NFL power rankings, post-Week 9 edition:
1. Saints (2): Handing Rams their first defeat earns catbird seat. But despite owning key tiebreaker, New Orleans has much tougher path to NFC's top seed.
2. Rams (1): After getting roasted by Drew Brees, CB Marcus Peters was summarily roasted on social media. Aqib Talib's return will be important waypoint.
3. Patriots (3): Bill Belichick has to be wondering if former protégé Matt Patricia will provide any potential cheat codes to fellow rookie HC Mike Vrabel this week.
4. Chiefs (4): Patrick Mahomes continues grabbing headlines, but defense quietly jelling into decent unit even as it adapts sans Justin Houston, Eric Berry.
5. Chargers (5): Next three opponents 6-19 collectively. Bolts will be in mix for AFC's best record — not that "home" playoff games would help them much.
6. Steelers (6): Wouldn't they be better off if Le'Veon Bell simply opts not to show up at all — as odd a financial stratagem as that would ultimately be?
7. Panthers (8): After wasted rookie year, 2017 second rounder Curtis Samuel steadily becoming next weapon in this attack with three TDs last three weeks.
8. Vikings (9): Balanced offense, return of a smothering defense — this probably pretty close to type of team Mike Zimmer envisioned all along.
9. Eagles (10): Do bye weeks get better? Injury bug bit down hard on NFC East-leading Washington. Meanwhile, Philly picked up Golden Tate. Champs are back.
10. Bengals (12): When you've got ½-game lead for final wild card, New Orleans isn't team you want coming out your bye — especially with A.J. Green hurt.
11. Falcons (14): Halloween's over, but are these NFL's zombies? After winning three in a row, they're back from dead — knocking on door of playoff field.
12. Bears (15): They just got flexed into "Sunday Night Football" for Week 11. Let's hope Khalil Mack's ankle healthy enough to allow him to play by then.
13. Texans (17): It's not fair to diminish a six-game winning streak against NFL competition, but Miami (5-4) is only victim with winning record on list.
14. Redskins (7): And we were worried Adrian Peterson might break down. Instead, pretty much all of Washington's O-line is suddenly in street clothes.
15. Packers (11): Close-but-no-cigar outcomes have worn thin, especially since we'll now wonder how defense would have looked if Ha Ha Clinton-Dix remained.
16. Ravens (13): As season stunningly spirals away, might be time to give Lamar Jackson shot rather than continue untenable Joe Flacco-Jackson packages.
17. Seahawks (16): Nice to see first-class LB K.J. Wright back in action. Seattle will need him entering defining stretch against Rams, Pack and Panthers.
18. Dolphins (20): Résumé suggests Frank Gore, never an all-pro, isn't Hall of Famer. Stats say otherwise. He just passed Barry Sanders with sixth-most scrimmage yards.
19. Titans (21): Wisely starting to allow this offense to flow through RB Dion Lewis, who carved Dallas up for 122 yards in Monday night's upset.
20. Jaguars (22): Leonard Fournette was back on practice field Monday, but is his potential return too little, too late? Maybe not after glance at schedule.
21. Cowboys (18): Just one game, but addition of WR Amari Cooper did little to mask this offense's bigger issues — Dak's limitations and line's struggles.
22. Lions (19): Matthew Stafford gets sacked 10 times … offense has season-low 209 yards (just 66 rushing) … we're looking at you, O-line.
23. Buccaneers (23): What's left to say? Final score was respectable Sunday, but this was offense's least productive day of 2018 despite Fitzmagic’s return.
24. Browns (24): Bruce Arians wants this job. We want Bruce Arians back on NFL sideline. We want Bruce Arians teamed with Baker Mayfield. This should happen.
25. Jets (25): Shake it off, Sam. Joe Namath threw at least 27 interceptions in three different seasons … not to suggest you have that kind of leeway.
26. Broncos (27): Jeff Heuerman about to become pick-up du jour in fantasy leagues starved for decent tight end options. We may be overselling this.
27. Colts (26): Unless they vacationed during bye week, players won't have to leave state of Indiana during month of November. Now's time to make a move.
28. Cardinals (29): They can use some inspiration. Maybe signing Aurora, Colo., shooting survivor Zack Golditch will provide it … while bolstering O-line.
29. 49ers (31): Poor Jimmy Garoppolo. He's got a full year to wonder if he just got Majkowski'd by some relatively unknown kid out of Southern Miss.
30. Giants (28): Team that should be searching for next quarterback had to handle rookie Kyle Lauletta's "traffic deal," per Pat Shurmur, during bye. Next.
31. Bills (30): Team that believes it found its next quarterback can only hope rookie Josh Allen's elbow is sound enough to allow his return very soon.
32. Raiders (32): Welp. At least it was entertaining reading Jon Gruden's lips Thursday and watching him side-eye defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
(Previous week's rank in parentheses)
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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