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NFL Power Rankings, Week 9: Back To The Top For The Patriots

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Call them all the names you want, but you're again going to have to call New England the top dog.

Hey, remember the New England Patriots? Yup, they now have the best record in the NFL, so it's back to the top of the NFL Week 9 Power Rankings heap for them in Week 9. Here we go again. As for the rest of the NFL, the NFC finally got a decent win over the AFC when New Orleans took down Pittsburgh, but I'm still waiting for more consistency from anyone before bumping them into the top 5.

If you're a fan of parity, it stands to reason that all but the bottom three teams in the league (Buffalo, Carolina, and Dallas) are still in playoff contention. At worst, that will keep fans of some pretty bad teams locked in for at least a few more weeks.

On to the rankings.

(1) New England Patriots (6-1) - They aren't winning in dominant fashion like they did in their 2007 undefeated season, but they are winning. Over and over. A road date in Cleveland precedes enormous back to back tests against Pittsburgh and Indy. (LW: 2)

(2) Baltimore Ravens (5-2) - Baltimore gets to move up a couple spots during their bye week for no other reason than the Jets and Steelers looking absolutely anemic. The road warrior Dolphins should present a stiff test this week. (LW: 4)

(3) Indianapolis Colts (5-2) - Peyton Manning is in the midst of another MVP season and the Colts have won three games in a row. If you're not watching Colts-Eagles this week then you don't like professional football. (LW: 5)

(4) New York Jets (5-2) - Alright, Jets, that was incredibly ugly. Against a Packers defense wrought with injuries, the Jets couldn't manage to even score a point at home. Playing in Detroit this week will be a much tougher game than most think. (LW: 1)

(5) Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) - They weren't much more impressive than the Jets in a 20-10 loss to New Orleans, but I still like these guys better than any of the NFC teams until New Orleans can show some consistency. (LW: 3)

(6) Atlanta Falcons (5-2) - Not going to move them while on a bye. Surprisingly big test with NFC South co-leader Tampa Bay coming. (LW: 6)

(7) New York Giants (5-2) - Same story as with Atlanta. Road game with Seattle presents an opportunity for New York to stretch their win streak to five and quarterback murder streak to three. (LW: 7)

(8) New Orleans Saints (5-3) - In a matchup of the previous two Super Bowl champs, the Saints finally showed a bit of what made them so good last year. If they finally are awake, their schedule sets up to help the team rip off wins (@Carolina, v. Seattle, @Dallas, @Cincinnati, v. St. Louis). (LW: 10)

(9) Green Bay Packers (5-3) - The offense wasn't pretty, but when teams are facing the Jets, it so rarely is. Gutting out a win in New York is impressive. Green Bay may now see itself start to pull away in the NFC North. (LW: 11)

(10) Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) - They've beaten Cleveland, San Francisco, Buffalo, and Jacksonville and they are 1-2 on the road. Are they good? I guess somewhat. Are they that good? Probably not. (LW: 13)

(11) Tennessee Titans (5-3) - You knew the Chargers were eventually going to put a good game together. The tough road loss was the first of the season for Tennessee, who now enters their bye week. Perfect time to give Vince Young and Kenny Britt a chance the heal. (LW: 8)

(12) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) - I really do still think this team sucks, but since they are 5-2, I guess I'm obligated to put them up here. Atlanta is going to badly expose them and if they don't, I'll finally shut up. (LW: 17)

(13) Miami Dolphins (4-3) - 4-0 on the road is really impressive. What's not impressive is that 0-3 mark at home. The road warriors take their act to Baltimore this week and that should be quite a bit trickier than Cincinnati. (LW: 15)

(14) Philadelphia Eagles (4-3) - Knocked down not for what they did, but for what the teams behind them did. Mike Vick and DeSean Jackson return this week to give Philly the weapons to compete with Indy. (LW: 12)

(15) Houston Texans (4-3) - It must be incredibly frustrating to be a fan of the Texans. Some weeks they look like world beaters and other weeks they look like the inconsistent team that will never make the playoffs. Which will show up at home against San Diego? (LW: 9)

(16) Chicago Bears (4-3) - Chicago is the beginning of a series of teams that I may as well just tie for the 16th spot. The Bears are "visiting" Buffalo (in Toronto) this week and I'll call that my upset special. I'd ask if Buffalo will have any trouble getting to Jay Cutler, but we know that nobody has problems getting to Jay Cutler. (LW: 18)

 (17) Oakland Raiders (4-4) - What do we have here? The scrappy Raiders have a good running game and a hard hitting defense. If Jason Campbell can continue his recent play, this team may be (GULP) a real contender in the AFC West. Home game with KC this week gives them a chance to stake their claim.  (LW: 21)

(18) Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) - The Jags are heading into their bye week at .500 and have done so without pretty much anyone noticing. Looking at the back side of their schedule, I'd be surprised if they stayed in the playoff hunt, but I probably won't notice either way. (LW: 20)

(19) St. Louis Rams (4-4) - In deciding between the Rams and Seahawks, I went off of who had the more embarrassing road losses. St. Louis has been blown out once, while Seattle has been spanked three different times. It's a Rams world.  (LW: 22)

(20) Seattle Seahawks (4-3) - The 12th Man will need every bit of its home magic to get by the Giants. Still trying to figure out what the hell happened in a 30-point loss in Oakland. (LW: 16)

(21) Washington Redskins (4-4) - I'm hard pressed to be too critical of a loss to the Lions in Detroit, but this ranking is more about the messy relationship between Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan. If the tanned coach thinks Rex Grossman is his best option at QB then there are many more problems on the way. (LW: 14)

(22) San Diego Chargers (3-5) - Good home win over Tennessee, but I'll wait until they actually string together a couple wins in a row before I buy in. This week they take their 0-4 road show to Houston. (LW: 24)

(23) Minnesota Vikings (2-5) - The Vikings were in the New England game to the very end. Question is whether they can survive the Moss/Childress/Favre turmoil and put themselves back in the playoff hunt. Like many, I firmly believe Tarvaris Jackson gives them the best chance to win. (LW: 23)

(24) Arizona Cardinals (3-4) - I'm done pretending this team can win without a quarterback. Anderson makes mistakes because of his head and Hall makes mistakes because of his body. Worst QB situation in the NFL. (LW: 19)

(25) Detroit Lions (2-5) - Oh I'm sorry, my arm is a little sore from patting myself on the back over calling the Lions over Redskins upset last week. Can they pull the home upset over the Jets? I wouldn't bet against it. (LW: 29)

(26) Cleveland Browns (2-5) - They've got that nice win over the Saints to their credit, but now it's Eric Mangini's old pal Bill Belichick coming to visit. No way New England takes them lightly. (LW: 26)

(27) Cincinnati Bengals (2-5) - They are 2-5 now and have games upcoming with Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. Say goodbye to your playoff chances, Bengal fans. (LW: 25)

(28) San Francisco 49ers (2-6) - A win over a team that's just about as bad as they are but after a bye their home game with St. Louis presents an opportunity to vault right back into the division race. (LW: 31)

(29) Denver Broncos (2-6) - Punished by the Raiders one week and the next week losing to the Niners in London. Denver is 4-14 since their 6-0 start to the 2009 season. Josh McDaniels is entering trouble time. (LW: 27)

(30) Dallas Cowboys (1-6) - What a disaster. Not going to get any better with consecutive road games with Green Bay and the Giants. The team is not good enough to survive four INT games from Jon Kitna. (LW: 28)

(31) Carolina Panthers (1-6) - Welcome back to the bottom 2, Panthers. Biggest story line for them the rest of the season will be whether or not they'll give up on Jimmy Clausen and draft a quarterback in April. (LW: 30)

(32) Buffalo Bills (0-7) - Obviously they suck, but mark my words, they will not go winless. Possible wins this week against Chicago in Toronto, in Week 11 @ Cincinnati or in Week 14 at home against Cleveland. (LW: 32)