We’re moving into the second half of the NFL season, but there are still plenty of changes being made in the weekly power rankings. Let’s check out the top-10 in the NFC following week 9:
1. New Orleans – Despite a loss to the Jets, there still aren’t enough reasons to remove the Saints from the top spot. The team obviously isn’t perfect, as the Jets managed to put a lot of pressure on Drew Brees, the Saint’s rush defense was exposed a bit, and Jimmy Graham isn’t fully healthy, but as long as they bounce back at home next week against Dallas, there’s no reason to worry too much about New Orleans, as they still look like the top team in the NFC.
2. San Francisco – The bye week was good to the 49ers, as not only do they move up in the power rankings, but they also look to be getting healthier with cornerback Eric Wright coming off the PUP list and wide receiver Michael Crabtree getting closer to returning to the field. They have a tough game against Carolina this week, but they ride a five-game winning streak and had an extra week to prepare coming off their trip to London, so the 49ers should be in good shape, especially after looking better every week throughout the month of October.
3. Seattle – The Seahawks may not have lost to Tampa Bay, but they drop in the power rankings because their issues nearly caught up with them, doing so at home and against a winless team, which should not have been the case. The comeback was impressive, but they got gashed on the ground and were -3 in the turnover ratio, and that’s not going to fly against playoff-caliber teams. After the way Seattle has played the last two weeks, they definitely deserve to be knocked down from the number 2 spot in the NFC, and they definitely have issues that need to be resolved.
4. Green Bay – For now the Packers stay at number four following their loss to the Bears Monday night. However, if Aaron Rodgers has to miss significant time, it could cause Green Bay to plummet in the power rankings. The Packers have been able to survive a slew of other injuries because they still had Rodgers running the show, but without him it’s a whole different story.
5. Detroit – The Lions stay at number 5 during their bye week, but things are about to get interesting for them with road trips to Chicago and Pittsburgh the next two weeks. Detroit is talented, but they haven’t been the most consistent team this season, and in the NFC North this year, there could be a thin line between being the division champion and being out of the playoffs, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can start showing more consistency, especially on defense.
6. Carolina – A convincing win over the mediocre and under-manned Falcons isn’t enough to push the Panthers any higher in the power rankings, but a win in San Francisco this weekend would almost assuredly move them up. Carolina has won four straight games against sub-.500 teams, and now it’s time for Cam Newton and company to prove that they can compete against on the NFC’s top teams.
7. Chicago – The Bears got a little lucky against the Packers, as the injury to Aaron Rodgers helped them pull off the upset in Lambeau Field. But regardless of who played and who didn’t play, Chicago played an impressive game Monday night, showcasing great balance on offense and a solid defensive effort. Josh McCown did a fine job in relief, but now it looks like Jay Cutler will be back on the field this week against Detroit, and could provide a spark for the Bears moving forward.
8. Arizona – The 4-4 Cardinals enjoyed their bye this past weekend, and now opportunity is knocking for them with games against Houston and Jacksonville the next two weeks, giving them a chance to put themselves into the heat of the wild card race. Their schedule during the second half of December is brutal, so they really need to get hot in November if they’re going to make the playoffs.
9. Dallas – The Cowboys are lucky to be anywhere in the top-10, just as they should feel lucky that they were able to squeak out a home win against the Vikings. Finishing a game with nine total rushing attempts is not a formula that’s going to work late in the season and in the playoffs, if they can get there. Dallas now has a trip to New Orleans this week, and they play three of their next four games on the road, giving them a tough schedule head, meaning it’s time for them to prove themselves.
10. Philadelphia – The inconsistencies are maddening, but every time we try to write off the Eagles, they come storming back with an absurd offensive effort. Oakland isn’t the hapless team they were last year, so putting up 49 points against them on the road is nothing to scoff at, especially with another change at the quarterback position. Of course, winning in Oakland is much different from winning in Green Bay, which is the task the Eagles take on this week, as they’re still searching for more week-to-week consistency on both sides of the ball.