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NFL power rankings 2017, Week 8: Shame on you for thinking the Patriots might be bad

The Patriots are tied for the best record in the AFC again.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

All that handwringing and talk about the New England Patriots struggling, and here we are finishing up October with the Patriots tied for first in the AFC.

The defense is still far from fixed, but it seems to be getting better every week. Nearly shutting out the Falcons on Sunday night provided more than enough reason to think New England is good enough on that side of the ball to be a tough team to beat, as always.

The Patriots are No. 1 in total offense, and Tom Brady already has 2,208 passing yards when nobody else has crossed 2,000.

Sorry for ever doubting you, Bill Belichick and Brady.

Riding high

Pittsburgh Steelers

Wasn’t Ben Roethlisberger just saying that he doesn’t think he has it anymore? After back-to-back games with more than 400 yards of total offense and a win over the Chiefs, the Steelers look like they’re back in business and the game definitely hasn’t passed Ben by.

The rest of the AFC North is struggling, so it looks like the Steelers have a clear path to walk to another division title.

Los Angeles Rams

Maybe it was the 3-1 start to the 2016 season that fell to pieces or maybe it was the five turnovers against the Seahawks, but I was hesitant to really believe that the Jared Goff show in Los Angeles was the real deal.

But now we’re almost halfway through the season, and the Rams are still No. 1 in points scored.

And now the team is pitching shutouts too? Both the Rams and Jaguars already eclipsed their 2016 win totals, and each gets a Week 8 bye to recuperate.

Low spirits

Arizona Cardinals

It’s not like many believed the Cardinals were a Super Bowl contender before Sunday, but with Carson Palmer possibly done for the year, it’s time to throw in the towel in Arizona.

The Cardinals aren’t good on defense, struggle to run the ball, and now have to rely on either Drew Stanton or Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. A winning record just isn’t happening this year.

Carolina Panthers

A close loss to the team currently playing the best football in the NFL was one thing, but following that loss to the Eagles with a 17-3 loss to the Chicago Bears is something else entirely.

Chicago didn’t even do much of anything.

Mitchell Trubisky threw the ball only seven times, and the Bears had a grand total of five first downs. But they won just because the Panthers screwed up twice, and Eddie Jackson was all over it.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons weren’t just good on offense last year — it was one of the most explosive offenses in the history of football. So how in the world did the No. 32 defense in the NFL hold the team to one touchdown?

And it was an angry touchdown by Julio Jones late in the game that reminded you that the Falcons have a giant robot at wide receiver and STILL can’t score any points.

Is it Steve Sarkisian? Did MVP Matt Ryan turn back into a pumpkin? What is happening here?!

Full hope rankings

Weekly disclaimer: These aren’t your average power rankings and are instead an attempt to measure the current state of mind — or “hope” — for each team and fan base.

The NFL can be an emotional roller coaster, and one big week can shoot a team’s spirits through the roof and tank another’s hopes of finishing with the Lombardi Trophy in February or beyond. Teams near the top are feeling great after Sunday, while those at the bottom aren’t feeling too optimistic.

If you’re looking for a ranking of who would beat who, this isn’t always going to be the best gauge:

Hope rankings, Week 8

# Team Last week
# Team Last week
1 Philadelphia Eagles 1
2 New England Patriots 11
3 Pittsburgh Steelers 9
4 New Orleans Saints 2
5 Seattle Seahawks 6
6 Los Angeles Rams 8
7 Kansas City Chiefs 3
8 Washington 5
9 Minnesota Vikings 7
10 Houston Texans 10
11 Jacksonville Jaguars 17
12 Miami Dolphins 14
13 Buffalo Bills 16
14 Dallas Cowboys 22
15 Tennessee Titans 15
16 Oakland Raiders 30
17 Carolina Panthers 4
18 Detroit Lions 19
19 Chicago Bears 25
20 Los Angeles Chargers 26
21 New York Jets 12
22 Denver Broncos 18
23 Atlanta Falcons 21
24 Cincinnati Bengals 20
25 New York Giants 27
26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24
27 Indianapolis Colts 23
28 Baltimore Ravens 29
29 Green Bay Packers 28
30 Arizona Cardinals 13
31 San Francisco 49ers 31
32 Cleveland Browns 32

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