NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Rank Heading into Week 8?

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterOctober 22, 2012

NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Rank Heading into Week 8?

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    After a tumultuous Week 6 brought about huge changes to our weekly power rankings, Week 7 looks very tame by comparison.

    In Week 7, the teams who were supposed to win largely won. With six teams also on a bye, there was little movement among 20 percent of the league's teams. Those who did move this week made minor bumps up and down. Except for one team.

    The New Orleans Saints managed a nice move this week after their second straight win. Where does each team rank? We've got you covered.

32. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Record: 1-5

    The running joke in Missouri all week was that the Kansas City Chiefs would find a way to lose, even during their bye week. They didn't, but the focus will be on the Chiefs to see what they can do to remedy a season that's incredibly close to being over.

    Fans were given a taste of Brady Quinn last week, and that was quickly exposed as something that's not a long-term option. Instead, the team needs to rally around Matt Cassel, as he is the clear-cut best quarterback on the roster.

    With 10 games left, the Chiefs need to find their rhythm to close out the year.

31. Cleveland Browns

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    Record: 1-6

    The Cleveland Browns are managing to stay competitive, but they aren't a talented enough team to win games. That issue starts at the top of the franchise.

    Head coach Pat Shurmur is auditioning for his job, and the loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7 won't do much to help the coach once new owner Jimmy Haslam evaluates the state of the team after the season ends.

    The promising news is that the last two draft classes look to be a strong building block for the franchise. From Brandon Weeden to Trent Richardson, Josh Gordon and Mitchell Schwartz, this is a talented group of young players who need a coaching staff that can develop their abilities.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Record: 1-5

    Fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars may not be sold on Blaine Gabbert as the team's franchise quarterback—and much of the media would agree with them—but the Jaguars desperately missed him in Week 7.

    After the second-year quarterback went down with an injury, Jacksonville's offense struggled to move the ball to keep its lead. Without Gabbert and without Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars offense was impotent.

    Injuries have been the story for the Jaguars, but even if fully healthy it's tough to see this team being competitive. Until they can get their offense going, the Jaguars will struggle to win games.

29. Oakland Raiders

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    Record: 2-4

    The Oakland Raiders hung on to win a game that it seemed no one wanted to control, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars to improve their record to 2-4.

    It's a bit surprising to see the Raiders here, and if ranking purely on wins they would be likely higher. Ranked on how well they've played, No. 29 overall is just about right.

    Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie have their work cut out for them, but getting the players to work hard and play tough even when the game seems hopeless is a key aspect to building a winning franchise. In the wide-open AFC West, anything is possible. And that hope is something the Raiders have bought into.

28. Carolina Panthers

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    Record: 1-5

    The Carolina Panthers are too talented to be this bad, but the record is starting to indicate what type of team this is. 

    Injuries have definitely taken their toll here, but the offense looks flat, and a lot of that blame will rest on Cam Newton's shoulders. The second-year quarterback hasn't looked as energetic, or as dangerous, while trying to be more of a pocket passer in the Panthers' scheme.

    The best thing the coaches could do at this point would be to unleash Newton, much in the same way they did last season. The result would be more wins.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Record: 2-4

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were so close to pulling off an upset win against the New Orleans Saints, but they came up short in the closing seconds.

    The Buccaneers have fight, but they're maddeningly bad in the secondary without Aqib Talib, and on offense they can be too conservative for their own good. This is a team with the talent to quickly turn things around, but that entails a first-year coach finding himself in the NFL, too.

    Injuries are holding the Buccaneers back, but coaching is too at this point. Until Greg Schiano puts away the hijinks and starts coaching NFL football, Tampa will be on the losing end more times than not.

26. Indianapolis Colts

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    Record: 3-3

    The 2012 Indianapolis Colts have won more games through seven weeks than they did in all of 2011. That's a great first step. 

    Head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson have done a wonderful job building this team, but the rebuild isn't done yet. The Colts are still very weak in the secondary, need some help up front on offense and are still stocking the defense after moving to a 3-4 scheme. 

    With another offseason to add talent, these Colts will start to look like playoff contenders.

25. New York Jets

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    Record: 3-4

    The New York Jets make a rare move up the board following a loss. It's deserved.

    Rex Ryan's team is playing without its best player (Darrelle Revis) and still turned in an inspired, gutty performance against their rivals in the AFC East. The New England Patriots almost gave the game away to the Jets, but in the end Tom Brady was too much, and Mark Sanchez's fumble in overtime ended the game.

    The Jets have talent and a very good head coach, and in the NFL right now that will get you far. Eight wins seems possible for the Jets, but it's still hard to envision this team in the playoffs with all their issues on both sides of the ball.

24. Tennessee Titans

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    Record: 3-4

    In a very weak AFC, the Tennessee Titans are in a pretty good position to get hot at the right time and make a playoff run. As odd as that might seem for a No. 24-ranked team, it's true.

    The Titans would need better play from Chris Johnson and their interior offensive line, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. With the pass rush getting stronger over the last two weeks, the Titans are starting to look like a contender again.

    How a healthy Jake Locker will fit in remains to be seen, but as of Week 8, you can't count the Titans out of the playoff hunt.

23. Buffalo Bills

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    Record: 3-4

    The blame in the aftermath of a Week 7 loss will fall unfairly on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The real responsibility falls on a defense that has been an embarrassment all season.

    The team invested heavily in defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson while using their first-round draft pick on cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The three have yet to make a consistent impact on a franchise that's badly in need of standouts on defense.

    The Bills are good enough to win a wild-card spot this year, but that will only happen if the defense can get its act together and start producing at a rate comparable with their paychecks.

22. San Diego Chargers

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    Record: 3-3

    One week after suffering an epic beatdown at the hands of the Denver Broncos, the San Diego Chargers had a much-needed bye week. How they come back from the week off will determine the fate of their season.

    The coaches are most of the problem here, as they have been for years now. Norv Turner is a very good offensive mind, but his head coaching ability has to be questioned. With a roster this talented, how can the Chargers manage to lose a 24-point halftime lead?

    The Chargers are just one game back in the division, and for Turner and general manager A.J. Smith to keep their jobs, the team needs to make a run toward the postseason.

21. Arizona Cardinals

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    Record: 4-3

    The winning was fun while it lasted, but the reality is that the Arizona Cardinals have lost three straight games. The team we saw on Sunday looked nothing like the dominant group who took down the New England Patriots.

    The problems in Arizona come from a team that's one-sided. A great defense can't always cover for a miserable offense, and when that offense is off, the team is hopelessly overmatched. That's been the case these last three weeks.

    Unless there's some unknown option on the street who can start at left tackle right now, the team's hopes aren't going to be improved through a free-agent signing, either.

20. Dallas Cowboys

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    Record: 3-3

    A win is a win, and the Dallas Cowboys survived in Week 7 to move their record to the .500 mark. Now they have to keep winning to get ahead.

    The play-calling in Week 7 was questionable at times, and it seemed like Jason Garrett didn't trust quarterback Tony Romo as the game went on. That lack of confidence will haunt Dallas down the stretch if the coaches can't trust Romo to execute and rally the team.

    When it comes down to it, the Cowboys have a serious amount of talent, but their weakness on the offensive line and at safety makes them a terrible matchup against the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles within their own division.

19. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Record: 3-4

    The Cincinnati Bengals' weaknesses were exposed Sunday night.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers took away A.J. Green with consistent double coverage, forcing Andy Dalton to look for other targets that simply weren't there. When Pittsburgh had the ball, it effectively ran at the heart of the Cincinnati defense, using a stable of backs to gash the Bengal line.

    Cincinnati is a talented enough team to rebound from this loss, but it showed on Sunday night that when it comes to being a complete team, the Bengals can't compete with their AFC North rivals just yet.

18. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Record: 3-3

    With three wins, the Philadelphia Eagles are still in good position to fight for a wild-card spot in the NFC, but with a tough schedule down the stretch and a turnover problem on offense, it's tough to have much faith in the Eagles this season.

    A change at defensive coordinator won't help matters, but the Eagles at least had the bye week to prepare for the new defense and give Todd Bowles time to get comfortable in his new seat. What's most puzzling is that the defense wasn't playing poorly; instead, it was the offense that needed a jump-start.

    Andy Reid is under tremendous pressure to win now. An 8-8 season will result in massive changes across the bow in Philadelphia.

17. Detroit Lions

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    Record: 2-4

    The Detroit Lions are too talented to be this bad.

    Calvin Johnson, through six games, has zero touchdown catches from Matthew Stafford. Even when the run game gets going, like it did in Week 7, the Lions find ways to turn the ball over in the redzone (three in that one game). 

    The Lions are good enough to climb out of this hole, but to do so they need to start working their targets not-named Calvin Johnson to keep defenses honest. Part of that means evolving on offense and giving defenses looks they didn't see last season.

16. New Orleans Saints

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    Record: 2-4

    The New Orleans Saints don't have a better record than many of the teams below them, but who would want to play this team right now?

    The Saints have found their rhythm the last two weeks, putting up impressive offensive performances while doing enough on defense to win ballgames. In Week 7, it was Malcolm Jenkins with a huge game, especially when the Buccaneers were on the goal line.

    A 2-4 start is a tough hole to climb out of, but the Saints are playing inspired football and just might be able to get hot enough to make this season competitive.

15. Miami Dolphins

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    Record: 3-3

    With a Week 7 bye, the Miami Dolphins were able to rest, relax and enjoy their hot start. The best thing the team could do as Week 8 begins is to make a deal on the market to add a wide receiver to the roster.

    Much was made of the fact that Dwayne Bowe wants out of Kansas City, and if you're Jeff Ireland this has to be tempting. At 3-3, the Dolphins are still alive as an AFC East contender and possible wild-card option in a worst-case scenario. To get there, they need some help on offense.

    The asking price for Bowe won't be cheap, but giving up a second-round pick for the talented wide receiver is worth it if the team can sign him to a long-term deal. Bowe lining up alongside Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline would scare AFC defenses in a way the Dolphins haven't in a long, long time.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Record: 3-3

    You can never write off the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

    One week after the defense looked old and slow, the team played inspired ball against the Cincinnati Bengals. A big part of its success goes to defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau calling a perfect game against a potent passing attack.

    The AFC North is very competitive this year, but with the Baltimore Ravens suffering so many injuries, this division is wide open at Week 8. If the Steelers can run the ball like they did against Cincinnati, they'll once again be a team to beat in the AFC.

13. St. Louis Rams

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    Record: 3-4

    There is no shame in losing to the Green Bay Packers, especially with how well Aaron Rodgers has been playing these last two weeks. To consider what the St. Louis Rams have done so far this year, it's pretty impressive.

    Head coach Jeff Fisher's thumbprints are all over this team: hard-hitting defense, a strong running game and smart, efficient passing from quarterback Sam Bradford. The Rams may not win 10 games, but there's no doubt that each week they'll be one of the toughest opponents in the NFL.

    With two first-round picks in the 2013 NFL draft, they can make another big impact in the offseason. The Rams are one more solid draft away from challenging the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC West. 

12. Washington Redskins

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    Record: 3-4

    The Washington Redskins were close to knocking off the defending Super Bowl champions, but in the end the team came up just short. 

    Moral victories are tough to justify, but the progress made between the 2011 and 2012 seasons should give fans in Washington reason to be optimistic for the future. At this point, the Redskins are simply outmanned most weeks. With a healthy Brian Orakpo and Fred Davis next season, plus help via the draft and free agency, this will be one of the most talented rosters in the game.

    The focus has to be evolving the play of Robert Griffin III and the offense so the exciting young quarterback is healthy enough to be the impact player that he's shown he can be.

11. Denver Broncos

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    Record: 3-3

    The last time we saw the Denver Broncos, they were pulling off the largest comeback in Monday Night Football history. They get a much-needed rest after that one, but the schedule heats up from here on out.

    The Broncos are sitting atop the AFC West thanks to tiebreakers, and they're very much in control of their own destiny at this time. Win and they're in the playoffs; lose and things get complicated.

    With Peyton Manning showing solid improvement each week, it's tough to see the Broncos not winning the seven games needed to likely win the West.

10. Seattle Seahawks

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    Record: 4-3

    The Seattle Seahawks have a league-leading defense, but their offense must help out too. Scoring six points in their Week 7 outing against the San Francisco 49ers simply isn't enough.

    That's the proposition when you play a rookie quarterback—there will be good weeks and bad weeks. Week 7 was a bad week, but the direction the Seahawks' season will go hangs on how well Russell Wilson bounces back from losses. 

    The Seahawks are among the NFL's best teams at home, which means they should win at least eight games this year. With a defense as good as theirs, getting to nine wins wouldn't be a surprise.

9. Baltimore Ravens

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    Record: 5-2

    Why a four-spot drop for the Baltimore Ravens after losing to the best team in their conference? Because of the way they lost and the visible proof of how bad this team is minus so many injured stars.

    The Ravens didn't move down last week in spite of their losing Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the season; that comes this week, now that we've seen how the Ravens look. And it's not pretty.

    The Texans are a dominant team, but not as dominant as the Ravens made them look in Week 7. The sad reality is that the defense is now basically Bernard Pollard and Terrell Suggs—who did look excellent in his first game back this season. 

    While the offense can do some things to keep the Ravens in contention, their slim lead in the AFC North is definitely in jeopardy.

8. Minnesota Vikings

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    Record: 5-2

    While the rest of the National Football League media is busy talking about Tim Tebow, paying homage to Peyton Manning and otherwise ignoring the real stories of the season, let's take a moment to remind those who may have missed the fact that the Minnesota Vikings are 5-2.

    One more time: The Minnesota Vikings are 5-2!

    The same Vikings who finished last year with the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft. The same Vikings who had so many issues in the secondary that their entire draft class could have been spent on improving the position. 

    Leslie Frazier has done an amazing job with this group. Before the season, many expected three playoff contenders from the NFC North, but few (if any) had the Vikings as one of those teams. With the season nearly half over, it's the Vikings who lead the North.

7. New England Patriots

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    Record: 4-3

    At this point in the season, I have no idea which New England Patriots are the real New England Patriots.

    There are the Patriots who can sprint out to early leads, but there are the same Patriots who have faded late in games. On both sides of the ball.

    Tom Brady has looked more human than at any time in the last decade. The offensive line is a revolving door. The tight ends are all hobbled. The defense is flat-out bad 99 plays out of 100. 

    And yet, they still win. This is very much a Bill Belichick team. They won't look pretty on paper, but they'll win. And that's really all that matters.

6. Chicago Bears

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    Record: 5-1

    Who would win if the Chicago Bears played the Green Bay Packers on a neutral field?

    It's a tough question, and one I weighed heavily during the fourth quarter of the Bears' game Monday night. In Chicago there is a tough football team who can run the ball, play tight defense and open things up with a solid passing game. But could they beat the Packers, or the 49ers, or the Giants? Probably not.

    As good as the Bears have been this year, at some point their offensive line will be their undoing. When facing a team with an elite pass rush, Chicago would be at a disadvantage. Until they can fix the offensive line, the Bears will be a very good team but not a Super Bowl winner.

5. Green Bay Packers

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    Record: 4-3

    The Green Bay Packers have been a bit schizophrenic this season, but it seems like they've found the right prescription over the last two games. That medicine is a whole lot of Aaron Rodgers.

    Rodgers has been otherworldly these last two weeks—and if you want to be technical, you could say these last two years. The Packers got off to a rough start, but they've found their rhythm and are playing like a legitimate Super Bowl contender now. 

    With youngsters Randall Cobb and Casey Hayward stepping up, Green Bay has the depth and talent to replace injured and aging players. That's a scary combination when combined with the team's already loaded depth chart.

    The Vikings may have the better record, but the Packers are still the team to beat in the NFC North.

4. San Francisco 49ers

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    Record: 5-2

    While a 13-6 win over the Seattle Seahawks may not seem like much, it's a huge win for the 2012 49ers.

    Not only is the Week 7 win within the division, but it's a momentum-builder for Jim Harbaugh's team. The 49ers have now proved to the NFL world (and themselves) that they can win a tough, hard-hitting football game. And that's what their win over the Seahawks was. Seattle has one of the NFL's best defenses, and the fact that the 49ers were able to get 13 points is a good sign for the team's playoff hopes.

    While it's tough to remember, it was just three weeks ago that we all thought the 49ers were the most complete, dominant team in football. They're not far from being that team again. 

3. New York Giants

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    Record: 5-2

    The New York Giants just win, baby.

    One week after a dismantling of the San Francisco 49ers, the Giants avoided the dreaded trap game by taking care of business against the Washington Redskins. 

    It was a close win, and the Giants needed some luck to get it done, but in a tight race for a top seed in the NFC, Tom Coughlin will take what he can get. 

    In winning, the Giants proved they could contain Robert Griffin III—something many have struggled to do all season. In the fourth quarter, the Giants defense started hitting Griffin, and the momentum of the game shifted noticeably. 

    A blueprint has been laid for beating the Redskins. Now, if someone could come up with a way to beat the Giants...

2. Houston Texans

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    Record: 6-1

    If last week's loss to the Green Bay Packers was a panic mode-type game, the Houston Texans' Week 7 throttling of the Baltimore Ravens has to be the high point of the season.

    The Texans were favored to win this game, thanks to the injuries on the Ravens defense, but the way Houston handled Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense wasn't expected. It was damn impressive.

    J.J. Watt continued his MVP-caliber season, and the team got big plays from Johnathan Joseph one week after he was taken to school by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Joseph looked much more loose in Week 7—a good sign for the AFC's front-runners at the midseason mark.

1. Atlanta Falcons

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    Record: 6-0

    A bye week keeps the Atlanta Falcons as the only undefeated team in the NFL. With a road trip to Philadelphia on the schedule for Week 8, Atlanta will get one of its first big tests of the season. 

    The job done by Mike Smith, Dirk Koetter and Mike Nolan has been remarkable this season. The Falcons have won close, they've won coming from behind, and they've won ugly. No matter how you look at it, winning is all the Falcons have done this year. Charlie Sheen should be jealous.

    The team's first loss may come in Week 8, but the Falcons have a comfortable lead in the miserable NFC South and a home-field advantage that will be tough to beat in the playoffs.


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