By Don Banks
October 28, 2009

All seems well in the world again in the NFL, and normalcy is definitely on the comeback trail as Week 8 dawns. I mean, Brett Favre's back playing at Lambeau Field, the Patriots, Steelers and Cowboys are all starting to put it together and get on a roll, and another wasted season has already gone belly up for the Raiders, Redskins and Browns.

When you throw in the fact that nobody at this point has to make any silly sojourn over the Atlantic Ocean to play a football game in a soccer stadium, you get the feeling the early season funny stuff is over and the real football time of the year is about to take over.

I know. I'm with you. Bring it on. But first, our Week 8 power rankings: (Send comments to

NFL Power Rankings
1 New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 1
Only once in the history of the awards has the same team produced both the league's offensive and defensive players of the year, with Jamal Lewis and Ray Lewis of the 2003 Baltimore Ravens accomplishing the feat. But after that remarkable Saints comeback win in Miami last Sunday, I'd say quarterback Drew Brees and safety Darren Sharper have a great shot of joining the Lewis's. Both veteran Saints know how to hang up some points.
2 Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 2
With six of Indy's next nine games at home, we're going to start hearing plenty of speculation about the Colts' latest run at a perfect season. So here goes: There's the annual showdown against New England on tap in Week 10 at Indy, a Week 11 trip to Baltimore that could be tricky if the Ravens defense rebounds, and a Week 14 visit from Denver. But those look like the only remaining challenges of the first order.
3 Denver Broncos
Last Week: 4
If I told you before the regular season that one of the teams involved in the Week 8 Broncos-at-Ravens game would feature the NFL's most dominating defense and a coolly efficient quarterback who simply does not turn the ball over, would you have believed I was talking about Denver and not Baltimore? Me neither.
4 Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 3
Despite some pre-draft question marks, the Vikings gambled in 2007 and took Adrian Peterson in the first round. Despite some pre-draft question marks, the Vikings gambled in 2009 and took Percy Harvin in the first round. I'd say both of those gambles have paid off rather handsomely. That settles it. I'm taking Brad Childress with me to Vegas.
5 New England Patriots
Last Week: 6
It feels utterly weird to write this, but the Patriots actually feel like an under-the-radar team these days. The road losses to the Jets and Broncos made them look downright vulnerable, and the blowouts against the winless Titans and Bucs haven't really earned them much respect. In other words, Bill Belichick and the boys have us exactly where they want us. Not paying close enough attention.
6 Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 10
Here's a little statistical formula that's far more accurate when it comes to analyzing quarterback play than the NFL's obtuse passer rating mumbo-jumbo: If your QB has a game where he throws for more touchdowns than incompletions, he's had a good day. The Bengals' Carson Palmer had five of the former and just four of the latter against Chicago on Sunday.
7 Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 8
The defending champs enter their bye weekend on one of the quieter four-game winning streaks I can ever recall, but that was a headline victory against the undefeated Vikings. It was the defense that had to save the day with those two fourth-quarter touchdown returns, but Pittsburgh always wins a game or two a year by flexing its muscle on that side of the ball. This is a Steelers team that's still feeling its way a bit, but 5-2 is nothing to quibble with at the break.
8 Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 9
Who said midseason trades rarely amount to much in the NFL? Newly acquired Eagles linebacker Will Witherspoon played like a guy who had just been handed a new lease on life against the Redskins Monday night, and I guess in a football sense, he had. Going from winless St. Louis to contending Philadelphia ought to get the juices flowing, or there's something amiss to start.
9 Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 12
We don't know much about new Cardinals defensive coordinator Bill Davis, but I've got a feeling that's going to change. Arizona's swarming defense was really the story of the game the other night against the Giants, and the Cardinals are getting the job done against the rush better than anyone in the league (67.5 yards per game, 3.0 per carry). The passing game used to be king in Arizona, but these newly minted top 10-dwelling Cardinals are a one-dimensional team no more.
10 New York Giants
Last Week: 5
This isn't the version of Eli Manning you want heading into Philadelphia. I expect Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to try to keep No. 10 good and rattled, with an assortment of blitzes and pressure packages. For the first time since November 2007 or so, Manning looks hesitant, unsure of where he wants to go with the ball, and just generally out of sync. Maybe a road game will re-focus the Giants offense, because New York usually thrives on the road. It had better, or the Giants will have their first three-game losing streak since Weeks 11-13 of 2006.
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