Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Week 8 Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: October 27, 2013 - 8:17 AM

What would you rather do on a Sunday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Colts (5-2)
Why:
Want to hover near the top of the league for, oh, about 30 years? Draft a future Hall of Fame quarterback No. 1 overall, have him carry your entire franchise, holes and all, for 14 seasons, have him get hurt, allowing you to post the league’s worst record, get lucky that it’s the right year to have the No. 1 overall pick (Tim Couch: No. Jamarca Russell: No. Andrew Luck: Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!), pick the league’s next great quarterback, have him lead you to the playoffs as a rookie and, finally, have him beat the future Hall of Fame quarterback you picked a decade and a half ago. It’s all pretty simple stuff, really.

THE REST
2. Seahawks (6-1); 3. Broncos (6-1); 4. Chiefs (7-0); 5. 49ers (5-2); 6. Bengals (5-2); 7. Packers (4-2); 8. Patriots (5-2); 9. Saints (5-1); 10. Chargers (4-3); 11. Cowboys (4-3); 12. Panthers (4-3); 13. Jets (4-3);  14. Lions (4-3); 15. Steelers (2-4); 16. Bills (3-4); 17. Ravens (3-4); 18. Cardinals (3-4); 19. Redskins (2-4); 20. Bears (4-3); 21. Dolphins (3-3); 22. Titans (3-4); 23. Eagles (3-4); 24. Browns (3-4); 25. Falcons (2-4); 26. Raiders (2-4); 27. Rams (3-4); 28. Giants (1-6); 29. Texans (2-5).

THE VIKINGS
30. Vikings 1-5 (Last week: 29):
We’re two blind squirrels (Jaguars, Schianos) finding two nuts (wins) from the Vikings performing as the worst team in the entire league.

THE REST OF THE REST
31. Buccaneers (0-7).

WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Jaguars (0-7):
NFL coaches are always striving for consistency. If nothing else, the Jags are consistent.

THE PICKS

VIKINGS
Packers minus-8 ½ at Vikings: Packers 28, Vikings 14:
The complete lack of logic associated with most NFL games suggests former QB of the future-turned-throwaway-turned-emergency-starter Christian Ponder leads the Vikings to a stunning victory with a turnover-free performance that leaves the Vikings once again stumped over what to do at the QB position. But as long as Aaron Rodgers isn’t one of the injured flies dropping in Green Bay, I’ll take the Packers.

Last week: Vikings plus-3 ½ at Giants. The pick: Giants 21, Vikings 14. The final: Giants 23, Vikings 7. Record: 2-4, 1-5 vs. the spread.

UPSET SPECIAL
Steelers minus-2 ½ at Raiders: Raiders 24, Steelers 21.

Why?: The Steelers’ hot streak is due to end because the Steelers are coming off the Ravens game and, well, they really aren’t that good this year. 

Last week: Patriots minus-3 ½ at Jets. The pick: Jets 19, Patriots 16 OT. The final: Jets 30, Patriots 27. Record: 1-6.

THE REST
49ers minus-15 vs. Jaguars at London: 49ers by 18.
Cowboys plus-3 at Lions: Cowboys by 7.
Giants plus-5 ½ at Eagles: Eagles by 7.
Browns plus-7 ½ at Chiefs: Chiefs by 3.
Bills plus-11 at Saints: Saints by 14.
Dolphins plus-6 at Patriots: Patriots by 7.
Jets plus-5 at Bengals: Bengals by 7.
Redskins plus-11 ½ at Broncos: Broncos by 10.
Falcons plus-2 ½ at Cardinals: Cardinals by 3.
Seahawks minus-11 at Rams: Seahawks by 14.
 

Record: Last week: 11-3; 7-7 vs. the spread. Overall: 54-45; 38-59-2 vs. the spread.

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