Each week of the NFL season, The Baltimore Sun will rank all 32 NFL teams. The rankings will take into account not just weekly performance, injuries and roster depth, but how well each team measures up as Super Bowl contenders.
Here are the rankings heading into Week 9:
1. Philadelphia Eagles (7-1, No. 2)
Last week: Win vs. Commanders, 38-31
Up next: vs. Cowboys
The Eagles needed three straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter to finally pull away, but they once again proved their mettle. It helps to have Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown, who connected for two touchdown passes to help cover for a defense that allowed 26 first downs and 6.8 yards per play. Brown has blossomed into a superstar in Philly, becoming the first player in NFL history with 125-plus receiving yards in six consecutive games. All eyes will be on the status of Hurts’ injured knee heading into an intriguing matchup against Dallas.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (6-2, No. 1)
Last week: Loss vs. Broncos, 24-9
Up next: vs. Dolphins in Germany
Was that clunker in Denver just a bad day or a cause for concern? Dealing with flu-like symptoms, Patrick Mahomes had one of his worst performances in a Chiefs uniform, throwing two interceptions and failing to record a touchdown pass for the first time since Dec. 5, 2021. The lack of receiving talent around tight end Travis Kelce is more glaring than ever, and Kansas City was only able to muster 62 rushing yards. Once in the driver’s seat, the Chiefs now find themselves in a crowded race for the top seed in the AFC.
3. Ravens (6-2, No. 3)
Last week: Win vs. Cardinals, 31-24
Up next: vs. Seahawks
The win in Arizona was a Rorschach test for the Ravens’ Super Bowl hopes. Did Lamar Jackson’s uneven performance against the Cardinals’ drop coverage reveal a blueprint for potential playoff opponents? Is Gus Edwards good enough to carry the running game down the stretch? Should Baltimore be concerned by the lack of production from free agent receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor? Is the defense vulnerable to lapses against inferior opponents? Just how good is a secondary that must continue to rely on Geno Stone and Brandon Stephens? There’s little doubt the Ravens have been playing well enough to be considered a title contender, but general manager Eric DeCosta is making a big bet on this group by not making any meaningful additions at the trade deadline.
4. Miami Dolphins (5-2, No. 5)
Last week: Win vs. Patriots, 31-17
Up next: vs. Chiefs in Germany
When the Dolphins’ stars are shining, they’re hard to beat. Tua Tagovailoa leads the league with 2,416 passing yards, Tyreek Hill is the first player in the Super Bowl era to top 1,000 receiving yards through eight games and cornerback Jalen Ramsey intercepted a pass in his team debut, helping push Miami to 6-2 for the first time since 2001. When left tackle Terron Armstead comes back and the offensive line gets closer to full strength, the Dolphins could look even better.
5. Dallas Cowboys (5-2, No. 6)
Last week: Win vs. Rams, 43-20
Up next: at Eagles
When everything clicks, the Cowboys sure are impressive. Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb torched the Rams’ defense, while DaRon Bland recorded his NFL-leading third pick-six and Micah Parsons wreaked havoc in the backfield. Dallas also excelled on special teams, with Sam Williams blocking a punt for a safety and KaVontae Turpin returning the ensuing kick 63 yards. The Cowboys failed their first big test in a blowout loss to the 49ers, but they’ll get the chance to prove themselves this week against Philadelphia.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-2, No. 7)
Last week: Win vs. Steelers, 20-10
Up next: Bye
The Jaguars have been far from dominant, but they haven’t started the season 6-2 since 1999. Winning ugly in Pittsburgh is almost a rite of passage for any AFC contender, and Jacksonville accomplished that despite turning the ball over on two of its three trips inside the red zone. The Jaguars are expected to get four injured starters back after the bye week, which will be crucial in keeping pace in a tight conference race.
7. San Francisco 49ers (5-3, No. 4)
Last week: Loss vs. Bengals, 31-17
Up next: Bye
Make that three straight losses for the team that topped these rankings just three weeks ago. Poor defense and costly mistakes on offense have been a toxic mix, as quarterback Brock Purdy committed three turnovers in the second half Sunday while Joe Burrow ruthlessly picked the 49ers’ secondary apart. When Purdy is outgaining Christian McCaffrey on the ground, you know something is wrong. Perhaps the addition of Commanders defensive end Chase Young will help reignite a pass rush that has curiously struggled to record sacks despite boasting a surplus of talent up front.
8. Buffalo Bills (5-3, No. 8)
Last week: Win vs. Buccaneers, 24-18
Up next: at Bengals
Don’t forget about the Bills. While Buffalo teetered on the edge of disaster in recent weeks, it rebounded well Thursday night behind a solid performance on both sides of the ball. Josh Allen’s right shoulder injury didn’t seem to bother him too much, and Khalil Shakir might have announced himself as the third receiver the Bills have been looking for. Buffalo also addressed a glaring weak spot at the deadline, acquiring veteran cornerback Rasul Douglas from the Packers after being forced to rely on practice squad call-up Josh Norman.
9. Detroit Lions (6-2, No. 9)
Last week: Win vs. Raiders, 26-14
Up next: Bye
The Lions quickly put a humbling loss behind them and showed maturity in finishing off the Raiders on Monday night. Three Detroit turnovers, including a pick-six by Marcus Peters to pull Las Vegas within two points in the fourth quarter, and a 1-for-5 performance in the red zone kept the Lions from running up the score as they piled up 486 yards and allowed just 157. Six sacks, including two from defensive tackle Alim McNeill, continued a strong start to the season for the defense. The addition of Browns wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones is also a nice swing for a team that could use a big body on the outside.
10. Seattle Seahawks (5-2, No. 12)
Last week: Win vs. Browns, 24-20
Up next: at Ravens
If not for an interception that deflected off safety Jamal Adams’ helmet with 1:57 remaining Sunday, the Seahawks might have suffered a regrettable defeat. But thanks to that play and some great throws from Geno Smith on Seattle’s final drive, the Seahawks have a half-game lead in the NFC West. There were enough struggles on offense and some disappointing moments from the defense Sunday to feel uncertain about Seattle’s division title prospects, but given the state of the NFC, this team might already be a playoff lock.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (4-3, No. 11)
Last week: Win vs. 49ers, 31-17
Up next: vs. Bills
Welcome back, Joe Burrow. The Bengals star quarterback finished 28-for-32 — including 19 straight completions at one point — for 283 yards and three touchdowns to lead a dominant win over what’s still considered one of the best teams in the league. It was a far cry from Burrow’s statuesque performances as he dealt with a calf injury during Cincinnati’s 1-3 start. Don’t overlook the Bengals’ ground game, either, which helped make play-action passes from under center — something Burrow said he worked hard on all offseason — more effective.
12. Cleveland Browns (4-3, No. 10)
Last week: Loss vs. Seahawks, 24-20
Up next: vs. Cardinals
Given the mix of talent and potential, this might be the most frustrating team in the league. The lack of clarity with quarterback Deshaun Watson, both in his ability and his availability, has created an awkward situation that has threatened to derail the season and coach Kevin Stefanski’s tenure. Backup P.J. Walker, who has just one touchdown pass and five interceptions in three games, is simply not good enough. Even if Watson does come back from his shoulder injury soon, it might be a while before we know whether Cleveland is truly a playoff contender.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (3-4, No. 21)
Last week: Win vs. Bears, 30-13
Up next: at Jets
With a healthy Justin Herbert, the Chargers are dangerous. Playing without a glove for the first time since fracturing the middle finger on his left hand in Week 4, Herbert completed his first 15 passes and led Los Angeles to points on each of its first five drives in a dominant win. Austin Ekeler led the team in receiving yards, and rookie Quentin Johnston even got involved. There’s still a long way to go, but the Chargers have kept their playoff hopes alive.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3, No. 13)
Last week: Loss vs. Jaguars, 20-10
Up next: vs. Titans
Injuries to quarterback Kenny Pickett (ribs) and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (hamstring) don’t bode well for a team that has been winning by the slimmest of margins all season. While Pittsburgh’s defense has been good enough to keep the team in every game, it must be even better if the offense has to rely on backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky and an ineffective running game.
15. New Orleans Saints (4-4, No. 23)
Last week: Win vs. Colts, 38-27
Up next: vs. Bears
Now we know how good the Saints offense can be. Derek Carr hit several long passes to Rashid Shaheed, Michael Thomas and Chris Olave as New Orleans averaged 17.7 yards per reception and recorded 511 total yards, its most since 2020. Taysom Hill, at the right moments, remains an effective weapon. After hitting a rough patch, the Saints are still tied for first in the NFC South.
16. Atlanta Falcons (4-4, No. 15)
Last week: Loss vs. Titans, 28-23
Up next: vs. Vikings
While the Falcons have been saying all the right things when it comes to Desmond Ridder, we might have seen the beginning of a quarterback change Sunday. After Ridder was sacked five times and lost his sixth fumble of the season, he was replaced by Taylor Heinicke, who finished 12 of 21 for 175 yards and a touchdown as Atlanta scored 20 second-half points. Given a division title is within reach, the Falcons can’t be too patient with their second-year quarterback.
17. New York Jets (4-3, No. 19)
Last week: Win vs. Giants, 13-10 (OT)
Up next: vs. Chargers
The Jets snatched victory from the jaws of defeat Sunday, as a missed 35-yard field goal attempt by the Giants’ Graham Gano with 28 seconds left gave Zach Wilson enough time to complete two long passes to set up the game-tying field goal at the end of regulation. Wilson then helped lead the Jets down the field on their first possession of overtime — aided by a pass interference penalty — before Greg Zuerlein kicked the game-winning 33-yarder. It was an ugly win that featured a combined 24 punts, 15 penalties and four third-down conversions on 34 attempts, but it puts the Jets above .500 as they await the potential return of Aaron Rodgers.
18. Minnesota Vikings (4-4, No. 14)
Last week: Win vs. Packers, 24-10
Up next: at Falcons
Kirk Cousins’ time in Minnesota might be over. The 35-year-old quarterback reportedly suffered a torn Achilles tendon in Sunday’s win, and his contract voids at the end of the season. The Vikings must now hang their playoff hopes on Joshua Dobbs, who was acquired at the trade deadline after an up-and-down stint as the Cardinals’ starter.
19. Tennessee Titans (3-4, No. 25)
Last week: Win vs. Falcons, 28-23
Up next: vs. Vikings
The Titans might have their answer at quarterback. Rookie Will Levis threw four touchdown passes in his NFL debut, and while many of those deep throws required plenty of luck, the former Kentucky star gives the offense some much-needed juice. It helps to have DeAndre Hopkins on the receiving end, too. How Levis plays in a short week against a strong Steelers defense will help answer some questions about his potential.
20. Houston Texans (3-4, No. 17)
Last week: Loss vs. Panthers, 15-13
Up next: vs. Buccaneers
After a blazing start, rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has cooled off recently, which first-year coach DeMeco Ryans said is the result of defenses seeing more film of the Ohio State star and making adjustments. How the No. 2 overall pick adjusts himself will be the most interesting storyline to watch for the rest of Houston’s season.
21. Los Angeles Rams (3-5, No. 16)
Last week: Loss vs. Cowboys, 43-20
Up next: at Packers
The Rams’ season hinges on the health of quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has an ulnar collateral ligament sprain in his right thumb and is day to day. But he hasn’t been very effective when he does play, completing just 59.7% of his passes and ranking 24th in passer rating. Coach Sean McVay will need to work some magic to keep this team afloat.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4, No. 18)
Last week: Loss vs. Bills, 24-18
Up next: at Texans
Three straight losses have quickly overshadowed a strong start for Tampa Bay. An ineffective rushing attack has put too much on the shoulders of Baker Mayfield, who hasn’t been good enough to elevate the offense by himself. The Bucs have averaged just 16.3 points per game, which ranks 26th in the league.
23. Denver Broncos (3-5, No. 24)
Last week: Win vs. Chiefs, 24-9
Up next: Bye
It might have felt like it at times, but this is far from the worst team in the league. Ending a 16-game losing streak against the Chiefs could be a turning point for Denver, which might have found a winning formula behind running back Javonte Williams and an effective ground game. Maybe Russell Wilson is turning the corner, too.
24. Indianapolis Colts (3-5, No. 20)
Last week: Loss vs. Saints, 38-27
Up next: at Panthers
While the Colts offense has been surprisingly good with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, his nine turnovers in four starts have been costly. And as promising as first-year coach Shane Steichen has been as the offensive play-caller, his unwillingness to rely on a running game that averaged 6.8 yards per carry Sunday was puzzling. Jonathan Taylor had just one carry after rushing for 94 yards in the first half, while Minshew finished with 41 pass attempts.
25. Washington Commanders (3-5, No. 22)
Last week: Loss vs. Eagles, 38-31
Up next: at Patriots
The Commanders are clearly thinking long term, for better or worse. After coming up just short against the Eagles, they traded a pair of promising pass rushers, sending Montez Sweat to the Bears for a 2024 second-round pick and Chase Young to the 49ers for a 2024 compensatory third-round selection. Washington now has nine draft picks next year, including five in the first three rounds. It’s smart business, considering both players are pending free agents, but it’s certainly disappointing to give up on the season this early.
26. Las Vegas Raiders (3-5, No. 29)
Last week: Loss vs. Lions, 26-14
Up next: vs. Giants
The return of Jimmy Garoppolo was not enough to lift the Raiders offense, as he finished 10 of 21 for 126 yards and an interception while taking six sacks. Davante Adams had just one catch on seven targets, and Jakobi Meyers had just one reception on the only pass thrown his way. The defense led by Maxx Crosby is competing hard, but that effort is being wasted. The disappointing start has cost coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler their jobs.
27. Chicago Bears (2-6, No. 26)
Last week: Loss vs. Chargers, 30-13
Up next: at Saints
While backup quarterback Tyson Bagent and the Bears’ rushing attack could not get much going on offense, it was the defense that was a much bigger disappointment. Chicago did not force a punt until the middle of the third quarter and allowed the Chargers to convert on 7 of 12 third downs. According to ESPN, the Bears did not generate pressure on 30 of Herbert’s 40 dropbacks. Perhaps the addition of Sweat will boost the pass rush, though it’s a curious trade considering he could be a half-season rental.
28. New England Patriots (2-6, No. 27)
Last week: Loss vs. Dolphins, 31-17
Up next: vs. Commanders
Given how badly Mac Jones has struggled this season, it seems likely the Patriots will be drafting a quarterback in April. New England is on pace to have a top-five pick, something it hasn’t done since taking defensive end Willie McGinest at No. 4 overall in 1994.
29. Green Bay Packers (2-5, No. 31)
Last week: Loss vs. Vikings, 24-10
Up next: vs. Rams
Maybe surrounding Jordan Love with the league’s youngest group of pass catchers wasn’t such a good idea. The first-year starter has looked overwhelmed during a four-game losing streak, throwing four touchdown passes to seven interceptions. The defense has been equally disappointing, ranking 28th in efficiency according to FTN Fantasy’s DVOA.
30. New York Giants (2-6, No. 28)
Last week: Loss vs. Jets, 13-10 (OT)
Up next: at Raiders
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Nobody expected Tyrod Taylor and Tommy DeVito to be leading the offense, but recording minus-9 passing yards in an NFL game is embarrassing, no matter the circumstances. The Giants rank last in the league in scoring, averaging 11.2 points per game, and don’t seem to have any answers. After receiving a new contract this season, Daniel Jones must prove he’s capable of lifting the offense out of this rut.
31. Carolina Panthers (1-6, No. 32)
Last week: Win vs. Texans, 15-13
Up next: vs. Colts
Bryce Young picked a good time to deliver his best game as a pro, as the No. 1 overall pick helped deliver Carolina’s first fourth-quarter comeback since 2018. Rumblings about Stroud being the better option began after the No. 2 pick’s strong start to the season, but Young showed enough growth Sunday to feel good about the direction of the franchise.
32. Arizona Cardinals (1-7, No. 30)
Last week: Loss vs. Ravens, 31-24
Up next: at Browns
The real season might be about to start for Arizona. Coach Jonathan Gannon said Monday there’s a chance Kyler Murray could start this week as the star quarterback gets set to return from ACL surgery. The only fair evaluation of this team should come with Murray under center, but it could take a while for him to get back on track as he adjusts to a new group of players and coaches.