Week 9 of the 2015 NFL season will get underway Thursday night as the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals will host the 2-6 Cleveland Browns in what figures to be a real clunker of a game.
While many people like to throw out arbitrary power rankings without much reasoning behind them, I like to use the league-wide ANY/A differential stats as my power rankings as the history of the stat has really stood the test of time.
Below are the ANY/A differential rankings after the first 8 weeks of the season and while the Arizona Cardinals do have two losses already, they still just might be the best team in the league right now entering Week 9. However, it should be noted that their 4.23 differential is bound to start lowering some in the coming weeks based on history of the stat. The Cardinals are on a bye this week and it probably couldn’t have come at a better time being as it will give them extra days to prepare for the Bengals in Week 10 and the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11. If they beat both of those teams, they will really should be considered a favorite to represent the NFC this year in Super Bowl 50.
The Pittsburgh Steelers enter Week 9 ranked 16th overall with a negative ANY/A differential number. They’ll certainly have a tough test on Sunday when they host the 4-3 Oakland Raiders. A win would put them back in contention for a Wild Card spot while a loss would probably leave them needing to win five or six of their last seven games to make the postseason. The Raiders currently have a defensive ANY/A over 6.00 so you have to like the Steelers chances in this upcoming matchup as long as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger plays Roethlisberger-like.
If you look back at last year’s differential numbers after the first 8 weeks of the season, you will see that there were 8 teams that had a differential over 1.0 and three of those teams, the Browns, Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers, all failed to make the playoffs. In other words, there’s still time for several of this middle teams to make moves. Conversely, none of the teams who sported a differential lower than -.50 after the first 8 weeks of the 2014 season made the playoffs. This year, there are already 15 teams under that -.50 number. However, you have to like the chances of the Indianapolis Colts to make the playoffs this year being as they perhaps play in the worst division in the league.
On to Week 9 we go.