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Contenders pulled away in gritty fashion over the course of NFL Week 9 action, something reflected in updated power rankings ahead of Monday night.
The Atlanta Falcons, for example, gutted out a 25-20 escape of a game New York Jets team not only on the road, but in miserable weather conditions. Then there were the Dallas Cowboys, pulling away from the Washington Redskins in the NFC East clash on the road in a 33-19 outcome.
It doesn’t stop there. The Pittsburgh Steelers outlasted the Detroit Lions 20-15, while the Seattle Seahawks survived a scare from the Houston Texans at home, 41-38.
Call it a much-needed adjustment of league outlook, and one shown well enough in rankings and the latest Super Bowl odds.
2017 NFL Power Rankings and Super Bowl Odds
|1||Philadelphia Eagles (6-1)|
|2||Pittsburgh Steelers (7-1)|
|3||Seattle Seahawks (10-1)|
|4||New England Patriots (7-2)|
|5||Minnesota Vikings (12-1)|
|6||Los Angeles Rams (20-1)|
|7||New Orleans Saints (20-1)|
|8||Kansas City Chiefs (10-1)|
|9||Carolina Panthers (28-1)|
|10||Buffalo Bills (40-1)|
|11||Detroit Lions (40-1)|
|12||Dallas Cowboys (18-1)|
|13||Atlanta Falcons (18-1)|
|14||Denver Broncos (40-1)|
|15||Washington Redskins (100-1)|
|16||Oakland Raiders (50-1)|
|17||New York Jets (500-1)|
|18||Houston Texans (50-1)|
|19||Tennessee Titans (40-1)|
|20||Chicago Bears (150-1)|
|21||Los Angeles Chargers (100-1)|
|22||Green Bay Packers (40-1)|
|23||Baltimore Ravens (66-1)|
|24||Jacksonville Jaguars (40-1)|
|25||Cincinnati Bengals (66-1)|
|26||Miami Dolphins (150-1)|
|27||Arizona Cardinals (150-1)|
|28||Indianapolis Colts (500-1)|
|29||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (150-1)|
|30||New York Giants (500-1)|
|31||Cleveland Browns (5000-1)|
|32||San Francisco 49ers (5000-1)|
|author’s opinion, odds via OddsShark|
New England Patriots 6-2
Buffalo Bills 5-2
Miami Dolphins 4-3
New York Jets 3-5
Pittsburgh Steelers 6-2
Baltimore Ravens 4-4
Cincinnati Bengals 3-4
Cleveland Browns 0-8
Tennessee Titans 4-3
Jacksonville Jaguars 4-3
Houston Texans 3-4
Indianapolis Colts 2-6
Kansas City Chiefs 5-2
Denver Broncos 3-3
Los Angeles Chargers 3-5
Oakland Raiders 3-5
Philadelphia Eagles 7-1
Dallas Cowboys 4-3
Washington Redskins 3-4
New York Giants 1-6
Minnesota Vikings 6-2
Green Bay Packers 4-3
Detroit Lions 3-4
Chicago Bears 3-5
New Orleans Saints 5-2
Carolina Panthers 5-3
Atlanta Falcons 4-3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-5
Seattle Seahawks 5-2
Los Angeles Rams 5-2
Arizona Cardinals 3-4
San Francisco 49ers 0-8
Odds to Bet: New Orleans Saints
Butch Dill/Associated Press
It’s still easy to overlook the New Orleans Saints.
Which is odd considering the five-win streak, yet the 20-1 odds don’t necessarily reflect the tear Drew Brees and his Saints continue to ride.
Most recently, the Saints welcomed the three-win Chicago Bears to town and gutted out a 20-12 win on the back of two touchdowns via the ground game while Brees went an efficient 23-of-28.
The presence of a strong running game should both frighten opponents and have bettors feeling confident with the Saints. Mark Ingram is up to 464 yards and four scores on a 4.3 yards-per-carry average and rookie Alvin Kamara has 243, two and 5.8, respectively.
NFL Media’s Bucky Brooks put it best:
Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks
[email protected] Alvin Kamara is the truth. They’ve found quite a weapon in the hybrid RB. He fills the Reggie Bush/Darren Sproles role as an RB2.
The Saints aren’t known for being a well-rounded team, so this development is bad news for the competition. And don’t look now, but their defense has nine interceptions and only permits 20.7 points per game so far.
In the NFC South, the closest team to the Saints is the Carolina Panthers, yet Brees and Co. dismissed Cam Newton’s side 34-13 in Carolina back in Week 3. Translation—grab this line before it moves again.
Underdog to Consider: Houston Texans
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Yes, the Texans got a nod in the intro because they went down. No, that doesn’t mean would-be bettors should ignore them.
The context around the Texans in Week 8 is eye-opening. Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson went on the road to Seattle and threw for 402 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions, matching Russell Wilson’s scoring output.
Quarterback play is everything in this league right now, so the fact a rookie went into Seattle and put on a show against that defense should have bettors swarming. For those counting, this year’s No. 12 pick in the draft is now up to 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions with another two scores as a rusher.
Rich Eisen noted the history Watson made in Seattle:
Rich Eisen @richeisen
First QB with 400+ pbading yards, 4 TDs and 50+ rush yards in a game. Ever. @deshaunwatson is a revelation.
And none of this is meant to suggest Watson is doing it by himself. With him badisting, the ground game averages 4.4 yards per carry. His defense is allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards per game and has eight interceptions despite the absence of a guy like J.J. Watt.
Overall, the Texans are a strong underdog pick out of a sloppy AFC South, where the overperforming Jacksonville Jaguars should come back down to Earth, and they’ve already picked up a win over the Tennessee Titans.
With a great quarterback under center, anything can happen if they reach the playoffs.
Favorite to Ride: Philadelphia Eagles
Chris Szagola/Associated Press
Don’t go away from the Philadelphia Eagles now, especially while this still offers something of a worthwhile payout.
These Eagles are now 7-1 after mopping up the San Francisco 49ers 33-10 via two touchdowns from Carson Wentz and 112 rushing yards with a score from the ground game. Add in a defensive touchdown by Jalen Mills, too.
Not that Wentz, an MVP candidate, was happy.
“Offensively, we have to do better, but good teams find a way to win even when you play sluggish like we did,” Wentz said, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).
That’s the sign of a great team, right? Even in a blowout, the Eagles continue to look for ways to improve. But Wentz has a strong offense around him and a defense allowing 70.4 rushing yards per game and all of 19.5 points.
That 7-1 mark? It includes a sweep of the Washington Redskins in the NFC East and three wins in the division overall. Two games remain against the Dallas Cowboys, but Jerry Jones’ squad are 4-3 and sluggish.
Wentz, now sitting on 19 touchdowns against five interceptions, has a strong cast of weapons surrounding him thanks to LeGarrette Blount in the backfield and the tandem of Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery (nine combined touchdowns) as options in the pbading game.
The league will adapt to the Eagles, yes. But seven wins already is playoff pace and the Eagles have the look of a team ready to make some serious noise once the season concludes.
Stats courtesy of NFL.com. Odds courtesy of OddsShark.