Week 10 NFL Power Rankings: 1-32 poll, plus new expectations for every team


We’re officially at the midpoint of the 2020 season, so the NFL Power Rankings are reevaluating things. Along with our weekly rankings, we’ve asked every NFL Nation reporter to recalibrate expectations for the team they cover. Some are lofty (we see you, K.C.), some are modest (sorry, Jets) and others are a bit outside the box. But it’s always important to have goals.

How we rank in our Power Rankings: Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

Previous rankings: 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

Jump to:
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF

Week 9 ranking: 1

Recalibrated expectation: AFC Championship Game berth

The Steelers are the lone undefeated team in the NFL through eight games, and they’re not only poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017 but primed for a deep run. But the road to the Super Bowl still runs through Kansas City, and with Patrick Mahomes the Chiefs are still the AFC favorite. The Steelers haven’t played their best football yet, and it’s an uphill battle to the postseason without a bye week coming. Even so, reaching the AFC Championship Game is a realistic expectation for this team, and anything short of that would be disappointing after this start. — Brooke Pryor

Week 9 ranking: 2

Recalibrated expectation: Repeat as Super Bowl champions

Nothing that has happened in the season’s first nine games has changed a thing in this regard. The Chiefs lead the NFL in point differential, a sign of their strength. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, with 25 touchdown passes and one interception, is playing as well, if not better, than ever. The Chiefs have found ways to win even without getting big performances from Mahomes. From this vantage point, the Chiefs have the look of a tough out in the playoffs. — Adam Teicher

Week 9 ranking: 5

Recalibrated expectation: A wild-card berth

The Ravens began the season looking to repeat as the AFC’s top seed, but they have failed to prove their place among the elite teams after falling to both the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs and undefeated Steelers at home. Baltimore will make the playoffs, but it will likely have to take a different route this time. Trailing the Steelers by two games in the AFC North, the Ravens will probably have to take to the road in the postseason after winning the division the previous two years. — Jamison Hensley



Rob Ninkovich asserts that the Packers’ defense needs to overcome its struggles for the team to make a successful Super Bowl run.

Week 9 ranking: 6

Recalibrated expectation: Super Bowl

Is Aaron Rodgers running out of chances? Drafting Jordan Love might have signified that, but at least Rodgers has another legitimate run in him again this season. There’s no clear-cut favorite in the NFC, and COVID-19 issues could change the fortune of any team at any moment, but the Packers have positioned themselves nicely. They’re still prone to the blowout loss — like at Tampa Bay in Week 7 — that will remind many of the NFC Championship Game loss to the 49ers last season, but if coach Matt LaFleur can keep things rolling like he has in the first half of the season, then the Packers could be there at the end. — Rob Demovsky

Week 9 ranking: 8

Recalibrated expectation: Contend for NFC’s No. 1 seed

The top seed and a third straight 13-3 season are realistic goals at this point. The Saints were far from perfect over the first seven weeks, so we shouldn’t go overboard with our expectations following their dominant win at Tampa Bay on Sunday night. But New Orleans’ offense and defense have both shown gradual improvement after a lackluster 1-2 start, and now receiver Michael Thomas is back healthy. Plus, seven of the Saints’ final eight opponents have losing records. — Mike Triplett



Tim Hasselbeck breaks down how the Saints’ defense utilized its playmakers in a win over the Buccaneers.

Week 9 ranking: 7

Recalibrated expectation: Win a playoff game

The Bills are 7-2 and on the inside track to win the AFC East for the first time since 1995, but winning the division has been the expectation since the offseason. At this point, Buffalo shouldn’t simply expect to just make the playoffs; it needs to actually win a playoff game — and the Bills are talented enough to do so. Josh Allen is playing the best football of his career, and the Bills’ defense dominated the Seahawks’ offense in Week 9. If both trends continue through the postseason, Buffalo will be playing football well into January. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Week 9 ranking: 3

Recalibrated expectation: Win the NFC West

It’s hard to expect much more than that given how bad their defense has been, particularly in their 44-34 loss to the Bills on Sunday. But an NFC West title is still a realistic expectation given that the Seahawks have a one-game lead, not to mention the division’s best quarterback and the NFL’s highest-scoring offense. It also helps that their second-half schedule includes games against the Eagles, Giants, Jets and Washington Football Team, who are a combined 7-26-1. A 12-4 record is well within reach, and there’s a strong chance that would be good enough to win the NFC West. — Brady Henderson



Dan Orlovsky sounds off on the Buccaneers’ game plan in their loss to the Saints, calling it the worst he has seen in the NFL this season.

Week 9 ranking: 4

Recalibrated expectation: A wild-card berth

The Bucs are still sitting in a good place at 6-3, but after getting swept by the Saints — most recently being destroyed 38-3 on Sunday night — plus close calls against the Raiders (until the fourth quarter) and Giants and coming up empty against the Bears, the Bucs don’t appear ready to take the next step. It’s not because Tom Brady suffered the worst loss of his career in Week 9, but because the Bucs’ coaching staff has been outschemed the past three weeks. It’s still possible that they win the division, but Sunday night’s loss on a national stage did little to inspire faith. — Jenna Laine

Week 9 ranking: 9

Recalibrated expectation: Deep postseason run

The expectation remains the same for the Titans — go deep in the playoffs. Tennessee has some defensive issues to work out, but it remains one of the top teams in the AFC. The Titans are poised to make another of their late-season surges with Derrick Henry leading the way. It starts with winning the AFC South so they can host playoff games at Nissan Stadium. If the Titans have to go on the road, Tennessee’s pack-and-play approach will keep it in most games because it includes establishing the run, winning the turnover battle and consistently scoring touchdowns in the red zone. — Turron Davenport

Week 9 ranking: 10

Recalibrated expectation: Make the playoffs

As of now, the Cardinals are the sixth seed in the NFC, which means they’re not just in the playoffs but ahead of one other playoff team with the additional spot added this season. All they have to do is make sure they stay there. A win over the Dolphins on Sunday would have put the Cardinals in a more comfortable position, but Arizona has to win the games it’s supposed to win from here on out and steal a game or two it’s not supposed to win. Then the Cardinals will be playing at least two games in January instead of one in Week 17. — Josh Weinfuss

Week 9 ranking: 12

Recalibrated expectation: Return to the playoffs

With their remaining strength of schedule rated as the fourth most difficult in the league, the Rams must come out of a Week 9 bye prepared to play their best football to earn a playoff berth. They’re healthy, their defense is rated among the best in the NFL in allowing an average of 19 points per game, and their offense has played outstanding at times. Entering the season, there was uncertainty and doubt how the Rams would respond from an offseason that saw more high-profile player departures than arrivals, but they’ve evolved to include more playmakers and the defense has sharply improved under first-year coordinator Brandon Staley. — Lindsey Thiry

Week 9 ranking: 11

Recalibrated expectation: Get back to the postseason

The class of the AFC still resides in Kansas City, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but the Colts are good enough to be a playoff team, especially with a seventh spot being added this year. Where in the AFC pecking order the Colts are is anybody’s guess at the moment, especially with inconsistent play at quarterback and in the running game. There should be a better indication of where things stand after the Colts face the Titans, who lead the AFC South, in two of the next three games. — Mike Wells

Week 9 ranking: 14

Recalibrated expectation: Make the playoffs

Hey, as it stands now, the Raiders would be the No. 6 seed in the AFC. And as the lone team to beat the Super Bowl champion Chiefs in the last (checks notes) calendar year, confidence is high. Especially with how Las Vegas continues to win games with patchwork offensive lines, fill-in secondaries and a more daring Derek Carr at quarterback. Playoffs? Why not? — Paul Gutierrez



Stephen A. Smith contends that Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins do not need to make the playoffs for their season to be a success.

Week 9 ranking: 17

Recalibrated expectation: Make the playoffs

The 5-3 Dolphins currently hold the No. 7 playoff spot in the AFC, and the postseason now should be a goal and not just a best-case scenario. The Dolphins might be favored over their next four games (vs. Chargers, at Broncos, at Jets, vs. Bengals), and with a top-5 scoring defense, a young ascending QB in Tua Tagovailoa and an impressive program-building coach in Brian Flores, they are in the playoff mix a year early. They can make it. — Cameron Wolfe

Week 9 ranking: 13

Recalibrated expectation: To sneak into the playoffs

The Bears are in free fall after losing three straight. The offense is an unmitigated disaster. Chicago ranks near the bottom in most important offensive categories, and help is nowhere on the horizon. Still, the Bears have five games left against teams that are below .500: Minnesota (twice), Detroit, Houston and Jacksonville. There’s a chance the Bears could ride the coattails of their defense and sneak into the postseason at 9-7. That would be best-case scenario for a team trending in the wrong direction. — Jeff Dickerson

Week 9 ranking: 16

Recalibrated expectation: End their 18-year playoff drought

Despite another front-office shakeup, another coaching change and an unprecedented offseason, the expectations for the Browns before the season were to make the playoffs. There was too much talent in place. At the midway point, those expectations have not changed. Cleveland is 5-3 with one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league. Injuries, including to WR Odell Beckham Jr., have hurt. But if Cleveland doesn’t finally snap the NFL’s longest playoff drought, this season will be a massive disappointment. — Jake Trotter



Stephen A. Smith doesn’t foresee the 49ers returning to the Super Bowl with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.

Week 9 ranking: 15

Recalibrated expectation: Play meaningful December games

Once a favorite to return to the Super Bowl, there’s not a team in the league that looks so different now than it did entering the season. The injury-ravaged 49ers simply don’t have the healthy, available talent to make another run deep into the postseason, and the schedule isn’t going to lighten for them the rest of the way. Which means they would do well to try to make a run at an 8-8 record and remain on the periphery for the final wild-card spot. — Nick Wagoner

Week 9 ranking: 18

Recalibrated expectation: Avoid the NFC South cellar

Four straight losses and a 1-3 record in the South for a team that has not been able to finish games doesn’t bode well for anything but a last-place finish, particularly since Atlanta is playing better and the Saints and Bucs are fighting for playoff spots. Hey, expectations for this team to finish anywhere but last were pretty much nil when the season began, and only a 3-2 start while Atlanta opened 0-5 gave reason to think that might change. Now it appears everything is as predicted. — David Newton

Week 9 ranking: 21

Recalibrated expectation: Grab the NFC’s No. 7 seed

An expanded field could help Minnesota keep its postseason hopes alive after a 1-5 start. If their last two wins are a sign of second-half turnaround, the Vikings are inching closer to getting in contention for the last spot in the playoffs. They’ll need the 49ers and Rams to stumble and hope Chicago continues to falter in order to jump up in the standings, but a favorable schedule the rest of the way might help their case. — Courtney Cronin



Keyshawn Johnson criticizes Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz’s up-and-down career and asserts that Wentz will not finish his career in Philadelphia.

Week 9 ranking: 19

Recalibrated expectation: Winning the division

They’re the best team in the worst division in football. Barring an implosion, Philadelphia should make the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Coming into 2020, the bar for a successful season was getting Carson Wentz his first playoff victory. While that is still possible, the injuries, roster imperfections and unexpected struggles by Wentz make that more of a long shot at this point. — Tim McManus

Week 9 ranking: 20

Recalibrated expectation: Finishing .500

The margin for error is already thin, and with home games remaining against the Ravens, Cardinals and Bills along with road games against the Chargers, Rams and Dolphins, it won’t be easy. The Patriots have dug themselves an early hole they haven’t been in since 2000, Bill Belichick’s first year as the team’s coach. — Mike Reiss

Week 9 ranking: 22

Recalibrated expectation: Find a way to .500

In a year when they believed they could get back in the playoff conversation, the Broncos have instead been ravaged by injuries from the moment Von Miller took an awkward step in a preseason practice to suffer a season-ending injury. Since then, they’ve had to use three different starting quarterbacks and have trailed by at least 10 points at halftime in five of their first eight games. They have played hard and practiced with purpose, but they’ll need all of the character they can muster down the stretch with a schedule that still includes the Chiefs, Raiders, Saints, Dolphins and Bills. — Jeff Legwold

Week 9 ranking: 23

Recalibrated expectation: Learn how to win close games

The Chargers are close, but that only counts in horseshoes, really. There were high expectations and Justin Herbert has created some more, but he needs some help if they are to reach their potential. Also, Anthony Lynn needs to keep his job and needs to pull out some wins to do that. He’s a players’ coach and that counts, especially with a team riddled with injuries and a rookie QB. — Shelley Smith

Week 9 ranking: 27

Recalibrated expectation: Get close to .500

Atlanta sports a 3-1 record in four games with Raheem Morris as the interim coach. The defense has lowered its average points allowed per game from 32 in the first five games to 23 over the past four. Starting with five consecutive losses created a sizable hole for the team to crawl out of, and the remaining schedule will be tough, but the Falcons aren’t lacking in talent. If they can string together a couple of winning streaks, they could finish with a .500 record. That should be Atlanta’s goal and it would put Morris in position to make a case for being the permanent coach. — Turron Davenport

Week 9 ranking: 24

Recalibrated expectation: Getting to .500

This feels like a best-case scenario for Detroit after a 3-5 start to the season where the Lions have often struggled against the run. With Matt Patricia firmly on the hot seat and his boss, Bob Quinn, potentially there as well, the Lions need to show massive improvement from the first half of the year, where Detroit has continued to make mistakes the way they did in Patricia’s first two seasons. Patricia still hasn’t won more than two games in a row as a head coach, so a complete turnaround feels like a difficult ask. — Michael Rothstein

Week 9 ranking: 25

Recalibrated expectation: Get to six wins

A six-win season always was going to be a respectable total given the state of the 2020 Bengals. Cincinnati is still in the rebuilding process and a postseason push with this roster and coaching staff always seemed unlikely. However, the Bengals should be competitive and improve from the two-win campaign in 2019. The Bengals have three games against the NFC East and games against Houston and Miami still on the schedule. Getting four wins off the remainder of the schedule isn’t too much to ask. — Ben Baby

Week 9 ranking: 26

Recalibrated expectation: Evaluate young talent for the future

With no reason to tank (they already traded their first- and second-round picks), the Texans are focused on finishing the season with a winning record under interim head coach Romeo Crennel (they’re 2-2 since he took over). Houston’s biggest goal is to evaluate the talent it has on the roster as there are several key players — most notably wide receiver Will Fuller and defensive end J.J. Watt — whom a new general manager and coach will have to make decisions on this offseason. The Texans don’t believe they need to rebuild despite their record, but they do need to determine what players they can retool around in the future. — Sarah Barshop

Week 9 ranking: 31

Recalibrated expectation: Keep showing improvement

There is no doubt the Giants are better after nine weeks than they were at the start of the season. The Giants need to continue trending in that direction. It would be a good sign for the program and culture Joe Judge is trying to build. That’s the goal considering the reality that the Giants don’t have enough talent to win games consistently. Not yet at least. — Jordan Raanan

Week 9 ranking: 28

Recalibrated expectation: Split the final eight games

This is unlikely, but with Detroit, Cincinnati, Dallas and Carolina on the schedule, it’s at least feasible — or dreamable. Five wins overall would probably qualify as more realistic. But Washington going 4-4 in the final eight would not qualify as the most unlikely thing to have happened in 2020. The problem is, who knows how long Alex Smith can last at quarterback or how he’ll play long term — or if Dwayne Haskins will be of much help if he ever returns. And the defense, despite lofty stats, hasn’t produced consistently. If Washington gets to six wins this season, that would qualify as a big achievement. — John Keim

Week 9 ranking: 29

Recalibrated expectation: Win three more games

This might depend on whether you believe the Cowboys turned a corner in their near upset of the Steelers. The defense has been better the past two games, but against Pittsburgh it allowed three touchdown passes and did not have a sack for the first time since Week 15 of 2018. And the other game was against Philadelphia. Garrett Gilbert brought stability to the offense, but Andy Dalton is expected back after the bye week. If Dalton can bring a smidge more playmaking, then maybe the Cowboys win three more games. They play one team the rest of the season that currently has a winning record, but this is a team that has lost four in a row and scored two touchdowns in those games. — Todd Archer

Week 9 ranking: 30

Recalibrated expectation: Go 0-for the rest of the way

The best thing for the Jaguars is to go 0-8 and finish 1-15, which would give them a shot at Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields in the 2021 draft. Either of those players would immediately make the franchise relevant nationally and make Jacksonville consistently competitive again. — Mike DiRocco

Week 9 ranking: 32

Recalibrated expectation: One stinking win

The Jets figured to be only a six-win team in 2020, give or take, yet they’ve found a way to underachieve on low expectations. It takes a special kind of bad to do that. Quite simply, they don’t have an NFL-caliber offense, which makes it kind of tough to … you know, score points and win. They’ve been noncompetitive almost every week, once managing only 4 total yards in the second half of a game. Winning one game might be a high bar to set, but you have to dream big, right? — Rich Cimini

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