NFL Power Rankings Week 8: They Aren't Who We Thought They Were Edition
The Minnesota Vikings (2-4) and Dallas Cowboys (1-5) were Super Bowl contenders, the Seattle Seahawks (4-2) and Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) were terrible teams, and Ladanian Tomlinson and T.O. were over the hill. These were common beliefs in the 2010 preseason, but there's a reason they play the games.
With seven weeks of NFL action in the books, everything is upside down. Some things are as we expected, but a shift in NFL power has definitely taken place. We now have a pretty good idea of what teams are and aren't capable of. Here's a glimpse of all 32 teams through my eyes, ranked from worst to first.
32-The Buffalo Bills (0-6)
Larry French/Getty Images
The Buffalo Bills are the only team in the NFL still without a win. They are dead last against the run and on pace to give up 2,700 yards rushing this season. Despite playing some games that came down to the wire, are yet to win one. Until the Bills pull out a win, I can't move them out of last place.
31. The San Francisco 49ers (1-6)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The 49ers are tied with the Bills for the most losses in the NFL, and their offense is ranked 31st in points scored per game. They were supposed to finally get over the hump and make the playoffs by winning the NFC West after the Cardinals lost a number of starters in the offseason, but the 49ers'QBs have thrown nine TDs to 10 picks.
Their defense is 24th in points allowed per game, and head coach Mike Singletary is on the verge of losing his job. Nothing is going their way in San Francisco, and I don't see things getting any better for them any time soon.
30. The Carolina Panthers (1-5)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
The Panthers are just going through the motions right now to get some of their younger players experience in the NFL. They have two starting QBs (Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore,) neither of which has played well at all.
The offense as a whole has scored the fewest points of any NFL team, is 31st in yards gained, 31st in yards per pass attempt, 31st in yards gained per rush, 31st in fumbles lost, and 30th in interceptions thrown. The only reason I have them above the 49ers is to keep the list current after the Panthers beat the 49ers in week seven. They're flat out bad.
29. The Cleveland Browns (2-5)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
The Browns are coming off of the upset of the week after beating the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, but I'm not going to rush on putting them higher up on the list. Drew Brees had a horrible game, and the loss was mostly because of his four picks.
The Browns are now on their third starting QB this year, and the position has managed only 6 TD passes in as many games. The offense is ranked 28th in yards gained, and the defense isn't a whole lot better. The Browns are the worst team in the AFC North, and they probably won't win more than four games this season.
28. The Detroit Lions (1-5)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Lions are the seventh ranked passing team in the league, but they are ranked 31st in rushing and 30th in rushing attempts. The Lions are getting back Matthew Stafford soon, and that should help an already good passing attack, but teams need to be balanced in today's NFL to be a contender.
The Lions are taking steps in the right direction, but they have a lot more steps to take before they'll be taken seriously.
27. The Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The Jaguars are worse than their record lets on. They've given up 209 points in only seven games—72 in their last two games— and have only scored 130 points. One of their wins came on week one, one came in the division, and the last came against the Bills. Sice giving up only 17 points in week one to the Denver Broncos, the Jags haven't been able to keep anyone to under 26 points scored.
The Jags had to resort to signing retired QB Todd Bouman just to play against the Chiefs in week seven. Not even RB Maurice Jones-Drew can help this team look legit. The Jags are the only team in the AFC South with a losing record, and they'll surely finish dead last in it at year's end. They aren't very good, and they aren't getting any better.
26. The Dallas Cowboys (1-5)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
The Cowboys have many people searching for answers as to why they've started off so badly. I'm not one of those people. They are one of the most undisciplined NFL teams I've ever seen. They were supposed to be a Super Bowl contender, but they've only managed to win one game seven weeks into the season. Their "high powered" offense isn't scoring much, and their "talented defense" can't stop anyone.
The Cowboys are fourth in passing yards per game, but they're 30th in rushing yards per game. They are one of the most highly penalized teams in the NFL, they can't hold a lead, and they can't play from behind either. Head coach Wade Phillips can't get his team to do anything right. On top of all of that, the Boys lost starting QB Tony Romo to a broken collarbone/clavicle. A bad team just got worse. The NFC East is open for any team to win it, except the Cowboys.
25. The Denver Broncos (2-5)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
The Broncos have a very potent passing attack, but that's about it. Apart from QB Kyle Orton playing at a high level and Brandon Lloyd catching a lot of his passes, no other Broncos are standing out for any positive reasons.
Their rushing game is largely to blame for their troubles. They're ranked 32nd in rushing yards gained and 30th against the run. They can't really stop anyone from scoring. They've given up the third most points per game in the NFL (199 total). No team can win much with a formula like this. They're last in the AFC West, which is probably the weakest division in the AFC. Things aren't going to get any better in Denver if the can't get this running situation under control.
24. The Arizona Cardinals (3-3)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
I feel bad for WR Larry Fitzgerald. He has to play for a team that is a shell of what they were just a year ago. The Cardinals wouldn't be even this high on the list if it weren't for them being 3-3. They haven't won back to back games yet this year.
The Cardinals have only scored 98 points while allowing 160, they are dead last in passing offense, and they are 29th in rushing offense and rushing defense. Still, they've managed to get some wins when no one thought they could. I gave them the 24th spot because I don't know what to expect from them week to week.
23. The Cincinnati Bengals (2-5)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Last year's AFC North champions, the Bengals, are not having the success they expected to after signing WR T.O. Owens is having a good year, as is Carson Palmer, but not too many other Bengals are. The Bengals came into week seven ranked seventh in total offense but 15th in scoring.
QB Carson Palmer has thrown for 1,699 yards already and is on pace to pass for over 4,500 yards this year, but just can't seem to lead his team to wins. Starting RB Cedric Benson is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry. The Bengals defense has given up 141 points in only six games, and if things don't tighten up on both sides of the ball, the Bengals won't be much better than the Browns in the AFC North.
22. The St. Louis Rams (3-4)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
The Rams have already matched their win total from the past two years combined. Doe-eyed rookie QB Sam Bradford is a blossoming star in the "new NFL" and has the Rams off to their best start in around a half a decade. The Rams aren't scoring a lot of points, but Bradford isn't turning the ball over much now that he's got the first game jitters out of his system.
The Rams defense had given up the eighth fewest points per game in the league this year (18.7) and three wins in their last five games. Bradford's on pace to throw for nearly 3,400 yards this season, and RB Steven Jackson is on pace to run for over 1,350 yards by year's end. The Rams are up and comers, and have a shot to win their division, the NFC West, as it's the worst division in the league.
21. The San Diego Chargers (2-5)
Harry How/Getty Images
The Chargers always start off slowly, but they've gotten themselves in a hole that they might not be able to dig themselves out of this year. QB Philip Rivers is having quite possibly the best start of his career, and TE Antonio Gates has already caught eight TD passes this season, but the team as a whole is almost as undisciplined as the Cowboys.
They constantly leave points off of the board because of penalties, turnovers, and loss of concentration. The holdout of WR Vincent Jackson has taken away the deep threat, and letting go of RB Ladanian Tomlinson has turned out to be a bad move in hindsight.
The Chargers have the top ranked offense and the top ranked defense in the league, yet can't seem to win games. I have to chalk it up to the coaching and upper management, but no matter who's to blame, the fact is that they're tied for last in the AFC West with the Broncos.
20. The Oakland Raiders (3-4)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
The Raiders are another team that was supposed to get things together in 2010, but they didn't end up being the successful team in the AFC West that people thought they would. That team comes quite a bit later on the list.
The Raiders picked up Washington Redskins castaway QB Jason Campbell in the offseason. It was supposed to be the missing piece for a very puzzling Raiders team, but after only six quarters it became apparent that he wasn't the answer. Last year's starter, Bruce Gradkowski, came in and sparked the Raiders to a couple of wins. Then he got hurt, and the Raiders still haven't gotten it going yet.
They've scored the fifth most points in the league, but they've given up the sixth most points. The Raiders look better than they have in years past, but they still don't look like a good team. Stay tuned for further updates as the season progresses, but for now the Raiders stay in the 20's.
19. The Chicago Bears (4-3)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Bears appear to be a paper tiger, but they lead the NFC North—for now. The Bears started the season 3-0, but have since gone 1-3. QB Jay Cutler started off red hot, but has since cooled down considerably. Jay had four picks in his last outing, and his offensive line is simply not blocking for him at all.
Cutler has been sacked a league leading 27 times already. The defense is ranked second in the NFL in points allowed, but the offense is just stagnant. The unit is ranked 30th, and apart from RB Matt Forte has no playmakers. They don't even have a real No. 1 receiver. Like I said: they're tops in the division—for now.
18. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2)
J. Meric/Getty Images
The Buccaneers are certainly a surprise team in 2010. They've been an up and down team in the NFC South for years—as have all NFC South teams. This year they're in second place in the division. They're a young team, and they don't have the best stats, but they are off to a great start to the 2010 season.
Rookie WR Mike Williams has really impressed so far this year, leading the team in receiving yards, yards per catch among receivers with more than five receptions, and TDs. Young QB Josh Freeman is developing trust and chemistry with his rookie WR.
The defense is having trouble against the run, but they're seventh against the pass. This team isn't where they need to be yet, but for the first time in awhile, they look to be moving in the right direction.
17. The Minnesota Vikings (2-4)
Jim Prisching/Getty Images
The Vikings are less than one year removed from playing in the NFC championship game, but they are a far cry from that team. The Vikings have lost a lot of close games this season, but a loss is a loss. For the most part, you are what your record says you are.
Brett Favre is not playing like the Pro Bowl QB he was last year, the team's number 1 receiver Sidney Rice is out due to injury, DE Jared Allen isn't getting to opposing QBs anymore, and the offense as a whole is not scoring points.
RB Adrian Peterson is having a great year, but the Vikings are not. This team put everything on the arm of Brett Favre, and he's thrown more picks (10) than TDs (seven). Favre had seven picks all of last season. This team looks lost, and head coach Brad Childress is running out of answers.
The Vikings also picked up WR Randy Moss. It has opened up things for WR Percy Harvin, but Moss hasn't made a real impact yet. The team may be getting Rice back soon, but if they don't go on a serious winning streak now, it will be too little too late.
16. The Washington Redskins (4-3)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
After acquiring QB Donovan McNabb, Redskins fans were very optimistic for the 2010 season. Some of the optimism has subsided seeing as McNabb is having a just average season at best, but the Skins are winning games. They beat the Bears and the Packers by six total points over the last two weeks, but they still won both games.
The defense has allowed only 133 points, and they've forced 17 turnovers. The offense has only turned the ball over nine times. A team that wins the turnover battle will win the game most of the time, and the Redskins are third in turnover differential. If they keep this up, they will be in the hunt for a division crown late in the year.
15. The Seatlle Seahawks (4-3)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Seattle's head coach Pete Carroll has burst onto the NFL scene with some of that old USC fire. He has the Seahawks overachieving, leading the NFC West division for the moment. He had a lot of doubters, but it appears that this time in the NFL may be different for the coach.
The Seahawks defense has allowed only 107 points in seven games. They've allowed only 465 rushing yards, and, most importantly, they're leading the team to victories. In my opinion, this is the best Seahawks team since they went to the Super Bowl.
QB Matt Hasselbeck isn't having a great season, but he's doing just enough to not lose. Third year RB Justin Forsett is averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and the team just acquired RB Marshawn Lynch in a trade with Buffalo. The Hawks are currently sitting on top of the West, and until they are knocked off of their perch by the Rams, they stay in my top 15.
14. The Philadelphia Eagles (4-3)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
The Eagles have a problem that a lot of teams wish they had. They have two capable starting QBs in Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb. The team has a stable of young WRs, and their young RB, LeSean McCoy is averaging 4.5 yards per carry to go with his 38 receptions.
The Eagles' defense is doing their job as well, as they are ranked fifth in total defense and ninth against both the pass and the run. They win every time they score more than 20 points, and they've accomplished that feat in all four of their wins.
The Eagles are making head coach Andy Reid look like a genius despite himself. If they keep playing like they are right now, they can be a force in the NFC.
13. The Miami Dolphins (3-3)
Marc Serota/Getty Images
If I told you that the Dolphins were 3-0 on the road in week seven and told you nothing else, you'd probably assume that they have a very good record and are in the playoff picture. In this case, however, you would be wrong. The Dolphins are 0-3 at home, and there are two teams ahead of them in the AFC East with only one loss—we'll get to them soon.
The Dolphins are just in one of the toughest divisions in football right now, and they have consistency issues. If the can be the same team every time they step onto the field, they might be alright. Still, I just don't see them getting into the playoffs due to how loaded the AFC has become.
The Dolphins have no remarkable or unfavorable stats to speak of. They are what their record says they are: a run of the mill team. WR Brandon Marshall has been a good addition to the team, but it's yet to be determined just how affective he can be with QB Chad Henne throwing him the ball.
12. The Atlanta Falcons (5-2)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Falcons are one of the best teams in the NFC, but that's kinda like being the best junior varsity team in the country—they might be able to beat up mediocre varsity units, but a strong team of juniors and seniors will beat them most of the time.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan looks to be an above average player who may have hit his ceiling. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes, but he's not going to go out and win you games by himself. He has completed 61.9 percent of his passes and thrown 12 TD passes to only five picks, but he just doesn't bring anything special to the table.
The Falcons' running game is a one-two punch of Michael Turner and Jason Snelling. They both average over four yards per carry, and they've hit pay-dirt five times this year. It's an offensive team, and they're winning games right now because of their offense.
Also, I thought it was important to mention the great year that WR Roddy White is having. He's a big reason for their success thus far.
11. The New Orleans Saints (4-3)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Saints are the defending champs, and they get a huge offensive weapon back in practice this week. Reggie Bush is scheduled to make his return to the team on Wednesday, and it couldn't come at a better time.
The Saints have struggled to put points on the board this season, and Bush causes all kinds of matchup problems for opposing defenses. Bush makes this team better just being on the field. The team's WRs will benefit most from Bush's return. CBs will have to account for Bush in the slot, making the spread much more affective.
QB Drew Brees has thrown for 2,029 yards and 14 TDs in a mere seven games, and he had only thrown 6 picks before his inexplicable four interception game against Cleveland in week seven. Brees is having a great year, and the team will go as far as he does this year. There's nothing to worry about in New Orleans.
10. The Houston Texans (4-2)
Thearon W, Henderson/Getty Images
The Texans are another team who were supposed to take a step forward, and it appears as though they may have done just that. They started out 2-0 then lost to the Cowboys in Dallas' only win of the season. That wasn't the only hiccup, two weeks later the Texans were blown out by the Giants.
Still, when they win they look great. The team has been led by the running game. RB Arian Foster is averaging 105.8 yards and one rushing TD per game, as well as three catches per game. When Foster has a big game, so does the team.
QB Matt Schuab is playing well in doses, and if he gets on track, the Texans could be one of the best teams in the NFL. Be on the lookout. We may not have heard all there is from this team just yet.
9. The Green Bay Packers (4-3)
Jim Prisching/Getty Images
The Packers are overachieving, considering all of the injuries that have hampered them. They've lost starting LBs, WRs, a TE, a RB, a CB, safeties, and even QB Aaron Rodgers for a bit. Still, the Packers share the division lead and are getting healthy.
The Packers are front runners to win the NFC North crown and see postseason action for the second straight year. Rodgers has really taken on his roll as Favre 2.0 and made the most of it.
The defense is strong, and LB Clay Matthews jr. is an absolute animal. He seems to live in opposing offense's backfields, and wrecks havoc in coverage as well. If the Packers can get and stay healthy, they could be playing for a Super Bowl birth in January.
8. The Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
Larry French/Getty Images
I have the Ravens a little lower than most, but for good reason. The Ravens are talented, but they aren't even the best team in their division, so how can they be the best in the league? The Ravens were taken to overtime by the worst team in the NFL—the Buffalo Bills—in week seven. They lost to the Bengals in week two and only beat the Browns by seven in week three.
They have only beaten one team, the Broncos, by more than one score. The Ravens have gotten their other five wins by a total of 19 points. That isn't the mark of a top five team to me. They're a very good team, but QB Joe Flacco has too many weapons to throw the ball to for this offense to not be destroying some teams.
RB Ray RIce has also yet to really get going. If he can't get on track soon, teams are going to start keying on Flacco. The defense is good, but it's a far cry from the 2000 Ravens defense that won a Super Bowl. They're a very good team, but I need to see more from them before I put them higher than this.
7. The Kansas City Chiefs (4-2)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
The Chiefs are probably the biggest surprise, at least as far as winning goes, in the entire NFL this year. The Chiefs were the last undefeated team in the league in week four, and even in their two losses, they were right in the game. A blown call is probably what cost them their game against the Texans, and if WR Dwayne Bowe catches a TD pass that he dropped in the game against the Colts, the Chiefs may have won that game too.
Still, ifs don't win games, so they don't break the top five. The Chiefs defense has really been the story this year. The Texans were the only team to score more than 20 points on the Chiefs all season. They're also ranked fifth against the run and fifth in points allowed.
The offense has also done it's job. The Chiefs have the top ranked rushing attack in the NFL, and they've scored 150 points in six games. Two of their wins come by more than 20 points, and the passing game is finally starting to come together too. This is one young team that no one wants to face right now.
6. The Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Two factors have the Colts this high on the list. Peyton Manning is having one of the best years, statistically, of his career. The other factor is their tenure as the winningest team in the decade. The Colts seem to have interchangeable parts. As long as Manning is on the field, nothing else really matters.
The Colts started off a little slowly, but since week one they're 4-1. The Colts have scored 163 points in six games and have the second ranked offense in the league. The Colts are the same old Colts, and that is just fine as far as they're concerned.
If the Colts can get any kind of a running game going, they'll be a front runner to get back to the Super Bowl again this year, making it back to back appearances. As long as Manning is being Manning, the Colts are a mainstay in the top ten of any power ranking.
5. The New York Giants (5-2)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
The Giants are the best team in the NFC East, and in my opinion they're the best team in the entire NFC. This team is well rounded, talented, and tough. They started off the year very slowly, but since have gone 4-0 after dropping games in weeks two and three.
Eli Manning is a winner, and he's playing like it right now. He and the two headed backfield of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw have the Giants offense looking unstoppable. The Giants have put up 175 points already this season, and they aren't showing any signs that they'll be slowing down any time soon.
The Giants defense has forced 14 turnovers and have accumulated 21 sacks already, with Osi Umenyiora getting eight of them himself. These guys are scary good, and if the WRs can stop tipping Eli's passes to defenders for interceptions, the Giants may be playing for more than just the NFC East championship in February.
4. The Tennessee Titans (5-2)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
The Titans have scored 199 points in seven games. Their defense has given up only 82 points. Their QBs Vince Young and Kerry Collins have combined for 12 TD passes to only five interceptions, and no matter which QB is in the team doesn't seem to miss a beat. Rookie WR Kenny Britt has a lot to do with this after his breakout 225 yard, three TD performance in week seven.
The Titans lead the AFC South, and they have one of the league's best RBs to complement their nearly error free passing game. Chris Johnson has run for over 94 yards per game and has seven TDs. This team has one of the most potent offenses in the league.
The defense has forced 18 turnovers in their seven games, and they've allowed only one rushing TD all season. This team is looking like the team that everyone says that the Ravens are. Watch out for the Titans.
3. The New England Patriots (5-1)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
The Patriots are playing inspired football right now. They seem to gain momentum every week. The Patriots only loss came in week two at the hands of the New York Jets, which is the only reason that I have the Patriots at three instead of at two.
The Patriots traded away WR Randy Moss and got better. QB Tom Brady has his all-time favorite WR, Deion Branch, back in the fold. The running game has gotten a boost from all-purpose threat Danny Woodhead. He catches passes from the slot and out of the backfield, and he runs off of hand-offs well too.
The Pats have the most points per game in the league (29.5) and the defense has finally started playing decently. They have given up fewer than 21 points in each of the Patriots' last three games. Head coach Bill Belichick is at it again, and the Patriots—my preseason pick for AFC champions—are on track to do some serious damage.
2. The New York Jets (5-1)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
The Jets lost in week one to the Baltimore Ravens, but haven't lost since. They pulled out a victory in Denver by the skin of their teeth in week six and had a bye in week seven to regroup. The offseason acquisition of CB Antonio Cromartie has made the Jets next to impossible to throw against now that Darrelle Revis is getting healthy again.
The Jets have scored 159 points and have only given up 101 points. It's hard to find a weakness on this team, and if no one figures it out soon, they may run away with the AFC East.
On the offensive side of the ball, QB Mark Sanchez has only thrown interceptions in one game this year. Add to that the running game led by the rejuvenated LT and second year back Shonn Greene, and the Jets are looking very tough to beat. they'll be in the hunt in January for sure.
Public Enemy Number 1: The Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1)
Marc Serota/Getty Images
The Steelers are back on top of their game. They have the best defense in the NFL and have given up only 82 points in six games. They are healthy again, for the most part, and are getting great play from their linebacker core.
The offense is led by RB Rashard Mendenhall's legs and QB Ben Roethlisberger's arm. The QB is back in gear after his four game suspension, and when he's on, there isn't a better team than the Steelers in the entire NFL. This team has a tough schedule this season, but if they can get through it healthy and winning, they'll be better off for having it.
Their defense is led by the playmaker Troy Polamalu and Defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau. This unit, when healthy, is the best in the game.
Until Next Time
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
That's all 32 teams. I hope you liked it. That's how I see the league right now. I'll check back in a few weeks, but until then, have fun watching this action packed year of NFL action.