NFL Power Rankings Week 9: The Bengals Have Arrived

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SLR’s Week 8 NFL Power Rankings: 16-9 Oct 27, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Karlos Dansby (56) gestures to the crowd during the second half against the Atlanta Falcons at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

16. Tennessee Titans (3-4) ▼3

Hopefully they’re using the bye to bring Jake Locker back up to speed in the offense. When he was clicking earlier in the season, the Titans were winning. At best, they’re playing for January. At worst, they’re a really good spoiler.

15. Arizona Cardinals (4-4) ▲7

Carson Palmer isn’t very good, but rookie running back Andre Ellington sure is.  Hopefully his explosive 80-yard touchdown run has proven to the Cardinals that he deserves to be the primary back over the washed-up Rashard Mendenhall. The defense in the desert is far better than it gets credit for.

14. Chicago Bears (4-3) ▲1

The Lions and Packers won, so it was basically the worst bye week possible. Now they have to play both those teams with Josh McCown under center. If they can’t pull out at least one of them, the road to the playoffs is going to get a lot more difficult.

13. Dallas Cowboys (4-4) ▼3

Well Cowboys, the good news is that you allowed Calvin Johnson to outgain your entire offense, and you still almost won because of some timely defensive play. Also, you still lead the NFC East, even at 4-4. The bad news is that you didn’t win, and then basically everything else. At least you can’t blame Romo.

12. Carolina Panthers  (4-3) ▲4

At this point, beating the Bucs isn’t a particularly impressive feat, but dominating any NFL team deserves some respect. They’re 4-3 and playing their best all-around football of the Cam Newton era, but they have the Falcons, 49ers and Patriots up next on the schedule. If they’re actually imposters, a mediocre team feasting on a weak schedule, we’ll find out soon enough.

11. San Diego Chargers (4-3) ▲2

They’ll play Washington next week, and who even knows what could happen? Which teams will we see take the field? Do we know if Philip Rivers is overrated or underrated yet? What about the Chargers? If nothing else, they’re a fun team to watch win or implode.

10. Detroit Lions (5-3) ▲1

How exactly does one grade a win like that? They generally dominated the flow of the game, but kept giving control back to Dallas on turnovers. Then, in the most improbable of sequences, they pulled victory from defeat, courtesy of a 6-play, 80-yard, 50-second drive that ended in a QB sneak that fooled even the offense. I’m not sure that was a maturation for Matthew Stafford, or the NFL equivalent of him hanging out with his buds on the playground. Also, Calvin Johnson Explosion.

9. New England Patriots (6-2) ▼1

They’re winning, but they sure have an ugly way of doing it. This process of almost losing and then coming back isn’t a solid long-term strategy. They’re in full control of the division, and they’re coached well enough to hang on to it, but nobody is afraid of them. They probably prefer it that way.