After a month of wearing the silver medal, the undefeated Eagles have at long last regained their perch atop the NFL Power Rankings.
Philly is back at No. 1, thanks to a prime-time win coupled with the Bills’ surprise stumble against the Jets at the Meadowlands. Yes, the Jets, who have once again worked their way back into the top 10. This really has been a strange season, hasn’t it?
Things stay surreal in the back half of the rankings, which currently house supposed NFC powerhouses like the Rams, Saints and Packers.
Stay weird, football.
Don’t forget to check out the NFL Power Rankings Podcast with Dan Hanzus and Colleen Wolfe. New episodes every Tuesday all season long.
NOTE: Up/down arrows below reflect team movement from the Week 9 Power Rankings.
Previous rank: No. 2
The Philadelphia Eagles were founded in 1933. They are 8-0 for the first time ever. Turns out there can still be happiness after the demise of the Phillies. The Iggles continued their perfect start with an imperfect but ultimately satisfactory throttling of the Texans on Thursday Night Football. Keep an eye on the defense without Jordan Davis: The absence of the standout defensive tackle — parked on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain — was apparent against Houston, as Texans RB Dameon Pierce regularly bullied his way to the second level in a 139-yard night. Suspect run defense might be the only perceptible flaw for the “new” best team in football.
Previous rank: No. 1
Consider Sunday’s stunning 20-17 loss to the Jets a wakeup call to the Bills. Long an AFC East doormat, Gang Green has quickly built up a smothering and dynamic young defense that matches up well with Buffalo’s powerful attack. New York’s spectacular cornerback duo of Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed largely neutralized Stefon Diggs, while a surging Jets defensive front regularly harassed Josh Allen without the need to blitz. Allen tossed two interceptions and fumbled twice, his second consecutive sloppy performance. The question coming out of the Meadowlands: Were the Jets fortunate to catch the Bills on a bad week — or has this division suddenly been turned upside down?
Previous rank: No. 3
How maddening must it be to try to stop Patrick Mahomes? The superstar quarterback struggled to find consistency in the passing game on Sunday night against the Titans, so he used his legs on the fourth-quarter drive that forced overtime in the eventual 20-17 win. Scrambling has always been an underrated element of Mahomes’ game, and it killed Tennessee in what was an otherwise sterling effort by Mike Vrabel’s defense. One offensive subplot to track in Kansas City: Clyde Edwards-Helaire was on the field for just 17 percent of the snaps in the Chiefs’ first game out of the bye. This might be Jerick McKinnon’s backfield to lead going forward.
Previous rank: No. 4
As Odell Beckham Jr.’s ACL rehab reaches its final stages, the drumbeat connecting the veteran to the Cowboys will only get louder. NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported last week that Beckham is “firmly” on Dallas’ radar. It’s a marriage that makes too much sense: Beckham is box office (which matters to Jerry Jones), and the Cowboys have a legitimate need at wide receiver beyond CeeDee Lamb. Michael Gallup still doesn’t look like himself after his own ACL reconstruction. Rolling the dice on Beckham feels inevitable for America’s Team.
Previous rank: No. 6
The passing game isn’t pretty right now, but the Ravens can still win because they’re great at pretty much everything else. Baltimore tallied 188 yards on the ground and smothered the Saints with a dominant defensive performance in a 27-13 win at the Superdome on Monday Night Football. The star of the evening was Justin Houston, who contributed 2.5 sacks and the game-sealing interception in the latest turn-back-the-clock performance for the 33-year-old. Houston is the first Ravens player in team history to register multiple sacks in three consecutive games — not a bad return on investment for a veteran quietly brought back on a one-year deal in July.
Previous rank: No. 5
Perhaps feeling emboldened after Christian McCaffrey’s dominant hat-trick performance against the Rams, the Niners pulled the trigger on a trade that sent erstwhile starting running back Jeff Wilson Jr. to the Dolphins in exchange for a Day 3 draft pick. Parting ways with a quality depth piece behind the injury-prone McCaffrey would feel more risky if Elijah Mitchell weren’t back on the radar. Mitchell, who is set to return Sunday night against the Chargers after missing two months with a knee injury, could be a starter for many teams. Pairing CMC with Mitchell gives San Francisco one of the most talented backfields in football.
Previous rank: No. 7
The Vikings once again found a way on Sunday against the Commanders, improving to 7-1 for the first time since 2009 and perhaps extinguishing any lingering drama about who will be crowned NFC North champions come January. T.J. Hockenson’s debut was incredibly encouraging: The ex-Lions tight end, who practiced just three times in Minnesota after last week’s trade, hauled in all nine of his targets from Kirk Cousins for 70 yards. Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook will continue to be the main drivers of this offense, but Hockenson needed just one afternoon to prove how useful a playmaker at tight end can be in this attack.
Previous rank: No. 8
It was right there. The Titans, with Ryan Tannehill tethered to the sideline by a bum ankle, were in position to score a massive upset win in prime time at Arrowhead. Unfortunately, the offense went to sleep after halftime, and Patrick Mahomes made big plays with his arm — and, especially, his legs — in a painful overtime loss. Malik Willis again looked like a developmental QB in over his head, completing just five of his 16 pass attempts for 80 yards. The combination of a healthy Derrick Henry and a stout defense should take the Titans back to the playoffs, but Tannehill must get right to keep Tennessee in the contender conversation.
Previous rank: No. 14
A week after a disappointing loss to the Patriots, the Baby Jets put together their most complete effort of the season in an upset of the mighty Bills. The defense was again outstanding, forcing Josh Allen into two interceptions while regularly putting the heat on the star quarterback. Allen was sacked five times and fumbled twice, routinely harassed by a defense that rarely blitzed but kept getting home. Fittingly, Allen’s desperation final heave in the final minute was swatted away by cornerback Sauce Gardner, playing like an All-Pro just nine games into his career. Throw in a composed, bounce-back performance by Zach Wilson, and this was close to a perfect day for Gang Green.
Previous rank: No. 9
That’s three consecutive stellar efforts by Pete Carroll’s defense, which put the clamps on Kyler Murray and Co. in a 31-21 win over the Cardinals. Seattle sacked Murray four times, including two by Uchenna Nwosu (up to a career-high seven on the year), and allowed just 262 total yards — the kind of yardage Seattle was yielding by halftime of games earlier this season. Kenneth Walker III went over 100 yards for the second straight week, while Geno Smith recovered from a third-quarter pick-six to put forward another solid performance. Up next: Seattle will take a healthy divisional lead overseas for a spotlight game against the Buccaneers in Munich.
Previous rank: No. 10
It appears Joe Mixon has returned from the wilderness. The running back, who hadn’t looked like himself for much of the season, went supernova against the Panthers — piling up 211 total yards and five touchdowns in a 42-21 rout. The Bengals would love to see Mixon start stacking performances like this against better competition, but the back’s Week 9 explosion is a huge relief for an offense that was looking vulnerable after the double-jab of Ja’Marr Chase’s hip injury and a humbling Halloween night loss to the Browns. Joe Burrow is the type of star quarterback who can carry teams in trying times, but Mixon needs to be himself to make Cincy a credible Super Bowl contender. Sunday was, well … promising on that front.
Previous rank: No. 12
When the Dolphins surrendered a first-round pick to land pass rusher Bradley Chubb, it was something of an admission their defense wasn’t where they needed it to be through eight weeks. Chubb should make a difference in the long term, but Sunday’s 35-32 shootout win over the Bears offered more evidence that Miami has a lot of work to do to improve on Josh Boyer’s side of the ball. The Dolphins keep winning because Tua Tagovailoa and the offense are on a rampage: Tua went over 300 yards with three touchdowns for the second straight week, while Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle delivered their typical carnage (12 catches for 228 yards and two TDs combined). Had Tua not missed time, this offense would likely be on a historic pace.
Previous rank: No. 11
Stupid bye-week injuries are the worst. On Monday, we learned that safety Xavier McKinney, one of the breakout contributors on Big Blue’s surprisingly stout defense, will be out several weeks after breaking his hand in an ATV accident in Cabo. McKinney is New York’s defensive play-caller and team captain, making the unfortunate circumstances connected to his journey to Mexico all the more troubling for head coach Brian Daboll. New York at least has the benefit of the kind of soft landing McKinney could have used: The Giants get the one-win Texans on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Previous rank: No. 13
If it’s November, that must mean the Patriots are finding their way. This time of year has always been fertile ground for New England, a team that — going back to the early days of Tom Brady — has used the season’s initial months to tinker with the model. The model looked pretty damn good on Sunday, as the Pats piled up nine sacks and didn’t allow a single third-down conversion in a dominant 26-3 win over the adrift Colts. Mac Jones remains a source of ongoing concern after another lukewarm performance, but the Pats are over .500 and in good position for yet another playoff push.
Previous rank: No. 16
Justin Herbert is making it work. The quarterback made big throws when it counted on Sunday, leading the Chargers to a 20-17 win over the Falcons without his top two wide receivers. It’s unclear how much more time Mike Williams and Keenan Allen will miss, but Herbert showed in Atlanta that he can make playmakers out of complementary roster pieces like Josh Palmer and DeAndre Carter. Absurd fun fact: Austin Ekeler had zero touchdowns in the Bolts’ first three games, but has 10 — ten! — in the last five. Ekeler is an underrated gem who will continue to eat as long as the L.A. wide receiver room remains a M.A.S.H. unit.
Previous rank: No. 18
With the Falcons and Chargers tied at 17 and just under five minutes to play, Marcus Mariota bought some time in the pocket and spotted Kyle Pitts, who had broken free, with a safety and corner in hopeless pursuit. If Mariota hits his dynamic young tight end in stride, it’s very likely a 73-yard touchdown and possibly a game-winner. Instead, Mariota overshot Pitts by 5 yards, one of a host of inaccurate throws from the QB in a 20-17 loss. Mariota has had his moments this season, but Atlanta’s run-heavy scheme is — in some ways, one could surmise — cover-up for a quarterback who can’t shoot straight. It’s hard to imagine Arthur Smith wanting to run this arrangement back in ’23.
Previous rank: No. 15
Jalen Ramsey couldn’t hold his tongue any longer. The defense had made a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter only to be called on again after the ensuing Rams possession lasted three plays before a punt. “The defense should not have had to go back on the field. Simple,” a visibly frustrated Ramsey said after a late Bucs TD sealed a brutal 16-13 loss for the defending champs. “Gotta have some dogs who are gonna go get it. We shouldn’t come to the sideline after a big stop like that and our coaches or the other side or whoever telling us, ‘We are going to need y’all one more time.’ … Like, what the f—?” Ramsey took his frustrations public, which can be perceived as a no-no, but can you blame him? The Rams’ offense is simply not getting it done.
Previous rank: No. 21
General manager Andrew Berry confirmed during the bye week what the football world presumed: Deshaun Watson will be the Browns’ starting quarterback when he is eligible to return from suspension on Dec. 4 against the Texans. Watson’s debut after nearly two seasons off the field profiles as the mother of all distractions for head coach Kevin Stefanski, who knows full well how divisive Watson’s presence is after his off-the-field actions prompted a lengthy absence. In the here and now, the goal is to stack some wins and put Cleveland in the playoff picture by the time the controversial but talented QB takes the reins.
Previous rank: No. 17
You may now safely add the team from New Orleans to the list of expected NFC powerhouses who have badly disappointed in 2022. The Saints welcomed the Ravens into their building on Monday night and were thoroughly outplayed in a 27-13 loss that wiped away any goodwill gained from the previous week’s win over the Raiders. Andy Dalton’s hold on the starting job could be loosening after his latest island-game flop: The veteran QB has lost 20 of 26 starts in prime time dating back to his years with the Bengals. Dalton didn’t get much help from an offensive line that crumbled after center Erik McCoy exited with a calf injury. Bad night all around.
Previous rank: No. 24
In a season that’s been defined in part by poor quarterback play in places you’d least suspect it, it’s refreshing to watch a young player like Justin Fields make the leap in such profound fashion. The second-year man out of Ohio State was historically dangerous on Sunday, setting a Super Bowl-era record for QBs with 178 rushing yards in a 35-32 loss to the Dolphins. Fields accounted for four touchdowns, and he might have been the talk of the league this week had game officials not missed an obvious pass interference call on a deep attempt to Chase Claypool with 1:35 to play. Chicago’s defense remains lost at sea without Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith, but Fields promises to keep this team compelling with a huge arrow up for 2023 and beyond.
Previous rank: No. 19
The Lions were supposed to be the “get-right” opponent. Green Bay’s offense had been in a season-long funk, sure, but Detroit’s historically bad defense would be just what the Packers needed to find themselves. Instead, Aaron Rodgers struggled through his worst game of the season — one of the worst games of his career — in an ugly 15-9 loss at Ford Field. Two of Rodgers’ three interceptions came in the end zone in a day of misfires for the back-to-back reigning MVP. Offered Rodgers after the game: “I played s—ty, but I never gave up.” OK. With the Cowboys and Titans on deck — teams with two of the best defenses in football — time may already be up for the once-mighty Packers. Stunning, really.
Previous rank: No. 22
New Sunday, same result for the Cardinals. Arizona looked flat and uninspired in an important divisional game, piling up 11 penalties and three fumbles in a 31-21 loss at home. Kyler Murray managed just 5.0 yards per attempt while the Arizona defense was unable to hold a second-half lead after Zaven Collins’ acrobatic pick-six put the home team ahead midway through the third quarter. On the positive side, Arizona now leads the NFL with five defensive touchdowns! The Cards also scored a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time this season. On November 6th. Let’s just move on.
Previous rank: No. 23
Simply inexcusable. Riding a dominant first half from Davante Adams, the Raiders jumped out to a 17-0 lead on Sunday before the wheels fell off in stunning fashion. After the game — a 27-20 loss to the lowly Jaguars — Derek Carr stood in front of the media and carefully chose his words. “There is a lot I want to say, you know, but if I’m honest, I don’t need to say it here,” the quarterback said. “There are things that will be said [internally] … things in house that we’ll talk about man to man and all that kind of stuff that could be addressed.” A season of huge promise is disintegrating to dust by early November, prompting questions of how strong the footing is beneath first-year coach Josh McDaniels.
Previous rank: No. 25
There’s an odd thing going on in Washington with Taylor Heinicke. The backup quarterback has proven over the past two seasons that he’s a middle-of-the-road type of player … and yet the crowd at Commanders games absolutely loves him. Sunday’s loss to the Vikings featured multiple “Hein-i-cke!” chants, which mostly died out after the fiery QB sailed a pass over the middle for the Harrison Smith interception that set up Minnesota’s game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Heinicke’s passion has endeared him to the fan base, but don’t be surprised if Ron Rivera turns the keys of the offense back over to Carson Wentz when the time comes.
Previous rank: No. 26
The Broncos were sellers at the trade deadline, sending Bradley Chubb to the Dolphins in a blockbuster deal that gets Denver back into the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. It’s a move made with an eye on the future — something that certainly wasn’t in Denver’s initial plan when it delivered a massive haul to Seattle to land Russell Wilson in the offseason. Even with Chubb gone — the former first-rounder was enjoying his best season after an up-and-down start to his career — the Broncos’ defense should continue to get stops to keep the team in games. The question becomes whether Wilson and the offense can build off their game-winning drive over the Jags in Week 8 in London. If not, there will be much meaningless football to be played come December.
Previous rank: No. 30
The Jaguars have stumbled into their share of valleys this season, but you see progress being made with Doug Pederson at the helm. Take Sunday as an example: Jacksonville fell behind 17-0 in the second quarter before flipping the script on the Raiders in a 27-20 win. Trevor Lawrence delivered one of his best efforts of the season, displaying plus accuracy and decision making. The defense was even better after the slow start, shutting down Josh Jacobs and holding Davante Adams without a yard in the second half after a dominant first two quarters by the All-Pro wide receiver. Big tests lie ahead with the Chiefs and Ravens next on the schedule.
Previous rank: No. 27
The Chase Claypool era in Pittsburgh started with a bang and ended with a whimper. Last Tuesday, the Steelers traded the wide receiver to the Bears in exchange for a second-round pick. It was a good return for GM Omar Khan, but Claypool’s exit underlined the disappointing nature of his final years in Pittsburgh after a breakout rookie season in 2020 that included 11 total touchdowns. Claypool’s production cooled considerably in the seasons since, but mediocre-to-bad quarterback play in Pittsburgh can’t be ignored when dissecting his numbers. With Claypool gone, rookie George Pickens and fourth-year pro Miles Boykin should be in line for more opportunities.
Previous rank: No. 31
After the Lions tasted victory again for the first time in seven weeks, Dan Campbell just wanted to go home and have a beer. Amen, brother. But before he could enjoy some well-earned lager, the coach needed to deliver an emotional locker room speech following his team’s 15-9 win over the Packers and longtime tormentor Aaron Rodgers. “I told you Wednesday, men, I could smell something!” Campbell said. “You could smell something in the air, and you guys rallied. … That’s not easy. That’s a good win.” With that, Campbell flipped the game ball to Aaron Glenn, his embattled defensive coordinator. Let’s see if it’s the start of a rebound in the Motor City.
Previous rank: No. 28
After another grisly loss — the team’s third straight defeat — Jim Irsay decided he’d seen enough. The Colts owner fired head coach Frank Reich on Monday, replacing him with team consultant and former All-Pro center Jeff Saturday. It’s the kind of profoundly outside-the-box move you don’t see in the league anymore, but Irsay has repeatedly proved himself to be a maverick in the ranks of owners. Whether Saturday is qualified for the job is the subject of understandable debate, but it’s clear Irsay is an owner desperate for answers and in search of people he can trust. Saturday fit that bill … and so he gets the big chair (on an interim basis, anyway). Wild times in Indy.
Previous rank: No. 32
Give the Texans some credit: They kept their Thursday Night Football matchup against the mighty Eagles more competitive than most expected. Davis Mills threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes and Dameon Pierce continued his Offensive Rookie of the Year charge with 139 yards on the ground. Pierce is clearly the most interesting talent on the offense; it could be helpful to make the dynamic young playmaker a more prominent part of the passing game. Pierce wasn’t targeted once by Mills despite the 22-year-old rusher regularly putting Eagles defenders on their backs. Also untargeted? Wide receiver Brandin Cooks, declared inactive after a salty tweet minutes after last Tuesday’s trade deadline.
Previous rank: No. 29
Reality hit hard for the Panthers on Sunday. The Bengals rolled up 35 unanswered points before halftime in what was an absolute decimation on both sides of the ball. P.J. Walker struggled through a miserable first half before getting the mercy hook in favor of Baker Mayfield. The former starter led Carolina on three scoring drives in the final two quarters, but Steve Wilks announced that Walker will get the nod Thursday on a short week against the Falcons. With Sam Darnold back from injured reserve, this could be Walker’s final start regardless of outcome.