Week 9 of the NFL season saw a historic performance from a rookie quarterback, a resounding win by the AFC’s best team (not the Chiefs), and the continued resurgence of the Bengals. Meanwhile, a presumed Super Bowl contender got put on fraud watch in Germany.
Down in New Orleans, Tyson Bagent looked the part for three quarters before turning the ball over three times in the final quarter as the Bears lost 24-17. It was another encouraging performance from the backup quarterback, but the Bears’ lack of talent and inability to execute in key moments once again cost them in a one-score game.
Philadelphia Eagles (8-1): The Eagles have their flaws, but they are the class of the league through 10 weeks. No question.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-2): After years of dragging a raggedy defense to the playoffs, Patrick Mahomes finally has a defense that is able to carry him. That’s good because these aren’t your dad’s Chiefs.
Baltimore Ravens (7-2): The Ravens have been the AFC’s best team through nine weeks, but I can’t have them jump Patrick Lavon Mahomes II just yet.
Cincinnati Bengals (5-3): The Bengals are all the way back. As long as Joe Cool is healthy, the Bengals will be there in the end.
San Francisco 49ers (5-3): The bye week comes at the perfect time for the limping and weary 49ers. Will Kyle Shanahan be able to cook up a cure for what ails the Niners during the off-week?
Jacksonville Jaguars (6-2): The Jags entered the bye with a share of the top spot in the AFC. They’ve done good work, but the real tests loom as they face the 49ers, Bengals, Browns, and Ravens in four of the next six weeks.
Detroit Lions (6-2): Are the Lions for real? The jury remains out and will be for quite some time.
Miami Dolphins (6-3): The Dolphins might be the bad-good team. They trash the dregs of the NFL but have been handled by the NFL’s best. On fraud alert in South Beach.
Dallas Cowboys (5-3): Sunday was a perfect encapsulation of the last 30 years of Cowboys football: Just not good enough.
Cleveland Browns (5-3): Embarrassing Clayton Tune gets you few points in these rankings.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3): The Steelers have no business being 5-3. And yet, like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, Mike Tomlin finds a way.
Buffalo Bills (5-4): The Bills have a lot of problems, and none of them are easily fixed. The last hurrah of this version of the Bills might fizzle out before we get to January.
Los Angeles Chargers (4-4): Games against Bears and Jets have given the Chargers new life, but tougher tests await in the second half. Brandon Staley is far from out of the woods.
Seattle Seahawks (5-3): Pete Carroll was adamant that Geno Smith wasn’t the issue for the Seahawks’ offense in their non-competitive loss to the Ravens. That might be true, but he wasn’t part of the solution either.
Houston Texans (4-4): C.J. Stroud set the NFL single-game rookie passing record with 470 yards and five touchdowns, including a game-winning drive with 46 seconds remaining. So about that S2 test.
New York Jets (4-4): I’m not sure who was more disgusted watching the Jets’ offense on Monday night: Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning, or Aaron Rodgers. Jets have a Super Bowl defense and an FCS offense.
New Orleans Saints (5-4): The Saints are deeply unserious, but I guess someone has to be in first place in the NFL’s worst division.
Indianapolis Colts (4-5): Kenny Moore’s two pick-sixes got the Colts back to within a game of .500. No tanking here.
Las Vegas Raiders (4-5): Look up addition by subtraction in the dictionary, and all you’ll see is a picture of Josh McDaniels as a head coach.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5): Baker Mayfield put up 37 points and lost Sunday in Houston. That’s not the first time that’s happened, but it’s the first time Alex Grinch wasn’t on the sideline to ruin Mayfield’s good work.
Tennessee Titans (3-5): Did Will Levis really slide in the draft because he puts mayo in his coffee? Drafting a quarterback is the most inexact science. Titans might have had a gift fall in their lap.
Chicago Bears (2-7): Tyson Bagent has some Gardner Minshew to him. He might not wind up being a starter, but he looks like he has long-term value as a competent NFL backup. That’s valuable, just as *gestures at whatever the Rams did today*
New England Patriots (2-7): Mac Jones has been far from perfect this season, but the Patriots’ offense does little to help out the young quarterback. Jones sounds like he is losing faith in New England’s offense, and I can’t blame him.
Arizona Cardinals (1-8): The Cardinals are in poll position for Caleb Williams through nine weeks. Just how they drew it up.
Carolina Panthers (1-7): Maybe the Panthers should have kept Steve Wilks as head coach. Frank Reich has made a lot of money off a Nick Foles Super Bowl performance but is now 41-40-1 as a head coach. I’ve seen enough.