The Top 10 does their best to stand pat as only the Cowboys’ swap of spots with Detroit introduces new blood and a Packer-Chief tango shuffles ranks. The pack behind them isn’t bursting with teams making big moves either, so for now at least, the first tier has to be feeling fairly solid.
Looking down the list, the Cardinals climbed toward the middle, while the Eagles have fast found membership in the Bottom 5.
Here’s how our analysts see the league after eight weeks, and the cumulative rank (below) that comes of their ballots.
With the votes tallied, here’s how the list looks after Week 8: (last week’s rank and change in rank in parentheses)
1. Denver Broncos (1, 0)
Took a while to get into gear, but five late takeaways led to a 31-point fourth quarter, the Broncos’ fifth game scoring at least 40 and their seventh win. That’s seven weeks at the top for this offense-driven force led by PFF’s top-graded passer.
2. Seattle Seahawks (2, 0)
Got away with one on the strength of their Monday Night defense in St. Louis. A less-than-inspiring ‘W’, but a ‘W’ nonetheless and enough to stave off any movement in the ranks. Answers on the O-line would go a long way toward adding confidence here as their leaky left tackle spot is in particular need of help.
3. New Orleans Saints (3, 0)
A home win against Buffalo was expected though it wasn’t the most crisp the Saints have looked. They’ll go to New York before seeing Dallas, San Francisco, and Seattle in a three-of-four stretch that could define their season. They stay at No. 3 but are gaining votes for a move up.
4. Green Bay Packers (5, +1)
That’s four in a row for the Packers as Rodgers and Lacy provided an efficient and balanced evening of offense that was too much for the flailing Vikings. Chicago and Philadelphia come to town next. They swap spots with the Chiefs again as the two dance around in the 4-5 holes.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (4, -1)
The Derrick Johnson-led defense did enough to keep the Browns from staging a comeback as the Chiefs stayed perfect through eight games. They slide one spot to No. 5 as you get the feeling voters are waiting for the Denver games in Weeks 11 and 13 to see how ‘real’ the Chiefs are.
6. San Francisco 49ers (6, 0)
A trip to London to play the Jaguars set the scene for the 49ers’ fifth straight win as they marched on back up the ranks amid growing thoughts that they’ve regained their early-season standing as top NFC threats.
7. Indianapolis Colts (7, 0)
Rested from their Week 8 bye and with a pair of teams up next that bring mounting issues (Houston and St. Louis), the Colts look primed to stay in the Top 10 and looking up for the near future.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (8, 0)
A dominant effort facing the Jets at home got Cincinnati their fourth consecutive win and showed Andy Dalton at his best. They’ll hit the road for two weeks looking to keep the pressure on those above. The Bengals have held still in three of the past four weeks.
9. New England Patriots (9, 0)
Another ugly win keeps the Patriots atop the East and in the Top 10, but they’re still looking for that statement game that shows them as a real danger. If their recent rankings trend of hold-fall-hold-fall continues it’ll be on the back of a down effort against Pittsburgh in Week 9.
10. Detroit Lions (11, +1)
The Lions take a week off still riding the high of their last-second victory over Dallas. Not only did the Stafford sneak rob the Cowboys of a win, it also stole away their place in the Top 10 as Detroit assumes the fringe role by swapping spots.
11. Dallas Cowboys (10, -1)
Falling to Detroit in painful fashion and dropping from the Top 10 because of it, the Cowboys may get to heal against a Minnesota team that is fully stalled. Getting Romo out of his post-Denver game funk would help.
12. San Diego Chargers (12, 0)
A matchup of up-and-down teams in Washington slated next, the Chargers come off their bye looking for a third consecutive win and another move up in the ranks – they’ve climbed in six of eight weeks so far.
13. Baltimore Ravens (13, 0)
Back-to-back losses heading into the bye have Baltimore in a must-win spot coming out of it. Division mates Cleveland and Cincinnati provide the next challenge for the Ravens, who’ve been sitting in this lucky No. 13 spot for three weeks now.
14. Carolina Panthers (16t, +2)
Cruising past Tampa Bay in Week 8, the Panthers are riding a three-game run of wins over troubled teams and they’ll get the faltering Falcons at home before seeing San Francisco in Week 10. Having gained nine spots in those three weeks, the Panthers will be out to show it’s not just about the competition.
15. Chicago Bears (14t, -1)
Their 3-0 start spoiled by losing three of four, Chicago gets Green Bay on a win streak as the Bears come out of their bye. They slide one spot to make room for Carolina’s move up.
16. Miami Dolphins (14t, -2)
A loss to New England, a four-game free fall, and Cincinnati coming to town has Dolphin hopes sinking. Winnable games remain, but a loss in Week 9 could stamp a first half disappointment too tough to recover from.
17. Tennessee Titans (16t, -1)
The Titans return to action to face Jeff Fisher and the St. Louis Rams in a Week 9 matchup of three-win teams looking to halt a slide.
18. New York Jets (19, +1)
Trouble in coverage and a bad day for Geno Smith came together to fuel a 49-9 loss to Cincy and keep their win-one, lose-one season trend alive. If it keeps up for another week, the Saints will fall in Week 9. The one-spot gain is thanks to Atlanta’s downward drive.
19. Atlanta Falcons (18, -1)
Limited weapons played a part, but the Falcons were outplayed by an all-around Arizona effort and have never quite found their feet this season. Sliding in the ranks for the sixth time in eight weeks, the unlucky bunch that pegged Atlanta as a contender in preseason can write this one off.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (20, 0)
A 93-yard touchdown run did the initial damage, but the Steelers couldn’t work their way back in and dropped one in Oakland. Holding still at No. 20, Pittsburgh’s rise in the ranks ends at three straight weeks and they host the unpredictable Patriots in Week 9.
21. Arizona Cardinals (26, +5)
Keeping hope alive, the Cardinals dismantled Atlanta on the back of another dominant defensive day from Calais Campbell and Daryl Washington to carry a positive into their bye and notch the week’s largest jump up. Houston and Jacksonville await on the other side.
22. Houston Texans (21, -1)
The Colts coming to town may not be the best opportunity for Houston to right their ship, but perhaps the break was enough to revive a team that has suffered five losses on the bounce. Staring at the Bottom 10, they’ll need a surprise to stay out of it.
23. Cleveland Browns (22, -1)
Behind a careful Jason Campbell start, the Browns stayed in the game against the now 8-0 Chiefs but wound up with their third straight loss that completely erases the three-game win streak that preceded it.
24. Buffalo Bills (23t, -1)
Couldn’t keep it close this week as they fell to the Saints in New Orleans. It doesn’t get easier as the Chief come to town in Week 9. One upward spike surrounded by three downward moves in the last month have the Bills more and more sure of this spot in the Bottom 10.
25. Oakland Raiders (28, +3)
They’ve had trouble finishing to support hot starts, but managed to keep Pittsburgh from completing a fourth-quarter comeback. Landing at No. 25 for the second time this season, they’ll see the Eagles, Giants, and Texans in a coming stretch that could boost them in baby steps further on up.
26. Washington Redskins (25, -1)
Still struggling for consistency, Griffin continued his up-and-down season and the Redskins as a team followed suit in the loss to Denver. A four-spot jump last week is followed by a one-spot fall keeping Washington close to their struggling NFC East mates just below them.
27. New York Giants (27, 0)
A win that was as much their doing as their opponent’s got the Giants officially onto a win streak. As bad as they’ve been, the East title is somehow still in sight, and New York has now gone three weeks without losing ground in the ranks.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (23t, -5)
True to the nobody-wants-it style of this season’s NFC East, the Eagles’ offense didn’t put up a fight in the second game in as many weeks that could have earned them a share of the division lead. Back-to-back tumbles of five ranks now have the Eagles seven spots below their season-opening rank of 21.
29. St. Louis Rams (29, 0)
Stood up to the Seahawks at home and got solid performances from a number of players, but ultimately fell a yard short and dropped their fifth to settle into the cellar of the West. A moral victory wasn’t enough to bring on movement in the ranks.
30. Minnesota Vikings (30, 0)
Unable to feature their offensive playmakers Peterson and Patterson and seeing their pass rush fall flat, the Vikings couldn’t hang with Green Bay and continued on their way to a magic-less season to contrast with 2012.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31, 0)
With a crumbling defense and an O-line struggling to help a young QB, nothing is going right for the 0-7 Bucs as they couldn’t keep pace with Carolina but did fine to stay with the Jags here.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (32, 0)
A week off awaits as the Jaguars have now lost four on the road, three at home and one on neutral ground in eight outings. If not for an optimistic opening rank of 30, we could be looking at a wire-to-wire hold on No. 32.