We are officially at the halfway mark of the 2023 NFL season. Rather than just share my NFL week nine thoughts, I wanted to spice it up a bit…so here are my NFL Week Nine Thoughts: Mid-season Power Rankings!
While I was putting together my NFL Week Nine Thoughts: mid-season power rankings, I broke them into a few different tiers to help sort things out. Below are said tiers, with a brief explanation into my thought process:
Tier 1: Eagles, Ravens, Chiefs, Lions, Bengals, Jaguars, Bills, 49ers, Cowboys, Dolphins
This is pretty self explanatory. For me, there was a clear top ten up to this point, and it wasn’t particularly close. These teams are likely to make the playoffs, with the potential to go on a run. The top five have the least questions, but having Detroit up there feels weird. I still feel like most of the top ten teams are better than the Lions, but it’s hard to overlook how good they have looked thus far this season.
Tier 2: Browns, Seahawks, Chargers, Saints
This is the “playoff hopefuls” group. Each of these teams have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, and are definitely capable of making some noise in the second half of the season. Deshaun Watson staying healthy and playing well is the x-factor for the Browns; if he is good, their defense is elite and could make Cleveland a dangerous team. For the Chargers, coaching and health of their stars are seemingly the biggest things holding them back. Seattle and New Orleans both need to find consistency/balance on offense, but while the Saints field a solid defense (top ten points and yards allowed), the Seahawks’ below average defense (22nd in points allowed, 25th in yards) is a concern.
Tier 3: Steelers, Texans, Jets, Vikings, Commanders, Colts, Broncos, Packers, Buccaneers, Falcons
These teams are in “no man’s land” – a weird place where you are neither good enough to win a playoff game, but not bad enough to earn a high pick in the NFL Draft. The AFC teams face a harder road to a playoff appearance than their NFC counterparts because the AFC is so loaded. Any of the NFC teams listed in this tier could be in the hunt for a playoff spot, as it is wide open after the big three (Philly, San Fran, Dallas).
Each of these teams has one or more questions that keeps them from being actual playoff contenders. Whether it be bad quarterback play (Jets/Falcons), bad coaching/playcalling (Commanders/Bucs), injury concerns (Vikings/Colts), inexperience at QB (Steelers/Texans), or some combination of those (Broncos/Packers). Any of the teams in this tier have equal odds to either make a playoff push or end up in the top ten.
Tier 4: Raiders, Titans, Rams, Bears, Patriots, Giants, Cardinals, Panthers
This is the “what pick do we have in the Draft?” tier. This season is basically over for these teams and their fans. At this point, they have to hope to play spoiler the rest of the way, and will be jostling for the top pick. Luckily for these teams, this year’s Draft class is stacked, with elite prospects Caleb Williams, Derek Maye, and wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. high on draft boards.
The Raiders and Titans are in a weird spot, because they have enough talent to be relevant in the second half, but will have 2nd and 4th round rookies starting at quarterback for the foreseeable future. Both also have coaching questions – Vegas already fired their head coach and general manager, while Vrabel’s seat is getting hotter every week in Tennessee (along with rumors that he is the possible successor to Bill Belichick in New England).
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