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2019 NFL Power Rankings: Week 8

It’s taken longer than usual, but teams are starting to separate themselves now. This is the first week of the power rankings where it’s more difficult to decide which teams should be high than it is to decide which teams should be low. The Week 8 NFL power rankings include two new teams in the top three.


1. New England Patriots (7-0) | Last week: 1

An exceptional primetime showing seems to have awaken people to realize how elite this Patriots defense is. New England has allowed 27 points through seven games, and 30 points in the last eight games dating back to the Super Bowl. They have 18 interceptions (with one passing touchdown allowed) already this season, which is more than just two teams had all of last year. The schedule has not been difficult on paper to this point, but this defense can shut down any team. The speculation on Tom Brady potentially leaving the Patriots seems like a waste of breath.


2. New Orleans Saints (6-1) | Last week: 4 (+2)

Latavius Murray showed why he’s one of the most undervalued players in the league, with 150 total yards and two touchdowns on 32 touches while filling in as the workhorse with Alvin Kamara (knee/ankle) out. When Murray gets a solid workload, he’s shown he can do serious damage as a physical and athletic runner. Teddy Bridgewater has gone 5-0 as the Saints starter this season and cannot be playing much better than he has, but Drew Brees looks set to return to the lineup for a team that’s in great position in the NFC. The New Orleans defense has been playing very well, and I’m interested to see if they can limit Kyler Murray and the Cardinals this Sunday.


3. Green Bay Packers (6-1) | Last week: 7 (+4)

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense fully clicking is a scary sight for the rest of the NFC, and the Packers move up four spots in this week’s power rankings after their exceptional offensive showing against the Raiders. Matt LaFluer’s scheme had guys running wide open throughout the game, and the unit doesn’t even have Davante Adams in the lineup as the Pro Bowl receiver continues to battle turf toe. The only loss for the Packers was the Week 3 Thursday night game when they had a chance to tie the game at the end.


4. San Francisco 49ers (6-0) | Last week: 3 (-1)

I considered putting the 49ers up to No. 2, and they have a strong case for that position. But they are down to No. 4 four now because of how impressive the Saints and Packers have looked on both sides of the ball (granted, Green Bay has been more inconsistent on defense). San Francisco added Emmanuel Sanders to its young receiving corps, which should be a boost on the field, but we’ll see how the chemistry dynamic works out while adding another relatively big personality to a locker room that appears to be one of the closest groups in the league.


5. Buffalo Bills (5-1) | Last week: 5

Tre’Davious White had yet another outstanding game for the Bills, and the third-year cornerback is undoubtedly one of the most underrated superstars in football—it’s Stephon Gilmore and White as the clear top two cornerbacks in the league in my opinion. White is allowing a 26.6 passer rating this season (best in the NFL), and he leads all players with 14 second-half takeaways since entering the league in 2017. With White’s ability to help end games on defense, paired with Josh Allen’s clutch play at quarterback (he leads the league in fourth-quarter passer rating), the 5-1 Bills have a good shot to win each week.


6. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) | Last week: 12 (+6)

The Ravens had dropped far in the power rankings after they were blown out at home versus the Browns a few weeks ago (without defensive tackle Brandon Williams), but the defense is performing at a very high level these past three games. Russell Wilson had arguably been the best player in the league through six weeks, but Baltimore made him look more human while also shutting down Seattle’s rushing attack. Lamar Jackson said he wanted to throw the ball more this season and not run as much, but he’s sixth in the league in rushing and is simply too much of a weapon as a runner not to use his legs a dozen times or so per game.


7. Seattle Seahawks (5-2) | Last week: 2 (-5)

You might’ve seen me write it before, but bad games are bound to happen in sports, and that might’ve been the case for the Seahawks last week. However, Seattle drops from No. 2 to No. 7 in the Week 8 power rankings. The defense was unable to contain Lamar Jackson on the ground despite that being their focus coming into the game, and the offense struggled while being unable to get much going with running back Chris Carson. I won’t be surprised if the Seahawks look into adding another playmaker at tight end or receiver ahead of next week’s trade deadline.


8. Los Angeles Rams (4-3) | Last week: 8

That was more like it for the Rams, as the passing attack had one of its better games of the year, Todd Gurley received 19 touches in his return from a concerning quad issue, and the defense shut down Atlanta’s offense. Sean McVay’s offense can get more explosive and back to form if they start connecting on the deep balls which are just missing—that should happen soon. The addition of All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey seems to have given more energy to the defense, and we’ll see if they can keep it up moving forward.


9. Indianapolis Colts (4-2) | Last week: 9

The Colts could easily be a few spots higher in the power rankings after their big AFC South win over the Texans to take an early first-place lead in the division. Indy couldn’t get the running game rolling with Marlon Mack, but their continued effort on the ground and the threat of the run helped open things up for Jacoby Brissett to light up Houston for 326 yards and four touchdowns. Brissett has 14 passing touchdowns and just three interceptions this year, and he is squarely in the early MVP discussion.


10. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) | Last week: 6 (-4)

Reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes will miss some time after his dislocated knee cap last Thursday night, but it could have been a lot worse for him, his team, and the league. The defense was ready to make a statement and break out after two consecutive losses, and I’m anxious to see if they can keep the ferocious pass rush up against tougher competition (this Sunday night versus the Packers will be a good test). Offensively, Mahomes is obviously a big loss, but Andy Reid has had success with backup quarterbacks, and Matt Moore should play better than most people might expect. It also helps that Moore gets to lead a stacked offense with dynamic playmakers all over the field.


11. Minnesota Vikings (5-2) | Last week: 13 (+2)

Minnesota’s offense over the past three weeks can’t look much different than it did in their ugly loss at Chicago in Week 4. Kirk Cousins continues to stay red-hot after responding to criticism about his play, and he’s thrown ten touchdowns with just one interception in the last three games—he should continue to play well with or without Adam Thielen (hamstring) in the lineup if the offensive line protects him. The defense gave up early points to the Lions (14 in the first quarter), but they tightened up and allowed just nine points in the second half.


12. Dallas Cowboys (4-3) | Last week: 18 (+6)

The Cowboys were coming off three straight losses with people gunning for Jason Garrett’s job yet again (including Urban Meyer flat-out saying he would take the job if offered), but the team responded by blowing out the Eagles with first place on the line in the NFC East. Ezekiel Elliott always plays well against Philadelphia and probably had his best overall game of the season thus far, while Dak Prescott again made strong throws throughout the night. Dallas now has their bye week before a Monday night game against the Giants in Week 9.


13. Oakland Raiders (3-3) | Last week: 10 (-3)

That was an extremely disappointing showing for the Raiders coming off the bye week, but they might have just run into an on-fire quarterback that would’ve torched most defenses with the way Green Bay played. And the Derek Carr fumble out of the end zone for a touchback at the end of the half was a huge swing of momentum in the game. Oakland now ends their long road trip at Houston, and they would be in a good spot if they can get to 4-3 ahead of three consecutive home games. Hopefully the Raiders can get right tackle Trent Brown and wide receiver Tyrell Williams back from injury this Sunday.


14. Carolina Panthers (4-2) | Last week: 17 (+3)

Kyle Allen will start again for the Panthers this Sunday despite the talk of Cam Newton being ready to return after the bye week, but I’m thinking this will be the game that determines whether Allen remains the starter. If Allen plays well versus a stingy 49ers defense, the Panthers would have no choice. If not, I could see them going back to Newton. I would stick with Allen regardless of this Sunday, but Carolina might use one poor performance to get their former MVP back in the lineup.


15. Houston Texans (4-3) | Last week: 11 (-4)

The Texans have had trouble with the Colts in recent matchups, and this time it was the passing game of Indianapolis that did most of the damage to the Houston defense. Will Fuller’s hamstring injury is a tough break, but the Texans are fortunate to have a deep receiving corps. The team wanted to add to the secondary, acquiring former first-round cornerback Gareon Conley from Oakland for a third-round pick. The Texans have not been shy about giving up draft picks in what’s clearly been an all-in year for them, so don’t be surprised by another trade before the deadline.


16. Chicago Bears (3-3) | Last week: 15 (-1)

Chicago is a concerning team right now, as a huge problem entering the bye continued after the time off: the defense is having major trouble stopping the run. If teams can run on the Bears like the Raiders and Saints have the best couple of games, the defending NFC North champions won’t go far this season. Offensively, Matt Nagy says he is “not an idiot” and knows the Bears need to run the ball more, so I would expect rookie running back David Montgomery to be a bigger part of the gameplan moving forward.


17. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) | Last week: 16 (-1)

The Eagles are also having some major issues, and—from the outside—it appears there might be serious locker room stuff going on, which was the complete opposite of the team that won it all a couple of seasons ago. I cannot remember the Eagles losing a game to their bitter rival that badly, and it was completely unexpected that they were unable to play well against the Cowboys—even bad teams typically play well in rivalry games. Just to note, the Nelson Agholor criticism is unfounded—when you are blazing fast, the ball can appear to be in diving position when it really is not; Agholor was trying to catch up to the ball after tracking it late and simply did not do it. Agholor is probably the last person on the team that should have their effort questioned, and you would think he’d get more love after he was a major factor in the franchise’s lone Super Bowl title. Anyway, if history is any indication, you can expect Philadelphia to be aggressive at the trade deadline.


18. Detroit Lions (2-3-1) | Last week: 14 (-4)

Things appear to be unraveling a bit for the teams from No. 16 to No. 18, and we’ll see which direction it heads over the next few weeks. The Lions did not respond particularly well to the officiating error from a couple of Mondays ago, struggling defensively against the Vikings in a critical NFC North contest. Now, the locker room sounds upset that starting safety Quandre Diggs was traded to Seattle, so head coach Matt Patricia might have some work to do as he looks to get the team to play as well as it did early in the year.


19. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) | Last week: 19

It’ll be great to see Mason Rudolph back on the field after his scary hit a few weeks ago, and this Steelers offense might be getting slept on as they come off the bye. Expect JuJu Smith-Schuster to be more involved moving forward, but James Conner as the foundation of the offense paired with a very talented defense should keep Pittsburgh in contention.


20. Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) | Last week: 22 (+2)

The Cardinals have won three in a row to get to 3-3-1 and right in the NFC playoff picture. David Johnson being active while getting just one snap angered millions of fantasy football players, but Chase Edmonds filled in as well as you can expect, becoming the first player since Doug Martin in 2012 to record three 20+ yard rushing touchdowns in a game. Kyler Murray and the passing attack did not have to do much in Arizona’s win, and the defense continues to surpass expectations. Back-to-back weeks against the Saints and 49ers will be a big challenge.


21. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) | Last week: 25 (+4)

The Jaguars are 3-2 in their last five games, and their losses have come to the hot Panthers and Saints by seven points each. The team is better off without the distraction of Jalen Ramsey deciding he wanted to hold out in middle of the season, and Jacksonville still has one of the league’s best defenses. Leonard Fournette is showing that he is really taking this season more seriously, and he’s had no trouble staying healthy while handling a heavy workload for the offense. The Jags are looking to get to .500 before three consecutive AFC South games.


22. Tennessee Titans (3-4) | Last week: 29 (+7)

Ryan Tannehill played well in his first start for the Titans, but more importantly, everyone around him played their best game of the season. The offensive line protected Tannehill, and all the receivers were aggressive and made plays by attacking the ball. On defense, rookie defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons was really good in his NFL debut, and he adds more upside to an already solid Tennessee defense.


23. Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) | Last week: 21 (-2)

It’s basically a running joke, but the Chargers really seem to find ways to lose close games they appear poised to win at the end. I thought it was a bad decision for Melvin Gordon to hold out, but it’s obvious he does really care after his emotions were visible following the fumble on the final play with a chance to punch it in (though it looked to me like he was in the end zone on the previous play); also, head coach Anthony Lynn appeared to encourage and show belief in Gordon, which is a good sign moving forward for team chemistry. In a crowded AFC, the Chargers have the talent to turn it around, but they need better play from the offensive line, which suffered yet another blow with guard Forrest Lamp now done for the season.


24. Atlanta Falcons (1-6) | Last week: 23 (-1)

Atlanta’s defense still plays the run well, which indicates the team is still playing hard for head coach Dan Quinn; and to hear that Julio Jones reportedly spoke up in the locker room in support of his head coach is awesome. The Falcons just cannot rush the passer, making it nearly impossible to hold up and make plays in coverage. Hopefully Matt Ryan is able to remain on the field despite dealing with what looks like a serious ankle sprain, as the former MVP gives them a fighting chance to make a run.


25. Denver Broncos (2-5) | Last week: 20 (-5)

An offense cannot get much uglier than the way the Broncos looked after their touchdown drive to open last Thursday’s loss to the Chiefs. Joe Flacco has been under heavy criticism for his recent play, but he has no chance behind that offensive line. They had been playing well as a team, so perhaps the Week 7 performance can be chalked up to a short week. But Denver has become a seller ahead of next week’s trade deadline, and more moves could be coming as they look to build toward the future.


26. Cleveland Browns (2-4) | Last week: 27 (+1)

The Browns will face their biggest challenge yet as they play the Patriots in Foxboro this Sunday afternoon, but they had the bye week for extra preparation. Riding Nick Chubb for 25+ carries is probably the way Cleveland will even have a shot for an upset, but I’ll be watching Odell Beckham Jr.’s demeanor as he goes up against All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore.


27. New York Giants (2-5) | Last week: 24 (-3)

The Giants were in a position to get to a tie for second place and within one game of first place in the NFC East, but they were unable to rebound from some early struggles versus the Cardinals. Daniel Jones needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball, but he’ll get better with experience and is making mistakes that are typical of a rookie. It was good to see Saquon Barkley back on the field after dealing with a high-ankle sprain, and this Sunday against Matt Patricia’s defense could be a fun matchup to watch.


28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) | Last week: 28

After the bye, the Buccaneers return with the No. 1 run defense in the league and the No. 32 pass defense, so defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was likely trying to get some things figured out for his inexperienced secondary. If the Bucs are able to get a win over the Titans this week, I could see them making a move to add a piece to the secondary before the trade deadline.


29. New York Jets (1-5) | Last week: 26 (-3)

Adam Gase and Le’Veon Bell are right that it’s ridiculous that ESPN broadcasted Sam Darnold’s comment about “seeing ghosts”, as—especially with the negativity in the media and on social media—it’s something that’s going to stick with the young quarterback for a while. The bottom line is the Patriots are making every offense they’ve faced this season look bad, and Darnold just needs to learn from the experience. Despite the 1-5 start, the Jets do seem like a tight team that should bounce back this Sunday versus the Jaguars.


30. Washington Redskins (1-6) | Last week: 30

The rainy conditions in Washington helped, but at least the Redskins kept things close against the 49ers in their 9-0 loss. Interim head coach Bill Callahan appears to have little interest in going with a pass-heavy approach, instead giving Adrian Peterson the workload he craves. Hopefully Peterson (against his former team) and the Redskins can make this Thursday night entertaining.


31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-7) | Last week: 31

A team with a poor offensive line is going to struggle to win games, and Zac Taylor needs time to turn things around with the Bengals; but I wonder how much Cincinnati misses Marvin Lewis after an 0-7 start. Don’t be surprised if Lewis gets serious head coach consideration from other teams this offseason. The Bengals basically have a non-existent running game right now, and they’ll likely struggle to win a game until they improve there.


32. Miami Dolphins (0-6) | Last week: 32

I considered moving the Dolphins to the No. 31 spot in the power rankings, as Ryan Fitzpatrick gives them a chance with his play, and Brian Flores is at least getting his team to compete despite the tanking from the front office. Some fans are cheering for 0-16 to secure the No. 1 pick (which I think is absurd), but if those in favor of losing games for a high draft pick want to get at least one win, it’s probably this Monday night against a Steelers team they own the first-round draft pick from.


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