NFL power rankings, Week 8: Ravens join the elite after thrashing Lions

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Each week of the NFL season, The Baltimore Sun will rank all 32 NFL teams. The rankings will take into account not just weekly performance, injuries and roster depth, but how well each team measures up as Super Bowl contenders.

Here are the rankings heading into Week 8:

1. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1, No. 1 last week)

Last week: Win vs. Chargers, 31-17

Up next: at Broncos

Perhaps flying under the radar is the fact that, in addition to having the best passing duo in the league in Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, the Chiefs also have one of the league’s best defenses. In fact, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell ranks Kansas City second behind only the Browns, citing improved depth under longtime defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. That makes the Chiefs the clear favorites nearly halfway through the regular season.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (6-1, No. 4)

Last week: Win vs. Dolphins, 31-17

Up next: at Commanders

Based on their record and past performance, the Eagles certainly have the resume of a Super Bowl contender. But there is some cause for concern with quarterback Jalen Hurts, who ranks second in the NFL with 10 turnovers after committing two more Sunday night, including a pick-six in the third quarter that tied the game. Philadelphia has been good, but not great, and that could be the difference in the postseason. Maybe the trade for Titans star safety Kevin Byard will push the defense back into the top tier.

3. Ravens (5-2, No. 9)

Last week: Win vs. Lions, 38-6

Up next: at Cardinals

Now that’s the Super Bowl contender everyone hoped to see. With a masterful performance from Lamar Jackson — who vaulted himself back to the top of the NFL Most Valuable Player race — and another lockdown effort from the defense, the Ravens proved they’re a team to be feared. Rarely are statement wins so decisive; according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the third-largest margin of victory against a team with the NFL’s best record entering Week 7 or later. Opposing defensive coordinators had to be spooked by what they saw Sunday, as Jackson spread the ball around to nine receivers and the running game delivered its familiar ruthless efficiency. Add a defense that has been directed beautifully by coordinator Mike Macdonald — whose creative pressures have helped pile up a league-leading 29 sacks — and this team has all the makings of a conference champion. Now, let’s see it two weeks in a row.

4. San Francisco 49ers (5-2, No. 2)

Last week: Loss vs. Vikings, 22-17

Up next: vs. Bengals

For the first time since Weeks 6-7 last season, the 49ers have lost back-to-back games. It’s uncharted territory for Brock Purdy, who threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter Monday night, including the game-sealing one with 33 seconds left. Christian McCaffrey pushed his touchdown streak to 16 games, but his fumble on the 49ers’ first possession cost them points. Perhaps most concerning is the play of the defense, which couldn’t get off the field on third down and allowed 452 yards. This is not the dominant team we thought it was through the first five weeks of the season.

5. Miami Dolphins (5-2, No. 3)

Last week: Loss vs. Eagles, 31-17

Up next: vs. Patriots

The Dolphins have played only two teams with winning records this season, and they’ve lost to them both. That’s not to diminish what Miami has done on offense with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, but there are weaknesses here on the offensive line and on defense that good teams have been able to exploit. One silver lining? The Dolphins’ front seven has come on strong of late, including 16 pressures and three sacks Sunday night in Philadelphia.

6. Dallas Cowboys (4-2, No. 7)

Last week: Bye

Up next: vs. Rams

7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2, No. 8)

Last week: Win vs. Saints, 31-24

Up next: at Steelers

Like the Ravens, the Jaguars have had a similar problem putting teams away. They entered the fourth quarter Thursday night leading 24-9 but needed a late touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to win after allowing the tying score. Four straight wins is impressive, no matter the competition, but there has been plenty of luck involved. Jacksonville leads the league with 16 turnovers, an unsustainably high rate that could regress to the mean at the worst time.

8. Buffalo Bills (4-3, No. 6)

Last week: Loss vs. Patriots, 29-25

Up next: vs. Buccaneers

It’s officially time to be concerned about the Bills. Close losses to division rivals happen all the time, but there’s no reason Buffalo should be trailing this Patriots team by two scores in the fourth quarter. Most concerning are the routine slow starts; over the past three games, the Bills have averaged 5.7 points in the first three quarters. Relying on Josh Allen for some late magic every week isn’t going to work. There are more injury concerns, too, with tight end Dawson Knox undergoing wrist surgery and defensive tackles DaQuan Jones (pectoral) and Ed Oliver (toe) sidelined.

9. Detroit Lions (5-2, No. 5)

Last week: Loss vs. Ravens, 38-6

Up next: vs. Raiders

How the Lions respond to their beatdown in Baltimore will be telling. Detroit was used to imposing its will on both sides of the ball during its strong start, yet coach Dan Campbell’s team didn’t look like it belonged on the same field as the Ravens. The Lions had some notable absences Sunday, including running back David Montgomery and cornerback Jerry Jacobs, but that’s no excuse for falling behind 28-0 in the first half.

10. Cleveland Browns (4-2, No. 10)

Last week: Win vs. Colts, 39-38

Up next: at Seahawks

It might seem odd to say for a team that allowed 38 points, but the defense won the game for the Browns on Sunday. More specifically, star defensive end Myles Garrett, who recorded two sacks, forced two fumbles and blocked a field goal attempt. But as good as the defense is, the attention this week will be on quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was pulled after an ugly start after missing two games with a shoulder injury. Coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday the Browns were still “gathering information” on it but that Watson is still the leader of the team. The offense has looked much better with practice squad call-up PJ Walker under center, which is a bad sign for Cleveland’s $230 million investment.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (3-3, No. 11)

Last week: Bye

Up next: at 49ers

12. Seattle Seahawks (4-2, No. 12)

Last week: Win vs. Cardinals, 20-10

Up next: vs. Browns

With star receiver DK Metcalf out, rookies Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jake Bobo each caught a touchdown pass in the first half to help Seattle escape with a win Sunday. Geno Smith threw an interception at the Arizona 1-yard line in the third quarter and fumbled a snap in Seattle territory early in the fourth, continuing a curiously uneven stretch for the veteran quarterback. The defense has helped carry the way, however, allowing just 4.7 yards per play, and could be seeing a breakout season from 2022 second-round pick Boye Mafe, who has a sack in each of the past four games. That would be huge, especially if Uchenna Nwosu misses time with a strained pectoral muscle.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2, No. 17)

Last week: Win vs. Rams, 24-17

Up next: vs. Jaguars

It’s been ugly at times, but the Steelers just keep winning. They only had three points and 91 yards at halftime Sunday, yet they scored on three of their first four drives of the second half after T.J. Watt intercepted a pass on the opening play of the third quarter. Kenny Pickett came alive in the fourth, going 7-for-7 for 138 yards including a nice back-shoulder throw to George Pickens — a staple of this Matt Canada offense. Pittsburgh might not stack up well with the AFC’s elite, but coach Mike Tomlin has always kept this team in the mix to the bitter end.

14. Minnesota Vikings (3-4, No. 25)

Last week: Win vs. 49ers, 22-17

Up next: at Packers

This Vikings team might be … better than the one that won 13 games last season? A statement win over the 49ers, led by two touchdown catches from rookie Jordan Addison and two interceptions by Camryn Bynum, provides plenty of hope for a Minnesota team that has quietly won three of four since starting 0-3. Kirk Cousins delivered an incredible performance Monday, particularly on third down, and finished 9 of 12 for 201 yards and two touchdowns on passes over 10 air yards. This could be a dangerous playoff team.

15. Atlanta Falcons (4-3, No. 21)

Last week: Win vs. Buccaneers, 16-13

Up next: at Titans

The Falcons tried to give the game away Sunday, but the Bucs wouldn’t take it. Desmond Ridder fumbled three times in the red zone, including at the 1-yard line on a run that would have given Atlanta a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. It was a maddening offensive performance, made even more so by the confusion surrounding Bijan Robinson’s availability, which was later explained as the rookie running back suffering from headaches. The Falcons are in first place in the NFC South, but this team doesn’t have the look of a division champion.

16. Los Angeles Rams (3-4, No. 13)

Last week: Loss vs. Steelers, 24-17

Up next: at Cowboys

If the Steelers don’t get a generous spot on a quarterback sneak to convert a fourth-and-1 at the Los Angeles 38 on the final snap before the two-minute warning, perhaps this Rams season feels different. They’ve been competitive in every game and have one of the league’s best offenses thanks to rookie receiver Puka Nacua, but they haven’t been able to string together wins. It sure feels like a rebuilding year.

17. Houston Texans (3-3, No. 18)

Last week: Bye

Up next: at Panthers

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3, No. 13)

Last week: Loss vs. Falcons, 16-13

Up next: at Bills

The Bucs are still in contention to win the NFC South, but they’re going nowhere fast with an offense that has struggled to score. They’re averaging just 17.2 points per game, making Baker Mayfield’s fourth-quarter interception to end a promising drive Sunday all the more painful. Nine penalties and 3.7 yards per carry isn’t going to cut it, no matter how good the defense is.

19. New York Jets (3-3, No. 19)

Last week: Bye

Up next: vs. Jets

20. Indianapolis Colts (3-4, No. 22)

Last week: Loss vs. Browns, 39-38

Up next: vs. Saints

It was the full Gardner Minshew experience Sunday, as he committed four turnovers but also averaged 13.3 yards per attempt and accounted for four touchdowns against perhaps the league’s best defense. The Colts will need to ride that roller coaster as long as rookie Anthony Richardson is out, but first-year coach Shane Steichen’s team has been much better than expected.

21. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4, No. 16)

Last week: Loss vs. Chiefs, 31-17

Up next: vs. Bears

This is starting to feel like the end of the line for this Chargers regime. Coach Brandon Staley built his reputation on defense, and Los Angeles allowed 24 points and 321 passing yards in the first half Sunday. The Chargers needed their stars to lead the way to pick up that elusive postseason victory, yet injuries and ineffective play have held them back. Asking Justin Herbert to carry the team with a fractured finger is a fitting situation for this franchise.

22. Washington Commanders (3-4, No. 15)

Last week: Loss vs. Giants, 14-7

Up next: vs. Eagles

How long can the Commanders stick with their Sam Howell experiment? The first-year starter has taken a league-high 40 sacks this season, which have killed drives and set the offense back. Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen’s frustration is warranted given how few signs of progress there have been over his seven seasons in Washington. A coaching change feels inevitable, and a new quarterback might soon follow.

23. New Orleans Saints (3-4, No. 20)

Last week: Loss vs. Jaguars, 31-24

Up next: at Colts

If tight end Foster Moreau hangs on to that pass to the back of the end zone with 30 seconds left Thursday, maybe the Saints enter their mini-bye sitting in first place in the division. Instead, they’ll face more questions about an offense that has put up empty stats under quarterback Derek Carr. They’ve scored a touchdown on just nine of 24 trips inside the red zone, a 37.5% rate that ranks fifth-worst in the NFL.

24. Denver Broncos (2-5, No. 31)

Last week: Win vs. Packers, 19-17

Up next: vs. Chiefs

For all the criticism the Broncos have received for their terrible start to the season, Russell Wilson has not been the problem. The 34-year-old quarterback ranks seventh in passer rating, ahead of more celebrated stars such as Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence. The defense has been the bigger problem, ranking last in DVOA, but it held up long enough Sunday to help secure the win.

25. Tennessee Titans (2-4, No. 26)

Last week: Bye

Up next: vs. Falcons

26. Chicago Bears (2-5, No. 28)

Last week: Win vs. Raiders, 30-12

Up next: at Chargers

With the caveat that his average depth of target was 2 yards Sunday, former Division II quarterback Tyson Bagent was efficient and avoided mistakes in helping Chicago end a 10-game home losing streak. At the very least, the Bears should be competitive as they wait for starter Justin Fields to return.

27. New England Patriots (2-5, No. 30)

Last week: Win vs. Bills, 29-25

Up next: at Dolphins

Mac Jones delivered the second game-winning drive of his NFL career, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. His touchdown pass to Mike Gesicki with 12 seconds left will at least keep questions about his long-term outlook as the starter at bay for another week. Bill Belichick is now the third coach in NFL history with 300 regular-season victories, but it doesn’t look like he’ll get many more this year unless this win sparks a dramatic turnaround.

28. New York Giants (2-5, No. 29)

Last week: Win vs. Commanders, 14-7

Up next: vs. Jets

Do the Giants have a Daniel Jones problem? It’s hard to ignore how much better the offense has looked with backup Tyrod Taylor under center, even though it’s only produced 23 points in two games. Perhaps New York would have been better off riding with a stopgap quarterback this season rather than giving Jones a new contract. It’s still early, but the pressure is on for the 26-year-old to prove himself when he returns from a neck injury.

29. Las Vegas Raiders (3-4, No. 23)

Last week: Loss vs. Bears, 30-12

Up next: at Lions

Without Jimmy Garoppolo, this is an unserious team. Brian Hoyer and Aidan O’Connell combined to average 4.5 yards per attempt and threw three interceptions Sunday, and the running game averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. There are not many reasons why coach Josh McDaniels should keep this job for much longer.

30. Arizona Cardinals (1-6, No. 27)

Last week: Loss vs. Seahawks, 20-10

Up next: vs. Ravens

The Cardinals’ defense did its job Sunday, but the offense turned three Seattle turnovers into just three points. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs has struggled three weeks in a row after a surprisingly strong start, with Arizona now slipping to 28th in the NFL in passing (180.9 yards per game). The running game remains the team’s only strength.

31. Green Bay Packers (2-4, No. 24)

Last week: Loss vs. Broncos, 19-17

Up next: vs. Vikings

Make that three straight losses for Green Bay — and it could easily be five in a row if not for the Packers overcoming a 17-0 fourth-quarter deficit against the Saints in Week 3. The main story coming out of Sunday’s debacle was coach Matt LaFleur reaffirming his faith in Jordan Love, which is not something you want to hear midway through a quarterback’s first season as the starter. Injuries have taken their toll on offense, but Love hasn’t met expectations so far.

32. Carolina Panthers (0-6, No. 32)

Last week: Bye

Up next: vs. Texans


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