Rick Gosselin's Week 9 NFL Rankings: Arrowhead pride now rules
Editor's note: Rick Gosselin is in his 46th season reporting on the NFL in 2018. He has covered the Lions, Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys in his career plus 35 Super Bowls. He has served on the Hall of Fame selection committee and is a member of both the senior and contributor sub-committees. Gosselin also is one of the 12 voters for the AP 32, the weekly ranking of NFL teams conducted by the Associated Press. Here is his ballot for Week 9:
1. Kansas City Chiefs. Kareem Hunt has scored at least one touchdown in eight consecutive games for the Chiefs. During that eight-game stretch he has seven rushing touchdowns and six receiving scores. In the three games he failed to rush for a touchdown, he caught a TD pass.
2. New Orleans Saints. With the departure of the Rams from the ranks of the unbeaten, the Saints now have the NFL’s longest winning streak at seven games. The Patriots and Texans and Texans both have six-game winning streaks.
3. Los Angeles Rams. The NFC won the interconference series with the AFC a year ago and lead the series through eight weeks this season, 20-19, thanks in large part to the Rams. They are 3-0 against the AFC West with victories over the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders. The Rams will look to sweep the AFC on Nov. 19 when they face the Kansas City Chiefs in a potential Super Bowl preview game.
4. New England Patriots. Josh Gordon is starting to warm up for the Patriots with 100-yard games in two of his last three outings. He has played six games with the Patriots and Tom Brady targeted him a team-high 10 times in the Sunday night victory over the Packers.
5. Los Angeles Chargers. Melvin Gordon has scored a touchdown in six consecutive games. In the one game he didn’t score a rushing touchdown – San Francisco – Gordon caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers. He has scored seven touchdowns on the ground and three more on pass receptions during that six-game streak.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers. Antonio Brown has caught touchdown passes in six consecutive games and most have come from long range. He’s had scoring receptions of 47, 43, 31, 27 and 26 yards during that stretch in addition to scores of 9, 6 and 1 yards.
7. Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have not lost at home in more than a year and now have an NFC-best 10-game home winning streak. Their last loss at home came Oct. 12, 2017 to the Philadelphia Eagles.
8. Houston Texans. DeShaun Watson has not turned the ball over for three consecutive games, all wins by his 5-3 Texans. He has thrown 68 passes without an interception and rushed 14 times and absorbed five sacks without a fumble.
9. Minnesota Vikings. Adam Thielen’s NFL-record-tying streak of 100-yard games to open a season may have come at an end against the Detroit Lions last weekend at eight games but not his streak of touchdowns. He caught a TD pass in his seventh straight game against the Lions.
10. Chicago Bears. The Monsters of the Midway are back in character with a Top 5 defense and a Top 10 rushing attack. That’s the formula that won the Bears their last NFL title in 1985. Except that that 1985 team featured Hall of Famers Walter Payton, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary. The Hall of Famers still need to show up on the 2018 Bears.
11. Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have scored a league-high four defensive touchdowns this season. End Michael Johnson and safety Jessie Bates have scored on interceptions returns and Clayton Fejedelem and Sam Hubbard have both scored on fumble returns. The Bengals are 3-0 when they score a defensive touchdown and 5-3 on the season.
12. Washington Redskins. The offensive line entered the season as a strength of the Redskins and the running game helped carry Washington to the top of the NFC East. But left tackle Trent Williams is out following hand surgery last week and the Redskins lost guards Shawn Lauvao (ACL) and Brandon Scherff (torn pectoral) for the season in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons. Right tackle Morgan Moses is nursing a bum knee, leaving center Chase Roullier as the only healthy blocker heading into Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.
13. Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins have intercepted a league-high 18 passes this season. Six of those interceptions were thrown by Jets rookie Sam Darnold. But Miami also victimized Ton Brady for a rare two interception game.
14. Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have won three and a row and evened their record at 4-4 despite a pass defense that has allowed a 300-yard passer in an NFL-high six of their eight games. Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Eli Manning and Alex Smith have all rung up Atlanta on 300.
15. Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson has yet to pass for 300 yards in a game this season. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There have been 84 individual 300-yard passing games in the NFL this season and those quarterbacks have posted a 40-42-2 record.
16. Green Bay Packers. The Packers are scuffling along in the NFC North at 3-4-1 because of their inability to win on the road. Green Bay is 3-0-1 at home but 0-4 on the road. The Packers are one of only five NFL teams still with a road win this season along with Cleveland, Dallas, Oakland and San Francisco.
17. Philadelphia Eagles. The 4-4 Eagles return from their bye week with a Sunday night date with their NFC East rival the Dallas Cowboys. Philadelphia is the NFL’s best team coming off byes with a 22-7 record. Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and the Giants also return from byes this week.
18. Tennessee Titans. The Titans are the most disciplined team in the NFL with a league-low 37 penalties for 305 yards. The Kansas City Chiefs are at the opposite end of the spectrum with a league-high 76 penalties for 615 yards.
19. Baltimore Ravens. There have been 133 individual 100-yard receiving games this season. The Ravens have the only defense that has not allowed a single 100-yard receiver yet. Baltimore has also allowed only one 300-yard passer, rookie Baker Mayfield.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are a franchise that once prided themselves on their defense. Not any more. Tampa Bay has allowed a league-high 36 touchdowns this season through eight games. In 2002, when the Bucs won their only Super Bowl, they allowed only 21 touchdowns in 16 games.
21. Detroit Lions. Matthew Stafford joined an exclusive fraternity last weekend – the 10-sack club. Since 2010, only five quarterbacks have been sacked 10 or more times in a game: Greg McElroy of the Jets in 2012, Chad Henne of the Jaguars in 2014, Jacoby Brissett of the Colts in2017 and both Marcus Mariota of the Titans and Stafford in 2018. The Vikings sacked Stafford 10 times last weekend.
22. Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are 19-2 when QB Dak Prescott does not commit any turnovers. He committed two turnovers Monday night in a loss to the Titans. The Cowboys are now 6-13 in games Prescott turns the ball over.
23. Denver Broncos. The Broncos have two pass rushers who have more sacks individually than the Raiders have collectively this season. Von Miller has nine sacks and rookie Bradley Chubb eight. They are among eight NFL pass rushers who individually have more sacks this season than the seven the Raiders have as a team.
24. Indianapolis Colts. The Colts needed the bye week to give QB Andrew Luck a chance to rest his right arm. Luck has thrown 342 passes this season, an average of 43 per game. Only KC’s Patrick Mahomes (29) has thrown more touchdown passes than the 23 of Luck this season.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars. Josh Lambo is the only placekicker in the NFL who has not missed a kick yet this season. Lambo has converted all 12 of his field goal tries and all 12 of his conversion kicks for the 3-5 Jaguars.
26. New York Jets. Quarterback Sam Darnold leads the NFL with 14 interceptions and is on pace to throw 26 this season. The NFL record for rookie quarterbacks is 28 interceptions by Peyton Manning in 1998.
27. Cleveland Browns. The Cleveland Browns are a defensive contradiction. They rank 30th in yards allowed … but lead the NFL with 23 takeaways and rank in the top half of the NFL with 22 sacks. With Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, Larry Ogunjobi, Denzel Ward and Jabril Peppers, the Browns have some good young players in place on that side of the ball.
28. Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals rank last in the NFL in time of possession at 25 minutes, 14 seconds per game. It’s difficult to generate much offense when your defense is on the field almost 35 minutes of every game.
29. Buffalo Bills. RB LeSean McCoy has played 10 NFL seasons and gone to six Pro Bowls. He scored an NFL-leading 20 touchdowns in 2011 and rushed for a league-leading 1,607 yards in 2013. But his Bills are nine games into the season and McCoy is still looking for his first touchdown. It’s the longest TD drought of his career.
30. New York Giants. Is Eli Manning a Hall of Famer? Consider this -- he was the first overall pick of an NFL draft who now ranks sixth all-time in passing yardage, seventh all-time in passing touchdowns, won two Super Bowls and was the MVP in both of them.
31. San Francisco 49ers. With Jimmy Garoppolo (knee) and C.J. Beathard (wrist) on the mend, the San Francisco offense is now in the hands of Nick Mullens, who was waived by the 49ers each of the last two preseasons on the final roster cut. He spent his rookie season in 2017 on the 49ers practice squad. Mullens is 1-0 with a starting debut victory over the Raiders last weekend.
32. Oakland Raiders. The Raiders became the first NFL team to go back-to-back games without a sack this season. Counting the bye, the Raiders have not posted a sack since Oct. 14 and only have seven in eight games this season. Coach Jon Gruden responded to that drought by cutting defensive end Bruce Irvin, who led Oakland with three sacks this season.