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NFL Power Rankings Week 8, 2018: Surprising teams rise up the ladder

In addition to this week’s regularly scheduled power rankings, we’re taking a look at how each NFL division stacks up against each other.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no change at the top of this week’s power rankings after the top five teams all won on Sunday and the Ravens (No. 6) came close in a loss to the Saints (No. 4). While there’s still many questions to be answered regarding contenders and pretenders, the top teams (the Rams, Patriots, Chiefs, Saints, and Chargers) are starting to paint a clear picture of who they are this season. Let’s take a division-by-division look at this week’s power rankings and how each team is stacking up. The divisions below are shown in order of how many wins their teams have combined for. One thing you’ll find is the AFC is a lot better than many expected it to be heading into the season.

AFC West

It’s not just the 6-1 Chiefs who are among the NFL’s biggest threats, but the 5-2 Chargers are making their case, too. Even the Broncos had a good week by destroying the Cardinals on Thursday Night Football. As for the Raiders, you can’t lose if you don’t play! Their bye week afforded them a nice break from disappointment.

Total wins: 15

NFC North

The NFC North is a weird division right now. The Bears were in first place, now they’re tied for last with the Lions. The Vikings and Packers have been up-and-down and even finished their first head-to-head matchup with a tie. The Lions were blown out by the Jets, beat the Patriots with relative ease, and just this week beat the Dolphins by 11. No team has proven to be the division’s top threat, though the Bears may be, despite landing on the bottom of the standings after their loss to the Patriots. The NFC North is the only division in which no team has a losing record and the standings will likely keep changing until the end of Week 17.

Total wins: 14

AFC North

Going from third to first place in your division in one week is pretty impressive. It’s even more impressive when you don’t play. That’s what happened to the Steelers, who had one of the nicest bye weeks imaginable as the Bengals embarrassed themselves on primetime television and the Ravens were let down by Justin Tucker for maybe the first time ever. Of course, the Browns lost, too. So while the Steelers didn’t play, they became the AFC North’s current first-place team and climbed up the power rankings as a result. Meanwhile, despite their loss, Baltimore is looking like one of the NFL’s top teams — even better than the Steelers (despite the division standings).

Total wins: 14

NFC South

The NFC South started the season strong but has fizzled out due to lackluster play from the Buccaneers and a ton of injuries (along with terrible defensive play) from the Falcons. The Saints and Panthers are still competing like two of the league’s best teams. Drew Brees is showing no signs of slowing down as his age takes him to a place where he’s breaking NFL records on a near-weekly basis. The Panthers are squeaking out wins thanks to Cam Newton playing (mostly) mistake-free football. On Sunday he threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns in addition to rushing for 49 yards. The Panthers offense didn’t turn the ball over once. Both teams face tough tests this weekend as the Panthers play host to the Ravens and the Saints take on the Vikings.

Total wins: 14

AFC East

The Dolphins are making the AFC East competitive this year as it’s not just the Patriots who have a winning record in the division. With that said, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than New England winning the AFC East as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick shook off a rough start and have won four straight. The Jets are better than they were last year now that they have a franchise quarterback under center in Sam Darnold, but they’re not real contenders this year. As for the Bills, they’re pretty much a lost cause. At least Buffalonians can look forward to rookie quarterback Josh Allen’s eventual return from elbow injury. Unfortunately, that return won’t come in time for Monday Night Football against the Patriots.

Total wins: 14

NFC West

It’s the Rams ... and then everyone else in the NFC West. The Rams won their seventh straight game (courtesy of the 49ers) and look completely dominant as the NFL’s top team. The Seahawks had their bye this week while the Cardinals were trampled over on Thursday night and fired their offensive coordinator as a result. The 49ers were dealt a tough blow with the Jimmy Garoppolo injury back in Week 3, but it looks like they’ll get a top-10 draft pick again next year to add a nice piece to their roster. With that said, the Rams own the NFC West right now.

Total wins: 12

AFC South

Hello, Texans! After losing their first three games to start the season, Houston has taken over the AFC South lead thanks to four-straight wins. The Titans started the season strong but are collapsing, which is also true of the Jaguars. Jacksonville went as far as to bench Blake Bortles in their loss to the Texans on Sunday. As for the Colts, they finally got their second win of the season, but it came against the Derek Anderson-led Bills. That’s not all that impressive.

Total wins: 12

NFC East

The NFC East clearly appears to be the worst division in football. The Eagles are in a post-Super Bowl slump (still). The Giants are paying the price of continuing to trust Eli Manning. The Cowboys think trading away a first-round pick in exchange for Amari Cooper is going to solve their problems. And Washington is now on top of the division, and looking like the best team in a bad division. Who thought Adrian Peterson would be among the best players on a division-leading team in 2018?

Total wins: 11

NFL Week 8 Power Rankings

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