Monday, July 15, 2024

We’re through nine weeks of the NFL season, and that means the Power Rankings can start handing out report cards. Be warned, we are grading on a curve, which is why you’ll see the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 3 with a B-plus while the Arizona Cardinals at No. 31 got an A.

The Chiefs are Super Bowl contenders as long as Patrick Mahomes is healthy and in his prime, and they have some flaws you can see under a harsh light. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are executing a nearly flawless pivot. After amassing tons of draft capital in the offseason, they are in the process of making those picks very valuable by not winning many games while also not looking like a total joke.

(Last week: 2)Sunday: Beat Seattle Seahawks 37-3

Report card: A-plus

The Ravens outgained a good Seattle team 515-151. Baltimore has won four games in a row by an average of 20 points (including a 32-point win over the Lions) and is first in the league in offensive EPA (32.21) and third in defensive EPA (44.73) in that period. It has allowed nine touchdowns (first in the league) and scored 27 (third in the league) this season, and its point differential (plus-115) is the best in the league and 35 points higher than second place.

Up next: vs. Cleveland Browns, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

(Last week: 1)Sunday: Beat Dallas Cowboys 28-23

Report card: A

Philadelphia fans are not going to be happy falling a spot after a win over the Cowboys. That’s fair, but the Eagles were outgained 406-292 by Dallas on Sunday, and there are a couple of areas of concern to monitor. The Eagles have averaged fewer than 100 rushing yards in their last four games (86.8), and they are 20th in the NFL in yards per play allowed (5.3). Big picture though, they are 24-5 dating to 2022 and have established themselves as the clear favorite in the NFC.

Up next: Bye

NFL Coach of the Year, MVP candidates and biggest surprises at midseason: Sando’s Pick Six
3. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
(Last week: 4)Sunday: Beat Miami Dolphins 21-14

Report card: B-plus

You can’t have a loss to the Broncos in the last month and get an A. Sorry, these are the rules. Travis Kelce became Kansas City’s all-time leading receiver Sunday in Germany (10,941 yards), but the story was the defense, which held the Dolphins 138 yards under their season average. The Chiefs are third in the NFL in defensive EPA per drive (.70), according to TruMedia. If there’s a worry, it’s that four of Kansas City’s seven lowest offensive success rate games in the Patrick Mahomes era have come this season. Sunday was its third lowest in that span (36.1).

Up next: Bye

4. Detroit Lions (6-2)
(Last week: 5)Sunday: Bye

Report card: A-plus

The Lions have gone from 3-13 to 9-8 to now 6-2 in head coach Dan Campbell’s three seasons. Detroit’s only two losses have come against Seattle and Baltimore, and it is second in the league in yards per game (390.6) and fifth in yards allowed per game (296.9). And this is not a team that has mortgaged its future. The Lions are eighth in the league in available cap space for 2024 ($73.3 million), according to Over the Cap.

Up next: at Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET Bengals receiver Tee Higgins had a big game against the Bills on Sunday night. (Dylan Buell / Getty Images)
(Last week: 8)Sunday: Beat Buffalo Bills 24-18

Report card: A-minus

Cincinnati has won four in a row and has beaten the 49ers and Bills in the last two weeks. Since Week 5, Joe Burrow leads the NFL in completion percentage (75.8), is third in offensive EPA per dropback (.15) and has 10 touchdowns against two interceptions. Getting Tee Higgins unlocked Sunday night, with a season-high 110 yards, feels like a notable development for this team.

Up next: vs. Houston Texans, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

6. San Francisco 49ers (5-3)
(Last week: 6)Sunday: Bye

Report card: B-minus

A month ago, this was a solid A, but the 49ers have lost three straight games. They averaged 33.4 points in their first five games and started 5-0. They have scored 17 points in each of the last three weeks and lost all three of them. Quarterback Brock Purdy is shouldering a lot of the blame, but the running game might be the real culprit. From Week 6 through Week 9, San Francisco was 17th in the league in rushing (95.3 ypg). Before that, it was third (156.4 ypg).

Up next: at Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

7. Miami Dolphins (6-3)
(Last week: 3)Sunday: Lost to Kansas City Chiefs 21-14

Report card: B-plus

The Dolphins have played three teams this season that currently have a winning record. They are 0-3 and averaging 17 points per game in those games. Against everyone else, the Dolphins are 6-0 and averaging 39 points per game. Miami still leads the league with 435.3 yards per game, but it has been held under 300 yards by the Eagles and now the Chiefs in the last three weeks.

Up next: Bye

What we learned in NFL Week 9: Ravens team to beat, Dobbs’ big day; was McDaniels the problem?
(Last week: 10)Sunday: Bye

Report card: B-plus

Don’t look now, but Jacksonville is 12-3 in its last 15 games. The Jaguars aren’t dominant in any one area of the game. They are 18th in the league in yards per play allowed (5.2) and 19th in yards per play (5.1). But they have created more turnovers (2.25 per game) than anyone in the league and are ninth in point differential (plus-37). Their matchup this week with the 49ers with both teams coming off a bye is the game of the week.

Up next: vs. San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

9. Seattle Seahawks (5-3)
(Last week: 7)Sunday: Lost to Baltimore Ravens 37-3

Report card: B-plus

Adding defensive tackle Leonard Williams at the trade deadline didn’t have the desired effect, at least immediately. Seattle was eighth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (96.9 per game) entering Sunday’s game. Baltimore rushed for 298, the second-most surrendered by any team in a game this season. Still, we’ll give Pete Carroll the benefit of the doubt on defense, and the Seahawks still are tied for the NFC West lead.

Up next: vs. Washington Commanders, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET Quarterback Deshaun Watson is back and the Browns are looking good. (Jason Miller / Getty Images)
(Last week: 13)Sunday: Beat Arizona Cardinals 27-0

Report card: B-minus

Cleveland held Arizona to 58 yards Sunday. That’s the third-lowest total in a game in the last 10 years. Quarterback Deshaun Watson also returned from his shoulder injury and threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns. The Browns are looking like they are going to be a real part of the postseason mix. The only reason their grade is not higher is the production doesn’t quite match the investment. Only the Ravens are investing more cash into this season than the Browns ($281.4 million).

Up next: at Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

11. Buffalo Bills (5-4)
(Last week: 11)Sunday: Lost to Cincinnati Bengals 24-18

Report card: C-plus

Buffalo spends more salary-cap space on its defense ($111 million) than any team in the NFL other than Pittsburgh. Yet it has a defense that ranks 14th in the league in total defensive EPA (27.09). Josh Allen has to be Super Josh Allen for this team to win big games, and he wasn’t that Sunday, completing 26-for-38 for 258 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Up next: vs. Denver Broncos, Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET

12. Dallas Cowboys (5-3)
(Last week: 9)Sunday: Lost to Philadelphia Eagles 28-23

Report card: C-plus

The Cowboys always get graded harshly because of their place in the league’s history and owner Jerry Jones’ penchant for drawing a bull’s-eye on his squad. This year, the spotlight is all the brighter because Mike McCarthy jettisoned offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and designated himself the man to take Dallas over the top. Instead, the Cowboys are now 0-2 in their showdown games (against San Francisco and Philadelphia) and they are middle of the pack offensively (14th in yards per play, 5.3).

Up next: vs. New York Giants, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)
(Last week: 12)Thursday: Beat Tennessee Titans 20-16

Report card: B-minus

Yes, the Steelers are two games above .500, but we can’t forget the hype surrounding this team’s preseason offensive performance, and the subsequent uptick in expectations it caused. Through that lens, this team (which ranks 26th in the league at 4.7 yards per play), feels less than what it…

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles