2011 NFL Power Rankings: Week 9
Will Super Bowl XLVI have a familiar look? Don't bet against it.
The Packers and Steelers met last February in Super Bowl XLV, which saw Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay punctuate an impressive late-season run with a 31-25 victory. Judging by how things stand after Week 8, the teams could again be on a collision course -- this time for Indianapolis.
Our voters (ESPN.com's John Clayton, ESPN.com's Ashley Fox, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, NFC West blogger Mike Sando and AFC East blogger James Walker) clearly like what they see from both teams. The Packers are still entrenched at No. 1, but the Steelers, winners of four in a row, have a considerable head of steam. They're up two spots to No. 3 after beating New England in Week 8, and would have a good chance of grabbing the No. 2 spot if they can beat the rival Ravens (No. 4) in Week 9.
Who else is making noise in the rankings? The Eagles (up six spots to No. 16) and Vikings (up five spots to No. 23) made the biggest gains, but the 49ers continue to be one of the biggest storylines. San Francisco jumped up two more spots to No. 2, meaning it has risen 24 positions since Week 1.
Can San Francisco hold off the surging Steelers? Week 9 will be telling. If Pittsburgh wins its fifth straight and the 49ers beat the reeling Redskins sans style points, our voters will be faced with a tough decision next week. Of course, if Green Bay trips up in San Diego, all bets are off.
Editor's note: "LW" indicates each team's ranking in the Week 8 edition of the 2011 Power Rankings.