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NFL Power Rankings, Week 8: Dallas Cowboys' climb continues

NFL Power Rankings for Week 8 are here -- and for the first time this month, we don't have a new No. 1.

Much grumbling in the comments and on twitterdom (@HarrisonNFL) over the Chargers being toppled in the Power Rankings by the Broncoslast week. There was no such top-of-the-chart movement this week, although there will be plenty of people wanting a certain NFC team with stars on offense -- and a star on its helmet -- to take that spot. Not yet, folks.

Yeah, I was pretty proud of that one. Word to your lab partner.

I will never forget ... until today.

Unfortunately, bye weeks make it tough on all of us. My general rule of thumb: Don't move teams who are on their bye, and if it must be done, move them one spot only, and for a darn good reason. Can we say the Eagles should go up a rung? Have they been playing as consistently as the Cowboys? No. This last home win for Dallas was too much to ignore, as is the Cowboys' six-game win streak.

As for the rest of the teams, you know the drill. Share your take ... @HarrisonNFL is the place. And check out NFL NOW, where we've been answering many of your tweets.

With that, let the dissension commence!

(Note: Arrows reflect change in standings from the most recent Power Rankings.)

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Congrats to Peyton Manning. It's hard to wrap your brain around 510 touchdown passes. If 25 touchdowns per season is considered a good number, then it would take a pretty solid quarterback a mere 20-plus seasons to match what Manning has accomplished in 15 1/2. The record-breaking 509th pass was wobbly -- and, of course, accurate, which is really all that matters.


 DeMarco Murray has really shown us something this season. And I'm not talking about productivity -- I'm talking about 
 *durability*. The holes were not there much of the day 
 against the Giants, yet Murray made something out of nothing en route to 128 rushing yards. And 
 Tony Romo? Completed some unreal throws in some tight windows. 

The bye provided the Birds with an opportunity to get their offensive line a wee bit healthier. And Nick Foles got an extra week to figure out on tape what we've all been seeing on TV: He's still missing receivers in stride.

You think Jordy Nelson is having a good season? He's only on pace for a mere 107 catches, 1,627 yards and 13 touchdowns.

And that was a certifiable blowout against the Panthers on Sunday.

If the Colts' defense plays like it did on Sunday for the rest of the year, this will be a Super Bowl team. That was just the third time in 17 years that Indy shut out an opponent, following a 23-0 win over the Titans in 2008 and a 41-0 blanking of the Dolphins [ in 1997.

](http://www.nfl.com/schedules/1997/REG/Colts) For that Week 16 triumph over Dan Marino and Co., Jim Harbaugh was the Colts' quarterback, while Peyton Manning was still looking like a 13-year-old for the Tennessee Vols. And we were all still a few years away from having to listen to Britney Spears -- OK, maybe just one.

Yep, that's the Arizona Cardinals you see atop the big, bad NFC West. The beauty of their position is, the Cards have already beaten the second-place 49ers and won the last time they traveled to Seattle. Given the Seahawks' two-game losing skid, why shouldn't we look at Arizona?

The Chargers' hot streak cooled considerably in front of the home folk Sunday, partially because Philip Rivers wasn't on his game. But all is not lost. Consider that San Diego was not operating at its highest level -- and yet only lost by a field goal. I'm confident the Bolts will be playing meaningful January football.

Another blowout victory for the Ravens, who might be the least-noticed 5-2 club in the NFL. Not here, though. Amazing that a seventh-year pro like Justin Forsett -- who carried the ball all of six times for Jacksonville last year -- is putting up the numbers he is for Baltimore, averaging 5.8 yards per tote. Tell me Forsett doesn't look a whole lot more effective than you know who did last season ...

Seattle's special teams unit was a huge part of the victory in Super Bowl XLVIII. It was the only thing that kept the Seahawks from getting blown out by Dallas in Week 6. And yet, on Sunday, it was responsible for the loss in St. Louis.

Oh, and at this point, anyone who thinks Russell Wilson is a glorified "game manager" -- or clearly inferior to Andrew Luck -- is crazy. Wilson threw for 313 yards and ran for 106 against the Rams -- without committing a single turnover.

In case you were still wondering, Tom Brady is not over the hill. In fact, I think he plays better with that *Kenny Loggins-in-1986* mini-beard. Thursday night's 27-25 win over a bad football team might have seemed too close for comfort, but remember that the Jets were pulling out all the stops. New England's run defense, though ... Stevie and Sir Paul were harder on the synthesizers on "Ebony and Ivory" than the Pats were on New York running back Chris Ivory. Holy cow.

The defense, which is allowing just 15 points per game (second-best in the NFL), continues to carry Detroit. I received much Twitter traffic regarding my "disrespecting" the Lions -- but only after they took that very late fourth-quarter lead over the Saints. I don't blame fans for waiting that long; it's hard to have confidence when the offense is so inconsistent. I, too, thought New Orleans would hang on. Clutch interception, Glover Quin.

Let's just say the 49ers did not put their best foot forward Sunday night. Jim Harbaugh didn't even have the energy to act like a maniac. Nice of Stevie Johnson to contribute the way he has been, however. Next up: the bye, then hosting those pesky Rams.

You'll notice a nice jump indicator for your Kansas City Chiefs. Consider it a high -- but deserved -- leap following a win over the Chargers in San Diego by a squad enjoying the health and renewed vigor an appropriately timed bye can bring.

On another note, a special lady friend asked me the following question: "Who is that in all red on the sideline? He sure is a big boy." Three guesses as to who she was asking about ... oh, and it wasn't a player.

Seriously. Seriously. Could the Bengals have played *any* worse? If you closed your eyes and turned the volume off Sunday, you might've sworn David Klingler was out there for Cincy, missing throws to a wide open Harold Green and Jeff Query, while on defense, Dan Wilkinson and Keith Rucker were failing to get to the opposing quarterback. #throwbackSunday #90sBengaldom

Two forced fumbles and a pick -- that's what I'm talking about. Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau had been under fire for recent failures on that side of the ball, particularly the blown assignments in Cleveland. Well, that side of the ball won the day -- er, evening -- for the Steelers on Monday. Trend ... or anomaly? That is the question.

Now *that* is how you get your first-round draft pick involved, folks. Sure, Sunday's game was bugly (Buffalo ugly). But hey, man -- a win is a win is a win. I got on this team for the manner in which it was able to prevail in Detroit in Week 5 (via some nice, old-fashioned luck), but in the triumph over the Vikings, Kyle Orton -- sans 'stache -- was able to put a couple of throws right where they needed to be. Let's just hope Bryce Brown, Anthony Dixon and whichever Turd Ferguson the Bills sign off the street can provide balance on the ground in the absence of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.

Ryan Tannehill has taken a lot of heat, but you have to hand it to him. He was on point time and again in Chicago, ultimately going 25 of 32 for 277 yards and two touchdowns. He also pulled a Kaepernick, running for nearly 50 yards Sunday ... and he actually won his game. The only complaint is that he still isn't connecting on the deep ball -- once again, no completions of 30-plus yards.

Sizeable drop for the Brownies this week. It's completely fair, given the grade-F performance delivered by the offense in Jacksonville. Brian Hoyer threw for nearly as many yards as he did against Pittsburgh in Week 6 (215 against the Jags, 217 against the Steelers) -- but he needed 24 more attempts to do it. At least Cleveland made up for it with a sucky run game.

Somebody wake the Panthers' defense and tell those guys the season started. Perhaps it's now safe to assume we will not have a repeat winner of the Coach of the Year award.

Say what you want about the Giants -- that they are inconsistent, aren't contenders or are overrated -- but don't lay it at Eli Manning's feet. He threw three touchdown passes against zero interceptions and kept his team in the game on the road in Dallas. He can't play tight end. That's right; I said it. The Mannings didn't invent football. They aren't Al Gore, you know.

I understand those Bears fans who have a real issue with Jay Cutler. At least when Moses Moreno and Peter Tom Willis were under center for Chicago, you could always hang your hat on the fact they would stink. I haven't seen a high-level quarterback as streaky as Cutler since Dave Krieg -- yep, he played for the Bears, too.

Sure, the turnovers hurt like heck. But so do the little things. In the fourth quarter on Monday, the Texans, who were trailing, 24-16, were trying to stop the Steelers on third-and-4 -- and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's unit gifted Ben Roethlisberger a first down via a 5-yard penalty for having too many men on the field. Later in the same possession, Houston had Big Ben and Co. facing a third-and-10 -- and offered a bailout worthy of TARP in the form of a defensive holding call. Given another drive-sustaining first down, the Steelers proceeded to tack on a very important field goal. The highlights will show you the dramatic stuff; I present to you the game-altering stuff.

New Orleans hung in there with Detroit; frankly, the Saints should've had this one. At some point, Sean Payton's offense must give its Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback some help. No one was open for Drew Brees on that final stanza, while the ostensibly complementary ground game did nothing to elicit any compliments. Yes, New Orleans' runners have been averaging 4.92 yards per carry, second-best in the NFL. But they've been used so inconsistently -- only the Buccaneers and Raiders have fewer total rushing attempts thus far -- that they haven't made much of a difference for Brees.

Rams punter Johnny Hekker is on pace to finish the season with a 118.8 passer rating -- meaning the Texans' front office has likely already inquired about him. Put aside, for a moment, the gamesmanship and strategic brilliance of the *fake-setup, field-the-ball-on-the-other-side* trick -- how fun was it to watch? You really couldn't understand the creativity of Stedman Bailey's touchdown return without seeing it from multiple angles. And while we're at it, we should note that the second-year pro made one heck of an over-the-shoulder grab to snare the punt. Too bad Bailey can't do that on balls thrown by his quarterback.

I want to hear from any Redskins fans who foresaw Colt McCoy doing that Sunday (find me, as always, @HarrisonNFL). You can talk about Peyton Manning's record, DeMarco Murray's billion-yard pace or the Rams reinventing the punt return, but the old Colt going 11 for 12 and delivering a win? No way, man. Biggest surprise of Week 7.

Teddy Bridgewater could use one of those hot tubs they advertise on the History Channel at 3 a.m. Poor guy has taken a pounding the past two weeks, including in Sunday's loss, during which Buffalo blitzed on over a third of his dropbacks. Truth be told, Minnesota is down to its last healthy group of guys up front. Next, the Vikings will be hitting up Medieval Times to find some linemen. Time for the guy who's taken 13 sacks in the past nine days to get a little TLC.

Nothing cures the aches and pains of a four-game losing streak like settling into a middle seat for a trans-Atlantic flight with some bad microwaved TV dinners on the menu. If you're a Falcons fan, or just so happen to be Steve Bartkowski, you'll note that Lions-Falcons starts in London at 9:30 a.m. ET next Sunday. That's 6:30 in the morning on the West Coast. Hey, it's never too early for football.

Tennessee loses again, and we can't even blame Charlie Whitehurst. He fared OK, while the defense did its job (well, until it let Colt McCoy play like Roger Staubach) -- and yet, the Titans couldn't come up with the 20 points they needed to win in Washington. What's the biggest problem, Titans fans? Is Jake Locker really the difference? (Hit me up @HarrisonNFL.)

After reading about Rex Ryan punching a wall following Thursday night's loss, all I could think was, "What was his PSI?" Remember when Ivan Drago -- the most perfectly trained athlete -- was hitting 1,850 in his white tights?

 Enter the newly acquired Percy Harvin, who, with the proper attitude, could help this offense tremendously. Read that sentence again, as it contains the reason that the 
 Jets wanted him -- 
 reflects why the 
 Seahawks likely wanted to get rid of him. 

The good news: Tampa Bay didn't get blown out this weekend.

The bad news: The Bucs actually have to play next weekend.

Hey, at least they're hosting the Vikings.

Blake Bortles might be at the center of all the media coverage surrounding this franchise, but the rookie signal-caller had little to do with Sunday's win. Big props to coach Gus Bradley's defense, which controlled the tempo of the game and made Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer look bad for the first time all season.

The Cardinals team Oakland lost to is pretty doggone good, lest any Raiders fans find themselves becoming depressed about Sunday's outcome. That said, the offense never got anything going. Interim coach Tony Sparano's mission, should he choose to accept it, is to get some productivity out of a running game that couldn't crack 3 yards per carry. Give Derek Carr some help.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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