Week 9 of the 2021 NFL season was an odd one. Five out of the top eight teams in our weekly power rankings post were on the losing side in Week 9. However, the baffling part is that these teams lost to inferior opponents in the talent department. The Buffalo Bills could not move the football on a Jacksonville Jaguars team with only one win.
By the conclusion of the fourth quarter, Jacksonville became a two-win ball club. The Denver Broncos defense came alive after parting ways with linebacker Von Miller by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 30-16. At the time, Dallas was on a six-game winning streak.
Denver made their offense look very average for all four quarters. By far, the most impressive victory of Week 9 was the Arizona Cardinals going on the road to take down the San Francisco 49ers. They could get it done without their two most essential players in Deandre Hopkins and Kyler Murray. James Conner stepped up to the plate when he finished the day with 173 yards from scrimmage.
The former Pittsburgh Steeler caught a 45-yard pass from backup Colt McCoy and ran for another as the Cardinals completed the season sweep of the 49ers. “They stepped up,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We knew they had to. When you lose some of your best players, it’s not easy. But that’s how this league is. Guys stepped up and made big plays all day.”
All of the upsets that occurred in Week 9 remind the “any given Sunday” narrative. Regardless of record or playoff seeding, winning teams must be prepared to perform at all times. Without any delay, here are the Strike 7 Sports top 15 team power rankings for Week 10.
1. Arizona Cardinals: 8-1 (Previous Ranking no.2)
They went on the road to Santa Clara and knocked off a division opponent without two of their best players. Plain and simple.
2. Tennessee Titans: 6-2 (Previous Ranking no.7)
Like the Cardinals, the Tennessee Titans were missing their best player on the roster in running back Derrick Henry when they played the L.A. Rams on Sunday. Tennessee looked perfectly fine without the two-time NFL rushing champion. They left Sofi Stadium with a 28-16 victory. We shall see if this type of production can continue without the presence of Henry in the future.
3. Baltimore Ravens: 6-2 (Previous Ranking no.11)
Quarterback Lamar Jackson inserted himself into the MVP conversation after leading the Baltimore Ravens from behind to beat the Minnesota Vikings. He finished the game with a combined total of 386 yards. Jackson threw for 266 yards, three touchdown passes and ran for another 120 on the ground. Their defense is not where it once was, but Jackson is making up for it on offense. Baltimore will have a shot to win as long as he can play at that level this season.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-2 (Previous Ranking no.4)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on a bye during Week 9. They return to action this Sunday against the Washington Football Team.
5. Green Bay Packers: 7-2 (Previous Ranking no.1)
Losing Devante Adams is one thing, but not having Aaron Rodgers under center is another. Not having Rodgers clearly showed in the Packers’ dismal performance against the Kansas City Chiefs. It has not been reported that he will clear protocols to play with the team as they face the Seattle Seahawks. However, the “bad man” may finally get the help that he has always wanted. Reports are surfacing online that the Packers will be Odell Beckham’s preferred choice once he clears waivers. Nothing is confirmed that he is signing with the team.
6. Los Angeles Rams: 7-2 (Previous Ranking no.3)
The Rams were outplayed on both sides of the football in their loss against the Tennessee Titans. Will they recover, or is this a sign of things to come?
7. Dallas Cowboys: 6-2 (Previous Ranking no.2)
No one expected the Dallas Cowboys to be taken down so swiftly by the Denver Broncos. Their next opponent will be a Falcons team riding with confidence after knocking off a hated rival, the New Orleans Saints. They should have no issues defeating Atlanta; however, this is the NFL.
8. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-3
The Chargers are a really good football team from top to bottom. Not sure if they are a Super Bowl-caliber ball club at the moment. Despite what they have at the quarterback position.
9. New England Patriots: 5-4 (Previous Ranking no.13)
New England could overtake the Buffalo Bills and get back on top of the AFC East once again. Former defensive back Ryan Clark said it best. “The Patriots are gonna mess around and get in the Super Bowl, man,” Clark stated on a recent broadcast. The exciting part about this is that the Patriots and Bills have not faced each other yet.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-3 (Previous Ranking no.12)
Their victories are not pretty, but the Pittsburgh Steelers stack wins as they position themselves to qualify for an AFC playoff berth.
11. New Orleans Saints: 5-3 (Previous Ranking no.8)
The Saints’ are a difficult team to figure out at the moment. They play like Super Bowl contenders against some of the league’s best ball clubs in Green Bay or Tampa Bay. When facing teams such as the Giants or Falcons, they play down to their competition.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-3 (Previous Ranking no.9)
Have off-the-field incidents combined with having an interim head coach caught up with the Raiders? They have to get back on the winning side of things fast as they face three teams that have playoff potential.
13. Kansas City Chiefs: 5-4 (Previous Ranking no.15)
The Chiefs are not winning games at the pace they were in previous seasons, but overall the goal is to win regardless of the style that got them the victory.
14. Buffalo Bills: 5-3 (Previous Ranking no.6)
The Buffalo Bills are relying too much on Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs to make something happen. In the 9-6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, those flaws were on full display.
15. Cleveland Browns: 5-4
The Baker Mayfield to Odell Beckham connection never took fold in Cleveland, and that’s okay. OBJ asked for his release and is now a free agent at the moment. Without Beckham on the roster, the Browns have gotten back to their identity and may very well play like the contender that they are capable of becoming.
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