It’s been very hard to figure out the best teams in the NFL this year from week-to-week. After being spanked by the Browns last week, New England dominated Pittsburgh and has reclaimed the top spot somewhat by default. Baltimore only slips to No. 2 because of how poorly they played in Atlanta yet still almost won, and the fact that the teams behind them either lost or were completely unimpressive in their victories.
1. New England – What an impressive performance in Pittsburgh. You do not want to play this team after a loss.
2. Baltimore – The Ravens played horribly on a very short week on the road against a team that dominates opponents in their dome and lost on the final drive of the game, which was aided by questionable calls. If they can ever put it all together, watch out.
3. New York Jets – For the second straight week, the Jets were extremely lucky in sneaking away with a victory. They are either becoming a team of destiny or likely to run out of luck when they face better teams over the final 7 weeks.
4. Pittsburgh – The Steelers’ defense is vulnerable against the pass if you can protect the quarterback from their blitz packages. It’s a wonder why teams don’t try to spread them out and throw all over the field against them.
5. Indianapolis – The Colts had no business winning Sunday, but the Bengals wouldn’t accept their gift. Peyton Manning struggled mightily with a dwindling cast of receivers.
6. New Orleans – New Orleans’ defense is quietly putting together a very nice season.
7. Atlanta – It was a good win over the Ravens, but they had everything going in their favor. This team still needs to show they can win on the road and outside of a dome.
8. New York Giants – Just when you thought the Giants were about to ascend to the top of the rankings, they get beaten handily by Dallas. They need to get some things fixed before their big showdown against Philadelphia next week.
9. Green Bay – It’s a big game for Green Bay next week in Minnesota, when Aaron Rodgers can end Brett Favre’s season.
10. Philadelphia – The Eagles looked awfully impressive against the Redskins. Michael Vick was out of this world.
11. Miami – Despite playing three quarterbacks, the Dolphins still cruised past the Titans. I actually think Tyler Thigpen might be their best signal-caller.
12. San Diego – Suddenly, the Chargers find themselves just one game out first place in the division.
13. Tennessee – Chris Johnson got untracked, but Randy Moss was a non-factor. The quarterback position is still cause for concern.
14. Minnesota – The Vikings playoff hopes are officially on life support, but stop blaming Brett Favre. He isn’t playing as well this year, but he hasn’t been terrible. His receivers are clueless when it comes to running routes, and they spend more time on the ground than running downfield.
15. Tampa Bay – With the Vikings struggling and the East a mess, Tampa Bay could be the third team from the South to reach the playoffs.
16. Kansas City – That’s now two straight losses for the Chiefs, which has completely erased their lead in the AFC West.
17. Houston – That’s a really tough way to lose a game, but they only have themselves to blame for falling behind against Jacksonville.
18. Cleveland – The Browns’ slim playoff hopes pretty much disappeared in Sunday’s overtime loss, but there is finally some hope for this franchise.
19. Oakland – Could the Raiders make it two straight victories in Pittsburgh?
20. Cincinnati – The Bengals have plenty of talent, especially on offense, but turnovers have just killed them this year. The Colts gift-wrapped them Sunday’s game, but they refused to accept it.
21. Denver – The Broncon spent the bye week getting back to what they do best, and the result was 49 points against a stingy Kansas City defense.
22. Chicago – Jay Cutler is just a disastrous waiting to happen against a good defense, but at least he has his own to back him up.
23. Washington – The Redskins made a huge mistake re-signing McNabb to a big contract, then were completely embarassed by the Eagles. The more things change, the more they stay the same in DC.
24. San Francisco – The Troy Smiths are now 2-0 and rapidly rising in the NFC West.
25. Detroit – A valiant comeback in Buffalo, but you have to at least give your wide receiver a chance to make a play on the two-point conversion attempt.
26. St. Louis – What a tough loss in overtime for the Rams, who are still seeking their first road win.
27. Jacksonville – Don’t look now, but the upstart Jaguars are just another hail mary away from first place in the division.
28. Dallas – It’s only one week, but the Cowboys looked like a different team under new head coach Jason Garrett.
29. Seattle – The Seahawks bounced back in a big way from last week’s debacle and are somehow in first place in the NFC West.
30. Arizona – It’s amazing how far this team has fallen because of the major drop-off at one position from last year to this year.
31. Buffalo – Fred Jackson and the Bills defense carries them to their first win of the year. Chan Gailey and Co. can now breathe a huge sigh of relief.
32. Carolina – The Panthers hung tough against the Bucs for most of the day, which was something of a moral victory.