NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Assessing League's Biggest Risers and Fallers
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Week 7 in the NFL was one to remember. Most teams distinguished themselves as legitimate contenders or hopeful pretenders, as they either picked up big victories to better their situations or tough losses that dropped them a few slots in the standings.
As NFL players and coaches prepare for Week 8, here are the biggest movers and shakers after an intense Week 7 in the NFL.
The biggest changes are in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs were at least in the top two for the last few weeks. Now it's safe to say that they've earned the No. 1 spot outright after improving to 7-0 with a tough 17-16 win over a struggling Houston Texans team.
While KC struggled this week, it's the end result that counts. Its defense is one of the best in the league, especially against the pass, and Alex Smith has the offense running smoothly thanks to Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs are the last undefeated team in the league, which earns them the No. 1 spot.
2. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks solidified their spot at the top of the NFC West after they took down the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night football. Now at 6-1, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have the Hawks rolling with two wins in a row since their loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5.
The Seahawks' running offense is ranked second in the NFL, averaging more than 150 yards per game. Their defense has stymied opponents all season, allowing just over 190 yards through the air and 91 yards on the ground per game.
Pete Carroll has his crew playing unbelievable football, and with just a few losses from the top dogs in the NFL, they slide into the No. 2 slot.
3. New Orleans Saints
The Saints were on a bye in Week 7 after their Week 6 loss against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the final seconds of the game. The Saints will look to regroup in Week 8 against the Buffalo Bills.
Drew Brees and his boys have welcomed the return of coach Sean Payton this season as they sit now at first place in the NFC South. But while the Saints are 6-1, their passing game has been their savior, averaging more than 311 yards per contest to make up to the struggling running game. Their solid passing defense keeps them competitive, but if they're going to stay in the hunt, they'll have to beat some good teams.
4. Denver Broncos
The Broncos only dropped a few spots, but they dropped them in a big way after losing to Andrew Luck and the Colts in primetime on Sunday night. Peyton Manning and his high-powered offense weren't able to make enough big plays to keep up with the Colts, and Denver's league-worst passing defense showed its true colors, giving up over 220 yards to Luck and the Indy offense.
The Broncos are still one of the best teams in the NFL. They will have a chance to get things on the right track with matchups against the Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs in the coming weeks, but their first loss of the season drops them a few spots in the power rankings.
5. Indianapolis Colts
As the Broncos fell, the Colts rose with a huge win over Denver in Indianapolis on Sunday night. Andrew Luck had a huge night, throwing for more than 220 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts' former franchise quarterback.
Indy moves up a couple of spots, but we can't forget its uncharacteristic performance a couple of weeks ago against the Chargers, which resulted in a 19-9 loss. The Colts have had some huge victories over Denver, Seattle and San Francisco. If they want to keep climbing the ranks, they'll have to keep it up in Week 9, when they'll take on Houston after their bye this week.
6. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers move up a spot or two after a dominant performance against the Tennessee Titans. The 49ers have now won four games in a row, and even more, they've scored at least 31 points in each game.
Colin Kaepernick and his productive offense make up the third-best running game in the NFL, averaging over 143 yards per game. When paired with an amazing defense, it makes them a serious contender once again in the NFC.
7. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals continue to rack up big wins, taking down the Detroit Lions in Week 7. Now at 5-2, they sit atop the AFC North and are on a three-game winning streak that includes wins over Detroit and New England.
Cincy is surprisingly good and has beaten some talented teams thanks to its big-play offense and stingy defense. AJ Green has started to turn things on, notching 155 yards against Detroit, which helped Andy Dalton in a big way.
The Bengals have an easy schedule coming up with games against New York, Miami, Baltimore and Cleveland, which could shoot them into playoff contention at the end of the regular season.
8. Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers continue to impress after suffering huge injuries in the last few weeks. Their 31-13 win over Cleveland this week puts the winning streak at three games and shoots the Packers into first place in the NFC North.
Green Bay is playing ridiculous football. The offense is ranked in the top five in both running and passing, averaging 134 and 300 yards per game, respectively. The defense is just as good, allowing less than 80 yards on the ground per contest.
The Packers are playing inspired football, but with Jermichael Finley going down in Week 7, the mounting injuries could be a major issue down the road.
9. New England Patriots
The Patriots climbed up the rankings in Week 7 after a classic Tom Brady late-game victory over Drew Brees and the Saints. After an ugly Week 8 loss to the New York Jets, they fall right back down, barely staying in the top 10.
The Pats were looking good in the first half in Week 8, but things got ugly in the third quarter when they gave up 17 unanswered points to the Jets. The Pats tied things up late in the game just to lose in overtime.
Brady and his squad only have two losses, but they aren't playing great football. Their usually dominant passing attack ranks 20th in the NFL, and their defense is giving up over 127 yards on the ground per game. When added together, those things don't bode well for the future.
10. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys earned a huge 17-3 win in Week 8 against their NFC East rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. They move into first place in the NFC East and into the top 10 in Week 8's NFL power rankings.
Dallas will have a major opportunity in the coming weeks to earn a couple of wins, with their next three games coming against Detroit, Minnesota and New Orleans. If the Cowboys can keep rolling, No. 10 won't be the highest spot they'll see this season.
11. San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have won two games in a row, allowing just 15 points in the last two weeks combined against the Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Their win over the Jags was especially impressive, with Philip Rivers throwing for more than 280 yards and Ryan Mathews rushing for 110 yards.
San Diego moves up the ranks in a big way this week as Rivers and company continue to prove they have what it takes to be serious competitors in the AFC. The even better news for the Chargers is they're on a bye in Week 8 before taking on Washington in Week 9.
12. New York Jets
The Jets are also big risers this week after improving to 4-3 with a huge 30-27 overtime win over the New England Patriots. The Jets may seem like a joke with their quarterback circus and other issues, but all of a sudden, they are second in the AFC East with a rookie quarterback playing well.
Geno Smith has played exceptionally, throwing for more than 1,700 yards with eight touchdowns. In addition, the surprisingly solid Jets defense has helped the team earn some tough wins. The Jets are still a little rough around the edges, but with a huge win over New England, they move up the rankings in a big way.
13. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions fell to 4-3 this week after a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. While they have dropped into second in the NFC North, all is not lost for them.
The Lions have one huge bright spot to take away from Week 7: Calvin Johnson. He had been dealing with some nagging injuries, but he showed that he's as healthy as ever, hauling in nine receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns including a stellar 50-yard grab in the middle of three defenders.
The Lions have struggled, but their superstars are starting to show up, which is precisely what they'll need when they take on an explosive Dallas team in Week 8.
14. Chicago Bears
The Bears lost in a 45-41 shootout with Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins, but that's not why they've fallen a few spots in this week's rankings. The main reason is the injury to Jay Cutler, who went down with a groin injury against the Skins.
According to ESPN.com, he will get an MRI to gauge the extent of his injury, which doesn't bode well for Chicago.
The Bears have struggled as of late, losing three out of their last four games, and if things keep going this way, they'll drop even further in the rankings.
15. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins continue to hover around the middle of the pack in Week 8 after their 23-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Miami is down a few spots due to its current three-game losing streak, but considering that two of the losses came to Baltimore and New Orleans, it's not as bad as it could be.
Miami will have another tough game in Week 8 against the New England Patriots, who are coming off a loss to the Jets. If the Dolphins can channel their inner Jet and take down the Pats, they could find themselves climbing the ranks in Week 9.
16. Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens were handed a tough loss by the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7, but it was close again, losing just 19-16. This loss comes after their Week 6 19-17 loss to the Packers, which shows that the Ravens just can't seem to get the job done in close games.
Fortunately for Baltimore, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will get a bye in Week 8, giving them two weeks to prepare for a struggling Cleveland Browns squad, which could be just what the doctor ordered to get them back on track.
17. St. Louis Rams
The Rams enter Week 8 as big fallers in the rankings. While they are just 3-4 and third in the NFC West, they've at least looked competitive throughout the season, but in Week 7 they lost a major part of their team. They lost Sam Bradford.
According to ESPN.com, he will be out for the remainder of the season, which puts the Rams in a tight spot. Without a quarterback, the Rams will have to find a way to lead an offense that was already struggling and is ranked 18th and 29th in the league in passing and rushing, respectively.
To make matters worse, the Rams have to do battle with the Seahawks on Monday Night Football, which means this probably won't be the bottom for the Rams in the rankings.
18. Tennessee Titans
The Titans were handed a beatdown by the 49ers this week, losing 31-17, with all 17 of their points coming in garbage time in the fourth quarter. While the Titans are just 3-4, they're still in second in the AFC South.
They will need to do a lot more than they did in Week 7 to stay out of the 20s in the power rankings. Luckily for them, they get a break this week before taking on St. Louis and Jacksonville in Weeks 9 and 10.
19. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles' high-powered offense is one of the best in the NFL but was only able to muster three points in Week 7 in a loss to their NFC East rival, the Dallas Cowboys. Even worse for the Eagles, their backup superstar Nick Foles went down with a head injury. Rookie Matt Barkley replaced him and threw three interceptions on the day.
The Eagles drop a few spots and continue to struggle even though they have one of the most dangerous offensive units in the NFL. Thankfully for the Eagles, they'll have a chance to redeem themselves in the next two weeks. They take on the Giants and Oakland before meeting the Packers in Week 10.
20. Washington Redskins
At 1-4, the Redskins looked like they were calling it a season. All of a sudden, after a monstrous game from RGIII and Roy Helu Jr., the Skins are at 2-4 with things looking up.
In the 45-41 win over the Bears, the Skins were led by RGIII, who threw for almost 300 yards and two touchdowns. He added 84 yards on the ground, and more importantly, he looked like the RGIII of old.
The Skins move up in a huge way this week, but they have the unfortunate task of taking on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Week 8, which could either be great or terrible for Washington.
21. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are finally back to their winning ways after dropping their last three games. They snapped the streak with a 31-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which isn't that impressive considering just how bad the 0-6 Bucs are.
Matt Ryan had another big day, tossing three touchdown passes and over 270 yards. His play has been the one constant for the Falcons, who average over 306 yards through the air per game for third best in the NFL.
The Falcons got a win, but they're still in the bottom half of the standings due to a few big injuries and some rough losses.
22. Arizona Cardinals
Arizona is 3-4, which isn't as bad as some of the teams above them on this list, but the main thing holding back the Cardinals is whom they've beaten. Their only remotely impressive win came against the Lions in Week 2, but since that, they've only defeated the Panthers and Buccaneers.
The Cardinals can't do much offensively, averaging just over 230 yards passing per game and 77 yards on the ground per contest. They struggle in all phases of the game but will have a big chance to climb the rankings in their next three games against Atlanta, Houston and Jacksonville.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers picked up their second win of the season in Week 7, officially giving Mike Tomlin and his squad a winning streak. They have moved up a few spots in the rankings after beating the defending Super Bowl champs, but they're still hanging around the bottom of the league.
While the Steelers aren't great offensively, their defense is solid, especially against the pass, allowing less than 200 yards per game through the air. If they can continue to play strong defense and piece together enough of an offense to compete, they'll have a good chance at extending their winning streak to three games against the Raiders this week.
24. Buffalo Bills
The Bills got a big win over the Dolphins in Week , and have been getting wins all season thanks to their running game, which averages more than 140 yards per game for eighth best in the NFL. Unfortunately for the Bills, the No. 24 spot is an improvement.
Another unfortunate thing for them is their upcoming schedule, especially their next two games. In the next two weeks, Buffalo will take on New Orleans and Kansas City, two teams that no one wants to see on the schedule back to back.
25. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers got a huge 30-15 win over St. Louis to improve to 3-3 and take second place in the NFC South. They've blown out their opponents in the last few weeks, winning by a combined score of 65-25 against the Rams and Vikings.
Unfortunately for them, they are still near the bottom group of the NFL because they aren't picking up wins against good teams. While the Rams are tough, they lost their franchise quarterback, and the Vikings don't do much well.
Carolina has a great defense, and if the offense can keep rolling, the team could ascend the ranks in the coming weeks.
26. Cleveland Browns
The Browns have officially started a losing streak after running into the buzzsaw that is Green Bay. After winning three games in a row, the Browns have lost two straight and are having consistency issues, dropping them in the rankings in a big way.
To make matters worse, the offense is continuing to struggle and can't back up a defense that is in the top 10 against both the run and pass. If the Browns can't get something going offensively, they'll continue to struggle, especially considering their next three opponents. Cleveland is set to take on Kansas City, Baltimore and Cincinnati in its next three games.
27. Oakland Raiders
The one positive for the Raiders is that they didn't lose this week because they had a bye. The negative is that they're 2-4 and at the bottom of the AFC West.
They will take on the Steelers in Week 8 with a chance for a victory, but if they continue to struggle offensively with a unit that is last in the NFL in passing, they'll come up short. Oakland will remain near the bottom of the NFL unless it can make some big changes in all phases of the game.
28. Houston Texans
The Texans are bad, and they should feel bad. They've now lost five games in a row and are down to Case Keenum at quarterback, who actually played well in their 17-16 loss to the undefeated Chiefs.
Houston will get a bye week in Week 8 to get a little healthier, but it will need more than a healthy quarterback in Week 9 against the Colts.
The Texans have been awful, but at least things are starting to look up for a team that has the pieces to compete. They just have to get them healthy.
29. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings take on the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, but whether they win or lose, they're still going to be in the bottom three. They are lost on offense, averaging just over 220 yards passing per game. They can't find a quarterback who can support Adrian Peterson.
The Minnesota defense is also in a rough spot. The Vikings are 30th in the league against the pass and 20th against the run. They have given up at least 30 points in four of their last five games.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs added yet another loss to the win column in Week 7. This time, it was at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons, but hey, at least the score was just 31-23. It could have been worse. At least it wasn't 23-3, which was the score of their Week 3 loss to the Patriots.
Tampa Bay is 20th or worse in both passing and rushing averages on offense and is 18th against the pass on defense. The Bucs don't do much well and can't figure out how to approach opponents, both on offense and defense.
31. New York Giants
Whether the Giants win or lose against Minnesota on Monday night, they'll be in the bottom three regardless. They are in the bottom 10 in the league in rushing yards per game and passing and rushing yards allowed per game. They have a hard time stopping anyone, allowing 36 or more points in four of their six games.
What the Giants do have over the Vikings and many teams in the NFL is a solid passing game. While Eli Manning has been tossing picks all over the place, New York averages more than 270 yards per game through the air, which is eighth best in the NFL.
Things might not look too great for the Giants, but their matchup with Minnesota is one of their best chances at a win this year.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
Welcome back to the bottom, Jacksonville. After a surprising showing in a loss to the Broncos two weeks ago, the Jags had a shot at finding their first victory of the year in Week 7. Then they played San Diego and got routed 24-6.
The Jags are the worst in the NFL in rushing yards per game and rushing yards allowed per game, and they aren't much better in passing and passing defense. They have a ton of young, talented athletes, but the team has no coaching or leadership to bring them all together. Until Jacksonville does, it'll be right here at the bottom of the list.
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