NFL Power Rankings Week 8: How NFL Stacks Up After Sunday's Action
Outside of one contest on Monday between two teams with a total of one win through six weeks of action, an exciting Week 7 did more than weeks past to show us exactly where each team stands in the NFL.
As always, the results were a bit unexpected, but at the end of the day, it is now much easier to see where every team sits after the pretenders have been shuffled out of the deck.
Here's a look at how the NFL hierarchy shakes out with almost half the regular season in the books.
1. New Orleans Saints (5-1)
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints were on a bye in Week 7, but that does not stop the NFL's best team from finally claiming the top spot in the rankings.
Outside of a fluky last-second loss to New England two weeks ago, the Saints have breezed through the opposition thanks to a predictably elite offense.
Even better, the defense under Rob Ryan ranks as the No. 12 overall unit with youngsters such as Junior Galette and Kenny Vaccaro playing at a high level.
As of Week 8, the Saints are the NFL's most complete team thanks to quality units on both sides of the football.
2. Denver Broncos (6-1)
Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis did not go as planned, as the Broncos found themselves simply outplayed in most areas.
Manning still managed 386 yards and three touchdowns, but was sacked four times and saw his defense continuously surrender big plays while his running game gave him just 64 total yards of support.
There's no shame in a loss to Indianapolis, but it was more of a convincing defeat than the final score suggests.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (7-0)
Kansas City rolled to another victory in Week 7 over Houston to remain the NFL's only undefeated team, but it was not exactly a convincing win over a quarterback making his first NFL start.
In fact, the highly regarded Kansas City pass defense allowed Case Keenum to throw for 271 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs did nothing particularly well in the contest, but they escaped with a 17-16 victory at home.
As many will point out, the undefeated mark is great, but Andy Reid and Co. have yet to defeat a quality opponent.
4. Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
It's official—Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts are giant killers. The Colts had big victories over contenders such as San Francisco and Seattle, but now they have the biggest prize of all: a win over Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
While the wins are great, and a habit of showing up against the NFL's best will work wonders in the postseason, Luck and Co. still have two very confounding blemishes on their records to average teams.
Indianapolis clearly has what it takes to make a postseason run if it gets to that point, but consistently showing up each week is a must from here on out.
5. Seattle Seahawks (6-1)
Seattle has wasted no time getting back to its dominant form after an upset at the hands of Indianapolis two weeks ago.
Russell Wilson and Co. smoked the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football courtesy of a balanced attack in all phases.
Like all contests on Thursdays, it was a sloppy affair, but Seattle continues to win games it's supposed to en route to another playoff appearance.
6. Green Bay Packers (4-2)
Green Bay has now rattled off three straight wins in impressive fashion.
Unfortunately for the Packers, the team lost tight end Jermichael Finely to a scary neck injury that saw him leave the field on a stretcher before being hospitalized per NFL.com's Dan Hanzus.
Green Bay has done an excellent job of overcoming injuries to this point, but the road ahead just became much more difficult.
7. San Francisco 49ers (5-2)
For the fifth time in seven games, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick failed to throw for 200 yards against Tennessee on Sunday.
No matter, as the offense was still able to roll up 349 total yards and blow out the Titans 31-17 in front of their home crowd.
A reoccurring negative theme is the 49ers' woes in defending the pass, as Jake Locker had little issue on his way to 326 yards, but once again San Francisco was simply the more talented team. The beat goes on for the 49ers.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)
Cincinnati has found its groove and won three straight, and quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown for over 300 yards in two consecutive games now that the coaching staff is playing to his strengths.
The only issue is the defense, which gave up over 300 yards passing for the first time in 20 games in large part to the absence of elite corner Leon Hall, who will likely miss the remainder of the season per NFL Newtork's Ian Rapoport:
#Bengals believe CB Leon Hall has a torn Achilles, source says. He’ll undergo more tests tomorrow to confirm. Would end his season— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 21, 2013
Cincinnati needs to quickly find an answer in the defensive secondary to keep the streak alive.
9. New England Patriots (5-2)
Let's not say the New England Patriots have been exposed, but something is off in Foxborough as Tom Brady and Co. have lost two of their last three to quality competition.
Brady got star tight end Rob Gronkowski back against the New York Jets on Sunday, but for the second time in three games he was held without a touchdown pass.
See a trend there?
New England needs to find the winning formula on offense in a hurry.
10. Chicago Bears (4-3)
Forget for a moment that the Chicago Bears lost to the Washington Redskins, as that should be the least of the concerns in Chicago at this point.
Backup Josh McCown was able to go 14-of-20 for 204 yards and an interception, but that's not saying much against the Swiss cheese defense Washington fields. Time will tell how long the Bears will be without their franchise quarterback.
11. Detroit Lions (4-3)
Detroit found little in the way of answers Sunday in a loss to Cincinnati on a last-second field goal.
Despite over 430 yards of total offense and 155 yards and two scores from Calvin Johnson, the Lions were unable to keep pace with an efficient Cincinnati offense.
It's not the end of the world by any means, but things don't exactly get any easier over the rest of the schedule. A laughably bad pass defense needs to be addressed because it is now apparent the offense cannot keep up with every team.
12. Buffalo Bills (3-4)
Buffalo continues to impress with solid efforts despite the absence of rookie starting quarterback EJ Manuel.
This time the all-around effort paid off in a major win on the road against the Miami Dolphins, as Thad Lewis threw for an unspectacular 202 yards to bring the Dolphins back down to Earth.
Buffalo is hanging around courtesy of a stellar defense and above average rushing attack, so the sooner Manuel can get back, the better.
13. New York Jets (4-3)
Don't look now, but the New York Jets have the look of a playoff contender in the AFC East as rookie quarterback Geno Smith and Co. have improved each week since the season began.
Smith threw for over 230 yards in the win over New England and once again displayed the ability to effectively orchestrate the offense and excel with ball placement.
New York is controlling things on both sides of the football, as referenced by the team's over 46 minutes of possession against the Patriots. The Jets are far from an easy win on the schedule for any team.
14. San Diego Chargers (4-3)
After an impressive win on Monday Night Football last week against Indianapolis, San Diego followed that up on a short week with a dominant showing over the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.
It's a bit concerning journeyman quarterback Chad Henne was able to throw for over 300 yards, but the San Diego defense was able to hold the Jaguars out of the end zone completely.
Perhaps most encouraging is back Ryan Mathews going for 110 yards and a score. San Diego desperately needs contributions from the run game to remain competitive.
15. Miami Dolphins (3-3)
After a strong start to the season, the Miami Dolphins have officially been exposed as frauds courtesy of three straight losses.
Miami touts one of the NFL's worst rushing attacks and was most recent abused by the Buffalo Bills in an AFC East showdown. The Dolphins were able to out-gain the Bills, but turned the ball over three times.
Until the Dolphins can better protect Ryan Tannehill and the football itself, the team will do nothing but plummet.
16. Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
Credit where it's due—the Dallas Cowboys have taken care of business the past two weeks against miserable defenses after losing a heartbreaker to the Denver Broncos three weeks ago.
Tony Romo torched Philadelphia on Sunday for over 300 yards, while his defense actually stepped up to the plate for the first time this year and held the Eagles to just three points.
When things are clicking for the Cowboys, they're a tough out. The problem is more consistency is needed against quality opposition to move higher in the rankings.
17. Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
Baltimore's losing ways continue, as does what has been a very mediocre season for the defending champs.
This time Baltimore lost to a reeling Pittsburgh team in a close contest. Once again star back Ray Rice was a disappointment with just 45 rushing yards and quarterback Joe Flacco proved once more he cannot do it on his own.
The schedule over the next few weeks is brutal, so expect the Ravens to either stay afloat or sink at a rapid pace.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
One week removed from making Michael Vick look like an afterthought with almost 300 yards passing, Nick Foles went out and laid an egg against Dallas before leaving with an injury per ESPN's John Clayton.
Rookie Matt Barkley was not much better as he entered the game and threw three interceptions. In total, the Eagles had as many interceptions as points in the pathetic showing.
Vick cannot get healthy fast enough.
19. Cleveland Browns (3-4)
The difficult times for Cleveland continued on Sunday with a 31-13 beatdown at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.
Cleveland's offense misses Brian Hoyer, as Brandon Weeden was held to just 149 yards to go with a touchdown and interception.
The once-elite pass defense was exposed in a major way despite the Packers missing plenty of weapons. Cleveland continues to tumble down the rankings.
20. Atlanta Falcons (2-4)
Atlanta broke a three-game losing streak on Sunday, which sounds especially impressive considering three offensive stars were out, as Julio Jones is lost for the year and both Roddy White and Steven Jackson were forced to sit with injuries.
As great as that sounds, the win came against a winless Tampa Bay team that has no answers.
So yes, Matt Ryan is making a star out of Harry Douglas, but no, it doesn't mean anything until it happens against quality opposition.
21. St. Louis Rams (3-4)
Yet another team where the outcome of its Week 7 contest is thrown on the back burner. Per ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford sounds as if he has a torn ACL:
The Rams do fear Sam Bradford has a torn ACL but obviously will wait on MRI tonight to determine the specific knee injury, per sources.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) October 21, 2013
Before leaving the game, Bradford had thrown for 255 yards and a score. While he had not lived up to expectations once again, the Rams are now in serious trouble with an offense that was already struggling.
The defense has not been much better, especially against the run, so how St. Louis is going to turn things around now is hard to tell.
22. Oakland Raiders (2-4)
Oakland was on a bye in Week 7 after a humbling loss to Kansas City, but the fact remains this Oakland team is much, much better than anyone could have predicted.
The main reason is the quality quarterback play from Terrelle Pryor, who has ensured the Raiders will not be drafting a quarterback this year.
Oakland has plenty of time to heal up for a second half that could see Pryor shock more than a few opponents on the way to victories.
23. Tennessee Titans (3-4)
Tennessee finally got starting quarterback Jake Locker back on Sunday against San Francisco, which was a breath of fresh air considering how horrific Ryan Fitzpatrick had been, but it mattered little against San Francisco.
Locker threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns, but Chris Johnson managed just 39 rushing yards, and his defense failed to stop much of anything.
Tennessee is a quality team, but the loss to San Francisco clearly shows there is still work to be done.
24. Houston Texans (2-5)
Perhaps all hope is not lost in Houston.
Case Keenum entered his first batch of significant NFL time against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs and threw for 271 yards and a touchdown as Houston almost pulled off the upset before losing, 17-16.
Unfortunately for Keenum, the Texans simply did not have enough in the tank, as will be the story for the rest of the season. Time will tell if Keenum has enough NFL talent to save Gary Kubiak's job.
25. Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
Bruce Arians and his Arizona Cardinals have now lost two in a row against legit competition in the form of San Francisco two weeks ago and Seattle last Thursday.
The main issue in the desert continues to be Carson Palmer and his lack of protection. Seattle was able to sack Palmer seven times and intercepted him twice in the embarrassing contest.
It seems only a matter of time before Palmer is either hurt or benched.
26. Carolina Panthers (3-3)
Cam Newton has now strung together two solid performances for Carolina in two wins, but Newton was especially effective in Week 7 against St. Louis after making his return from an injury as ESPN points out:
Cam Newton was 15-for-17 passing today, the most accurate passing day in Panthers history (88% completion rate)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 20, 2013
While all three of Carolina's wins have come against some of the NFL's worst teams, the Panthers have a top-five defense and can be explosive on offense if Newton keeps playing at a high level.
27. Washington Redskins (2-4)
Robert Griffin III and Co. were able to tally their second win of the season, which essentially saved it, by a win over Chicago on Sunday.
The Redskins were gifted with the aforementioned injury to Bears starter Jay Cutler, but still found a way to give up 41 points.
While the defense was bad, the Washington offense was able to tally 499 yards of total offense against a sound Chicago defense. As expected, the offense is the only hope for the Redskins this year.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)
Ben Roethlisberger and Co. scored a second-consecutive victory in Week 7 with a major 19-16 victory over AFC North rival Baltimore.
As expected, it was a low scoring defensive battle, and rookie back Le'Veon Bell was the deciding factor with his 93 yards on 4.9 yards per carry.
Pittsburgh is too far gone to make the playoffs at this point, but a strong showing like this is something to build on moving forward.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6)
There's not much more to say about Tampa Bay. Rookie Mike Glennon threw two touchdowns to no interceptions, but the Buccaneers still failed to knock off NFC South rival Atlanta.
Running back Doug Martin is in a massive sophomore slump, but it's hardly his fault.
It's a matter of time before Greg Schiano is fired from the circus he has created.
30. Minnesota Vikings (1-4)
NFL fans won't be lucky enough to catch the Minnesota Vikings in action until Monday Night Football this week when Adrian Peterson and Co. take on the winless Giants.
Of course, the biggest storyline here is Josh Freeman taking over starting duties for the Vikings, which has the feel of something that is going to be extremely positive in front of a national audience or blow up in a major way—not something in between.
Either way, we'll be entertained.
31. New York Giants (0-6)
New York has a date with the team just above it in the rankings on Monday Night Football, which is a chance for Eli Manning to get himself out of his turnover-happy ways.
Manning has been miserable while supported by a questionable ground game, but it's not as if his defense has provided any kind of help.
Luckily for the Giants, there is a legitimate shot to land a first victory of the season against a Minnesota team that is just as bad in most phases.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-7)
Jacksonville has yet to come within seven points in seven losses this season.
This time the Jaguars surrendered over 400 total yards in a 24-6 loss to San Diego, bringing the franchise that much closer to the No. 1 overall pick and its quarterback of choice.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling
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