By David Helman
FOX Sports Dallas Cowboys Writer
A wise man once said “Chaos is a ladder.”
Alright, scratch that. Let’s not look to Game of Thrones’ Petyr Baelish for much in the way of life advice. But looking across the NFL landscape in Week 8, it’s easy to understand the sentiment. As it sits right now, there is a ruling class. Shockingly, in a league with this much parity, the top of the power rankings this week remains the same as last week — but that’s probably because the top three teams all took the week off. Beyond that, it’s utter madness out there.
So even if you don’t like the rankings, sit tight. Much like in Westeros, no one seems safe.
1. Buffalo Bills (5-1): It’s a weird quirk of the schedule that the league’s best three teams all took the week off. The Bills resume their season in style with a Sunday night game against Green Bay this week.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (6-0): The entire NFC East is facing a fairly easy strength of schedule this season, and the Eagles look primed to benefit from that. They’re not slated to play a team that currently has a winning record until their Dec. 4 game against the Tennessee Titans.
3. Minnesota Vikings (5-1): The next few weeks feel crucial for the Vikings. As the Packers continue to struggle, sitting at 3-4 on the season, this is a huge opportunity to stack some more wins and build a real cushion on the NFC North race.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (4-2): The Chiefs have two losses, including a puzzling one to the Colts. But if they’re humming on all cylinders, Buffalo is the only team in the league I’d pick to beat them. Sunday’s demolition of San Francisco featured a team that’s improving by the week — most notably, at wide receiver and pass rusher, both of which have been problem spots.
Chiefs’ Mecole Hardman scores three touchdowns
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman could not be stopped in the blowout win against the San Francisco 49ers.
5. New York Giants (6-1): Talk about a team that’s going to scrap for every yard – quite literally. Like Brian Daboll said, the Giants made it harder than they needed to, as Jacksonville came just a half-yard shy of scoring the game-winning touchdown. But you’re going to win a lot of games if you can pile up 436 yards and limit turnovers. We can quibble with how “legit” the Giants are if we want to, but we’re far past the point where it should matter.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (4-3): Uh oh, the Bengals might have re-discovered their mojo. These guys look like the group that made a run to Super Bowl LVI. Joe Burrow has found his deep ball, Ja’Marr Chase looks like one of the best receivers in the league and the defense buckled down and didn’t allow any points to Atlanta after halftime. If their offense is humming like this, the Bengals are one of the tougher outs in the AFC.
7. Dallas Cowboys (5-2): New quarterback, same formula. The Dallas offense didn’t look amazing in Dak Prescott’s return from injury, but it didn’t need to — not when the defense forced five takeaways in a dominant second half against Detroit. If Prescott can get the offense clicking, this is a scary bunch.
Impressed with Dak Prescott’s return to Cowboys lineup?
David Helman discusses the return of Dak Prescott to the Dallas Cowboys starting lineup. Helman says Dak did everything he needed to do in his return to take home the win.
8. Baltimore Ravens (4-3): Progress is progress, and that’s exactly what we’ll call it when the Ravens are able to hang on to a fourth quarter lead. It still wasn’t pretty. The Ravens’ fourth-quarter possessions were uninspiring, and they still aren’t running the ball well. For now, at least they were less bad than the Browns.
9. Tennessee Titans (4-2): The Titans got blown off the field by Buffalo back in Week 2 — and they quietly have not lost a game since. This 19-10 win against Indianapolis wasn’t particularly memorable, but it was a rock-solid defensive performance. All of a sudden, Tennessee has a chokehold on the AFC South.
10. Miami Dolphins (4-3): Watching Tua Tagovailoa zip throws up and down the field in the first half, you’d have thought the Dolphins were ready to retake their place among the league’s best. That was before the scoreless punt-fest we saw in the second half. Two clutch takeaways to close out the win is nothing to be ashamed of, but hopefully Miami can put together a cleaner effort.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (4-3): Maybe one day the Chargers will get up for the start of a game. They’ve fallen behind by double digits in three straight games, and this one bit them. It’s fair to be concerned about the offense’s inability to be explosive or consistent. It’s also fair that it doesn’t matter if this defense surrenders 214 rushing yards.
Seahawks’ Kenneth Walker III runs all over the Chargers defense
Kenneth Walker III rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns as the Seattle Seahawks cruised to a comfortable 37-23 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
12. New York Jets (5-2): Losing Breece Hall to a torn ACL is devastating, but props to Joe Douglas and the Jets front office for not being complacent. Trading for James Robinson helps offset that injury. And it sends a clear message that this team isn’t content to be a feel-good story.
13. San Francisco 49ers (3-4): To be fair to the 49ers, they played Kansas City close through three quarters. That made it all the more impressive when the Chiefs put the pedal down in the home stretch. For a team with so much of its identity tied up in an elite defense, it’s awfully concerning to see an opponent, even Kansas City, pile up 529 yards.
14. Los Angeles Rams (3-3): The Rams’ season went off the rails with an ugly beating at the hands of the 49ers. Fresh off a bye week, L.A. has a big opportunity to re-assert itself in the rematch.
15. Seattle Seahawks (4-3): A lot of us owe the Seahawks an apology. The vast majority of football fans thought this team would be fighting for a top-five draft pick, and they’re instead leading the division as we approach the midpoint of the season. For that, we give a ton of credit to Geno Smith’s amazing career renaissance — not to mention a terrifying ground game. Seattle’s 2022 draft class could be an all-timer.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4): It’s time to start a dialogue. It’s not early in the season anymore, and there should honestly never be an excuse for this Tampa offense to only score three points. Factor in that this humiliating 21-3 loss came by the hands of the lowly Panthers, and yeah, we’ve got problems. It’s officially really ugly in Tampa Bay, and it’s fair to wonder if Tom Brady is capable of pulling the Bucs out of this.
Tom Brady, Bucs suffer brutal loss to NFC South rival Panthers in Week 7
Emmanuel Acho, David Helman, Joy Taylor and LeSean McCoy discuss the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 21-3 loss to the PJ Walker-led Carolina Panthers in Week 7. What is going on in Tampa Bay?
17. Las Vegas Raiders (2-4): Style points can wait. Right now, it’s all about getting back to .500. Of course, you’d prefer to put the lowly Texans away a bit faster, but there’s something to be said for outscoring Houston 21-0 in the fourth quarter. The Raiders’ next three opponents are a combined 7-13-1. They aren’t out of this yet.
18. New England Patriots (3-4): Solid defense has been the Pats’ calling card in 2022, but this was an ugly outing. Justin Fields had his best day of the season as a passer, and the Bears ran wild on New England’s front. On top of that, the decision to replace Mac Jones with Bailey Zappe makes you wonder what the quarterback situation looks like moving forward.
19. Green Bay Packers (3-4): Aaron Rodgers was defiant that the Packers could still be good in the wake of this embarrassing loss to Washington. It’s just hard to envision how it happens, given the way they can’t find consistent contributors who aren’t named Aaron Jones. This week’s trip to Buffalo is going to tell us a lot about this team. Are they cooked, or do they have more in them than we’ve seen the last few weeks?
Time to write off Aaron Rodgers and the Packers this season?
FOX Sports NFL Analyst Greg Jennings reacts to the Green Bay Packers’ Week 7 loss to the Washington Commanders. Jennings weighs in on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and why he should consider trusting his wide receivers and just throw the ball down the field.
20. Arizona Cardinals (3-4): It’s a hell of a lot easier to win when you score two defensive touchdowns, but we’re not going to discredit the Cardinals for that. Arizona’s defense feasted on Andy Dalton, and DeAndre Hopkins helped the offense achieve much better balance.
21. Atlanta Falcons (3-4): This was the first time all season we’ve seen the Falcons truly look like the overmatched team many thought they would be at the start of the season. The Falcons didn’t have an answer for Joe Burrow, and outside of one explosive play they just couldn’t get much going on offense. They’ve been surprisingly scrappy all year, but this wasn’t their day.
22. Indianapolis Colts (3-3-1): The Colts might be the most annoying team in the NFL. Every good performance is followed by a dud, as was the case by their 10-point showing in this loss to the Titans. Matt Ryan’s shoulder injury means Sam Ehlinger will have an opportunity to bolster the offense. But honestly, it’s hard to imagine any quarterback succeeding until the Colts rediscover how to effectively run the ball.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5): One yard could be the difference between 3-4 and 2-5. Of course, the Jags had plenty of other opportunities to beat the Giants before that last-gasp drive, but it still feels so painfully close. This team needs to play a lot cleaner. That’s a reference to both their 13 penalties and the 236 rushing yards they allowed.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5): We can say this for the Steelers: credit to their defense for buckling down, because it looked like Miami was going to run them off the field in the early going. This defense has typically been good enough to win games, but it’s obvious there are going to be growing pains while Kenny Pickett gets comfortable in the NFL.
25. Washington Commanders (3-4): Consider this: Taylor Heinicke led four drives in the second half against Green Bay. On three of those possessions, he drove the Commanders 60+ yards for points. On the fourth, he converted a huge 3rd-and-9 that helped Washington burn 90 crucial seconds off the clock. Maybe Heinicke can have a Cooper Rush-like effect in Washington.
26. Cleveland Browns (2-5): There’s something ironic about the Browns defending the Ravens’ run game much better than they’ve defended other teams in recent weeks — and still losing. Cleveland’s defense played well enough to win, but the Browns couldn’t keep Jacoby Brissett on his feet with any consistency. Turning the ball over and settling for field goals is not a winning strategy.
27. Chicago Bears (3-4): For as ugly as this season has looked at times, the Bears have a respectable record and look like a young team finding its way. Monday night’s demolition of New England was as complete as they’ve looked, and the fun part was that they got big performances from a lot of their young draft picks — including Justin Fields.
28. Detroit Lions (1-5): It looked for all the world like the Lions were going to stage an upset bid in Dallas — right up until they turned the ball over on four straight fourth-quarter possessions. The offensive implosion against the Cowboys pass rush totally nullified a fairly solid day from their much-maligned defense. If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.
29. New Orleans Saints (2-5): The Saints’ long-term strategy seems so strange. This is a team that doubled down on its current roster by trading away a future first-round pick to select multiple players at the top of this year’s draft. Where has that gotten them? Last place in a bad division, without a clear answer about whether they have a quarterback.
30. Denver Broncos (2-5): At least with Russell Wilson sidelined by a hamstring injury, the Broncos’ offensive struggles make a bit more sense. We’re not going to beat up on Brett Rypien too much. But the point remains: Denver’s defense has allowed more than 19 points on just one occasion, and the record is still just 2-5.
Is Russell Wilson to blame for Broncos’ struggles?
The Broncos are now 2-5 and clearly underperforming. Colin Cowherd shares the solutions to Denver’s problems, including Russ’ culpability.
31. Carolina Panthers (2-5): It doesn’t matter how much the Bucs are struggling, you can’t be ranked last in a week when you beat the GOAT. The Panthers’ feisty defense held Tom Brady and Co. without a touchdown, and the Panthers didn’t look like a team that just traded Christian McCaffrey away. D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard ran all over Tampa Bay’s defense.
32. Houston Texans (1-4-1): Houston played tough for three quarters, and then Josh Jacobs decided he’d had enough. It’s probably cold comfort that the Texans continue to look decent in games they lose, but that’s where things are with this roster.
David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports. He previously spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team’s official website. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in producing “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion” about the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State. Follow him on Twitter @davidhelman_.
Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more