Week 8 NFL Power Rankings: Texans enter top 10, Ravens sink
The NFL has reached the mid-way point of the season with most teams having played eight games.
Your playoff teams as of right now are: AFC - Kansas City, New England, Houston and Pittsburgh would be the division champions seeded in that order. The wild card teams would be the Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals.
In the NFC: The Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, Washington and Chicago would be division champions. Carolina and Seattle would be the wild card teams.
However, seven other teams in the NFC and three in the AFC remain within striking distance at no worse than one game under .500.
It will be interesting to see if any team in the hunt is able to pull off a trade to help their cause. The NFL's trade deadline is today at 1 p.m. PST. Big names being tossed about are: Denver WR Demaryius Thomas, Green Bay safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Tampa Bay WR DeSean Jackson.
Update: Houston is reportedly finalizing a deal for Thomas, as of 10:20 a.m..
Now for this week's rankings...
1. Los Angeles Rams (8-0). Last week: 1.
Fentress says: Green Bay pushed the Rams to the edge of defeat during a 29-27 Los Angeles win. It’s the type of game that should make the Rams more battle-tested moving forward. New Orleans is up next on Sunday night when the Rams could welcome back WR Cooper Kupp, who has missed the last two games after suffering a concussion in Seattle.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (7-1). Last week: 2.
Fentress says: QB Patrick Mahomes II has 26 touchdown passes through eight games putting him on pace for 52. The NFL record is 55 set by Peyton Manning in 2013 with Denver. Tom Brady threw for 50 in 2007. Heaven knows how many Mahomes will throw over the next two weeks with games at Cleveland and then home against Arizona.
3. New England Patriots (6-2). Last week: 3.
Fentress says: The Patriots have now won five in a row since that mysterious two-game losing streak at Jacksonville and Detroit. Monday’s 25-6 win at Buffalo, however, was not exactly aesthetically pleasing. This team is certainly flawed but remains the only team to have defeated Kansas City and is a definite threat to return to the Super Bowl.
4. New Orleans Saints (6-1). Last week: 4.
Fentress says: The Saints returned to the scene of what might be the franchise’s most disappointing loss and exacted revenge on Minnesota, 30-20. That gave the Saints six consecutive wins heading into Sunday’s showdown with the Rams. New Orleans has a one-game lead over Carolina in the NFC South.
5. Carolina Panthers (5-2). Last week: 6.
Fentress says: The Panthers got an impressive 36-21 win over Baltimore and its top-ranked defense. A big reasons for the team’s success is that QB Cam Newton has been sacked just 10 times compared to 22 at this point last season. Keeping Newton off the ground long enough to do damage is usually a recipe for success.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (5-2) Last week: 5.
Fentress says: The Chargers, off last weekend, have zero wins against a team with a winning record. In fact, the combined record of the five teams vanquished by the Chargers is 9-28-1 with 3-4 Tennessee as the best of the group. San Diego will have a chance to prove it can defeat a winning team on Sunday at 4-3 Seattle.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2-1). Last week: 9.
Fentress says: The first-place Steelers travel to Baltimore for a pivotal AFC South game. The Ravens won the first meeting, 26-14 in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have won three straight since while scoring 102 points. Tuesday is the NFL trade deadline and holdout running back Le’Veon Bell remains in limbo. The problem is, who would want to trade anything of value for Bell then pay him what he wants?
8. Washington (5-2). Last week: 10.
Fentress says: Washington has strong wins over Green Bay, Dallas and Carolina, yet does not appear to be a true contender. Maybe it’s the mediocre offense? Who knows? One thing that can’t be denied is that the defense is legit. It ranks fifth in the league and has allowed just 19.1 points per game.
9. Houston Texans (5-3). Last week: 13.
Fentress says: Houston has won five straight but the loss of WR Will Fuller stings. The Texans are reportedly finalizing a deal to acquire Denver WR Demaryius Thomas for a mid-round draft pick. That would give the Texans, who already have DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best WR duos in the league. Houston plays Denver this week.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3). Last week: 11.
Fentress says: The Bengals narrowly held on to defeat Tampa Bay 37-34 in overtime after blowing a big lead once Buccaneers' QB Ryan Fitzpatrick entered the game. Cincinnati’s generous defense will be its undoing. The Bengals rank last in total D (447.8) and 29th in scoring D (29.6). Cincinnati is off before putting that defense on the field against New Orleans.
11. Minnesota Vikings (4-3-1). Last week: 8.
Fentress says: Minnesota’s offense has certainly improved with QB Kirk Cousins at the controls, but that defense has taken a major step back after ruling the league last season. Minnesota ranks 15th in total defense and is allowing 24.4 points per game compared to 15.8 last season. That fact is one reason why the Vikings lost 30-20 to the Saints.
12. Chicago Bears (4-3). Last week: 15.
Fentress says: The Bears did not look great at all during a 24-10 home win over the New York Jets. But, so many other teams lost in this area to allow the Bears to move into the top 12 by default. Chicago’s best victory came over Seattle and that was before the Seahawks won four of five. It would not be shocking to see Chicago lose at Buffalo on Sunday.
13. Seattle Seahawks (4-3). Last week: 16.
Fentress says: QB Russell Wilson had the franchise’s first perfect passer rating on Sunday against Detroit.
14. Baltimore Ravens (4-4). Last week: 7.
Fentress says: The Ravens’ defense is under fire for the loss to Carolina.
15. Green Bay Packers (3-3-1), Last week: 12.
Fentress says: Next time, QB Aaron Rodgers will go back on kick return and take a knee himself.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4). Last week: 19.
Fentress says: The best 4-4 team in the league (there’s only three). The Eagles have traded for Detroit WR Golden Tate.
17. Atlanta Falcons (3-4). Last week: 18.
Fentress says: Return to action to face tough Washington defense on the road.
18. Miami Dolphins (4-4). Last week: 14.
Fentress says: Miami has now lost four of five since starting 3-0.
19. Detroit (3-4). Last week: 17.
Fentress says: Is there a more confusing team in the NFL?
20. Dallas Cowboys (3-4). Last week: 21.
Fentress says: Dallas has gone L-W-L-W-L-W-L. So, the Cowboys will defeat Tennessee.
21. Indianapolis Colts (3-5). Last week: 26.
Fentress says: The Colts have won two straight, albeit over Buffalo and Oakland.
22. Tennessee Titans (3-4). Last week: 20.
Fentress says: Three straight losses include two by one point. At Dallas is next.
23. Denver Broncos (3-5). Last week: 25.
Fentress says: Losing by seven at Kansas City is nothing to be ashamed of. Trading WR Demaryius Thomas is a sign of giving up.
24. New York Jets (3-5). Last week: 24.
Fentress says: The Jets committed five false start penalties in loss at Chicago.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5). Last week: 22.
Fentress says: When will the bleeding stop? Five consecutive losses and counting.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4). Last week: 23.
Fentress says: QB Jameis Winston benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick. For now.
27. Cleveland Browns (2-5-1). Last week: 27.
Fentress says: Cleveland fired coach Hue Jackson and OC Todd Haley.
28. Buffalo Bills (2-6). Last week: 28.
Fentress says: Bills’ defense ranks fourth in the NFL. The offense? Well…
29. Arizona Cardinals (2-6). Last week: 32.
Fentress says: WR Larry Fitzgerald broke the 100-yard mark for the first time this season.
30. New York Giants (1-6). Last week: 29.
Fentress says: Best chance for a win comes Sunday at San Francisco.
31. Oakland Raiders (1-6). Last week: 31.
Fentress says: Will anyone outside of the Bay Area watch Thursday night’s game…(cont.)
32. San Francisco 49ers (1-7). Last week: 30.
Fentress says: …featuring the worst two teams in the NFL, the Raiders and the 49ers?