Every Tuesday during the NFL season, Colin puts out his Herd Hierarchy NFL power rankings, and there’s movement after Week 8. This week, the Rams drop, the Vikings are back in, and there’s a new #1.
Here are his Top 10 teams after Week 8:
10. Minnesota Vikings – Colin likes the Vikings, even with backup Case Keenum under center, and it’s mostly because they have one of the best defenses in the league. The Minnesota D is ranked 3rd in total defense (282.1 net YPG), 4th in rushing defense (81.4 YPG), scoring defense (16.9 PPG), and elite pass-rusher Everon Griffen is tied for 2nd in the NFL with 10 sacks.
The Vikings offense may not be spectacular, but because they rank 5th in the league in time of possession (31:27), it gives them a chance to win. They’d be higher if they had an above average quarterback.
9. L.A. Rams – The Rams are still good enough to make the Top 10, but they can’t seriously contend because Jared Goff isn’t there quite yet. In his last four games, Goff is completing just 53.9% of his passes, with 4 TD’s, 3 INT’s, and a passer rating of just 74.2.
Colin loves their pass rush, run game and they may have the best special teams in the NFL, but they aren’t ready to make a deep playoff run this year.
8. Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs defense has been a problem, which is why they’ve dropped to 8 after holding the top spot for several weeks earlier in the year. They’re 30th in the NFL in yards per play allowed, and have given up 29 or more points in 4 of the last 5 weeks.
Offensively, K.C. leads the NFL in yards per play (6.26), and Alex Smith has 16 touchdowns and 0 INT’s through 8 weeks, but they’ve been held under 100 yards rushing in their last 3 games after rushing for more than 100 in their first 5. They need to get their defense figured out and the biggest question is if they can get it done in the playoffs.
7. New Orleans Saints – New Orleans is the one of the surprise teams in the NFL because they’re playing real defense and running the ball.
The Saints have 11 takeaways during their current 5-game win streak with at least 1 turnover in each of those games, and are only allowing 4.67 yards per play over that span. They’re also averaging 138 rush yards per game during the streak, with 7 TD’s on the ground. Drew Brees and Sean Payton have turned it around thanks to their new found balance.
6. Houston Texans – Houston and Deshaun Watson have been impressive, but the loss of All-Pro tackle Duane Brown in a trade with Seattle hurts. They’ve allowed a QB pressure on 43.2% of dropbacks, which is the worst in the NFL. Brown would have helped shore up the protection, but now he’s gone.
Since Will Fuller returned in Week 4, Watson is averaging 9.44 yards per pass, with 16 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and a passer rating of 116.0. Colin likes the roster, weapons and Watson has exceeded all reasonable expectations.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers have turned it around after a slow start because they’re pounding Le’Veon Bell. During their 3-game win streak, Bell is averaging 30.7 rushes per game and 129.7 yards per game, and in his career, Pittsburgh is 19-0 when he gets 23 or more carries in a game.
Defensively, Pittsburgh is 1 of 2 teams to have multiple sacks in all 8 games, and has the 3rd best scoring defense in the league (16.4 PPG).
4. Dallas Cowboys – Colin still has the Cowboys at 4, despite the apparent loss of Ezekiel Elliott for 6 weeks because he loves their offensive and defensive line play. Dallas ranks 2nd in rushing offense (150.6 YPG), 5th in scoring (28.3 PPG), but will need a running back by committee to replace Elliott, who is tied for 1st in rushing touchdowns (6), and 3rd in total scrimmage yards per game (128.6). Colin thinks they can still get production from Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris behind their mashing o-line until Zeke returns.
Demarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks, and as a team Dallas ranks 5th in the NFL with 25 sacks. The Dallas D has been one of the most surprising units in the NFL. Dak will need to step up with the absence of Elliott.
3. New England Patriots – This New England offense may be the deepest, personnel wise, they’ve had in the Belichick era. They’re 1st in total offense (411.1 YPG), 1st in passing offense (302.1 YPG), and Tom Brady leads the NFL in passing yards per game (317.6), and is 2nd in passer rating (106.5).
They’re still terrible defensively, ranking 32nd in yards per play allowed (6.59), total defense (417 YPG), and passing defense (295.5 YPG Allowed). Colin still thinks Brady and Belichick can get it done in the playoffs if they can just get the defense to average.
2. Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles picked up Jay Ajayi, which gives them a scary downhill running back combo, along with LeGarrette Blount. Carson Wentz is tied for the NFL lead with 19 touchdown passes, and as a team they rank 1st in the NFL in time of possession (33:57), scoring differential (+76), and are scoring touchdowns on 68% of their red zone trips.
They lead the NFL in rushing defense, allowing just 70.4 yards per game, and are only allowing opponents to convert 31% on third downs. Philly is a contender.
- Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks are coming off an impressive win over a tough Houston team, and just bolstered their below average o-line by picking up All-Pro tackle Duane Brown from them in a trade.
Since Week 3, Seattle ranks 1st in passing offense (318.6 YPG), 2nd in total offense (411.0 YPG), and 3rd in scoring (30.8 PPG). Russell Wilson is 2nd in the NFL with 286.9 passing yards per game. Seattle has the pieces to get it done and win it all. Colin moves them up to 1 this week.
The Seahawks are the best team in the NFL
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) October 31, 2017