Week 9 NFL power rankings: Cardinals' first loss means shuffling of top five teams, Rams taking over No. 1

NFL power rankings entering Week 9 of 2021 season (previous rank in parentheses):

1. Rams (2): Who's the best team in the NFL? Pick a name out of a hat, especially among the NFC's trio of 7-1 squads. However only one of them is leading the league in sacks (25) – and that was before the acquisition of Denver OLB Von Miller, who has more career sacks (110½) than anyone else in the NFL right now. And you can bet Tom Brady, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers would rather try to outgun Los Angeles QB Matthew Stafford than hope to sidestep some combination of Miller, Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd.

2. Packers (5): Since that 35-point loss in Week 1, Green Bay's won seven straight – best in the league. And though losing TE Robert Tonyan to a knee injury is a blow, the Pack is getting key contributions from the likes of RB AJ Dillon and CB Rasul Douglas – players who showed last week this team can also run the ball and play a little defense – with All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari en route. Plenty of firepower around Rodgers going into his first showdown with fellow former MVP Patrick Mahomes.

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3. Cardinals (1): The '72 Dolphins are safe ... and so, too, might some current teams be given Arizona has likely lost DE J.J. Watt (shoulder) and might not have the best version of Murray (ankle) or WR DeAndre Hopkins, whose hamstring limited him to 13 snaps in Week 8, for some time.

4. Buccaneers (3): Yes, bad loss to New Orleans, a team Tampa Bay can't beat – when it doesn't really count for all that much. Whatever. The Bucs were also 6-2 at this point in 2020 and currently possess the league's No. 1 passing offense, most decorated quarterback and coolest head coach. They're fine ... and the week off will do the older guys some good.

5. Cowboys (4): A burgeoning quarterback controversy threatens to tear this team ... kidding. Kidding. Dallas doesn't face a team with a winning record until Week 12 (Las Vegas) and should be commended for conservatively managing QB Dak Prescott's calf injury with the NFC East crown just about in the bag.

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6. Bills (7): QB Josh Allen has 26 TD runs, 57 TD passes and zero interception in the red zone during his four-year career. Think he might add to those figures in Jacksonville on Sunday?

7. Ravens (9): LB Malik Harrison's situation notwithstanding, pretty good bye week for Baltimore, which reclaimed first place in the AFC North.

8. Bengals (8): A defense that had been underrated all season then gives up its most points (34) and yards (511) of 2021 ... against the Jets? The NFL is inexplicable – more so when you consider Cincinnati is just a few plays from being 8-0.


9. Patriots (21): Admittedly, it's a weird résumé, though one that's significantly improved with a 54-point outburst and road win over the Bolts in past two weeks. New England is also this close to a 7-1 record ... though Pats should be 7-4 once Week 12 and a date with some old friends from Tennessee rolls around.

10. Chargers (10): A pair of tough losses sandwiched their bye week, but QB Justin Herbert and Co. should get right as the schedule serves up more forgiving defenses.

11. Raiders (11): No team in the AFC has fewer turnovers than Vegas' five. But if the Silver and Black are to remain atop division, the offensive line needs to improve markedly.

12. Saints (12): They've clawed their way to within a half-game of the division lead and have a solid grip on the NFC's second wild card. Unfortunately, with turmoil under center in light of QB Jameis Winston's season-ending knee injury, such positioning will be tough to maintain. Best case, hard to view this team as anything more than a one-and-done playoff squad.


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13. Titans (6): They've clawed their way to the AFC's best record. Unfortunately, without injured All-Pro RB Derrick Henry, it won't last. Tennessee has banked enough equity to hang on for another AFC South crown but hard to view this team as anything more than a one-and-done playoff squad.

14. Chiefs (13): Aside from continued failures to protect the ball or run it with much efficacy against a bad team, they looked great. Now let's see how that translates with Kansas City's next three against first-place teams (Green Bay, Las Vegas, Dallas) before defending AFC champs reach much-needed bye.

15. Steelers (16): They shouldn't have to run any ill-advised fake field goals the next two weeks with Chicago and Detroit coming to Heinz Field.


16. Browns (14): In positive news, DE Myles Garrett is on pace to collect 22.3 sacks – an impossible figure to achieve and also slightly shy of Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22½. But if Garrett heats up, he just might get to 22.6.

17. Vikings (15): They keep getting close ... but aren't accruing sufficient cigars, even with all four losses by seven or fewer points. Matters won't get easier with DE Danielle Hunter down for the count with a torn pectoral muscle.

18. Seahawks (22): The update on injured QB Russell Wilson? Per Russ himself, "No more pin. Time to Win." Update on the schedule? Seattle enters its bye week – good timing for Wilson – but heads to Lambeau Field on the other side. Tough place to win, pin or no.

19. Colts (17): Sunday delivered crushing season sweep from Tennessee. Monday delivered news of Henry's injury and showed home games against the J-E-T-S and J-A-G-S next on schedule. Way too early to count Indianapolis out.


20. 49ers (18): Niners host NFC West rival Cardinals and Rams next two weeks, a stretch that could make or break San Francisco's season.

21. Bears (19): It had been 13 years since an NFL team didn’t net 200 passing yards in any of its first eight games. Until now.

22. Broncos (20): End of an era with a saddened Miller departing Denver. But the draft picks he returns – a second- and third-rounder next year – could be the currency Broncs need to make a run at (once again) addressing the quarterback position in a more significant manner.

23. Eagles (23): Two weeks ago, they ran the ball once before halftime. Sunday, they ran it 46 times with three guys getting at least a dozen carries. Guess which game they won ...


24. Giants (26): They've lost nine in a row under the prime time lights, somewhere they'll appear just one more time in 2021 barring an unforeseen flex.

25. Panthers (27): They currently find themselves in the NFC playoff field even though Carolina hasn't put together a good performance since September. Maybe new CB Stephon Gilmore can change that Sunday if he can provide sufficient dirt on the incoming Patriots.

26. Washington (24): A hugely disappointing defense has gotten incrementally better ... just in time to coincide with the offense's inability to score. What The Football?

27. Falcons (25): No team has fewer sacks than Atlanta's 10. Add that to their laundry list of issues, including likelihood TE Kyle Pitts will face blanket coverage for the rest of his life.


28. Jets (31): Count us among among those who owe QB Mike White an apology after assessing him among the league's worst backups. The question now is: How long will he remain among the league's starters?

29. Jaguars (28): Dec. 15, 2019 – the last time Jacksonville allowed fewer than 20 points. Oct. 27, 2019 – the last time Jacksonville allowed fewer than 20 points at home.

30. Dolphins (29): They've got the worst defense in the league and have run the ball fewer than anyone else. So why do we keep asking Brian Flores about QB Tua Tagovailoa? Maybe it's time to broker a trade for Khalil Mack ... or at least Larry Csonka.

31. Texans (32): There might finally be blessed clarity on Houston's quarterback conundrum this week ... meaning the potential return of Tyrod Taylor, of course.


32. Lions (30): Detroit had a Hall of Famer – WR Calvin Johnson – on the 0-16 2008 team. That group would probably beat these guys by 17 ... maybe 15 if accounting for a Dan Orlovsky self-safety.


Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL power rankings Week 9 2021: Rams, Von Miller No. 1, Cardinals lose