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NFL Power Rankings: Predicting Post Week 8 Standings

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NFL Power Rankings: Predicting Post Week 8 Standings
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Week 7 of the NFL season was highlighted by a glut of injuries that have left several organizations in disarray. But the show must go on, and Week 8 will feature several contests that could make or break teams this year. 

So with that in mind, let's take a look at what the power rankings might be after this week's slate of games. There is so much NFL goodness here that your screen might burst into confetti. 

Well, probably not that last part.

 

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

Record: 0-7

Opponent: San Francisco 49ers

Record After Week 8: 0-8

Analysis: The Jaguars have the league's worst running game (63.0 yards per game), worst rush defense (153.3 yards allowed per game), score the fewest points per game (10.9) and allow the most points per game (31.7).

I won't write anything crazy like, "If the Jags win this game, I'll get their logo tattooed on my butt," because, you know, this is still the NFL, but it would be shocking if they beat the Niners.

 

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 0-7

Opponent: Carolina Panthers

Analysis: There are two positives that Tampa Bay fans can latch onto at this point of the season: Doug Martin told WDAE 620 AM (h/t Tampa Tribune) his shoulder injury will not cost him the rest of the season, and rookie Mike Glennon has shown signs of improvement and created chemistry with top receiver Vincent Jackson. 

But now that the Bucs lost to the Panthers, will that signal the end of the road for head coach Greg Schiano? The Bucs have lost 12 of their last 13 games dating back to last season—at what point does the front office decide to cut ties, especially after a season full of so much drama?

 

30. Minnesota Vikings

Record: 1-5

Opponent: Green Bay Packers

Record After Week 8: 1-6

Analysis: Yes, Josh Freeman was atrocious on Monday night, but he wasn't the main culprit in that loss. Blame the coaching staff for starting Freeman after signing him on October 7. Blame the coaching staff for failing to incorporate Adrian Peterson in more unique ways after the New York Giants stacked the box.

But don't blame Freeman. Yes, he was poor, but he was also working with a set of receivers he's not yet familiar with and a playbook that had to be limited to give him time to fully learn it.

Unfortunately, things are going to get worse before they get better against the talented Packers.

 

29. New York Giants

Record: 1-6

Opponent: at Philadelphia Eagles

Record After Week 8: 1-7

Analysis: It's pretty rare that a team can look poor in a 23-7 win, but let's be honest—the Giants looked questionable against the Vikings on Monday night. When Peyton Hillis leads your skill-position players with 81 yards from scrimmage, well, things aren't going well. 

You just get the feeling that the Giants will play the Eagles tough this week, but the likely return of Michael Vick and Philly's multiple offensive weapons will be too much for New York to overcome. 

 

28. St. Louis Rams

Record: 3-4

Opponent: Seattle Seahawks

Record After Week 8: 3-5

Analysis: It's over, St. Louis fans. Whatever optimistic hopes you may have had of this Rams team turning the corner and making a late push for the playoffs died the moment Sam Bradford tore his ACL on Sunday. Kellen Clemens is not your savior.

AND NO, NEITHER IS TIM TEBOW!

 

27. Houston Texans

Record: 2-5

Opponent: Bye

Record After Week 8: 2-5

Analysis: Case Keenum may end up getting an extended look when the Houston Texans return from their bye, though head coach Gary Kubiak is still calling Matt Schaub his starting quarterback.

From Tania Ganguli of ESPN:

Things didn't get any less messy on Sunday for the Texans. Linebacker Brian Cushing was lost for the season, according to Albert Breer of NFL.com:

Oh, and Arian Foster could be sidelined after the bye with a pulled hamstring. Don't expect the Texans to get this wayward train back on the rails. 

 

26. Oakland Raiders

Record: 2-4

Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers

Record After Week 8: 2-5

Analysis: The Raiders face a fork in the road this week. If they get a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the schedule is really favorable, with winnable games against the Eagles, Giants, Texans, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets and San Diego Chargers still to come. 

With a loss, of course, the Raiders will be heading toward just another poor season. There is hope in Terrelle Pryor, but the Steelers have turned around their season and will force the Raiders down the losing side of the fork in the road. 

 

25. Washington Redskins

/Getty Images

Record: 2-4

Opponent: at Denver Broncos

Record After Week 8: 2-5

Analysis: Washington has turned its season around just in time for a date with the Denver Broncos, a team that allows just 77.1 yards per game on the ground, tops in the NFL. If Washington is to win this game, Robert Griffin III, up-and-coming tight end Jordan Reed and a mediocre crop of wide receivers are going to have to outgun Peyton Manning and his array of weapons.

Yeah, I don't see that happening either.

 

24. Buffalo Bills

Record: 3-4

Opponent: at New Orleans Saints

Record After Week 8: 3-5

Analysis: The Bills run the ball well and are currently fifth in the NFL in rushing offense (140.4 yards per game), even with C.J. Spiller hobbled by an ankle injury. And Mario Williams has been a terror on the pass rush, tied for second in the NFL with 10 sacks.

But the Bills aren't really great at anything else. Thad Lewis has been serviceable, but he was on the practice squad two weeks ago. The team is 21st in pass defense and 28th against the run. Unless New Orleans comes into this game seriously hungover after its bye, the Bills will leave New Orleans 3-5.

 

23. Arizona Cardinals

Record: 3-4

Opponent: Atlanta Falcons

Record After Week 8: 3-5

Analysis: Arizona's saving grace this season will be the defense, because the offense is 29th in yards (309.7 per game) and 25th in points per game (19.0). Rashard Mendenhall is plodding, Andre Ellington isn't sturdy enough to be the featured back, and quarterback Carson Palmer just isn't very good.

Poor Larry Fitzgerald

 

22. Cleveland Browns

Record: 3-4

Opponent: at Kansas City Chiefs

Record After Week 8: 3-5

Analysis: You have to wonder what this Browns team would have been capable of if Brian Hoyer hadn't been lost for the season, because they have lost two straight games with Brandon Weeden in the lineup (albeit against good teams in the Detroit Lions and Packers). 

Weeden now has five touchdowns and six interceptions on the season, and the opportunistic Chiefs defense (19 takeaways, tied for the NFL lead) should feast on him in this matchup.

 

21. Miami Dolphins

Record: 3-3

Opponent: New England Patriots

Record After Week 8: 3-4

Analysis: In Week 4, everyone was all like, "The Dolphins are 3-0 with wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Falcons! Looks like the AFC West is up for grabs!"

Now it's Week 8, and we're all like, "The Dolphins are 3-3 and just lost to the Bills—and their practice squad quarterback—at home. Crap."

With Rob Gronkowski back in the fold, the Dolphins will continue their slide back into mediocrity against the Patriots. But hey, it was fun while it lasted, right?

 

20. Tennessee Titans

Record: 3-4

Opponent: Bye

Record After Week 8: 3-4

Analysis: Well, the Titans have been humbled. 

In three consecutive weeks, the Titans lost to the Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and 49ers. Give them this: They held their own, at least in the first two, and the return of Jake Locker will do wonders. With the Rams and Jaguars awaiting after the bye, it shouldn't be hard for the Titans to get back on track.

 

19. Pittsburgh Steelers

/Getty Images

Record: 2-4

Opponent: at Oakland Raiders

Record After Week 8: 3-4

Analysis: What a difference the bye week makes. After losing four straight, the Steelers went on the bye and remembered their proud heritage, winning two straight since. The difference?

The defense has awoken, holding the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens to a combined 22 points. Le'Veon Bell has given the team a legitimate rushing threat. Heath Miller is once again giving Ben Roethlisberger a reliable security blanket. 

After the Raiders, the Steelers have some very winnable games down the stretch, including matchups against the Lions, Browns (twice), Ravens and Miami Dolphins. A playoff berth is unlikely, but with a win over Oakland, it will no longer be impossible. 

 

18. Carolina Panthers

Record: 4-3

Opponent: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Analysis: He's alive!

After a dismal start to the season, Cam Newton has erupted in the past three weeks, compiling 667 passing yards, six passing touchdowns, 106 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, no turnovers and three wins.

The Panthers go where Newton takes them, and with a winnable game against the Falcons on tap, he might just lead them to 5-3 heading into clashes with San Francisco and New England. 

 

17. Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 3-4

Opponent: New York Giants

Record After Week 8: 4-4

Analysis: Just when you think you have the Eagles figured out—deadly offense, atrocious defense—they manage just three points while the defense actually plays well, containing a good Dallas offense and giving up just 17 points.

Go figure. 

Having Vick back on Sunday should see the return of this dynamic offense to its normal, electrifying form. Facing a Giants team giving up 30.9 points per game, 31st in the NFL—even after holding the Vikings to just a touchdown—should help too. 

 

16. Atlanta Falcons 

Record: 2-4

Opponent: at Arizona Cardinals

Record After Week 8: 3-4

Analysis: The schedule might just be saving the Falcons' season. Despite losing Julio Jones for the year, playing with a patchwork secondary and missing Roddy White and Steven Jackson last week, the Falcons were lucky enough to face a poor Bucs team and earn a win. 

Now, they possibly get White back, should get Jackson back and face a Cardinals team that plays solid defense but isn't going to scare even the mediocre Falcons defense. So long as this team has Matt Ryan, it'll be competitive. 

A Super Bowl run is out of the question, but a schedule that includes the Cardinals, Panthers (twice), Bucs, Bills and Redskins means a wild card isn't out of the question just yet.

 

15. Baltimore Ravens

Record: 3-4

Opponent: Bye

Record After Week 8: 3-4

Analysis: In a Week 5 win over the Dolphins, Ray Rice had 33 touches and the Ravens won, 26-23. Over the next two weeks, he had a total of 33 touches and the Ravens lost both contests. 

Here's another way of looking at it: When Joe Flacco has 34 or more pass attempts, the Ravens are 0-4. That stat is slightly misleading, as the Ravens have won when he has registered 32 and 33 pass attempts, but the story remains the same in Baltimore—the more the Ravens involve Rice and take the burden off of Flacco, the more likely they are to win. 

 

14. New York Jets

Record: 4-3

Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

Record After Week 8: 4-4

Analysis: If you believe in using statistical patterns to forecast future results, then the Jets will lose this week based solely on the fact that they've won every other week this season. Or it could be because they face a really tough Bengals team.

Either way.

If the Jets can get at least one win in the next two weeks against the Bengals and the New Orleans Saints, the schedule gets much easier and a playoff run is feasible. The defense is good enough to keep things close, but can Geno Smith avoid making rookie mistakes?

We're about to find out. The season could hinge on how he handles the next two weeks.

 

13. Chicago Bears

Here's a bit of optimism, Bears fans. You'll find less optimism below.

Record: 4-3

Opponent: Bye

Record After Week 8: 4-3

Analysis: Things don't tend to go well for the Bears when Jay Cutler isn't in the lineup. When he went down in the 2011 season, a 7-3 Bears team went 1-5 down the stretch. When he was knocked out of a game against the Texans last year, the Bears lost that game and the next week's without him as well. 

Now, it looks as though he'll be out for at least four weeks. From Jay Glazer of Fox Sports:

That means he'll miss games against the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens following the bye. Things aren't looking good in the Windy City. 

 

12. San Diego Chargers

Record: 4-3

Opponent: Bye

Record After Week 8: 4-3

Analysis: Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates are revitalized, Danny Woodhead has proven to be a great fit, and Keenan Allen looks like one of the better young receivers in the NFL. The passing defense is a concern (26th in the NFL)—as are the four games versus the Broncos and Chiefs down the stretch—but expect the Chargers to be poking around the battle for the last playoff spot this year. 

 

11. Detroit Lions

Record: 4-3

Opponent: Dallas Cowboys

Record After Week 8: 4-4

Analysis: The Lions have holes in the secondary that Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams should exploit.

Of course, the Cowboys don't have anyone to contain Calvin Johnson, though Brandon Carr has been excellent the past three weeks, containing Demaryius Thomas (five receptions for 57 yards), Pierre Garcon (six receptions for 69 yards) and DeSean Jackson (three receptions for 21 yards).

If Carr can give Megatron issues and the front seven can keep Reggie Bush contained, the Lions will have a tough time winning this game. Of course, behind Matt Stafford and a stout defensive line, the Lions aren't to be taken lightly.

More on this game below.

 

10. Dallas Cowboys

Record: 4-3

Opponent: at Detroit Lions

Record After Week 8: 5-3

Analysis: The Cowboys are clearly the best team in the NFC East—which this year is about as impressive as being the world's fastest cup stacker. But they'll certainly take it.

The Cowboys are pretty predictable—they've beaten the cupcakes (Giants, Rams, Washington, Eagles) and lost the tough matchups (at Kansas City, at San Diego, home against the Broncos). But the defense has awoken, allowing just 19 total points the past two weeks, and the team could be getting back DeMarcus Ware and DeMarco Murray this week.

If they do, look for Dallas to earn a crucial road win against a potential playoff team in Detroit. If neither can return, the pendulum swings toward Detroit at home. 

 

9. Green Bay Packers

Record: 4-2

Opponent: at Minnesota Vikings

Record After Week 8: 5-2

Analysis: Another week, another injury for the Packers. This time, Jermichael Finley went down in a pretty scary moment, and his season is likely over, according to Ed Werder of ESPN:

However, expect the Packers to keep on ticking behind Aaron Rodgers, who made Jarrett Boykin (eight receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown) look a lot like, well, Randall Cobb, the man he was replacing in the lineup.

Plus, look at how the schedule shakes out for Green Bay in the next five weeks: the Vikings (twice), the Bears without Jay Cutler, the Eagles and the Giants. The Packers may be beat up, but the schedule should help them thrive despite their various knocks.

 

8. Cincinnati Bengals

Record: 5-2

Opponent: at New York Jets

Record After Week 8: 6-2

Analysis: The key matchup between the Bengals and Jets will be A.J. Green versus Antonio Cromartie in a game where both teams will struggle to run the ball. If Cromartie can lock down the suddenly red-hot Green (12 receptions for 258 yards and two touchdowns the past two weeks), the Jets have a shot.

If Green has a big game, however, the Bengals will earn the win. I'm siding with Green and a tough Bengals defense over Cromartie and rookie quarterback Geno Smith.

 

7. New England Patriots

Record: 5-2

Opponent: Miami Dolphins

Record After Week 8: 6-2

Analysis: It didn't take long for Rob Gronkowski to return to form, huh?

The talented tight end returned to action and promptly caught eight passes for 114 yards, though it wasn't enough in an overtime loss to the Jets. Still, with Gronk back in action, Tom Brady and the offense should place less of a burden on the defense.

That's important, because the losses of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo have turned one of the league's best defenses into one that is just average and can't stop the run (127.1 rushing yards per game, 31st in the NFL). 

The Patriots will be 6-2 after this week, but it's a very tenuous 6-2 to say the least.

 

6. San Francisco 49ers

Record: 5-2

Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

Record After Week 8: 6-2

Analysis: The sky is no longer falling in San Francisco after four straight wins. Everyone can breathe easy again.

Sure, Colin Kaepernick hasn't been as dynamic as he was a year ago, but the Niners have kept on winning despite injuries to Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Patrick Willis and a leave of absence for Aldon Smith. With the injured soon to return and Smith rejoining the team in the next couple of weeks, according to coach Jim Harbaugh in a discussion with The Sacramento Bee, the NFC favorites coming into the season will have weathered the early season storms with aplomb.

 

5. Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 7-0

Opponent: Cleveland Browns

Record After Week 8: 8-0

Analysis: Sure, the only winning team they've faced is the Cowboys, and yes, they will be favored to beat the Browns and Bills and go into their bye week 9-0. Alex Smith has managed games beautifully, Jamaal Charles has been a beast, and Andy Reid has been just what the doctor ordered for this team. 

But look at the Chiefs' schedule after the bye. Four games against the Broncos and Chargers. A trip to an improving Washington team and RG3. A Week 16 clash against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Chiefs would have to completely melt down to miss the playoffs, but don't expect them to win the AFC West, either.  

 

4. Indianapolis Colts 

Record: 5-2

Opponent: Bye

Record After Week 8: 5-2

Analysis: The Colts won the battle against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, but did they lose the war when Reggie Wayne was lost for the season?

Essentially, that's the only reason the Colts are currently below the Broncos and Seahawks, two teams they have beaten this season. Oh, and they've beaten the Niners, too, essentially knocking off three of the most popular Super Bowl picks this season. 

But losing Wayne hurts. The ability (or lack thereof) of Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton to step up in his absence—and could someone please figure out where Trent Richardson has been hiding?—will define this Colts season.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Record: 5-1

Opponent: Buffalo Bills

Record After Week 8: 6-1

Analysis: With a week to figure out why Jimmy Graham didn't have a single reception against the New England Patriots, the Saints should blitzkrieg the Bills. Then it gets real, with games against the Jets, Cowboys, Niners, Falcons and Seahawks. 

We're about to find out what this Saints team is made of, folks.

 

2. Denver Broncos

Record: 6-1

Opponent: Washington Redskins

Record After Week 8: 7-1

Analysis: Well, the unbeaten run has come to an end, and it happened against Manning's former team, to boot. But methinks the Broncos will recover this week. 

Washington can't stop the run (126.2 yards allowed per game, 29th in the NFL). It can't stop the pass, either (262.8 yards allowed per game, 22nd in the NFL). You can practically hear the fantasy owners of Broncos' skill-position players cackling already. 

 

1. Seattle Seahawks

Record: 6-1

Opponent: at St. Louis Rams

Record After Week 8: 7-1

Analysis: The Seahawks have the second-best rushing offense, second-best rushing defense and sixth-best passing defense, allow the third-fewest points per game, score the fifth-most points per game and are tied for the most takeaways in the NFL.

Oh, and Percy Harvin is returning to practice this week. Be afraid, NFL.

Be very, very afraid.

 

Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, make ill-fated NFL predictions and tweet knee-slapping jokes. Well, the first two things, at least. 

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