NFL Power Rankings: Teams That Will Solidify Their Positions in Week 8

Darin Pike@darinpikeContributor IOctober 26, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 14: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons scrambles against the Oakland Raiders at the Georgia Dome on October 14, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

While NFL power rankings have no bearing on, well, anything, fans are inherently drawn to them. Comparing where one's favorite team stands among the competition, and debating why their team is better than where others place them, is cheap entertainment.

Parity in the NFL has made it difficult to predict how teams will fare each season, which only adds to the enjoyment.

The Minnesota Vikings were expected to struggle in 2012 and many expected the Kansas City Chiefs to excel. It hasn't quite worked out that way.

There are still several teams that are difficult to peg. Some of those teams have a bye this weekend but the power rankings will begin to iron out several of the discrepancies following Week 8.


Current ESPN Power Rankings






Falcons 6-0


Chargers 3-3


Giants 5-2


Redskins 3-4


Texans 6-1


Lions 2-4


49ers 5-2


Saints 2-4


Bears 5-1


Rams 3-4


Ravens 5-2


Bengals 3-4


Packers 4-3


Colts 3-3


Patriots 4-3


Jets 3-4


Vikings 5-2


Titans 3-4


Steelers 3-3


Buccaneers 2-4


Seahawks 4-3


Bills 3-4


Broncos 3-3


Raiders 2-4


Eagles 3-3


Panthers 1-5


Cardinals 4-3


Browns 1-6


Cowboys 3-3


Jaguars 1-5


Dolphins 3-3


Chiefs 1-5


Seattle at Detroit

Both of these teams have presented a few surprises this season. The Lions were expected to make a playoff run and the Seahawks were expected to be...huh. There was little agreement on how good or bad the Seahawks would be this season.

So far, Seattle is showing why analysts couldn't decide how good of a team this would be. The Seahawks can't decide how good they are, either. They are two very different teams at home compared to playing on the road.

Beating the 2-4 Lions isn't a major accomplishment, but any win away from CenturyLink Field bodes well for the Seahawks. This team needs to prove it can win the games they "should" win on the road.

Seattle has the potential to go 8-0 at home. A second road win will at least show they are a credible playoff contender and worthy of getting back into the top 10.

A loss for the Lions will virtually eliminate them from playoff consideration and relegate them to playing for a top-10 draft pick.


New England at St. Louis

The Patriots have struggled on the road this season, losing in Seattle and Baltimore. A loss to the Arizona Cardinals also poses concerns with their play against the physical NFC West.

So how will they fare with the biggest road trip of the year against St. Louis?

Some are predicting an upset in London. The Rams have a solid secondary and a fierce front-four that could create problems for Tom Brady.

I'd be tempted to agree if this was a normal home game for the Rams, but the crowd won't be in their favor. To be fair, it isn't as though they've generated much crowd noise in recent seasons. With the way Patriot fans pop up on the road, the fan split in London could be about the same as it would have been in St. Louis.

This will be a close game, but a Patriots win will show they are still the class of the AFC East and that the Rams still have a bit of work to do.


Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles

This matchup holds a fair amount of intrigue. Both of these teams want to prove their talons are for real.

The Eagles (3-3) are trying to establish themselves as a playoff contender and a win will give them the street cred to argue they are a top 10 team.

The Falcons are possibly the most suspect 6-0 team ever. Four of their wins have come against the AFC West and the win over the Broncos was in Atlanta and before the offense really started to click for Peyton Manning.

Throw in wins over the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins and Atlanta is yet to have a statement game.

Going into Philadelphia and handling the Eagles will make it hard to argue the Falcons aren't the team to beat in the least in the regular season.


Washington Redskins at Pittsburgh Steelers

Both of these teams want to prove they can win games despite issues on the defensive side of the ball. The Redskins came into the season with holes on that side of the ball while the Steelers are struggling with injuries to several key defenders.

I've predicted a fall for Pittsburgh in 2012 but a win over Washington will get them to 4-3 and show they are the team to beat in the AFC North. It will also make their top 10 ranking a lot less suspect.

The Baltimore Ravens fans may disagree, but they need to prove they can win with their lightened defensive unit.


Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

It is hard to get too excited for this matchup, but the game will answer two questions. 

First, who is the doormat in one of the worst divisions in football? Signs currently point to the Chiefs but a win will help them crawl out of the cellar and possibly even pass the Raiders.

The other outstanding question is where does Carson Palmer stand in disappointing quarterback acquisitions. He currently stands as a worse move than the Arizona Cardinals' trade for Kevin Kolb, and is neck-and-neck with the Chiefs' signing of Matt Cassel.

A loss for the Raiders would give Palmer a slight edge.

Oh, the anticipation of this Week 8 battle! 


Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.


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