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The Unbiased NFL Power Rankings, Week 9: Saints and Packers Rise, Falcons Remain in 8th

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Finding the calm in a stormy sea of knee-jerk reactions, the Unbiased Power Rankings are your life raft.

As Jason Kirk pointed out, this past weekend was a showcase for for the NFC with the Green Bay Packers beating the New York Jets and the New Orleans Saints beating the Pittsburgh Steelers. Would those wins make a difference in this week's Unbiased Power Rankings? We delve into the swirling cauldron of unbiased goodness.

Being unbiased as these Unbiased Rankings are, the Steelers retain the top spot despite losing. Led by the Steelers, the AFC is still home to the best five teams in the league but there's a new NFC challenger at number six overall, the Saints. The NFC has only three teams in the top 10 but does have seven of the teams ranked between 11th and 20th. That pretty much means that the AFC is very top-heavy and some really good teams will be left out of the playoffs come January.

The biggest mover this week was the Saints who knocked off the Steelers and moved up 11 spots from 17th to sixth. The Packers, with their impressive win against the Jets, also moved up 10 spots and find themselves at 10th overall. A couple of AFC teams also climbed with the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders each rising six spots. The Seattle Seahawks were this week's biggest loser, slipping seven spots down to 19th. The Baltimore Ravens (bye week) and the Denver Broncos also dropped six and five spots, respectively.

Surprises: The Houston Texans strong schedule keeps near the top of the rankings despite their loss on Monday night. The Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins both lost but are still maintain impressive rankings thanks to their tough schedules and solid wins. The New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs all find themselves lower in the Power Rankings than you might assume from their records. Their schedules haven't been that impressive but there's an easy to move up these rankings: win football games.


Tier I
Rank
Team
Rating
1
Pittsburgh Steelers
135.0
2
Indianapolis Colts
129.0
3
Tennessee Titans
118.3
4
New England Patriots
115.0
5
Houston Texans
113.7
Tier II
Rank
Team
Rating
6
New Orleans Saints
103.3
7
New York Jets
100.0
8
Atlanta Falcons
99.5
9
Baltimore Ravens
99.0
10
Green Bay Packers
94.0
11
Washington Redskins
93.8
12
New York Giants
90.0
12
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
90.0
14
Philadelphia Eagles
89.7
15
Oakland Raiders
88.5
16
Kansas City Chiefs
84.5
17
Arizona Cardinals
84.3
18
St. Louis Rams
83.5
19
Seattle Seahawks
83.3
Tier III
Rank
Team
Rating
20
San Diego Chargers
79.6
21
Miami Dolphins
70.3
22
Chicago Bears
69.3
23
Jacksonville Jaguars
64.3
24
Denver Broncos
59.2
Tier IV
Rank
Team
Rating
25
Detroit Lions
54.0
26
Cleveland Browns
50.0
27
Cincinnati Bengals
44.4
28
San Francisco 49ers
44.0
Tier V
Rank
Team
Rating
29
Minnesota Vikings
30.0
30
Dallas Cowboys
29.0
31
Carolina Panthers
19.2
32
Buffalo Bills
4.9


The Best of the Best

The beauty of the Unbiased Rankings is they don't follow the normal rules of most power rankings. If a team loses, they don't have to be dropped down. Sometimes a team can lose yet still remain the best team. That's the case with our number one team, the Steelers. After losing to the Saints on Sunday night, they remain at the top but they no longer have a secure lead. The Colts are close on their heels with the Titans, Patriots and Texans not far behind. The top tier is still an All-AFC affair, with the first NFC team (Saints) coming in at number six. The Falcons and Packers are the only other NFC teams in the top 10 sandwiched around the Jets and Ravens from the AFC.

NFC Contenders

The NFC has a new favorite as we head into Week 9's slate of games. The Saints - after they beat the number one team in the country - took over the top spot from the Falcons, who remained eighth overall. The Packers, Redskins, Giants, Buccaneers, Eagles, Cardinals, Rams, and Seahawks all fall into the second tier of teams. Thankfully there's a lot of football left to be played because the NFC is a cluster at this point. The only thing that's clear is the Saints, Falcons and Packers appear to be a cut above the rest of the challengers - this week.

NFC South

Welcome to the home of the two best teams in the NFC. That's the new motto for the NFC South but it'snot because of the Buccaneers are Raheem Morris would have you believe. It's due to the Saints and Falcons having the two best power rankings in the red letter conference. The Buccaneers are third and in news that surprises no one, the Panthers are last in not only the division but the entire conference. This week is an NFC South schedule as the Falcons play the Buccaneers and the Saints have a bye play the Panthers. Three teams have five wins in this division but only two - realistically - are going to the playoffs. Week 9 could help clear things up a bit.

Unbiased Playoff Picture

Regardless of a team's current record, this is how we see the playoffs shaping up as of Week 9.

AFC
NFC
Seed
Team
Seed
Team
1
Pittsburgh Steelers
1
New Orleans Saints
2
Indianapolis Colts
2
Green Bay Packers
3
New England Patriots
3
Washington Redskins
4
Oakland Raiders
4
Arizona Cardinals
5
Tennessee Titans
5
Atlanta Falcons
6
Houston Texans
6
Giants/Buccaneers (tie)

Three games stand out to me next week that will have major impacts on these rankings. Colts vs. Eagles: Another AFC-NFC showdown that will either propel the Colts into the number one spot or bring the Eagles up to challenge the Saints and Falcons in the NFC. Buccaneers vs. Falcons: Two 5-2 teams who'll both need to win to keep pace with the Saints since they are on bye play the Panthers. Raheem Morris will get a chance to back up his big talk. Chiefs vs. Raiders: All of a sudden, this could be for the division title. The Chargers may eventually rise up, but for now, the old school AFL teams will play for the AFC West.

AFC Breakdown

First round AFC matchups would include the Texans at the Patriots and the Titans in Oakland to play the Raiders. A playoff game in Oakland? Inconceivable! The second round shakes out with the Texans at the Steelers and the Patriots and the Colts would meet in the playoffs for what seems like the 57th time. The AFC championship would pit the Steelers and Colts and who wouldn't love to see that one?

NFC Breakdown

The Giants or Buccaneers would travel to Washington to play the Redskins while the Falcons would have to play a road game against the Cardinals. Sound familiar? The Packers would host the Redskins in the semi-finals with the Falcons traveling to the Superdome to play the Saints. The magnitude of that game is too great for my mind to contain. An NFC Championship game between the Saints and Packers would decide who plays the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

Methodology: The Unbiased Power Rankings are exactly that, unbiased. We take into account a team's wins, losses and a strength of schedule component to arrive at a truly unbiased rating. We have no preseason polls, no preset baselines. Only the performance on the field - this season - matters. Emotion is not welcome here. Still interested? Here's the ingredients we use to make this delicious stew of math-based power rankings.

Each team is awarded five points for a win and five points for every game a defeated opponent wins. To measure a loss, the total number of opponent wins is divided by the number of the ranked team's losses.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.