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Blake Pace’s NFL power rankings through Week Eight

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NFL: Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

I have bad news, guys.

We’re already halfway through the regular season, and my mind can’t stop thinking about what I’m going to do with my Sundays in February. Maybe I’ll take in interest in golf ... who knows.

The midpoint of the season is great for trade-deadline discussions, MVP races and playoff positioning, but all I’m focused on for now is giving out the fourth edition of my NFL power rankings. Enjoy.

32. The Miami Dolphins (0-7) / LW: 32

Miami had us tricked through that first quarter, making it seem like they actually wanted to win a game. This is the least-talented roster in football and the least motivated to win, so they continue to ride as my No. 32 team.

31. The Cincinnati Bengals (0-8) / LW: 31

My favorite news of the week was that Andy Dalton has finally been benched for rookie quarterback Ryan Finley, the gun-slinger out of NC State. But no, seriously, I’m really excited to see Finley play — I was a big fan of him coming out of last year’s draft. Whether he’s actually good or not, he’ll have eight weeks to win Cincy’s hearts over before they decide to take another quarterback with the first- or second-overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft.

30. The Washington Redskins (1-7) / LW: 30

How about that for Washington, only losing by a combined 19 points to the San Fransisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings! Trent Williams walked back into the facilities yesterday, but still has no intentions on playing as long as every member of that training staff is still alive. Stay dysfunctional, Washington.

29. The New York Jets (1-6) / LW: 28

Ghosts must play football in Jacksonville, too. I thought that Adam Gase would dial up a great gameplan to get Sam Darnold feeling confident again, but it was another bad week and another ugly loss for the Jets. They also were able to make things worse by essentially upsetting all their vets by swirling them in last-second trade rumors. Good job by you, Joe Douglas.

28. The Atlanta Falcons (1-7) / LW: 29

Holy Matt Schaub, what a game from the old man who most probably didn’t even realize was still in the league. Atlanta looked awful in the first half but almost miraculously fought back in the final 30 minutes, even if no one expected them to finish Seattle off. This team is bad, I’m uninterested.

27. The New York Giants (2-6) / LW: 27

Interesting week for the Giants, adding Leonard Williams to create an intriguing and young defensive line with Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence. They still have issues on the backend of their defense and on the offensive line, but you’re starting to see the development of a young Giants team with lots of potential in the talent department.

26. The Denver Broncos (2-6) / LW: 26

Denver almost came away with the sneaky upset of the week, but unfortunately (not really) Indy was able to make some last-minute heroics. News is we may get to see Drew Lock soon! Maybe he’ll be the long-awaited answer at quarterback that John Elway has scrounged so hard to find.

25. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) / LW: 24

Ol’ reliable Jameis Winston coming up clutch to hand opponents another win ... what a nice guy. He’s single-handily sending Bucs fans into constant heartbreak, but at least they can all rest at night knowing they only have to deal with this BS for eight more weeks. You can do it, Bucs fans!

24. The Cleveland Browns (2-5) / LW: 20

This team is just handing the ball off to opposing defenses, only this time it was on three-consecutive plays. Cleveland’s 2019 season has to go down as one of the most over-hyped years in all of football, and it’s crazy how comfortable I feel saying that only eight weeks in.

23. The Chicago Bears (3-4) / LW: 19

Here’s your friendly reminder that Ryan Pace took Mitchell Trubisky over Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson a couple years back. He’s been terrible this year, and now 2018 Coach of the Year Matt Nagy is joining him side-by-side. Just a bad year for the Bears, hopefully they make some tough decisions this offseason and salvage any of their potential in 2020.

22. The Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) / LW: 25

This is such an ugly team to watch play football, and fortunately luck was on their side this week after several weeks that weren’t in their favor. Los Angeles is too beat up on their offensive line and secondary, Melvin Gordon looks really bad in his return, and don’t forget they still don’t have a solid fanbase anywhere in the United States.

21. The Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1) / LW: 22

Tough go for the Cards against a great New Orleans team, if only they could convert when they were in the red zone they might’ve been able to keep things a little bit closer. That defense ate up against a bad offensive line and rookie quarterback, but that’s just part of the growing pains for this Arizona team on the rise.

20. The Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4) / LW: 23

Putting any team that I have ranked from 24th to this spot was a mess to come to terms with, but I gave Pittsburgh the nod based off of pure roster talent. This team isn’t good by any means, but I love their young guys on defense in TJ Watt, Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick, while Juju Smith-Schuster and James Connor are fun to watch on offense.

19. The Oakland Raiders (3-4) / LW: 18

The Raiders did their best to take down a “Michael Jordan”-led Texans team, but inevitably came up short when Jordan had the ball in his hands. I feel really good about this Raiders team in 2020, and they’ve become one of my favorite teams to watch on offense through the midway point of the season.

18. The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) / LW: 17

Doug Marrone won’t worry about who starts at quarterback until Nick Foles is 100 percent ready to go, but Gardner Minshew isn’t going down without a fight. After a few lackluster weeks he looked solid against a poor Jets defense, and now Jacksonville has three-straight tough games against AFC South opponents between now and Nov. 24.

17. The Tennessee Titans (4-4) / LW: 21

Don’t look now, but I kinda like what we’re seeing from the Ryan Tannehill-led Titans offense. The young receivers are finally getting the ball in open space, and it’s started to create more opportunities for Derrick Henry to not run into a stacked box every play. Their schedule is tough over the next month, but they’re still in shouting distance of a Wild Card berth in the AFC.

16. The Detroit Lions (3-3-1) / LW: 15

Not the best win over New York, but I’ll take it. They drop back a few spots just because of trades and injuries, but I feel like we’re starting to see the potential that Matt Patrcia has in building his own version of New England. Matt Stafford is still a great quarterback, and to me this team finishes just over .500.

15. The Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) / LW: 16

When it comes to teams I don’t trust, Philly has to be right around the top of that list. One week they’re being blown out by Dallas and their decent defense, the next week they put up 31 points on one of the best defenses in football. Teams like this never earn my love, and they’ll need to go on a tear if they want to break into my top 10.

14. The Carolina Panthers (4-3) / LW: 12

Tough loss for Carolina against an unreal 49ers defense, and it’s not getting any easier, either. Tennessee has been solid on defense, with the Packers defense looming in two weeks. Kyle Allen isn’t a world-beater, but he won’t lose you a game if everything is going right on defense and with Christian McCaffrey. I think they’re more of pretenders at this point, and their schedule won’t let up anytime soon.

13. The Minnesota Vikings (6-2) / LW: 14

I still think Minnesota misses the playoffs, and I still think Kirk Cousins is setting everyone up for the most laughable downfall of his career. They only won by 10 against Washington, but that was on a short week and they probably didn’t want to pull out all their tools against one of the worst teams in football. For now they continue to rise, but I’ve got my eyes on you Mr. Cousins.

12. The Dallas Cowboys (4-3) / LW: 13

Not seeing Dallas on a football field this week actually helped them out, moving up one spot because of one team stumbling down. They’re the best team in a bad division, so I don’t think they’re real threats for a deep postseason run, but they’ll do their part to at least show up for Wild Card weekend.

11. The Seattle Seahawks (6-2)/ LW: 9

What happened in the second half of their game against Atlanta? Unless this team is actually not as good most think — something I find very likely — the only other explanation is that Pete Carroll didn’t want to entirely embarrass his old defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Allowing nearly 500 yards to 38-year-old Matt Schaub? Not good, Seattle. Not good.

10. The Houston Texans (5-3) / LW: 11

Every week I doubt the Texans and every week I forget they have Deshaun Watson as their quarterback. Oakland over Houston was my upset of the week, and it almost came to fruition, but some late-game heroics by No. 4 spoiled any of those hopes. The Texans go as Watson goes, and right now Watson is going very, very well.

9. The Buffalo Bills (5-2) / LW: 6

Oh, Buffalo. You were doing so well, but even after I called the near Miami defeat a fluke they came out completely flat against a shaky Philadelphia offense. Josh Allen officially has me concerned, as his top trait coming out (arm strength) isn’t being masked by his biggest knock coming out (accuracy) — and I loved Allen as a draft prospect in 2018. They’re still good, but I think they’re more than likely a first-round exit in the playoffs kind of team unless Allen can get going.

8. The Los Angeles Rams (5-3) / LW: 10

I still like this Rams team, even if it wasn’t a blowout victory over Cincinnati in London. It’s clear they need to go more pass-heavy because their problems with the run offense, but Cooper Kupp is emerging into that top 10-12 wide receiver conversation after a 220-yard performance across the pond. Watch out for this team to get sneaky good between now and January.

7. The Indianapolis Colts (5-2) / LW: 8

Not an easy week for our hearts, but the Colts proved that they can win games when nothing seems to be working in their favor. We’ll spend the next year debating whether or not Jacoby Brissett is the future of the franchise, but for now he’s led this team to the No. 2 seed in the AFC with hopes of a potential first-round bye.

6. The Baltimore Ravens (5-2) / LW: 7

Still don’t feel overly confident in Baltimore, but they rise as others fall. Lamar Jackson is going to have a tough go at it this weekend against New England, but I’ll feel really good about them as the third-best team in the AFC if they can keep it to a one-possession game.

5. The Kansas City Chiefs (5-3) / LW: 5

Look, I was impressed by what Kansas City was able to accomplish on Sunday Night Football. Matt Moore looked prepared to step into things, and they were unfortunately edged out late by one of the best teams in football. As long as they can take care of Minnesota this weekend, it looks like Pat Mahomes will be back under center leading a 6-3 team into the second-half stretch.

4. The New Orleans Saints (7-1) / LW: 4

Wash, rinse, repeat. Drew Brees was back in action and the offense didn’t skip a beat, this time dismantling the porous Arizona Cardinals defense. I was flat-out wrong when it came to my concerns with their defense, and Sean Payton has things working just fine without Alvin Kamara or Jared Cook. This team is riding as high as any through eight weeks.

3. The Green Bay Packers (7-1) / LW: 2

I was more impressed by the Chiefs than unimpressed by the Packers in that Sunday night game, and Green Bay still was able to pull out the win. Aaron Rodgers is playing with an unbelievable edge right now, and their run game might be the best they’ve had in his entire career. The only reason they aren’t my No. 1 is because there were two teams that somehow looked better on Sunday.

2. The San Fransisco 49ers (7-0) / LW: 3

SIKE. Hopefully you got your hopes up over the cover image but, no, I cannot have my No. 1 team dethroned just yet. San Fransisco did jump the Packers this past week, after dropping 50 on their second-toughest opponent this season. The defense is thriving, Kyle Shanahan is the best play-caller in football, and the 49ers seem on pace for an NFC title bout at the very least.

1. The New England Patriots (8-0) / LW: 1

San Fransisco made me think for a bit, but I can’t stay away from how great I find this Patriots team is. Their offense does just enough to get the job done, no one has been able to put up points against them, and Bill Belichick is still the head coach and Tom Brady is still their starting quarterback. I expect them to breeze past Baltimore and keep this perfect season alive come Sunday night.