In results we didn’t see coming, Mike White and the New York Jets stunned the 5-2 Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium in White’s first career NFL start. Also down a starting quarterback, Cooper Rush and the Dallas Cowboys were able to handle the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football.
Read on for my full Power Rankings, and if you’d like to debate or discuss any rankings, join the conversation with @SakSports on Twitter.
Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals were just handed their first loss of the season by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Thursday Night Football. So why are the Cardinals still on top in this week’s Power Rankings? Out of the three 7-1 teams in the NFL, Arizona still has the strongest resume. If the Packers rolled over the Cardinals with ease it might be a different story, but Arizona had every chance to win the game or at least send it to overtime on Thursday night. The Cardinals have a +108 point differential (the second-best in the NFL,) 246 points scored (also second in the NFL) as well as wins over the Titans, Vikings, Rams, and Browns under their belt. I still see Arizona as the league’s best team moving forward.
Los Angeles Rams (7-1) [Last Week: 2]
Right behind Arizona is Matthew Stafford and the 7-1 Los Angeles Rams, who have only lost to the Cardinals this season. Besides that, the Rams have steamrolled over their other seven opponents, to the tune of a +77 point differential, tied for third in the NFL. Los Angeles has won four straight games by nine or more points, and besides their 17-point loss to Arizona, only one of their wins came by less than nine points. The Rams signature win was a 34-24 handling of Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 3.
Green Bay Packers (7-1) [Last Week: 6]
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers got it done with a 24-21 win in Arizona last Thursday night: even if they benefited from some mental mistakes on the Cardinals side. Green Bay has been super consistent, scoring exactly 24 points in three straight games and tallying 24-35 points each week on their seven-game win streak. But even after beating the Cardinals, I don’t see Green Bay as the best team in the NFL just yet, with just a +22 point differential, but they’re right there with the Cardinals and Rams in the Top Three.
Buffalo Bills (5-2) [Last Week: 4]
The Buffalo Bills handled the Dolphins with ease at home behind three total touchdowns from Josh Allen. Remember, the Bills lost to the Titans in Week 6 their last time out, but that game easily could’ve ended differently if the Bills didn’t go for it on fourth down in the final minute. Long story short, the Bills are capable of blowing out weaker teams and going toe-to-toe with stronger teams.
Dallas Cowboys (6-1) [Last Week: 8]
No Dak Prescott? No problem. Cooper Rush had an impressive 325-yard, two touchdown performance as the Cowboys quarterback in a 20-16 Sunday Night Football win over the Vikings, throwing a game-winning touchdown pass to Amari Cooper. The Cowboys have played well all season, and winning without Prescott is just a testament to how well-rounded the roster is.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) [Last Week: 3]
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell for the second time this season and first time since Week 3, being stunned 36-27 by the Saints in New Orleans. As far as losses goes it wasn’t a particularly bad one (although Tom Brady is probably kicking himself for throwing an essentially game-ending pick six,) but it’s enough to bounce Tampa Bay from the Top Five.
Tennessee Titans (6-2) [Last Week: 5]
Realistically, the Tennessee Titans will likely drop much lower once the impact of Derrick Henry’s apparent season-ending injury is felt. But for now, Ryan Tannehill and the Titans are riding high off an exciting 34-31 overtime win over Carson Wentz and their AFC South rival Colts.
Baltimore Ravens (5-2) [Last Week: 7]
The Baltimore Ravens were off this week, but at least got a little breathing room thanks to a Bengals loss to the Jets. Baltimore still has to worry about Cincinnati though, who beat them in Week 7, as well as Pittsburgh who is now 4-3.
New Orleans Saints (5-2) [Last Week: 13]
Like the Titans, the New Orleans Saints emerged victorious this week, but at a cost: starting quarterback Jameis Winston was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Still, the Saints were able to overcome Brady and the Buccaneers with Trevor Siemian New Orleans now has impressive wins over the Packers and Buccaneers under their belts.
Las Vegas Raiders (5-2) [Last Week: 12]
Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders had a bye this week, but rise a couple spots with some key AFC teams losing in Week 8.
Los Angeles Chargers (4-3) [Last Week: 9]
Once flying high at 4-1 after a 47-42 win over the Browns, Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers were grounded with back-to-back losses over the last two weeks. Week 8’s loss to the Patriots came by just three points, not nearly as bad as Week 7’s 34-6 embarrassment at the hands of the Ravens.
Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) [Last Week: 10]
Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals were the cover boys of my Post-Week 7 Power Rankings, rising in to the Top Ten for the first time this season, and all they had to do this week was beat the lowly Jets without starting quarterback Zach Wilson. Instead, Mike White took the Bengals by surprise, and Cincinnati fell 34-31 at MetLife Stadium.
Kansas City Chiefs (4-4) [Last Week: 14]
I expected a much stronger bounceback performance against an opponent like the Giants, but a win is a win, as Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs overcame New York 20-17 on Monday Night Football.
Minnesota Vikings (3-4) [Last Week: 15]
Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings took a late lead against the Cowboys, but couldn’t hold on in a 20-16 loss at home on Sunday Night Football. On one hand, keeping up with the Cowboys is a good sign, but then again, Dallas was employing backup quarterback Cooper Rush. The game may have not been as close if Dak Prescott had been ready to go.
New England Patriots (4-4) [Last Week: 19]
After spending four straight weeks at #19, the New England Patriots finally move up after beating a team that wasn’t the Jets or Texans. New England improved to 3-0 on the road this season with a 27-24 win over the Chargers in Los Angeles.
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) [Last Week: 18]
The Pittsburgh Steelers upset the Bills in Week 1, dropped three straight, and have now won three straight. These streaky Steelers may not be the best team in the division, but they’re just a game behind the Ravens for the AFC North lead now.
San Francisco 49ers (3-4) [Last Week: 17]
The San Francisco 49ers overcame some heroics from Justin Fields in a 33-22 road win over the Bears, snapping a four-game losing streak. Next up is two pivotal matchups against the Cardinals and Rams, both at home, that could make or break the 49ers season.
Cleveland Browns (4-4) [Last Week: 11]
Baker Mayfield returned and played well, but drops and other miscues ultimately doomed the Cleveland Browns as they lost 15-10 to their AFC North rival Steelers. With three losses in their last four games, Cleveland has some serious regrouping to do in the season’s second half.
Indianapolis Colts (3-5) [Last Week: 16]
Carson Wentz had chances to beat the Titans and put the Indianapolis Colts in the race for the AFC South, but fell in overtime 34-31. The Colts certainly aren’t a bad team, but to be a good team, they need to be able to at least beat quality opponents sometimes.
Seattle Seahawks (3-5) [Last Week: 20]
Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks easily handled Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars at home with a 31-7 victory this week. It was actually Seattle’s first home win of the season. It doesn’t get easier after this though, with the Packers and Cardinals coming up after a bye week.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) [Last Week: 21]
I didn’t have much room to move the Philadelphia Eagles up, but their 44-6 blowout win over the Lions was impressive: and wild considering the Eagles attempted just 16 passes. Philadelphia racked up 236 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Denver Broncos (4-4) [Last Week: 23]
Teddy Bridgewater and the Denver Broncos snapped a four-game losing streak with a 17-10 win over Washington Football Team this week, but signaled the franchise’s true direction by trading away defensive star linebacker Von Miller to the Rams.
Carolina Panthers (4-4) [Last Week: 24]
The Carolina Panthers have mirrored the Broncos this season: a 3-0 start, four straight losses, and a narrow Week 8 win over a relatively weak opponent. For Sam Darnold and the Panthers t, that meant overcoming Matt Ryan and the Falcons 19-13 in Week 8.
Chicago Bears (3-5) [Last Week: 25]
Justin Fields balled out on Sunday with 103 yards and a touchdown on the ground and 175 yards and a score through the air. Unfortunately, the rest of the team couldn’t keep up, and the Chicago Bears fell 33-22 to Jimmy Garroppolo and the 49ers.
Atlanta Falcons (3-4) [Last Week: 22]
The Atlanta Falcons had won three of four games, albeit with all four matchups being against pretty weak opponents, before losing 19-13 to the Panthers this week. When Atlanta’s offense isn’t clicking, their defense won’t do them any favors, and it may be a few weeks before the Falcons get a chance to win another game.
New York Giants (2-6) [Last Week: 26]
Perhaps the New York Giants should move up a little for keeping Mahomes and the Chiefs at arms length for the entirety of their Monday Night matchup. But the Giants lost on mental mistakes and penalties again, a mark of a team that just doesn’t have what it takes to compete and win games.
Washington Football Team (2-6) [Last Week: 27]
Washington Football Team dropped their fourth straight game, but at least kept it to one-score in a 17-10 loss to Bridgewater and the Broncos in Denver.
Miami Dolphins (1-7) [Last Week: 29]
Nearly a playoff team last season, the Miami Dolphins have to be one of if not the most disappointing teams of 2021. This week it was a 26-11 loss in Buffalo for Miami’s seventh straight loss after a 1-0 start.
New York Jets (2-5) [Last Week: 32]
Just when the New York Jets were looking downright awful, losing 54-13 in New England last week as well as losing Zach Wilson for 2-4 weeks, they come out and shock the NFL world once again. As if their early season upset over the Titans wasn’t enough, the Jets came away with an even bigger upset in Week 8: beating the 5-2 Bengals with quarterback Mike White making his first NFL start.
Detroit Lions (0-8) [Last Week: 28]
I’ve kept the Detroit Lions out of the very bottom of this list for weeks, as even though they’re winless, they have played some tight games with good teams. But after an embarrassing 44-6 loss to the Eagles this week, Detroit doesn’t deserve that much credit.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) [Last Week: 30]
The Jacksonville Jaguars couldn’t even make in interesting against Geno Smith and the Seahawks, waiting until for the fourth quarter for their lone score in a 31-7 loss in Seattle. Only one of Jacksonville’s six losses has come by a score or less.
Houston Texans (1-7) [Last Week: 31]
The Houston Texans 38-22 loss to the Rams was even worse than it looked, with Los Angeles going up 38-0 before pulling some starters and allowing Houston to score 22 points in the fourth quarter.
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