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NFL Power Rankings Week 9: Chicago cracks the top-3

So that Bears defense is pretty intimidating, eh? If only Arizona fans could still say that same thing about any aspect of the Cardinals...

Frederick Breedon

1. Atlanta Falcons (8-0) - Atlanta used their appearance on Sunday Night Football to showcase how their team refuses to lose. Looking ahead, the only real threats to a potential 16-0 record for the Falcons might be a visit to Tampa Bay in Week 12 and the Giants in Week 15. Previous Ranking: 1

2. Houston Texans (7-1) - Just another routine day at the office against Buffalo for Arian Foster (111 yards, one touchdown) and the Texans defense. Those running lanes might not be as large next week though when they face off against the team below. Previous Ranking: 2

3. Chicago Bears (7-1) - It might be a bit unfair to knock the Niners down a notch on a bye but this is a compliment to Chicago more than anything. If the Bears offense is going to be able to cash in every opportunity their unparalleled defense gives them, then this team will undoubtedly put up enough points to hang with any team in the league. Previous Ranking: 5

4. San Francisco 49ers (6-2) - If Alex Smith used his week vacation to heal that nagging finger injury then this team may have cured its only Achilles heel. Then again, it didn't look like it was bothering him too much last week against Arizona. Previous Ranking: 3

5. New England Patriots (5-3) - Yes, I dropped a team out of the top three during their bye but moved this one up two spots during their off week. Don't question my authority! I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS! Now that I got that out of my system, I'd like to add that the Patriots could easily go undefeated the rest of the way with their two most challenging opponents, Houston and San Francisco, having to come to Gillette. Don't believe me? Go look at their schedule. Previous Ranking: 7

6. New York Giants (6-3) - Looks like Eli Manning forgot to stock up on pixie dust before Pittsburgh came into town. Actually, what's the opposite of pixie dust? Whatever it is, he had a ton of that (10-for-24, 125 yards, one interception). Previous Ranking: 4

7. Baltimore Ravens (6-2) - If you've watched this Ravens team in their past two games, you'd realize that they ain't what they used to be. You can pass on them, you can run on them and Joe Flacco has lost that no huddle magic. At least the still have Ray Rice, right? Right...? Previous Ranking: 6

8. Denver Broncos (5-3) - The Broncos jump the Packers after their third straight win. I wouldn't say that they're any more talented than Green Bay, but they are considerably healthier at this juncture. And overall health is arguably the biggest factor when the calendar flips to playoff push time. Previous Ranking: 9

9. Green Bay Packers (6-3) - Who does Aaron Rodgers even have to throw to at this point? Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley are all either out or wounded. This Week 10 bye couldn't have come at a better time. Previous Ranking: 8

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3) - It doesn't matter who you line up in the Steelers backfield; more likely than not, they're gonna give the team 100+ yards and a score. Maybe this offensive line doesn't need David DeCastro after all. Previous Ranking: 10

11. Seattle Seahawks (5-4) - If Russell Wilson (three first half touchdowns) can play like he did against the Vikings every week, then this should have a Wild Card bid in the books. He's the last piece missing in their NFC contender puzzle. Previous Ranking: 13

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4) - Doug Martin: the man, the myth, the hamster legend. This team may be too flawed to consistently dance with the big boys but damn are they fun to watch. Previous Ranking: 15

13. Indianapolis Colts (5-3) - It's going to take a minimum of ten wins to nab a Wild Card in the AFC. The Colts got the very important tiebreaker over Miami on Sunday and they could already have four more wins lined up on their schedule (@Jacksonville, Buffalo, Tennessee, @Kansas City). Now it's just a matter of it they can get a win in their visits to New England or Detroit or in one of their remaining two games against the Texans. Sounds rough but I'm not going to bet against Andrew Luck. Previous Ranking: 16

14. Miami Dolphins (4-4) - Ain't it crazy that a Week 9 matchup between the Dolphins and Colts had serious playoff implications? One has to wonder if a completely healthy Ryan Tannehill could have made a difference. Previous Ranking: 11

15. Minnesota Vikings (5-4) - Remember when Christian Ponder could do no wrong as the last quarterback in the league to throw an interception? Yeah, well nowadays it's a struggle just to top 100 yards through the air. Adrian Peterson can only do so much, folks. Previous Ranking: 12

16. Detroit Lions (4-4) - I'll be the first to admit that I was one of those talking heads that left the Lions for dead a few weeks ago. Although it was against arguably the worst team in the league, it's a still a huge step that Detroit was able to win by 17 with Matthew Stafford staying out of the endzone and throwing for less than 300 yards. Previous Ranking: 21

17. Dallas Cowboys (3-5) - The Cowboys played the perfect formula against the Falcons Sunday evening and might have had a legit chance if they had any sort of semblance of a run game. They can shut down opposing quarterbacks and spread the ball around to an assortment of playmakers through the air on offense. No lead is safe with a combination like that. Previous Ranking: 18

18. Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) - I don't know if y'all heard but A.J. Green got the best of Champ Bailey on Sunday. Even though the Bengals lost, that may have been Green's graduation to the most dominate receiver in the NFL. Previous Ranking: 17

19. San Diego Chargers (4-4) - As much as I respect my associate Ryan Bafaloukos, I'm just going to come out and say that he dropped the Chargers way too far in last week's rankings. Their defense is still rock solid and Phillip Rivers may have finally gotten that lanky target he needs to succeed with the emergence of the 6'5 Denario Alexander. Previous Ranking: 27

20. New Orleans Saints (3-5) - The Saints have now quietly won three of their last four games as they desperately hunt for a playoff bid. But with the way they've been tackling lately, you'll probably want to shield your children's eyes when the Falcons come to the Superdome next week. Previous Ranking: 26

21. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) - With the Cardinals choking, Arizona fans might be able to fill their football fix if Nick Foles takes over. Then they'll just have to hope that he doesn't get decapitated behind that horrendous offensive line. They've already seen enough carnage with Kevin Kolb this year. Previous Ranking: 14

22. New York Jets (3-5) - It's pretty hard to relax during your off week when a hurricane is decimating the city you reside in. Frankly, it might be a bit understandable if the Jets look a little off next Sunday when they're asked to travel to opposite corner of the country to play the Seahawks. Previous Ranking: 20

23. St. Louis Rams (3-6) - I'm curious to see how the Rams offense will look with Danny Amendola returning now that Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens are finally coming along. Amendola might want to wait another week to test out that shoulder though with St. Louis set to pay a visit to the 49ers this weekend. Previous Ranking: 23

24. Washington Redskins (3-6) - Although Mike Shanahan has denied that he's giving up on the season, it's worrisome when he says that the Skins are "playing to see who obviously is going to be on [our] football team for years to come." Those words just made me and Alfred Morris fantasy owners everywhere shudder. Previous Ranking: 22

25. Arizona Cardinals (4-5) - I'm gonna skip all the rock bottom talk and just say that it would be a very Cardinals thing to do if Arizona handed the Falcons their first loss out of the bye. Then again, it would also be a very Cardinals thing to do if they lost by 56 points and were relegated to the AFL. Previous Ranking: 19

26. Buffalo Bills (3-5) - Ryan Fitzpatrick vowed after Sunday's loss to the Texans to get C.J. Spiller more involved. Unless the little guy secretly has some killer coverage skills we don't know about, I don't think that's going to be the solution in Buffalo. Previous Ranking: 24

27. Oakland Raiders (3-5) - To all those Raiders fans freaking out about how the offense will deal with the potential losses of Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, I only have one thing to say to you: your run game can't affected if you never had one to begin with. Previous Ranking: 28

28. Tennessee Titans (3-6) - I love how Chris Johnson actually believes that his fumbles had an effect on the Sunday's game against the Bears. I'm sure your fans wouldn't have been let down if you managed to hold on to the ball to allow your team to lose by 20 points instead of 31. Makes sense. Previous Ranking: 25

29. Carolina Panthers (2-6) - I don't know if you've heard but Mitt Romney is going to win the presidential election because the Panthers beat the Redskins. Makes me wonder we we ever had an electoral college in the first place. Previous Ranking: 30

30. Cleveland Browns (2-6) - Although he has yet to beat them this season, the Browns have provided the Ravens with two of their most competitive games of the season. If Pat Shurmur gets fired, the Steelers might be wise to snatch him up. That's all I'm saying. Previous Ranking: 29

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) - Congrats, Jacksonville. You no longer own the worst team in the National Football League. But before you start drawing out plans for a parade, I'd just like to remind you that you did nothing to deserve this honor. The Chiefs are just that god-awful. Previous Ranking: 32

32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) - I've never been a huge Matt Barkley fan but even a USC grad doesn't deserve the torture that awaits him. Previous Ranking: 31