On Monday night, Nov. 9, 2015 the Chicago Bears went into San Diego and defeated the Chargers by a score of 22-19 to officially end the ninth week of play in this 2015 NFL season. This was the fifth loss in a row for the San Diego team. There are now three undefeated teams remaining; the Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. Entering Week 9, the Denver Broncos had been undefeated, but lost 27-24 to the Indianapolis Colts. Here is a look at the latest NFL Power Rankings.
1) Last week # 1: Cincinnati Bengals (8-0) Still looking like a juggernaut, Cincy will face a hopeful Houston team during prime time this week, before going into a prime time showdown with the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11. It has been decades since the Bengals faithful have seen a future which looks this bright.
2) LW # 2: New England Patriots (8-0) Overcoming adversity is a staple of the most consistent team in the NFL. Having lost left tackle Nate Solder a few weeks ago, they will now deal with the loss of running back Dion Lewis. It is still tough to bet against them.
3) LW # 4: Carolina Panthers (8-0) It way past time to start taking this team seriously. Quarterback Cam Newton is doing it all despite a no-name group of wide receivers. Tight end Greg Olsen has taken this opportunity to elevate himself into a conversation which normally includes Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys and Heath Miller of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
4) LW # 5: Arizona Cardinals (6-2) Coming off the bye week, the Cards now go straight into the fire. They will face Seattle in Week 10 and Cincinnati in Week 11; both games will be shown on prime time television. The entire Nation will soon find out if this team is for real.
5) LW # 6: Green Bay Packers (6-2) After a 6-0 start, an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team have now suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since 2010. Not to mention they are now in a dogfight with the Minnesota Vikings, for the control of the NFC North division.
6) LW # 3: Denver Broncos (7-1) Peyton Manning’s propensity for throwing interceptions finally cost them. Not to mention they will be without starting defensive back Aqib Talib who was suspended for one game due to an unconscionably stupid eye-gouging incident during the loss to Indianapolis. This week’s game against Kansas City, could get interesting.
7) LW # 7: Seattle Seahawks (4-4) Rested and ready, the fate of the Seahawks will be determined in front of their home fans. In succession, the reigning NFC champs will be facing Arizona, San Francisco and Pittsburgh in their home stadium over the next three weeks. It is time for this team to kick it into high gear.
8) LW # 8: Minnesota Vikings (6-2) With little fanfare, the Vikes have risen to the top of the NFC North division. This team is built the way a successful team should be. They have strong defense, balanced offense and a quarterback who makes good decisions in key moments. A showdown with Green Bay looms in Week 11, so they do have to be mindful of not looking past Oakland this week.
9) LW # 11: New York Jets (5-3) As evidenced last in Week 9, even when the offense is not quite in sync the defense can bail them out. As long as that stays consistent, the Jets will remain in the playoff hunt. The defense ranks fourth overall in yards allowed per game. The x-factor is whether or not quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can persevere despite torn ligaments in the thumb of his non-throwing hand.
10) LW # 14: New York Giants (5-4) Are the Giants about to make a run ? In Week 9, pass-rusher supreme Jason Pierre-Paul returned to the lineup. The offense is still awaiting the return of wide receiver Victor Cruz who has yet to play this season. This week’s game against New England will reveal much about the character of this team.
Honorable mention: 11) LW # 13: Oakland Raiders (4-4) Loss to Pittsburgh this week showed the team is good but still developing. QB Derek Carr looks like the real deal. 12) LW # 12: Atlanta Falcons (6-3) Started out 5-0, but now have lost three of four. This could get ugly. 13) LW # 10: St Louis Rams (4-4) Running back Todd Gurley is still running well and the defense is strong, but QB Nick Foles continues to crack under pressure. 14) LW # 15: Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4) Can this team survive with both Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell out of the lineup ? 15) LW # 9: New Orleans Saints (4-5) Followed up a three-game win streak with an inconceivable home loss to Tennessee.
Now that every NFL team has played at least eight games, the 2015 season has officially reached the halfway point. In the AFC, the Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos all are firmly in control of their respective divisions and all are virtually guaranteed a playoff spot.
The most interesting race is in the AFC South, where the Indianapolis Colts lead the division with a less-than-stellar record of 4-5, but will now be without starting quarterback Andrew Luck for the next two to six weeks. This may open the door for the Houston Texans who stand at 3-4, to possibly steal the division crown.
In the NFC, these next few weeks will see some great matchups and some entertaining playoff scenarios will begin to unfold. The 8-0 Carolina Panthers are a virtual lock to win the NFC South division but the other divisions are up for grabs.
The NFC East division, which currently finds the New York Giants in first place, looks like a two horse race between the Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. At 5-4, New York holds a one-game lead over Philly, but the Eagles handily won the first meeting between the two teams – this may come down to a tiebreak situation.
In the NFC North, Green Bay and Minnesota have identical 6-2 records but have yet to play each other. The first of the two head-to-head matchups will take place in Week 11. With the Packers somewhat floundering and the Vikings gaining confidence, it will be a great race.
A similar scenario exists in the NFC West, where the Arizona Cardinals lead the division with a record of 6-2. With a record of 4-4, Seattle is in the rear view mirror but the teams have yet to play either of their head-to-head matchups. The Rams are also 4-4, but cannot seem to win a game outside the division.