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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

11.01.10 at 8:20 pm ET
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A new team reigns supreme in this week’s edition of the WEEI.com NFL Power Rankings. Riding a five-game winning streak and holding sole possession of the best record in football, Tom Brady and the Patriots climb to No. 1 in the rankings.

The AFC still dominates at the top of the rankings. The Steelers, Ravens, Colts and Jets round out the Fantastic Five.

After another bizarre week in the NFL in which we saw the Jets held scoreless at home, Donovan McNabb benched in favor of Rex Grossman to run the two-minute drill and Brett Favre taken off the field in a cart, nothing seems more peculiar than the news of Randy Moss being waived by the Vikings. Following the Vikings’ loss and the sense that head coach Brad Childress has lost all respect in his team’s locker room, Minnesota plunges to No. 19.

Two other notable teams that started the season ranked high are currently in the bottom of the barrel, with the Dallas Cowboys (No. 30) and the Cincinnati Bengals (No. 24) scraping new lows.

1. (Last week, 3) 6-1 The news for the Patriots got even better this week with reports emerging that Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins will return to the team on Tuesday. The Patriots are looking more and more like the team we saw dominate the past decade. They’re an extremely disciplined team that doesn’t commit many penalties and rarely turns the ball over. They rank at the top of the league in both of those categories. Bill Belichick‘s young defense seems to be improving and gaining confidence each week. Jerod Mayo leads the league with 86 tackles.

2. (1) 5-2 Overall, a loss to the defending champs on the road isn’t too much to worry about for Steelers fans. Ben Roethlisberger and the offense still don’t look 100 percent comfortable. They probably need a few more games to get on the same page. In the loss to the Saints, New Orleans was able to get pressure and confuse “Big Ben” all game.

3. (4) 5-2 The Ravens benefit from the bye week in more ways than one. Not only did Joe Flacco and company enjoy some needed rest but they also moved into first place in the AFC North after the Steelers fell to the Saints.

4. (5) 5-2 Peyton Manning continues to impress. No. 18 has shown time and time again that he can get the job done no matter what personnel makes up his receiving corps. On defense, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are nightmares for opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks.

5. (2) 5-2 The Jets should have some serious concerns about their offense. Coming off an extra week of preparation, the Jets offense was horrendous. Since starting his first five games with zero interceptions, Mark Sanchez has thrown four interceptions in his last two games. At the same time, Sanchez got no help from his receivers, who dropped nine passes.

6. (6) 5-2 The Giants are probably the best team in the NFC right now. They have a great rushing attack with the tandem of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. On the defensive side of the ball, they are extremely fast and physical on the defensive line and are able to get plenty of pressure on the passer.

7. (8) 5-2 The Falcons’ next two games will tell a lot about their football team. Next up are two home games against the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Baltimore Ravens. Matt Ryan and the Falcons play a lot better in the Georgia Dome. Ryan is 16-1 at home since becoming the starter in 2008.

8. (11) 5-3 In Sunday night’s win over the Steelers, the Saints played like they did during their Super Bowl run. On defense, they created opportunities and caused turnovers. On offense, Drew Brees did a great job finding the open receiver, getting first-downs and possessing the ball. The Saints offense won the possession battle, keeping the ball for 34 minutes to the Steelers’ 26.

9. (10) 5-3 Overall, a very impressive win for Green Bay. The Packers went into their game against the Jets with a great strategy to make Mark Sanchez beat them. The beaten-up Packers D was able to contain the second-best run offense in the league and forced two interceptions.

10. (9) 4-3 Interesting statistic of the week: The Dolphins are just the fifth team to have a 4-0 record on the road and an 0-3 record at home after seven games. Next up for the Dolphins are the well-rested Ravens in Baltimore.

11. (7) 5-3 The Titans defense has to improve if they want to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC. In Sunday’s loss, the Titans allowed Philip Rivers and the Chargers to convert 12 of 18 attempts on third down. Tennessee ranks in the bottom of the league on stopping opponents on third down.

12. (12) 5-2 The Chiefs are now 4-0 at home and face a tough challenge in Oakland this Sunday. Behind Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, Kansas City’s run game is the best in the league. However they need to dramatically improve their pass offense. Matt Cassell threw for just 140 yards.

13. (13) 4-3 Michael Vick is ready to return to the starter role once again. The dynamic quarterback says he feels no pain in his ribs and that he is fully healed. Last time the Eagles played, their pass defense was shredded by the Titans and wide receiver Kenny Britt. They’ll have a great chance to redeem themselves this coming week against Peyton Manning.

14. (18) 3-5 Philip Rivers is having an amazing year. In Sunday’s win, Rivers threw for over 300 yards for the fifth time this year. This, of course, has been with a makeshift receiving corps that is filled with backups and without All-Pro Vincent Jackson. The Chargers still are having issues on special teams. They had another punt blocked in Sunday’s win.

15. (14) 4-2 The Texans can’t seem to break away from mediocrity. Monday night was Houston’s opportunity to show they were more than just an average football team. However, Matt Schaub and the Texans offense started the game ice cold. Schaub was just 5-of-15 for 37 yards and one interception in the first half. The Texans know better than any other team that, if you start off cold against Manning and the Colts, your team is likely to get burned. Houston also has major problems defending the pass.

16. (17) 4-3 The Bears need to establish a more effective run game that can help Jay Cutler and his offensive line. Chicago’s main key coming off the bye week should be protecting the football on offense.

17. (15) 4-4 The benching of Donovan McNabb for the two-minute drill may have cost the Redskins the game, and this decision could have ill effects for the rest of the season. This was a very questionable call by head coach Mike Shanahan. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out.

18. (19) 5-2 Yes, Josh Freeman is one of the great stories in the NFL. The 22-year-old QB has progressed very nicely. However, much like the Denver Broncos last year, who started the season 6-0 but then melted down the stretch, the Bucs remain in the bottom half of the power rankings because they’re just not as good as their record. Tampa’s wins have come against five teams with a combined 12-24 record.

19. (16) 2-5 Brad Childress is at the top of a list of NFL head coaches who deserve to get fired. This season has been a complete debacle and disappointment for the Vikings. Most of the blame goes to their head coach.

20. (22) 4-4 The Oakland Raiders have strung together a pair of very impressive wins. Thanks to WEEI.com colleague Kirk Minihane for bringing this stat up: The Raiders have outscored their opponents 92-17 during their two-game winning streak. I’m not ready to jump on the “Silver and Black” bandwagon just yet. They have some extremely tough opponents coming up, starting with the Chiefs this Sunday.

21. (24) 4-4 It seems like every time the Jags lose, David Garrard gets the blame. Well, this time he gets the credit. Garrard had a career day in which he completed 17-of-21 passes with 4 TDs and a 157.8 QB Rating.

22. (26) 4-4 Sam Bradford is certainly making a case for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He has led this team to a .500 winning percentage through eight games. This is the best record the Rams have had through the first half of the season since 2006.

23. (20) 4-3 The Seahawks offensive line has struggled mightily this year. Matt Hasselbeck has been sacked 22 times this year. He was brought down eight times during Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the Raiders. Some reports say that rookie left tackle Russell Okung will be returning to practice this week. For the sake of Hasselbeck’s health, let’s hope that’s the case.

24. (21) 2-5 Interceptions during key moments of games continue to plague Carson Palmer. The seven-year veteran has played very poorly this season. If it wasn’t for the Cowboys, the Bengals would be in the conversation for most disappointing team in the NFL this season.

25. (27) 2-5 Coming off a bye week and a huge win in New Orleans against the defending champs, the Cleveland Browns will be well rested and prepared to take on the Patriots. Let’s see if their defense can build off a solid performance against the Saints and confuse Tom Brady like they did Drew Brees.

26. (29) 2-5 The youth movement in Detroit is certainly refreshing to watch after years and years of gloom and despair in the “Motor City.” Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamokong Suh are all bright spots for this Lions team. Suh helped lead a defense that had six sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. Stafford threw four touchdowns in Sunday’s win and three of them were to Johnson.

27. (31) 2-6 The 49ers should be excited about the play of Troy Smith, who performed tremendously in place of injured starter Alex Smith, who is out with an injury. San Fran now heads into its bye week with head coach Mike Singletary potentially having to decide which Smith should start.

28. (28) 3-4 The Cardinals have one of the worst offenses in the league. They have desperately missed Kurt Warner this year. The Max Hall/Derek Anderson experiment has been a failure to say the least. Although Anderson helped lead a comeback on Sunday, it was all for naught. He has struggled tremendously at times this season as well.

29. (25) 2-6 The Broncos are now 4-14 since starting 2009 with a 6-0 record. Their offense is extremely one-dimensional. The Broncos rushing attack is one of the worst in the league while their passing game is one of the best.

30. (23) 1-6 Two quotes from this week speak volumes about the Dallas Cowboys:

“If I knew what to do, I would have already done it.”Wade Phillips, Cowboys Head Coach

“It just looked like they weren’t into the game like an NFL team should be.” - David Garrard, Jaguars QB

31. (31) 1-6 It’s tough to understand why the Panthers have struggled so much on offense with some of the talent they have on that side of the ball. Carolina can’t get anything going offensively. They average 12.1 points and 251 yards per game. Both are good for last in the NFL.

32. (32) 0-7 At this point, we should just highlight one of the several things the Bills do wrong going forward the rest of the season. This week will be the absolutely horrendous unit they like to call a run defense. In attempting to defend the run, the Bills have allowed 200 or more rushing yards in four of their last five games. A matador is more effective.

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