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NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Shakeups at the top

Read as Nick Springer takes us through his weekly NFL Power Rankings, which are uploaded every Tuesday during the NFL season.

  1. New England Patriots (6-1)- Previous rank: 2- The Pats continued to roll this week, this time against Pittsburgh. Granted, the Steelers were without Big Ben, but a win’s a win. Tom Brady played great as always, and Gronk has certainly found his groove. Honestly, not enough credit can be given to LaGarrette Blount. The dude is tied for the league lead in touchdowns and he’s running the ball well.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (5-1)- Previous rank: 4- Rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot got a break from tearing up the league this week. After Romo’s injury, everyone assumed the Cowboys were doomed to another 4-12 or 3-13 season. Instead, they’re 5-1 heading into a bye, and it’s getting hard to not pick them to win the NFC East this season. Let’s see how this team comes out of the bye next week at home against Philadelphia.
  3. Seattle Seahawks (4-1-1)- Previous rank: 3- Where do I even begin? The Seahawks played to a tie against Arizona in what was one of the most bizarre games I’ve witnessed in a long time. As always, Seattle’s defense played fantastic, but the offense was completely shut down, especially the run game. Seattle’s at New Orleans next week, which is a game they should win.
  4. Minnesota Vikings (5-1)- Previous rank: 1- Yikes, Minnesota came out flat against Philly after their bye. Sam Bradford looked like the Sam Bradford we’ve seen in years past, and for the first time this season, we saw the effects of the injuries to the offensive line. Bradford was sacked six times and hit many other times. Are all those injuries on offense finally going to catch up to Minnesota, and can they keep Sam Bradford healthy? If Bradford were to suffer an injury, it’s back to square one for Mike Zimmer.
  5. Green Bay Packers (4-2)- Previous rank: 6- In case anyone’s wondering, Aaron Rodgers is fine. The Packers are fine. Also, they’re 4-2. I’m just so happy that analysts can now stop throwing around the stat that Aaron Rodgers had not passed for 300 yards in a game this season. Brian Hoyer threw for 300 yards in four straight games, and the Bears had one win to show for it. Everyone calm down. The Packers will go to the playoffs this season.
  6. Kansas City Chiefs (4-2)- Previous rank: 11- The Chiefs look like they’ve hit their stride after securing the victory over New Orleans on Sunday. Jamaal Charles carried the ball just one time for zero yards, but he can afford to take his time getting back into a groove, as Spencer Ware has been playing really well. Kansas City has a favorable schedule down the stretch, and they travel to Indianapolis next week. That’s another very winnable game for the Chiefs.
  7. Oakland Raiders (5-2)- Previous rank: 13- Oakland picked up another decent win on the road against Jacksonville, even though Derek Carr played another sub-par game. Oakland is good enough to make the playoffs this season, and they have to win these kinds of games the rest of the season. Every AFC West game is going to be a battle.
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (4-2)- Previous rank: 15- Carson Wentz played by far his worst game of the season, while Philly’s defense played probably their best game of the season. Philly’s pass rush sometimes gets overlooked, but they’ve got one of the best in the league. Defense and special teams won this game, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  9. Denver Broncos (5-2)- Previous rank:10- As much as I dislike the Broncos, I love their style. They have an elite defense, and Gary Kubiak wants to pound the ball on the ground. Nothing fancy, just plain old football. All Trevor Siemian has to do is not turn the ball over and not take sacks, and the Broncos become very tough to beat. Denver will be looking for revenge next week against San Diego at home.
  10. Atlanta Falcons (43)- Previous rank: 5- Matt Ryan was held in check for the most part against San Diego. A loss is a loss, and Atlanta’s sub-par secondary was exposed even more in this game when they couldn’t escape with a victory. Atlanta must regroup quickly with Green Bay coming to town next week.
  11. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)- Previous rank: 8- Landry Jones performed admirably in Big Ben’s absence, and the Steelers were in this game most of the way. Antonio Brown’s numbers weren’t affected too much either. I’m not quite sure who’s idea it was to have Jones throw the ball 47 times, though. I would’ve liked to see more Le’Veon Bell, although he did carry 21 times. In case you haven’t noticed, I hate when quarterbacks not named Brady, Brees, or Rodgers throw the ball more than 30-35 times.
  12. Washington Redskins (4-3)- Previous rank: 7- I will always defend Kirk Cousins, and he did a fine job against Detroit. This loss certainly isn’t on him, but it was a game that Washington should’ve won. Now, they go to London to battle Cincinnati in a tough matchup. Even though the Bengals have struggled this season, they still have plenty of talent. We’ll have to monitor Josh Norman’s concussion situation as well.
  13. New York Giants (4-3)- Previous rank: 14- New York’s offense struggled, but they were bailed out by an even worse performance by their opponent, the Los Angeles Rams. More importantly, the Giants are back above .500 in what has quickly become the most interesting divisional race in the league. If New York wants to stay in it, they’ll need more performances out of their defense like this one. Once again, the Giants run game was beyond atrocious.
  14. Detroit Lions (4-3)- Previous rank: 17- Matt Stafford and the Lions once again quietly picked up another solid victory over Washington on a last-second touchdown. Will the Lions make the playoffs? At this point, I’d still say it’s unlikely, but they could certainly ruin somebody else’s chances later in the season. This is a good team, and after glancing at their schedule, they could certainly finish 9-7. That’s probably not good enough to make the postseason, but it’s definitely respectable.
  15. Houston Texans (4-3)- Previous rank: 12- Poor Brock Osweiler. He got beat up mercilessly and finished the night with just 131 yards passing against his former team. I’m not surprised by the outcome, as Osweiler is not worth what Houston paid him. He’s demonstrated that much over the first half of the season. Lamar Miller on the other hand, well, I’ve already made my feelings clear. Houston takes on Detroit next week.
  16. Buffalo Bills (4-3)- Previous rank: 9- I finally decide to move Buffalo into the top 10 and look what happens. I’m going to chalk this loss up to an unhealthy Shady McCoy. Shady is by far the most important component of the Buffalo offense. I have no explanation for Ajayi bulldozing through Buffalo’s defense. The Bills have a huge game at home against New England coming up, and even though they beat the Pats previously, they didn’t have Tom Brady at the time. This is a completely different matchup.
  17. San Diego Chargers (3-4)- Previous rank: 23– The Chargers got a significant road win over Atlanta in overtime, and they solidified themselves as a team that probably won’t make the playoffs, but a team that could crush the postseason dreams of a Kansas City or Oakland. I can’t give Phillip Rivers enough credit for doing what he has done without his top two receivers from last year.
  18. Indianapolis Colts (3-4)- Previous rank: 27- Andrew Luck and the offensive line came through in a big way to pick up a vital AFC south win over Tennessee. Luck was only sacked two times, and he didn’t commit a turnover in the game. T.Y. Hilton continues to be the most reliable target for Luck this season. If the Colts would have lost this game, Chuck Pagano may have been out the door. Instead, they’re still very much alive in the division at 3-4.
  19. Miami Dolphins (3-4)- Previous rank: 25- Maybe last week’s domination of Pittsburgh wasn’t so fluky after all. I gave the Dolphins no chance to win against Buffalo, but Jay Ajayi obviously had other plans. Ajayi became the 4th running back in NFL history to rush for 200 yards in back-to-back games. Once again, Ajayi had a monster day against a team that doesn’t have a horrible run defense. Maybe I was too quick to count this team out. Miami has a bye next week before another important divisional matchup against New York.
  20. Tennessee Titans (3-4)- Previous rank: 20- The Titans are getting better. Marcus Mariota played pretty well, but we should keep in mind that he was playing one of the worst secondaries in the league. DeMarco Murray continues to be a workhorse in the backfield, and I just feel like Tennessee is close to breaking through for a marquee win. They have played both Houston and Indianapolis very tight in the past couple weeks.
  21. Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1)- Previous rank: 19- Well, Carson Palmer didn’t turn the ball over in this game, which is a positive. David Johnson has solidified himself as one of the best workhorse backs in the league as well. There’s not much to take away from a 6-6 tie other than Bruce Arians is searching for a new kicker.
  22. Baltimore Ravens (3-4)- Previous rank: 18- It looks like my early-season suspicions about Baltimore were correct. After starting 3-0, the Ravens have since lost four straight. Once again, Joe Flacco threw a bunch of passes. All I can say is, John Harbaugh: please refer to my previous weeks’ advice regarding the Joe Flacco situation.
  23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3)- Previous rank: 26- Jacquizz Rodgers continues to be a godsend for Tampa Bay after the injury to Doug Martin and the loss of Charles Sims for the season. The loss of Vincent Jackson is major blow to the passing game; however, Mike Evans stepped up for two big touchdowns against San Francisco. The Bucs host Oakland next week which will be a tough game.
  24. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4)- Previous rank: 24- The Bengals offense played their best game of the season, but it was against the Browns. Maybe this game is what Andy Dalton needed to return to the form that everyone believes he’s capable of. Also, Jermey Hill averaged 18.7 yards per carry. Yeah, crazy, right? The goal for Cincy this year is to win a playoff game. In order to do that, they have to make the playoffs first.
  25. New Orleans Saints (2-4)- Previous rank: 16- Defensive struggles continue to plague New Orleans, and they had a couple of critical turnovers that contributed to the 27-21 loss in KC. Drew Brees threw for over 300 yards for the 100th time in his career, and he tossed 3 more touchdowns. The run game for New Orleans was better this week too; however, the Saints are most likely looking at a 2-5 start, as they host Seattle next week.
  26. Los Angeles Rams (3-4)- Previous rank: 22- I feel bad for even entertaining the idea of Case Keenum being a quarterback who can lead the Rams. Four interceptions against the Giants spells disaster for the journeyman QB. The Rams get a bye after their trip to London, which will be a great opportunity for Rams fans everywhere to start pushing for number one overall pick Jared Goff to get a crack at the starting job.
  27. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4)- Previous rank: 21- My AFC South pick has fallen flat this season. I didn’t expect them to beat Oakland, but I was at least hoping Blake Bortles would play a clean game. He didn’t do that, and the Jags fell to 2-4. The funny part is they are by no means out of the division race, because every other team in the South is average at best. The problem is, I don’t even know if Jacksonville can be average.
  28. Carolina Panthers (1-5)- Previous rank: 28- Who would have thought the Panthers would be 1-5 heading into their bye? SuperCam needs to come out of the shadows if this team wants to go to the playoffs. Also, their secondary must improve. The Panthers are still talented, but now they’re going to have to work twice as hard for a shot at the postseason.
  29. New York Jets (2-5)- Previous rank: 30- Bowles benched Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor of Geno Smith, only to have him go down with an injury. Fitzmagic stepped in and got the job done for a desperate Jets squad, and Smith has reportedly torn his ACL. This means Fitzmagic will regain the starting job for probably the rest of the season. That could be good news or bad news, depending on you ask. The Jets are at the Browns next week, and Jets fans can only hope that they don’t lose that one.
  30. Chicago Bears (1-6)- Previous rank: 29- The Bears just can’t catch a break at quarterback this season. For better or worse, Cutler got hurt. Then Hoyer came in and played magnificently before he broke his arm in Green Bay, forcing the Bears to call upon Matt Barkley who subsequently threw two picks. Chicago now must turn around and take on the Minnesota Vikings. All aboard the 1-7 train!
  31. San Francisco 49ers (1-6)- Previous rank: 31- This season has been a struggle for San Francisco. Colin Kaepernick has not been the answer for the 49ers, as he has not fared much better than Blaine Gabbert. This is pretty much a lost season in San Francisco. The 49ers have a bye next week before taking on New Orleans.
  32. Cleveland Browns (0-7)- Previous rank: 32- The quarterback woes continued for Cleveland on Sunday when Cody Kessler exited with an injury. Kessler was actually playing well before his injury too. Kessler’s injury forced the Browns to call upon rookie Kevin Hogan, who didn’t have a horrible game. Ironically, Hogan finished the game with more rushing yards than passing yards. It’s okay, Cleveland fans can drown their sorrows in the NBA season and the World Series starting Tuesday night. Keep dreamin’ Cleveland.

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Feature photo courtesy of Keith Allison.