NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Movers and Shakers

As we head into the halfway point of the season, the playoff picture is starting to become a little more clear. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the talk of the town right now. The Seattle Seahawks lost some players to injury during their disappointing loss to the Arizona Cardinals. While Seattle has been knocked down a peg, the Bucs appear to be the cream of the crop in the NFC currently.

The AFC is a little more muddled, and somehow the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers are still ranked behind the powerhouse Kansas City Chiefs. Your Tennessee Titans fell just a tad down the rankings after suffering their first loss this past Sunday.

As will happen every Tuesday throughout the season, nine of our contributors — Zach Lyons, Mike HerndonJustin MeloJimmy MorrisRobert GreenlawWes WisleyAustin NelsonJosh Hong, and Justin Graver — have submitted their power rankings, 1 to 32. Below is the aggregate results of those rankings.

Biggest Risers: With the aforementioned win over the Seahawks, the Cardinals are this week’s biggest risers. They jumped up seven spots and into the top-10.

Biggest Fallers: The Dallas Cowboys are a disaster, and things aren’t getting better for them. They have fallen 12 spots in both the Power Rankings and also the Hot Sauce rankings, because Tabasco sucks.

Here’s where we landed with our rankings as we head into Week 8 of the regular season…

To see the full list of everyone’s individual rankings click here.

Highest Rank:1stLowest Rank:3rdPreviously:2nd

Justin G: The Kansas City Chiefs reasserted their dominance this past weekend with a 43-16 division win on the road over the Denver Broncos, tied for the largest margin of victory in any game last weekend. The Chiefs dropped one to the Raiders a couple games back, but outside of that hiccup and a little trouble against the Chargers, Kansas City has been the dominant team we expected to see this season.

In Week 7, they were able to score in all three phases of the game, with multiple offensive touchdowns as well as a pick-six and a kickoff returned for a score. As the defending Super Bowl champions, they deserve the respect of the number one ranking despite the Pittsburgh Steelers’ status as the league’s only undefeated team.

Highest Rank:1stLowest Rank:2ndPreviously:5th

Zach: Okay, I was somewhat wrong. The Pittsburgh Steelers are pretty good, but they’re not the elite force everyone thought they were.

The defense gave way to the Titans offense in the second half, and their offense failed to keep their foot on the gas. Side note: Ty Sambrailo held Bud Dupree to zeroes all across the stat sheet.

They’re a very solid team with few weaknesses, and they deserve to be at this spot on the power rankings. But if you’ve watched this Steelers team all season long, you’d know that they’ve yet to play a complete game of football, which is a concern.

Highest Rank:2ndLowest Rank:5thPreviously:1st

Wes: Russell Wilson and the Seahawks lost a tough, hard fought heartbreaker against their divisional opponent Sunday night that will be a tough pill for the team to swallow. It’s not how they would’ve wanted to start a very difficult stretch of games that will shape the NFC West landscape. Three of their next four games are against divisional opponents with the dangerous but inconsistent Bills as the 4th. These next four games will be a big test and now have a bit of an uphill challenge with the Cardinals boasting a 2-0 divisional record. 

There’s not much to be concerned about on offense, but something to watch that could comeback and bite them is they are 31st in the league at converting on 3rd down at only 33.9%. 

As for the defense, they must improve their pass rush. Opponents get plenty of opportunities to pass against the Seahawks thanks to their impressive ability to score lots of points. The Seahawks have allowed more passes per game than any other team, allowing 47.9 pass attempts per game, That is 7 more passes allowed per game than the next closest team. Even with that many pass attempts by their opponents, the Seahawks rank 25th in the league in sacks per game, averaging 1.5 per contest.  

Highest Rank:3rdLowest Rank:5thPreviously:6th
Highest Rank:4thLowest Rank:7thPreviously:4th
Highest Rank:4thLowest Rank:7thPreviously:3rd

Austin: The first half was the bad Titans. The second half was the good Titans.

The Steelers dominated in every aspect for the first 30 minutes of the game. Time of possession, yardage, points. But, the Titans held the Steelers to just three points in the second half. Ryan Tannehill led a comeback that came down to the wire, but fell short as Stephen Gostkowski missed a 45-yd field goal that would have sent the game into overtime. Ultimately, the Titans slow start cost them this game. No one should be using this loss to suggest the Titans are frauds. The defense has to fix the third down problems though. They are still very much a tough team who barely lost to the only undefeated team in football.

Highest Rank:6thLowest Rank:7thPreviously:7th
Highest Rank:8thLowest Rank:12thPreviously:9th
Highest Rank:9thLowest Rank:10thPreviously:10th
Highest Rank:8thLowest Rank:12thPreviously:17th

Wes: The Arizona Cardinals won an overtime thriller against the previously undefeated Seahawks in arguably the game of the year so far. Kyler Murray has firmly put himself as one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the NFL. With offensive playmakers in the rushing game and passing game, this Cardinals team will be able to put points on the board against most teams in the NFL. Their defense is coming along as well after a couple of disappointing losses earlier in the season. They currently sit 2nd in the NFC and 5th in the NFL with a point differential of +57.

Having tallied a 2-0 record in the loaded NFC West, they have put themselves in a great spot to challenge for the division championship. There’s still a lot of football left to be played and most have the Seahawks winning the division. While I agree, the Cardinals are proving that it’s not a guarantee. This division will be fascinating to watch as the season rolls along.

Highest Rank:11thLowest Rank:13thPreviously:11th
Highest Rank:9thLowest Rank:14thPreviously:8th

Highest Rank:12thLowest Rank:15thPreviously:13th
Highest Rank:11thLowest Rank:16thPreviously:14th

Josh: The Browns are a playoff caliber team, but they aren’t true Super Bowl contenders yet due to the inconsistent play of Baker Mayfield. The third-year signal caller continues to show a dichotomy of dominating lesser opponents one week, and then looking abysmal against good defenses the next.

Mayfield has played three teams ranked in the top five in defensive DVOA this season. In those games, Baker is 1-2, while only throwing for 185 yards per game along with 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. That won’t cut it against playoff caliber teams.

While Mayfield looked great against the Bengals, this performance is a bit of a mirage in my opinion. He almost always had his first option open and saw minimal pressure form the Bengals’ defense. Until he shows the ability to deal with pressure and work through his progressions efficiently, it’s difficult to rank this team any higher.

Highest Rank:11thLowest Rank:18thPreviously:12th
Highest Rank:12thLowest Rank:16thPreviously:15th
Highest Rank:17thLowest Rank:18thPreviously:21st

Justin G: The Chargers were forced to thrust rookie quarterback Justin Herbert into action earlier than expected and haven’t looked back. The first-year signal caller has been a sensation, finally notching his first win against the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars while pouring in 39 points. The Chargers finally overcame their inability to close out a football game, and the spark provided by Herbert is a large reason for that.

This team won’t compete for a playoff spot in a tough AFC conference, but with Herbert under center, they’re a fun offense to watch. The Oregon product had a lot of doubters entering the NFL, but he’s silenced the critics thus far. If he can continue to play well and lead an explosive offense, he’ll challenge Joe Burrow for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Highest Rank:17thLowest Rank:23rdPreviously:19th

Jimmy: You see that green arrow pointing up right there beside the Miami Dolphins name? Well get used to seeing that week in and week out now that it’s Tua Time in Miami. Look, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a fun guy. We all love to see him out there running around and carving up defenses, and we all feel bad for him getting fired on his day off, but he knew the time was coming. You can’t keep the best rookie quarterback to come in the league since John Elway on the bench forever. The Dolphins will make the playoffs. You can take that to the bank.*

*For recreational purposes only

Highest Rank:15thLowest Rank:21stPreviously:23rd
Highest Rank:20thLowest Rank:24thPreviously:24th
Highest Rank:19thLowest Rank:25thPreviously:16th

Mike: Ding dong, the witch is dead (for this season at least). The New England Patriots are 2-4 and sitting in 3rd place in the AFC East behind the Bills and Dolphins. They’ve got the 29th-ranked scoring offense and haven’t scored more than 12 points in a game since Week 3.

Cam Newton has been terrible for two straight games, throwing for a combined 255 yards and 5 interceptions in losses to the Broncos and 49ers, and with the other options being Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham, there really doesn’t look to be a savior coming to bail them out.

The Pats are now staring down a must-win game in Buffalo to save their season and I just don’t think it’s going to happen for them. That being said, I don’t think this is the moment to throw down the inevitable “did Tom carry Bill for 20 years” takes. Maybe he did, but judging Belichick off of six post-Brady games in a season when he had a league-high eight opt-outs due to COVID is jumping the gun.

However, it’s not jumping the gun to write the Patriots off for being anything more than a fringe playoff contender in 2020.

Highest Rank:20thLowest Rank:26thPreviously:27th
Highest Rank:19thLowest Rank:28thPreviously:25th
Highest Rank:22ndLowest Rank:27thPreviously:28th
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Justin Melo: Watching a Cincinnati Bengals game is a wild ride. They are clearly very early in their rebuilding process, but there are plenty of reasons to have hope for the future. Joe Burrow looks like a legitimate franchise quarterback. He’s slinging the ball around to some excellent weapons in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Both players look like an exciting 1-2 punch moving forward. Joe Mixon is a legit star at the running back position when he can stay on the field.

On the flip side, this O-line is going to get Burrow killed if they don’t do a better job protecting him. Burrow has been sacked an astounding 28 times so far this season. My God. Fixing this OL has to be priority number one going forward.

There’s also some turmoil in the dressing room. Star defensive end Carlos Dunlap has been all but phased out while taking his criticism of the coaching staff public. There’s a good chance that Dunlap gets traded over the next few days.

This team (and organization) are taking their fans on an absolute roller coaster right now, but at least it’s a fun one.

Highest Rank:24thLowest Rank:28thPreviously:20th
Highest Rank:23rdLowest Rank:27thPreviously:22nd
Highest Rank:21stLowest Rank:29thPreviously:31st

Robert: Who had the Washington Football Team tied for the most wins in the NFC East through seven weeks? Not me. The fact that they’re in this position is a testament to how bad the division is, but they are a fun team to root for nonetheless.

Despite the poor record and one of the worst point differentials in the NFL, this team has some players worth the price of admission. Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, and Chase Young are all great building blocks for the future. Ron Rivera is a genuinely good person and his fight with cancer has been heroic.

My hope is that this team wins the NFC East, for no other reason than it would be hilarious to see the team with no name or expectations get into the playoffs over the Eagles and Cowboys.

Highest Rank:22ndLowest Rank:28thPreviously:26th
Highest Rank:24thLowest Rank:31stPreviously:29th
Highest Rank:28thLowest Rank:31stPreviously:18th

Zach: Dallas, YA TRASH! What a disappointment this team has become. The Cowboys were in disarray before the injury to Dak Prescott, and now they’re completely hopeless.

We’re not even at the midway point of the season and Cowboys players are already allegedly criticizing this coaching staff by saying that they’re unprepared. That is 100% how it looks on the field.

Ezekiel Elliott is having a terrible year so far. The O-line is being held together by medical tape. This defense still somehow has Mike Nolan calling plays. I can go on and on.

I wish I could be as bad at my job as Mike Nolan is at his and fall ass backwards into millions of dollars. I truly feel that I could call better defensive plays than Nolan can.

This team is a hot mess.

Highest Rank:28thLowest Rank:31stPreviously:30th
Highest Rank:32ndLowest Rank:32ndPreviously:32nd

Who is too high? Who is too low? Drop a comment down below!

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