Despite having to compete with one of the best World Series in history for viewership, Week 8 of the NFL season did not disappoint. The Texans-Seahawks shootout in Seattle is the front-runner for the game of the year, as DeShaun Watson and Russell Wilson dueled for the duration of the contest. In other news, the Cowboys’ recent hot streak could be jeopardized by the reinstatement of Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension, and big names like Jimmy Garoppolo, Kelvin Benjamin and Duane Brown were traded on Monday. With ripple effects spreading from these game-changing events, the NFL landscape will be shaken up going forward.
- Philadelphia Eagles (7-1, 1st NFC East): Last week: 1
The Eagles are still flying high, as they coasted to an easy 33-10 home win over the hapless 49ers. Carson Wentz had a lackluster effort, and the Eagles will need the best out of their MVP front-runner soon as they will play their next three away games against the Cowboys, Seahawks and Rams. Also, the Eagles sent a fourth-round pick to Miami to land Jay Ajayi, which only adds to their potent offense.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2, 1st AFC North): Last week: 2
Still looking rather unconvincing, the Steelers came out with a road win over the Lions behind the strong performance of rookie wideout Juju Smith-Schuster. With Martavis Bryant on the outs, the USC product Smith-Schuster racked up 193 yards and a touchdown on seven catches.
- Kansas City Chiefs (6-2, 1st AFC West): Last week: 4
The Chiefs’ duo of Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt have faded from MVP consideration as Kansas City has slowed down. However, the Chiefs D forced five turnovers in their 29-19 Monday Night Football win over Denver, which made up for Smith’s stat line of 14-31/202/1 and Hunt’s 46 rushing yards on 22 carries.
- Los Angeles Rams (5-2, T-1st NFC West): Last week: 3
- New England Patriots (6-2, 1st AFC East): Last week: 5
Escaping with the win over the Chargers at home behind a last-second goal-line interception of Philip Rivers, the Pats now enter their bye week with all eyes turned towards the injured receiver Chris Hogan. With Julian Edelman already done for the year and Gronk’s history of health problems, New England can’t afford to lose Hogan for an extended period of time.
- Seattle Seahawks (5-2, T-1st NFC West): Last week: 6
The thriller of a game in Seattle featured possibly one of the greatest quarterback duels of all time, with Russell Wilson getting the last laugh as he threw a game-winning touchdown to Jimmy Graham in the Seahawks’ 41-38 win over Houston. The Hawks decided to finally address their O-Line issues by trading for Texans Pro Bowl LT Duane Brown, but sent away corner Jeremy Lane despite having their secondary gashed by DeShaun Watson.
- Minnesota Vikings (6-2, 1st NFC North): Last week: 7
The Vikes traveled over the pond to take on the Browns, and were able to take care of business in a 33-16 victory. However, we will find out if they are for real in the coming weeks, as their next five games are: at Redskins, home against the Rams, at Detroit, at Atlanta and at Carolina.
- Buffalo Bills (5-2, 2nd AFC East): Last week: 12
After trouncing the Raiders 34-14 at home, the Bills jump back into the top ten of the Power Rankings. LeSean McCoy shredded the Silver and Black, rushing for 151 yards and a score on 27 carries. Buffalo could be a legitimate contender for the wild card, as they have a number of winnable games on their calendar and just added Kelvin Benjamin through trade.
- New Orleans Saints (5-2, 1st NFC South): Last week: 9
Beating the Bears at home in a one-possession game isn’t saying much, but the Saints’ record makes it hard to put any other team above them. After fumbling twice and getting into it with Sean Payton on the sideline, Mark Ingram’s status as the top dog of the Saints’ backfield could be in jeopardy, especially with the recent play of rookie Alvin Kamara.
- Houston Texans (3-4, 3rd AFC South): Last week: 9
DeShaun Watson had another miraculous performance against the league’s most feared defense in one of the most hostile places to play in football, but the Texans fell narrowly short of victory. However, their schedule is much easier here on out, and the Texans had only lost by a combined 14 points in their three losses (at NE, vs KC, at SEA) since Watson became the starter.
- Dallas Cowboys (4-3, 2nd NFC East): Last week: 11
While the ‘Boys looked strong in a 33-19 road win over the rival Redskins, losing Ezekiel Elliott for six games is a major blow, as the second-year running back had been dominant of late. Facing the Chiefs, Falcons and Eagles in the next three weeks, the suspension couldn’t have been reinstated at a worse time for Dallas.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3, T-1st AFC South): Last week: 10
- Carolina Panthers (5-3, 2nd NFC South): Last week: 17
Cam Newton and Co. may be back on track after a 17-3 win over the Bucs in Tampa, though more needs to be seen from Carolina before they can be considered a contender again. On the plus side, Greg Olsen appears to be ahead of his recovery schedule, and the Pro Bowl tight end could see action as early as November 26 against the Jets.
- Atlanta Falcons (4-3, 3rd NFC South): Last week: 16
The Dirty Birds prevailed against a stubborn Jets squad and a driving rainstorm, winning 25-20 in East Rutherford, NJ. The Super Bowl hangover continues to plague Atlanta, but the fact that they still have maintained a winning record gives hope for the future.
- Baltimore Ravens (4-4, 2nd AFC North): Last week: 26
Despite Joe Flacco suffering a concussion, the Ravens dominated the Dolphins 40-0 on Thursday Night Football behind 113 rushing yards from Alex Collins and three defensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone. The Ravens are surprisingly still in contention, and having a quick recovery from Flacco is vital.
- Tennessee Titans (4-3, T-1st AFC South): Last week: 19
- Detroit Lions (3-4, 3rd NFC North): Last week: 14
Facing a red-hot Steelers team, the Lions gave a good fight behind Matthew Stafford’s 423 yards in the air. Marvin Jones racked up 128 yards against the Steelers’ weak secondary, though injuries to Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay means that Jones will need to take on an even greater role.
- Washington Redskins (3-4, 3rd NFC East): Last week: 13
The rain appeared to affect the ‘Skins more than the visiting Cowboys, as Washington fumbled twice and Kirk Cousins was picked off once. With little to speak of in the running game, the Redskins looked a tier below the Cowboys, who dominated possession of the ball.
- Los Angeles Charges (3-5, 4th AFC West): Last week: 20
The Bolts move up despite a loss because losing on the last play of the game in New England isn’t too shabby for a team that started 0-4. Melvin Gordon has put his early season struggles behind him, rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries. However, the Chargers face top defenses in Jacksonville and Buffalo in the next two weeks.
- New York Jets (3-5, 4th AFC East): Last week: 25
Josh McCown outdueled reigning MVP Matt Ryan in a game that was winnable for the Jets, though they ultimately fell short. Robby Anderson notched his first 100-yard performance of the season, catching all six of his targets for 104 yards and a touchdown.
- Green Bay Packers (4-3, 2nd NFC North): Last week: 21
- Oakland Raiders (3-5, 3rd AFC West): Last week: 15
It appears that declaring that the Raiders were back after their triumphant win over the Chiefs was a little premature, as Oakland was shredded in Buffalo 34-14. While the Bills are a good team and Buffalo is a tough place to play, the Silver and Black’s four turnovers are unacceptable.
- Miami Dolphins (4-3, 3rd AFC East): Last week: 18
After inspiring hope in their fan base after a three-game win streak, the Dolphins fell flat in a 40-point loss to Baltimore. Matt Moore posted an embarrassingly low QBR of 12.8, and the trade of spectacular yet inconsistent running back Jay Ajayi for a measly fourth-round pick could be a sign that Miami is throwing in the towel.
- Denver Broncos (3-4, 2nd AFC West): Last week: 22
The Broncos have now lost three games in a row, and look far from the team that was in the top ten of these rankings just a few weeks ago. Denver turned it over five times in their loss to the Chiefs, and with the Eagles and the Patriots next on the schedule, expect the free fall to continue.
- Chicago Bears (3-5, 4th NFC North): Last week: 24
John Fox finally turned Mitch Trubisky loose this week, as the rookie quarterback attempted 32 passes after throwing just seven the week before. While the Bears were a possession away from beating the Saints in the Big Easy, Trubisky was dismal, compiling a passer rating of just 46.9.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5, 4th NFC South): Last week: 23
Expected to take the next step in 2017 after the young squad nearly made the playoffs last year, the Bucs appear lost. Jameis Winston threw two picks, was sacked three times and completed just over half of his passes as Tampa was held to just three points at home against Carolina.
- Cincinnati Bengals (3-4, 3rd NFC North): Last week: 28
In a closely contested matchup, the Bengals hung on to beat the Colts 24-23 in Cincinnati. The Bengals’ defense stepped up when it had to, recording four sacks of Jacoby Brissett and scoring a touchdown off an interception courtesy of Carlos Dunlap.
- Arizona Cardinals (3-4, 3rd NFC West): Last week: 27
- Indianapolis Colts (2-6, 4th AFC South): Last week: 30
A career day from tight end Jack Doyle, who had 12 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown, wasn’t enough to beat the Bengals on the road. Indy’s lone wins this year have come at home against the Browns and 49ers, both of which were decided by a field goal. Wait for next year, Colts fans.
- New York Giants (1-6, 4th NFC East): Last week: 29
- San Francisco 49ers (0-8, 4th NFC West): Last week: 31
It appears that GM John Lynch has grown tired of seeing CJ Beathard struggle, as he pulled off the trade many expected of him this offseason, bringing in Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo for the price of a second-round pick. While Garoppolo won’t be ready to start for a couple of weeks, at least it’s a step in the right direction.
- Cleveland Browns (0-8, 4th AFC North): Last week: 32
0-16 seems to be a serious possibility for the Browns, who appear to have only one or two winnable games on their schedule remaining. At least DeShone Kizer didn’t get benched this week, though going 18-for-34 with 179 yards and no touchdowns is hardly a passable performance.