It's Week 8, and the New England Patriots haven't budged from the top overall spot in the RADIO.COM NFL Power Rankings. The defending Super Bowl Champions are undefeated through seven weeks, and bolstered their offense Monday, acquiring veteran wide receiver Mohamed Sanu from the Atlanta Falcons.
But while there's a sense of certainty in who will occupy the No. 1 spot from week-to-week, things get a little dicey after that:
1. New England Patriots (Last Week: No. 1)
The Patriots are 7-0, and while they employ arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, it's been their defense that has been the biggest reason for their undefeated start. Through seven games, the Patriots have two shutouts and are limiting teams to under seven points per game.
2. New Orleans Saints (Last Week: No. 2)
The Saints have gone 5-0 in Drew Brees' absence, which tells you a few things. First of all, they're in position to make a serious run at the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. Secondly, while there won't be any realistic way to replace Drew Brees when he ultimately retires, Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have built a culture that will remain successful long after their future Hall of Fame quarterback walks away.
3. Green Bay Packers (Last Week: No. 4)
It appears Aaron Rodgers, already one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, has a second chapter to his illustrious career. Rodgers combined for six touchdowns in a 42-24 Week 7 win over the Oakland Raiders, propelling him into the NFL MVP discussion. At 6-1, the Packers have a chance to make the NFC playoffs run through Lambeau Field.
4. San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: No. 6)
In the last three games, the 49ers have limited their opponents to just 10 combined points. Sure, one of the teams they defeated were the lowly Washington Redskins. But they limited a Cleveland Browns team that employs Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb to just three points in Week 5. In Week 6, they held the defending NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams to just seven points. Their defense is as legitimate as it gets.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: No. 3)
Though there seems to be some indication that quarterback Patrick Mahomes could return from a dislocated kneecap quicker than expected, even head coach Andy Reid admitted that it would be "a stretch" for the reigning NFL MVP to be ready to play this Sunday evening against the Green Bay Packers. With Mahomes, the Chiefs would have faced their toughest battle yet against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Without Mahomes, well, it may be a stretch for them to win on Sunday Night Football.
6. Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: No. 8)
After three consecutive losses, the Rams bounced back with a 37-10 win over the lowly Atlanta Falcons in Week 7. The Rams next two games look very winnable as well, as they'll host the winless Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8, before facing the 2-4 Pittsburgh Steelers after their bye week. Even in a crowded NFC West, it just feels like there's too many elite talents on this team for them not to make the postseason.
7. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: No. 11)
Over the past three games, Kirk Cousins has played at an MVP caliber level, throwing for 976 yards and 10 touchdowns. They'll be tested with trips to Kansas City and Dallas in Week 9 and 10, but for at least another week, the magic feels pretty likely to continue, as the Vikings host the Redskins on Thursday Night Football.
8. Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: No. 7)
A 30-16 loss to a very good Baltimore Ravens at home is concerning in the context of how tight the NFC West is, but it's by-and-large been a very impressive first half of the season for the Seahawks. With Patrick Mahomes' injury, Russell Wilson may be the NFL MVP favorite.
9. Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: No. 10)
After three consecutive losses, the Cowboys made a statement on Sunday Night Football, throttling the Philadelphia Eagles 37-10 before their bye week. While the 4-3 Cowboys seem to be in control of the NFC East, the second half of their schedule isn't favorable. They should win in return from the bye week when they travel to the Meadowlands to play the Giants, but after that, their next four games are against the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.
10. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: No. 13)
Frank Reich has to be the overwhelming favorite to be NFL Coach of the Year. In addition to being one of the league's best play-callers, the Colts are thriving even after their Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback shockingly retired just weeks before the season. Reich, general manager Chris Ballard and quarterback Jacoby Brissett have built an excellent culture post-Luck.
11. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: No. 14)
Though they've been outshined by the dominance of the San Francisco 49ers defense, Sean McDermott has an elite defense of his own for the second consecutive year. The Bills have ridden it to a 5-1 record, though their below-average offense likely means they have a ceiling as a possible Wild Card team.
12. Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: No. 16)
The Ravens are 5-2 and on a three-game winning streak heading into their bye week. Lamar Jackson and company appear overwhelmingly likely to win the AFC North. After the bye week, they'll face a test that could determine if they are a serious contender for a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs, as they'll host the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football.
13. Houston Texans (Last Week: No. 5)
After a Week 7 loss to the division-rival Indianapolis Colts, Deshaun Watson and the Texans find themselves at 4-3 and second in the AFC South. A hamstring injury likely will keep Will Fuller from playing for "several weeks," though they should be able to rebound this week against the Oakland Raiders at home.
14. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: No. 14)
Week 8 may be the most important game the Panthers have played in some time. After a bye week in Week 7, the Panthers will travel to San Francisco to play the undefeated 49ers. Kyle Allen will be under center. Not only will this game have implications on the NFC playoff picture, but a win (which would be a fifth consecutive victory) would make it increasingly difficult to turn the offense back over to former NFL MVP Cam Newton when he's ready to return.
15. Detroit Lions (Last Week: No. 12)
The Lions are the ultimate "you are what your record says you are" team. The Lions offense under Darrell Bevell has produced, and they hung with the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers, but ultimately they're 2-3-1. In the NFC North, that amounts to being buried.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: No. 9)
After being outscored 75-30 over the past two weeks by the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys, the 3-4 Eagles look more like a team that needs to retool than one primed to make a second-half run. Things don't get easier this week, as they head to Orchard Park to play the 5-1 Buffalo Bills.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: No. 22)
At 3-4, the Jaguars are still in the mix in the AFC South and a return for quarterback Nick Foles, initially said to be targeting Week 11, may not be too far off. The ironic part, though, is if they don't fare well over the next two games before their bye week - they face the New York Jets and Houston Texans - Foles may return to a team too far out of things to contend in 2019. If they do fare well over the next two weeks, they'll still be in the playoff picture, but it may be hard to bench Gardner Minshew II after their Week 10 bye week.
18. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: No. 25)
Since an 0-3-1 start, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals have rattled off three consecutive victories. With dates with the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers up next, they seem likely to come back to Earth. But the organization is in a significantly better position than they were at this time a year ago.
19. Chicago Bears (Last Week: No. 17)
If they aren't already there, it appears that the 3-3 Bears are approaching a crossroads with third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears have a defense that's ready to compete for a Super Bowl. Trubisky, while not the lone offense problem, isn't. It will be interesting to see how they proceed with the 25-year-old, who still has another guaranteed year left on his rookie contract after 2019.
20. Cleveland Browns (Last Week: No. 18)
The Browns have had a pretty difficult first-half schedule to attempt to navigate through, which is part of the reason they are 2-4 after the amount of preseason buzz they received. After a bye week in Week 7, they'll get the gift of playing the undefeated New England Patriots on the road.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: No. 21)
Quarterback Mason Rudolph will return from an alarming concussion this week. Beyond getting to put that injury behind him, the second-year pro should be excited for this week's matchup, as the 2-4 Steelers will host the winless Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
22. Oakland Raiders (Last Week: no. 19)
At 3-3, the Raiders have already won as many games through six weeks as some thought they would the entire season. While they seem unlikely to remain in playoff contention, they have some stuff from 2019 to build off of. Rookie running back Josh Jacobs is averaging 5.1 yards-per-carry, and tight end Darren Waller is developing into a star, as the 27-year-old has 44 catches for 485 yards already.
23. Tennessee Titans (Last Week: No. 23)
While Ryan Tannehill threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 7 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, you get the feeling that the Titans are playing out a season where their future franchise quarterback isn't on their roster. That makes close wins - like the 23-20 one they are coming off of - perhaps damaging from a long-term perspective.
24. Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: No. 24)
How far the mighty have fallen. A season after going 12-4 and winning a playoff game, the Chargers are 2-5. It's rather miraculous that for nearly half a decade now, you can bank on their games being close late in the fourth quarter. It's an issue that's lasted for multiple regimes now. In 2019, six of the Chargers games have been decided by a touchdown or less. When you constantly are reliant on pulling games out late, you're going to have seasons, like 2019, where everything seems to go against you.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: No. 24)
The second-half of the 2019 Buccaneers season will be about determining whether they proceed with Jameis Winston, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, as their quarterback. Between Week 2 and Week 5, Winston tossed 10 touchdowns and only threw two interceptions. However, in the Buccaneers other two games this season, the former No. 1 overall pick has thrown eight picks. Things don't seem to be trending in the direction of Winston being in the team's plans beyond 2019.
26. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: No. 26)
Whether Falcons owner Arthur Blank is waiting until the 1-6 Falcons have a bye in Week 9 or after the season, Dan Quinn appears all-but-certain not to be the team's head coach next season. The ironic part about their 28-3 Super Bowl collapse is that while there were legitimate criticisms levied at then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the Falcons have never been able to replicate the offensive success they had under him.
27. New York Jets (Last Week: No. 27)
If you thought the Jets upset win over the Dallas Cowboys would lead to some sort of resurgence, it didn't. It led to Sam Darnold " seeing ghosts," and the Jets being shut out 33-0 on Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots. This has turned into a lost season for the Jets, one that it's fair to wonder if Adam Gase will survive.
28. Denver Broncos (Last Week: No. 28)
Despite Patrick Mahomes exiting with an injury in the first-half of the Broncos Thursday Night Football tilt with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos still lost 30-6, snapping their two-game winning streak. The Broncos will very likely be on another quarterback search this offseason. It will be interesting to see if John Elway is still at the forefront of said search.
29. New York Giants (Last Week: No. 29)
Since a four-touchdown debut in a Week 2 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones has been picked off seven times in four games. The Giants aren't even the worst team in their own division, but they seem headed for another top 10 pick in the NFL Draft.
30. Washington Redskins
After being held scoreless by the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7, the Redskins have a quick turnaround this week, as they'll see old friend Kirk Cousins and the red-hot Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football. Also worth noting: this may very well be the final time that future Hall of Fame Adrian Peterson, now 34, plays against the team he spent the bulk of his career with.
31. Cincinatti Bengals
The ineptness of the Miami Dolphins has overshadowed just how bad the Bengals have been in 2019. They are 0-7, have the 27th ranked offense in the NFL, and the worst overall defense in the sport.
32. Miami Dolphins
Through six games in 2019, the Dolphins point differential is -148. There's not enough "Fitzmagic" in the world that can overcome the roster that the Dolphins have built. That roster, of course, was designed to lose with the intention of securing the No. 1 pick. While there may be some legitimate strategy to a team that hasn't replaced Dan Marino in two decades trying to land the top overall pick, the Dolphins appear to have some competition for said pick.