NFL Power Rankings for Week 8 (Oct. 22nd, 2013)

jamaal-charlesOne obvious question to ask at this point in the NFL season is this: who’d have thought that after eight weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs would be the lone unbeaten team? This year’s biggest surprise team not only leads a very tough AFC West, but also the entire league. Their rival, the Denver Broncos, lost a close road game against the Colts in Peyton Manning’s spoiled homecoming. This loss has no doubt impacted the power rankings, which you can see below.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-0); beat Houston 17-16, moves up one spot – Many people still harp on how the Chiefs can’t be number one due to Alex Smith’s inability to throw downfield. And while we were in that boat earlier, it’s hard to keep doubting KC when they continue winning. We’ll see if they can keep up the incredible season as they soon get into the meat of their schedule.

2. Denver Broncos (6-1); lost to Indianapolis 39-33, drops one spot – The return of Von Miller wasn’t enough to spark a better defensive effort. And despite throwing for 386 yards, 3 TD’s and 1 INT, Manning wasn’t able to engineer a rally with two backup offensive tackles in the lineup. This loss by no means discredits the Broncos, though.

3. Seattle Seahawks (6-1); beat Arizona 34-22, moves up one spot – Russell Wilson finally came alive after throwing for 235 yards and three TD’s. And the defense has always been alive, as evidenced by the seven sacks they tallied on Carson Palmer.

4. New Orleans Saints (6-1); bye week, drops one spot – This isn’t the first time that the Seahawks and Saints have flip-flopped in our rankings. And it won’t be the last since these teams are so evenly matched.

5. Indianapolis Colts (5-2); beat Denver 39-39, moves up four spots – The Colts make andrew-lucka big leap after grabbing yet another win over a tough opponent. They lay claim to victories over Denver, Seattle (road) and San Francisco (road). And all of this coming despite a lack of a running game.

6. San Francisco (5-2); beat Tennessee 31-17, retains same ranking – San Francisco spoiled Jake Locker’s return to the Tennessee lineup by jumping out to a 17-0 lead. From then on, it was pretty much over since the Niners are great at running the ball and controlling the clock.

7. Green Bay Packers (4-2); beat Cleveland 31-13, moves up one spot – The injuries are mounting on Green Bay, but it hasn’t slowed them down. This time, Jarrett Boykin stepped in and grabbed eight passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.

8. New England Patriots (5-2); lost to New York Jets 30-27 (OT), drops three spots – New England picked up their second loss following a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Chris Jones. He violated a new rule that states you can’t push teammates into the offensive line, which gave Nick Foles a second chance to kick a game-winning field goal.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2); beat Detroit 27-24, moves up one spot – Andy Dalton had his best game of the season after throwing for 372 yards and three touchdowns. He’s finally starting to utilize his weapons, which means the Bengals could continue rising.

10. Dallas Cowboys (4-3); beat Philadelphia 17-3, moves up two spots – The Cowboys are looking like the cream of the crop in the NFC East, which isn’t saying a whole lot. However, you do have to give them credit for winning without both DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware.

11. San Diego Chargers (4-3); beat Jacksonville 24-6, moves up four spots – We philip-riversrealize that a victory over Jacksonville doesn’t necessarily justify moving up this far. But San Diego has been a pretty good offensive team this year, and none of the teams immediately in front of them looked too good.

12. Detroit Lions (4-3); lost to Cincinnati 27-24, drops one spot – As long as Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson stay healthy, the Lions won’t have a problem filling up the box score. Unfortunately, their defense keeps allowing opponents to fill up the box score as well.

13. Chicago Bears (4-3); lost to Washington 44-41, drops five spots – As if an upset loss to Washington isn’t bad enough, the Bears will also be missing Jay Cutler (groin) for four weeks or more. Add in the fact that Chicago travels to Green Bay this week and their freefall may continue.

14. Miami Dolphins (3-3); lost to Buffalo 23-21, drops one spot – The Dolphins got off to a terrible start after a Nickell Robey interception return made the score 14-0. From here, it was all about playing catch-up, which Miami did after taking the lead. However, Mario Williams came up big by forcing a Ryan Tannehill fumble and setting up a game-winning field goal for the Bills.

15. New York Jets (4-3); beat New England 30-27 (OT), moves up six spots – Aside from the Chiefs, New York may be the second biggest surprise team. Most people expected them to be terrible; however, they’ve been very competitive and are actually in the playoff hunt.

16. Baltimore Ravens (3-4); lost to Pittsburgh 19-16, drops two spots – After starting the year with a 3-1 record, the Ravens have gone 1-3 and are averaging less than 20 PPG during this span. Baltimore isn’t out of the AFC North race yet, though, since they have the Bengals coming up in a couple of weeks.

17. Arizona Cardinals (3-4); lost to Seattle 34-22, drops one spot – It’s little surprise that Arizona couldn’t come up with a win against a very tough Seattle team. But sooner or later, they have to start reaching up for victories if they want to be a playoff contender.

18. Atlanta Falcons (2-4); beat Tampa Bay 31-23, moves up five spots – With Julio harry-douglasJones done for the season and Roddy White out for this game, Harry Douglas filled their shoes masterfully by catching seven passes for 149 yards and a TD.

19. Carolina Panthers (3-4); beat Saint Louis 30-15, moves up four spots – The Panthers are taking advantage of a soft spot in their schedule and saving Ron Rivera’s job in the process. They have another very winnable game at Tampa Bay before things heat up again.

20. Tennessee Titans (3-4); lost to San Francisco 31-17, drops three spots – Tennessee was thoroughly dominated at home, but the score made this game look closer than it was. The Titans didn’t score until the fourth quarter, when Locker threw a couple of TD passes.

21. Cleveland Browns (3-4); lost to Green Bay 31-13, drops three spots – Just two weeks ago, the Browns were riding high and tied for first in their division. Now, they’re two games out of first and Brandon Weeden is their quarterback again.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4); lost to Dallas 17-3, drops three spots – It’s amazing how big a difference a week can make. Before this game, many believed that it was Nick Foles time to take the reigns in Philly. But after his anemic performance, before leaving the game with a concussion, Eagles fans can’t wait for a healthy Michael Vick.

23. Washington Redskins (2-4); beat Chicago 44-41 moves up two spots – Washington grabbed a much-needed win by taking down the Bears at home. But the celebration may not last long since this porous defense will be subjected to the Broncos and Chargers in the coming weeks.

24. Houston Texans (2-5); lost to Kansas City 17-16, drops four spots – Case case-keenumKeenum (271 yards, 1 TD) did surprisingly well for being on the road against a tough Kansas City defense. However, it wasn’t enough to prevent Houston’s season from falling even further down the tubes.

25. Buffalo Bills (3-4); beat Miami 23-21, moves up three spots – The Bills deserve a round of applause for beating a solid team on the road, despite a hobbled CJ Spiller and their starting QB still being out. But they face two rough upcoming matchups against the Saints and Chiefs.

26. Oakland Raiders (2-4); bye week, retains same ranking – Oakland comes out of the bye week with a chance to really establish themselves in home games against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4); beat Baltimore 19-16, moves up two spots – Are we seeing a resurgence in Pittsburgh? Or just a subpar team collecting a couple of wins? This week’s contest against the Raiders will go a long ways towards answering these questions.

28. New York Giants (1-6); beat Minnesota 23-7, moves up three spots – It wasn’t pretty, but the Giants finally got their first win of the season. With games against Philadelphia and Oakland coming up, the Giants could possibly get another win or two before playing Green Bay at home.

29. Saint Louis Rams (3-4); lost to Carolina 30-15, drops five spots – Any slim playoff hopes that the Rams had disappeared with Sam Bradford’s season-ending injury. Rookie RB Zac Stacy provides a nice spark, but it’s not going to be enough this year.

30. Minnesota Vikings (1-5); lost to New York Giants 23-7, drops three spots – Anybody watching this game had to feel sorry for Josh Freeman. Just two weeks after being traded, he threw 53 passes in an offense that he’s still learning. Was Christian Ponder really so bad that he couldn’t have played one or two more games until Freeman was ready?

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6); lost to Atlanta 31-23, retains same ranking – With Doug Martin (torn labrum) reportedly done for the season, things only get worse from here.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6); lost to San Diego 24-6, retains same ranking – A week after challenging the Broncos through three quarters, Jacksonville took a step back in this performance.

Green Bay Packers: Once Again Loaded with Offensive Talent

aaron-rodgers-bet-3In recent years, the Green Bay Packers have easily been one of the NFL’s most talented offensive teams. They’ve boasted a number of offensive stars, including Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb.

These players have helped boost the Packers to a 47-17 mark and a Super Bowl trophy over the past four seasons. But as great as Green Bay has been in the past, they might feature far more offensive talent going into the 2013-14 season.

This is especially the case at the running back position, where they now have a rookie duo that can carry the workload. Alabama product Eddie Lacy looks to be the starter and primary ball-carrier for Green Bay. He’s already shown NFL-caliber speed and physicality after rushing for 40 yards on eight carries in his preseason debut. In the best case scenario, he could return the Packers’ backfield to the prominence it saw in 2009, when Grant carried the ball. At worst, he’ll do far better than last year’s leading ballcarrier, Alex Green (464 yards).

eddie-lacyFourth-rounder Jonathan Franklin is the other rookie who should be seeing plenty of snaps. The UCLA product wasn’t drafted as somebody to compete with Lacy, but rather compliment him. Franklin is a proven talent, having run for 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. Other players who’ll be fighting for time include veterans James Starks, DuJuan Harris and Green.

Of course the quarterback position will be Green Bay’s strength this season. Aaron Rodgers’ receiving corp may have changed with the departures of Jennings and Driver, but it never seems to matter who he’s throwing the ball to. Last season he put up 4,295 passing yards, 39 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and a 67.2% completion rate. Fans should expect similar numbers from him this year, despite the new faces that he’ll be targeting.

Randal Cobb seems destined to star this year after catching 80 passes for 954 yards. One stat that doesn’t show up is the fact that Cobb caught 77% of the balls that were thrown to him. Don’t be surprised if the former Kentucky star records at least 1,200 receiving yards in the 2013-14 season.

jordy-nelsonJordy Nelson will be looking to return to his 2011 form, when he grabbed 15 touchdowns. Last year wasn’t quite as good since he pulled in just 47 catches for 745 yards and 7 touchdowns. But he also missed four games, and should put up big numbers if he can stay healthy.

While Nelson’s TD’s were down last season, James Jones picked up the slack by tallying 784 yards and 14 touchdowns. He should once again play a very big role in the offense.

As for the rest of wideouts, there’s be a lot of young talent fighting for the remaining three spots. Jeremy Ross, Kevin Dorsey, Jarrett Boykin, Myles White, Tyrone Walker and Charles Johnson will all be hoping to make the team. Johnson is noteworthy here because he runs a 4.35 forty-yard dash.

One guy who won’t be fighting for a roster spot is Jermichael Finley. The 26-year-old will again start at tight end for Green Bay and is hoping for more targets from Rodgers. He put up numbers of 61 catches, 667 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2012.

As you can see, the Green Bay Packers have strong players at every offensive position. The key will be how well the veterans with the newcomers. Assuming the chemistry is good, there’s no reason to think that the Packers’ offense can’t carry them to the Super Bowl.