2019 NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

For the first time this season, we have a team other than the New England Patriots ranked first overall in our power rankings. Which other teams moved in our rankings after Week 8?

It took us eight weeks into the NFL regular season to see a team other than the New England Patriots be ranked first overall in our power rankings. It was the San Francisco 49ers who claimed the first overall spot this week after a very impressive win over the Carolina Panthers. These two teams will likely bounce back and forth as the number one overall team in our rankings as long as they both remain undefeated.

This week it was the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles who took the biggest leap forward in our rankings, while a handful of other teams dropped three spots.

Here are our Week 9 NFL Power Rankings:

Teams Ranked 32nd to 23rd

Rank Team nERD Rec Playoff Odds Off. NEP Rank Def. NEP Rank Change
32 Miami Dolphins -17.9 0-7 0.00% 31 32 0
31 Arizona Cardinals -9.13 3-4-1 0.10% 22 30 -3
30 New York Jets -8.44 1-6 0.50% 32 26 -3
29 Cincinnati Bengals -8.21 0-8 0.00% 23 27 1
28 Washington Redskins -7.87 1-7 0.10% 27 25 3
27 New York Giants -6.14 2-6 1.90% 26 19 -2
26 Atlanta Falcons -5.72 1-7 0.00% 8 31 3
25 Los Angeles Chargers -5.31 3-5 3.10% 16 29 -1
24 Cleveland Browns -4.95 2-5 9.20% 24 23 2
23 Buffalo Bills -3.73 5-2 60.40% 21 22 -3

The Cincinnati Bengals find themselves in a position where they’ll likely start planning for next season already. Heading into Week 9 of the NFL regular season, they are only one of two teams left to remain winless, along with the Miami Dolphins. With a 0.0% chance of making the playoffs this season, they should start to focus more on their young players and how they can rebuild this franchise.

That starts this week with the Bengals deciding to bench quarterback Andy Dalton for their rookie quarterback, Ryan Finley. Dalton has struggled throughout his career and hasn’t built himself much of a case to remain the Bengals' starting quarterback this season. Through the first eight weeks of the season, Dalton has produced -5.84 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP), which ranks in the bottom 20% of all quarterbacks who have played this season. He has also had a Passing Success Rate of 42.23%, which also ranks in the bottom 20% of all quarterbacks.

The Bengals' offensive line has not helped Dalton succeed much this season, either. Per Football Outsiders, they currently rank 19th in terms of pass protection and dead last in terms of run blocking. Finley will have his fair share of struggles behind this offensive line, as well, but will get some much-needed reps for a team that looks to be rebuilding.

It seemed as if the Buffalo Bills were starting to prove their doubters wrong prior to entering last week’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, as they entered the game with one of league’s best records at 5-1. However, there was still some lingering uncertainty with this team and their record, considering their strength of schedule so far this season.

The Bills had racked up four of their five wins against the New York Jets, New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins to start their season -- games they were expected to win rather easily. Their win against the Tennessee Titans on the road was impressive but losing to both the Eagles and New England Patriots suggests that they aren’t quite ready to compete with the best teams quite yet. While the youth and potential with this team is intriguing, there is still room for growth.

One area they’ll need to grow is on the offensive side of the ball. The Bills' offense is only scoring 19.1 points per game (PPG) this season, which ranks 24th overall across the league. They’ve also turned the ball over 12 times, the 11th-most across the league. They’ll want to tighten things up with second-year quarterback Josh Allen and improve on both of those numbers.

The Bills' rushing defense has also been a weak spot. They’re currently allowing 0.10 Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play, which ranks as the league's third-worst.

Teams Ranked 22nd to 13th

Rank Team nERD Rec Playoff Odds Off. NEP Rank Def. NEP Rank Change
22 Detroit Lions -2.82 3-3-1 2.90% 15 21 -1
21 Oakland Raiders -2.12 3-4 22.60% 4 28 1
20 Philadelphia Eagles -1.03 4-4 42.20% 20 16 3
19 Chicago Bears -0.96 3-4 3.80% 30 3 0
18 Jacksonville Jaguars -0.89 4-4 26.40% 18 17 0
17 Seattle Seahawks -0.44 6-2 57.50% 12 20 -3
16 Tennessee Titans -0.29 4-4 16.60% 29 6 1
15 Indianapolis Colts -0.25 5-2 72.10% 14 18 1
14 Carolina Panthers -0.01 4-3 13.60% 25 9 -3
13 Denver Broncos 0.24 2-6 3.40% 28 4 2

The Philadelphia Eagles got back on track last week with a win against the Buffalo Bills. This was an important win for an Eagles team that still finds itself in a position to win the NFC East and make the playoffs – the Eagles have a 42.20% chance of making the playoffs. They’ll face a struggling Chicago Bears team at home this week, looking to extend on last week’s win.

Carson Wentz has had his ups and downs this season, currently sitting at a 0.11 Pass NEP per drop back – meaning he adds 0.11 expected points on every single drop back. That ranks as the 25th best among all quarterbacks who have dropped back at least 59 times this season. In return, the Eagles rank 25th overall in Adjusted Passing NEP per play.

The bright spot for this Eagles team has unsurprisingly been their defensive line. We knew entering the 2019 season that the Eagles were loaded with talent on this d-line, and they’ve certainly proved that to be true this season. They currently rank sixth-best in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play this season and are only allowing 3.41 yards per carry to opposing running backs – which ranks as the third-best across the league. The Eagles will look to lean on their defensive line play to close out this season while hoping Wentz can get this offense back on track.

After losing Cam Newton to an injury after their Week 2 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Carolina Panthers found themselves winless at an 0-2 record. They then went on to win four straight games with Kyle Allen as their quarterback, before running into the number one overall team last week, the San Francisco 49ers.

While Allen had impressed most people with his play during the Panthers' four-game win streak, it was Christian McCaffrey who led this team to victory week in and week out. McCaffrey’s play this season has put himself in the 2019 MVP conversation. Per the FanDuel Sportsbook, McCaffrey currently has the sixth-best odds to win the 2019 regular season MVP.

While it’s unlikely he’ll win the MVP, being in that conversation at the halfway point of the season just goes to show how great he’s played this season. He’s currently the number one overall fantasy running back and ranks in the top-five for both rushing attempts and running back targets this season.

The Panthers' passing defense has also been great this season. They currently have a -0.07 Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, which ranks third-best across the league. They have, however, struggled to stop the rush this season, ranking dead last in the league in terms of Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play.

Teams Ranked 12th to 1st

Rank Team nERD Rec Playoff Odds Off. NEP Rank Def. NEP Rank Change
12 Baltimore Ravens 1.55 5-2 77.60% 6 26 1
11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1.93 2-5 3.80% 11 14 1
10 Los Angeles Rams 2.89 5-3 35.30% 13 12 -1
9 Pittsburgh Steelers 3.92 3-4 52.50% 17 5 -1
8 Houston Texans 4.09 5-3 63.40% 9 6 -2
7 Dallas Cowboys 4.76 4-3 61.50% 1 24 3
6 Kansas City Chiefs 6.69 5-3 92.30% 3 11 -2
5 New Orleans Saints 7.65 7-1 98.30% 5 10 2
4 Minnesota Vikings 7.83 6-2 83.50% 7 7 1
3 Green Bay Packers 10.17 7-1 97.60% 2 8 0
2 New England Patriots 13.79 8-0 100.00% 19 2 -1
1 San Francisco 49ers 15.08 7-0 98.00% 10 1 1

The Baltimore Ravens crept back into the top-tier of our rankings this week, all while being on their bye in Week 8. Their 1.55 nERD keeps them in mix with the other top-tier teams -- a metric that measures how many points above or below average a team is.

They’ll have their toughest matchup of the season this week, as they are set to face an undefeated New England Patriots team at home. Per our heat map, the Patriots are currently implied to win this game as 3.5-point favorites. It’ll be a battle of strengths for both teams, with the Ravens' offense being rated sixth overall by numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics and set to face the Patriots' defense, which ranks second. On the flip side, the Ravens' defense ranks 26th overall, while the Patriots' offense ranks 19th.

The Patriots' 13.79 nERD is far better than the Ravens' nERD this season. The Ravens are, however, coming off their bye and should be well rested. That, along with home-field advantage, should play a big role if the Ravens go on to win this game. I look forward to seeing what Bill Belichick and the Patriots' defense draw up to try and contain second-year standout quarterback, Lamar Jackson.

Speaking of the New England Patriots, they fell out of the first overall position in our rankings for the first time this season. It is now the San Francisco 49ers who hold the title of “best team in the league.” This likely won’t be the last time we see the Patriots in the first overall position, but it's fun to see another team challenging them for first.

The Patriots' strength of schedule plays a role into this. They’ve had one of the easiest schedules this season to date, compared to a Niners team whose schedule has been much tougher. Things aren’t going to get any harder for the Patriots this season, either, as they’re set to finish the 2019 season with the fifth-easiest schedule across the league:

As you can see in the tweet above, the Patriots' average opponent nERD per game is well below their current 13.79 nERD. They have a couple of top-12 teams left to face this season, which will be key indicators in determining how good this Patriots team really is.

The Patriots' defense has been out of this world this season, breaking historical records throughout the first eight games of the regular season. Per ESPN Stats and Info, the Patriots’ defense has as many touchdowns scored (four) as allowed (four) this season – the first defense to do that through eight games since the 1970 Vikings.