NFL Week 9 Power Rankings 2022: 1-32 poll, reason for hope

ByNFL Nation reporters ESPN logo
Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Welcome toWeek 9 of the NFL regular season.

Our power panel -- a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities -- evaluated how teams are stacking up through eight weeks.

There was movement in our top 10, but the top three remain unchanged. The Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons are two surprise teams that have played well and earned a good jump in the rankings this week. And the San Francisco 49ers' addition of Christian McCaffrey certainly made a difference on Sunday and in these rankings. The New York Giants and New York Jets suffered losses that caused them to drop, but time will tell whether they are good enough to rise again.

In addition to our updated rankings, we checked in with NFL Nation reporters across the league and asked them to give one reason for optimism on every team. There is still half a season left, and some teams should focus on what they have going for them and try to capitalize on it.

Let's get to it.

Jump to a team:




NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF


1. Buffalo Bills(6-1)

Week 8 ranking:1

Reason for optimism:Playing like the best team in the league

Let's not make this complicated. There are so many reasons to be optimistic about this team. The Bills are beating some of the league's best teams from last season (5-0 against 2021 playoff teams). Josh Allen is putting up an MVP campaign with 2,452 combined passing and rushing net yards, the second most through seven games in NFL history (Peyton Manning, 2013). Von Miller has made the impact the team hoped for, and the defense leads the league in interceptions (11) despite losing safety Micah Hyde (neck) for the season and dealing with a variety of other injuries in the secondary. Finding the positives about this team isn't difficult.-- Alaina Getzenberg

2.Philadelphia Eagles(7-0)

Week 8 ranking:2

Reason for optimism:Stellar start, easy finish

Philadelphia is 7-0 for just the second time in franchise history, matching the 2004 team that advanced to Super Bowl XXXIX. Dreams of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs are warranted: The Eagles have the easiest remaining strength of schedule, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. Playing in the resurgent NFC East, not even a divisional title is close to a lock at this stage, but they couldn't have asked for a better start or to be in a better position for the home stretch. --Tim McManus

3.Kansas City Chiefs(5-2)

Week 8 ranking:3

Reason for optimism:Patrick Mahomes

The Chiefs have three comeback wins after trailing by 10-plus points already this season. Mahomes is 13-9 (including playoffs) after trailing by 10-plus points -- he is the only QB since the start of the 1950 season with a winning record after trailing by double digits (minimum 10 games). So they have good reason to believe they're always in the title hunt as long as they have Mahomes as quarterback. The Chiefs have many other reasons to believe they can win another championship, including an improved pass rush that has 19 sacks. --Adam Teicher

4.Dallas Cowboys(6-2)

Week 8 ranking:6

Reason for optimism: Defense ... but also offense

The defense has been the story of the first eight games, giving up an average of only 16.6 points (ranked third in the league). The run defense, though, is a worry, giving up an average of 135.1 yards.

But the offense is trending in the right direction since Dak Prescott's return from a fractured right thumb. The Cowboys have shown they can run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard regardless of circumstance, while the passing game is improving as Prescott gets reaccustomed to CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz. They'll need it as the second half begins and the games get more difficult and important.--Todd Archer

5.Minnesota Vikings(6-1)

Week 8 ranking:5

Reason for optimism:Success in close games

The Vikings' 6-1 record is highlighted by five victories in one-possession games. There is no doubt they have had some notable and concerning lulls on both sides of the ball within games, but they are finding ways to win by dominating the hidden, small parts of a game that can affect outcomes. That's an exceptional trait to have as the playoff race approaches, and it is a reminder that teams can win independent of whether they have a better offense and/or defense than their opponent. --Kevin Seifert

6.Baltimore Ravens(5-3)

Week 8 ranking:7

Reason for optimism:Favorable remaining schedule

Seven of Baltimore's remaining nine games come against teams currently with losing records. ESPN's FPI indicates the Ravens have the 11th-easiest schedule the rest of the way, but it looks softer than that. The combined record of Baltimore's remaining opponents is 23-41 (.359). The Ravens face the struggling Steelers (2-6) twice, along with the Carolina Panthers (2-6) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6). Plus, Lamar Jackson is 21-7 (.750) in November and December as the Ravens' QB.--Jamison Hensley

7.Miami Dolphins(5-3)

Week 8 ranking:10

Reason for optimism:Tua Tagovailoa

It is amazing to think that one year ago, the conversation surrounding Tagovailoa focused on whether the Dolphins would trade for another quarterback. In his third season, he has made those arguments look silly. He leads the NFL in quarterback rating and ranks third in completion percentage, fourth in touchdown-to-interception ratio and seventh in passing touchdowns despite missing two full games. Miami's offense ranks sixth in the NFL in yards per game, due in large part to the play of its quarterback. --Marcel Louis-Jacques

8.Seattle Seahawks(5-3)

Week 8 ranking:13

Reason for optimism: Rookie class

With three straight wins and a one-game lead in the NFC West, the Seahawks have plenty of reasons for optimism. Their rookie class is one of them, both for the long term and the present. Six of their nine draft picks are already big-time contributors. Charles Cross andAbe Lucasboth rank in the top half of starting tackles in ESPN's pass block win rate. Running backKenneth Walker IIIhas five touchdowns over the past four games. Cornerbacks Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant have forced a combined eight turnovers. Outside linebacker Boye Mafe has a pair of sacks. Undrafted safety Joey Blount is making an impact on special teams as well. --Brady Henderson

9.San Francisco 49ers(4-4)

Week 8 ranking:14

Reason for optimism:Offensive targets

The Niners relied so heavily on their defense in the first five weeks of the season that some regression was only natural once that group got bit by the injury bug. But the 49ers traded for Christian McCaffrey in hopes it would bolster the offense enough to make up for whatever drop-off the defense might suffer. Now, the Niners enter the second half of the season with McCaffrey, receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, running back Jeff Wilson Jr. and tight end George Kittle. Running back Elijah Mitchell and fullback Kyle Juszczyk are expected to come back after the bye week. That's a whole lot of firepower for QB Jimmy Garoppolo.--Nick Wagoner

10.Tennessee Titans(5-2)

Week 8 ranking:11

Reason for optimism: Rush attack

Titans running back Derrick Henry and the offensive line have hit a groove that includes four consecutive 100-yard rushing performances from Henry, including Sunday's 219-yard day against the Texans. Henry carried the Titans to the AFC Championship Game three years ago, so seeing him do so once again isn't out of reason for Tennessee. As Mike Vrabel said after Sunday's game, "The difference between us and the rest of the other teams is we have Derrick Henry." --Turron Davenport

11.New York Giants(6-2)

Week 8 ranking:4

Reason for optimism:Saquon Barkley

He is the Giants' offense. Barkley has accounted for 38% of their total yards so far this season, second most of any player this season behind Tennessee's Henry. He's on pace for 2,057 all-purpose yards. That would top his rookie year numbers (albeit with a 17th game). Still, Barkley alone has been worth the price of admission. As long as he remains healthy, there is no reason to believe that will change. And he'll likely lead this light-on-talent Giants team to the playoffs.--Jordan Raanan

12.Cincinnati Bengals(4-4)

Week 8 ranking:9

Reason for optimism: A clicking offense

Ja'Marr Chase's hip injury certainly puts a damper on the offensive uptick the past couple of weeks. But with how well Joe Burrowlooked prior to "Monday Night Football," coupled with the depth at the top with receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati should still have enough firepower to continue to have one of the league's best offenses. After a slow start, the Bengals ranked fourth in the NFL in points and touchdowns per drive entering Monday. That efficiency level is what Cincinnati lacked during last season's run to the Super Bowl. --Ben Baby

13.New York Jets(5-3)

Week 8 ranking:8

Reason for optimism:Dee-fense!

The Jets have held opponents under 23 points in five straight games, and their defense is good enough to keep them in the playoff conversation. Led by DT Quinnen Williams and cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed, the Jets are strong on the front and back ends. Gardner is a strong candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Williams' six sacks already is one shy of his career high. The Jets have feasted on a handful of backup QBs, a factor in their No. 6 ranking in total yards allowed, but it's still a quality defense.--Rich Cimini

14.Los Angeles Rams(3-4)

Week 8 ranking:12

Reason for optimism:Cooper Kupp

The Rams' offense revolves around Kupp this season, and he continues to be a consistent target for Matthew Stafford. Kupp did injure his right ankle at the end of the Rams' loss to the 49ers on Sunday, but he said after the game he feels "pretty good right now." The Rams' offense has struggled to get into a consistent rhythm for long stretches, but if the unit is going to turn it around this season, it will likely be because the Stafford-Kupp connection takes over games for Los Angeles. --Sarah Barshop

15.Atlanta Falcons(4-4)

Week 8 ranking:19

Reason for optimism: First place in NFC South

Admit it, you didn't have the Atlanta Falcons in first place at midseason. It's OK. Not many people, if anyone, did. But the Falcons have established themselves as the NFL's No. 4 rushing attack by yardage. That they've done it with a converted wide receiver (Cordarrelle Patterson), a fifth-round pick (Tyler Allgeier), an undrafted free agent (Caleb Huntley) and a former cornerback (Avery Williams) is even more impressive. If the Falcons continue to exceed expectations this season, it'll be because their run game continues to impress. It doesn't hurt, either, that only two of Atlanta's future opponents have an over-.500 record at the moment. --Michael Rothstein

16.Los Angeles Chargers(4-3)

Week 8 ranking:15

Reason for optimism:Joey Bosa

The Chargers have been decimated by injuries. A few, including left tackle Rashawn Slater and cornerback J.C. Jackson, are of the season-ending variety. The Chargers placed defensive end Joey Bosa on injured reserve after he suffered a groin injury in Week 3 that required surgery, but coach Brandon Staley has continued to express optimism that the Pro Bowl edge rusher will return this season. That would be great news for a defense that -- despite starring pass-rusher Khalil Mack and safetyDerwin James Jr.-- has underachieved this season. --Lindsey Thiry

17.New England Patriots(4-4)

Week 8 ranking:18

Reason for optimism:Rhamondre Stevenson

The second-year running back is coming into his own as the rare type of every-down option -- power on early downs and pass-catching prowess on third down. Sunday's win over the Jets was the latest example of how Stevenson is one of the best things the Patriots have going, with 16 rushes for 71 yards and seven catches for 72 yards. --Mike Reiss

18.Tampa Bay Buccaneers(3-5)

Week 8 ranking:17

Reason for optimism:They've already beaten the Falcons once

At 3-5, there isn't much to feel good about in Tampa right now, but it can take advantage of the fact that it's a down year in the NFC South. The Bucs still have a 38% chance to win the division and a 44% chance of making the playoffs (it was a 53% chance to win the division before the Falcons beat the Panthers on Sunday), according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Bucs also have the 12th-easiest remaining schedule, according to ESPN's FPI. The first-place Falcons have the second-easiest, but that's why that head-to-head victory could come in handy if the Bucs can climb out of this mess they're in. --Jenna Laine

19.Washington Commanders(4-4)

Week 8 ranking:21

Reason for optimism:Defensive line

Defensive tackles Jon Allen and Daron Payne have been a key part in Washington's improved defensive play overall. In the past six weeks, Washington's defense ranks fifth in yards per carry, eighth in sack percentage per dropbacks, fifth in yards and ninth in points. And it starts up front, where the Commanders have talent and depth. Allen has 3.5 sacks and nine tackles for a loss, two shy of his career best. Payne has 4.5 sacks, a half sack shy of his career best, and his six tackles for loss are one off his career high. Montez Sweat has played fine, but he should be helped by the return of Chase Young. Young is expected to practice Wednesday, but might not play until Week 10 at Philadelphia. Still, his return will be a big boost.--John Keim

20.Green Bay Packers(3-5)

Week 8 ranking:16

Reason for optimism:Aaron Jones

Jones ranks tied for fifth among all running backs in yards per carry (5.87) and fifth in total rushing yards (575). He's also tied for fifth in rushes of 10 yards or more (17) by a RB, so he might be the Packers' best chance for explosive gains. With nothing else to hang their hat on offensively, the running game (along with AJ Dillon) might be their best hope. --Rob Demovsky

21.New Orleans Saints(3-5)

Week 8 ranking:26

Reason for optimism:They're capable of playing mistake-free football

The Saints have lamented being their own worst enemy for almost the entire season, turning the ball over in a loss to the Bucs, allowing a late touchdown against the Bengals and throwing two pick-sixes against the Cardinals. But they showed against the Raiders that they're still capable of playing the kind of defense that led them to wins in the past few seasons. They also didn't turn the ball over Sunday, sparking hope that perhaps Alvin Kamara's accountability speech to the team helped them turn the corner.--Katherine Terrell

22.Indianapolis Colts(3-4-1)

Week 8 ranking:22

Reason for optimism:Defense

The Colts' offensive results didn't change, even though the quarterback did (from Matt Ryan to Sam Ehlinger). But the defense has been this team's most consistent element in 2022. Indianapolis is eighth in scoring defense, allowing 19.6 points per game. In the past four games, the Colts' defense has allowed an average of 16.3 points. Coordinator Gus Bradley's unit is legit. --Stephen Holder

23.Cleveland Browns(3-5)

Week 8 ranking:25

Reason for optimism:Offensive skill talent

Cleveland's offensive skill talent has either met or exceeded expectations. Amari Cooper has performed like a legitimate No. 1 receiver, Donovan Peoples-Jones has made a ton of tough and contested catches, and tight end David Njoku was having a career season until suffering a high-ankle sprain last week (he should be back soon). Throw in Pro Bowl RB Nick Chubb and the Browns might have one of the league's more underrated skill contingents. That's a big reason why Cleveland has ranked in the top 10 in offensive efficiency for much of the season despite playing backup QB Jacoby Brissett. --Jake Trotter

24.Arizona Cardinals(3-5)

Week 8 ranking:20

Reason for optimism:DeAndre Hopkins

Hopkins has helped revive an offense that was stuck in the mud before he returned from a six-game suspension. He has at least 100 yards receiving in each of his first two games back and has provided a jolt to an offense that needed one. If the Cardinals can figure out their self-inflicted mistakes, they can utilize Hopkins in ways that could help them win games. --Josh Weinfuss

25.Denver Broncos(3-5)

Week 8 ranking:27

Reason for optimism:Defense

The offense has scored more than 16 points in just two games this season, so it relied on the defense to be the source of hope. And the Broncos have stood tall on that side of the ball through the first eight games as they are among the league's best in total defense, scoring defense and red zone defense. Ejiro Evero's group has surrendered some rushing yards at times -- most notably to the Raiders in Week 4 and the Jaguars in London this past Sunday -- but overall they have overcome their offense's failings most of the time. --Jeff Legwold

26.Chicago Bears(3-5)

Week 8 ranking:28

Reason for optimism:Justin Fields' development

Fields has shown considerable growth in Chicago's past two games -- a win at New England and loss at Dallas -- and looks like a different quarterback from where he was in Weeks 1-6. That tangible improvement is something this franchise can be excited about long term, considering how well Fields has performed despite the lack of talent around him. The second-year QB posted the highest passer rating of his career (120.0) against the Cowboys and is showing the Bears that he may be their long-term answer.--Courtney Cronin

27.Las Vegas Raiders(2-5)

Week 8 ranking:23

Reason for optimism:Star power at offensive skill positions

Sure, there have been numerous fits and starts as the Raiders continue to get acclimated to first-year coach Josh McDaniels' scheme, even after seven games. But there is far too much star power 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 surely they'll right the ship soon, no? Plus, Las Vegas is about to enter the soft underbelly of its schedule.--Paul Gutierrez

28.Carolina Panthers(2-6)

Week 8 ranking:30

Reason for optimism:NFC South is a mess

Despite Sunday's overtime loss to the Falcons, the Panthers remain only two games back in the loss column to Atlanta and are only one game out of second place. They also are 2-1 in the division and get the Falcons again on Nov. 10. So like the 2014 season, when they were 3-8-1 with four games left and won out to clinch the division, they still have a shot. And they are playing well enough now to win. --David Newton

29.Jacksonville Jaguars(2-6)

Week 8 ranking:24

Reason for optimism:Travis Etienne Jr.

Etienne is sixth in the NFL in rushing (571 yards) thanks to his 270 yards over the past two games, including 156 against the Denver Broncos in London on Sunday. Etienne started the season as James Robinson's backup, but by the end of the first month he was outperforming Robinson. The Jaguars eventually made him the starter and traded Robinson to the New York Jets. Now, Etienne is on pace to come close to Fred Taylor's rookie rushing record (1,223 yards in 1998). With the Jaguars on a five-game losing streak, Etienne is one of the few bright spots.--Michael DiRocco

30.Pittsburgh Steelers(2-6)

Week 8 ranking:29

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

There's not much to be optimistic about after the undefeated Eagles soundly dismantled the Steelers, but some help 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 just eight sacks since Week 2 -- tied for lowest in the league with the Falcons over that stretch. Watt can't fix everything that ails the Steelers, but his presence can still give the defense a significant boost.--Brooke Pryor

31.Detroit Lions(1-6)

Week 8 ranking:31

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

The focus on the Lions for HBO's "Hard Knocks" may have given the public some sort of false hope that they would be much better than they are. Through seven games, one win certainly isn't acceptable, but Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp told reporters last week that she continues to believe in head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes to turn things around. Detroit has a pair of first-round picks in the upcoming 2023 draft with a lot of young talent on the current roster, and if they're properly developed, they could help change the losing culture in Motown. --Eric Woodyard

32.Houston Texans(1-5-1)

Week 8 ranking:32

Reason for optimism:Rookie class

Optimism may seem hard to find this season, but there is one factor: the 2022 draft class. The Texans rookie class yielded four starters in cornerbackDerek Stingley Jr., left guard Kenyon Green, safety Jalen Pitre and running back Dameon Pierce. Quarterbacks have a 56% completion rate when Stingley is the nearest defender, and he has an interception; Green has started the majority of the season; Pitre has five tackles for loss, one sack and two interceptions; and Pierce leads all rookie running backs in rushing (539 yards) and ranks 12th in the league.--DJ Bien-Aime

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