Week 8 NFL Power Rankings: Increased Offense Putting Premium On Solid Defense

October 26th, 2010 – by Bryan Cross

Week 7 of the NFL season represented a new era as far as the league was concerned. No longer would they simply fine a player for committing a violent hit on a defenseless receiver, a week removed from several hits and fines that took place. Nearly $200,000 in fines were handed down after week 6. After that, the NFL announced they would start suspending players for these illegal, helmet to helmet blows. This past Sunday and Monday however, the NFL praised players for their change in play, as there was not a single penalty called in any game for a violent or illegal hit which would have warranted a fine or suspension. The NFL is encouraged by the start and looks forward to continuing this type of play.

While this all sounds good and well but how did these rule changes affect the game? For one, the NFL had it’s second highest scoring week in the last 20 years now that players will miss games for illegal and dangerous hits. Could the rule change have had something to do with the increased scoring? That is uncertain, but if scoring continues at this pace, one would have a hard time arguing that it doesn’t.

The majority of the teams’ ranked in the top-10 of last week’s power rankings still won. Many of those teams not only have formidable offenses, but intimidating defenses. For some of those teams with great defense, like the Baltimore Ravens however, it was a lot closer than may have been anticipated. Still, any win in the NFL is a good win and the teams at the top of this week’s NFL Power Rankings continue to do just that. We’ll just have to wait and see if scoring continues at this pace. If it does, defense will be a huge determining factor in the weeks to come as it relates to the power rankings.

#1 – New York Jets

The Jets had a Bye this week, but have looked impressive on their five-game win-streak since the opening week loss to the Ravens. Offensively and defensively the Jets are clicking and head coach Rex Ryan has these ‘Hard Knocks’ backing up the preseason hype through seven weeks of the season. With each passing week, quarterback Mark Sanchez looks to be improving, and combined with a defense that as confident as any in the league, it’s a tough combination for their opposition. The Jets’ defense should get a challenge in their upcoming game however, when they face the Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. USA Online Sportsbooks have set New York as a six-point favorite in the contest.

#2 – Pittsburgh Steelers

Perhaps the Steelers were the beneficiary of a call in the fourth quarter which led to a game-winning field goal, or perhaps not. Like the referees stated, it was unclear who came up with the ball on the bottom of the pile after Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger fumbled at the goal-line. The ruling was that it was simply unknown, and the Steelers were awarded the ball at the half-yard line, winning the game 23-22 over the Miami Dolphins on the road. Pittsburgh moves to 5-1 on the season, and 2-0 since Roethlisberger has returned. The Steelers face New Orleans on Halloween night, and are set as a one-point underdog for Sunday Night Football.

#3 – New England Patriots

The Patriots jumped out to a lead against San Diego on Sunday, but let Philip Rivers and company climb their way back in the game before New England was ultimately able to stop the bleeding at the end of the game and come away with a win. Quarterback Tom Brady and the offense didn’t exactly put on a clinic, but the good teams have weeks like this and still manage to get a win over a quality opponent. The Patriots are now 5-1 on the season and in the driver’s seat of the AFC East. New England faces Minnesota on Sunday, where NFL Betting Odds have set them as a 5.5-point favorite.

#4 – Baltimore Ravens

To struggle like the Baltimore did against a win-less Buffalo team was very surprising. In fact, the Ravens needed overtime to put away the Bills. The Ravens did however avoid what would have been the upset of the week thanks to a winning field goal in overtime. The normally stingy Baltimore defense surrendered 34 points to the Bills, including a drive that allowed Buffalo to knock through tying field goal to send the game into overtime at the end of regulation. The Ravens have a Bye week in Week eight of the season.

#5 – Indianapolis Colts

The Colts had a Bye Week this past Sunday, perhaps much-needed as they figure out how they are going to try and replace the production of Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark, who will miss the remainder of the season due to a wrist injury. Fortunately for the Colts, they have weapons available. Though receiver Austin Collie is hurt as well. Peyton Manning still has his go-to guy in Reggie Wayne, but injuries are hurting the Colts right now. Indianapolis gets a shot at revenge on Monday Night against Houston, after the Colts lost to the Texans for the first time ever back in week one of the season. Indianapolis is set as a 5.5-point favorite.

#6 – Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons offense exploded in the first half against Cincinnati to take a 24-3 lead into halftime. That lead vanished in the third quarter though as the Bengals took a 25-24 lead heading into the fourth. From there tough, Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White took over as Atlanta scored 15 points in the fourth quarter for the win a home, where Atlanta has been unbeatable in the Georgia Dome. The Falcons are in sole possession of the NFC South lead, and own the tiebreaker over New Orleans. Atlanta goes into their Bye week this week on the Week 8 NFL Schedule.

#7 – New York Giants

The Giants have won four games in a row, with the latest win over NFC East rival Dallas. New York controls sole possession of the NFC East lead, and are playing solid on both offense and defense. Eli Manning tied a career high with four touchdown passes against the Cowboys and the receiving corps with Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, looks to improve each week into one of the most dangerous tandems in the NFL. Three weeks into the season and everyone was ready to write these Giants off, but look who is laughing now. New York has a Bye in Week Eight.

#8 – Tennessee Titans

The Titans took down the Philadelphia Eagles with relative ease this past Sunday 37-19, in what was a stout effort by the defense, which created turnovers, sacks and even scored a touchdown. The Titans defense continues to be a surprise of the league in 2010, while Chris Johnson and the offense didn’t miss a beat with back up quarterback Kerry Collins while Vince Young nurses an injury. The Titans face San Diego on Sunday and are set as a 3.5-point favorite on NFL Week 8 Betting Odds.

#9 – Houston Texans

Houston had a Bye this past Sunday, and get a tough Monday Night Football Match Up against the Indianapolis Colts which will be critical with respect to the division standings. Quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and receiver Andre Johnson anchor a solid offensive unit, while the defense has played well as well. If the Texans are able to defeat Indianapolis twice in a season, they may be a real contender to take the AFC South division. The Texans have been set as a 5.5-point underdog on the road against the Colts.

#10 – Green Bay Packers

The Packers got the win that they needed on Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was solid, while the defense forced three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. That was the Green Bay team that everyone had expected to see when they were set among the betting favorites to win Super Bowl XLV. The Week 8 NFL Matchups show the Packers vs. the Jets in what should be a great game, but the Pack has been set as a 6.5-point underdog.

11. New Orleans Saints

12. Kansas City Chiefs

13. Seattle Seahawks

14. Washington Redskins

15. Miami Dolphins

16. Philadelphia Eagles

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

18. Chicago Bears

19. Cincinnati Bengals

20. Minnesota Vikings

21. St. Louis Rams

22. San Diego Chargers

23. Arizona Cardinals

24. Oakland Raiders

25. Dallas Cowboys

26. Denver Broncos

27. Jacksonville Jaguars

28. Cleveland Browns

29. Detroit Lions

30. Carolina Panthers

31. San Francisco 49ers

32. Buffalo Bills

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