Not to be dramatic, but it’s good to have a life again. Now that the MLB playoffs are over (#DamageDone), I have two orders of business: 1) play the hell out of Red Dead Redemption on Xbox and 2) see the new Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody. Like me, you’ve probably seen the trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody where, among other happenings, a talent agent reminds Freddie Mercury that “fortune favors the bold.” But does it actually? Not always.
Take Ty Montgomery for example. Montgomery tried to be the hero Sunday against Los Angeles but in his quest to slay the mighty Rams, the Packers running back (edit: ex-Packers running back) cost his team the game and, depending on how the standings shake out, maybe their season. There’s little margin for error in the absurdly loaded NFC, a conference comprised of heavyweights like the aforementioned Rams, the Kirk-Cousins-led Vikings, the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles, Cam Newton’s feisty Panthers and of course, the always-competitive New Orleans Saints.
Trailing by two, Montgomery thought he was doing the right thing by returning a fourth-quarter kickoff out of the end zone, despite coaches pleading for him to take a knee. TyMont’s “split-second” decision, as he later described it, proved entirely too bold as the 25-year-old was loose with the football, resulting in a game-sealing turnover. Rather than marching downfield in pursuit of a go-ahead field goal, the NFL’s preeminent comeback artist, Aaron Rodgers, was instead reduced to spectator status, watching helplessly from the Packers’ sideline as Todd Gurley salted away the game’s final seconds. It was an excruciating end to what could have been a signature victory for the Packers, who enter their Week 9 matchup against New England (winners of five straight) with a deeply underwhelming 3-3-1 record.
Even with competitors like the Eagles, Falcons and Vikings off to relatively quiet starts, the Packers have to be kicking themselves for letting Sunday’s upset bid fall through the cracks. It was an especially bad look for Montgomery, who was seen pouting on the bench (presumably due to a lack of playing time) prior to his reckless and ultimately game-deciding mishap. We all make bone-headed choices from time to time, but in the football-sphere, not all mistakes are created equal. Taking the game into your own hands instead of trusting the NFL’s Mariano Rivera? That’s not ill-advised—that’s career suicide.
Montgomery won’t have a chance to atone for his costly fumble, at least not in Green Bay. Predictably, the Packers moved him at the trade deadline, shipping the fourth-year Stanford alum to Baltimore for the low cost of a 2020 seventh-round pick. It’s not the ending either side was envisioning but maybe it’s for the best. Montgomery will get a clean slate in a new city while Rodgers can take a deep breath knowing that the next time TyMont decides to go rogue, it won't be in a Packers uniform. Now that Green Bay has turned the page, let’s dive into this week’s Power Rankings.
1. Los Angeles Rams
Last Week: 1
Sunday’s nail-biter against the Packers won’t go down as the Rams’ most convincing win of 2018 but Week 8 was certainly a strong showcase for Todd Gurley, who led the team in both rushing and receiving yards. Gurley’s decision to take a knee instead of walking in for a touchdown on the game’s final play was a gut punch to fantasy owners, though for strategic purposes, running out the clock was undoubtedly the right call. After missing the past two games with a sprained MCL, Cooper Kupp should be back for Week 9 at New Orleans.
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2. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 3
Sammy Watkins delivered a vintage performance in Week 8, eviscerating the Broncos for 107 yards and two touchdowns as Kansas City improved to 7-1. With Tyreek Hill (groin) nicked up, Watkins could wreak even more havoc in Week 9. Patrick Mahomes has thrown for a league-high 26 touchdowns, the same number Alex Smith had all of last season (and 18 more than he has this year). Sunday extended the 23-year-old’s streak of 300-yard passing games to seven. Remember when Kareem Hunt wasn’t catching passes? Well now he’s second among running backs in touchdown receptions with five.
3. New England Patriots
Last Week: 2
James White stayed hot in Week 8, throttling Buffalo for 94 yards and a touchdown on 18 touches. He’s up to eight touchdowns on the year including six receiving scores, tops in the league among running backs. Week 8 was Julian Edelman’s best yet as the veteran slot man rolled to 104 yards in New England’s 25-6 victory. Sony Michel (knee) didn’t suit up for that one, but his return to practice puts him on track for Sunday’s showdown with Green Bay. Rob Gronkowski’s current six-game touchdown drought is the longest of his career.
4. New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 4
Alvin Kamara hit the Vikings where it hurts in Week 8, gashing them for 76 yards and two touchdowns as New Orleans stretched its winning streak to six. Kamara has out-touched Mark Ingram 39-30 since the bye week. Drew Brees took a backseat against Minnesota, attempting a season-low 23 passes while throwing for his fewest yards since Week 17 of 2006. We’ll see what the scorching-hot Saints are really made of Sunday when the undefeated Rams invade the Big Easy.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
Last Week: 5
The Chargers should be well-rested coming off their bye in Week 8. Hopefully the week off gave Melvin Gordon time to recover from a hamstring injury he picked up during the team’s trip to London. The former Wisconsin Badger has been a rock star when healthy, amassing 745 yards from scrimmage with nine touchdowns in his six appearances. Joey Bosa is unlikely to return this week, though the third-year pass-rusher is said to be making progress in his recovery from a bruised foot. The injury has hampered him since training camp.
6. Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 8
A week after schooling the reigning world champs on their home field (they came back from 21 down in the fourth quarter), the Panthers stayed hot by dropping some knowledge on the visiting Ravens in Week 8. Carolina finally unleashed D.J. Moore, who broke out for a career-high 90 yards in the victory. Greg Olsen also lent a helping hand, earning four catches for 56 yards while scoring for the second time in as many weeks. Sunday marked just the second multi-touchdown game of Christian McCaffrey’s career.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 9
James Conner cannot be stopped right now and on Sunday, Cleveland was the collateral damage. The 23-year-old burned the Browns all the way to the ground in Week 8, obliterating them to the tune of 212 yards and two touchdowns. Not to be outdone, Antonio Brown punched in two touchdowns of his own, giving him eight for the year and seven in his last five games. Revenge will be the objective Sunday when Pittsburgh travels to Baltimore to face the division-rival Ravens, who defeated the Steelers on their home turf back in Week 4.
8. Washington Redskins
Last Week: 10
Adrian Peterson delivered the goods in Week 8, gifting fantasy owners 156 yards from scrimmage to go with two touchdowns in a win over the Giants. The 33-year-old now sits ninth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with Eric Dickerson in his sights at No. 8. The Redskins swung a deal at the trade deadline, landing stud safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in a swap with Green Bay. He joins a loaded Redskins secondary featuring All-Pro Josh Norman, NFL interceptions leader D.J. Swearinger and breakout star Quinton Dunbar (No. 28 in PFF’s cornerback grades).
9. Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 6
Latavius Murray continued to sizzle in Week 8, bulldozing his way to 95 yards and a touchdown as the Vikings fell to New Orleans in a rematch of last year’s iconic Minneapolis Miracle. After going his first five games without a touchdown, the sixth-year power back has found the end zone four times over his last three contests. Adam Thielen has garnered most of the headlines for Minnesota but that shouldn’t take away from the season Stefon Diggs is having. The fourth-year Maryland product is on pace to establish new career-highs in both catches and receiving yards.
10. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 13
Welcome to Philadelphia, the slot receiver capital of the NFL. The Eagles already had Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews before they ponied up a third-round pick for Golden Tate at Tuesday’s trade deadline. It’s unclear whether Tate will remain in the slot or work outside opposite Alshon Jeffery, but the Eagles will have the bye week to figure that out. Corey Clement has quickly dropped off the fantasy map, totaling just 12 yards on 12 carries over his last two contests while falling to third on the Eagles’ depth chart behind Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams.
11. Chicago Bears
Last Week: 12
Khalil Mack wasn’t in uniform for Week 8 but the Bears didn’t need him to knock off the Jets, who managed just 10 points and 207 yards of total offense. Tarik Cohen matched the longest play of his career by gliding to a 70-yard touchdown on Sunday, which extended the running back’s scoring streak to four games. Mitchell Trubisky continues to dazzle as a ball-carrier, averaging an electric 8.0 yards per carry on 37 rushes. Among quarterbacks, only Cam Newton (309) has rushed for more yards than Trubisky (296) in 2018.
12. Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 7
The slumping Ravens laid another egg in Week 8, falling flat in an ugly loss to Carolina. Baltimore’s defense has been touted as a juggernaut this year but it didn’t look like one on Sunday, yielding 386 yards and a season-high 36 points to Cam Newton and the piping-hot Panthers. Alex Collins’ ball-security woes continued with another lost fumble in Week 8—his third of the season—prompting Baltimore to add Ty Montgomery at the trade deadline.
13. Houston Texans
Last Week: 15
Houston worked quickly to replace Will Fuller (torn ACL), acquiring long-time Bronco Demaryius Thomas in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick. Fresh off a marathon bus trip to Jacksonville, Deshaun Watson carved up the Dolphins on Thursday night, achieving the rare feat of throwing more touchdowns (five) than incompletions (four). It didn’t count, but this grab by DeAndre Hopkins may be the best catch you’ll see this year. Beet enthusiast J.J. Watt and the surging Texans will take a five-game winning streak into Sunday’s tilt at Denver.
14. Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 11
The Packers were sellers at the trade deadline, moving Ty Montgomery along with contract-year safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Montgomery’s departure should come as good news to Aaron Jones, who needed just 12 carries to rush for a season-high 86 yards in Week 8. The Packers weren’t able to pull off the upset against Los Angeles (although Todd Gurley made sure they covered the spread) but Davante Adams certainly did his part on Sunday, topping 100 yards receiving for the third time in as many games.
15. Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 14
The Bengals nearly squandered an 18-point, fourth-quarter lead in Week 8, needing a last-second field goal from Randy Bullock to put away the Bucs. Tyler Boyd enforced his will on Tampa Bay’s overmatched secondary, demoralizing the visitors with nine catches for a career-high 138 receiving yards. Speaking of career-highs, Joe Mixon also set a PR with 123 rushing yards, the most by a Bengal since Jeremy Hill’s 168-yard eruption in Week 7 of 2016. Sunday represented the first multi-touchdown effort of Mixon’s two-year career.
16. Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 17
Forget what it says on Wikipedia. The Lions are owned by Ed Dickson, who has made it his life’s work to clown Detroit whenever the opportunity arises. On the heels of last year’s 175-yard explosion, Dickson tormented the Lions again in Week 8, contributing 52 yards and a touchdown in his Seahawks debut. Fantasy owners want to know how David Moore keeps scoring touchdowns but personally, I’m more curious about his mysterious alma mater, East Central. Are we sure that’s an actual college attended by real people and not something out of a Key and Peele sketch?
17. Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 20
The Julio Jones “never scores” narrative has grown stale, but it’s still baffling the 29-year-old might top 1,800 receiving yards—a threshold reached only four times in NFL history—while finishing with fewer touchdowns than randos like Tim Patrick and Mo Alie-Cox. Matt Ryan has set the gold standard for ball security this year, throwing 202 straight passes without an interception. That trait will come in handy when the Birds do battle with Washington’s ball-hawking secondary in Week 9.
18. Detroit Lions
Last Week: 16
Kenny Golladay has deserted his fantasy owners in recent weeks (combined 49 yards with no touchdowns in his last two outings) but the pendulum should swing back in his favor following Golden Tate’s surprise trade to Philadelphia. Marvin Jones seemed to be the Lions’ only source of offense in Week 8, gathering eight catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns in Detroit’s loss to Seattle. Meanwhile Kerryon Johnson maintained his backfield monopoly against the Seahawks, out-touching LeGarrette Blount by a decisive 14-4 margin.
19. Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 18
After getting off to a sluggish start, Kenyan Drake is finally rounding into form. The third-year back from ‘Bama has gone ballistic in his last four games, contributing 375 yards (233 rushing, 142 receiving) and four touchdowns during that span. Buoyed by one of the luckiest catches you’ll ever see (how is this even possible?), DeVante Parker enjoyed a career game with 134 yards in a loss to Houston. The floundering Fins have lost four of five since their 3-0 start.
20. Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 26
The Colts may have uncovered a hidden gem in Marlon Mack. The 2017 fourth-rounder has been unstoppable over the last two weeks, blowing up for 308 yards (258 rushing, 50 receiving) and three touchdowns during that span. He’s the first Colt to top 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games since Joseph Addai did it in 2007. Jack Doyle looked spry in his return from a five-game absence, compiling 70 yards and a touchdown on six catches Sunday at Oakland. With Doyle back from injury, Eric Ebron was limited to 17 offensive snaps, his fewest since Week 2.
21. Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 22
Jason Garrett survived the bye week (he spent his time off at the World Series with Brad Paisley) but OL coach Paul Alexander wasn’t as lucky. He lasted just seven games in Big D before getting the axe. Will Dak Prescott get a boost from the arrival of Amari Cooper, who was acquired for a first-rounder last week? We’ll find out when the Cowboys host Tennessee on Monday Night Football.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 19
The bye week couldn’t come fast enough for the reeling Jaguars, who have dropped four straight since starting the year 3-1. Jacksonville’s trip to London included multiple arrests (apparently walking out on a $64,000 bar tab is frowned upon overseas), a passport snafu and Blake Bortles’ first loss on European soil. The Jaguars finally closed the book on Dante Fowler, shipping him to Los Angeles for a pair of third-rounders. The former third overall pick started just one game during his four-year stay in Jacksonville.
23. Denver Broncos
Last Week: 21
Phillip Lindsay pulled out all the stops in Week 8, cruising to 112 yards (95 rushing, 17 receiving) while out-touching teammate Devontae Booker 21-13. The Colorado native will be a must-start while first-year bruiser Royce Freeman recovers from a high-ankle sprain. Big-play specialist Courtland Sutton registered a career-best 78 yards in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City and now ranks fourth among rookies in receiving yards with 324. His emergence was one of the reasons Denver was willing to part with Demaryius Thomas, who was shipped to Houston at Tuesday’s trade deadline.
24. Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 23
The Titans were on hiatus last week and hopefully they used the time off to address their broken offense. Tennessee ranks in the league’s bottom three in a host of offensive categories including total yards, points and passing yards per game. That’s not going to get it done, particularly with division rivals Houston and Indianapolis finally showing signs of life. If the Titans fall to Dallas on Monday Night Football this week, it will be their fourth straight defeat.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 24
Jameis Winston’s days in Tampa Bay could be numbered. Despite playing in only four games (three starts), the former Heisman Trophy winner has already been intercepted a league-high 10 times, which is why the Bucs are benching him for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Because his fifth-year option is only guaranteed for injury, Tampa has incentive not to play Winston down the stretch. Fitzpatrick’s return is good news for Mike Evans. All four of Evans’ touchdown catches this year have come with FitzMagic under center.
26. New York Jets
Last Week: 25
Isaiah Crowell broke out for a career-high 219 rushing yards in a win over Denver in Week 5, but since then, it’s been slim pickings. The 25-year-old has seen nothing but brick walls, compiling just 94 yards on 37 carries (2.54 yards per attempt) with no touchdowns over his last three appearances. Jermaine Kearse drew a team-high 10 targets in Week 8 but squandered his opportunity by nabbing just three catches for 30 yards in the loss to Chicago. The former Seahawk is in the midst of a 12-game touchdown drought.
27. Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 27
The clock finally struck midnight on Hue Jackson, who saw his Browns tenure come to an end Monday following a lopsided loss to Pittsburgh a day earlier. Todd Haley was also a goner, leaving RBs coach Freddie Kitchens to take over offensive coordinator duties. Kitchens’ first order of business should be getting more work for pass-catching Duke Johnson, who has spent the year glued to Cleveland’s bench. Despite leading the league in turnover differential (+11), Gregg Williams’ defense has allowed the fifth-most yards (414.5 per game) and ninth-most points (26.3 per game).
28. Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 31
The Cardinals swept their season series with the inept Niners on Sunday but unfortunately, they have to play other teams as well. Larry Fitzgerald woke up from his season-long fog in Week 8, collecting 102 yards in Byron Leftwich’s debut as offensive coordinator. Arizona could have gotten a king’s ransom for Patrick Peterson at the trade deadline, but you can’t blame the Cards for standing pat. At the season’s midway point, the 28-year-old carries PFF’s No. 4 coverage grade out of 109 qualifiers at cornerback.
29. New York Giants
Last Week: 28
It’s finger-pointing season in East Rutherford where angry FAN callers continue to debate the source of New York’s early-season struggles. Is the offensive line holding Eli Manning back or is Manning just bad on his own? I’m betting the latter but you could make a compelling case for either one. While Odell Beckham’s frustration level nears unprecedented heights, fantasy owners have been basking in his garbage-time glory. With New York’s offense in constant catch-up mode, OBJ’s volume has been off the charts, putting him on pace for new career-highs in both catches and receiving yards.
30. Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 30
Since their Week 3 stunner over the Vikings, the Bills’ offense has totaled 36 points in five games while scoring just two touchdowns during that span. With Derek Anderson concussed, Nathan Peterman will get the ball in Week 9. The former Pitt Panther has fared horrendously as a starter, compiling an abysmal 16.8 quarterback rating with one touchdown and seven interceptions across three career starts. Maybe former QB Terrelle Pryor can lend a hand if (edit: when) things go haywire Sunday against Chicago. Meanwhile Bills fans continue to set a high bar for stadium shenanigans. This is high-brow stuff, guys.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 29
A season that once held so much promise (okay, maybe that’s an oversell) has quickly gone down the tubes for the 49ers, who are losers of six straight heading into this week’s matchup of Bay Area cellar-dwellers. Among other embarrassments, San Francisco holds the distinct honor of losing not once but twice to the otherwise winless Cardinals, who erased a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to stun the Niners in Week 8. With C.J. Beathard banged up, we could see undrafted rookie Nick Mullens (or even worse, Tom Savage) get the ball Thursday against Oakland.
32. Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 32
The league’s second-highest completion percentage belongs to … Derek Carr? Strange but true. The 26-year-old balled out in Week 8, delivering four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in a loss to the Colts. He completed 75 percent of his passes including 17 straight at one point. Doug Martin did an admirable job filling in for an injured Marshawn Lynch (89 yards from scrimmage, 5.5 yards per carry), though his fourth-quarter fumble sealed the game for Indy. Two-time Pro Bowler Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie called it a career on Tuesday, hanging up his cleats after 11 NFL seasons.
Biggest Jump: Colts
Biggest Drop: Ravens