The conclusion of week eight means it is time for more NFL power rankings. The 49ers beat the Browns while the similarly ranked Pittsburgh Steelers beat the New England Patriots. I was fully expecting most folks to move the Steelers ahead of the 49ers. The Steelers have had more success in recent years and it just seemed like the way things would play out this week.
Turns out I was wrong. There are a million power rankings on the Internet, but I generally focus in on three: ESPN NFL Power Rankings, CBS Sports NFL Power Rankings and SB Nation's NFL Power Rankings. All three had the 49ers ranked at the number two position behind the Green Bay Packers and ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I ranked the 49ers second as well in my own NFL power rankings.
The 49ers find themselves in a position to make more waves as they still get to face the highly ranked Steelers and Ravens in November and December. If this was college football those would be great games for strength of schedule in the BCS computer ratings. Thankfully it is not college football in that sense. But it is still interesting to consider. If the 49ers were to continue winning and beat teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, that would certainly boost the "respect" factor.
None of this helps the rest of the NFC West which is circling the drain in power rankings. No other NFC West team ranks higher than 27th in power rankings. People sometimes bag on the 49ers for playing in such a division (I'm looking at you Merril Hoge), but given that the 49ers have only played one divisional game thus far, that is a completely bogus comment. Yes an early clinch date would benefit from the crappy division, but the 49ers work to date has been primarily outside the division.