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The very first half of the season has showed that a handful of trendy picks to leap into contention — namely the Bears and the Browns — clearly had been not prepared for these heady expectations.

Meanwhile, the Fab five in The Post’s weekly NFL Energy Rankings stay unchanged from a single week ago, as the top rated teams continue to separate themselves from the league’s also-rans as we enter Week 9 with two unbeaten squads and two winless ones at either finish of the list.

The Rams notably worked their way back into the Leading 10 with their second straight win, with surging Indianapolis also generating a 3-spot jump to land proper behind them.

1. New England Patriots, eight- (Final week: 1):
This extremely is shaping up to be Bill Belichick’s finest defensive unit throughout his prolific time in New England, with a league-higher 25 forced turnovers and just 61 points permitted by means of eight games. The Pats are eight- for the third time in group history, halfway to their best 16- typical season in 2007 (when they completed, ahem, 18-1 all round). Sunday night’s road contest against Lamar Jackson and Baltimore (2nd in the league in total offense) ought to represent their largest test but.

two. San Francisco 49ers, 7- (two): The Niners’ defense — led by No. two-all round choose Nick Bosa, who Richard Sherman believes has been the league’s defensive MVP — has been just as stingy as New England’s D more than the previous 4 weeks (23 points permitted), like a 51-13 clubbing of a previously hot Carolina offense ahead of Thursday’s pay a visit to to Arizona.

three. New Orleans Saints, 7-1 (three): Drew Brees receives a bye this week to recuperate from his impressive 373-yard return from September thumb surgery, with 3 games against Atlanta and Tampa Bay coming up in November. The Saints also boast the second-finest run defense in the league (sixth all round) by means of eight weeks, at 84.two rushing yards per game.

Jacoby Brissett
Jacoby BrissettGetty Pictures

four. Green Bay Packers, 7-1 (four): Aaron Rodgers has tossed eight TD passes the previous two weeks, even if he didn’t get to square off with injured counterpart Patrick Mahomes in Sunday’s win in Kansas City. Operating back Aaron Jones has offered tremendous balance for the Pack all season, major the league with 11 touchdowns, a single extra than Carolina’s Christian McCaffery, getting into Sunday’s road game against the Chargers.

five. Minnesota Vikings, six-two (five): Speaking of balance, no offensive attack has been as versatile lately as that of the Vikings, with NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook (823 yards) opening up the field for Kirk Cousins and the passing game for massive plays. That specially has been accurate for no-longer disgruntled deep threat Stefon Diggs, who has seven catches in every of his previous 3 games for 167, 142 and 143 yards, respectively, getting into Sunday’s game at Kansas City.

six. Seattle Seahawks, six-two (7): The Seahawks need to have to remain inside two games of undefeated San Francisco to have any opportunity of catching them in the NFC West, with their very first of two head-to-head matchups in the second half looming on Nov. 11. Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson (17-1 TDs/INTs) very first ought to stay focused on this week’s house game against Tampa Bay.

7. Baltimore Ravens, five-two (9): Jackson’s legs (82.four rushing yards per game) and arm (235.7) ought to be effectively-rested ahead of Sunday’s house showdown against the Patriots, a possible statement game for John Harbaugh and the Ravens in the AFC. Teams two-by means of-six in the rankings all hail from the other conference.

eight. Kansas City Chiefs, five-three (eight):
The Chiefs will retain very first spot in the mediocre AFC West for at least yet another week, even if Mahomes (dislocated kneecap) misses his second consecutive start out. They have lost 3 consecutive games at Arrowhead Stadium and face yet another daunting challenge this week at house against the Vikings.

9. Buffalo Bills, five-two (six):
The Bills’ only prior loss had been a low-scoring game against New England, but their 5 wins more than that span came against the Jets, Giants, Bengals, Titans and Dolphins — teams with a combined record of 7-31. They have to bounce back from Sunday’s ugly 31-13 house loss to Philadelphia this week against 1-7 Washington.

10. Los Angeles Rams, five-three (13): The Rams’ odd 3-game losing streak is firmly in the rearview, soon after taking care of undesirable teams Atlanta and Cincinnati by a combined 61-20 aggregate the previous two games heading into their bye week.

11. Indianapolis Colts, five-two (14)

12. Houston Texans, five-three (11)

13. Dallas Cowboys, four-three (12)

Cooper Kupp
Cooper KuppAP

14. Carolina Panthers, four-three (10)

15. Philadelphia Eagles, four-four (17)

16. Detroit Lions, three-three-1 (16)

17. Jacksonville Jaguars, four-four (21)

19. Chicago Bears, three-four (15)

20. Arizona Cardinals, three-four-1 (18)

21. Oakland Raiders, three-four (19)

22. Los Angeles Chargers, three-five (24)

23. Pittsburgh Steelers, three-four (25)

24. Cleveland Browns, two-five (22)

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two-five (23)

26. Giants, two-six (26): The Giants haven’t held a lead at any point throughout their 4-game losing streak, and it appears unlikely that any players-only meetings or new players (i.e. Leonard Williams) will drastically transform that statistic on Monday evening against rival Dallas. The Daniel Jones-Darius Slayton rookie tandem at least showed some guarantee with two touchdown hookups in Sunday’s loss to Detroit.

27. Denver Broncos, two-six (27)

28. Jets, 1-six (28): Sam Darnold and the Jets will appear to prevent yet another indignity — possibly the ultimate a single — this week against winless Miami. The Dolphins have permitted the second-most rushing yards per game this season (160.four), so perhaps this ultimately will be the week Le’Veon Bell breaks out from the low-influence start out to his Jets profession.

29. Washington Redskins, 1-7 (29)

30. Atlanta Falcons, 1-7 (30)

31. Cincinnati Bengals, -eight (31)

32. Miami Dolphins, -7 (32)

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