We're in Week 8 of the NFL season and it's obvious that Aaron Rodgers has no interest in letting his Green Bay Packers fall by the wayside in the SB Nation Arizona Power Rankings. Insiders say that's Rodgers' sole motivation in pushing the team to a 7-0 record. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are quietly having a good year and the preseason darlings, the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons, are stumbling just a little.
1. Green Bay Packers (7-0): Minnesota Vikings rookie Christian Ponder almost looked like he would upset the Pack, with Minny up 17-13 at halftime. But Rodgers kicked things into high gear, throwing a couple touchdown passes in the second half and Ponder eventually looked rookiesque by throwing a couple of interceptions.
2. New England Patriots (5-1): Tom Brady and Co. are on a bye this week, so they won't get punished for that. Though their defense is among the worst in the NFL, their offense is not, and it's getting the job done so far. One of the Pats' biggest surprises has been their effective running game behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
3. San Francisco 49ers (5-1): The Niners have been the biggest (positive) surprise this season. Their winning ways should continue when they return from the bye to face a mediocre Cleveland Browns team at Candlestick. After that, they'll likely have the NFC West under lockdown.
4. New Orleans Saints (5-2): Drew Brees just spat out a masterful performance against the woeful Indianapolis Colts, throwing more touchdowns (5) than incomplete passes (he was 31-for-35), with no turnovers. Biggest worry: their schedule so far has been soft. Biggest relief: outside of November, it stays pretty soft.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2): With their dispatching of the Arizona Cardinals, the Steelers have now won three in a row, despite their widespread mosaic of injuries. If they can keep it up, Pittsburgh may be in prime position to take the division from the Ravens.
6. Detroit Lions (5-2): Detroit's Cinderellas have lost a couple games in a row, but the competition has been solid. Matthew Stafford's having himself a pretty swell (and healthy) year so far, though his streak of games with at least two touchdown passes just ended against Atlanta, and he just suffered a leg injury.
7. Baltimore Ravens (4-2): Though the Ravens have a decent record, and they've been getting some love as a chic pick, it's the same old story so far: awesome defense, terrible offense. They've been winning mostly in spite of Joe Flacco, who needs to finally step up. But he fell flat on his face on Monday Night Football.
8. New York Giants (4-2): The Giants have the dubious distinction of being the least convincing division leader. Both the Cowboys and Eagles are underperforming and, for the most part, New York has taken advantage of an easy schedule. That loss to the Seahawks is going to bite them hard when things get tougher in November and December.
9. New York Jets (4-3): After a rough start, the Jets have put together a couple of impressive wins, particularly their come-from-behind victory over the Chargers in Week 7. One troubling statistic, though: all of their wins have been at home, and all of their losses on the road. However, their remaining road games are mostly winnable.
10. Atlanta Falcons (4-3): Atlanta hasn't been very impressive early in the season. Wunderkind Matt Ryan has been solidly mediocre, with a 9:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a QB rating of 79.5. His 61 percent completion rate is decent, but it's been all short yardage passes. Michael Turner's been carrying the team with a 4.5-yard-per-carry average and six touchdowns. They remain far from Super Bowl contention.
We're not going to bother with Power Rankings for the rest of the NFL. If your team isn't in the top ten, do you really care if they are 13th or 16th? For the local fans, it's probably best not to be reminded of how poorly the Arizona Cardinals have played.