Kevin C. Cox
The Atlanta Falcons are still undefeated and on top of the power rankings for Week 8. Elsewhere in the top 10, things are still fluid.
For the first time this season, the top of these very NFL power rankings has had the same team on top. The Atlanta Falcons are the last perfect team in the NFL. Are they the best team in the NFL? That's up for debate, lots and lots and lots of debate.
The middle of these rankings is damn near indistinguishable. Look at the jumble of teams that are 3-3 or 3-4. From the Steelers to the Bills, you can argue that those spots are interchangeable, any of those teams beating one of their mid-range peers. This might be the golden age of parity in the NFL.
1. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 1, 6-0): Let's not overthink this. The Falcons have yet to lose a game. It's not the league's hardest schedule -- four of six games have been against AFC West opponents -- but winning six games in a row is still an accomplishment. Circle Week 15 on your calendar, when the Falcons play the Giants.
2. Houston Texans (LW: 3, 6-1): The Texans are the new Ravens, getting wins with a stout defense and a run-first offense that has enough diversity to challenge opponents. Not sure what happened against the Packers last week, but cruising past the Ravens by 30 points is impressive.
3. New York Giants (LW: 4, 5-2): That's three straight wins for Tom Coughlin's team, with one helluva comeback this Sunday.
4. Chicago Bears (LW: 5, 5-1): An ugly Thursday night loss to the Packers in Week 2 had people dismissing the Bears. Whoops.
6. San Francisco 49ers (LW: 6, 5-2): Who needs another two points when you're that good, right Jim Harbaugh?
8. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 2, 5-2): I guess Ray Lewis isn't too old to matter after all. Losing Lardarius Webb probably hurts more. I still don't think losing those two had as much to do with last week's 30-point loss to the Texans as a colossal choke job by Joe Flacco.
9. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 10, 5-2): I know, I had to check this twice, putting the Vikings in the top 10. The record speaks for itself, and those wins are not flukes.
10. Seattle Seahawks (LW: 8, 4-3): This is where the rankings start to get into the logjam of middling teams. Seattle's defense is impressive; the offense not so much. Also, Pete Carroll's team is 1-3 on the road.
More: AFC WTF?
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 16, 3-3): Getting old is hell, just ask the Steelers. Will the injuries finally be too much this season? At least they got over their road troubles last week with a key division win.
12. Denver Broncos (LW: 11, 3-3): A big comeback win over the Chargers followed by a bye week is probably just what the Broncos need.
14. Washington Redskins (LW: 13; 3-4): Can you imagine what RG3 could do with a top receiver to work with and a better supporting cast all around?
15. San Diego Chargers (LW: 14, 3-3): The good news for the Chargers is that the Browns and the Chiefs are the next two teams on the schedule. The bad news is that those are not the easy wins they should be.
18. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 17, 3-4): Here's another team we all thought would be better this season.
19. New York Jets (LW: 18, 3-4): Mark Sanchez signed a contract extension this year that's going to make it hard for the Jets to extract themselves from that situation. There's a time bomb on the bench behind him and a ravenous media hungry for a taste of Tebow ratings. The wheels are coming off at some point here, but when?
20. Miami Dolphins (LW: 19, 3-3): Give credit to Joe Philbin for bringing some stability here and knowing exactly how to work his rookie quarterback into the mix.
21. Tennessee Titans (LW: 26, 3-4): Chris Johnson looked like his former self this week ... against the Bills. Tennessee really needs him to be more effective to make this offense work.
23. Buffalo Bills (LW: 20, 3-4): Here's another team that is shredding our offseason predictions for success. That the defense is allowing more than 32 points per game is the most surprising thing about the Bills. Everyone already knew that Ryan Fitzpatrick was only going to do so much.
24. Detroit Lions (LW: 21, 2-4): Maybe the Lions thought it was throwback season, giving fans a little taste of the Millen era teams just so they appreciate what things that much more.
25. New Orleans Saints (LW: 27, 2-4): I have a feeling the Saints are going to keep climbing here, thanks to their ability to score 40 points at will. A Week 8 game at Denver promises to be a shootout, with the last one in the end zone probably winning the game.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 23, 2-4): Illegal touching, not as hilarious as it sounds, at least not for Greg Schiano's team.
27. St. Louis Rams (LW: 25, 3-4): Jeff Fisher has turned this team into something other than the same old Rams, but he still has a long, long way to go. Fans there are starting to wonder if they have the quarterback they need to complete the project.
28. Oakland Raiders (LW: 31, 2-4): There is at least some cause for optimism in Oakland. They have a first-round pick in 2013, and it's likely to be a high one.
29. Carolina Panthers (LW: 28, 1-5): Out of all these teams swimming around the bottom of this list, the Panthers are the most able to rebound next year if the new GM can unwind the mess his predecessor left.
30. Cleveland Browns (LW: 30, 1-6): Is the Jimmy Haslam era really going to be the start of something new in Cleveland? It really might be, if he can find a coach who doesn't bury his head in the sand on fourth-and-one.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 32, 1-5): How does Scott Pioli still have a job in the NFL? The good news is the Chiefs did not lose this week while on a bye, or did they, since Clark Hunt didn't fire anyone?
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 29, 1-5): Last year's first-round pick, Blaine Gabbert, has a torn labrum. This year's first-round pick, Justin Blackmon, decided to disappear. The team's best player, Maurice Jones-Drew, might be done for the season, after whining about his contract all summer. Jaguars football, feel the excitement!