The Patriots are this week’s biggest disappointment. The Ravens and Giants are this week’s best. More division match-ups await in Week 10. No bye weeks in Week 10, should be a great week for some football.
1. (1) Green Bay Packers (8-0): The Chargers were able to push the Packers into a close one late in the game, but the Pack showed enough resiliency to win a shootout and command the 1 spot for another week. Easy Monday Night match-up against the Vikings coming up.
2. (2) SF 49ers (7-1): The Giants retain their 2 ranking by a win over the sinking Redskins. Crazy to believe a college coach and his Defensive Coordinator can commandeer the top defensive unit in the NFL in just their first season. These guys are for real. Barring a Frank Gore injury (he’s been most of the offense thus far), this team should capture the NFL West title with a win this weekend. However, it won’t be easy, as the Niners head into their biggest challenge of the season against the Giants at home on Sunday.
3. (4) Detroit Lions (6-2): The Lions climb up the charts by default following a bye. Tough challenge this weekend against the Bears at Soldier Field. Hopefully Da Bears can reassert their dominance over the former gutter-dwelling Lions. Matt Stafford is due for a season-ending injury… Just saying…
4. (5) NY Giants (6-2): Another team benefiting from the Steelers loss. A huge win against the Patriots also helps. The Giants look poised to march their way towards the NFC East title, currently holding a big lead over the Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins. This was done without RB Ahmad Bradshaw, who should jumpstart the offense once he returns from injury. Defense is starting to hit its’ strides. Once that unit plays optimally, this team is dangerous. While we all hate Tom Coughlin, you gotta give him credit at this juncture of the season.
5. (8) Baltimore Ravens (6-2): Despite mediocre games against Jacksonville and Arizona, beating the Steelers AGAIN and on the road will solidify the Ravens as the AFC favorite. In our rankings, the Ravens are the top AFC team, and barring any more setbacks, they could hold this spot for the rest of the year. Easy cake walk against Seattle on Sunday.
6. (3) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3): The Steelers defense is for real and Big Ben is having a career year. Still, they can’t seem to figure out Baltimore this season. Those losses will hurt moving forward, especially considering the two play in the same division. Could cost Pittsburgh a first round bye. While Baltimore gets an easy match-up this weekend, Pittsburgh faces the upstart Bengals, who are currently tied for the division lead. Big week for the Steelers to show what they are made of.
7. (7) Houston Texans (6-3): Matt Schaub doesn’t need to throw the ball when he has the two-headed monster that is Arian Foster and Ben Tate both taking carries out of the backfield. Those two shred the Browns D to pieces last weekend and should continue to do so moving forward. This team should easily win the AFC South at this point, especially given how bad Indy is. Favorable warm-weather game against Tampa coming up this weekend.
8. (9) New Orleans Saints (6-3): Avoided the season sweep by Tampa, which has to be a positive. But they almost let Tampa come back. Darren Sproles is the wild card of this group and needs to be given more chances in the offensive scheme. He allows Drew Brees to throw to more open receivers when he’s on the field as well. Big play propensity will always lead to a winning formula. Sproles gives you that ability. Saints should win the NFC South, but could see an early playoff exit as they have shown some weaknesses against top teams. Huge game against top division rival Atlanta this weekend.
9. (11) Chicago Bears (5-3): The Bears seemed to have figured it out on offense. Short drops by Cutler coupled by his ability to move out of the pocket have proven effective. Forte had 2 fumbles against the Eagles (his first of the season) didn’t matter, as the Bears still won. The D is stepping up as well. Forte will continue to carry the offense, the D will continue to force fumbles, and Hester will continue to give the Bears a chance to catch up and snag a wild card out of the NFC North.
10. (12) Cincinnati Bengals (6-2): An easy schedule has prohibited this young, upstart squad from climbing the charts. However, they can finally prove to me they’re worthy of the top five with a win this weekend over the Steelers. They still have two games each against Pittsburgh and Baltimore. While this team has an awesome future (especially considering the draft picks they stole from Oakland in the Carson Palmer deal), it’s still premature to anoint them a playoff team.
11. (6) New England Patriots (5-3): Another subpar defeat will make the Pats our biggest faller this week. Tom Brady is a shell of his former self, the defense is awful, and the running game is virtually non-existent. Maybe the release of DT Albert Haynesworth will send a message to these guys. They are in the thick of an AFC East race they should be winning. Even the Bills look fair game to overtake the Pats at this point. Awesome Sunday night game this weekend against the division rival Jets.
12. (13) NY Jets (5-3): The Jets are finally starting to come around. The defense flexed its’ muscles in defeating the upstart Bills. They need to do it again this Sunday Night against New England. Doing so will cement them at the top of the AFC East. Their schedule is one of the easiest in the NFL moving forward, and the AFC East title is theirs for the taking.
13. (10) Buffalo Bills (5-3): This surprise team took a step back in a tough defeat against the Jets last week. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had his worst game of the year, getting stuck all night on Revis Island. Still, Fred Jackson’s emergence always gives this team a chance to win, regardless of the opponent. Hard to tell whether they will stick, but it’s tough to cheer against them. They have a chance to keep up with a win against Dallas this weekend.
14. (14) Atlanta Falcons (5-3): They should be higher than this perhaps, but they beat the Colts… LSU could currently beat the Colts. In that game however, Julio Jones proved his worth, making this WR tandem one of the most dangerous in the league. Big game against the division-rival Saints this weekend.
15. (15) San Diego Chargers (4-4): Eek Philip Rivers, 2 pick sixes?! I understand you faced a touch Packers secondary, but what happened to last year’s Phil Rivers. It’s hard to tell whether Rivers has regressed, or whether he’s hiding an injury, but something is up and needs to be fixed now. The AFC West is weak and theirs for the taken, but Rivers must improve or else the Chiefs will snag it out from under them.
16. (19) Dallas Cowboys (4-4): Sorry Felix Jones, DeMarco Murray is the future of the Dallas run game. Murray further established himself as a dominant runner against a stout Seattle Front-7. Challenges are ahead, but it’s too early to throw Dallas out of contention. Romo needs to step it up and win without Miles Austin. Tough match-up this week against this year’s Cinderella, Buffalo.
17. (17) Tennessee Titans (4-4): This team is mediocre. Plain and simple. Matt Hasselbeck – mediocre. Defense – mediocre. Chris Johnson – underwhelming. Receivers – overachieving. Those two balanced out – mediocre. This team is poised for an 8-8 finish without the playoffs. All in all, pretty boring to follow.
18. (16) Philadelphia Eagles (3-5): Speaking of underwhelming, check out Philly. Especially their defense. The Eagles should be on top of the NFC East, but have consistently failed to close out games in the 4th quarter. Vick continues to throw costly picks, the WR’s continue to drop costly passes. LeSean McCoy has been the lone bright spot. But his nickname? Shady? C’mon Man, Eminem patented that years ago. Be original, especially for how talented you are. I refuse to call you “Shady” – Eminem holds that moniker.
19. (18) Kansas City Chiefs (4-4): EEEEEK! Not only did they lose to Miami, they got straight up spanked! This should not fly for the team currently tied for the AFC West lead. That cannot happen moving forward. All I know is whoever wins the AFC West will not do much in the playoffs. MUST beat Denver this weekend.
20. (20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4): Something tells me the Bucs inconsistency will bite them in the ass very soon, if it hasn’t already. This team shows a few bright spots, but all in all this team will probably finish under .500. This week’s game against Houston does not help matters at all.
21. (22) Minnesota Vikings (2-6): Add Minny to the list of rising teams who can make other team’s lives hell, but still won’t make any playoff noise. Christian Ponder is promising, but took over this bunch 3 weeks too late. Especially in the stacked NFC North, it’s difficult to make noise moving forward. Still, look for the Vikes to play second half spoiler to a lot of teams.
22. (21) Oakland Raiders (4-4): Losing to San Diego is one thing – but to Tebow?! Blowing that big of a lead?! It’s been a familiar formula for Oakland this season. See the early season loss to Buffalo. This defense is not as good as we thought, and seems to get tired or zone out of games quite easily. Losing that big to Denver, especially after jumping out to a lead early will make you slip despite a 4-4 record. Looking further and seeing the terrible deal made for Carson Palmer, it’s hard to love these Raiders. Of the three teams tied atop the AFC West, the Raiders hold the least promise moving forward.
23. (23) Carolina Panthers (2-6): Had a bye, don’t move up or down. Cam has been great in the first half, definitely Offensive Rookie of the Year. Still, the defense will prevent this team from contending. Next year’s draft must beef up the Defense on the front-7 and the secondary. Coach Ron Rivera, however, is a great coach to help the defense step up in the future and lead the Cats back into NFC South contention.
24. (24) Washington Redskins (3-5): Your QB is John Beck. You have no running game. You have no receivers core. Essentially, you don’t have an offense. Even the top defensive unit couldn’t make this team a contender. Write this team off quickly. Sorry Skins fans.
25. (25) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6): Has anyone actually seen Blaine Gabbart throw a football? It’s a pretty pathetic sight. This guy needs work. He also has no WR’s. A fun young defense gives this team promise in the future – not this season, though. Shit bowl matchup this weekend against Indy.
26. (30) Denver Broncos (3-5): I threw this team under the bus and they responded with a huge win over Oakland. The crazy part is that the Broncos are only a game behind the 3-way logjam atop the AFC West. They could actually contend for this division. Still, they probably won’t. Too many holes on both sides of the ball. I’m still waiting for Tebow to epically collapse.
27. (26) Cleveland Browns (3-5): Cleveland got lucky with some easy early-season games, but it won’t continue. They’re pretty terrible, and it gets worse as the offense is riddled with injury. They’re lucky to match up against the Rams this weekend.
28. (29) Arizona Cardinals (2-6): Yes, they won. But it was against “division rival” Rams. Any team with John Skelton as their QB and the league’s worst, most porous defense isn’t going to wow anyone. Still, gotta love watching rookie CB/return specialist Patrick Peterson.
29. (31) Miami Dolphins (1-7): Finally got their first win, and in pretty impressive style against the Chiefs. They could even move to 2-7 with a win this weekend over the Redskins. It’s definitely within their reach.
30. (28) Seattle Seahawks (2-6): The fact that the NFC West sports the number 28, 30, and 31 teams in the rankings begs the question of whether division realignment needs to happen soon. Maybe when LA gets a team, this will be a possibility. Seattle is essentially an automatic win these days.
31. (27) St. Louis Rams (1-7): Losing to the Cardinals will bump you down. Here ya go Rams fans. I apologize, but you are abysmal. You’re truly lucky that 1. the Colts are in the NFL, and 2. you get to play the Browns this weekend.
32. (32) Indianapolis Colts (0-9): I just gotta laugh at this team at this point. I’m pretty sure there are numerous college teams (LSU, Bama, Boise State, Stanford, Oregon, Wisconsin), UFL teams, and CFL teams that could beat the Colts at this juncture of the season.