Football, football, football!
We are entering Week 8, meaning after this week we will be halfway through the NFL season! It really does fly by fast.
Thus far we’ve had some pleasant surprises like the rise of the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns, and some disappoints like the New England Patriots and… the entire NFC East.
All is not lost for those under .500 at this point. The past 2 seasons have seen 5 teams make the playoffs after being under .500 through 7 weeks. Combine that with the expanded playoff field this season, even more teams have a chance to pull it together after a slow start; there’s still hope!
Welcome to November football, here are some rankings:
Biggest rise: Arizona Cardinals (up 5 spots)
Biggest fall: New England Patriots (down 9 spots)
1. Kansas City Chiefs (PR: 1)
Record: 6-1 | Week 8 opponent: New York Jets (home)
The Chiefs continue to make their only loss of the season look like an outlier. They dominated the Broncos last week, largely thanks to their defense. The unit continues to cause turnovers consistently, and the pass defense ranks as one of the best in the league. All good signs.
2.Pittsburgh Steelers (PR: 4)
Record: 6-0 | Week 8 opponent: Baltimore Ravens (away)
The Steeler won the battle of 5-0 teams, and after a Seattle loss, now stand as the only undefeated team in the NFL. They came out strong against the Titans but multiple interceptions by Big Ben closed the gap at the end. Luckily Stephen Gostowski missed a potential tying FG to send the game to OT. This group is legit.
3. Baltimore Ravens (PR: 3)
Record: 5-1 | Week 8 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers (home)
Baltimore gets a swing at Pittsburgh tomorrow in a game that will have huge ramifications for the AFC playoff picture and division. Baltimore has handled their business against who they should beat this season, but the next month will tell us if they’re really special or just alright.
4. Seattle Seahawks (PR: 2)
Record: 5-1 | Week 8 opponent: San Francisco 49ers (home)
In a wild game in Arizona, Seattle suffered their first loss of 2020. Russell Wilson threw 3 TDs and 3 INTs, putting up enough points but giving Arizona chances to ultimately win. The defense was gassed at the end, and clearly had trouble stopping Kyler Murray. A worrisome result, but this is still a good team.
5. Tennessee Titans (PR: 5)
Record: 5-1 | Week 8 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals (away)
Tennessee always makes things close. Even when they were behind by 20 in the third quarter they almost tied the game at the end… but the kicking woes from Week 1 seemed to rear back up as Stephen Gostkowski missed a potential game tying FG. An ugly game, but Tennessee thrives when things get ugly.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PR: 6)
Record: 5-2 | Week 8 opponent: New York Giants (away), Monday
Tom Brady… wow. He looked fantastic on Sunday, wrapping up an October where in 4 games he threw for 1157 yards, 12 TD and 1 INT (110.0 passer rating). It culminated in his 11th Player of the Month Award. He’s playing MVP caliber football and his team has a top defense… this is a Super Bowl contender.
7. Green Bay Packers (PR: 7)
Record: 5-1 | Week 8 opponent: Minnesota Vikings (home)
After a disappointing loss to Tampa, Green Bay bounced back with a great game in Houston last week. Their defense is what holds them back in my eyes. Average at best and doesn’t cause a lot of turnovers. Not bad, but needs to improve in order to contend.
8. New Orleans Saints (PR: 9)
Record: 4-2 | Week 8 opponent: Chicago Bears (away)
The Saints won a close game against Carolina, which is becoming a theme of 2020. Their only win by more than a touchdown was Week 1 against Tampa. 5 of their next 7 games are on the road, including games in Chicago, Denver and Philly… will weather be an issue for the dome warriors? Will Michael Thomas ever play again? Hmmmmm.
9. Buffalo Bills (PR: 8)
Record: 5-2 | Week 8 opponent: New England Patriots (home)
Buffalo had a tough time against… the New York Jets. They seem like a different group from their first 4 games, but stand at 5-2 and… in a good position to win the AFC East. Beat the Patriots tomorrow and the only team left to worry about is Miami. Never thought I’d say that.
10. Arizona Cardinals (PR: 15)
Record: 5-2 | Week 8 opponent: BYE WEEK
I’m all the way back on the hype train! Arizona played very well against Seattle, coming back from 10 points late in the 4th quarter. They almost gave away their chance at a win with a missed kick, but the defense gave them a second chance and they didn’t give that up. A huge win, and a statement performance from Kyler Murray.
11. San Francisco 49ers (PR: 14)
Record: 4-3 | Week 8 opponent: Seattle Seahawks (away)
Would you believe me if I told you they’re in last place? That’s how intense the NFC West is. The 49ers look to be revving back up to where they were a year ago. It doesn’t matter who they play at RB, Kyle Shanahan can scheme something great for them. It’s the sign of a great coach. A win in Seattle tomorrow would be huge.
12. Los Angeles Rams (PR: 11)
Record: 5-2 | Week 8 opponent: Miami Dolphins (away)
I still think this group is the product of an easy first half schedule, but the defense is starting to intrigue me. The unit hasn’t allowed a 300-yard passer this year, and less than 20 points in 5 of their 7 games (5-0 in those games). That’s a good foundation, but will it last? They better hope so.
13. Chicago Bears (PR: 10)
Record: 5-2 | Week 8 opponent: New Orleans Saints (home)
The great mirage at 5-2. Chicago has a wonderful defense, but yet again it must be said: their offense sucks. Nick Foles has not been good. The defense will always keep them in games, but imagine if a team like this got Tom Brady for this season? Will they explore looking for a QB at the deadline?
14. Las Vegas Raiders (PR: 13)
Record: 3-3 | Week 8 opponent: Cleveland Browns (away)
After a great win in KC, Vegas came off their bye week with a humbling loss versus Tampa. COVID kept Trent Brown out of the game and limited basically the entire OL’s ability to practice last week. Continuity seems to elude this group regardless, but they’re close.
15. Cleveland Browns (PR: 16)
Record: 5-2 | Week 8 opponent: Las Vegas Raiders (home)
In what was the best game of the early afternoon window, Cleveland went back and forth with the Bengals, pulling off a win right at the buzzer. Baker Mayfield finished strong after an ugly start. Sadly for the team they lost Odell for the rest of the season due to injury.
16. Indianapolis Colts (PR: 17)
Record: 4-2 | Week 8 opponent: Detroit Lions (away)
Coming out of their bye week, the key for the remainder of 2020 for the Colts is getting Philip Rivers to limit turnovers and regain production from the running game. Another team with a great defense but could be held back by a lackluster offense.
17. Miami Dolphins (PR: 18)
Record: 3-3 | Week 8 opponent: Los Angeles Rams (home)
The Tua Era starts tomorrow against the Rams. It was a shock Miami went to the rookie QB after Ryan Fitzpatrick played so well to start the season, but it seems like this was the plan all along and Brian Flores is sticking to it. Clearly Tua has given him no reason to do otherwise. I’m looking forward to seeing what the college superstar can do in the NFL.
18. Detroit Lions (PR: 21)
Record: 3-3 | Week 8 opponent: Indianapolis Colts (home)
The Lions pulled off a stunning win last week, becoming the latest team Atlanta could not finish off while having a 90+% chance of beating late. The ability to hold on to leads and win close games will define the rest of their season.
19. Carolina Panthers (PR: 19)
Record: 3-5 | Week 8 opponent: Atlanta Falcons (home), Thursday; lost
Carolina’s record is an image of runs, as they started 0-2, got to 3-2, and now stand 3-5 halfway through their schedule. Only one loss has been my more than a touchdown. It’s a work in progress. Hoping for a speedy recovery for Teddy Bridgewater, who was pulled due to injury in the second half against the Falcons.
20. Denver Broncos (PR: 20)
Record: 2-4 | Week 8 opponent: Los Angeles Chargers (home)
After beating the Patriots, Denver came back down to reality with a loss to their division foes, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs offense wasn’t impressive by any means, but their defense dominated Drew Lock and the Broncos offense. Even in their win against the Pats the offense was not good.
21. New England Patriots (PR: 12)
Record: 2-4 | Week 8 opponent: Buffalo Bills (away)
The Patriots are bad, there’s no more hiding it. A local reporter said it best: when your two best players on offense are linemen, you’re probably not in a good spot. The receiving unit is just not good, the QBs are not good. Maybe the running backs are, but haven’t gotten a chance in weeks because the team falls behind so quickly. If the defense can’t stop the opponent’s offense like last week? Forget it.
22. Los Angeles Chargers (PR: 22)
Record: 2-4 | Week 8 opponent: Denver Broncos (away)
The Chargers were able to not let a game away and beat the Jags last week. In his past 3 games Justin Herbert has thrown for 901 yards, 10 TD and 1 INT (122.2 passer rating), just excellent. The problem for this team remains to be their ability to play a full 48 minutes and make adjustments throughout the game.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (PR: 25)
Record: 1-5-1 | Week 8 opponent: Tennessee Titans (home)
Another rookie QB who looked excellent last week. Joe Burrow threw for over 400 yards and 3 TD, and it looked like it would be enough for a win… the Browns had other plans. Sounds like we might see WRs like John Ross and AJ Green get traded.
24. Houston Texans (PR: 24)
Record: 1-6 | Week 8 opponent: BYE WEEK
Again, poor Houston. Five of their losses have come against teams in the top 7 of my rankings. This was a playoff team last season, so I can’t feel completely guilty, but I did not see this coming. Deshaun Watson is putting up great numbers too, but it’s similar to how Dak Prescott was for Dallas: they get behind so quickly they have to throw the ball at will.
25. Philadelphia Eagles (PR: 26)
Record: 2-4-1 | Week 8 opponent: Dallas Cowboys (home)
Your NFC East division leaders after 7 weeks. In their defense, the secondary looks to be improving, but not much else. Carson Wentz looks awful, completing less than 60% of his passes on the season and holding a 74.3 passer rating thus far.
26. Atlanta Falcons (PR: 27)
Record: 2-6| Week 8 opponent: Carolina Panthers (away), Thursday; won
Here come the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta was one blown game away from being 3-0 under interim head coach Raheem Morris; then again, they’re multiple blown leads away from actually being a good team this year. Maybe next year they’ll figure it out Week 1 when there’s still time.
27. Dallas Cowboys (PR: 23)
Record: 2-5 | Week 8 opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (away)
Injury aside (and it was a dirty hit he took), Andy Dalton had been awful as the starter for this team. He’s out tomorrow, meaning the Cowboys are on their third string QB Ben DiNucci. The defense already sucked, and now the offense has zero chance without Dak… this is a baaaaaaad team.
28. Minnesota Vikings (PR: 28)
Record: 1-5 | Week 8 opponent: Green Bay Packers (away)
Speaking of bad teams, here’s the NFC version of the Houston Texans… which is funny because their only win is against Houston. The defense has been awful, and Kirk Cousins is a turnover machine. Dalvin Cook & co. can still put up some yards, but that alone won’t win you games when every other facet of the team sucks.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (PR: 29)
Record: 1-6 | Week 8 opponent: BYE WEEK
The Jags have lost 6 straight games, and in that time they’ve shown they don’t do anything quite well. This teams need a massive talent infusion.
30. Washington (PR: 31)
Record: 2-5 | Week 8 opponent: BYE WEEK
Believe it or not Washington actually has one of the better ranked defenses in the NFL. Problem is their offense is abysmal. Luckily they faced Dallas last week, who suck on both sides of the ball, leading to an easy win for D.C.
31. New York Giants (PR: 30)
Record: 1-6 | Week 8 opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (home), Monday
This team also needs a talent infusion (and some health). Oh yeah, and they host Tom Brady on Monday… they’ll always have 2007 and 2011 over him.
32. New York Jets (PR: 32)
Record: 0-7 | Week 8 opponent: Kansas City Chiefs (away)
They almost pulled of a win last week, but through 7 weeks, they Jets still remain as the only winless team in the NFL
Photo above via Fansided
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