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WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 8: Colts leap to No. 2 after edging Broncos

A major shakeup is the result of a thrilling and somewhat shocking Week 7. The Broncos [1] relinquished the No. 1 spot, with the Seahawks [2] retaking the crown. Storming all the way up to No. 2 are the Colts. Behind Andrew Luck [3], Indy knocked off what looked to be an unbeatable Broncos team that falls to No. 3.

The Saints (6), Bengals (7) and Packers (8) all dropped a few spots despite winning or being on a bye. The spectacular Indy win along with the Chiefs (5) improving to 7-0 is the reason why. This goes to show how close the top teams are. Parity is king in the NFL.

Coming off an exciting overtime victory over the Patriots (9), the Jets make a dramatic leap five spots to No. 14. Meanwhile, the Bears (15) continue to plunge, having lost three of their last four and Jay Cutler [4] for an extended period of time.

Three teams have claimed the top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings through seven weeks. Can the undefeated Chiefs be the fourth? Week 8 awaits …

1. (2) Seahawks (6-1) — Percy Harvin‘s imminent return should instill fear throughout the NFC. If the Seahawks get home-field advantage in the playoffs, it will take a perfect game to knock them off.

2. (9) Colts (5-2) — Forget the six fourth-quarter comebacks and nine game-winning drives, Luck’s signature game was this past Sunday when he outdueled future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning [5]. The Colts have another special QB in Indianapolis. 

3. (1) Broncos (6-1) — Turnovers at the running back position is a reason for concern in Denver. This team doesn’t have many weaknesses, but running back is one of them.

 4. (4) 49ers [6] (5-2) — That’s four straight for the red-hot Niners. The run game has been a major factor for the offense. Frank Gore [7] spoke out about his lack of carries following a Week 3 loss to the Colts and has seen his workload increase dramatically ever since.

5. (7) Chiefs (7-0) — The Chiefs have the makeup of a Super Bowl [8] contender. They win close games, don’t turn the ball over and have a ferocious defense. It’s not the Seahawks but the Chiefs who are allowing the fewest points per game in the league (11.6).

6. (3) Saints (5-1) — The Saints are a completely different team when Jimmy Graham [9] is not on the field. The tight end is nursing a foot injury and is key to this team’s success. Luckily for the Saints, they’re at the top of their conference and don’t have to rush the All-Pro back.

7. (5) Bengals (5-2) — “Who Dey” nation’s team has a commanding two-game lead in the AFC North. Unlike their division counterparts, the Bengals have shown an ability to win the close games. Four of their wins have been by one score or less. 

8. (6) Packers (4-2) — A team can only withstand so much. The Packers [10] seem to lose a key player each week. Pretty soon, Aaron Rodgers [11] is going to have to start throwing the ball to himself.

9. (8) Patriots (5-2) — Tom Brady [12] simply can’t get into a rhythm with his offense. TB12 has completed 60 percent or more of his passes in every season he has been a starter in New England. This year, he’s averaging 55 percent and has been over 60 percent just twice. 

10. (15) Chargers (4-3) — Perhaps the most under-the-radar 4-3 team in the league, the Chargers enter their bye week and have seen great improvement with first-year coach Mike McCoy [13] at the helm. Philip Rivers [14]‘ completion percentage is higher than 70.

11. (11) Cowboys (4-3) — The Cowboys are enjoying back-to-back wins for the first time this season. They are in complete control of the NFC East with a 3-0 divisional record. 

12. (14) Lions (4-3) — Matthew Stafford [15] and the Lions have a tremendous opportunity to become a playoff contender with Cutler expected to miss extended time for the Bears and Packers receivers dropping like flies.

13. (13) Ravens (3-4) — The defending Super Bowl champs are in rough shape, two games behind in the division. Three of the Ravens’ four losses have come by three points or less. Super Bowl teams win close games. The Ravens know that.

14. (19) Jets (4-3) — Sunday wasn’t the first time Rex Ryan [16] has outcoached Bill Belichick [17]. Rex has gone from a lame-duck coach to a playoff-contending coach in seven weeks.

15. (10) Bears (4-3) — Things were starting to look up in Chicago until the durability issue hit the Bears offensive backfield once again. Cutler’s torn groin muscle will cost him some time, and the Bears could be out of the playoff race by the time he returns.

16. (23) Panthers (3-3) — Consistency is the only thing Panthers fans are looking for from Cam Newton [18]. The young QB has had a shaky start to his career, but over the last two games he has been on his ‘A’ game. He has an amazing 82 percent completion rate over the last two games with four touchdown passes and no picks.

17. (12) Dolphins (3-3) — Poor pass protection and turnovers are the reason why the Dolphins continue to slide. During their three-game losing streak, Ryan Tannehill has turned the ball over seven times and has been sacked 12 times. 

18. (20) Falcons (2-4) —  The Falcons can’t be successful without a balanced attack on offense. The run game must improve. As Steven Jackson [19] returns to practice, there is hope in Atlanta that the “Dirty Birds” can turn things around.

19. (18) Titans (3-4) — The beleaguered Titans just wrapped up a three-game stretch against three of the top five teams in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. They faced an extremely challenging test, and they failed, losing all three games.

20. (16) Eagles (3-4) — The Eagles have lost a franchise-record nine straight games at home. Perhaps the team’s inability to have a healthy quarterback is the problem. 

21. (17) Cardinals (3-4) — It’s tough to win games when your quarterback is being sacked seven times and hit 13. The Cardinals offensive line is horrendous and a major reason why this team is under .500.

22. (22) Redskins (2-4) — Robert Griffin III‘s performance on Sunday was what we had come to expect from him after watching him last year. The Redskins won games in 2012 because the team was able to run the ball well. In Sunday’s win over the Bears, the run game delivered.

23. (27) Bills (3-4) — The Bills grabbed their best ‘W’ of the year Sunday on the road against a divisional opponent in the Dolphins. Say what you want about the Bills, but this team is competing week after week. Last year they lost by an average of 16 points per game. This year, the four losses have come at an average of six points.

 24. (25) Steelers (2-4) — It’s hard not to notice the improvement from the Steelers over the past couple of weeks. The offensive line is getting a great push at the line of scrimmage, and the return of LeVeon Bell has done wonders for an offense that desperately needed some type of run game.

24. (24) Texans (2-5) —  Watching Brian Cushing [20] go down for the season for a second straight year is very difficult. He’s one of the most talented linebackers in the league, and football fans everywhere are missing out. 

26. (21) Rams (3-4) — The loss of Sam Bradford [21] is a crushing blow to a young Rams team that looked to be headed in the right direction. The former first overall pick has had a tumultuous start to his career. It will be interesting to see if the once-promising QB can live up to expectations when he returns.

27. (30) Giants [22] (1-6) — A win is a win at this point for the Giants. This team still has a lot of issues, including a lack of a pass rush and no depth at running back.

28. (26) Browns (3-4) — The Browns offense is back to being its dismal self. Brandon Weeden is proving week after week he can’t handle the job. 

 29. (29) Raiders (2-4) — Coming off the bye week, the Raiders will look to improve their offensive line and cut down on the sacks allowed. Terrelle Pryor was sacked nine times in Oakland’s last game, against the Chiefs. 

30. (28) Vikings (1-5) — Leslie Frazier is on the hot seat after this miserable start to the season. Josh Freeman [23] clearly wasn’t prepared to start Monday night against the Giants but was put in the lineup anyway.

31. (31) Buccaneers [24] (0-6) — Last week we talked about whatever can go wrong, will go wrong in Tampa. This week the Bucs lost Doug Martin [25] for the foreseeable future. 

32. (32) Jaguars (0-7) — Maybe in Week 13 against the Browns?

Which NFL teams are in your top 10? Leave your opinions/comments below or send via Twitter to @JoeZWEEI.