1. Los Angeles Rams (8-0) Def. Green Bay 29-27. Last Week: 1
Green Bay gave the Rams their toughest test yet, but the NFL’s last undefeated team emerged unscathed. They came back from a 10-0 deficit early and a 27-26 deficit late, much of it again thanks to the running (and receiving) of superstar running back Todd Gurley. Gurley has 180 more rushing yards and five more touchdowns than any other player in the league through eight games. He could have had another score on Sunday too, had he not stopped short of the end zone to ice the game.
2. New England Patriots (6-2) Def. Buffalo 25-6. Last Week: 2
A tougher opponent than the Bills might have made the Patriots pay for settling for field goals on so many trips to the red zone Monday night. But the Bills were the opponent and four Stephen Gostkowski field goals and late scores by James White and Devin McCourty were more than enough to see Buffalo out. The Packers will present a tougher test, and make Rob Gronkowski’s status one to watch this week.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) Def. Denver 30-23. Last Week: 3
Patrick Mahomes had his fifth four-touchdown game of 2018 and seventh straight 300-yard effort. The only time Mahomes failed to reach the 300-yard mark this season was a modest 256-yard, four-touchdown day in the season opener. This win, however, completed a season sweep of the rival Broncos for Kansas City with the season only halfway over. Cleveland looks like an unlikely Week 9 opponent to slow Kansas City down.
4. New Orleans Saints (6-1) Def. Minnesota 30-20. Last Week: 4
The Saints won the “Miracle” rematch in surprising fashion: scoring 30 points is a regular occurrence for New Orleans but being held to 270 total yards and 164 yards passing is not. Winning even when everything isn’t clicking might be necessary again in Week 9. The Saints don’t have any time to revel in this victory before launching into another huge conference matchup against the undefeated Rams. The winner in that game will be on pace for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2-1) Def. Cleveland 33-18. Last Week: 6
A city grieving a tragedy won on Sunday, largely behind the rushing of homegrown talent James Connor. The speculated return of Le’Veon Bell post-bye-week didn’t happen. No big deal for the Steelers, who have the NFL’s third-ranked rusher in Connor. He had 212 total yards and two touchdowns Sunday, his third straight 100-yard day on the ground.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (5-2) Bye. Last Week: 7
The Chargers are one of the hottest teams in the league but face a tough test against the resurgent Seahawks in Seattle when they come off their bye in Week 9. Hopefully, it was a chance for the Chargers to get healthier – specifically stars Joey Bosa and Melvin Gordon.
7. Washington (5-2) Def. NY Giants 20-13. Last Week: 9
Adrian Peterson and Washington appear to have been the perfect match. The running back is revitalized after perhaps the most frustrating season of his career. He has 345 yards rushing in the past three games, all Washington victories. The best Washington rushing attack in years is matched only by their defense, which sacked Eli Manning (admittedly, not the NFL’s toughest feat) seven times.
8. Carolina Panthers (5-2) Def. Baltimore 36-21. Last Week: 8
With Torrey Smith sidelined, D.J. Moore may have just turned in his breakout performance. The rookie wide receiver picked 24th overall in the draft had 90 yards receiving and ran for another 39 on the ground. Cam Newton had three total touchdowns and no turnovers. The Panthers continued to separate themselves from the trailing teams in the NFC South: the Falcons and Buccaneers.
9. Houston Texans (5-3) Def. Miami 42-23. Last Week: 10
Deshaun Watson threw five touchdown passes, while Lamar Miller ran for 133 yards against his former team. But during Houston’s most impressive performance this season, their most impressive play didn’t count. DeAndre Hopkins made a spectacular one-handed catch along the sideline with a Miami defender draped on his other arm before somehow being called for offensive pass interference to wipe out the play. However, Demaryius Thomas’ last-minute arrival will help in the wake of Will Fuller’s torn ACL.
10. Minnesota Vikings (4-3-1) Lost to New Orleans 30-20. Last Week: 5
Another game for the Vikings where the passing attack took center stage, and this time Stephon Diggs joined Adam Thielen in the 100-yard column. Thielen’s 103-yard game tied Calvin Johnson for the NFL record of eight-straight 100-yard receiving performances. The Vikings have an important divisional game against Detroit this week before going on bye, and everyone’s watching to see when Dalvin Cook will return.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) Def. Buccaneers 37-34. Last Week: 12
The Bengals rebounded twice, once from last week’s 45-10 beatdown at the hands of Kansas City. And again after Tampa Bay came back from the 27-9 hole they were in at halftime. Turnover free football will help you do that, and that’s what the Bengals turned in Sunday. They have their bye week next, and then a big challenge against the Saints.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) Def. Jacksonville 24-18. Last Week: 13
One week after allowing a 17-0 fourth-quarter lead to evaporate against Carolina, the Eagles held onto their lead this time, holding Jacksonville to field goals on two late drives. They also rediscovered their rushing attack, finishing with 133 yards on the ground, led by undrafted rookie Josh Adams’ 61. Now on their bye week, the Eagles used their time off to make a splash on deadline day for the second year in a row. In 2017, they acquired Jay Ajayi for a mid-round pick. This year, Golden Tate is the newest Eagle.
13. Chicago Bears (4-3) Def. NY Jets 24-10. Last Week: 14
The Bears may have been the busiest players in the NFL this offseason, but they were without their two biggest additions on Sunday. Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson both sat out the game against the Jets, and the Bears still had more in the tank than New York could handle. That’s an encouraging sign in Chicago, where the Bears just moved into first place in the NFC North following the Vikings’ loss to the Saints.
14. Seattle Seahawks (4-3) Def. Detroit 28-14. Last Week: 19
Seattle drafted Rashaad Penny to fix their problem at running back, but he was watching Chris Carson on Sunday having his third 100-yard game in the Seahawks’ last four. It’s a stretch over which Carson has 382 rushing yards, and the Seahawks have also won three of those four games.
15. Baltimore Ravens (4-4) Lost to Carolina 36-23. Last Week: 11
This loss marks the Ravens’ third in their last four games. This one came a little differently than the others have however. Their defense allowed points and yards well above their season averages and they lost the turnover battle 3-0. One dropped Eric Weddle interception led directly to a Carolina touchdown.
16. Green Bay Packers (3-3-1) Lost to LA Rams 29-27. Last Week: 15
The Packers showed they can still punch with the top teams in the NFL, giving the Rams everything they could handle Sunday. They might well have won too had Aaron Rodgers been given a chance at a final drive. Instead, the Packers fumbled away their last kickoff return of the night, and the Rams ran out the clock.
17. Atlanta Falcons (3-4) Bye. Last Week: 20
The Falcons didn’t have the best bye week we’ve seen this season. New Orleans and Carolina moved further in front at the top of the NFC South, while they have to return to action against red-hot Washington.
18. Dallas Cowboys (3-4) Bye. Last Week: 18
Cowboys fans have had to wait to see their newest receiver, Amari Cooper, in action. They’ll get that chance when the Cowboys face the Titans, eager to get back in action after watching Philadelphia and Washington win.
19. Detroit Lions (3-4) Lost to Seattle 28-14. Last Week: 16
If we looked this space up a week ago in the wake of Detroit’s victory, it would say something about turnovers and the lack of a running game. This week, the Lions committed three turnovers and piled up a whopping 34 yards rushing. Marvin Jones basically was the Lions’ offense on the day, leading the team with 117 receiving yards and scoring both Detroit touchdowns. With Golden Tate out the door to Philadelphia, he’ll be relied on even more.
20. Miami Dolphins (4-4) Lost to Houston 42-23. Last Week: 17
While Lamar Miller had a happy reunion against his former team Thursday night, Brock Osweiler couldn’t defeat the team that once gave him a $72 million contract before abruptly parting ways. Ryan Tannehill’s return to the Dolphins, who have lost two straight, continues to be up in the air, though they have a long break before facing the Jets.
21. Indianapolis Colts (3-5) Def. Oakland 42-28. Last Week: 25
The Mack attack continues in Indianapolis. The Colts are 2-1 since their starting running back returned from injury. Marlon Mack has 347 rushing yards and four scores over that three-game span after a 132-yard effort Sunday marked his third-career high in a row.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) Lost to Cincinnati 37-34. Last Week: 22
The Buccaneers are sending Jameis Winston to the bench after throwing four interceptions and moving Ryan Fitzpatrick to the starting job after he brought Tampa Bay back against Cincinnati. One of Fitzpatrick’s two touchdowns went 60 yards to Desean Jackson. It was the 24th career 60-plus yard touchdown for Jackson, an NFL record.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5) Lost to Philadelphia 24-18. Last Week: 21
Carlos Hyde’s debut in Jacksonville likely didn’t go as planned. The running back finished with 11 yards on six carries. Meanwhile, Blake Bortles led the team Sunday running for 43 yards. Bortles also avoided any turnovers against the Eagles in a rebound performance after being benched a week earlier.
24. New York Jets (3-5) Lost to Chicago 24-10. Last Week: 23
In the Jets’ three victories, Isaiah Crowell has run for 361 yards at 9.5 yards per carry. In their five losses, he has just 123 yards at a 2.2 clip. Sam Darnold went without an interception against the Bears for his first pick-free game in October.
25. Denver Broncos (3-5) Lost to Kansas City 30-23. Last Week: 24
Despite suffering a season sweep at the hands of the Chiefs, the Broncos can claim responsibility for the Chiefs’ two lowest scoring games this season so far. Phillip Lindsay continues to make his case for a greater share of touches even when Royce Freeman returns with a career-high 112 total yards.
26. Tennessee Titans (3-4) Bye. Last Week: 26
The Titans will continue on from their bye week against the equally rested Cowboys and need a win to keep Houston from pulling away from the pack in the AFC South. Tennessee will also need some offense to help themselves feel better about their future with Marcus Mariota.
27. Cleveland Browns (2-5-1) Lost to Pittsburgh 33-18. Last Week: 27
Hue Jackson survived a 1-31 start to his tenure as the Browns’ head coach, but he couldn’t survive his power struggle with offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Neither could Haley for that matter, and both men are now gone.
28. Arizona Cardinals (2-6) Def. San Francisco 18-15. Last Week: 32
Arizona draft picks, Josh Rosen and Christian Kirk, combined for the game-winning touchdown, and the Cardinals came from behind to win their second game in 2018. Coincidentally, both of their wins have come against the 49ers. Rosen’s other touchdown pass went to Larry Fitzgerald, who passed Tony Gonzalez on the career touchdown list and had his first 100-yard game of 2018.
29. Buffalo Bills (2-6) Lost to New England 25-6. Last Week: 28
The Bills went another game without a touchdown Monday. They’ve scored a league-worst 87 points in eight games, thrown just three touchdown passes all season, and spent some time Monday with LeSean McCoy fielding snaps in the wildcat.
30. Oakland Raiders (1-6) Lost to Indianapolis 42-28. Last Week: 29
The Raiders’ first game without Amari Cooper in 2018 looked a lot like their first six with him. Tight end Jared Cook led the team in receiving in Cooper’s absence and Doug Martin took over for the injured Marshawn Lynch at running back. Oh, and the Raiders failed to generate a pass rush, sacking Andrew Luck zero times.
31. New York Giants (1-7) Lost to Washington 20-13. Last Week: 31
The Giants’ defense kept them in the game against Washington Sunday, but the offense reached a nadir, allowing seven sacks and finishing with 36 yards rushing.
32. San Francisco 49ers (1-7) Lost to Arizona 18-15. Last Week: 30
The 49ers have allowed the most points in the NFL this season, and that defense reared its ugly head with the team leading 15-3 against the Cardinals. This is San Francisco’s second lost to Arizona in the last three weeks.