NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Bengals soar, Chiefs sour, and Browns survive

The Week 8 NFL Power Rankings aren't pulling any punches. There are some teams with significant issues, and it's time for blunt honesty.

The Week 8 NFL Power Rankings are here, and I’m not pulling any punches. There are far too many uncompetitive teams in the league right now, which ruined my viewing experience this week. However, after six weeks of some absolutely magical football, we were due for a down week. We chalk this one up as a one-hit wonder, and we hope for a better product in Week 8!

NFL Power Rankings Week 8 | Tier 5: Team funerals

It’s that time of the year again — it’s time to officially bury 12 teams.

32) New York Jets

The Jets’ roster was already a disaster, and then their rookie quarterback went down with an injury early in their Week 7 game. The Patriots never let up, scoring 54 points in an absolutely disgusting match.

New York’s defense made Mac Jones look like Tom Brady, and for some reason, Josh McDaniels decided to empty his entire magazine of trick plays on the lowly Jets. If Zach Wilson is out for an extended period of time, it means there aren’t many reasons to watch the Jets play the rest of the season.

Hopefully, it’s not too serious because he could use the reps. But without Wilson, this is the worst team in the NFL. Therefore, they fall to No. 32.

31) Houston Texans

Without Tyrod Taylor, the Texans are a worse football team than the Lions. It’s been hit or miss, as Houston exploded a bit offensively against the Patriots. Yet, they’ve laid some extraordinary duds in their other outings with Davis Mills under center.

They held firm against the Arizona Cardinals for a quarter, and I applaud their consistent effort despite being outgunned every time they take the field. The Texans just don’t have any juice on offense, and we all saw this roster was a wreck going into the season.

30) Detroit Lions

Once again, Detroit took a team they had no business competing against nearly to the wire. The Lions are one of my favorite NFL teams because of the way they scratch and claw nearly every week, giving us a good product even when we don’t deserve it. They single-handedly saved the afternoon slate of games!

Detroit has the most uninspiring group of receivers I can recall, and QB Jared Goff is a problem for his own team. As they drove late in the game, he threw what ended up being the game-sealing interception. I can only imagine we’ll get another emotional Dan Campbell performance at the podium after this game.

29) Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins are a tragedy. After a successful 2020, they’ve curled into a ball and are stuck in the fetal position. Their coaching staff has been a turnstile, which probably has something to do with their head coach being unapproachable.

Their offensive system has been a disaster, and their defense has underperformed drastically compared to the expectation. The consistently loud Deshaun Watson rumors won’t help the situation in the locker room.

Then in Week 7, they out-Falconed the Falcons, which very few teams have been able to do over the past few seasons. This organization is a mess, and I can’t imagine the 81-year-old Stephen Ross will sit on his hands much longer as he watches the organization burn from the inside out.

28) Jacksonville Jaguars

One week after getting their first win of the season — and the first in what will probably be a short stint as an NFL head coach for Urban Meyer — the Jaguars get a well-deserved bye week.

The game is slowing down a bit for Trevor Lawrence, and his play over the past few weeks has shown grand improvements. He’s still struggling with his ball placement when forced off his base. Still, Lawrence has flashed great improvisation skills he rarely had to use at Clemson.

The Jaguars won’t win many games this year, but they run the ball well and have some weapons on offense when healthy, so they can at least be entertaining in defeat.

27) Washington Football Team

The Washington Football Team simply doesn’t have the juice on offense to compete. Taylor Heinicke is an outstanding story, but he’s a bottom-tier quarterback in the NFL. However, against the Green Bay Packers, he led the team in rushing, which is the one thing he brings as a quarterback that can make a difference.

Sadly, it’s not enough. It’s unfortunate because a defense that has struggled mightily against expectation in 2021 had a solid day against the Packers. I’m not sure what the future holds in Washington on the QB front, but they have to make a serious play at a free agent this offseason if they want to take advantage of the defensive talent they possess.

26) Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles’ lack of sufficient linebacker play showed today as Foster Moreau did his best Darren Waller impression. It’s becoming more challenging to see Jalen Hurts as the starting QB in Philadelphia past this season, although there isn’t much happening from a play-calling standpoint to help.

Without being in the building, it’s impossible to know if the Eagles’ passing attack is this way because they’re hiding Hurts, or if they’re truly just trying to force line-of-scrimmage passes and sideline shots down the throat of the defense.

25) New York Giants

This is still not a good football team, but the New York Giants went out and handled their business against another bad team — the Panthers. They had the better quarterback than Carolina, but neither offense was really any good. The Giants had one 75-yard drive, but the rest of their offensive series each went for fewer than 40 yards.

This game was an example of what happens when two bad teams meet and one gives the other great field position on a consistent basis.

New York’s defense looked good against a poor offensive line and horrific quarterback play. It was more akin to what we expected from this unit going into the season. Azeez Ojulari continues to impress, notching 2.5 sacks and 4 QB hits in the game.

But the rest of this season still comes down to an offense called by Jason Garrett. I feel for Daniel Jones, who has performed well in spite of his play-caller.

24) Seattle Seahawks

This simply isn’t a team that can compete without Russell Wilson. Unless Geno Smith can figure out something in a few weeks that he hasn’t in his eight-year career, the Seahawks won’t win many games with him under center.

Wilson masked a lot of organizational flaws for a long time. The defense is underwhelming, and now they don’t have a quarterback to properly utilize their undersized downfield weapon in Tyler Lockett.

The Seahawks didn’t have much of any offense against the Saints’ defense. We saw that coming, both because of New Orleans’ strength on defense and Seattle’s lack of juice. Tonight, it seemed they were destined to put Smith into bad situations on third down — they did it early and often.

23) Chicago Bears

We knew their 3-3 record was a bit of a farce, and in Week 7, the defending Super Bowl champions said “hello” to the Bears in a less-than-kind manner. Chicago’s defense played decently in coverage, but their struggles stopping the run came to roost against the Buccaneers.

Their passing attack offers absolutely nothing. At one point, Chicago pulled their backup right tackle to insert a backup guard in his place. The offensive line is non-existent, and we must simply hope Justin Fields can survive the onslaught for another 10 weeks.

22) Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons tried their absolute best to do what they do so well — fall apart at the end of a game. However, they were outdone by the Dolphins, who look more and more like “Florida Man” every week.

The good news is Kyle Pitts is a budding superstar, just like, well … everyone … saw coming. Matt Ryan still isn’t as sharp as we’ve seen him in the past, but he was able to do enough against an underperforming Miami defense to win. Luckily, Cordarrelle Patterson has reached his final form after a position switch to a full-time runner. He’s been a pleasant surprise this season.

21) Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are a bad football team. I called them a paper tiger when they were 3-0, but I didn’t see them devolving into mush so quickly. Their offensive line is a massive problem, and Sam Darnold still shows the same flaws that forced him out of New York.

Matt Rhule, Joe Brady, and the Panthers’ front office took a gamble on Darnold, and it hasn’t paid off. Hopefully, they’re self-aware enough to realize it and make a move going into 2022 because this team has talent.

The defense is still pretty good despite injuries to key players. If they can find an offense to play complementary football, they have the potential to be a top-five unit in 2022. The rest of this season should be about continuing to progress their young players.

NFL Power Rankings Week 8 | Tier 4: Talented teams with massive flaws

I can’t imagine any of these teams making legitimate playoff noise. They either suffer from awful quarterback play, don’t play a lick of defense, or just don’t quite have enough talent to compete for the long term in 2021.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger simply doesn’t have it anymore, but he’s only one symptom in a flurry of illnesses the Pittsburgh Steelers face. They allowed their offensive line to disintegrate in the offseason. And a lack of funds meant they couldn’t help rebuild it and forced them to lose out on multiple key defensive backs.

They’re in a true transition period for the first time in Mike Tomlin’s tenure. The unfortunate part is that unless they get remarkably lucky, they won’t find a quarterback going into 2022.

Patience from the organization, something they’ve shown in their history, will be crucial to climbing out of the hole the Steelers inadvertently dug themselves into.

19) Denver Broncos

The offense has finally regressed to the form we thought we might see in 2021 from the Denver Broncos. They have the weapons to compete with nearly anyone offensively, but they have a right tackle problem. Additionally, they have two quarterbacks, which we all know means they have no quarterbacks.

The biggest issue, however, is that Denver’s defense has forgotten that they’re talented. Well, at least most of the defense has forgotten. Rookie CB Patrick Surtain II is still a bright spot, but we can’t help but think he has to be unbelievable to make up for the sting of not at least trying to fix their QB issues through the 2021 NFL Draft.

18) San Francisco 49ers

It hurts to see Trey Lance get just one start before banging up his knee to the point where he can’t play after a bye week, but here we are. The San Francisco 49ers will trot out Jimmy Garoppolo against the Colts. He probably gives them as good a chance, if not better, not to lose the game. Their ceiling might be lower offensively, but I’m not sure of that.

See, Garoppolo isn’t particularly accurate. He gives you hardly anything outside the numbers past 10 yards. But Kyle Shanahan can manufacture an offense that hides Garoppolo’s flaws. That concept is quite different with Lance, and it’s new to Shanahan.

The injuries, weather, and quarterback play were too much to overcome against the Colts on Sunday night. It’s tough to take too many things from a game with this weather, but it’s clear now at 2-4 that this 49ers team fooled the oddsmakers to start the season. They’ll head into Week 8 with only two victories.

17) Indianapolis Colts

Carson Wentz started the season slowly, but his past three weeks have been solid, especially compared to expectations. This might be a case where a roster played to their potential over the past few seasons and are now coming out from the clouds.

The secondary is struggling right now. The linebacker play has been inconsistent, and the Colts don’t really have a consistent pass rush aside from DeForest Buckner. Against the 49ers on Sunday night, Darius Leonard played like a man possessed, taking advantage of the inclement weather and forcing turnovers.

Jonathan Taylor is one of the best runners in the league at this point early in his career. Michael Pittman Jr. was big against the 49ers and has played well in his second season. Wentz struggled to hold onto the football in the first half, but calmed down in the second half and secured the victory for the Colts.

16) New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have heard everybody talk about their offense lacking big-play potential, and they decided they’d take it out on the Jets.

They’re still not an explosive offense. They don’t have the playmakers or the quarterback to consistently pick up chunk plays. But boy, did they show the Jets that they’re the superior team!

They were a perfect 6-for-6 in the red zone and 5-for-5 in goal-to-go situations. Damien Harris had a big game on the ground, and Mac Jones looked like an MVP candidate against New York’s defense.

Let’s see what they can do against the Chargers before we claim their offense has turned a corner.

15) Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive disintegration has bled over to the offense, which once again couldn’t get out of its own way today against the Titans. I believed that on most occasions, Patrick Mahomes could pull this team from the depths to win football games. I was wrong.

Mahomes needs to play absolutely perfect football, and he is not doing anything close to that right now. He’s pressing. The entire offense looks as if they’re trying to score 14 points each drive because the defense is likely giving up 7.

It’s pathetic, and as well as Steve Spagnuolo has gotten this defense to play over the years despite lackluster talent, those days are gone. This is one of the most uninspiring units we’ve seen in quite some time.

This is just a bad team right now, and they drop significantly in our NFL Power Rankings because of it.

NFL Power Rankings Week 8 | Tier 3: Mystery teams

We’re through seven weeks, and these teams are still complete mysteries.

14) Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings keep games close, no matter what. The only game that was comfortable either way came against a Seattle team that still had Russell Wilson. The middle of the pack seems appropriate for a team that can both play up to their competition and down to it, too.

We’re going to learn everything we need to know about this squad in the five weeks following their bye. They face the Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers, Packers, and 49ers in five straight weeks. That is a murderer’s row of teams. If they can survive that stretch and go 2-3, they are still very much in the Wild Card conversation.

13) New Orleans Saints

This is about as schizophrenic a team as you’d expect when starting Jameis Winston at quarterback. Yet, he’s not really been the reason they’ve struggled, outside of maybe the Panthers game in Week 2. They’ve been focusing heavily on running the football early and often.

In fact, their 45% passing rate is 4% lower than the second-place team — the Bears. That probably isn’t a sustainable number for 17 games, but we’ll have to wait to find out.

A high run rate makes some sense — New Orleans’ defense is so good that simply avoiding turnovers on offense should be enough to remain in most contests. The defense has been consistently good for years, too. That is one of the most impressive feats in the NFL, given how difficult it is to repeat defensive performance year over year.

Against the Seahawks, the Saints threw the ball more often than not, and the results weren’t ideal. Winston struggled to complete passes, although to be fair, part of the issue was the weather. He worked well with Alvin Kamara throughout the contest but struggled to complete passes to most of his other weapons.

However, their defense is still outstanding, and they held a depleted Seahawks team to 4 yards per play and only 219 total yards.

Dalton Miller is the Lead NFL Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can read more of his work here and follow him @daltonbmiller on Twitter and Twitch

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