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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 8

The Week 8 NFL power rankings for the 2021 season include a big jump by the Bengals, who land squarely in the top ten mix.


1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1) | Last week: 1

No Antonio Brown. No Rob Gronkowski. No problem for Tom Brady and the Bucs. The defense dominated versus rookie quarterback Justin Fields and the Bears, while Brady threw another four touchdowns (all in the first half) at home—he now has 18 passing touchdowns through four home games this season.



2. Arizona Cardinals (7-0) | Last week: 2

The Cardinals took care of business when playing an undermatched Texans team in Week 7, and J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins obviously feel great about being in Arizona right now. Kyler Murray continues to deal with a stacked offense that successfully implemented tight end Zach Ertz after one game, and there are many wide-open areas for the weapons to get the ball and make plays.


3. Buffalo Bills (4-2) | Last week: 3

Coming off a bye week, the Bills will look to continue their dominance over the Dolphins this Sunday. I noticed recently after a quick glimpse on social media that it seems the tide has turned quite a bit and mostly everyone (aside from a few morons) sees Josh Allen as being in the discussion for the top player to build a team around for the next 10-15 years.


4. Los Angeles Rams (6-1) | Last week: 5 (+1)

Cooper Kupp remains red-hot this season, adding ten receptions for 156 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ win over the Lions on Sunday. Sean McVay is doing an excellent job of putting Kupp in positions to get open all over the field, and it makes things easier on Matthew Stafford to have a target like that. Look for the Rams to get things shored up on special teams after some lapses in Week 7.


5. Green Bay Packers (6-1) | Last week: 6 (+1)

Bad news for my fantasy football team and (obviously) even worse news for the Packers and Davante Adams himself, but Adams is on the reserve/COVID-19 list and is looking doubtful for tomorrow night’s big matchup at Arizona. But the Packers are riding a six-game winning streak, and the defense has carried its weight despite not having Jaire Alexander (shoulder) in the lineup. Hopefully Adams can get consecutive negative tests and can play against the Cardinals, but Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur are in a good spot and should find a way to make things work regardless.


6. Dallas Cowboys (5-1) | Last week: 7 (+1)

The big story for the Cowboys as they emerge from their bye week is the status of quarterback Dak Prescott, who is dealing with a calf injury. There’s optimism that Dak will be ready to face the Vikings, but his practice activity will be something to monitor after the week off—though Prescott had little trouble lighting it up to begin the season despite missing a lot of practice time during the summer, and he’s the type of guy that can play on Sunday without being close to full-go in practice during the week.


7. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) | Last week: 11 (+4)

As stated last week, the Bengals might have had an opportunity to show that they’ve “arrived” as a contender both this year and beyond with a win over the Ravens—and they might have done just that. Not only did Cincinnati get the win, but they dominated in Baltimore. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are going to be a problem for defenses for years. And as I stated in the first episode of The Wolf Sports Show, the Bengals have the ability to score with anyone; it was going to come down to the veteran defense to step up, and they have certainly done so to this point in 2021.


8. Tennessee Titans (5-2) | Last week: 10 (+2)

The Titans could easily be in the top five of the power rankings with the way they’re playing after a slow start to the season. Ryan Tannehill and A.J. Brown have gotten their connection rolling, and I’m seeing some signs of Julio Jones potentially getting back to form soon. And, of course, Derrick Henry earns his nickname of “King Henry”. But the Tennessee defense has played some tenacious football, and they just made Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs look terrible to get to 5-2. The Titans look like an all-around force.


9. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) | Last week: 4 (-5)

Perhaps this is too big of a drop for the Ravens after one bad loss, but the teams ahead of them are playing very well, hence the drop for Baltimore. The Bengals defense was all over Lamar Jackson as a passer last week, making it difficult to get much going offensively—and it doesn’t help that the Ravens haven’t been consistently effective running the ball with their running backs this season. Getting Latavius Murray (ankle) back after the bye would help.


10. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2) | Last week: 8 (-2)

The Chargers were out of action last week but drop in the power rankings due to the Bengals and the Titans rising into the top ten. I’m still high on the Chargers’ outlook this year, and we’ll see if Brandon Staley was able to get the defense sorted during the bye.


11. Las Vegas Raiders (5-2) | Last week:  18 (+7)

The Raiders are continuing to carry on with what exiled head coach Jon Gruden was building in Las Vegas. Quarterback Derek Carr had a close relationship with Gruden and by all accounts has taken on a huge leadership role to keep things moving forward despite the midseason bombshell. Look for the bye week to give star tight end Darren Waller time to get healthy.


12. Kansas City Chiefs (3-4) | Last week: 9 (-3)

I was not as high on the Chiefs as most entering this season, but even I did not think they’d be this low in the power rankings—and they could arguably be much lower than this. Things just are not working for Kansas City right now, and they might need a “eureka!” moment to snap out of this funk.


13. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) | Last week: 12 (-1)


Facing a Browns team that beat them last postseason, it’s safe to say the Steelers will be fired up and ready to go following the bye.


14. Cleveland Browns (4-3) | Last week: 13 (-1)

It was cool to see former undrafted running back D’Ernest Johnson have his moment in primetime last Thursday night, racking up 146 rushing yards and a touchdown (along with 22 receiving yards) while filling in for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt versus the Broncos. But the offensive line of Cleveland also deserves a ton of credit for opening huge lanes, particularly on the opening drive of the game. That kind of play will keep the Browns in the game most weeks, with or without Baker Mayfield (shoulder) at quarterback.


15. New Orleans Saints (4-2) | Last week: 14 (-1)

Even with no Russell Wilson in the lineup for the Seahawks, winning at Seattle is no easy task. Jameis Winston gets a hat tip for taking care of the ball in a tough environment, and for not being afraid to take the check down if the defense is giving it to him (Alvin Kamara had ten receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown). Defensively, basically aside from the Giants game, New Orleans has looked good this season, but this Sunday against the Bucs is a massive test.


16. Minnesota Vikings (3-3) | Last week: 15 (-1)

The Vikings will look to avoid anything scary happening to them on Halloween Night (the kicking game comes to mind), but a win over the Cowboys would be huge. The bye week should have given star running back Dalvin Cook the extra time to heal up and recharge for a game he’ll likely be fed.


17. New England Patriots (3-4) | Last week: 19 (+2)

There are no rewards for close victories—and, as stated before, you could say this for a bunch of teams each season—but the Patriots are a few plays away from being 6-1. I believe the Patriots showed they are better than their record indicates with the 54-13 demolition of the Jets last week, and they are still a team that’s coming together in terms of both experience and chemistry.


18. Indianapolis Colts (3-4) | Last week: 22 (+4)

The Colts are another team that’s playing much better than their record indicates. Carson Wentz got away with several bad decisions early last Sunday night at San Francisco, but they were playing in very bad weather that clearly affected the quarterbacks—and overall, Wentz has taken care of the ball for an offense that has the gamebreaker Jonathan Taylor at running back. Indy can get right back in the mix for first place in the AFC South when they square off with the Titans in Week 8.


19. Atlanta Falcons (3-3) | Last week: 26 (+7)

The wins have come against the one-win Jets and the one-win Dolphins, but the Falcons were able to climb back to .500 and move up several spots in the power rankings. The most encouraging thing for Atlanta is the way they are using their players on offense. My hope was that Kyle Pitts would continue to be featured while they worked Calvin Ridley (personal) back in, and indeed he was on “National Tight End Day”, recording seven receptions for 163 yards in the win over Miami.


20. Carolina Panthers (3-4) | Last week: 16 (-4)

Unless something changes, the Panthers are out on Deshaun Watson ahead of the trade deadline. I’m glad to hear that, as I don’t think Matt Rhule and Watson would be a fit given all the stuff that’s swirling around. However, after Sam Darnold was benched, the Panthers obviously need better play from the quarterback position­—though the receivers must step up, too. There are no must-wins at this point, but this Sunday versus the Falcons will be a key matchup for the Panthers to get their season back on track. To note, I think P.J. Walker, who entered the game for Darnold, can do a solid job as a starter if put into the role full-time.


21. San Francisco 49ers (2-4) | Last week: 17 (-4)

All things considered with the weather, I didn’t think Jimmy Garoppolo played that poorly on Sunday night. But Kyle Shanahan was clearly not happy with his quarterback, and the Niners aren’t used to losing games when Jimmy G is under center. I don’t like to offer suggestions to NFL coaches that know way more than I do, but it felt like the Niners might have gotten away from the run game too much after running right down the field on the opening drive in the loss to the Colts. And I’d like to see Trey Sermon get some playing time on offense.


22. Seattle Seahawks (2-5) | Last week: 20 (-2)

The formula for the Seahawks without Russell Wilson is clear: they want Geno Smith to manage the game and keep things close. It’s worked to the point that they are in games at the end, but two consecutive losses put them at 2-5 and in need of a win when they host the Jaguars this week.


23. Chicago Bears (3-4) | Last week: 21 (-2)

It feels like the Bears’ record is worse than 3-4. They’re coming off a game where the offense couldn’t do much of anything through the air, and the defense didn’t even really touch Tom Brady. Now, the Chicago defense will be without Khalil Mack this week due to a foot injury. Offensively, rookie Khalil Herbert again looked highly impressive, rushing for 100 yards on a Tampa Bay defense that rarely gives up much of anything on the ground.


24. Denver Broncos (3-4) | Last week: 24

The biggest thing that stood out for the Broncos last week was the play of the linebackers—a group that’s dealt with injuries. While D’Ernest Johnson played well, there were far too many missed tackles by the Broncos defense on Thursday night. Apparently sensing the need, Denver added linebacker Kenny Young from the Rams. They’ll also get star receiver Jerry Jeudy (ankle) back from injured reserve as they look to get on a midseason run.


25. Philadelphia Eagles (2-5) | Last week: 23 (-2)

It’s gotten ugly in Philadelphia, with players like Fletcher Cox expressing frustration with the new defense. Now, there’s a sense that the PR machine—take a guess as to who its being run by—is picking out and placing blame on individuals for the team’s struggles this season. On the positive side, I don’t know how they were able to get a conditional fifth/sixth-round pick from the Jets for Joe Flacco; I like Flacco, but the Jets are not in the playoff mix to put it mildly.


26. Washington Football Team (2-5) | Last week: 25 (-1)

Not being able to get the ball into the end zone because of a “give-yourself-up” rule down by the goal line and an arguably interference that was not called made the score not as close as it could have been, but Washington didn’t necessarily play a bad game in their 24-10 loss to Packers. The defensive line was able to get to Aaron Rodgers a few times. Perhaps Washington can now get Antonio Gibson going against Denver this weekend.


27. New York Giants (2-5) | Last week: 29 (+2)

The Giants essentially bullied the Panthers in Week 7, shutting down Sam Darnold and the Carolina offense. Rookie Azeez Ojulari had 2.5 sacks in the victory, and he easily could have been New York’s selection in the first round, yet they were able to grab him in the second. Offensively, the Giants will hopefully be healthier when they face the Chiefs on Monday night.


28. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) | Last week: 27 (-1)

I’m interested to see how Trevor Lawrence and the Jags offense fare in a tough Seattle environment this Sunday afternoon. The bye week gave Urban Meyer and the coaching staff more time to prepare, and the offense will now be without wide receiver D.J. Chark (ankle) for the rest of the season as he looks to get healthy for 2022.


29. Miami Dolphins (1-6) | Last week: 28 (-1)

You could see how angry and frustrated Brian Flores was after the Dolphins’ loss to the Falcons, and it’s difficult to blame him. Miami has had a trying season, and the rumors haven’t helped. It appears the Dolphins are the only team that’s in on Deshaun Watson at this point, so they might be bidding against themselves if they actually want him.


30. Detroit Lions (0-7) | Last week: 32 (+2)

The Lions pulled out just about everything in an attempt to pull off the upset win over the Rams, and it made it an exciting game between Jared Goff and his former team (and Matthew Stafford and his former team). This week against the Eagles should be a strong opportunity for the Lions to get on the board with a win.


31. New York Jets (1-5) | Last week: 30 (-1)

Zach Wilson will miss at least a couple of weeks with a knee injury, which is unfortunate in a season that playing experience will be valuable. While I criticized the Joe Flacco trade above (because of the compensation not being just a seventh-rounder), Flacco should be a good veteran presence for Wilson to lean on. My friend had the Jets D/ST for his fantasy lineup, and they got -11 points versus the Patriots. To be honest, I didn’t know a score that low was possible. That just about sums up the Jets defense last week.


32. Houston Texans (1-6) | Last week: 31 (-1)

The Texans would do well to part ways with Deshaun Watson for premium draft picks and rid themselves of the situation. Again, there’s a lot of work to do in Houston. For the quarterbacks that want to play for the franchise, the Texans are in a tough spot. Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) will be back soon and would no doubt help the team remain competitive in games, but Houston might want to see what they have in rookie Davis Mills throughout the rest of the season.

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