NFL Week 8 Power Rankings: Saints Marching Out, Falcons Soaring Higher

Elliott PohnlFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2010

NFL Week 8 Power Rankings: Saints Marching Out, Falcons Soaring Higher

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    NFL Week 8 Power Rankings figure another new look after another strange week around the league.

    Brett Favre's ankle injury leaves his status going forward in serious doubt, and Tony Romo's season might be over.

    Romo became the latest quarterback to be knocked out this season when Giants' linebacker Michael Boley blasted him in the second quarter Monday night.

    The Cowboys' biggest star has been diagnosed with a broken collarbone and is expected to miss significant time.

    Faced with the prospect of starting Jon Kitna in the coming weeks, Dallas is officially dead in the water.

    Elsewhere in the NFL, the Buccaneers and Seahawks are rising after posting wins in Week 7 while the Bears and Saints are falling on hard times.

    With parity reigning supreme in the NFC, the AFC is once again well-represented in the top 10.

    Here's a look at the complete NFL Week 8 Power Rankings.

The Back of the Pack

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    No. 32 Buffalo Bills: Ryan Fitzpatrick got the Bills offense cranked up Sunday against the Ravens, but Chan Gailey is still searching for his first win in Buffalo.

    No. 31 Denver Broncos: After giving Up 59 points to the Raiders, it's difficult to imagine things getting much worse for Josh McDaniels in Denver.

    No. 30 Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford is coming back in Week 8, and the Lions have a chance to collect a few wins down the stretch.

    No. 29 San Francisco 49ers: Despite getting the dreaded "vote of confidence" earlier this season, Mike Singletary might need a win in London next week to save his job.

    No. 28 Carolina Panthers: Starting Matt Moore at quarterback proved to be a great move for John Fox.  He could use a few more going forward this season.

    No. 27 Arizona Cardinals: Max Hall's growing pains were very evident in the loss to the Seahawks Sunday.

    No. 26 Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags' inconsistency could cost Jack Del Rio his job.

    No. 25 San Diego Chargers: Maybe leading the NFL in both offense and defense isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    No. 24 Oakland Raiders: Darren McFadden has been dynamic this season.  Now he just needs to stay healthy.

    No. 23 Dallas Cowboys: Losing Tony Romo was something the Cowboys could absolutely not afford.  It's time to start thinking about cleaning house again in Dallas.

    No. 22 Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals need a win in the worst way after getting torched by an opposing quarterback again in Week 7.

    No. 21 Cleveland Browns: The Browns are riding high after pulling out all the stops to beat the Saints Sunday.  Will Colt McCoy help Cleveland reach the top 20?

No. 20: St. Louis Rams

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    Why They Are Here: The heartbreaking loss to the Bucs was tough to swallow, but the Rams are still in the mix in the NFC West.

    The biggest reason for St. Louis' success has been the ability of the offensive line to keep Sam Bradford in one piece.

    Staying Power: Anything is possible in the wild, wild West, especially this season.

    The Rams host Carolina in Week 9 with a great chance to record a relatively easy win.

No. 19: Minnesota Vikings

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    Why They Are Here: Brett Favre's injury could be a blessing in disguise for Brad Childress.

    With the Favre struggling to get the job done, Tarvaris Jackson might be the best option for the Vikings at this point.

    Chicago and Minnesota have questions, but the Vikings need to figure out how to get the offense rolling.

    Staying Power: The status of Brett Favre's ankle will likely decide the Vikings' fate.

    If Favre says he can go, Childress isn't likely to yank him from the game.  As a result, the Vikings could be held hostage by No. 4 yet again, only this time during the actual regular season.

    One way or another, it's time for a change under center.

No. 18: Seattle Seahawks

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    Why They Are Here: Pete Carroll's team has been just good enough to rise to the head of the class in the NFC West.

    Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett have shown some flashes of emerging as a capable running back duo, and Mike Williams is playing like a Pro Bowler for Matt Hasselbeck.

    Staying Power: Seattle remains a pitiful defense against the pass, and the Seahawks could be without rookie tackle Russell Okung again after he suffered another sprained ankle.

    It's starting to look like 8-8 might be good enough to win the woeful NFC West this season.

No. 17: Chicago Bears

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    Why They Are Here: The Bears are still tied atop the NFC North, but all signs point to Lovie Smith's team being on the verge of entering a free-fall down the stretch.

    Jay Cutler looks like a quarterback who has been hit one too many times.

    Staying Power: Things could get more difficult following the bye in Week 8.

    Unless Mike Martz dramatically alters his game plan, the desperate Bills could knock off the Bears in Buffalo.

No. 16: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Why They Are Here: Josh Freeman has provided plenty of late-game heroics for the Buccaneers in his second season in the NFL.

    Don't look now, but the young Bucs are in the running in the NFC.

    Staying Power: Tampa's success has come with a young, relatively thin roster.

    The Week 9 trip to Atlanta will provide Freeman with a daunting task.

    But with Arizona, Carolina and San Francisco also on the upcoming schedule, it's not impossible to imagine the Bucs improving to 7-3 this season.

No. 15: Philadelphia Eagles

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    Why They Are Here: The Eagles finally reached the bye week, allowing Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy to rest and possibly even giving DeSean Jackson enough time to get healthy.

    After holding things down in Vick's absence, Kevin Kolb struggled in the Week 7 loss to the Titans.

    Staying Power: Vick's health and continued production will be the biggest factor as the Eagles look to emerge from a crowded NFC East field down the stretch.

    If Vick can make magic, Andy Reid could lead his battered team into the postseason.

No. 14: Miami Dolphins

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    Why They Are Here: If the Dolphins could only win at home.

    Miami has looked good at times this season and had a chance to beat the Steelers in Week 7.

    Instead, another loss to an AFC power means the Dolphins will have to fight an uphill battle down the stretch.

    Staying Power: Surprisingly, the Dolphins have been one of the NFL's least effective teams running the football this season.

    Unless Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams can get going, Chad Henne will need to play like Dan Marino if Miami wants to win games.

No. 13: Washington Redskins

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    Why They Are Here: The Redskins have been extremely vulnerable of defense and haven't found any measure of consistency on offense all season.

    The problems on both sides of the ball haven't been reflected in the standings, with Washington finding a way to post a 4-3 record.

    Staying Power: Ryan Torain has filled in nicely for Clinton Portis, but the fate of the 'Skins will rest on Donovan McNabb's ability to make plays in the passing game.

    Don't count the Redskins out in the NFC East quite yet.

No. 12: Kansas City Chiefs

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    Why They Are Here: The Chiefs have been finding ways to win all season long with Todd Haley pulling the right strings.

    Haley has finally gotten Dwayne Bowe involved in the last two weeks, adding another dimension to the offense.

    Staying Power: The demise of the Chargers has opened the door for Kansas City in the AFC West this season.

    The schedule gets more difficult for the Chiefs, but there is no reason to think the magic will fade anytime soon.

No. 11: Green Bay Packers

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    Why They Are Here: The Packers circled the wagons and managed to stave off the Vikings Sunday night.

    With Minnesota likely to be without Favre and Chicago struggling in recent weeks, the Packers' chances are starting to look good once again.

    Staying Power: Clay Matthews was back in Week 7, and Al Harris is getting closer to returning, but Green Bay's schedule is daunting.

    A win over the Jets in Week 8 could vault the Packers much closer to the top of the NFC.

No. 10: Tennessee Titans

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    Why They Are Here: After a slow start to the season, the Titans have picked up steam and are looking like a team capable of contending in the AFC.

    Kenny Britt's incredible three quarters against the Eagles could be a sign of things to come.

    Staying Power: With a solid defense and Chris Johnson still healthy, the Titans have plenty of reasons to warrant serious consideration in the AFC.

    It will be interesting to see how Vince Young is able to play coming off his knee injury.

No. 9: Indianapolis Colts

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    Why They Are Here: Indianapolis is teetering on falling out of the top 10 thanks to a season marred by injuries.

    Dallas Clark became the latest Colt to be lost for the season with an injury, and Joseph Addai's status for Week 8 is up in the air.

    Staying Power: With a slim margin for error, Peyton Manning will need to play almost perfect football for the Colts to make noise in the AFC.

    Don't be surprised if Indy struggles to make the postseason.

No. 8: New Orleans Saints

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    Why They Are Here: New Orleans has looked lost on offense in two of the last three games, and yesterday's unthinkable loss to the Browns has the Saints searching for answers.

    If Sean Payton can't find a way to run the football with some measure of success, more losses could be coming.

    Staying Power: Things might be looking up for the Saints when it comes to the running game.

    Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas could play in Week 8, although both will likely be very limited if they take the field.

    The Saints have grown very frustrated with Thomas' recovery time and might force him to earn his way back into the lineup.

    Can Payton really afford to leave his best runner in the doghouse?

No. 7: Houston Texans

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    Why They Are Here: The Texans had a week off to shore up problems on the defensive side of the ball.

    With one of the NFL's most explosive offenses, Houston is in good position to make a nice run down the stretch.

    Staying Power: Houston's secondary has been awful this season, and the loss of DeMeco Ryans won't ease the defensive struggles.

    In the end, the Texans will go as far as Matt Schaub can take them.

No. 6: Atlanta Falcons

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    Why They Are Here: Roddy White's sparkling performance helped the Falcons rally over the Bengals to keep them atop the NFC.

    With an effective running game and an underrated defense, Atlanta should continue to hover around the top five in the weeks ahead.

    Staying Power: Incredibly, Falcons will be at home for over a month.

    After a bye in Week 8, the upstart Bucs come to town followed by a visit from the Ravens.

    Atlanta's chances of posting the NFC's best record are looking better and better.

No. 5: Baltimore Ravens

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    Why They Are Here: Getting torched by the anemic Bills didn't help the Ravens in the rankings this week.

    Baltimore's offense could be the difference coming down the stretch.

    Staying Power: Assuming Ed Reed stabilizes the mediocre secondary as he plays more snaps, Baltimore's defense isn't likely to have a repeat performance of what happened in Week 7.

    The Ravens will be right in the thick of things in the AFC all year long.

No. 4: New York Giants

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    Why They Are Here: Eli Manning is playing like an MVP, and Perry Fewell's defense has been bringing the pain to opposing quarterbacks all season long.

    An improved running games makes the Giants difficult to defeat.

    Staying Power: Barring an injury to Manning, the Giants aren't likely to encounter too many bumps in the road down the stretch.

    New York travels to Seattle in Week 9 following the bye.

No. 3: New England Patriots

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    Why They Are Here: You can't argue with wins.

    The Patriots haven't looked great on offense since early in the season, and life after Randy Moss could be a challenge going forward.

    Thankfully for Bill Belichick, Jerod Mayo and the Patriots' young defense are improving on a weekly basis.

    Staying Power: It won't be pretty, but New England will be a big factor in the AFC down the stretch.

No. 2: New York Jets

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    Why They Are Here: Mark Sanchez has stopped making foolish mistakes, and New York's defense is starting to live up to the hype.

    Staying Power: The Jets host Green Bay next week before traveling to Cleveland.

    It's safe to say Rex Ryan has his team sitting pretty, especially with Darrelle Revis expected to be 100 percent coming off the bye week.

No. 1: Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Why They Are Here: The Steelers got a little help from the officials to win again in Week 7.

    Pittsburgh's defense is the best in football, and Ben Roethlisberger's return has led to fantastic production from Mike Wallace and Hines Ward in the last two games.

    Staying Power: If Pittsburgh's offensive line can open some holes for Rashard Mendenhall, the Steelers have a chance to stampede through the rest of the regular season.