NFL power rankings: Plunging Packers, Buccaneers in panic mode; Cowboys, Bengals, Seahawks climb for Week 8 – Sporting News

There’s no change with the top two teams in Sporting News’ 2022 weekly power rankings going into Week 8 as the Eagles and Bills, the respective NFC and AFC favorites to get to Super Bowl 57, both were idle. But that doesn’t mean things didn’t get busy behind them coming out of Week 7.

The Giants and Jets  — the second place teams behind those Eagles and Bills — did more New York, New York great stuff to keep reminding use they are for real. But just as interesting was the fact three expected returning NFC powerhouses — Tampa Bay, Green Bay and San Francisco are not getting the jobs done yet.

That’s left the door open for a big change in power, with more teams crashing the surprise party that is the 2022 NFL season. Here’s now how they all stack up against each other, 1-32, closing on the halfway mark of the season:

MORE: Justin Fields, Mac Jones fading fast in NFL Year 2 QB rankings

NFL power rankings Week 8

Nick Sirianni

(Getty Images)

1. Philadelphia Eagles 6-0 (previous ranking: 1)

The Eagles enjoyed a bye, letting the National League pennant-winning Phillies enjoy the spotlight on the way to advancing to the World Series. Philadelphia’s NFL team can afford to have its own championship aspirations with Jalen Hurts leading a diverse offense and a defense that is showing some dominant qualities. Given their continued favorable schedule and consistent high level of play, there’s a fair chance the Eagles can stay undefeated into December.

2. Buffalo Bills 5-1 (2)

The Bills also got a bye to get healthier for the second half and build on their status as the clear best team in the AFC, coming off a massive win over the Chiefs on the road. The key for Buffalo going forward to finish things off in the playoffs as Super Bowl favorites is locking down the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage.

3. Kansas City Chiefs 5-2 (3)

The Chiefs rebounded from that close-game frustration against the Bills by ripping the 49ers with relentless creative offense around Patrick Mahomes and a defense that keeps making big plays in critical situations. Going far on the road and doing that to a NFC title contender was impressive in every which way.

4. New York Giants 6-1 (4)

The Giants have gone past the point of skeptics wondering if they are for real. They have had the baseline of Saquon Barkley’s healthy offense, but now Daniel Jones has gone full Danny Dimes with his passing, running and leadership. The defense remains the backbone and the support from the other sides keeps growing.

5. Minnesota Vikings 5-1 (5)

The Vikings were the quiet contenders on the bye. They might not seem as impressive as other hot-starting teams, but the offense is rolling as expected with Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook as the principals and the new-look defense has the ideal kind of reinforcements at every level. Now it also looks like they might run away with the NFC North.

Dak Prescott

(Getty Images)

6. Dallas Cowboys 5-2 (9)

The Cowboys got Dak Prescott back and although he was a bit rusty, the running game and defense did plenty to take the burden off him lighting it up in his much-anticipated return. Dallas is a complete team and can get sharper offensively going forward with Prescott.

MORE: Dak does what’s needed again for Cowboys

7. Cincinnati Bengals 4-3 (11)

The Bengals have their offensive groove back with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase going back to big-play fun with plenty of assists from Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon. Their defense can go back to playing to its strength against the pass while playing with leads.

MORE: Breaking down Burrow’s monster performance against Falcons

8. New York Jets 5-2 (14)

The Jets don’t get many offensive style points and it will get more challenging for them to score, period, without rookie running and receiving weapon Breece Hall. Robert Saleh’s rebuilt defense has been great but now they will need to awaken the passing game with Zach Wilson to finish the big early surprise with an AFC wild-card berth.

MORE: Zach Wilson inspiring Jets with choice words, too

9. Baltimore Ravens 4-3 (13)

The Ravens danced with another fourth-quarter blown lead but found enough defense and traditional running game to close out the Browns. Lamar Jackson also found more plays with whom to make big plays with Mark Andrews hurting. The defense is still finding its right mesh of scheme and personnel, but it’s getting there.

10. Tennessee Titans 4-2 (10)

The Titans are pesky, scrappy, gritty, gutty and all similar adjectives under Mike Vrabel. Given some of their defensive holes vs. pass and run and limited offensive ceiling, they should have had a much tougher time digging out of 0-2. But now the two early losses to the Giants and Bills seem rather acceptable as they are back in the driver’s seat for another AFC South title.

Kenneth Walker

(Getty Images)

11. Seattle Seahawks 4-3 (20)

The Seahawks are the NFL’s biggest surprise west of New York. Their offensive system continues to operate well with Geno Smith and Kenneth Walker as the principals and the defense keeps finding key timely contributions from young players. Pete Carroll and Shane Waldron have done amazing jobs.

12. Los Angeles Chargers 4-3 (6)

The Chargers cannot catch many breaks with injuries, losing Mike Williams as soon as Keenan Allen returned. Justin Herbert hasn’t been right with different key pieces out around him at different times. The defense also has been gutted and is not living up to the expectations vs. the pass and keeps wiling vs. the run.

13. Miami Dolphins 4-3 (18)

The Dolphins got a much-needed big mentally tough home win against the relentless Steelers to snap their three-game skid after a 3-0 start. They have settled into a middle-road team, trying to strike the right balance of offense complementing the defense, and vice versa.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-4 (7)

The Buccaneers need to go back to basics with their offense around Tom Brady instead of forcing some big-time passing game that doesn’t exist as well anymore. They need to trust more in their defense again by becoming a run-heavier team. They will still win the NFC South, but the question is whether they can put it all together to do anything in the playoffs.

IYER: What’s wrong with Buccaneers’ offense? Six reasons for the struggles

15. San Francisco 49ers 3-4 (8)

The 49ers haven’t quite had the Chargers level of injury bug hit them in California, but their defense, even with key returnees including Nick Bosa, had just enough holes to be exploited by Patrick Mahomes. Their offense also was caught in transition while welcoming Christian McCaffrey. They must rebound quickly to sweep the Rams.

MORE: Newest 49er McCaffrey flashes in loss to Chiefs

Christian McCaffrey

(Getty Images)

16. Los Angeles Rams 3-3 (12)

Speaking of the Rams, they got a much-needed bye y for Sean McVay to clean up their mistake-prone pass-happy offense with Matthew Stafford. They could also further adjust their defense to be so giving against the pass away from Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. 

17. Green Bay Packers 3-4 (15)

The Packers are lacking reliable firepower for Aaron Rodgers beyond Aaron Jones and Allen Lazard. The defense still isn’t good against the run in even game scripts and now it is having key lapses vs. the pass in inopportune moments. The time to relax is gone after three consecutive losses and an NFC playoff berth sliding away with the AFC-best Bills on tap.

MORE: What’s wrong with Packers after loss to Commanders?

18. New England Patriots 3-3 (16)

The Patriots are making the interesting decision to go back to struggling Mac Jones returning from an ankle injury despite healthy rookie Bailey Zappe’s historic first two starts. At least against the Bears Jones won’t need to do much because of the defense and running game.

19. Indianapolis Colts 3-3-1 (17)

The Colts transformed right back into a sloppy offense on the road with Matt Ryan despite welcoming back Jonathan Taylor. They threw away a game they could have won with a few mistakes, wasting a good effort by a shorthanded defense that will only get better.

20. Arizona Cardinals 3-4 (25)

The Cardinals got DeAndre Hopkins back and it was like Kyler Murray was jumpstarted. Their defense, however, has been doing its part with supporting big plays and the traditional running game also woke up to lift Murray. They’re right back in the race in the suddenly weak NFC West.

Taylor Heinicke

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21. Washington Commanders 3-4 (28)

The Commanders had to go to Taylor Heinicke with Carson Wentz shelved and were immediately sparked toward a victory with all the healthy offensive skill players being maximized. The big story was finally a respectable performance by the pass defense vs. Rodgers.

22. Atlanta Falcons 3-4 (19)

The Falcons have overachieved with their running game setting up Marcus Mariota well, but when their defense gets ripped early, it kills any sense of comeback-oriented complementary football from the offense as a whole.

23. Las Vegas Raiders 2-4 (27)

The Raiders have started to get on track as soon as they went run-heavy with Josh Jacobs. It’s greatly eased the issues that Derek Carr is having while not working will all the right weapons at the right times. The bonus is also getting more out of the defense against one-dimensional opponents late.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers 2-5 (22)

The Steelers have something special in Kenny Pickett, even though the results aren’t there yet. The big mistakes will turn into big plays soon for the rookie. The defense also has responded well to the challenge. Mike Tomlin still has his work cut out for him to keep that non-losing record streak alive.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-5 (23)

The Jaguars have cooled off in a hurry after flashing some AFC South-winning potential earlier in the season. Trevor Lawrence remains maddeningly inconsistent even when the Travis Etienne Jr. and the running game are rolling and the early defensive success has hit a wall with some injuries and inexperience.

26. Denver Broncos 2-5 (21)

The Broncos weren’t doing much offensively with Russell Wilson. They also didn’t find anything offensively with Brett Rypien. They are on the ropes and the Jaguars and Titans next on the road are capable of technically knocking them out of playoff contention.

27. Chicago Bears 2-4 (29)

The Bears’ decent defensive-minded start has been marred by not getting anything consistently going in their offense with Justin Fields struggling in the system when not taking off and running or flinging the ball deep.

28. New Orleans Saints 2-5 (24)

The Saints have marched themselves into a difficult corner at quarterback. Their defense also has disappointed big time, especially against the run, with Dennis Allen taking over the whole team. They need a real Drew Brees successor, stat.

29. Cleveland Browns 2-5 (26)

The Browns keep getting burned with limited offense and just enough defense mistakes. They need to somehow avoid total dysfunction beyond the reliable running game and respond better under Kevin Stefanski before Deshaun Watson returns, stat.

MORE: Browns dismiss reports of yelling in the locker room

30. Carolina Panthers 2-5 (32)

The Panthers got off the mat with P.J. Walker, Chuba Hubbard and D’Onta Foreman all going into inspired supersub mode under Steve Wilks. It was an emotion-filled monumental upset of the Bucs when no one gave them a real chance.

Chuba Hubbard, DOnta Foreman

(Getty Images)

31. Houston Texans 1-4-1 (30)

The Texans have some more positives offensively with rookie running back Dameon Pierce and their diverse receivers. But Davis Mills can’t do much more to help them win at this stage and the defense is starting to break more than bend for Lovie Smith, especially against the run.

32. Detroit Lions 1-5 (31)

The Lions, after all their “Hard Knocks” feel-good hype, are now back down in dumps from their past under Dan Campbell. Their defense isn’t stopping anything when needed and the offense keeps cracking with injuries.

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