As the NFL approaches the midway point of the season, SB Nation Minnesota's power rankings are starting to separate the contenders from the pretenders.
To quote modern philosopher Jon Bon Jovi: "WHOOOOOOOOAAAAAAA, WE'RE HALFWAY THERE..."
The upcoming ninth week of the season marks the midpoint of the NFL year. So which teams should be taken seriously and which teams are simply "Livin' on a prayer?"
As always, we list our power rankings with each team's record followed by how their ranking changed compared to last week.
- Falcons (7-0, NC): There was no skating by this week in Philadelphia. Atlanta made a statement on Sunday, and that statement was that they're the best team in the NFL until further notice.
- Texans (7-1, NC): Speaking of statement wins, Houston absolutely trounced Baltimore to prove that they're the cream of the AFC crop.
- Giants (6-2, NC): They always find a way to make it interesting, even after running up an early 23 point lead. But as usual, the G-Men close it out in the fourth quarter.
- 49ers (6-2, +1): Their Monday night performance cemented the fact that they're still the best team in the much-improved NFC West.
- Bears (6-1, -1): Once again, the defense had to bail out a shaky offensive performance with a pick six. Chicago is still winning, but they can't depend on the big turnover every time if they hope to keep it up.
- Packers (5-3, +1): They probably let Jacksonville hang around for way too long, but they turned it on when they needed to. The Pack need to get their dangerous receiving corps healthy soon.
- Patriots (5-3, +1): New England finally looked like themselves in Olde England. If they can keep up that kind of performance after their bye stateside, watch out.
- Ravens (5-2, -2): We'll see if they sorted out the problems that Houston exposed over the bye week when they visit Cleveland this week.
- Broncos (4-3, +1): This is exactly what John Elway was hoping for when he landed Peyton Manning in free agency. He's flinging it all over the field with scary accuracy.
- Steelers (4-3, +2): Their defense is still a force and their offense is finally finding a semblance of a running game. Pittsburgh definitely looks like a team on the rise.
- Vikings (5-3, -2): Was the ugly home loss to Tampa Bay an anomaly or the sign of an overachieving team that finally got exposed? We'll learn more as the Vikes begin a brutal second half schedule in Seattle.
- Dolphins (4-3, +5): I'm just as surprised as you are to find Miami ranked this high. But they have been playing some of the best football in the league for the past few weeks.
- Seahawks (4-4, -2): Rough loss of a very winnable game in Detroit. If they can't rebound at home against the Vikings this week, it will be hard to consider them a contender.
- Colts (4-3, +8): Another "where did they come from?" team. Their upcoming game against Miami has--gasp--playoff implications!
- Cowboys (3-4, +3): Their defense actually played a solid game against the Giants. It's just too bad that their offense dug them such a huge hole. This team is literally inches away from being good, but they have to curb their dumb mistakes.
- Eagles (3-4, -3): So much for that bye week magic. And so much for a new defensive coordinator making a difference.
- Lions (3-4, +6): Their late comeback victory over Seattle was just what they needed. What they need more of now is consistency--they have the players but they aren't executing on a regular basis.
- Cardinals (4-4, -3): The 49ers will make a lot of offenses look bad, but Arizona's offense will make just about any defense look good. And guess what? They have road trips to Green Bay and Atlanta their next two games. Unless something changes their four-game losing streak is going to grow.
- Chargers (3-4, -5): Norv Turner. Hot seat. Et cetera et cetera.
- Redskins (3-5, -4): If Robert Griffin III doesn't bring his A-plus game, Washington has no chance against good teams.
- Buccaneers (3-4, +4): Very impressive win last Thursday in Minnesota. Their offense looks explosive and balanced, but injuries and suspensions on their defense might get them in a lot of shootouts.
- Rams (3-5, -3): They just don't have enough weapons to stay competitive in the NFC playoff race.
- Bengals (3-4, +1): It doesn't get any easier for the struggling Bengals after the bye. The welcome the red-hot Broncos on Sunday.
- Raiders (3-4, +4): They're beating the bad teams that they should beat. Now let's see them handle a squad that isn't in the cellar of the standings.
- Saints (2-5, -4): Here's a fantasy football tip going forward: if your guy is playing the Saints, START HIM. That defense is putrid.
- Jets (3-5, -6): It doesn't matter who's starting at quarterback--this team has way too many flaws in other areas. No amount of Tebowmania can turn the Jets around.
- Titans (3-5, -1): They had their chances to put Indy away but they couldn't execute. They aren't as horrible as they looked early on, but they still have a long way to go.
- Bills (3-4, -1): They'll be stuck near the bottom of the rankings until their defense can consistently hold opponents to under 35 points a game.
- Browns (2-6, +1): Gotta hand it to Cleveland's defense for keeping them in games. Gotta keep them this low since their offense is so anemic.
- Panthers (1-6, -1): Carolina can't close. They're 1-10 in games decided by 7 or less points since Cam Newton showed up.
- Jaguars (1-6, NC): Well, they looked competitive in Green Bay. I guess moral victories are going to have to be the best you can hope for from the Jags for now.
- Chiefs (1-6, NC): There's an old football saying that states "If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks." But what if you have two awful quarterbacks?