Ken's Note: These rankings are the views of the author, and may/do not reflect the views of any other Windy City Gridiron contributor.
Welcome to the Week 8 Power Rankings.
Power rankings are kind of silly and entirely meaningless, and they are also completely subjective... what one person sees as a strength another might see as a weakness. I get that. My reason for doing this feature isn't "I think I know better," but rather to entertain, hopefully amuse and also to generate friendly discussion and debate (within the site rules, of course).
My feature comes out later in the week than pretty much everybody else's on the web because I actually watch every single game I talk about BEFORE posted my rankings (as far as I know, I am the ONLY person doing this in the online media). Gamepass condensed games are the greatest tool ever made for the NFL football junkie. By doing this instead of just watching the highlights (if that) or browsing the box score, I suspect my list looks significantly different than most.
Here's how I have the league shaking out after Week 8:
1) Patriots - (Last week's rating #2 ) New England is the best team in the NFL at this point in time, but they are not without their flaws. Knocking the snot out of the Steelers (who were without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger) would have been a nice (if diminished) statement game... but the Steelers kept it close most of the game, so while it was a nice win, I wouldn't call it a statement. The Patriots offense is firing on all cylinders but... that defense... that group still has some holes in it that a team can exploit. Still, any way you look at it, the Patriots are the top dogs this week.
2) Vikings - (Last week's rating #1) I would like to personally thank the Minnesota Vikings for dispelling any false notions that they were Super Bowl shoe-ins. The Chicago Bears would like to thank Minnesota for showing that even division leaders can be completely and entirely inept offensively, just like we are. Philadelphia is a good team and their defense is stout, but c'mon Purple, they aren't the '85 Bears or the 2000 Ravens here. (Same applies to the Eagles, Minnesota's defense is good, but c'mon, you two teams put up 5 turnovers in about 5 minutes).
3) Cowboys - (Last week's rating #3 ) The Boys were on their bye, so I will leave them where they were. Call it a bye-week push.
4) Broncos - (Last week's rating #7 ) Denver beat a decent team in Houston, but of course the focus of the game was on the butthurt Denver has over Brock Osweiler. The funny thing about Osweiler is this... he has now played just about the same number of games in Houston as he did in Denver, and his numbers are not that much different than what he put up last year. Yes, they are down some, but not THAT much... and considering Denver has a lot better weapons surrounding their quarterback than the Texans do, it's probably about a wash. You won't hear that anywhere else but here, because this is a butthurt-free zone. Denver beat a fringe playoff team at home, that's something you expect out of the defending Super Bowl champs. I call this one a push.
5) Seahawks - (Last week's rating #5 ) Seattle played against the '85 Bears defense last weekend. Seattle's offense did not penetrate into the '85 Bears side of the field in regulation. Not. Once. During regulation, Seattle's offense had more holding penalties than first downs. Wait, what? That wasn't the '85 Bears they were playing against? Oh, right, gotcha, it was the 2000 Ravens then. What? No? The Arizona Cardinals? Utt oh... that must mean that Seattle has the worst offensive line I have ever seen playing for a playoff contender. Hideously bad. Claw my eyes out bad. This Seahawks team is going nowhere with that line. Seattle's special teams were amazing, right up until, well, the kicker blew the win.
6) Packers - (Last week's rating #6 ) Green Bay beat a bad Bears team at home by a couple of scores. It took Aaron Rogers until the fourth quarter to extend a lead on a defensive backfield made up of third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh stringers. Color me unimpressed.
7) Eagles - (Last week's rating #12 ) When Carson Wentz threw that early interception, my first thought was "oh my, this is going to be a long, long day for the boys in black (the Eagles were wearing some outstanding alternate threads, black on black with green trim...)". But a funny thing happened on the way to the blowout... a quarter of "football as played by the Three Stooges" ensued, and I and all watching it were wondering what on Earth was going on. When Minnesota got the ball, twice, in the red zone on turnovers and didn't score? Cost the Vikings the game. Eagles win a big one at home, and move up the ole ladder
8) Falcons - (Last week's rating #4) I had these guys way too high, I guess I forgot they can't stop anybody on defense. OK, truth in advertising, the Falcons got a couple of turnovers and stopped San Diego a couple of times. They lost, at home, to another team that can't stop anybody. The ONLY reason they remain this high is they play in a weak division and they can outscore most teams in the league in a "first team to 100 points wins" kind of game.
9) Cardinals - (Last week's rating #9 ) Arizona played well on defense, for sure, but bad special-teams play cost the Cardinals a win, plain and simple. Special teams are KILLING Arizona. How you can miss a 24-yarder to win the game? Well... ask Seattle, they know exactly how to do that. Arizona mauled... and I do mean mauled... a very, very bad Seattle offensive line, but the Cardinals had no answer for Clif Avril. A sister-kisser in Phoenix with Seattle doesn't really move the needle very much either way for Arizona.
10) Steelers - (Last week's rating #11 ) The Steelers are still solid, still a playoff team, even without Ben Roethlisberger. Backup quarterback Landry Jones had a good game, and of course Antonio Brown is (arguably) the best player in the NFL. No, the problem wasn't on that side of the ball talent-wise, the problem with the Steelers was a shaky defense and way too many penalties and sloppy play. Still, not as bad of a game as it could have been, so no big change in the power rankings this week.
11) Raiders - (Last week's rating #17 ) Oakland looked really, really good again this week. Derek Carr is playing lights out, and they moved the ball up and down the field. Oakland looks to challenge for a home playoff game... now all they need to do is figure out where home actually IS, Oakland or Las Vegas.
12) Bills - (Last week's rating #6 ) The early loss of LeSean McCoy to a hamstring injury also hamstrung the Bills offense this week, but not as much as poor line play did. The winners of four-in-a-row coming into the game at Miami, Buffalo struggled with the Dolphins defensive line. Former Bears right tackle Jordan Mills had a simply dreadful game, with four holding penalties (called, not all accepted) and giving up a ton of pressure. The health of McCoy is critical to the Bills offense, so we will have to see how severe that injury is.
13) Giants - (Last week's rating #13 ) Last week I wrote "New York is one of my 'meh' teams, They aren't really very good, they aren't really very bad. Just like the Ravens they just played." Remove the word "Ravens" and switch it with "Rams" and you have the exact same ranking. There was ONE interesting play in that game. ONE. On the bright side, Bears fans can now root for Robbie Gould again. He hit a FG & a couple of extra points in London for the Giants.
14) Chiefs - (Last week's rating #14 ) Kansas City did that thing they do again, that thing that keeps me going "eh" when it comes to the Chiefs... they jumped out to a huge lead, yet before you knew what was happening the game was close again. True, they were playing the Saints who score points in waves, but still, until KC finds a way to shut people down, I'm not a buyer. The fact that they are in a division with two more solid teams (plus San Diego, who always has a sluggers chance) doesn't help either.
15) Lions - (Last week's rating #16 ) I suppose I have to move Detroit up some this week, they have won three in a row. But... I still don't think they are a solid team. The first half of this weeks game was absolutely brutal to watch.
16) Texans - (Last week's rating #15 ) Everybody else is blasting quarterback Brock Osweiler, so I am going to give it a pass. Texas isn't as good as Denver, in Denver. Got it. The question is, how are they compared to their weak division?
17) Redskins - (Last week's rating #10 ) There are so many ways that Washington could have beaten the Lions... not fumbled on the one yard line, hit an easy field goal, the list goes on and on. Bottom line they let the Lions drive down the field and beat them on a last minute TD by a receiver who is 75-years-old (more or less). After watching the brutal low scoring first half, I was so sick of this game I wanted to turn it off. I probably should have, since I didn't know the score when I watched it and these guys couldn't even beat Detroit.
18) Chargers - (Last week's rating #18 ) On the one hand, they beat a "top" team on the road. On the other hand, they had to score 33 points to do it. On the other hand, Joey Bosa is the real deal and already a defensive leader. On the other hand, they still haven't stopped anybody. You gotta admit, I don't care who you are, that's a lot of hands.
19) Bengals - (Last week's rating #19 ) Not much to say here, they whooped the Browns. Proving better than Cleveland isn't a needle mover.
20) Ravens - (Last week's rating #20 ) Falling, falling, falling, SPLAT. Just as the announcer was saying that Joe Flacco had thrown 176 without an interception, Flacco dropped back and threw a hideous interception. The Ravens had SIX yards rushing in the game. Six. Not a typo. Baltimore goes into their bye week in a total freefall. Seven of Baltimore's 16 points came off of a fumble recovery (a fumble by the Jets punter, no less) in the end zone. That and 3 field goals and 'Bob's your uncle', down the rankings you SHOULD go, Ravens... but I am leaving you here because this whole group of teams in this ranking area are about the same and a bunch of the others lost too.
21) Jaguars - (Last week's rating #21 ) Jacksonville is just not playing well, and when they run up against a good team that is playing well, bad things happen. Blake Bortles continues his struggles, but the real problem for the Jaguars is that defense... which on paper should be good... can't stop quarterbacks like Oakland's Derek Carr and big receivers like Michael Crabtree.
22) Buccaneers - (Last week's rating #23 ) Tampa Bay beat the snot out of the 49er's in San Francisco. That's gotta be good, right? Right? Well, it beats losing to them I suppose. Tampa is better than San Francisco, but they are a below average team at this point in time.
23) Colts - (Last week's rating #27 ) Andrew Luck & TY Hilton. Rinse, repeat. Don't look now, but the Colts are 3-4 and not out of that division race.
24) Dolphins - (Last week's rating #28 ) The emergency of quarterback Jay Ajayi has been huge for coach Adam Gase's offense, as it has taken the pressure off of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Former Bear Jerman Bushrod had a rough game in pass protection at right guard, but played better in the run game (in case anybody is wondering whatever happened to him). After a very quiet game though three quarters, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh announced his presence with authority in the fourth. Ascending.
25) Rams - (Last week's rating #25 ) I would like to congratulate Case Keenum for making the single worst throw I have ever had the misfortune to see and NFL quarterback make. That duck to end the game, Mr. Keenum... that was something special. This Rams team is bad, despite having a stout defense. How any team can make a stud running back like Todd Gurley look as bad as the Rams are making him look, I just don't know. The only reason they don't go down is, well, tons of other teams lost too.
26) Titans - (Last week's rating #24 ) Despite the loss to the Colts, I like where Tennessee is heading. Marcus Mariota had another nice game (despite the late strip fumble) but the Titans just had no answer for Andrew Luck and TY Hilton. If you are looking for a game to watch on Gamepass, this one is perhaps your top choice of the week.
27) Saints - (Last week's rating #22 ) I wonder if that whole "let the other team jump out to a three score lead" thing is starting to get old in New Orleans. Drew Brees is a football God, but really, for New Orleans to be competitive in a division that they CAN win, they need to figure out a way to stop somebody, sooner or later.
28) Jets - (Last week's rating #28 ) The jets were only one-for-three in the TD department with a first and goal from the five or closer, but Matt Forte did just enough to give a bad Jets team the win. Brandon Marshall had a key "peanut punch" moment where he saved the Jets after a forte fumble was recovered at the goal line by Baltimore, but Marshall also had two huge drops and didn't play well. Jets defense put pressure on Flacco all game long.
29) Panthers - (Last week's rating #26 ) This tweet says it better than I could, so here it is:
Cam Newton throws 2 INTs as Panthers drop another, fall to 1-6. pic.twitter.com/UmUs0FTmzX— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) October 23, 2016
*30) Bears - (Last week's rating #29 ) Chicago drops one slot after losing to Green Bay, but this positioning gets an asterisk. 30th assumes that Jay Cutler is able to start this week against Minnesota. If Cutler can't go, this ranking instantly changes to 32, dead last.
31) 49ers -(Last week's rating #30 ) - When the best thing about your offence is the running prowess of Shaun Draughn, you KNOW you are a bad team. On the one hand, Colin Kaepernick. On the other hand, Blaine Gabbert. When your defense lets future NFL Hall Of Fame running back and legend Jacquizz Rodgers drop a hunge-and-a-half on it, well... it's time to join Cleveland in the Power Rankings basement.
32) Browns - (Last week's rating #32 ) Cleveland started their fifth quarterback of the season, yet the problem with the Browns isn't that they can't score... they just can't stop anybody. There was one point in this game when Cincinnati quarterback just threw up a prayer into the end zone. So of course, the most Cleveland of things happens, A.J. Green, burried in a pile of FIVE Browns defenders, jumps up and grabs a one-handed touchdown. You just can't make this stuff up.
So what do you think? Am I close? Am I entirely wrong? Spill the beans, let us know what you think.