The winds of change continue to howl on the NFL Power Rankings as we near the midpoint of the 2022 season.
Well, not at the top. The Bills, Eagles and Chiefs remain locked in their respective positions for the fourth consecutive week. This power troika remains the cream of the proverbial crop, with a considerable gap separating the Big Three from the rest of the league.
But the rest of the top 10 has started, at long last, to show some teeth. The Cowboys are now dangerous on both sides of the ball, while the 49ers are hinting at what an offensive mind like Kyle Shanahan can do with a versatile star like Christian McCaffrey. The Ravens, meanwhile, traded for the NFL's leading tackler in a move that signaled their all-in approach to 2022.
This season could use a couple more superpowers. Let's see who steps up.
Don't forget to check out the NFL Power Rankings Podcast with Dan Hanzus and Colleen Wolfe. New episodes every Tuesday all season long.
NOTE: Up/down arrows below reflect team movement from the Week 8 Power Rankings.
Previous rank: No. 1
The Bills cruised past the Packers in prime time, and it was again Stefon Diggs leading the way on offense. The star wideout posted his third consecutive 100-yard game with a touchdown catch in a 27-17 win in Orchard Park. Buffalo is invincible when Diggs gets his: The Bills have won 11 straight when their No. 1 wideout crosses the receiving century mark. Diggs’ big day served as cover for an attack that struggled when the ball went in different directions on Sunday night: Josh Allen connected on just 7 of 17 attempts for a touchdown and two picks when not targeting Diggs.
Previous rank: No. 2
We are eight weeks into the season, and the Eagles have yet to trail in the second half of a game. Philly was in the zone once again on Sunday, attacking an overmatched Pittsburgh secondary through the air in a 35-13 win at the Linc. The receiving star was A.J. Brown, who had three first-half touchdowns and very nearly added a fourth before his monster afternoon was through. Jalen Hurts, meanwhile, continued to build on his increasingly compelling MVP case with a career-high four passing scores while throwing for 10.2 yards per attempt. With an upcoming schedule that includes the Texans (1-5-1), Commanders (4-4) and Colts (3-4-1),, the runway is clear for 10-0. Someone wake up Mercury Morris.
Previous rank: No. 3
The Chiefs stayed busy during their bye week, pulling the trigger on a trade that sent a third-round compensatory pick and a sixth-rounder to the Giants for Kadarius Toney, a 2021 first-round pick with star potential but plenty of question marks. A hamstring issue has kept Toney sidelined since Week 2, but he flashed elite traits as a run-after-catch receiver in his rookie season in New York. It’s telling how a new Giants regime found a recent first-round pick like Toney so instantly expendable, but it’s also understandable why Kansas City decided to roll the dice. Toney’s talent could translate beautifully in an offense run by Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes.
Previous rank: No. 4
The Cowboys' defense carried the team when Dak Prescott was on the shelf with a busted thumb. As a long season winds on, perhaps we’re now starting to see a reversal of roles. The previously stingy Dallas D was gashed for 240 yards on the ground by Chicago, but Prescott and the Cowboys' attack was outstanding in a 49-29 win at Jerrah World. Dallas scored touchdowns on its first four possessions for the first time in eight years, while Prescott and Tony Pollard (three total touchdowns each) powered an offense that overwhelmed an inferior opponent. If the Cowboys can sync up both sides of the ball, there are few teams who can even hang with them.
Previous rank: No. 12
All the pundits who criticized the 49ers’ trade for Christian McCaffrey got real quiet on Sunday. CMC became the first running back since 2005 -- and just the third since 1970 -- to register a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown and passing score in the same game, a 31-14 beatdown of the Rams at SoFi Stadium. The Niners continue to dominate their rivalry with the defending Super Bowl champions: San Francisco has now won eight consecutive games over the Rams in the regular season. A narrow loss in the 2021 NFC Championship Game can’t be overlooked, but the 49ers clearly appear to be the better, more complete team right now.
Previous rank: No. 8
The magic of Lamar Jackson is undeniable. The former MVP took over in the second half of a 27-22 win over the Buccaneers on Thursday night, putting the home team away by leading four consecutive scoring drives after halftime. With momentum on the season building, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta pulled the trigger Monday on a trade with the Bears that brought standout linebacker Roquan Smith to Baltimore. Smith, the league's leading tackler, represents an upgrade on inconsistent former first-round pick Patrick Queen while also serving as a clear signal from the front office to the locker room: The Ravens are in it to win it in 2022.
Previous rank: No. 7
Patrick Peterson waited a long time to get his opportunity for revenge on the Cardinals. And while the veteran cornerback didn't snag the two interceptions he'd promised all week against his former team, he was active and extremely engaged throughout Sunday's 34-26 win, Minnesota's sixth in seven tries this season. "I'm still waiting on (general manager) Steve Keim to call me," said Peterson, who left the Cardinals after the 2020 season. "Still haven't talked to him." The Vikings never seem to win comfortably, but they've opened up a comfortable lead over the Packers and Bears in the otherwise-scuffling NFC North.
Previous rank: No. 9
Let’s take a moment here to try to contextualize the unrivaled greatness of Derrick Henry. The superstar running back did it again on Sunday, tallying his fourth consecutive 200-yard rushing effort against the Texans in a 17-10 win. Henry’s latest feat is more impressive when you factor in that he did it without Ryan Tannehill, the ever-steady quarterback whose absence meant the Titans would have almost no ability to move the ball through the air with rookie Malik Willis making his starting debut. The Texans knew Henry was getting the ball on nearly every snap and they still couldn’t stop him. The King is the rarest of professional athletes: The player who can impose his will upon a helpless opponent.
Previous rank: No. 15
The Seahawks continued their surge on Sunday, leaning on a suddenly stout defense in concert with more steady production from Geno Smith and the offense in a 27-13 win over the Giants at a frenzied Lumen Field. Much credit for Seattle's rise is due to Pete Carroll, who absolutely should be seen as a favorite for Coach of the Year honors. Carroll empowered Smith from the moment Russell Wilson was traded, putting his trust in a journeyman quarterback who has rewarded his coach's faith. Then there's the defensive side of the ball -- Carroll's specialty -- which has stacked three consecutive weeks of strong play after a woeful start to the season. These Seahawks are for real.
Previous rank: No. 5
Life without Ja'Marr Chase did not begin well. The Bengals were completely flummoxed by a Browns defense that's struggled mightily for most of the season in a 32-13 loss on Halloween night. Joe Burrow salvaged his night statistically with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, but Cincinnati had no answers when the game was still in the balance. The defense -- which entered Monday having not allowed a touchdown in the second half all season -- surrendered back-to-back scores to begin the third quarter, putting the contest out of reach. A "Bury The Ball" game is not the preferred way to head into November.
Previous rank: No. 6
The Giants found themselves in yet another tight game in the fourth quarter, but this time, the results were not what they hoped for. Seattle's defense put the clamps on Saquon Barkley, while New York's defense couldn't get a big stop in the final minutes of a 27-13 loss at Lumen Field. Big Blue managed just 225 yards of total offense and scored its lone touchdown on a drive that started at the Seattle 2-yard line after a Tyler Lockett fumble. Concerns about the aptitude of the Giants' attack against better competition is warranted, but New York remains well set up as we look ahead. The G-Men get their bye this week before matchups against the Texans and Lions -- arguably the two worst teams in football (see below!).
Previous rank: No. 14
The Dolphins have a healthy quarterback and seem to have rediscovered their happy place. Miami won for the second straight week, piling up 476 yards of offense in a 31-27 victory over the Lions at Ford Field. We suspected Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle would create a nightmare scenario for defensive coordinators, but this is just ridiculous: Hill and Waddle have combined for 1,688 receiving yards in the first seven games of 2022, the most by a teammate duo in the first eight games of the Super Bowl era. Hill is on pace for 2,042 yards, which would shatter the all-time single season mark currently held by Hall of Fame Lions wideout Calvin Johnson (1,964 yards in 2012). As for Waddle? He's on pace for 1,545 yards and 11 touchdowns. Slacker.
Previous rank: No. 17
With the benefit of hindsight, Sunday’s result makes way more sense. Bill Belichick and the Patriots had just been embarrassed at home by the Bears on a prime-time stage -- they couldn't ask for a better tonic than getting the Jets six days later. The Pats continued to pick on their own personal Charlie Brown, bullying an overmatched Zach Wilson into three interceptions in a 22-17 win at the Meadowlands. New England has now beaten New York 13 straight times -- tied for the longest active streak among division rivals. Questions will continue to persist at quarterback -- Mac Jones remained uninspiring in the win -- but the Pats can thank the Jets for once again providing a soft landing in times of turbulence.
Previous rank: No. 10
The Jets had a huge opportunity on Sunday, a chance to finally gain an upper hand over the vulnerable Patriots and show the football world, their fans and themselves that New England’s two-decade run of dominance in this rivalry was a thing of the past. It was an opportunity lost. The Jets’ four-game winning streak was unceremoniously halted by the Belichicks, and the fan base woke up Monday morning wondering if it's trapped rooting for another high-profile young QB who's in over his head. "We've got faith in Z,” said Robert Saleh after Zach Wilson’s three-interception crumble. The coach is putting on a brave face -- but a flop on that stage can allow doubt to creep into a locker room.
Previous rank: No. 11
The Rams have played like a mediocre team all year, and at some point, we might have to accept that’s what they are. The defending champs got thumped at home by the rival 49ers, a 31-14 loss that leaves no doubt which of these teams is more likely to make a Super Bowl push in the season's second half. Adding salt to the wound was a dominant performance by Christian McCaffrey -- the running back Los Angeles coveted ahead of his trade to San Francisco -- who notched three touchdowns (one each as a rusher, receiver and passer). If you listened closely enough, you could almost hear Sean McVay's internal monologue: "Oh, come on."
Previous rank: No. 16
The Chargers had a bye week to figure out how to make their underperforming offense explosive again. Cracking that mystery has been further complicated by the news star wide receiver Mike Williams -- L.A.’s best big-play threat -- will be out multiple weeks with a high ankle sprain. When you factor in Williams’ absence with Keenan Allen’s season-long odyssey to shake a hamstring issue, it makes sense for Bolts GM Tom Telesco to target a wide receiver ahead of the Tuesday trade deadline. If Telesco stands pat, a playmaker must emerge from within.
Previous rank: No. 21
The Saints are one of the NFL's genuine mystery teams as we spin toward the season's second half. The good version of Dennis Allen's bunch showed up on Sunday, beating up on the Raiders on both sides of the ball in a 24-0 win. The star of the day was Alvin Kamara, who scored three touchdowns a little over a week after he gave a passionate speech to teammates imploring the Saints to play up to their potential. "I stick to what I said," Kamara said after the shutout. "We was going to go out there and beat their ass, and we did that."
Previous rank: No. 22
The benefits of having Younghoe Koo and not Eddy Piñeiro cannot be overstated. The ever-dependable Koo booted a 41-yard field goal in overtime after two misses by Piñeiro gave the Falcons extended life in a 37-34 victory. "Our guys don't blink," quarterback Marcus Mariota said after a wild win that nearly became a loss when Atlanta’s decimated secondary allowed D.J. Moore to haul in a 62-yard TD in the final seconds of regulation. Mariota had two interceptions in the game, but also threw for three touchdowns and completed 12 straight passes at one point. It was nice to see Arthur Smith give his veteran quarterback a chance to make some plays with his arm after weeks of run-dominant game scripts.
Previous rank: No. 19
The kind viewpoint would be that Sunday night’s 27-17 loss to the Bills represented progress on some level. Many predicted Green Bay would get embarrassed on the road in prime time against the best team in football -- and that didn’t happen. Then there’s the howling outside criticism connected to a season-long reticence to lean on the running game -- Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon nearly went over 200 yards combined in Buffalo. But this season opened as a Super Bowl-or-bust proposition in Green Bay. Any legitimate optimism borne out of being marginally competitive against the Bills shows just how far these Packers have careened off the tracks.
Previous rank: No. 18
It's just not getting better. The Bucs lost for the fifth time in six weeks on Thursday night, a prime-time stumble that put the spotlight on just how much has gone wrong for the defending NFC South champs. The defense is vulnerable: zero turnovers in four games, and 204 rushing yards surrendered to the Ravens in the second half. But the focus after the loss was on the offense, and specifically Tom Brady, the legendary quarterback who played his worst game of the season. "He's the best to ever do it," said teammate Mike Evans. "I mean, he hates losing. That's all he knows is winning, and being 3-5 is not good enough, so we've gotta turn it around and soon."
Previous rank: No. 25
Where has this version of the defense been all season? Joe Woods' beleaguered crew played like demons on Halloween night, shutting down Joe Burrow and Co. until the game was far out of reach in a 32-13 win in Cleveland. While the defense finally played up to expectations, Jacoby Brissett had all day to work behind an offensive line that dominated in all phases. According to Next Gen Stats, Brissett had an average of 3.24 seconds to throw per pass in another efficient performance. Nick Chubb isn't a player who needs much help at all, adding two more touchdowns on the ground in what's been a quietly dominant season. The Browns put themselves in a hole, but they have the talent to dig out.
Previous rank: No. 20
We continue to see sloppy play from the Cardinals week after week. The fourth quarter of Sunday's 34-26 loss to the Vikings was a clinic in dysfunction. The final five possessions included:
- A red-zone miscommunication on third down that led to a shotgun snap fired off Kyler Murray's left arm.
- A muffed punt by Greg Dortch that led to Minnesota's final touchdown.
- A Murray interception on a late throw over the middle.
- A Murray pass short of the sticks on fourth-and-4.
- A blind-side block personal foul by Eno Benjamin that doomed a frantic final drive in the closing seconds.
Arizona's issues are systemic.
Previous rank: No. 13
The Raiders were shut out for the first time in eight years on Sunday, a 24-0 blanking at the hands of the Saints that invites questions about the direction of the organization under first-year coach Josh McDaniels. After the game, and after another reported meeting with team owner Mark Davis (the second in as many months), McDaniels stood behind the podium at the Superdome and took ownership for what just happened. "I apologize to Raider Nation for that performance and, again, I own that," McDaniels said. "If you're going to point a finger, point it at me. Obviously, I need to do a better job of getting us ready on game day." The last-place Raiders are among the biggest disappointments in football at the season's near midpoint.
Previous rank: No. 23
The Bears enjoyed the most impressive win of their season just over a week ago in New England, but that already seems like decades ago in the Windy City. Last Wednesday, Chicago traded star pass rusher Robert Quinn to the Eagles. On Sunday, the Bears were overwhelmed by the Cowboys in a 49-29 loss at Jerrah World. Then came Monday, and the news the team had sent star linebacker Roquan Smith to the Ravens in exchange for draft picks. GM Ryan Poles' decision to sell at the deadline shows a commitment to a complete teardown in Chicago. It's a full-measure method that -- if done right -- can return the storied franchise to prominence, but patience will be essential for an already-beleaguered fanbase.
UPDATE: Turns out the Bears are sellers and buyers. Poles made a move to help Justin Fields ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline, acquiring wide receiver Chase Claypool in a deal with the Steelers.
Previous rank: No. 28
The Washington Commanders are scrappy as hell. Ron Rivera’s motley bunch found a way once again on Sunday, getting a Taylor Heinicke QB sneak touchdown with 22 seconds remaining to steal a 17-16 win away from the Colts. It’s Washington’s third straight win, pulling them back to .500 and into the playoff race of the unsettled NFC. The vibes are much improved in Landover, but the cruel crush of reality feels imminent: Washington’s next two opponents -- the Vikings and Eagles -- have a combined record of 13-1. Find a way to sneak out of that dastardly doubleheader with a win, and we’ll see the Commanders as true players in the wild-card hunt.
Previous rank: No. 27
The Broncos are not fixed … far from it. But it’s hard to overstate how important Sunday’s 21-17 win was for a team that feels like it’s been teetering on the edge of the cliff since Week 1. Russell Wilson delivered another deeply inconsistent performance in his return from a hamstring injury, but he deserves credit for the deep strike to KJ Hamler that kick-started an 80-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes. When cornerback K'Waun Williams sealed the game minutes later with a diving interception, you could hear the organizational exhale from London. Under new ownership and at the helm of one of football’s most disappointing teams, Nathaniel Hackett has to be feeling some heat under his seat. This was a desperately needed victory.
Previous rank: No. 24
The Steelers weren't ready for that smoke. A young Pittsburgh team went to Philadelphia and found itself overmatched in a 35-13 loss that could have been a lot worse if the Eagles kept their foot on the accelerator in the second half. Minkah Fitzpatrick and the secondary were humbled, as Eagles star A.J. Brown collected three long touchdown receptions in the first half alone. With Pittsburgh's playoff chances fading by the week, it will be interesting to see if the team shifts into a more conservative approach in regard to T.J. Watt. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year has been on injured reserve since Week 1 with a torn pectoral muscle.
Previous rank: No. 26
New quarterback, similar results for the Colts, who don’t score enough points to win on a regular basis. Sam Ehlinger avoided the disastrous mistakes that pock-marked Matt Ryan’s short run as QB1, throwing for 201 yards on 17-of-23 passing, but the Colts scored one touchdown or fewer for the fourth time in eight weeks. It’s a chronic lack of production that allows a mediocre team like the Commanders to sneak out of Lucas Oil Stadium with a 17-16 win. “I know we didn't gain, like, a thousand yards or anything like that, but I felt today we could find a rhythm with what we have out there," head coach Frank Reich said Sunday. "I felt today that we can put something together and continue to get better.” Reich better hope so -- his job likely depends on it.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, the Colts announced that they have fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady.
Previous rank: No. 30
You might not find a more cruel defeat all season. The Panthers tied the Falcons with a miracle D.J. Moore touchdown in the final seconds, but a missed Eddy Piñeiro extra point (made considerably more challenging by Moore’s post-score exuberance) was followed by a chip-shot field-goal miss in overtime in a 37-34 defeat. The blood-curdling setback cost Carolina a share of first place in the absurd NFC South. On the positive side, P.J. Walker played well in his second start and will get the nod next Sunday, even with Sam Darnold (ankle) finally expected to make his return to the active roster. It’s looking increasingly possible Baker Mayfield has already played his last snap in Charlotte.
Previous rank: No. 29
Russell Wilson picked himself off the mat on Sunday and led the Broncos on a go-ahead touchdown drive against the Jaguars with 1:47 to play. When it was Trevor Lawrence’s turn to put on the cape, it just turned into more disappointment for Jacksonville. Lawrence was picked off on his first throw in the ensuing drive, sealing a painful 21-17 loss at Wembley Stadium. Lawrence, who also threw a critical end-zone interception on first-and-goal at the 1-yard line in the first half, is not making the strides many expected. His starting job remains safe because the Jags simply have too much invested in the former No. 1 overall pick, but Lawrence needs to be better. What he's shown through eight games of Year 2 simply isn’t good enough.
Previous rank: No. 31
The Lions scored on their first five possessions Sunday and led for over 42 minutes of game time, but the final result was maddeningly consistent for Dan Campbell's team: a 31-27 loss to the Dolphins in which the defense could not get a stop when it counted. On Monday, Campbell announced he'd fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, a lever a struggling team is known to pull when it's not sure what else to do. "We're in a production-based business," said Campbell, "and after seven weeks, I felt like this change needed to be made." On Tuesday, the franchise traded its leading receiver, and former top-10 pick, T.J. Hockenson within the division. We're a long way off from the feel-good vibes of Hard Knocks.
Previous rank: No. 32
After a promising Week 7 showing that hinted at progress, the Texans’ offense cratered on Sunday against the Titans. Houston managed just 161 total yards in the 17-10 loss, with more than half of those yards coming on a final drive that produced a touchdown with 17 seconds to play. Davis Mills threw for just 17 yards in the first half, playing to a duel with Malik Willis, an overmatched rookie filling in for injured/ill Tennessee starter Ryan Tannehill. A quick rebound shouldn’t be expected: Up next is the undefeated Eagles on Thursday Night Football. Oof.