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WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 8: Falcons stay on top, Ravens tumble

10.23.12 at 9:22 am ET
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Matt Ryan and the Falcons survive another week at the top of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The undefeated Falcons had the week off and will try to improve to 7-0 when they take on the Eagles. The Texans jump the Giants (3) and reclaim the No. 2 position. The only team to drop out of the top five was the depleted Ravens. A blowout loss and an endless amount of injuries was enough to drop Baltimore to No. 8.

The NFC is dominating the top five with four teams occupying spots. At the other end of the spectrum, the AFC is in full control taking up four of the bottom five positions.

Could the top ten teams be safe for another week? None of them will play a fellow top-ranked team. Week 8′s most intriguing games include the Falcons at Eagles, the Giants at Cowboys and the Saints at Broncos.

1. (1) Falcons (6-0) ‘€” The undefeated Falcons saw defensive tackle Corey Peters return to practice Monday for the first time this year. The 6 foot 3, 300-pound defensive lineman should help improve the run defense which is currently ranked 28th in the league.

2. (3) Texans (6-1) ‘€” The Texans got their first win against an opponent over .500 on Sunday. It was against an injury-plagued Ravens team but it still was a very impressive victory. Houston ranks in the top of the league in many different offensive and defensive statistical categories.

3. (2) Giants (5-2) ‘€” If your team is trailing or tied in the fourth quarter, Eli Manning is the quarterback you want behind center.  For the 27th time in his career, the Giants QB led his team on a game-winning drive when he hit Victor Cruz for a 77-yard touchdown pass Sunday against the Redskins. 

4. (5) 49ers (5-2) ‘€” They don’t have an elite offense and a top three quarterback but the Niners are still an extremely entertaining team to watch. They play a different brand of football than what we’ve grown accustomed to watching in the NFL. This team plays tough, is extremely physical, and loves running the ball down the opponents throat.

5. (6) Packers (4-3) ‘€” Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense has come alive over the past two weeks. They’ve scored 72 points in two games and that’s without Greg Jennings. They did suffer a crushing blow with the injury to Charles Woodson. The Packers defensive captain is expected to miss six weeks.

6. (7) Bears (5-1) ‘€” The Bears defense can carry the team into the playoffs if Jay Cutler continues to protect the football. The Bears have outscored their opponents by a total of 84 points this season and are allowing an average of just 13 points per game on defense.

7. (8) Patriots (4-3) ‘€” The Patriots pass defense is horrendous and the team’s inability to close games is certainly alarming, however if the past has taught us anything, Bill Belichick‘s team will improve. The Pats are 16-2 the last two years once November hits and are undefeated in December. This team has to get better in a lot of different areas but they have plenty of time to do so in a mediocre division.

8. (4) Ravens (5-2) ‘€” The Ravens have been decimated by injuries and that caught up with them against the Texans. However, a lack of Ray Rice has also contributed to the loss and that is usually the case when Rice’s carries are limited. Rice had just four carries in four drives in the first quarter and two carries in the second quarter. John Harbaugh has to utilize his best offensive weapon more.

9. (10) Broncos (3-3) ‘€” Peyton Manning has thrown for over 300 yards in each of his last four games and has 11 touchdown passes with just one interception in that span as well. John Elway‘s gamble on Manning has paid off so far. The Broncos are easily the most well-rounded team in their division.

10. (11) Steelers (3-3) ‘€” Not even injuries could prevent the Steelers from evening up their record at 3-3. They had standout performances from a third-string running back, Jonathan Dwyer, and a heavily criticized cornerback, Ike Taylor. Dwyer rushed for over 100 yards and Taylor held AJ Green to just one catch.

11. (9) Seahawks (4-3) ‘€” The Seahawks are in a division filled with some of the best defensive teams in the league. The passing offense must improve. Seahawks receivers dropped five passes against the Niners on Thursday night. Having a strong defense is important but you have to be able to put points on the board as well and Seattle ranks 31st in the league in average points scored.

12. (13) Eagles (3-3) ‘€” Coming off their bye week, it’s obvious where the Eagles need to improve most — turnovers. The team is on pace to turn the ball over 45 times this season.

13. (14) Cowboys (3-3) ‘€” Jason Garrett‘s squad stymied a two-game losing streak but lost offensive lineman Phil Costa in the process. That’s a tough loss to an already shaky line. The Cowboys have a key divisional game against the Giants Sunday and they’ll attempt to take the season series.

14. (16) Vikings (5-2) ‘€” It’s always important to put a W in the column but Christian Ponder‘s play of late has been alarming. He’s been making some real questionable decisions with the ball and has thrown two interceptions in each of his last three games.

15. (15) Chargers (3-3) ‘€” The only thing worse than blowing a 24-point lead to a divisional opponent is having to wait an extra week to get back on the field. Norv Turner‘s team must regroup and find a way to make the playoffs or he’ll be looking for work this off-season.

16. (17) Saints (2-4) ‘€” This may be hard for Patriots fans to believe but the Saints have the league’s worst defense. It’s going to be extremely hard for the Saints to beat teams in the NFC like the Falcons, Packers, and Giants if the defense continues to play this poorly. Interim head coach Joe Vitt will return to the Saints after serving his six game suspension.

17. (12) Cardinals (4-3) ‘€” The Cardinals have a major problem on the offensive line. Kevin Kolb has been sacked 27 times this season and John Skelton has been sacked eight. That’s 35 total sacks in just seven games. Skelton can definitely take some of the blame for the seven times he was sacked on Sunday as well.

18. (19) Redskins (3-4) ‘€” The Redskins should be encouraged with the way they played Sunday against the Giants. They gave the defending Super Bowl champs and the best team in their division all they could handle. The addition of RG3 has helped the Redskins make substantial progress from last year.  

19. (20) Jets (3-4) ‘€” Rex Ryan had his defense well prepared to take on Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. The Jets should be encouraged with the way they played. They suffered through ugly back-to-back losses just a few weeks ago and many wrote them off. At least they proved to themselves they can hang with the Pats.

20. (18) Lions (2-4) ‘€”The Lions are slowly seeing their season slip away and they have no one to blame but themselves. They’ve played sloppy football for the majority of the year. In Monday night’s loss, they turned the ball over four times; three of those turnovers were in the redzone.

21. (21) Dolphins (3-3) ‘€”The Dolphins have been the surprise team in the AFC East this season. They have a solid defense that is great at stopping the run and a rookie QB who has progressed quicker than anyone had thought he would. Coming off their bye week the Dolphins will travel to New York to take on the Jets.

22. (22) Bengals (3-4) ‘€” Andy Dalton has struggled mightily during his team’s current three game losing streak. The second year QB has thrown six picks in that span. He already has ten interceptions on the year; he threw 13 his entire rookie season last year.

23. (26) Titans (3-4) ‘€” Just a few weeks ago it looked like the Titans season had little hope after falling to the Vikings 30-6. Since then, the resilient Titans are 2-0 with come-from-behind wins against the Steelers and Bills. One of the most encouraging signs has been Chris Johnson. The Titans running back is averaging 7.7 yards-per-carry in the past two games.

24. (25) Buccaneers (2-4) ‘€” The Bucs have a hard time stopping the pass and unfortunately for them they play in a division with Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. Tampa has to get much better defensively before the team can compete in the NFC South. The Bucs D has recorded just eight sacks all year.

25. (24) Bills (3-4) ‘€” The lack of production on the defensive side of the ball has been mind boggling. Buffalo is allowing and average of 32.4 points per game. In Sunday’s loss, they allowed one of the worst rushing teams to run for 197 yards.

26. (27) Rams (3-4) ‘€” The Rams are amidst a brutal three game stretch schedule wise. It started with the Packers last Sunday; they have the Patriots and 49ers in their next two games. Sam Bradford will have a great opportunity to throw for his third 300 yard passing game of the season this Sunday against the Patriots defense

27. (28) Raiders (2-4) ‘€” Although they won, falling behind at home by 14 points to the Jaguars tells you all you need to know about the Raiders. They are a below average football team.

28. (29) Colts (3-3) ‘€” The Colts will take a win any way they can get it. It wasn’t an encouraging performance against the Browns Sunday but Andrew Luck and company still have one more victory than the team had all of last year. As long as the team continues to move forward, fans should be happen.

29. (23) Panthers (1-5) ‘€” Cam Newton has a lot to learn about being a leader in the NFL. His immaturity has been exposed as the Panthers have struggled to win games. He has also been extremely inaccurate in the passing game.

30. (30) Browns (1-6) ‘€” The one good thing going offensively for the Browns was their run game. That’s why the injury to Trent Richardson hurts even more. New owner Jimmy Haslam has high expectations for his team and that might mean Pat Shurmur‘s days in Cleveland are numbered.

31. (31) Jaguars (1-5) ‘€” The Jaguars painful season got much worse on Sunday. Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert both suffered injuries and MJD has already been ruled out for Week 8. The Jaguars are ranked 32nd in the league in third down conversions. They’ve converted just 26.6% of their attempts and were 1-15 on Sunday against the Raiders.

32. (32) Chiefs (1-5) ‘€” At least Matt Cassel has shown glimpses of being a solid quarterback in the NFL. Since being drafted in 2007, Brady Quinn has just ten touchdown passes and a 53% completion percentage. The Chiefs are in desperate need of changes but it’s tough to believe Quinn gives the team the best chance to win.

Which NFL teams are in your top 10? Leave your opinions/comments below or e-mail them to powerrankings@weei.com. You also can send comments via Twitter to @JoeytheFishWEEI.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, NFL Power Rankings
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