Week 8 in the NFL is officially behind us as we approach the halfway point in the 2013 NFL regular season. In the last few weeks, most teams have distinguished themselves as legitimate contenders or hopeful pretenders. 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 9, here's how each team in the NFL stacks up after eight weeks of hard-fought gridiron battles.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs hold strong at the No. 1 spot in the NFL. Andy Reid has yet to suffer a loss at the helm in his first season as head coach in Kansas City, but the undefeated Chiefs are starting to look human.
They have won their last two games by a combined total of just seven points. To make things worse, both close wins have come over teams that are below .500, the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns.
The Chiefs haven't been as crisp in their last two games, but their 12th-ranked run defense and fourth-best pass defense haven't allowed more than 17 points in a game this season, which has kept their record untarnished thus far.
The Chiefs stay at No. 1 for now, but after a meeting with the Bills this week and a bye in Week 10, they'll meet up with the Denver Broncos, a matchup that won't just decide the AFC West, but who sits atop the NFL as a whole.
2. Denver Broncos
The Broncos have climbed back into the upper echelon of the NFL. They regrouped from their Week 7 loss to the Colts with a big win over RGIII and the Washington Redskins. Peyton and the Broncos were back to their old tricks, hanging 45 points on the Redskins and improving to 7-1 on the year.
The Broncos have the best passing attack in the game and one of the best running defenses in the NFL, but if their 30th-ranked passing defense continues to allow almost 300 yards per game through the air, they could definitely drop a few spots in the rankings in the coming weeks.
3. New Orleans Saints
With all of the focus on the Broncos and the Chiefs, the Saints have been lost in the shuffle a bit. But at 6-1 and No. 1 in the NFC South, the Saints should be anything but forgotten.
The Saints bounced back with a big 35-17 win over the Bills after a heartbreaking Week 6 loss to the Patriots. Against the Bills, Brees put up 332 yards and five touchdowns.
Drew Brees leads the third-best passing game in the NFL against the struggling New York Jets in Week 9, which is a huge opportunity for the Saints to put up some big points and make their name known among the top teams in the NFL.
4. Seattle Seahawks
At the time of this writing, the Seahawks haven't played their Monday Night Football showdown with the St. Louis Rams, but it's a pretty safe bet that the quarterback-less Rams aren't going to take down one of the best teams in the NFC.
Whether they take down the Rams or not in Week 8, the Seahawks have proven that they are legitimate competitors in a very talented NFC. They have wins over Arizona, Tennessee and San Francisco already this season.
Their league-leading running game backed up by a top-10 defense has led the Seahawks to the No. 4 spot in the NFL power rankings this week.
5. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts had a well-deserved bye week in Week 8 after their shocking win over the Denver Broncos in Week 7. Indy has a top-10 running game and a bend-don't-break defense that shows up in big games, such as the game against the Broncos.
The Colts have worked their way into the league's top five.
6. San Francisco 49ers
Who says the NFL is all about passing? The 49ers have the second-worst passing game in the league, averaging just 189 yards per game through the air. But they continue to ride their ridiculous ground attack to wins, making it five wins in a row after they stomped the Jaguars 42-10 in Week 8.
Colin Kaepernick is having another great season. He's not putting up any amazing numbers, but he's been a solid game manager for Frank Gore as he continues to pour on the yardage.
The Niners are on a roll as they head into their bye this week and a matchup with Carolina in Week 10.
7. Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers have turned things up a notch since losing big names to injury in the past few weeks. You wouldn't think that a team that's lost names like Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley would be playing its best football of the year, but the Packers are doing just that.
The Packers are on a four-game winning streak since their Week 3 loss to the Bengals, and they don't show any signs of slowing down.
Eddie Lacy has become a dominant force on the ground, leading the Packers to a fourth-best 141 rushing yards per game. When paired with Aaron Rodgers and the league's fifth-best passing attack, this offense is nearly unstoppable.
As if things weren't good enough for the Packers, their defense has been stellar too. They are holding opponents to fewer than 84 yards on the ground per game and have been producing big plays against the pass throughout the last few weeks.
If the Packers continue to play at such a high level, they'll keep on climbing through the ranks in the NFL.
8. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have quietly become one of the most dangerous teams in the AFC. At 6-2 they hold sole ownership of first in the AFC North and have beaten New England, Detroit and Green Bay this season.
The Bengals are solid in all phases of the game. They are benefiting from the great play of Andy Dalton and his young receiving corps that averages almost 270 yards per game, which is seventh-best in the NFL.
Cincy was at its most dominant in Week 8. It destroyed the New York Jets 49-9. With upcoming games against Miami, Baltimore and Cleveland, things are looking up in Cincy.
9. New England Patriots
The Patriots have been a different team every week. One week they'll pull off a huge late-game win over the New Orleans Saints just to turn around and lose to the Jets the next week.
This week was another up week for Tom Brady and his boys, who barely stay in the top 10.
The Pats' usually strong passing game is struggling, putting up just under 210 yards per contest. They will have to step up in the next few weeks if they want to keep things moving up before their Week 12 meeting with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
10. Detroit Lions
The Lions pulled off a ridiculous 31-30 win over the Cowboys in a game that was all but over as time wound down. Matthew Stafford threw for almost 500 yards on the day, but the true star was Calvin Johnson.
Johnson racked up 329 yards on 14 catches along with a touchdown and was absolutely unstoppable in the fourth quarter.
The Lions have a bye this week but will look to win consecutive games for just the second time this season when they take on the Bears in Week 10.
Since the Packers have started rolling in the last few weeks, it's been tough to pay attention to anyone else in the NFC North. But if the Lions continue to play well, they could find themselves fighting for the division come their Week 13 meeting with the Packers.
11. Dallas Cowboys
While the Cowboys got a tally in the loss column in Week 8, you can hardly give them a loss to the Lions. The Cowboys forced four turnovers, and Tony Romo threw three touchdowns and completed passes to seven different Cowboys on the way to a one-point loss to the Lions.
The Cowboys are on the cusp of being a true power in the NFC, but if they can't finish games, like we saw in Week 8, they'll continue to hover around the outside of the top 10.
12. Washington Redskins
RGIII and the Redskins are only 2-5 and are coming off a tough 45-21 loss to the Denver Broncos, but they are much better than their record shows. The 'Skins have a top-10 offense in both rushing and passing, and RGIII has started to look like himself again in the last few weeks.
If Griffin is healthy after leaving the game against the Broncos, the Redskins will have a huge opportunity to truly cement themselves as a good team in the coming weeks with games against the Chargers and 49ers on the horizon.
13. San Diego Chargers
Thanks to Phillip Rivers finally playing to his full potential, the Chargers have continued to work their way up the NFL rankings. After a bye in Week 8, the Chargers will look to make it three wins in a row as they take on the Washington Redskins in Week 9.
The Chargers have a pretty strong schedule for the rest of the regular season, but if Phillip Rivers can keep his squad rolling against solid teams, they might finally make some noise in the AFC playoff picture.
14. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are another quiet AFC contender that doesn't look that good on paper. This may sound crazy, seeing as the Dolphins are on a four-game losing streak, but their losses haven't been that bad. They lost to the Patriots by 10 and the Saints by 11, but they lost their other two games by single digits.
The Dolphins are mostly mediocre across the board stat-wise, but they have big wins over Indianapolis and Cleveland on their side. Tannehill has out-dueled big names in the past few weeks, including throwing for more completions and yards than Tom Brady in their Week 8 battle.
Miami definitely isn't the best team in the AFC, but the Dolphins have played pretty well for a team on a four-game losing streak.
15. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers have somehow sneaked to 4-3 and sit at second place in the NFC South. They have a top-10 running game on offense and rank in the top 10 in defense against the run and the pass.
Unfortunately, their wins have come against bad teams. They've beaten the Giants, the Vikings, the Rams and the Buccaneers to date, which, considering the six wins combined between them, isn't that impressive.
The Panthers have a great running game with Cam Newton and DeAngelo Williams leading the way, but if they can't beat good teams they'll have a hard time getting wins in the postseason.
16. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens aren't looking like the defending Super Bowl champions, but at 3-4, they aren't too shabby.
With a few big injuries on offense to start the season and a lack of consistency on the ground, the Ravens have played a lot of close games that they just haven't been able to close out. Three of their four losses have come by single digits.
The Ravens defense, which is usually one of the best in the league, just hasn't been the same without the veteran leaders, ranking 15th against the pass and 14th against the run. If the Ravens and Joe Flacco can get the offense on track, the defense will come.
Thankfully for the Ravens, their schedule is pretty easy for the rest of the regular season.
17. Chicago Bears
The Bears are having a bizarre season.
Usually, the Bears have one of the best defensive units in the NFL with a mediocre offense. This season, the Bears are in the top half of the league in both running and passing offense, and their defense is struggling.
The Bears looked like legitimate competitors in the NFC North until Jay Cutler went down. How the Bears handle the loss of Cutler will be very telling of where they'll end up at the end of the season.
Until then, they epitomize the No. 16 spot: not great, but not terrible.
18. St. Louis Rams
The Rams, like the Bears, have a so-so record and a vacancy at quarterback. The Rams lost Sam Bradford for the remainder of the season. Until they find a viable replacement, they'll most likely drop a few more spots in the rankings.
With a matchup looming tonight against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, the Rams could easily work themselves out of the top 20 by next week.
19. Tennessee Titans
The Titans are exactly what you would expect from a team at No. 18. They have a mediocre record and are hanging out in the middle of their division. They rode a three-game losing streak into their Week 8 bye, and things won't get much easier as the season goes on.
The Titans still have two games with the Colts, one game with the Broncos and games against Arizona and Oakland that could go either way. With a defense that has only allowed single digits once this season, the Titans will continue to try to win shootouts, which is pretty tough when you have the 26th-best passing game in the NFL.
20. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals improved to .500 with a win over the struggling Atlanta Falcons in Week 8 and will be rewarded for their efforts with a bye in Week 9. Coming out of the bye, the Cardinals have a so-so schedule with a few tough matchups, along with a few games against some ugly teams.
The Cardinals are pretty pedestrian on paper, except for their defense against the run. Their run defense is the fifth-best in the NFL, allowing just 88 yards per game on the ground.
If Andre Ellington can have even half the game he had in Week 8 in the coming weeks, Carson Palmer and the Cardinals' 19th-best passing attack will be able to get a few more open looks, which could help them in the long run.
21. Cleveland Browns
The good ol' Cleveland Browns. They start off the season with two losses, lose their best offensive weapon to Indianapolis in a trade, win their next three games against solid teams, and then go on a three-game losing streak.
The Browns have a very tough defense that is especially good against the pass, allowing just over 215 yards per game through the air. They have gone toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the league, including a six-point loss to the Chiefs in Week 8.
If the Browns can ever get things figured out on offense, they could be a force to be reckoned with in the AFC.
Until then, they'll stay in the bottom half of the league.
22. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have some of the best offensive weapons in the NFL and the fourth-best passing offense in the league, yet they have only won two games. Their latest mishap came against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8.
Atlanta has one of the best passing offenses in the league thanks to Matt Ryan and his laundry list of weapons. Unfortunately the Falcons have the worst rushing offense in the league and a defense in the bottom 10 against both the run and the pass.
Until the Falcons find some balance, they'll stay near the bottom.
23. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles. Where to start?
Advertised as one of the best offenses in the league, the Eagles put up almost 400 yards of total offense per game. Unfortunately, injuries have ravaged their offense, and their defense hasn't really been much help.
The Eagles lost to the New York Giants in Week 8, a team that had just one win coming into the game. The Eagles have hit an all-season low and will try to bounce back against Oakland in Week 9.
24. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have a top-five running attack that averages over 130 yards on the ground per game. This counteracts their league-worst passing game that averages fewer than 180 yards per game.
While things might look rough for the Raiders, Darren McFadden looked solid coming back from injury, picking up 73 yards and two touchdowns on the ground as the Raiders beat the Steelers 21-18. If Oakland can find some balance on offense and keep it up defensively, it could definitely climb up the ranks and make some noise in the AFC.
25. Buffalo Bills
The Bills are a strange team. They come into Week 9 at 3-5 and have been given the unenviable task of taking on the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.
The Bills have one of the worst passing games in the NFL thanks to their issues at quarterback, but their seventh-best running game has helped them score at least 20 points in seven of their eight games this season.
The Bills put up a lot of points, but that hasn't shown up in the results. Unless they can get a little defense to back up their high scores, they'll stay toward the bottom of the rankings.
26. New York Jets
Want your shocking fact of the day? The Jets are .500.
At 4-4, the Jets are somehow in second place in the AFC East, which would normally be good. For the Jets and their fans though, it's just a mean kind of teasing.
The Jets have lost every other game this season. They have done a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of thing all year. For example, two weeks ago they beat New England in overtime and played solid football. Last week they got destroyed 49-9 by the Bengals and looked like they didn't even know what sport they were playing.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers sit at 3-5 and are in last place in the AFC North. Things could be a lot worse if their passing defense, which is second-best in the league, allowed more than their impressive 181 yards per game through the air.
The Steelers, unfortunately, aren't much better anywhere else.
Their passing offense isn't terrible, averaging over 250 yards per game, but their running game is next to nonexistent and their running defense allows over 120 yards per game.
Pittsburgh has a pretty stingy schedule for the rest of the season, which doesn't bode well for a team that has struggled to stay consistent.
28. New York Giants
Don't call it a comeback, but the Giants are on a winning streak. The wins came against the Vikings and the Eagles, both teams that struggle just as much as the Giants, if not more, but it's a winning streak nonetheless.
Even with all of their struggling, Eli Manning has managed to make the Giants passing game into a top-10 unit in the NFL, averaging over 255 yards per game.
Things are looking up for the G-Men, but they are still in last place in the NFC East.
29. Houston Texans
The Texans started the season with two wins, but since then it's been all downhill. They've racked up losses to some very talented teams in the last few weeks, which isn't that terrible, but they've looked pretty ugly in a few of those games, including a 30-9 loss to the Ravens and a 34-3 loss to the 49ers.
The Texans have solid personnel, but they just can't seem to put all the pieces together. Until they do, they'll stay right near the bottom of the pack.
30. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have had a rough go in the last few weeks. The Packers handed the Vikings their third consecutive loss in Week 8.
The Vikings are ranked 21st or worse in passing yards per game, passing yards allowed and rushing yards allowed. They haven't done much well, and their lack of a legitimate quarterback is something that even Adrian Peterson can't cover up.
Without a viable option at quarterback and a solid defense, the Vikings might not be at their lowest point yet this season.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay and Jacksonville should meet at the end of the season to decide who is truly the worst.
Tampa isn't just bad on the field; the culture is bad. The Bucs ran their quarterback out of town and haven't done much of anything well this season.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville looked so promising a few weeks back against the Denver Broncos. The Jags gave Peyton and his boys a battle in Week 6.
Then they played their next two games.
Jacksonville lost to the Chargers 24-6 and then got trounced 42-10 by the 49ers in Week 8. Thankfully for the Jaguars, they can't lose this week as they get their much-needed bye.
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