Neil Reynolds' Power Rankings Week 9

Would you like to know how wide open and unpredictable this 2021 NFL season has been? We are only just heading into Week 9 and I have placed my sixth different team at the top of these Power Rankings. After Buffalo, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, the LA Rams and Arizona Cardinals; it is now the turn of the Green Bay Packers. But how long can they stay in pole position?

1
5
Green Bay Packers
2021 · 7-1-0

The Packers have won seven straight and they showed their strength and depth by beating the previously-undefeated Cardinals without Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and with Robert Tonyan going down with an injury. Enjoy this, Packers fans. A loss without Aaron Rodgers on Sunday will likely result in a drop down.

2
1
Los Angeles Rams
2021 · 7-1-0

The Rams are going for it and I love the addition of Von Miller. Some coaches and general managers scoff at the Rams’ top-heavy approach. They have not used a first-round pick since 2016 and don’t have another until 2024. But they have been competitive for about four years now and are 7-1. Argue with that.

3
2
Arizona Cardinals
2021 · 7-1-0

I’m worried about the loss of JJ Watt because he brought a needed physical presence to the defensive line. The Cardinals had been a physical team for their first seven wins of the year but did not look quite the same against Green Bay. Mind you, if A.J. Green turns around; they’re still undefeated.

4
1
Dallas Cowboys
2021 · 6-1-0

Winning on the road against what we believed to be a playoff contender in Minnesota, without Dak Prescott, proves just how talented the Cowboys are this year. They are much like Green Bay in that regard. If Cooper Rush is to head back to the bench, he can do so knowing he kept the train on the tracks.

5
1
Buffalo Bills
2021 · 5-2-0

The Bills occasionally play down to the level – or near the level – of their opponents and they let a poor Miami team hang around for far too long on Sunday. But they got the standard couple of touchdown passes from Josh Allen and the defense played very well and never allowed the Dolphins to get going.

6
4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2021 · 6-2-0

I don’t see the Bucs being this low in my rankings many times the rest of the way. They just had a bad day against a New Orleans defense that seems to have their number. My biggest worry coming out of that loss was not the Tom Brady picks, but Giovani Bernard leading the ground attack with just 30 yards.

7
2
Tennessee Titans
2021 · 6-2-0

The Titans certainly have the backbone and guts to overcome the loss of Derrick Henry. After trailing by 14 on the road, they beat Indy in overtime – their third extra-period game this season. Mike Vrabel’s men have won seven of their last eight OT games. But can Adrian Peterson fill some giant-sized shoes?

8
1
Cincinnati Bengals
2021 · 5-3-0

The Bengals would love to have another crack at the Jets after they failed to capitalize on the previous week’s win over Baltimore. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase remain the catalysts for Cincy’s explosive attack but the quarterback must tidy up some late-game interceptions that have reared their ugly head.

9
1
Baltimore Ravens
2021 · 5-2-0

The Ravens are coming off their bye week and I’m surprised they did not use that extra time to sign quarterback Lamar Jackson to a contract extension. That likely doesn’t happen until after this season now, meaning the player assumes the injury risk for a few months.

10
3
New Orleans Saints
2021 · 5-2-0

The running game looks stout, the offensive line is good and the defense is one of the more under-rated units in the league. Can we all please give Marshon Lattimore some love? But who plays quarterback is the biggest question – Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian or… Philip Rivers? Never say never in today’s NFL.

11
Las Vegas Raiders
2021 · 5-2-0

The Raiders are coming off their bye week and will quite rightly be without a key offensive weapon after cutting Henry Ruggs following his arrest for a drink-driving crash that resulted in a fatality.

12
2
Kansas City Chiefs
2021 · 4-4-0

The worries on the offensive side of the ball remain and the Chiefs have been forced to become a totally introverted outfit. And even then, the turnovers keep on coming. Defenses have the blueprint now. It’s up to Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ attack to come up with something new to counter.

13
3
Los Angeles Chargers
2021 · 4-3-0

Justin Herbert has been held in check for his last two games and, like the Chiefs, now we need to see how he responds. Both Baltimore and New England played a lot of man coverages and created pressure. That’s not necessarily a unique blueprint, but it is one that gave Herbert some problems.

14
3
Pittsburgh Steelers
2021 · 4-3-0

The Steelers are waking up just enough on the offensive side of the ball to help out what we already knew was a very good defense. Pittsburgh have the chance to build some momentum now. They have won three in a row and face Chicago and Detroit next on the schedule.

15
3
New England Patriots
2021 · 4-4-0

The Patriots lack difference makers in the passing game but Mac Jones does enough, the running game is strong behind a very good offensive line and Bill Belichick’s defense is going to present weekly challenges to the opposition. The Pats are not a Super Bowl team, but they can be a testing wild card outfit.

16
4
Cleveland Browns
2021 · 4-4-0

Hot on the heels of injuries, the Browns have been hit hard by dysfunction. The Odell Beckham Jr-Baker Mayfield split escalated quickly and to the point where the receiver has been sent away from the team by head coach Kevin Stefanski. Such headlines mask the fact that Cleveland are too talented to be 4-4.

17
4
San Francisco 49ers
2021 · 3-4-0

Jimmy Garoppolo’s best friend as he clings to his starting job should be the short pass to Deebo Samuel, who looks like an elite running back once the ball is in his hands. Samuel is off to an historic start for a 49ers team that is not out of the playoff picture in the NFC by any means.

18
2
Indianapolis Colts
2021 · 3-5-0

I was impressed with large parts of the Colts’ performance against Tennessee last weekend, but they got buried by their own quarterback. I just find the whole Carson Wentz experience at quarterback too frantic and I feel like he is never too far away from the kind of mistakes that cost the Colts on Sunday.

19
1
Seattle Seahawks
2021 · 3-5-0

Russell Wilson should return after the bye week and that will create some spark, of course. He will deliver two or threw wins down the stretch on his own with magic play in key spots. But I still don’t see Seattle making any kind of noise. The defense is too bad. A wild card is the best the ‘Hawks can hope for.

20
5
Minnesota Vikings
2021 · 3-4-0

The Vikings are one of the bigger disappointments of this season at 3-4 and their offense could not get going on Sunday Night Football against Dallas. I still think Kirk Cousins is fine at quarterback and the receivers and running game is good. So it’s a mystery. The D could not afford to lose Danielle Hunter.

21
6
Carolina Panthers
2021 · 4-4-0

Sam Darnold needs to understand that his teammates won’t be thinking about how tough he is when he is sitting on the sideline with a concussion. They will play on without him and likely think he should have taken better care of his body. Next up for Darnold is the team that made him “see ghosts” in New England.

22
3
Atlanta Falcons
2021 · 3-4-0

Consistency is the key to success in the NFL and that’s why the Atlanta Falcons cannot yet be considered a good team. They won three of four contests heading into Sunday but then dropped a disappointing loss against a Carolina side that had lost four in a row. That was not a good look for Arthur Smith’s men.

23
1
Denver Broncos
2021 · 4-4-0

The Broncos are still alive in the AFC playoff race at 4-4 but it doesn’t feel like there is much juice to Vic Fangio’s team. Trading Von Miller suggests Denver are positioning themselves to make more noise in 2022 and beyond. Maybe when they have found the answer at quarterback that has eluded them for years.

24
1
Chicago Bears
2021 · 3-5-0

When Justin Fields the passer catches up with Justin Fields the runner (the rookie gained 103 yards on the ground against San Francisco last week) the Bears will be onto something at quarterback. And then they need to put some focus on protecting what would likely be one of their most valuable assets.

25
1
Philadelphia Eagles
2021 · 3-5-0

It’s a slight bump in my rankings for the Eagles but they did only face the winless Lions last week. They will have an occasional moment here and there the rest of the way, but I just don’t see this current Eagles team making any kind of run.

26
1
New York Giants
2021 · 2-6-0

Injuries have definitely played a part in New York’s 2-6 season, but I don’t know if that reasoning will alleviate the pressure on under-fire head coach Joe Judge. His seat is starting to warm up. It would help if Daniel Jones was throwing more than seven touchdown passes in eight games to start the year.

27
3
Washington Football Team
2021 · 2-6-0

It’s not all about the disappointing defense for a Washington team that enters its bye week on the back of four straight losses. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke is not getting the job done and has led an offense that is averaging 13.8 points per game since Week 5 and has not topped 250 net passing yards in that time.

28
3
New York Jets
2021 · 2-5-0

Mike White’s 405-yard passing day jersey is on its way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. No matter what happens moving forward, his ‘take what the defense gives you’ approach to playing quarterback should be copied by Zach Wilson when he returns to the starting lineup.


29
Miami Dolphins
2021 · 1-7-0

The Dolphins are a hot mess at 1-7 and I’m not sure how it gets much better the rest of the way. Tua Tagovailoa knows full well that management went after Deshaun Watson and that surely impacts his game. General manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores are in trouble in South Florida.

30
2
Jacksonville Jaguars
2021 · 1-6-0

The Jags lost 20 games in a row before beating Miami in London. But they quickly kicked off another losing streak in Seattle, pretty much failing to show up in the Pacific Northwest. Trevor Lawrence has a QB rating of 74.0 this season (31st in the NFL) but the rookie is hardly surrounded with stellar talent. It’s a tough gig.

31
1
Detroit Lions
2021 · 0-8-0

For the first seven games of this season, we could at least say that the Detroit Lions were playing hard for head coach Dan Campbell. They came close to beating Baltimore and Minnesota before being undone by late field goals. But there were worrying signs in Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia. The Lions simply gave up.

32
Houston Texans
2021 · 1-7-0

It was just as one-sided for the Houston Texans as they were hammered by the Los Angeles Rams. It is going to be a long limp to the finish line for Houston. The only spark could come from the return of veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who could be back from his hamstring injury this week or next

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