Falcons 3-4 (last week: 19)
They couldn’t get totally healthy during the bye, but they should have made some adjustments to help their running game and defense so the comeback into playoff contention isn’t all on Matt Ryan. The QB, though, can help by not losing his mojo on the road.
18. Miami Dolphins 4-4 (last week: 15)
The Dolphins’ defensive issues are coming to the forefront, just a little later than expected. Adam Gase will keep getting creative with whoever he has on offense, but that’s not enough to float above .500.
19. Detroit Lions 3-4 (last week: 18)
The Lions have not yet seen an improved run defense with Damon Harrison, and their passing game is not the same machine with the run-oriented approach. Matt Patricia is doing fine; he’s still dealing with a shorter deck vs. the rest of the NFC North.
20. Dallas Cowboys 3-4 (last week: 20)
Dak Prescott and friends can forget about the bad vibes from the Washington loss and focus on how much better the offense can look with Amari Cooper and a rising Michael Gallup. The defense will keep doing its part, much healthier after the bye.
21. Indianapolis Colts 3-5 (last week: 26)
The Colts are seeing Andrew Luck sling it every week, but no one expected Marlon Mack to be this much of a boost to their running game right away. Don’t sleep on Frank Reich’s team figuring it out in a hurry.
22. Tennessee Titans 3-4 (last week: 25)
Their offense showed signs of life with their running game revived in London before the bye. They need better play from a healthy Marcus Mariota, or they can expect more struggles.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-5 (last week: 21)
See, when Blake Bortles plays well and protects the ball, they can still lose. The receivers let him down against the Eagles, and the power running game was still non-existent with Carlos Hyde. Leonard Fournette’s return will need to provide a monumental spark to save their season.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-4 (last week: 24)
The Bucs are back to wondering about Jameis Winston’s future after pulling him in Cincinnati and going back to “Fitzmagic.” No decisions will be easy moving forward for Dirk Koetter in desperation, job-saving mode.
25. New York Jets 3-5 (last week: 22)
The Jets grinded as well as they could with their offensive skill and defensive secondary injuries. Give credit to Sam Darnold hanging in there and keeping them somewhat competitive. Now we’ll see if that’s enough to save Todd Bowles.
26. Denver Broncos 3-5 (last week: 23)
Vance Joseph’s temporary reprieve that came with the stomping of the Cardinals in Arizona dried up in Kansas City. Case Keenum had a few more issues, but there’s no alternative now. On the bright side, more of rookies Phillip Lindsay and Courtland Sutton, please.
27. Cleveland Browns 2-5-1 (last week: 27)
The Browns will play the second half of the season without Hue Jackson, as he failed to hit the win threshold needed to keep his job. The good news is they can now start over with tough, resourceful Baker Mayfield.
28. Arizona Cardinals 2-6 (last week: 31)
The Cardinals are undefeated when they play the 49ers. Byron Leftwich did wonders for the offense, as Josh Rosen looked competent and David Johnson was used well again.
29. Buffalo Bills 2-5 (last week: 28)
The Bills are making things interesting in games because of their pass defense, but there’s too much pressure to completely shut down teams with a sputtering, limited, makeshift offense.
30. San Francisco 49ers 1-7 (last week: 29)
The 49ers are trying to put duct tape around their mounting injuries, and it isn’t working. That’s making Kyle Shanahan’s lost Year 2 look a lot worse than it should have been.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW:
Biggest takeaways from Week 8 in NFL
31. New York Giants 1-7 (last week: 31)
Eli Manning is under siege and piling on with the errant throws. Their defense has become a bigger sieve without Eli Apple and Damon Harrison. They’ve somehow gotten weaker on both fronts in a hurry.
32. Oakland Raiders 1-6 (last week: 32)
The Raiders showed a lot of life offensively coming out of the bye to hang with the Colts for a while, but their run and pass defenses have become equally atrocious.
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