NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Colts, Jets Earn Respect

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SLR’s Week 8 NFL Power Rankings: 16-9

Oct 20, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith (89) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter. The Carolina Panthers defeated the St. Louis Rams 30-15 at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

16. Carolina Panthers  (3-3) ▲8

They’ve quietly climbed back to .500, and Cam Newton is playing smart, efficient football again. They have some pieces, but can they put it all together? If they keep playing this kind of defense, they can. It’s silently one of the league’s best.

15. Chicago Bears (4-3) ▼4

Bad: Dropping a game to 1-4 Washington with the division lead on the line. Worse: Going 1-3 in their last four. Worst: Jay Cutler is injured, and the backup is Josh McCown. Though having said that, McCown played shockingly well, and might have pulled out the win if the Bears’ defense hadn’t turned into a sieve. Which is it’s own issue. The team may have just begun its regularly scheduled implosion.

14. Tennessee Titans (3-4) ▲2

It was nice to get Jake Locker back earlier than expected, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Titans were simply overmatched against the 49ers. At least they have a bye week to figure out their three-game losing streak, and then maybe get well against the Rams and Jaguars. I still like this team’s chances to make some noise.

13. San Diego Chargers (4-3) ▲1

Because of the Chargers’ inconsistency, the Jaguars were a trendy pick for the upset this week. That didn’t even come close to happening, but it also wasn’t much of a measuring stick, as wins go. They’d be in contention if they didn’t have the misfortune of playing in the division with the league’s only undefeated team (previously teams, plural).

12. New York Jets (4-3) ▲10

I have a hard time believing that the Jets are actually a good team. But they’re over .500, they beat the Patriots, the defense is stifling, and Geno Smith looks better every week. What more do they have to prove? I mean, aside from keeping it up over the last 10 weeks of the season.

11. Detroit Lions (4-3) ▼1

They looked evenly matched against the Bengals, and it came right down the to wire. But when it comes down to it, the Bengals executed better, and the Lions are the ones left to answer questions  about whether or not they’re legitimate—a common position for them. They have a chance to either bounce back or implode back to .500 next week against the Cowboys.

10. Dallas Cowboys (4-3) ▲5

A clear leader has emerged in the NFC East, and they even have a winning record! Granted, they’re 1-3 outside their division, but at this rate, that won’t keep them out of the playoff picture. They look like a completely different team each week, but they’re winning.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) NC

That’s two solid Andy Dalton performances in a row, and this team is starting to hum. If they can keep playing like this, they might run away with the AFC North. Of course, that may not be saying much since there isn’t another winning team in the division right now. They deserve a move up, but… who do you move down? The top 8 is a logjam of power teams.