Week 8 of the 2013 NFL regular season is upon us, and the excitement over Sunday’s slate of games has the frenzy through the roof.
Football fans will be treated to blowouts, upsets and enough fun for an entire season this week, but here is how the NFL landscape looks now before the madness happens.
*All stats and information via NFL.com.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are the most dynamic team in the NFL. With arguably the best all-around defense and an offensive unit that does not turn the ball over, Kansas City has a legitimate shot at contending for a Super Bowl if it can continue rushing the ball strong and stopping the run consistently.
2. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks possess the talented defense and elite rushing attack needed to make the Super Bowl this season, and a marquee matchup on Monday Night Football against the lowly St. Louis Rams will give the team a chance to make a statement to the rest of the league.
3. Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are coming off a heart-wrenching loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week, but that will make the team even more focused than before. For the Washington Redskins, that’s bad news.
4. New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints host the Buffalo Bills in what could be the biggest blowout of the day. With New Orleans coming off a bye and a loss the previous week to the New England Patriots, the Saints will be looking to get back on the winning path again.
5. Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts crack the top five of the power rankings this week on the merit of the monumental victory over Manning and the Broncos. With Andrew Luck silencing any doubters, there should be Super Bowl dreams for the Colts.
6. San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers will be forced to travel to London this week to square off against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. While San Francisco was unlucky getting scheduled in a game overseas, at least it comes against one of the worst teams in the NFL.
7. Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati has all the talent to be a playoff team, but the Bengals need every facet of the game to come together at the same time. As long as quarterback Andy Dalton continues to protect the football, the defensive unit has the potential to lead the team to AFC North glory.
8. New England Patriots
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have not lived up to expectations this season, but the long-awaited return of tight end Rob Gronkowski yielded positive results in Week 7. The team hopes it can build on that success against the Miami Dolphins.
9. Green Bay Packers
After a slow start to the season, the Green Bay Packers have picked up the pace and won three games in a row. With a favorable matchup against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday night, Green Bay has a chance to assert its dominance on the division.
10. Detroit Lions
Despite a mediocre start to the season (4-3), the Detroit Lions have a chance to redeem themselves against a talented Dallas Cowboys team this week. With star receiver Calvin Johnson going head-to-head with the porous Dallas secondary, this could be Detroit’s coming-out party.
11. San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers were playing so well heading into the bye week—three wins in their last four games—that the team likely wishes the break would have come later in the year. With the chance to formulate a game plan for the remainder of the season, though, this could be a blessing in disguise for San Diego.
12. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have one of the most dangerous offensive units in the league, but that doesn’t mean anything when the defense is so inconsistent. If Dallas can get a performance from the defensive unit like it did against the Philadelphia Eagles, there is no question that the Cowboys are a playoff-caliber team.
13. New York Jets
The New York Jets have a tough matchup against the Bengals this week, but if the elite defense and rookie quarterback Geno Smith can lead New York to a victory, there is no question that this is a team worthy of making the postseason.
14. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night and proved the franchise still has serious talent on both sides of the ball. The team now must show that promise and potential against real competition.
15. Miami Dolphins
While Miami has an incredibly tough matchup against the Patriots this week, the offense is a young unit that is developing nicely and the defense is getting stronger by the week. The Dolphins may lose in Week 8, but this is a franchise moving in the right direction.
16. Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears have mercifully made it to the bye week. After winning the first three games of the year, the Bears limp into Week 8 with three losses in their last four games and QB Jay Cutler sidelined with a serious groin injury.
17. Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are a shell of the team that won the Super Bowl last season, but the franchise is lucky enough to find its bye in Week 8 and reevaluate its strategy moving forward. Whatever was going on during the first half of the season, it wasn’t working.
18. Tennessee Titans
Another team just thankful to make it to a bye week is the Tennessee Titans. With injuries and lackluster play across the depth chart, Tennessee must come out of the bye red hot or fear falling out of contention immediately.
19. Arizona Cardinals
There is no denying that the Arizona Cardinals have a very talented defensive unit, but the offense has been putrid. With no rushing attack to support QB Carson Palmer, star receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the pass attack have been too quiet.
20. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have been strong on defense, but the lack of any kind of rhythm on the offensive side of the ball will be the team’s ultimate downfall. If Jason Campbell starting at QB isn’t the answer, the team will promptly turn its attention to the 2014 draft.
21. Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills have struggled with injuries all season, but it will be the road matchup against the dreaded Saints that is the final nail in their 2013 coffin. Expect a blowout in New Orleans.
22. Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a tough loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week, but with Michael Vick getting the start, per Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, the team should be able to hold off the lowly New York Giants.
23. St. Louis Rams
After losing franchise quarterback Sam Bradford for the year with a knee injury, things seemingly couldn’t get worse for the St. Louis Rams. That was until the team looked at the schedule and saw it was squaring off against the talented Seahawks Monday night.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are still trying to find their identity nine weeks into the season, but an emerging running game led by rookie Le'Veon Bell and an easy matchup against the Oakland Raiders will help Pittsburgh continue to climb the rankings.
25. Washington Redskins
The reemergence of Robert Griffin III as a top star for the Washington Redskins last week was exactly what the team needed (he threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another 84 yards), but a lackluster defense and a tough matchup against the Broncos will result in yet another loss.
26. Oakland Raiders
Despite having several players on the roster that look like they have the potential to blossom into stars one day, the time isn’t now for that success, and the group will face yet another disheartening loss to the Steelers this week.
27. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons have been plagued by injuries this season and face a must-win against the Cardinals. With running back Steven Jackson scheduled to return and receiver Roddy White still out, per Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this will be a bitter battle.
28. Houston Texans
Remember when the Houston Texans were Super Bowl contenders? Not anymore.
29. New York Giants
The New York Giants are coming off their first win of the season, but with a road game against the division rival Eagles, the stage has been set for the team to lose yet another tough matchup.
30. Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings were awful last week, but with Christian Ponder getting the start at quarterback Sunday, per Tom Pelissero of the USA Today, it will somehow get even worse offensively.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
As if the road to a victory wasn’t difficult enough for the winless team, the Jacksonville Jaguars must travel to London to play San Francisco in Week 8. That just doesn’t sound fair.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost yet again on Thursday Night Football, and the wheels continue to come off. It won’t be long before head coach Greg Schiano is looking for a new college football job.