If we’re honest, Week 7 wasn’t the best week of football. With the Bills, Cowboys, Steelers, Chargers, Vikings and Jaguars all on bye, fans didn’t see nearly as many touchdowns as we’re accustomed to seeing on Sundays.
With only two teams on bye this week, we’re bound to see more points and as we approach the halfway point of the season, we’re finally starting to see some stark separation in the rankings.
This week’s schedule begins with the game of the week -- a Thursday showdown between the Cardinals and Packers that could determine who ends up No. 1 on this list next week.
Here's where each team sits heading into Week 8.
HOW LONG CAN THEIR WINNING STREAK GO?
1. Arizona Cardinals (7-0; Last week: 1)
After improving to 7-0 with little resistance from Houston, Arizona’s next test is a Thursday showdown against Green Bay. What will the Packers defence be able to do against Kyler Murray and his slew of weapons, which now includes tight end tight end Zach Ertz who caught a TD pass in his Cardinals debut. - Johnston
CHALLENGING FOR THE TOP SPOT
2. Dallas Cowboys (5-1; Last week: 2)
3. Green Bay Packers (6-1; Last week: 7)
4. Buffalo Bills (4-2; Last week: 4)
5. Los Angeles Rams (6-1; Last week: 5)
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1; Last week: 6)
Dallas and Buffalo are both returning from bye weeks. The Cowboys are riding high off six straight wins as they head to Minnesota, while the Bills return home to host the lowly Dolphins. The Cowboys have looked unstoppable on offence at times this season, but the Vikings are no easy out. We’re not worried about Buffalo coming off that loss to the Titans. They remain the AFC’s team to beat for the time being. The Rams and Bucs continue to shine against outmatched opponents as the arms race for the post-season heats up. - Johnston
THE BENGALS HAVE ENTERED THE CHAT
7. Tennessee Titans (5-2; Last week: 11)
8. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2; Last week: 12)
9. Baltimore Ravens (5-2; Last week: 3)
10. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2; Last week: 8)
11. Cleveland Browns (4-3; Last week: 10)
12. Las Vegas Raiders (5-2; Last week: 15)
13. New Orleans Saints (4-2; Last week: 14)
Actually, Cincinnati has been talking for a while now... it's just that we are finally listening. How can you not, after their statement-making 41-17 victory over the red-hot Ravens on Sunday?
If it's taken you a little while to get used to the idea of Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr chase atop the division standings, join the club. But Burrow has something to say about that, too:
“That chapter from yesteryear is gone and behind us," Burrow told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, via the latest edition of Monday Morning Quarterback. "And this is who we are now. We’re a tough, physical team that’s hard to beat, and we’re going to be in every single game because of the defence that we have, and the playmakers that we have on the outside. So it’s exciting. Excited for the city, excited for the organization, but we’re not satisfied.”
An easy victory should lie ahead for Cincinnati when they play the Jets, followed by a must-watch at home against the Browns in Week 9 that could tell us plenty about the direction of this division. Of course, it's not just the AFC North the Bengals are eying... if the playoff began today, the Bengals would be the AFC's top seed. Let that sink in.
Another hot team that's got our full attention now? That would be Tennessee. After an up-and-down start (to put it lightly), it appears the Titans have found their game, knocking off AFC favourite Buffalo followed by an absolutely dominant performance over Kansas City on Sunday. A win over the Colts this week -- their second matchup against Indianapolis this season after defeating them in Week 3 -- would all but lock up their division crown already. - Sadler
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
14. Kansas City Chiefs (3-4; Last week: 9)
15. Indianapolis Colts (3-4: Last week: 18)
16. Minnesota Vikings (3-3; Last week: 16)
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3; Last week: 17)
18. New England Patriots (3-4; Last week: 21)
19. San Francisco 49ers (2-4; Last week: 13)
Honestly, it's so hard to rank to Chiefs right now. It shouldn't be, considering their porous defence, losing record, and dismal Week 7 performances against Tennessee, but just as we were slow to bump up Cincinnati, old habits die hard and it's still with tentative hands that we push Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs down the rankings. Surely they’ll rally and figure things out… right?
The teams in this tier all have different struggles, but the question is the same: Where do they go from here? The season is not lost at this point, but realistically the hill they must climb to get into the playoffs is already looking like a mountain considering their divisional outlooks. The Colts are in must-win territory against the Titans this Sunday if they stand a chance at winning their division, while the Chiefs need the Raiders and Chargers to cool off and the Steelers will need more than just an elite defence to emerge from the AFC North's basement. – Sadler
HOT STARTS CAN'T HELP THEM NOW
20. Atlanta Falcons (3-3; Last week: 26)
21. Denver Broncos (3-4; Last week: 23)
22. Carolina Panthers (3-4; Last week: 19)
23. Philadelphia Eagles (2-5; Last week: 20)
24. Washington Football Team (2-5; Last week: 25)
Every team here has QB questions. Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater have struggled since starting 3-0; Jalen Hurts and Taylor Heinicke are exciting yet prone to mistakes; Matt Ryan is old and immobile. The Falcons are the friskiest team in this group, winners of two straight with rookie tight end Kyle Pitts posting a whopping 282 yards and 16 catches over his past two outings. - Johnston
IT'S GETTING CROWDED AT THE BOTTOM
25. Seattle Seahawks (2-4; Last week: 24)
26. New York Giants (2-5; Last week: 28)
27. Chicago Bears (3-4; Last week: 22)
28. Miami Dolphins (1-6; Last week: 30)
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5; Last week: 29)
30. New York Jets (1-5; Last week: 27)
31. Houston Texans (1-6; Last week: 31)
32. Detroit Lions (0-7; Last week: 32)
The usual suspects are still here – welcome back, Bears! Make yourselves at home.
It feels weird seeing the Seahawks down here with the more familiar basement-dwellers, but with Russell Wilson out and three straight losses that have brought just 20 points or fewer on offence, this feels accurate. Without Wilson working his magic, who are these Seahawks? We’re not liking the answer. – Sadler