Week 8 in the NFL gave better looks at many teams, as some were able to prove their excellence is no fluke, such as the 5-2 Bills and Saints, while a few baffled their eager hopes with disappointing losses, including the 3-5 Raiders and 3-4 Broncos. However, the season is starting to carve out some anticipated competitors for Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis this coming February.
As we are midway through the season, this week’s power rankings saw the top ten and bottom five keep their teams, even if the rankings inside of them moved around. A quarter of the teams kept their spots, as a few swapped with fellow competitors. Regardless, with eight weeks completed, it has proven that there are still many competitors left in the season as we look at the 2017 Week 9 Power Rankings.
New England Patriots (6-2) (Last Week: 1) The defending champion New England Patriots stay on the top this week, sharing the AFC lead after a 21-13 home victory against the fiery Chargers. Although this season has been far from their most spectacular, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have still proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the league. They’ll get a Week 8 bye before having two consecutive games against the Broncos and Raiders to start their November matchups, both teams underperforming even with talent on their rosters.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)(Last Week: 3) The Steelers controlled a Sunday night away game in Detroit to the last second, forcing the Lions to turnover on downs as the game was winding down, winning their third straight game of the season. Tied as the leader in the AFC, their remaining schedule does not prove to be too difficult, highlighted by a Week 15 game against the Patriots and a Week 12 game against the Packers, which would only be noteworthy if Aaron Rodgers miraculously returns by then. However, before they look ahead, they’ll have time to rest with a Week 9 bye, sandwiched in the middle of the season surround by eight consecutive games apiece.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)(Last Week: 2) The Eagles maintained the best record in the NFL on Sunday, beating the now 0-8 49ers 33-10. Carson Wentz is playing at MVP caliber, co-leading the NFL with 19 touchdowns in the air. However, the Eagles have not had superior competition, with only two wins against teams currently above .500. Still, they look to keep controlling defeatable opponents, especially next week where they host the 3-4 Broncos, who lost this past weekend to the Chiefs, the only team to so far take down the Eagles. Philadelphia moved one place down this week, though, because they still need to prove whether they can play against top caliber opponents, but that test will come soon.
Seattle Seahawks (5-2)(Last Week: 5) The Seahawks won an offensive battle against the Texans 41-38 last Sunday, staying undefeated at home. The team is proving to be one of the most complete midway through the season, as they are 5-2 and co-leading the NFC West. They’ll look to continue a four game win streak when the Redskins visit this Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) (Last Week: 4) The Chiefs got out of a two-game slump and beat the divisional rival Broncos on Monday night 29-19, in a sloppy affair on both sides. Although they forced five turnovers, Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense were far from perfect, and will need to address all issues before they visit Dallas next Sunday afternoon, where they haven’t won since 1975. Although they may have come up victorious, their struggles were as noticeable as their two losses, and will need to go back to the drawing board the fix the empty pieces for a team with high hopes.
New Orleans Saints (5-2)(Last Week: 8) Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have brought their fans back from the ashes, now winning five consecutive games after beating the Bears 20-12. Alone at the top of their division, but only a game ahead of third place, they’ll host the NFC South’s last place Buccaneers on Sunday at noon, in a chance to have their longest win streak since eight straight in 2011, the last season they won their division.
Buffalo Bills (5-2)(Last Week: 10) The Buffalo Bills got another fantastic win last weekend, handling the Raiders 34-14. Shockingly only half a game behind the division leading Patriots, the Bills deserve credit all around, now entering the top 25% in the Power Rankings. However, they have a quick break, visiting the divisional Jets on Thursday night.
Los Angeles Rams (5-2)(Last Week: 7) The success for the Rams this season has been offensively spectacular, leading many to begin their jump on Los Angeles’s bandwagon: however, the biggest question mark still lands in whether they can compete with quality competition, with six of their seven games against teams with a current 4-3 or worse record. The difference between their case and the Jaguars’ is the Rams find themselves in a tougher division. Yet, their similarly lack of competition will help in a playoff push, especially next week against the 1-6 Giants.
Carolina Panthers (5-3) (Last Week: 9) The Panthers’ 5-3 record has not been far from pretty, but they still managed to get the easy win in Tampa Bay last weekend, winning 17-3 against their divisional opponents. However, their next game will not be near as easy, as they host divisional rival Atlanta, with both teams having their eyes on the division.
Atlanta Falcons (4-3) (Last Week: 6) The Falcons ended their three game losing streak last weekend when they visited the New York Jets, winning 25-20. However, what should’ve been an easy win for the Super Bowl LI runners-up proved to be unnecessarily difficult, trailing the home teams in the beginning three quarters. Atlanta will need to prove to the league that they can play at high competition in order to be the first runner-up to return to the Super Bowl since the Buffalo Bills returned consecutively from 1992-1994. Next week, a statement game will be played when they visit Carolina, a half game above the Falcons in the NFC North, in what could end up being a very decisive matchup.
Minnesota Vikings (6-2)(Last Week: 15) The Vikings prevailed in London against the Browns Sunday morning, winning 33-16. Yet, the biggest flaw for the NFC North leaders still lies in their lack of competition. Although they will receive tests later in the season with the Rams, Falcons, and Panthers, Minnesota will first see a Week 9 bye before they travel to Washington in Week 10.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3)(Last Week: 12) If teams were awarded end-of-year trophies, the Jaguars would deservingly get Defensive (Team) of the Year, and that is the main reason they are co-leading the AFC South. The deciding factor that doesn’t leave them alone at the top? A struggling offense- an Achilles heel for the Jaguars franchise. However, they have proven that with the competition they play, they may still survive and advance without being the most complete team, especially since their next five games are against teams with an average 2-6 record, starting with two home games against the Bengals and Chargers in Weeks 9 and 10, respectively.
Dallas Cowboys (4-3) (Last Week: 14) The Cowboys kept momentum rolling with a 33-19 divisional win in Washington last Sunday. However, with new reports coming about running back Ezekiel Elliott, any absence would prove too costly to overcome, especially with a mere 4-3 record. They’ll get one of their hardest test of their season next week, when Dallas hosts Kansas City Sunday afternoon.
Denver Broncos (3-4)(Last Week: 11) Denver’s woes continued Monday night, as they were defeated in Kansas City 29-19, moving their losing streak to three. Now 2-2 in their division, uncertainty at the quarterback is a strong reason for them now falling under .500. Their challenges continue, back to back games with two of the NFL’s best teams in New England and Philadelphia, the latter whom they visit next weekend, in a chance to have franchise’s longest losing streak since the 2010 season.
Houston Texans (3-4)(Last Week: 19) The Texans’ offensive arsenal was just outmatched in Seattle, losing 41-38 as neither team could maintain a lead surpassing one possession. However, Deshaun Watson’s four passing touchdowns has made one thing clear: he is the mid-season front runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Yet, the rookie still wants team superiority, and in a competitive AFC South, the champion will come down to Week 17. Only a single game behind, the Texans host the divisional Colts next Sunday in an effort not only to get at the top of the divisional race, but erase any final hopes for Indianapolis.
Washington Redskins (3-4) (Last Week: 16) The Redskins could not pull out a divisional win at home on Sunday, out battled by the Cowboys, 33-19. Now under .500, they will need to back up behind quarterback Kirk Cousins and attempt to get back to playoffs since winning the division two seasons ago. They’ll visit the 5-2 Seahawks on Sunday to restart momentum for their 2017 season.
Oakland Raiders (3-5) (Last Week: 13) Oakland could not ride their momentous wave following last Thursday’s last second upset of the Chiefs, this time getting controlled by the Bills in Week 8, 34-14. They have yet to show which Raiders squad will show up this season: the one that gave all Raiders fans fantastic optimism last season, or the one that struggled to make a noticeable mark in the previous 13 seasons. They’ll visit Miami next Sunday night, where both teams will try to shake away embarrassing Week 8 losses in front of primetime expectations.
Green Bay Packers (4-3)(Last Week: 18) The Packers’ Week 8 bye meant one free week without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who continues to be out with a broken collarbone suffered two games ago. Although without the most interesting man in Wisconsin, their next three games come against teams with a combined 10-13 record, starting on Monday night when the divisional Lions visit, a chance for both teams to show they still have a chance for the AFC North title.
Detroit Lions (3-4)(Last Week: 17) The Lions were again close to pulling off an upset Sunday night against the Steelers, but were held on downs to lose 20-15, their third loss within one possession. Detroit’s season could’ve been a few plays from completely flipped upside down, but now they are under .500 after nearly starting 3-0. However, they’ll return to the primetime stage on Monday night with a chance to find some luck, visiting Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers.
Tennessee Titans (4-3) (Last Week: 22) The Titans had their bye last weekend, following a close call in Cleveland the Sunday before. The second part of their four game streak with the entire AFC North continues next week against the now-.500 Ravens, in a chance for one of the teams to show they can have playoff capabilities.
Baltimore Ravens (4-4)(Last Week: 26) A violent injury taking Joe Flacco out of the game didn’t stop the Ravens from crushing the Dolphins on primetime, winning 40-0 at home. Having a roller coaster of a season, they look to get their first back-to-back wins since starting 2-0 when they visit the also 4-3 Titans, in a game where both teams are looking to do the bare minimum for playoff spots in January.
Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)(Last Week: 21) The Chargers three-game win streak couldn’t continue when they visited Foxborough in a competitive 21-13 loss to the defending champion Patriots. Intercepted a yard from the end zone with no time remaining ended the upset opportunity for Los Angeles’s newest team. They go into a Week 9 bye on a 3-1 run, and could increase that with consecutive games against the Jaguars and Bills, two teams whose solid records do not yet define a dominant season.
New York Jets (3-5)(Last Week: 25) Two missed field goals proved costly as the Jets could not pull off an upset against the Falcons in a rainy East Rutherford. Their third consecutive one-possession loss dampers any hopes after an adrenaline-high three game win streak. They’ll have a quick turnaround, as they get a rematch of their Week 1 divisional game against the Bills, this time in New York.
Chicago Bears (3-5) (Last Week: 23) Mitchell Trubisky couldn’t carry a rookie upset in New Orleans, taking the Bears to a 20-12 loss. As the season keeps crumbling, they may have one chance to gain confidence with consecutive divisional games in Chicago, the first against the rival Packers, with two inexperienced quarterbacks facing off.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) (Last Week: 27) The Bengals were seven minutes away from another home loss until their defense intercepted Jacoby Brissett and took it to the end zone in the fourth quarter, beating the Colts 24-23. Nearing for their first chance at .500 this season, they visit the defensive-minded Jaguars next Sunday, a matchup where neither team has won a playoff game since the Jayhawks won the Orange Bowl.
Miami Dolphins (4-3)(Last Week: 20) The Dolphins were the most embarrassing team in Week 8, getting shutout for the second time in October, this one in Baltimore 40-0. Without quarterback Jay Cutler, Miami had no excuses, allowing 27 points for the Flacco-less Ravens after his concussion to the end the first half. However, the Dolphins for some reason have a winning record, regardless of whether they show it on the field. Next week, they meet another topsy-turvy team primetime on Sunday night, when the Raiders take their 3-5 talents to South Beach.
Arizona Cardinals (3-4)(Last Week: 24) The Cardinals had an extra week to think about the rest of the season without quarterback Carson Palmer, suffering a likely-season ending injury in their Week 7 loss to the Rams. They will continue to play divisional opponents in their next two weeks, where they visit San Francisco on Sunday in a fabulous chance to get back to .500.
New York Giants (1-6) (Last Week: 29) The New York Giants had a Week 8 bye following their 24-7 loss to the Seahawks, before their three-game run against the NFC West continues next weekend when they host the 5-2 Rams, preceding a matchup the following week in San Francisco against two of the worst teams in 2017. Looking ahead in their season, the Giants may very well be out, but they’ll have the competition to be the heart breaker to some teams, as they pulled off an upset in Denver two weeks ago.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5)(Last Week: 28) The Buccaneers disappointed again last week, held under 20 points for the third time this season as their losing streak improves to four, taking one to the Panthers 17-3. They are starting to count themselves entirely out of the running for the playoffs, but may see one more shot as they’ll get to the midway point of their season in New Orleans on Sunday, who themselves are on a marvelous five game winning streak.
Indianapolis Colts (2-6)(Last Week: 30) The Colts have left the league confused as to how they managed to get two victories this season, but last week’s score was no surprised as they lost by one point to equally disappointing Cincinnati. Next week, they’ll go to Houston for a divisional rivalry as three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck is still awaiting medical clearance for a season debut.
San Francisco 49ers (0-8)(Last Week: 31) The 49ers did not play as horrendous as expected, losing by a mere three possessions in Philadelphia, 33-10. Although still looking for their first 2017 victory, their next two games give them a fabulous chance, hosting both the Cardinals and Giants, hoping to leave one of those Sundays smiling in San Francisco.
Cleveland Browns (0-8) (Last Week: 32) The Browns’ woes crossed the ocean last weekend, losing 33-16 to the Minnesota Vikings in London. Obviously their organization is in shambles, and it would take more than magic to fix this franchise. Luckily, they are certain not to lose next weekend, with a Week 9 bye giving them a moral victory.