1-32 ballot, cause for hope

Welcome to Week 9 of the NFL common season.

Our energy panel — a bunch of greater than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluated how groups are stacking up via eight weeks.

There was motion in our prime 10, however the prime three stay unchanged. The Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons are two shock groups which have performed properly and earned a very good leap within the rankings this week. And the San Francisco 49ers’ addition of Christian McCaffrey actually made a distinction on Sunday and in these rankings. The New York Giants and New York Jets suffered losses that brought about them to drop, however time will inform whether or not they’re ok to rise once more.

In addition to our up to date rankings, we checked in with NFL Nation reporters throughout the league and requested them to present one cause for optimism on each workforce. There continues to be half a season left, and a few groups ought to give attention to what they’ve going for them and attempt to capitalize on it.

Let’s get to it.

Jump to a workforce:
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF

Week 8 rating: 1

Reason for optimism: Playing like the very best workforce within the league

Let’s not make this sophisticated. There are so many causes to be optimistic about this workforce. The Bills are beating among the league’s finest groups from final season (5-0 in opposition to 2021 playoff groups). Josh Allen is placing up an MVP marketing campaign with 2,452 mixed passing and dashing internet yards, the second most via seven video games in NFL historical past (Peyton Manning, 2013). Von Miller has made the impression the workforce hoped for, and the protection leads the league in interceptions (11) regardless of dropping security Micah Hyde (neck) for the season and coping with a wide range of different accidents within the secondary. Finding the positives about this workforce is not tough. — Alaina Getzenberg

Week 8 rating: 2

Reason for optimism: Stellar begin, simple end

Philadelphia is 7-0 for simply the second time in franchise historical past, matching the 2004 workforce that superior to Super Bowl XXXIX. Dreams of home-field benefit all through the playoffs are warranted: The Eagles have the simplest remaining power of schedule, in keeping with ESPN’s Football Power Index. Playing within the resurgent NFC East, not even a divisional title is near a lock at this stage, however they could not have requested for a greater begin or to be in a greater place for the house stretch. — Tim McManus

Week 8 rating: 3

Reason for optimism: Patrick Mahomes

The Chiefs have three comeback wins after trailing by 10-plus factors already this season. Mahomes is 13-9 (together with playoffs) after trailing by 10-plus factors — he’s the one QB because the begin of the 1950 season with a successful document after trailing by double digits (minimal 10 video games). So they’ve good cause to consider they’re all the time within the title hunt so long as they’ve Mahomes as quarterback. The Chiefs have many different causes to consider they will win one other championship, together with an improved move rush that has 19 sacks. — Adam Teicher

Week 8 rating: 6

Reason for optimism: Defense … but in addition offense

The protection has been the story of the primary eight video games, giving up a mean of solely 16.6 factors (ranked third within the league). The run protection, although, is a fear, giving up a mean of 135.1 yards.

But the offense is trending in the best route since Dak Prescott’s return from a fractured proper thumb. The Cowboys have proven they will run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard no matter circumstance, whereas the passing sport is enhancing as Prescott will get reaccustomed to CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz. They’ll want it because the second half begins and the video games get tougher and necessary. — Todd Archer



Ryan Clark makes the case for Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to share time on the sector.

Week 8 rating: 5

Reason for optimism: Success in shut video games

The Vikings’ 6-1 document is highlighted by 5 victories in one-possession video games. There is little doubt they’ve had some notable and regarding lulls on each side of the ball inside video games, however they’re discovering methods to win by dominating the hidden, small components of a sport that may have an effect on outcomes. That’s an distinctive trait to have because the playoff race approaches, and it’s a reminder that groups can win unbiased of whether or not they have a greater offense and/or protection than their opponent. — Kevin Seifert

Week 8 rating: 7

Reason for optimism: Favorable remaining schedule

Seven of Baltimore’s remaining 9 video games come in opposition to groups at present with dropping information. ESPN’s FPI signifies the Ravens have the Eleventh-easiest schedule the remainder of the way in which, however it appears to be like softer than that. The mixed document of Baltimore’s remaining opponents is 23-41 (.359). The Ravens face the struggling Steelers (2-6) twice, together with the Carolina Panthers (2-6) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6). Plus, Lamar Jackson is 21-7 (.750) in November and December because the Ravens’ QB. — Jamison Hensley

Week 8 rating: 10

Reason for optimism: Tua Tagovailoa

It is wonderful to assume that one yr in the past, the dialog surrounding Tagovailoa targeted on whether or not the Dolphins would commerce for an additional quarterback. In his third season, he has made these arguments look foolish. He leads the NFL in quarterback score and ranks third in completion share, fourth in touchdown-to-interception ratio and seventh in passing touchdowns regardless of lacking two full video games. Miami’s offense ranks sixth within the NFL in yards per sport, due largely to the play of its quarterback. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Week 8 rating: 13

Reason for optimism: Rookie class

With three straight wins and a one-game lead within the NFC West, the Seahawks have loads of causes for optimism. Their rookie class is one in every of them, each for the long run and the current. Six of their 9 draft picks are already big-time contributors. Charles Cross and Abe Lucas each rank within the prime half of beginning tackles in ESPN’s move block win fee. Running again Kenneth Walker III has 5 touchdowns over the previous 4 video games. Cornerbacks Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant have compelled a mixed eight turnovers. Outside linebacker Boye Mafe has a pair of sacks. Undrafted security Joey Blount is making an impression on particular groups as properly. — Brady Henderson

Week 8 rating: 14

Reason for optimism: Offensive targets

The Niners relied so closely on their protection within the first 5 weeks of the season that some regression was solely pure as soon as that group acquired bit by the damage bug. But the 49ers traded for Christian McCaffrey in hopes it might bolster the offense sufficient to make up for no matter drop-off the protection would possibly endure. Now, the Niners enter the second half of the season with McCaffrey, receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, working again Jeff Wilson Jr. and tight finish George Kittle. Running again Elijah Mitchell and fullback Kyle Juszczyk are anticipated to come back again after the bye week. That’s a complete lot of firepower for QB Jimmy Garoppolo. — Nick Wagoner



Field Yates discusses why the flexibility within the 49ers offense will proceed to construct constructive fantasy output for Christian McCaffrey.

Week 8 rating: 11

Reason for optimism: Rush assault

Titans working again Derrick Henry and the offensive line have hit a groove that features four-consecutive 100-yard dashing performances from Henry, together with Sunday’s 219-yard day. Henry carried the Titans to the AFC Championship Game three years in the past, so seeing him accomplish that as soon as once more is not out of cause for Tennessee. As Mike Vrabel mentioned after the Texans sport, “The distinction between us and the remainder of the opposite groups is now we have Derrick Henry.” — Turron Davenport

Week 8 rating: 4

Reason for optimism: Saquon Barkley

He is the Giants’ offense. Barkley has accounted for 38% of their whole yards thus far this season, second most of any participant this season behind Tennessee’s Henry. He’s on tempo for two,057 all-purpose yards. That would prime his rookie yr numbers (albeit with an additional seventeenth sport). Still, Barkley alone has been definitely worth the value of admission. As lengthy as he stays wholesome, there isn’t a cause to consider that can change. And he’ll seemingly lead this light-on-talent Giants workforce to the playoffs. — Jordan Raanan

Week 8 rating: 9

Reason for optimism: A clicking offense

Ja’Marr Chase’s hip damage actually places a damper on the offensive uptick the previous couple of weeks. But with how properly Joe Burrow seemed previous to Monday Night Football, coupled with the depth on the prime of the depth chart with receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati ought to nonetheless have sufficient firepower to proceed to have one of many league’s finest offenses. After a sluggish begin, the Bengals ranked fourth within the NFL in factors and touchdowns per drive coming into Monday. That effectivity stage is what Cincinnati lacked throughout final season’s run to the Super Bowl. — Ben Baby

Week 8 rating: 8

Reason for optimism: Dee-fense!

The Jets have held opponents below 23 factors in 5 straight video games, and their protection is nice sufficient to maintain them within the playoff dialog. Led by DT Quinnen Williams and cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed, the Jets are sturdy on the back and front ends. Gardner is a powerful candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Williams’ six sacks already is one shy of his profession excessive. The Jets have feasted on a handful of backup QBs, an element of their No. 6 rating in whole yards allowed, however it’s nonetheless a high quality protection. — Rich Cimini

Week 8 rating: 12

Reason for optimism: Cooper Kupp

The Rams’ offense revolves round Kupp this season, and he continues to be a constant goal for Matthew Stafford. Kupp did injure his ankle on the finish of the Rams’ loss to the 49ers on Sunday, however he mentioned after the sport he feels “fairly good proper now.” The Rams’ offense has struggled to get right into a constant rhythm for lengthy stretches, but when the unit goes to show it round this season, it can seemingly be as a result of the Stafford-Kupp connection takes over video games for Los Angeles. — Sarah Barshop

Week 8 rating: 19

Reason for optimism: First place in NFC South

Admit it, you did not have the Atlanta Falcons in first place at midseason. It’s OK. Not many individuals, if anybody, did. But the Falcons have established themselves because the NFL’s No. 4 dashing assault by yardage. That they’ve finished it with a transformed vast receiver (Cordarrelle Patterson), a fifth-round decide (Tyler Allgeier), an undrafted free agent (Caleb Huntley) and a former cornerback (Avery Williams) is much more spectacular. If the Falcons are going to proceed this the remainder of the season, it’s going to include their identification — which means their run sport — intact and persevering with to be spectacular. Doesn’t harm, both, that solely two Atlanta future opponents have an over-.500 document in the mean time. — Michael Rothstein

Week 8 rating: 15

Reason for optimism: Joey Bosa

The Chargers have been decimated by accidents. Just a few, together with left deal with Rashawn Slater and cornerback J.C. Jackson, are of the season-ending selection. The Chargers positioned defensive finish Joey Bosa on injured reserve after he suffered a groin damage in Week 3 that required surgical procedure, however coach Brandon Staley has continued to specific optimism that the Pro Bowl edge rusher will return this season. That could be nice information for a protection that — regardless of starring move rusher Khalil Mack and security Derwin James Jr. — has underachieved this season. — Lindsey Thiry

Week 8 rating: 18

Reason for optimism: Rhamondre Stevenson

The second-year working again is coming into his personal because the uncommon sort of each down possibility — energy on early downs and pass-catching prowess on third down. Sunday’s win over the Jets was the most recent instance of how Stevenson is without doubt one of the finest issues the Patriots have going, with 16 rushes for 71 yards and 7 catches for 72 yards. — Mike Reiss



Field Yates and Liz Loza give excessive reward to Rhamondre Stevenson for his consecutive strong fantasy performances.

Week 8 rating: 17

Reason for optimism: They’ve already overwhelmed the Falcons as soon as

At 3-5, there is not a lot to be ok with in Tampa proper now, however it might probably benefit from it being a down yr within the NFC South. The Bucs nonetheless have a 38% probability to win the division and a 44% probability of constructing playoffs (this dropped from a 53% probability to win the division after the Falcons beat the Panthers Sunday), in keeping with ESPN Stats & Information. The Bucs even have the twelfth best remaining schedule, in keeping with ESPN’s FPI. The first-place Falcons have the second-easiest although, however that is why that head-to-head victory might come in useful if the Bucs can climb out of this mess they’re in. — Jenna Laine

Week 8 rating: 21

Reason for optimism: Defensive line

Defensive tackles Jon Allen and Daron Payne have performed properly this season and have been a key half in improved defensive play general. In the previous six weeks, Washington’s protection ranks fifth in yards per carry, eighth in sack share per dropbacks, fifth in yards and ninth in factors. And it begins up entrance, the place the Commanders have expertise and depth. Allen has 3.5 sacks and 9 tackles for a loss, two shy of his profession finest. Payne has 4.5 sacks, a half sack shy of his profession finest, and his six tackles for a loss are one off his profession excessive. Montez Sweat has performed positive, however he ought to be helped by the return of Chase Young. Young is anticipated to observe Wednesday, however may not play till Week 10 at Philadelphia. Still, his return will likely be a giant increase. — John Keim

Week 8 rating: 16

Reason for optimism: Aaron Jones

Jones ranks tied for fifth amongst all working backs in yards per carry (5.87) and fifth in whole dashing yards (575). He’s additionally tied for fifth in rushes of 10 yards or extra (17) by a RB, so he may be the Packers’ finest probability for explosive positive factors. With nothing else to hold their hat on offensively, the working sport (together with AJ Dillon) may be their finest hope. — Rob Demovsky

Week 8 rating: 26

Reason for optimism: They’re able to enjoying mistake free soccer

The Saints have lamented being their very own worst enemy for nearly the complete season, turning the ball over in a loss to the Bucs, permitting a late landing in opposition to the Bengals and throwing pick-sixes in opposition to the Cardinals. But they confirmed in opposition to the Raiders that they are nonetheless able to enjoying the type of protection that led them to wins previously few seasons. They additionally did not flip the ball over on Sunday, sparking hope that maybe Alvin Kamara’s accountability speech to the workforce helped them flip the nook. — Katherine Terrell

Week 8 rating: 22

Reason for optimism: Defense

The Colts’ offensive outcomes did not change although the quarterback did (from Matt Ryan to Sam Ehlinger). But the protection has been this workforce’s most constant aspect in 2022. Indianapolis is eighth in scoring protection, permitting 19.6 factors per sport. In the previous 4 video games, the Colts have allowed 16.3 factors in opposition to their protection (the Titans scored a defensive landing in opposition to the Colts in Week 7). Coordinator Gus Bradley’s unit is legit. — Stephen Holder

Week 8 rating: 25

Reason for optimism: Offensive ability expertise

Cleveland’s offensive ability expertise has both met or exceeded expectations. Amari Cooper has carried out like a reliable No. 1 receiver, Donovan Peoples-Jones has made a ton of powerful and contested catches and tight finish David Njoku was having a profession season till struggling a high-ankle sprain final week (he ought to be again quickly). Throw in Pro Bowl RB Nick Chubb and the Browns may need one of many league’s extra underrated ability contingents. That’s a giant why Cleveland has ranked within the prime 10 in offensive effectivity for a lot of the season regardless of enjoying backup QB Jacoby Brissett. — Jake Trotter

Week 8 rating: 20

Reason for optimism: DeAndre Hopkins

Hopkins has helped revive an offense that was caught within the mud earlier than he returned from a six-game suspension. He has at the very least 100 yards receiving in every of his first two video games again and has supplied a jolt to an offense that wanted one. If the Cardinals can determine their self-inflicted errors, they will make the most of Hopkins in ways in which might assist them win video games. — Josh Weinfuss

Week 8 rating: 27

Reason for optimism: Defense

The offense has scored greater than 16 factors in simply two video games this season, so it relied on the protection to be the supply of hope. And the Broncos have stood tall on that facet of the ball via the primary eight video games as they’re among the many league’s finest in whole protection, scoring protection and crimson zone protection. Ejiro Evero’s group has surrendered some dashing yards at instances — most notably to the Raiders in Week 4 and the Jaguars in London this previous Sunday — however general they’ve overcome their very own offense’s failings more often than not. — Jeff Legwold

Week 8 rating: 28

Reason for optimism: Justin Fields’ growth

Fields has proven appreciable progress in Chicago’s previous two video games — a win at New England and loss at Dallas — and appears like a unique quarterback from the place he was in Weeks 1-6. That tangible enchancment is one thing this franchise may be enthusiastic about long run, contemplating how properly Fields has carried out regardless of the shortage of expertise round him. The second-year QB posted the best passer score of his profession (120.0) in opposition to the Cowboys and is exhibiting the Bears that he could also be their long-term reply. — Courtney Cronin



Mina Kimes and Marcus Spears break down the Ravens’ resolution to commerce for Roquan Smith.

Week 8 rating: 23

Reason for optimism: Star energy at offensive ability positions

Sure, there’s been quite a few suits and begins because the Raiders proceed to get acclimated to first-year coach Josh McDaniels’ scheme, even after seven video games. But there may be far an excessive amount of star energy for Las Vegas to flounder about at 2-5. Pro Bowlers abound, from QB Derek Carr to WRs Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow to TE Darren Waller to RB Josh Jacobs, so certainly they’re going to proper their ship quickly, no? Plus, Las Vegas is about to enter the delicate underbelly of their schedule. — Paul Gutierrez

Week 8 rating: 30

Reason for optimism: NFC South is a large number

Despite Sunday’s additional time loss to the Falcons, the Panthers stay solely two video games again within the loss column to Atlanta and are just one sport out of second place. They are also 2-1 within the division and get the Falcons once more on Nov. 10 for Thursday Night Football. So, just like the 2014 season the place they have been 3-8-1 with 4 video games left and gained out to win the division, they nonetheless management their future. And they’re enjoying properly sufficient now to win. — David Newton

Week 8 rating: 24

Reason for optimism: Travis Etienne Jr.

Etienne is sixth within the NFL in dashing (571 yards) because of gaining 270 yards over the previous two video games, together with 156 in opposition to the Denver Broncos in London on Sunday. Etienne began the season as James Robinson’s backup, however by the tip of the primary month he was outperforming Robinson. The Jaguars finally made him the starter and traded Robinson to the New York Jets. Now, Etienne is on tempo to come back near Fred Taylor’s rookie dashing document (1,223 yards in 1998). With the Jaguars on a five-game dropping streak, Etienne is without doubt one of the few shiny spots. — Michael DiRocco

Week 8 rating: 29

Reason for optimism: T.J. Watt’s impending return

There’s not a lot to be optimistic about after the undefeated Eagles soundly dismantled the Steelers, however some assistance is on the horizon with reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt set to make his return from injured reserve after the bye. Without Watt, the Steelers have simply eight sacks since Week 2 — tied for lowest within the league with the Falcons over that stretch. Watt cannot repair every little thing that ails the Steelers, however his presence can nonetheless give the protection a big increase. — Brooke Pryor

Week 8 rating: 31

Reason for optimism: It’s Year 2 of the rebuild

The Lions nationwide function on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” could have given the general public some type of false hope that they might be a lot better than they really are. Through seven video games, one win actually is not acceptable, however Lions proprietor Sheila Ford Hamp advised reporters final week that she continues to consider in head coach Dan Campbell and common supervisor Brad Holmes to show issues round. Detroit has a pair of first-round picks within the upcoming 2023 draft with quite a lot of younger expertise on the present roster, and in the event that they’re correctly developed might assist change the dropping tradition in Motown. — Eric Woodyard

Week 8 rating: 32

Reason for optimism: Rookie class

Optimism could seem arduous to seek out this season; nonetheless, there may be one: The 2022 draft class. The Texans rookie class yielded 4 starters in cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., left guard Kenyon Green, security Jalen Pitre and working again Dameon Pierce. Quarterbacks have a 56% completion fee when Stingley is the closest defender and he has an interception; Green has began the vast majority of the season; Pitre has 5 tackles for loss, one sack and two interceptions; and Pierce leads all rookie working backs in dashing (539) and is within the league’s prime 12 in dashing. — DJ Bien-Aime