2011 NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

1. (1) Green Bay Packers (7-0). Even on a bye, the gap between the Packers and the second best team grows.

2. (2) New England Patriots (5-2). I really have no idea who to rank second. The Patriots lost a close game on the road to a great team, so I won't penalize them this week. The defense is worrisome, but being #32 in the NFL in yards allowed isn't as bad as it sounds. Teams often have to throw a ton against them. Still, I worry about the defense and don't think they will come out of the AFC if they have to travel to Pittsburgh or even Buffalo.

3. (5) Buffalo Bills (5-2). Out of all the teams that have come out of nowhere, I think the Bills are the most impressive. They have a big play defense and run the football really well. Ryan Fitzpatrick is also good enough to keep defenses honest. That combination wins championships. Do I think they are a legit contender? Right now, yes I do. They have the Jets twice in a four game span. We will get to see how for real they are.

4. (4) Baltimore Ravens (5-2). The Ravens have looked far from the fourth best team in the league the last two weeks. But it's a long season, and every team goes through their ups and downs. Baltimore just had their ultimate downer on national television a couple weeks ago. I worry about Joe Flacco come playoff time, but no doubt in my mind this is one of the few best teams in the AFC.

5. (6) San Francisco 49ers (6-1). I love what the 49ers are doing. They are winning by running the football and playing great defense. And they aren't piling up wins against weak teams like the Bengals. They have only played one game against their NFC West cupcakes. I don't trust Alex Smith to win a single playoff game, but the Packers better keep on winning, because the road to the Super Bowl for the NFC could go through San Francisco.

6. (9) Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2). The Steelers are back to playing great football after their early season struggles. If they can avenge a humiliating loss to the Baltimore Ravens next week, they will probably shoot up to my #2 spot.

7. (8) Detroit Lions (6-2). The Lions got back on track in a huge way, demolishing the Broncos in every way possible. The Lions will have to battle if they want to make the playoffs, because following the bye they get tough games against the Bears, Packers (twice), Saints, Raiders and Chargers.

8. (7) New York Giants (5-2). The Giants sit at 5-2 but the New York faithful are not resting easy. The team has only outscored their opposition by 10 points and needed a comeback to beat the lowly Dolphins. The Giants have about a brutal four game stretch as you can imagine, with games against the Patriots, 49ers, Eagles and Saints coming up.

9. (3) New Orleans Saints (5-3). The Saints are prone to inexplicable losses. During their Super Bowl season they lost late in the year to a pathetic Buccaneers team. Still, giving up 31 points to the Rams and backup QB AJ Feeley has to be extremely alarming.

10. (10) Houston Texans (5-3). If the Texans don't win 10 games this year Gary Kubiak has to go. They have a pretty easy schedule remaining. The division is theirs for the taking, though I don't see a chance that they win a playoff game with Matt Schaub behind center.

11. (18) Philadelphia Eagles (3-4).
12. (14) Cincinnati Bengals (5-2).
13. (15) New York Jets (4-3).
14. (13) Oakland Raiders (4-3).
15. (11) San Diego Chargers (4-3).
16. (12) Dallas Cowboys (3-4).
17. (16) Atlanta Falcons (4-3).
18. (17) Chicago Bears (4-3).
19. (19) Tennessee Titans (4-3).
20. (20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3).
21. (21) Kansas City Chiefs (4-3).
22. (23) Minnesota Vikings (2-6).
23. (22) Carolina Panthers (2-6).
24. (24) Washington Redskins (3-4).
25. (25) Cleveland Browns (3-4).
26. (26) Seattle Seahawks (2-5).
27. (27) Denver Broncos (2-5).
28. (29) Arizona Cardinals (1-6).
29. (28) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5).
30. (30) St. Louis Rams (1-6).
31. (32) Miami Dolphins (0-7)
32. (31) Indianapolis Colts (0-8).

Jonathan Carrano

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