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NFL Top 10 power rankings for week 9

Photo courtesy Photopin

Photo courtesy Photopin

By Kieren Wilson

This year in the National Football League fans have witnessed a great deal of surprises. If anyone would have told me the Carolina Panthers and the Cincinnati Bengals would be undefeated going into week nine I would have have been a major doubter. Last years playoff teams have fallen from grace, losing teams having great seasons and injury plagued rosters are some of the few surprises that we have seen in the 2015 season. Who would have thought the Oakland raiders would be 4-3 at this point. Some teams have maintained their same old form though, like the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and the Aaron Rogers led Green Bay packers. Here are the Top 10 NFL teams going into week nine.

1. New England Patriots 7-0:

With Tom Brady at the helm of the Patriots offense the New England Patriots look to be in Super Bowl contention as they do every year since Bill Belichick took the reigns as head coach. Their passing offense is No. 1 in the league as well as their scoring average with 35.3 points a game. At this point in the season the Patriots look like a strong favorite to win the Super Bowl. With the remainder of their schedule being extremely weak the only bump in the road could be when they face the Denver Broncos in week 12. Overall the road ahead for the Patriots is very favorable for an undefeated season and a first round bye in the playoffs with home field advantage throughout.

2. Denver Broncos 7-0:

With the No. 1 defense in the league the broncos have only given up an average of 16 points a game. Their secondary has been almost flawless  with the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL and their run defense coming in 3rd in the league. With the addition of two time all-pro tight end Vernon Davis this weekend the offense gets a boost as well. Prior to this game against the Packers at Mile High Stadium, it seemed like Peyton Manning was in a slump but he proved his doubters wrong by going 21-29 and throwing for 340 yards. Look for Peyton to recharge the Broncos offense immediately this weekend against his old team the Indianapolis Colts with new addition Vernon Davis and his favorite target Demaryious Thomas.

3. Cincinnati Bengals 7-0 :

 This year the Bengals have started out 7-0 and have made history because this is the first time the franchise has gone 7-0 since the team started in 1937. A huge part of that success is thanks to quarterback Andy Dalton and superstar wideout A.J. Green. The Bengals are currently 3rd in the NFL in scoring and in the top 10 in points given up and passing yards. With the next two games against the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans the Bengals are favored to go into their week 11 match-up with the Arizona Cardinals at 9-0. With the remainder of their schedule looking fairly strong, the Bengals are still heavy favorites to win the NFC north.

4. Carolina Panthers 7-0:

 With the Carolina Panthers currently undefeated it was a hard decision to place them below the Bengals, but after barely escaping a loss over the 3-5 Indianapolis Colts I felt like No. 4 was an appropriate spot for the Panthers. Cam Newton has been great this year and seems like he has fully matured under a Mike Shula ran offense. The offense for the panthers has been amazing this season as they are currently No. 1 in rushing and 4th in scoring. This is all thanks to the maturation of quarterback Cam Newton. Newton is not a quarterback that defenses can gameplay for. At 6’5″, 245lbs and running a 4.58 40 yard dash, the 26-year-old quarterback has lived up to his nickname “Supercam.” Next week will be a sure test for the Panthers defense as they face Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers at home. Not to mention they still have to face the Atlanta Falcons twice in a three week span, who are nipping at their heels currently sitting at 6-2 and second in the division.

5. Green Bay Packers 6-1:

With No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson out for the season and second year pass catcher Devante Adams being utterly ineffective this season, Aaron Rogers has had to work his magic to find open receivers and they still sit at 6-1. Unfortunately for the Packers this was not the case last Sunday against the Denver Broncos. Cornerbacks Aquib Talib and Chris Harris blanketed the Green Bay receiving corps limiting Rogers to a mere 77 yards passing. the defense overall has played good as a unit, although the secondary has struggled at times against some of the leagues better passers. With all of those flaws coming into play the Packers are still heavy favorites in the NFC north. Although the Vikings sit at a surprising 5-2, they are unlikely to unseat the Packers for the top spot in the division. Next week at Carolina is a must win for the Packers because a loss to the Panthers and a win for the vikings will place the Packers in 2nd place.

6. Arizona Cardinals 6-2:

 The Arizona Cardinals have been a pretty good team the last few years, but with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers dominating the NFL in the past few years, their success has been hidden in the NFC west. However this seems to be their year as they sit at 6-2 and are 9th in points given up per game. Quarterback Carson Palmer looks like he is reliving his glory days at USC by commanding an offense that is 2nd in points scored and 4th in passing yards. With safety Deone Buccannan leading the team in tackles and Tyrann Mathiue and Patrick Peterson playing like they have, the Arizona Cardinals could possibly win the NFC west. It will not be an easy road because they still face the Seahawks twice, the 6-1 Packers, undefeated Bengals, the Rams and 5-2 Vikings.

7. Minnesota Vikings 5-2:

 Although the Atlanta Falcons sit at 6-2, a game ahead of the Vikings, I have Minnesota sitting at the No. 7 spot. An early loss to the 49ers and a close loss to the undefeated Broncos are much nicer ways to lose than the Falcons losses to the 2-4 Saints and the 3-4 Buccaneers. With the return of Adrian Peterson, the Vikings rushing offense sits at 5th overall and surprisingly their defense is 2nd in the league for points given up per game. With safety Harrison Smith playing in top form to lead the defense, the Vikings have been able to stifle some of the leagues better offenses. However, the meat of their schedule lies ahead, so they could possibly take a dip in the rankings in the next few weeks. Their next seven out of nine match-ups are against opponents who are .500 or better, not to mention the fact they still have to face Aaron Rogers twice. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will need to limit the turnovers and light a fire under their average offensive attack.

8. Atlanta Falcons 6-2:

With the return of Julio Jones, quarterback Matt Ryan has enjoyed throwing to his favorite pass catcher, throwing the star receiver six of his total 11 touchdowns. The offense has looked good, but let’s give credit where credit is due and in the case of the Falcons it belongs to 2nd year running back Devonta Freeman. Freeman has outplayed his draft stock this season by rushing for 709 yards and nine total touchdowns. That’s an average of one touchdown per game, and the way Freeman has been eating up defenses, it doesn’t seem like there is any slowing down for the 2nd year guy. Although the Falcons are currently sitting at 6-2, they haven’t beaten any true playoff contenders. A win against the Philadelphia Eagles was their best opponent so far and they only squeaked by winning 26-24. The football world will know how good the Falcons are in these final nine weeks. Playing the 5-2 Vikings in two weeks, and the Carolina Panthers twice late in the season, will prove whether or not the Falcons belong in the playoff picture.

9. Oakland Raiders 4-3:

Rookie reciever Amari Cooper has been a superstar this season for the Raiders and quarterback Derek Carr’s favorite target. A win against a formidable New York Jets defense places their offense 8th overall in scoring and that comes as no surprise the way Carr has been able to find his receivers. On defense, veteran safety Charles Woodson has beaten the test of time by leading the NFL in interceptions at age 39 with five interceptions. He also has seven pass deflections and 33 tackles this season to add to his Hall of Fame resume. The defense on paper is average but has played much better than past seasons with the help of vital role players like linebacker Malcom Smith and Khalil Mack. Although a 1st seed in the AFC west is very unlikely, a win against the Pittsburg Steelers next week will keep them in 2nd for the time being. The Raiders still have to face powerful opponents like the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers so those games will expose the truth for a young Oakland team.

10. Pittsburg Steelers 4-4:

If it wasn’t for the loss of superstar running back Le’Veon Bell the Steelers would have been No. 9 on my rankings despite a home loss to an undefeated Bengals team. The Steelers defense has been good in most games holding opponents to an average of 18.4 points a game which places them at 5th overall in points given up. With the return of Ben Roethlisberger their could be a bright spot for the Steelers. Also they have a very good replacement for Bell with veteran back DeAngelo Williams. Williams had a lot of success in his career with the Carolina Panthers, rushing for 6,846 yards in his nine seasons with the Panthers. The Steelers will either drop out of the top 10 or move up based upon the results of their next home game against the Raiders. They also have the Bengals, Seahawks and Broncos to deal with in the future so those key match-ups will determine where this team ends up in the overall contention for a playoff spot.

All rankings are based on record and strength of schedule. With half of the NFL season left there will be a lot more shifting in the rankings in the weeks to come.

Who would your top ten teams be at this point in the season? Also do you think I have any teams ranked to high or too low?