Howard, the usual author of the Power Rankings, is out in Montana this week shoveling manure or doing whatever it is one does in a land forsaken by God and man. I will do my best to fill his void. (Man did that come off sounding sexual.) Behold the Power Rankings NFL Week 8 edition.
1. Kansas City Chiefs. (7-0). And then there was one. The last of the NFL’s unbeatens, you can’t help but feel that they have benefited from a soft schedule and aren’t helmed by one of the league’s elite quarterbacks. Still, as the Big Tuna once said, “You are what your record says you are.” If that’s the case, then KC is the finest in the league.
2. New Orleans Saints. (6-1). It’s hard not to be high on the Saints this year. Their offense is explosive, their defense predatory and their perennial divisional foe, the Atlanta Falcons, have decided to see how the other half lives this season. The one cause for concern is a rather difficult remaining schedule, but a great team tends to triumph over merely good ones.
3. Indianapolis Colts. (5-2). As difficult as it was to stomach Sunday’s victory over the Broncos because Colts owner Jim Irsay was such a cocksucker about the whole affair, it was hard to ignore how in-command the Colts seemed for the majority of the game. Andrew Luck is everything he was expected to be, and his low salary cap hit has allowed a strong team to be built around him. Maybe that silver spoon alcoholic was right, after all.
4. Seattle Seahawks. (6-1). The Seahawks strike me as very similar to the Saints–Strong offense, disruptive defense and a great home-field advantage. The difference is that Seattle’s remaining schedule consists of several very-beatable teams, which could grease the skids for the road to the Super Bowl running through the Pacific Northwest.
5. Denver Broncos. (6-1). What a difference a week makes. While Denver is still scary, two things have become evident: Their defense isn’t very stout–with or without Von Miller–and anything short of an amazing game from Peyton Manning might not be enough to hang a win.
6. Cincinnati Bengals. (5-2). The kings of the AFC North are looking good again this week, with Andy Dalton possibly having turned a corner (until his next middling game). Perhaps no team in the league has benefited from the tumbling of the old guard like Cincinnati, who has managed to soar past Baltimore and Pittsburgh. A none-too-difficult remaining schedule should keep it that way, but at least one of the two remaining games against the Ravens will have to be won.
7. Green Bay Packers. (4-2). The best news for the Packers this week might be Jay Cutler’s injury, which could make their match-up with Chicago in a fortnight (yes, fortnight) that much simpler. While noticeably weaker than the six teams that precede them in this list, Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers, and the addition of Eddie Lacy to the backfield has done much to make his life simpler.
9. New England Patriots. (5-2). Honestly, I would have the Patriots at six, but Howard picked the order and I’m simply writing the article, so here at number nine they are. As much as everyone outside of the Bah-stin area delighted in seeing The Hoodie piss and moan about losing due to some obscure new rule, the Patriots are a team I’d never feel comfortable betting against. They simply have that “it” factor that guarantees they will play anyone in the league closely. Gronk‘s presence in the lineup can’t hurt, either.
10. San Francisco 49ers. (5-2). After starting the season 1-2 and falling off everyone’s radar, a funny thing happened to the 49ers: They kept winning. Now a game out of first in their division (well, down a tiebreaker to Seattle as well), the boys from the gay side of the bay are beginning to live up to their start-of-the-season hype. Still, there is little doubt a postseason trip to Seattle would end in anything other than another blowout, so San Fran probably has to clench the NFC West to preserve its Super Bowl dreams.
11. Dallas Cowboys. (4-3). Dallas plays in what’s possibly the league’s worst division (Christ help us all), and, well, someone has to win the damn thing. A triumph over the Eagles, the other passable team in the East, has cemented the Star’s position atop it for the moment. While it would be difficult to pick Dallas to make much postseason noise, and a season finale against the Eagles might allow them to give away their playoff hopes on the last day of the season yet again, the roster is powerful enough to play most teams well.
12. San Diego Chargers. (4-3). Playing in the same division as Denver and Kansas City has all but relegated the Chargers to a wild card run this year. Still, that isn’t elimination, and the squad had enough firepower to eliminate the Colts a few weeks back. Look for the Chargers to, if nothing else, play interesting spoilers going forward.