Ken's Note: These rankings are the views of the author, and may/do not reflect the views of any other Windy City Gridiron contributor.
Welcome to the Week 9 Power Rankings.
Power rankings are kind of silly and entirely meaningless, and they are also completely subjective... what one person sees as a strength another might see as a weakness. I get that. My reason for doing this feature isn't "I think I know better," but rather to entertain, hopefully amuse and also to generate friendly discussion and debate (within the site rules, of course).
My feature comes out later in the week than pretty much everybody else's on the web because I actually watch every single game I talk about BEFORE posted my rankings (as far as I know, I am the ONLY person doing this in the online media). Gamepass condensed games are the greatest tool ever made for the NFL football junkie. By doing this instead of just watching the highlights (if that) or browsing the box score, I suspect my list looks significantly different than most.
This week we are including a new ranking for some teams, something I call the "Anointed Factor". The AF is the amount of "BS" or "out of the blue" calls that a team receives in their favor, and the amount of "yeah they did it but I won't call it because they are the Chosen Ones" they get. These factors are combined into a secret mathematical formula known only to Vince and myself. An example of what increases or decreases a team's AF? Clay Mathews spears Brian Hoyer with his helmet and clearly in front of everybody breaks the quarterback's arm. Was penalty called? No. Was Play recognized by the league as illegal later, when nothing can be done about it? Yes. This adds to the Green Bay AF and reduces Chicago's AF. You don't need math to really understand AF, a simple eye test will do. For example, a player can pull out a sledge hammer and beat Cam Newton over the head with it and it's not a penalty, but if that same player were to look at Tom Brady the wrong way, it's a 15-yard penalty and possibly an ejection. Therefore, Cam hurts his team's AF while Tom increases it.
The AF scale reads from 1-10, with 5 being league average. Some teams, however, are even more anointed than 10, so the scale can go into AF-Spinal Tap readings, up to 11. Most teams can't, though, because... well, they are not so anointed.
Although it may seem unfair to some fans, I include how anointed a team is in my Power Rankings because, frankly, if they are going to get a majority of the calls, it will help them win games.
Here's how I have the league shaking out after Week 9:
1) Patriots - (Last week's rating #1 ) Well, this week's game over the Bills was just about as big of a crushination as we are likely to see between two decent clubs. Quarterback Tom Brady went nuts, and it was domination from start to finish. With the Patriots' AF an over-driven 10.4, the team faces little worry of being called for things like offensive holding, which helps immensely in keeping quarterback Tom Brady clean, in the game and on-target. Buffalo played a disjointed game as well, and there was little doubt of the outcome as the game progressed and the rain fell.
2) Broncos - (Last week's rating #4 ) The Denver defense won this game by stopping a powerful San Diego offense, winning the turnover battle, and making Phillip Rivers look old. Watching Rivers busting his tail trying to stop a Denver pick-6 and getting left in the dust made me think two things: A) Rivers is REALLY not fast at this time in his career and B) I get that you are a competitor, Phillip, but EASE UP, you are going to PULL something! This Bronco's team's defense is really, really solid but the team has holes and Denver can be beaten. Home field advantage should be on Broncos minds right now, as (as stale as it sounds) it's starting to look a lot like yet another inevitable Denver/New England playoff rematch.
3) Cowboys - (Last week's rating #3 ) Dallas had a tough opponent & division rival in the Eagles, and the game was as close as we all thought it would be... it doesn't get much closer than overtime, and the difference between the two teams was one bad angle on a tackle by a safety with little time left on the overtime clock. Dak Prescott had his struggles, but ended up hitting the game winner when it counted, and Ezekiel Elliot is the REAL DEAL. These two teams play each other 10 times, it's probably a 5-5 split.
4) Falcons - (Last week's rating #8) The Falcons have been able to score points on everybody, but a spotty defense has limited their games to shoot-outs. Even this week, when the Birds were able to get some pressure on Aaron Rodgers in the second half, the defense still struggled. Quarterback Matt Ryan is putting together an MVP-worthy season, and the Falcons wide receiver corps is deadly. A low AF of 3.8 could have cost the Falcons dearly in this contest when the refs gave a gift call to Green Bay, but Ryan was able to overcome both the Packers and the officiating to pull out a win.
6) Eagles - (Last week's rating #7 ) Philadelphia went on the road to Dallas and fell short in overtime against a good, talented division rival. In many ways, these two teams mirror each other. Philly's defense is a bit better, but Dallas has a better offensive line and running back. The two rookie quarterbacks are both extremely impressive. This game really hurts the Eagles chances of winning the division as it's the Eagles second divisional loss (the other was to Washington). Philadelphia, if it has any hope of winning the NFC East, must beat Dallas and Washington at home to even up the tiebreakers.
7) Vikings - (Last week's rating #2) Lose to a good Eagles team on the road, you go down a peg. Get routed by the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, your face the Power Rankings slaughterhouse. We knew that the injuries to the offensive line and Adrian Peterson were going to hurt their run game, but man, Chicago just shut these people down. It was open season on quarterback Sam Bradford and there was no bag limit. Except for one pass late in the game, the Vikings did nothing on offense. Nada. Yes, Chicago's defense is getting healthier but that was ugly. Defensively, the league's best ranked squad got soundly beaten by the league's worst scoring offense. The Vikings vaunted sack squad got ONE on Bears line without either Bears Pro-Bowl guard even dressed. I would say "it's just one game" but after looking completely helpless for two games in a row, the longship has sunk.
8) Packers - (Last week's rating #6 ) I keep saying it, this Packers team is fundamentally flawed. Even with a God level Rodgers, they struggle to win, and Green Bay is plagued by injuries. Even with Green Bay's amazing AF rating of 10.8 (which included a completely AF replay gift first down on their last scoring drive) the holes in their defense could not stop a great Falcon's offense. Rodgers was sharp during much of the game, but he again missed throws at key times, and the Packers offense is completely one dimensional. Defensively, the Packers (as they stand as of this week) have no pass rush whatever.
9) Seahawks - (Last week's rating #5 ) Seattle, until they fix their offensive line, is going absolutely nowhere this year. The defense is amazing, Russell Wilson is amazing, but Seattle is 0-1-1 over the last two weeks because of defensive pressure and penalties. While Arizona is known for having a great defensive front 7, New Orleans certainly is not. Seattle's great defense was able to contain the Saints to only 25 points (that's about as 'contain' as anybody is getting with New Orleans) but the offense could not run over the weak Saints defense on the road. Seattle, unless things change, is going to have to win on the road in the playoffs, and winning on the road is something the Seahawks have a lot of trouble doing. In the past, Seattle has had a very high AF, but this year? Not so much, it's a league-average 5.0
10) Steelers - (Last week's rating #10 ) Steelers get the bye-week push.
11) Raiders - (Last week's rating #11 ) Wow. It took me an hour to watch the Raiders game in the condensed format, due to the number of yellow flags. The Raiders have a league-low AF 1.2, but honestly? Black & silver were not getting hosed by the refs, they were doing it. Sloppy penalties, 12 men on the field multiple times (heck, one time it was 15 men on the field). This was the kind of sloppy that gets teams ranked near the bottom... except for one thing. Derek Carr entered QB God Mode and absolutely beasted. It's time we start considering Carr a Top-5 QB. He's gotten that good. Officially, Carr had 513 yards passing but in truth, he had well over 600 (several long throws were called back on penalties). This Oakland team has got "the look" right now, they are going to be hard to stop out there in the AFC West.
12) Bills - (Last week's rating #12 ) Buffalo beat New England without Tom Brady, but New England WITH Tom Brady turned out to be a much harder nut to crack. The Bills suffered through a sodden, sloppy loss where Tyrod Taylor did not do many Tyrod Taylor-type things like pulling down the ball and running around, over and through defenders when the pass wasn't there. He was able to break out of several sacks, but the offense just didn't click at all. Buffalo's traditionally low AF factor of 3.8 really hurt the Bills facing the mighty 10.4 AF of the Patriots, so the calls in favor of the home team were few and far between. This loss puts Buffalo in 8th place in the AFC, right now on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
13) Giants - (Last week's rating #13 ) Giants get the bye-week push.
14) Cardinals - (Last week's rating #9 ) Bad game on the road. Not much else to say, they got whooped by a team that came in 1-5 (albeit a very talented 1-5 team).
15) Lions - (Last week's rating #15 ) A key play in the game you won't see on any highlight films, a Houston wide receiver catches the ball, tucks it, takes two steps and the ball is ripped out by a Detroit defender. The defender runs towards the end zone and several seconds later the whistles blow. It looked like a clear-cut fumble on the TV, but not only does Detroit's very low AF rating hurt them, the Detroit bench inexplicably didn't throw a challenge flag. Yes, the team's low AF affects all challenges, I get that, but that play should have been challenged, it was probably the difference between a win and a loss.
16) Texans - (Last week's rating #16 ) I'm still "meh" about the Texans, they jumped out in front of Detroit this week, and beat a "meh" Lions team, in Texas. Even though the game was often within a TD & FG range, it never felt like Houston was in danger of losing to the Lions. Houston is now 5-0 at home but 0-3 on the road. Still, in that division, they look to contend. Brock Osweiler had a good but not great game, but until the fourth quarter Houston had NO running game whatever. For the Texans to seriously contend, they need to take pressure off of Osweiler by running the rock. They also need to up their AF with the league. Perhaps they should drink more Gatorade, switch to Verizon Wireless, order the team a truckload of Papa Johns and a few kegs of any A-B product. That would probably help their AF a bit.
17) Redskins - (Last week's rating #17 ) The Redskins (Bengals) had every opportunity to win this week against a mediocre opponent at a neutral site, yet Washington (Cincinnati) made critical mistakes in all three phases of the game both early and late leading to a sister-kisser. Good teams win this game, and bad teams lose this game. It was a tie, which means that both of these clubs are neither good or bad.
18) Chargers - (Last week's rating #18 ) The Bolts gave Denver a good game, and scored some points on that tough Denver defense. They were actually in the game until fairly late, but some bad luck on tipped passes and one horrific Rivers interception did them in. Still, it was a respectable effort in a tough road environment.
19) Bengals - (Last week's rating #19 ) See Redskins entry. It's a duel entry for both teams.
20) Ravens - (Last week's rating #20 ) Ravens get the bye-week push.
21) Panthers - (Last week's rating #26 ) Well, this was the Carolina team we expected to see from the start of the year. Carolina has a strange AF, the team has a 6.8 AF (as exampled by the complete BS gift opening TD) but quarterback Cam Newton has a personal AF of 1.0 (out of 1). Seriously, I think it would be OK to pull out a gun and shoot Cam on the field, the way he is allowed to be targeted. Carolina played a sloppy game but blew out a disinterested-looking Cardinals team, a team that has long struggled on the road. Frankly, there's no excuse for a team as talented as Carolina having two wins.
22) Saints - (Last week's rating #27 ) They beat a tough opponent, at home. They put some pressure on a very, very bad Seattle offensive line. Drew Brees did Drew Brees type things, and the Saints pulled out a nice home victory. Up they go (a bit).
23) Titans - (Last week's rating #26 ) The Titans continue to impress and continue to ascend. The only negative I can see from Thursday night is that their ugly uniforms were made even more hideous by Color Rush. Seriously, can somebody call the fashion police? This is a team on the move in the right direction, and in that division, don't count them out of a playoff berth yet.
24) Dolphins - (Last week's rating #24 ) Dolphins get the bye-week push.
25) Rams - (Last week's rating #25 ) Rams get the bye-week push.
26) Buccaneers - (Last week's rating #22 ) Just wow. They let Derek Carr roast them, toast them and put them in a stew. The Bucs let a team that set an all-time penalty mark beat them, at home. I've got nuttin. Down you go.
27) Colts - (Last week's rating #23 ) See Kansas City entry, invert the teams, and you have my Colts comments as well.
28) Bears - (Last week's rating #30 ) A healthier Bears team with Jay Cutler back at the helm, with a gelling offensive line (despite having key players out), a defense that is actually solid and getting better by the week, the Chicago Bears are moving back up the ladder a bit. The Bears only have two wins, but both were humiliations of division rivals, and that's always a good thing. I know Jacksonville recently beat Chicago, but... don't care, Jacksonville is a complete dumpster fire this week.
29) Jaguars - (Last week's rating #21 ) Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the football field... the Jaguars do Jaguar-like things. Here's a link: O'Halloran: Jaguars coach Gus Bradley’s search for answers won’t include any staff changes - Jacksonville Florida Times-Union. - My take? FIRE EVERYBODY.
30) Jets - (Last week's rating #28 ) How can a win move a team down the power rankings? Simple, be like the Jets, so dysfunctional that you let Cleveland push you hard for three quarters. We all love Matt Forte, but other than that, the Jets really have nothing to on (unless you count Brandon Marshall's eyes shooting laser beams like Godzilla towards Ryan Fitzpatrick as he continues to target anybody but Brandon). On defense, Darrelle Revis has opened up Revis island as a popular tourist destination, to be used by any and all opponents as an airport... very generous of him, I would say.
31) 49ers -(Last week's rating #31 ) 49ers get the bye-week push.
32) Browns - (Last week's rating #32 ) We have a new entry into the Cleveland litany of frustration, with this weekend's #GPODAWUND game.
Cleveland also cemented their hold on the #32 position this week with a solid loss to a bad Jets team in disarray 31-28. For those that might say "well, they got close", no, they didn't. A late garbage time TD following a drive where they squandered any chance of a comeback by wasting a minute of time in the last two made it look closer than it was. Poor play calling & clock management doomed the Browns against a dysfunctional Jets squad.
So what do you think? Am I close? Am I entirely wrong? Spill the beans, let us know what you think.