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NFL Power Rankings: Week 8

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NFL POWER RANKINGS

The Appalachian Sports Desk will be releasing collaborative weekly NFL Power Rankings. The Appalachian sports reporters will be ranking NFL teams that will be averaged out to determine their rankings. Each writer will cover 2-3 teams and give their take on them.

This weeks biggest riser: Baltimore Ravens moved up 5

This weeks biggest drop: Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders moved down 4

 

1. Philadelphia Eagles (7-1) (Last week: 1↔️)

Philly had a relatively breezy Sunday against the winless 49ers who never quite seemed like a contender, falling to the Dirty Birds 33-10. Carson Wentz led the offense throwing for 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 53-yard heave to Alshon Jeffrey. Wentz now leads the league in touchdowns at 19 and is on pace to set a franchise record for touchdown passes of 50 yards or more. Jalen Mills intercepted a sloppy pass from C.J. Beathard and brought it all the way back for a nice pick-six to help seal a strong day for the Eagles’ defense. Philly will look to continue their streak against Denver next Sunday at Lincoln Field and maybe set a new record for the sophomore quarterback as well.  -Garrett Wold

2. Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) (Last week: 3⬆️)

Starting the season 5-0, the Chiefs hit a rough patch with two close losses back-to-back. Taking a longer break after a heartbreaking Thursday Night Football defeat to the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 19, Kansas City bounced back on Monday Night Football to beat the Broncos 29-19. Forcing five turnovers, the opportunistic Chiefs’ defense gave way to the leg of rookie kicker Harrison Butker, who nailed five field goals on the evening. While the crowd in Arrowhead Stadium didn’t see the explosive touchdowns they’re used to, they did see Travis Kelce shred the Denver defense, catching seven passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. Kansas City now travels to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in one of the best games in Week 9.  -Tyler Hotz

3. New England Patriots (6-2) (Last week: 2⬇️)

The New England Patriots just keep winning after a 21-13 win over the Chargers. The Patriots’ defense looked like they were going to get torched the whole game after giving up a 87-yard touchdown run to Chargers’ running back Melvin Gordon. The defensive was able to settle down and contain the Chargers’ gunslinging quarterback Philip Rivers. Perhaps the most significant news coming out of Foxborough is the trading of backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for a second-round pick. This trade has people asking all sorts of questions like, who will eventually replace Tom Brady? Brady, who is 40, does not have a lot of years left and finding a successor to him is crucial in continuing the dynasty that began in the early 2000s.  -Michael Pigg

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) (Last week: 4↔️)

JuJu Smith-Schuster’s electric performance on Sunday Night Football powered the Steelers to a 20-15 victory on the road in the Motor City. Smith-Schuster, a rookie out of USC, became a focal point on the team off the field first, but now is trending upwards to take on a major role in the passing game. Standing tall, Pittsburgh held the Lions out of the endzone inches from their own goal line on three straight plays, resulting in a turnover on downs. Three plays later, Big Ben Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster in stride down the seam for a 97-yard touchdown, ultimately tilting the game in the Steelers’ favor. Even though the Steelers’ secondary was gashed for 411 yards, they found ways to keep the Detroit off the board. Riding a three-game winning streak, Pittsburgh will have a week off before traveling to Indianapolis to battle the Colts. -Tyler Hotz

5. Seattle Seahawks (5-2) (Last week: 5↔️)

Last week, the Seahawks barely squeaked out a 41-38 victory over rookie DeShaun Watson and the Houston Texans. The aging “Legion of Boom” was gashed once again by a young and rather explosive offense. In fact, the Texans had two scoring plays that exceeded more than 50 yards. The DeAndre Hopkins touchdown pass accounted for 72 total yards. However, the elusiveness of Russell Wilson saved the day for Seattle. Wilson threw for 452 yards and four touchdowns. Nine of his completed throws were 15 or more yards downfield. Paul Richardson caught six of his passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns, but Jimmy Graham caught the one pass that matter most. The “12th Man” produced enough  noise vibration on the game-winning play to actually be picked up by seismic monitors. The Seahawks improved to 5-2 on the year with the victory and are now tied with the LA Rams for first place within the NFC West. Seattle must continue to find ways to win in regard to the division race when they host the 3-4 Washington Redskins this week.-Shane Harvell

6. Los Angeles Rams (5-2) (Last week: 6↔️)

The Rams had a bye week after blanking the Arizona Cardinals last week. The Rams have looked very impressive the past few weeks and look to continue their winning ways against the Giants next Sunday. -Aman Hyrams

7. New Orleans Saints (5-2) (Last week: 9⬆️)

It’s a good thing kicking is a thing or else this would have been one of the more miserable games of the season. The good news is they were able to take down a pretty decent Bears team. The bad news is Drew Brees threw for nearly 300 yards and didn’t have a single touchdown. Again, the good news is that with no touchdowns coming from the Bears it means that the Saints’ D has learned to consistently play the game and put the team on their back. The NFC is wide open for the wild card and it’s anybody’s spot at this point. However, a touchdown-less team may not be the one to hold that spot-Noah Gerringer

8. Minnesota Vikings (6-2) (Last week: 7⬇️)

The Minnesota Vikings improved to 6-2 for the season with a big win over the winless Cleveland Browns. The Vikings’ quarterback position is still up in the air with regard to who will be starting come postseason time. Between the Vikings’ potential quarterback starters Teddy Bridgewater, Case Kennum and Sam Bradford, they have two good legs and two good arms. Most people claim when Bridgewater comes back that eventually he will start, however with the momentum they have going for them right now it would be hard to turn away from Case Keenum. -Michael Pigg

9. Dallas Cowboys (4-3) (Last week: 9↔️)

I wasn’t impressed with the Cowboys as a whole but I wasn’t unimpressed either. Zeke ran for 150 yards and had his way on the field but he did manage his first fumble of the season. Dak didn’t have a horrible game but he should have more yards than Zeke did, yet he didn’t. But, the big news, as it always has been, is Zeke’s suspension. This time, he may actually end up serving the six games. If so, Dallas is about to head into a tough and incredibly crucial part of their schedule and his presence will be greatly missed. McFadden and Morris can in no way take the place of one of the top backs in the league. The biggest question isn’t what will they do but how will they react. The Eagles are flying away with the division but the Cowboys could still make a run for it. -Noah Gerringer

10. Atlanta Falcons (4-3) (Last week: 10⬆️)

The Dirty Birds finally returned to their winning ways last week in a 25-20 victory over the Jets. Atlanta was on the brink of going 0-4 against AFC opponents. Needless to say, the victory was not pretty nor impressive. The majority of the blame for that can be placed solely on the inclement weather throughout the game. Matt Ryan muffed the snap exchange from the center four times and actually ended up losing two of those fumbles. The Brotherhood persevered late with a gift of a turnover from the Jets during a muffed punt return. However, it would only lead to a Matt Bryant field goal. In fact, the turnover was only the fourth takeaway of the season. The Falcons improved to 4-3 on the year with the win and now sit only one game back out of first place within the NFC South. Atlanta travels to Charlotte this week to face off against division rival 5-3 Carolina Panthers. The upcoming game is arguably a must win if the Brotherhood wishes just to make the playoffs this season. -Shane Harvell

11. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3) (Last week: 11↔️)

Jacksonville played approximately one quarter of actual football on Sunday, but let me tell you that was one good quarter. After leading for most of the game, New York slipped up badly and allowed Jacksonville to score 10 points late in the fourth. Luckily for the Jets, Chandler Catanzaro decided he didn’t feel like going into overtime and kicked a 41-yard screamer to give them a 23-20 lead. Blake Bortles had a touchdown and an interception, Fournette is proving to be a better receiver than anybody expected and the Jags might just have the best defense in the NFL. Jacksonville will host the Bengals next Sunday and hope to improve on their already solid playoff chances. -Garrett Wold

12. Houston Texans (3-4) (Last week: 12↔️)

The Texans traveled to Seattle to take on the Seahawks and nearly came away with a big win. Deshaun Watson passed for 402 yards and four TDs, although throwing three INTs. But despite that fact, Deshaun carried the offense on his back and almost propelled them to victory. DeAndre Hopkins also had a stand out game, recording over 200 yards receiving and one TD. The main concern from this game was the play-calling from Bill O’Brien. He was too conservative and gave the Seahawks the ball back with too much time. The defense also could not get a stop. This could be a concern going forward. -Eric Jackson

13. Buffalo Bills (5-2) (Last week: 13↔️)

The Buffalo Bills continue their impressive season with a win over the Oakland Raiders. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been proving the critics wrong by being a great in-the-pocket passer and he seems to be getting better every week. LeSean McCoy had a breakout game against the Bucs a week ago and that performance seemed to carry over to this week. McCoy averaged 5 yards a carry, racking up 151 yards and scoring one touchdown. If the offense can continue putting points on the board, the Bills defense will make sure they keep the lead. The stats for the defense may not look good, but they bend without breaking mentality with one of the best red zone defenses in the league. -Michael Pigg

14. Carolina Panthers (5-3) (Last week: 15⬆️)

Let’s face it, it wasn’t the most entertaining game when the Panthers knocked off the inept Buccaneers 17-3. While it lacked style, it did reveal how dominant Carolina’s defense can be with Luke Kuechly on the field. Returning from a concussion, Kuechly recorded eight total tackles and an interception. The Panthers’ offense again struggled mightily, only churning out 3.2 yards per carry. As it stands now, Carolina is an average football team that is still searching for some much needed balance on offense. Returning home in a pivotal NFC South matchup, the Panthers better regain their offensive firepower to take on a Falcons team that just snapped a three-game losing streak. -Tyler Hotz

15.Washington Redskins (3-4) (Last week: 14⬇️)

After a promising start to the year, the Redskins have dropped three of their last four, including squeaking past the winless San Francisco 49ers with just a two-point victory. To put it simply, Washington has had a history of being unable to beat good teams; since 2015 they are just 3-12 against teams that are better than .500. Kirk Cousins has been a bright spot, as he ranks in the top 10 in the league in touchdowns, yards and completion percentage. The rushing game has to pick it up if they still want to contend for playoff contention, as they rank 17th in the NFL at 105.4 rush yards per game. At 3-4 on the year, all is not yet lost, but they’ve gotta figure out how to beat those top-tier opponents. -Silas Albright

16. Detroit Lions (3-4) (Last week: 16↔️)

After dropping a close 20-15 matchup with the Steelers, Detroit has now lost three straight games and four out of their last five. Their performance in the red zone has plagued them. Three of their four losses on the year have been by five points or less– they have been in games but haven’t been able to capitalize when they need to most, and that’s a big part of why they sit third in the NFC North at 3-4 on the year. Matthew Stafford will have to figure how to take advantage of their opportunities in the coming weeks if they want to bring playoff hopes back to life.  -Silas Albright

17. Denver Broncos (3-4) (Last week: 17↔️)

The Broncos are slowly falling apart as the season progresses. The Broncos are really struggling on the offensive side of the ball, largely due to the poor play of Trevor Siemien. The defense has been solid, but it is hard to not have a let down when they are constantly on the field. The season for the Broncos is slowly slipping away. In order to even make a run, which seems unlikely at this point, they may need to make a QB change because Siemien is not getting it done. -Eric Jackson

18. Green Bay Packers (4-3) (Last week: 20⬆️)

Green Bay took the week off and used this time to figure out their offense a little more. Brett Hundley performed extremely well for his first start under center, although head coach Mike McCarthy did seem hesitant to really let Hundley run wild. Green Bay’s defense still looks solid and they could very possibly make a postseason appearance. If they figure out the offense without Rodgers and keep the rest of the team healthy, keep an eye out for the Packers this winter.  -Garrett Wold

19. Tennessee Titans (4-3) (Last week: 21⬆️)

The Titans really rocked their bye week, nothing went wrong and both teams in their division who played took a loss. The Titans are in a tie with the Jags for the AFC South lead, despite being one of two teams with both a winning record and a negative point differential. Tennessee still has to figure out their pass-catching situation however. Mariota has only thrown for four touchdowns this season, and Jonnu Smith is the only player on the team with more than one receiving touchdown. Fun fact: he has two 107 yard games on the season and went to FIU (Go Panthers!). Is that the guy you want to be your red-zone threat? -Ian Taylor

20. Baltimore Ravens (4-4) (Last week: 25⬆️)

The Ravens looked like a different team this week, dominating the Miami Dolphins, 40-0 on Thursday Night Football. Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 66 percent of his passes for 101 yards and a touchdown to  before being knocked out of the game on an illegal hit from Dolphins’ linebacker Kiko Alonso. Flacco did not return, but was put through concussion protocol and is expected to play this week against the Tennessee Titans. The touchdown pass was an impressive completion to Jeremy Maclin, who was on the field for the first time since being sidelined with a shoulder injury. Ravens’ backup Ryan Mallett came in and completed three passes on seven attempts, including a touchdown pass, which was the ninth of his six-year career. Running back Alex Collins also carried the ball 18 times for 113 yards. The Ravens’ defense continues to shine, picking up 12 tackles for a loss, three sacks and two interceptions in the game. The Ravens still lead the league in interceptions with 12, and currently rank 12th in sacks with 19. If the Ravens can somehow continue this production, they should be able to work a winning record over the coming weeks. -Brooks Maynard

21. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) (Last week: 22⬆️)

The Chargers actually led the Patriots for about two quarters, but New England ended up winning as they usually do. Los Angeles’ defense still continues to be solid, but the offense had one of their no-show weeks. Los Angeles has been outscored 50-21 in first quarters this season and a majority of those slow starts have led to their 3-5 record that could actually be much better. If the Chargers find a way to come out stronger and score just a little bit more, they will start to win games. However, it seems the team can’t do that. -Jason Huber

22. Oakland Raiders (3-5) (Last week: 18⬇️)

I’m not really sure what to write about the Raiders right now. After an amazing performance last week against the Chiefs, the Raiders were beaten up by the Bills in Buffalo, New York. Now the Bills are no pushover this season as they came into the game with a 4-2 record on the year, however this was supposed to be the week the Raiders got back on track to the playoffs. Penalties and poor execution killed the Raiders on Sunday. Carr threw for 300 yards, but two interceptions stalled any momentum the Raiders had. A sputtering run game hasn’t helped the Raiders all year and was on full display Sunday. Without Marshawn Lynch they were able to muster only 54 yards on the grounds, while Shady McCoy gashed the defense to the tune of over 150 yards and a score. The Raiders have been up and down all year and need a strong push at the end of the season to even be in playoff contention. -Aman Hyrams

23. Miami Dolphins (4-3) (Last week: 19⬇️)

The past week has been nothing short of a massive headache for Miami and its fans. Starting on Thursday, the team was shut out for the second time this year and bludgeoned by the Ravens, who aren’t exactly a contender. Ndamukong Suh and Kiko Alonso escaped without suspensions, or assault charges in Suh’s case, despite probably deserving them. To top it all off, the Dolphins traded pro-bowl running back Jay Ajayi to the Eagles in what can only be described as the most questionable move any team has made this season. While Ajayi wasn’t dropping 200-yard bombs on defenses like he was last year, his numbers weren’t horrible and Miami definitely should have gotten more than a fourth-round pick in exchange for the British bruiser. -Ian Taylor

24. Chicago Bears (3-5) (Last week: 24↔️)

The Bears took on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in New Orleans and lost. Chicago had some trouble scoring touchdowns after finding some success moving the ball against the Saints’ defense. Jordan Howard had another great game topping 100 yards rushing once again this season, becoming the fastest Bear to reach 10 100-yard games. Aside from Howard’s stellar game, the Bears couldn’t get too much going. Tre McBride was the only Bears receiver to get anything going with 92 yards on three catches, accounting for more than half of the Bear’s passing yards. With John Fox not wanting to put the team on Trubisky’s shoulders, expect the same passing output throughout the remainder of the season. Losing Zach Miller for the rest of the year won’t help the passing game with the Bears’ receiving corps going from bad to worse, so expect even more carries from Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. Drew Brees was able to find success against the secondary throwing for nearly 300 yards, while Mark Ingram’s and Alvin Kamara provided a couple touchdowns as well. The defense looked decent despite what the numbers may say and some young playmakers have continued to improve and step up. -Aman Hyrams

25. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) (Last week: 26⬆️)

The Bengals scraped by with a one-point win over the Colts last week. It was not one bit impressive, however a win’s a win. Andy Dalton played like a NFL quarterback – not a good one, just a regular one – and once again Joe Mixon proved that he is not a NFL running back. Mixon rushed 11 times for only 18 yards. Sure, the guy has some speed on him and can get away from defenders but is 18 yards really what you want out of your top rusher? A.J. Green caught a few passes and contributed to the score a little but he’s still not being used to the caliber weapon that he is. He is the Julio Jones for the Bengals; let the guy loose. -Noah Gerringer

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) (Last week: 23⬇️)

For the 900th time, let me reiterate that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were supposed to be pushing for a playoff spot this season. The odds of that happening are slim to none, so why bother? Despite a porous defense, the Bucs made no attempt to pull a trade that could upgrade them in any way. Combine with a loss to the division-rival Panthers and you have a team sitting at 2-5 with no bye week. Can they recover? Sure, but the season is as good as washed. -Ian Taylor

27. New York Jets (3-5) (Last week: 28⬆️)

The Jets dropped their third game in a row this week, this time to the Atlanta Falcons, 25-20. Josh McCown continues with his career season, completing 26 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns, and receiver Robby Anderson had a nice day with six receptions for 104 yards and a score. However, the Jets are still unable to run the ball, picking up only 43 yards on the ground on 22 carries. The Jets have now rushed for 209 yards on 68 carries in their last three contests, an average gain of just 3.07 yards. The Jets also lost a turnover and 50 yards on penalties. If the Jets cannot find a way to help their quarterback, it will be a tough road for them ahead. -Brooks Maynard

28. Arizona Cardinals (3-4) (Last week: 27⬇️)

Arizona was saved from further self destruction last week all thanks to a bye. The Cards have placed quarterback Carson Palmer on injured reserve after his broken arm fiasco. Fair warning but the news just gets worse from here on out. David Johnson’s return timetable is now in question due to the fact he is still wearing a cast on his wrist. It was thought that he could possibly return shortly after Thanksgiving. Arizona may end up placing Johnson on IR as well. The Cardinals will look to backup quarterback Drew Stanton and ageless wonder Adrian Peterson for production the rest of the way. Arizona travels to San Francisco this week to battle the 0-8 49ers in an ultimate trap game. -Shane Harvell

29. Indianapolis Colts (2-6) (Last week: 29↔️)

The streak continues: the Indianapolis Colts have still not won a single fourth quarter in 2017. Up at halftime yet again, Indianapolis fell to the Bengals 24-23 on Sunday and now sit at 2-6 on the season. With that record, being virtually eliminated from playoff contention, the Colts have shifted off of their focus of trying to get Andrew Luck back healthy by the end of the season. What’s the point? Their defense has been atrocious, they have allowed 3,254 yards of total offense while only mustering 2,370 yards of total offense of their own. The best thing they can do this year is probably just try to stay healthy, get ready for next year and wait for the return of their injury prone franchise player Luck.  -Silas Albright

30. New York Giants (1-6) (Last week: 30↔️)

The Giants didn’t lose this week but only because they had a bye week. You can’t really say that it was needed because they will still struggle when they come back against the Rams next week, but it was about time they had a break from losing. Of course, off the field problems continued. The Giants’ best cornerback Janoris Jenkins was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules and now New York will be without another top player. Things are about to get a lot more tough for the Big Blue. -Jason Huber

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-8) (Last week: 31↔️)

The 49ers were clobbered for the second week in a row, 33-10 against the Eagles in Philadelphia. Quarterback C.J. Beathard completed less than half of his attempts and threw two interceptions to one touchdown pass. He was also the 49ers’ leading rusher on the day, never a good sign for a football team, gaining 40 yards on six carries. San Francisco punted eight times before the day was over and the 49ers’ main scoring supply, kicker Robbie Gould, was blocked on one of his two field goal attempts. The 49ers did trade for Patriots backup Jimmy Garappolo before the deadline, adding an interesting piece to their quarterback competition. With little space between them and the bottom, giving Garappolo a chance to help them turn things around can’t hurt, especially with winnable games against the Cardinals and Giants coming up in the next two weeks. -Brooks Maynard

32. Cleveland Browns (0-8) (Last week: 32↔️)

The Browns lost to the Vikings in London on Sunday. The game started off well, as the Browns had the lead but as the game went on, they fell apart. The good news is that Deshone Kizer did not throw an interception, but the Browns still struggled on offense. At this point, the Browns are just playing so they can get a top pick in next year’s draft to take another QB. Eric Jackson 

Rankings By: Jason Huber, Brooks Maynard, Tyler Hotz, Silas Albright, Eric Jackson, Shane Harvell, Aman Hyrams, Michael Pigg, Ian Taylor, Noah Gerringer and Garrett Wold 

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