NFL Week 10 Power Rankings: Saints scramble the top 3

Saints move to the top of Clark's power rankings (0:38)

Ryan Clark explains why New Orleans gets the top spot in his latest NFL power rankings. (0:38)

For the first time since Week 3, we have a new No. 1.

The Saints, winners of seven in a row, not only gave the Rams their first loss of the season on Sunday, they kicked the Rams out of the Power Rankings penthouse. New Orleans was ranked No. 3 in the preseason, then fell as far as No. 9 before making a steady climb to the top.

How did your team rate among all 32 before the season? Our NFL Nation reporters look back at the preseason Power Rankings and where things have gone right or wrong since.

How we rank: Our power panel -- a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities -- evaluated how teams stack up through the first nine weeks of the season.

Previous rankings: 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

1. New Orleans Saints (7-1)

Preseason rank: 3 | Week 9: 3

Expectations were obviously high for the Saints to start with. But they have exceeded them so far by proving they can win with different styles during a brutal three-game stretch (come-from-behind slugfests at Baltimore and at Minnesota, then a 45-35 track meet at home against the Rams). It helps that Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are putting together one of the best "triplets" seasons in NFL history. -- Mike Triplett

2. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1)

Preseason rank: 11 | Week 9: 2

Patrick Mahomes has been better than expected. The Chiefs were confident he would eventually play this well, but not right out of the chute. Through nine games, Mahomes has 29 touchdown passes, one away from the team record. -- Adam Teicher

3. Los Angeles Rams (8-1)

Preseason rank: 6 | Week 9: 1

The Rams were expected to have a big season after they added three All-Pros in Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and Ndamukong Suh on defense, and the offense added speedy receiver Brandin Cooks. At 8-1, it's safe to say the Rams have exceeded expectations, especially on offense. Todd Gurley II is making a strong case for MVP, as he leads the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, and the addition of Cooks has provided a consistent deep-ball threat for Jared Goff. -- Lindsey Thiry

4. New England Patriots (7-2)

Preseason rank: 2 | Week 9: 4

A 1-2 start wasn't entirely unexpected, in part because Julian Edelman was serving a four-game NFL suspension and the Patriots have had some early-season struggles in past years, but that is the main reason the club has had a two-spot dip from preseason expectations. But credit also goes to the Rams and Chiefs, two teams who have far exceeded projections, even though the Patriots dealt the Chiefs their lone loss of the season. -- Mike Reiss

5. Los Angeles Chargers (6-2)

Preseason rank: 10 | Week 9: 5

The Chargers are a little ahead of where they were expected to be in the preseason, thanks to Philip Rivers playing perhaps his best football as a pro. He has completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,238 yards and 19 touchdowns, and he has thrown just three interceptions. Rivers has done a nice job of staying steady and playing within himself, letting the game come to him. -- Eric Williams

6. Carolina Panthers (6-2)

Preseason rank: 12 | Week 9: 6

Before the season, there was uncertainty about whether Cam Newton (career completion percentage of 58.5) would be able to become the efficient passer Norv Turner believed he could be. And there was uncertainty about whether an offensive line decimated by injuries in training camp could hold up. Newton has far exceeded expectations, completing 67.3 percent of his passes and throwing 15 touchdown passes to only four interceptions. The line has played so well that there are questions about where left tackle Matt Kalil will fit in, since he's eligible to return from injured reserve. -- David Newton

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1)

Preseason rank: 5 | Week 9: 7

The Steelers are down slightly from their preseason spot, which isn't surprising considering their 1-2-1 start after projections for a season featuring at least 10 wins. But Pittsburgh looks like a contender because of an improved defense, one of the league's best red zone offenses and an offensive line that's moving everything in sight. -- Jeremy Fowler

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1)

Preseason rank: 4 | Week 9: 8

With a new quarterback stepping into a new offense, there were bound to be some bumps in the road. Kirk Cousins has exceeded expectations at times but also has had his growing pains. The running game was expected to be better, but injuries to Dalvin Cook and the offensive line's early struggles hindered production. With Cook back, Minnesota's rushing attack has the explosive spark it was missing. All in all, racking up five wins before their Week 10 bye is something the Vikings are understandably proud of given the brutal stretch of games they faced over the first nine weeks. -- Courtney Cronin

9. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)

Preseason rank: 1 | Week 9: 9

For Philly, the Super Bowl hangover was real. Lingering injuries (Alshon Jeffery, Tim Jernigan) from last season mixed with new ones (Rodney McLeod, Mike Wallace, Jay Ajayi) to deplete a championship roster that had little time to heal up because of the long run. The offense switched from Nick Foles to Carson Wentz in Week 3, and it has yet to hit on all cylinders -- perhaps still adjusting to the loss of offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. The Eagles clawed their way to a .500 record at the break, with hopes that the second half of the season will treat them more kindly. -- Tim McManus

10. Chicago Bears (5-3)

Preseason rank: 26 | Week 9: 14

The Bears have been a surprise because the defense is playing even better than expected -- and that's with Khalil Mack having missed the past two games with an ankle injury. Also, Chicago's offense is slowly growing under quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who has limited mistakes over the past two weeks. -- Jeff Dickerson

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11. Houston Texans (6-3)

Preseason rank: 15 | Week 9: 16

Although the Texans got off to a bad start, they are a bit better than we thought they would be through nine games. Houston is a very talented team but at times struggles to be consistent for an entire game. But even with an easy schedule over the past six games (all wins), the Texans have beaten teams that they should beat. Houston is still led by its impressive defense, but that has been the case in the past. Ultimately, the team will go as far as Deshaun Watson takes it. -- Sarah Barshop

12. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3)

Preseason rank: 27 | Week 9: 12

Most preseason projections had the Bengals headed for a losing season, so they've already surpassed expectations thanks to a revived offense and the emergence of wide receiver Tyler Boyd. However, their defense has struggled much more than expected this year, and injuries have hit the team hard. Although they've already won five games, it could be a battle to stay in the thick of things unless they get healthy. -- Katherine Terrell

13. Green Bay Packers (3-4-1)

Preseason rank: 8 | Week 9: 11

The lack of talent from some putrid draft classes combined with an offensive plan that looks outdated have caught up with the Packers. And the quarterback hasn't played all that well, either. Yes, Aaron Rodgers has 15 touchdowns and one interception, but he hasn't been as sharp as in the past. That shows up in his completion percentage (at 60.6, on pace for the lowest of his career) and his passer rating (98.9, nearly 5 points below his career average). -- Rob Demovsky

14. Washington Redskins (5-3)

Preseason rank: 19 | Week 9: 13

Well, the problem is that even with an improved ranking, injuries have made it difficult to say that Washington is truly improved. The Redskins placed three starters on injured reserve Monday (guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao and receiver Paul Richardson). However, the Redskins have been better in the rankings largely because of an improved defense -- especially against the run -- a strong running game (thanks to Adrian Peterson) and a lack of turnovers. It's hard to think that after Sunday's 24-point loss to Atlanta, but this is the formula they've used to go 5-3. -- John Keim

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15. Baltimore Ravens (4-5)

Preseason rank: 21 | Week 9: 10

The Ravens are better in the Power Rankings than what was previously predicted, but Baltimore remains stuck in mediocrity. After a strong start, Baltimore has dropped three straight to fall to 4-5. Quarterback Joe Flacco has struggled to get the offense in the end zone, and the NFL's top-ranked defense has suddenly looked vulnerable. The Ravens always appear to be on the cusp of reaching the playoffs before falling short. That's why Baltimore is constantly among the middle of the pack in the NFL. -- Jamison Hensley

16. Atlanta Falcons (4-4)

Preseason rank: 9 | Week 9: 17

The Falcons fell below expectations and started 1-4 primarily because of injuries. They currently have six starters on injured reserve, although Pro Bowl middle linebacker Deion Jones is due back in a couple of weeks. Still, the Falcons -- behind an MVP-worthy showing by Matt Ryan -- have managed to rattle off three straight wins and are back in the playoff hunt. -- Vaughn McClure

17. Seattle Seahawks (4-4)

Preseason rank: 17 | Week 9: 15

The Seahawks looked like they could be a .500 team after an offseason retooling saw them move on from a number of star players. They haven't missed the likes of Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Jimmy Graham as much as many anticipated they would. And they appeared capable of being better than a .500 team during a hot first-half stretch in which they won four of five and nearly upset the Rams. Yet .500 is where they're at following Sunday's loss to the Chargers. -- Brady Henderson

18. Miami Dolphins (5-4)

Preseason rank: 32 | Week 9: 19

The Dolphins' league-leading 15 interceptions have kept them competitive in the AFC playoff race. Despite mounting injuries involving Ryan Tannehill and others, the Dolphins have greatly exceeded the ESPN rankings that had them as the NFL's worst team in the preseason. This team is wildly inconsistent, but top defensive playmakers such as Xavien Howard and Kiko Alonso have allowed the Fins to feast against lesser opponents. They are the AFC East's second-best team and much closer to league average than bad. -- Cameron Wolfe

19. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5)

Preseason rank: 7 | Week 9: 18

There's not enough room to get into everything, but the biggest issues are QB play and injuries. Blake Bortles is wildly inconsistent, turns the ball over too much (11 times in eight games) and needs things around him to be perfect to make the offense effective. Injuries have the Jaguars on their third-string left tackle and fourth-string tight end. Plus, RB Leonard Fournette has played in the first half of just two games because of a hamstring injury. The offense has been borderline nonfunctional at times as a result. -- Mike DiRocco

20. Tennessee Titans (4-4)

Preseason rank: 14 | Week 9: 22

There's still time for the Titans to get back on track as the second half of the season starts. It all comes down to Marcus Mariota and the offense. Matt LaFleur needs to get Mariota into a rhythm and replicate his fourth-quarter performances. No quarterback has led his team on more game-winning drives (six) than Mariota over the past two years. The defense is always going to keep Tennessee in games, but can the offense score points? -- Turron Davenport

21. Dallas Cowboys (3-5)

Preseason rank: 13 | Week 9: 21

The Cowboys entered the season believing they could replace Jason Witten and Dez Bryant with a committee approach, and it has not worked, especially at wide receiver, which is why Dallas gave up a first-round pick in 2019 to acquire Amari Cooper. The Cowboys also felt their offensive line, featuring three Pro Bowlers, would play better; but Travis Frederick has not played a down this season because of Guillain-Barré syndrome, and the group has not played consistently enough, which resulted in a coaching change at the position. Finally, there is the lack of success away from home: The Cowboys were 12-4 away from home in Dak Prescott's first two years, and they have matched that loss total so far this season. -- Todd Archer

22. Detroit Lions (3-5)

Preseason rank: 20 | Week 9: 20

The Lions are, in many ways, what we thought they would be at the start of the season -- although how they arrived here, at 3-5 and foundering, has been a surprise. The defense, which looked like it would be Detroit's weakness, has actually done well against the pass (not so much against the run). The Lions found a running game, but Matthew Stafford and the passing game have been inconsistent. This team was not thought to be a contender at the start of the season and, especially after trading away wideout Golden Tate, isn't expected to be one now, either. -- Michael Rothstein

23. Indianapolis Colts (3-5)

Preseason rank: 29 | Week 9: 24

The Colts are off to a better-than-expected start. Andrew Luck has knocked off the rust (after missing all of last season) by throwing for 23 touchdowns. The offensive line, which played a significant factor in Luck missing 26 games from 2015 to 2017, has gone nearly four straight games without giving up a sack, while also playing a key role in the Colts' rushing for at least 220 yards in each of the past two games. Finally, there's rookie linebacker Darius Leonard, who leads the NFL in tackles (88) while also forcing two fumbles and recovering two fumbles. -- Mike Wells

24. Denver Broncos (3-6)

Preseason rank: 22 | Week 9: 23

The Broncos are close to their preseason ranking, but they have simply made too many mistakes at key times of games. (See: 10 INTs by QB Case Keenum and 21 holding penalties on offense -- third-highest total in league.) In a season when they have played four games against teams with at least six wins, they haven't been good enough to overcome those mistakes. They have lost those four games by a combined 16 points, with penalties costing them at least seven points in a three-point loss to the Rams. -- Jeff Legwold

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)

Preseason rank: 25 | Week 9: 25

The Bucs are ranked where they deserve to be. They lack stability at the quarterback position, with Jameis Winston benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick, although that has hardly slowed them down. Defense is where their real problems are. They fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith after Week 6, and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, safety Chris Conte and middle linebacker Kwon Alexander are all on IR. They also have been without starting LB Kendell Beckwith, who has yet to play this season after an offseason car accident forced him to undergo ankle surgery. -- Jenna Laine

26. Cleveland Browns (2-6-1)

Preseason rank: 31 | Week 9: 26

They're up because they've won two games, which for the Browns is a step forward from a winless 2016. But if they don't end the skid they are on -- they have lost four in a row, and it will be very difficult to stop given the schedule -- their end-of-season ranking might wind up lower than the preseason projection. -- Pat McManamon

27. New York Jets (3-6)

Preseason rank: 30 | Week 9: 27

The Jets are slightly ahead of their preseason ranking, but that's not saying much. The reality is, they've played a notch below expectations, which got bumped up after a dominating Week 1 win in Detroit. The reason: Sam Darnold's growing pains are more acute than anyone could've imagined (league-leading 14 interceptions). -- Rich Cimini

28. San Francisco 49ers (2-7)

Preseason rank: 16 | Week 9: 31

The 49ers are way down after devastating ACL injuries to QB Jimmy Garoppolo and RB Jerick McKinnon. Sure, the 49ers have their share of issues that would need fixing regardless of health problems, but losing your starting quarterback and starting running back for the rest of the season just three weeks in is a pretty quick ticket to a disappointing season. The injury bug didn't stop there, either, as the Niners also have dealt with a variety of shorter-term issues from week to week. The Niners are 1-4 in one-possession games this year, including three losses by three points or fewer. -- Nick Wagoner

29. New York Giants (1-7)

Preseason rank: 23 | Week 9: 29

Nobody really thought a repeat of last year's nightmare 3-13 season was possible with a new coach, the addition of Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. back in the lineup. But it has been. In fact, the Giants are on pace to finish with a worse record right now with but one win after eight games. -- Jordan Raanan

30. Arizona Cardinals (2-6)

Preseason rank: 24 | Week 9: 30

The Cardinals believed they would go as Sam Bradford went, and that has come to fruition. Bradford struggled in three starts with 400 total passing yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions, before getting benched in favor of rookie Josh Rosen. No one expected the Cardinals' offense to be as bad as it has been. Part of that was Bradford, and part of it was Mike McCoy's playcalling misuse of RB David Johnson. It all adds up to the Cardinals falling well below expectations. -- Josh Weinfuss

31. Buffalo Bills (2-7)

Preseason rank: 28 | Week 9: 28

Nathan Peterman is who we thought he was, and the Bills are who we thought they were. Since Josh Allen's most recent touchdown in a Week 5 win over the Titans, the Bills have thrown more pick-sixes (three) than they have scored touchdowns (two). Peterman has tossed two of those pick-sixes; Derek Anderson was responsible for the other. -- Mike Rodak

32. Oakland Raiders (1-7)

Preseason rank: 18 | Week 9: 32

Wasn't Jon Gruden simply supposed to give the Raiders a fresh scrub, and polish up foundation pieces Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, Derek Carr and Amari Cooper? Instead, Gruden has hit the detonation button -- Carr is all that's left of the four -- in the latest deconstruction/reconstruction project in advance of the team's move to Las Vegas in 2020. While the offense has shown glimpses of Gruden's West Coast offense, the defense is threatening to be the worst in franchise history. -- Paul Gutierrez