1. New Orleans (5-0)
New Orleans looks like a completely different team defensively, and continue to roll offensively. Normally this is a team you’d worry about on the road in a place like Chicago, but they were able to take care of the Bears relatively easily. They have a tough test against a Patriots team that gets back Rob Gronkowski, but don’t be surprised to find them 6-0 by the end of the week.
2. Denver (5-0)
That was easily the closest game for the Broncos all season. The offense continues to play well, but it looks like that defense is missing Von Miller. This offense is performing at an historic level, and clearly have the talent level to keep this going. It’ll be interesting to see how they play once the weather changes, but for now they could even be considered the best team in the league.
3. Seattle (4-1)
The Seahawks fall from the ranks of the unbeaten, but might prove to be the best team when it is all said and done. They haven’t been as effective on the road, but they still put up a good fight to a pretty good team in Indianapolis. They’ve got the defense, and enough playmakers on offense. Don’t forget Percy Harvin is expected back sometime this season.
4. Kansas City (5-0)
I still like the Seahawks better than them, but it’s hard putting them much lower when they are one of three undefeated teams. They have playmakers all over the field, and a defense that is as good as any in the league. The offense will continue to improve as the season goes along. They are certainly showing strides each week.
5. New England (4-1)
With the Falcons loss to the Jets, it’s fair to question the teams the Patriots have beaten. But they got to 4-1 with very little at receiver, and had to get through two surprisingly good division rivals to get there. The Patriots should get Gronkowski back, and Danny Amendola is on his way too.
6. Indianapolis (4-1)
The Colts have looked impressive in recent weeks. The defense has been way better than expected, and they play physical on offense. Andrew Luck is showing everyone why he was hyped so much at Stanford. He might already be a top 5 quarterback in the league.
7. San Francisco (3-2)
That’s two blowouts in two weeks. The Niners had a two game skid, but have gotten back to playing physical. They’ve always had the talent, and have bounced back in a big way. Even without Aldon Smith, this is a very good defense.
8. Green Bay (2-2)
Big win against the Lions, but it was without Calvin Johnson. They’ll continue to be the team to beat in the NFC North until someone else beats them. They’ll have to figure out a way to keep the defense going without Clay Matthews, but he’ll be back this season. In the meantime the offense has looked as good as it ever has.
Wait and See
9. Baltimore (3-2)
The Ravens slugged out another tough win. Outside of Flacco’s stinker in Buffalo, they haven’t lost any game they shouldn’t. They’re a team with a lot of new parts and should only get better as the season goes along. They’ve still got to prove they are a good team, and not just a good bad team.
10. Detroit (3-2)
The Lions had a huge win over the Bears. Obviously things didn’t go as well in Green Bay, but they were without their best player, Calvin Johnson. It’s pretty obvious how important he is to that offense. Still there is a lot to like about this team. They have an absolutely dominant defensive line, and finally some balance on offense with Reggie Bush. Oh, and Calvin will be back sooner than later.
11. Chicago (3-2)
It’s been a tough couple weeks for the Bears. After it looked like Marc Trestman had managed to fix the Bears offense, they’ve had two subpar performances. But losses to New Orleans, and the Lions in Detroit shouldn’t completely ruin this team. They still have a good defense, and plenty of positives on offense. They might not be much better than last year, but that team came awful close to making the playoffs.
12. Miami (3-2)
Similar to the Bears, the last two weeks have not been kind to Miami. Both their losses came against quality opponents as well. But that offensive line is a real issue. So is the lack of a true running game. The passing game isn’t enough of a strength to carry them. They’ll have to rely on defense, but luckily for them that unit is pretty good.
13. Cincinnati (3-2)
A loss to Cleveland, then a win against New England. You’re not as bad as you look when you lose, or as good as you look when you win. This team remains average, and, like the Bears, don’t look much better than they were last year. With Brian Hoyer out for the season they have a good chance of at least being the second best team in the division, but will they win enough to make the playoffs.
Need to See More
14. Tennessee (3-2)
A true surprise team this season. They have been a very physical team, and have been in pretty much every game they played. Their losses came in overtime, and in a close game to the undefeated Chiefs (it was closer than the score indicated). It’s tough they lost Jake Locker when he was starting to look like a good option for them. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t terrible, but the Titans are hitting a pretty tough stretch. They have plenty of winnable games in the second half, and could make a real run for a playoff spot this year. It wouldn’t be shocking for them to finish ahead of the Texans.
15. Dallas (2-3)
No it wasn’t a moral victory, but it shows you what kind of offensive firepower the Cowboys have. The defense still needs work, but they have a good defensive line that should give teams that aren’t the Broncos problems. The Chargers loss shows you this team isn’t quite elite, but they’re another team with room to improve throughout the season, and they have to be the favorite to win the NFC East.
16. Houston (2-3)
Ugly doesn’t begin to describe the Texans last two weeks. Poor Matt Schaub. Even with the bad plays he’s had, he is hearing it a lot more than he deserves. Not easy to turn it around when your entire fan base hates you. Their two wins were close, and one even came in overtime. This team is largely here on reputation from previous seasons. But they still have a lot of talent on that roster, and plenty of time to turn things around.
17. New York Jets (3-2)
Seems high till you realize they could easily be ranked higher. The defensive front is unreal. No one has been able to run on them, and they get constant pressure without having to send blitzers. The secondary has struggled, but so far that hasn’t killed them. Oh and the offense has played better than expected. There are going to be stinkers, but this offensive line looks dominant again, and the run game is working well. Geno hasn’t been half bad either. But with this team they can easily go from one extreme to the other. We might see them in the playoffs, or only six wins at the end of the year. But my bet is they’re trending up.
18. Cleveland (3-2)
They’d be higher if it wasn’t for the injury to Hoyer. But then again you have to wonder what the reason is for the offensive turnaround. Hoyer, the return of Josh Gordon, or the Ewing Theory trade of Trent Richardson. They did win without Hoyer, but the Bills lost EJ Manuel too. They have a good defense, but it doesn’t dominate every week. Like the Jets this team can finish in any number of places, but for now they seem more of a question mark than the Jets.
You Can Pretty Much Pack it in
19. Atlanta (1-4)
1-4 and you probably lost Julio Jones for the season? Your last two losses were at home. The Saints are 5-0? Things really don’t look good for the Falcons. There are just too many injuries to key players. If guys get healthy they may be able to turn it around, but you wonder if they are already in too deep of a hole.
20. San Diego (2-3)
What is this team? Close loss to Houston and Tennessee (in fact probably should’ve won the Titans game), but the Oakland game was pretty bad. Maybe the Raiders are better than we thought? Maybe the time shift messed with them. Maybe they aren’t that good. They look better than they have in the past, but not by much. The talent level isn’t what it once was, but we knew that already. The next couple weeks will be telling for them.
21. Arizona (3-2)
Don’t look now but the Cardinals actually have a winning streak going. It’s against the Panthers and Bucs, but still. The Cardinals probably won’t challenge for a playoff spot, but they should be a tough win.
22. Buffalo (2-3)
Really tough injury for the Bills. They have shown a lot of promise this season, but they are going nowhere without EJ Manuel. The backups have a lot to do with that. Overall, they have been hit hard by injuries. This defense has looked much better, and we all know the talent at running back. You’d hope for improvement at offensive line, and maybe another receiving option, but more importantly they just need to stay healthy. Especially Manuel who’d you like the experience to develop.
23. Philadelphia (2-3)
This team does not look very good. Their two wins have come in the division…which is the worst in football. They’ve at least proven they are better than the Giants. But the defense is a problem, and the offense isn’t much better especially if Nick Foles has to play a lot.
24. Washington (1-3)
This team is trending up. They have a big game against Dallas this week. A win, and they are right back in the division race. Crazy for a team that started 0-3. They have looked better the past couple weeks and are coming off a bye. The healthier RG3 gets the better.
25. Oakland (2-3)
The Raiders have actually looked pretty good this season. Their losses are to the Colts, Broncos, and Redskins…and the Colts game was close. For a team that completely stripped its roster they seem to be moving in the right direction. More importantly Terrelle Pryor seems to be getting better each week. Playoffs are a long shot this season, but they’ve already exceeded expectations.
26. St. Louis (2-3)
This team has looked awful. Sure they won, but it was closer than it should’ve been against a dismal Jaguars team that lost both of it’s starting tackles. This was supposed to be a step forward, but it seems like a step back. Maybe some of the talent is overrated. You definitely have to start questioning how good Sam Bradford is.
27. Minnesota (1-3)
This team isn’t awful. A competent quarterback (hello Josh Freeman…hell even Matt Cassel) makes their offense legitimate. The defense has good pieces, but the secondary is young and thin. Injuries have already taken their toll. They aren’t going to do much this season, but there are pieces in place for this team to have a quick turnaround. They may even be able to make it to 6 wins this year. That might be enough to save Leslie Frasier’s job.
Pack it in Boys
28. Carolina (1-3)
So they’ve beaten the 0-5 Giants… I don’t care how dominant that win was, they completely blew it in a winnable game against the Cardinals. This team has the talent to be good, but it’s clear Ron Rivera and Cam Newton are not the guys to get it done.
29. Pittsburgh (0-4)
There are good pieces to this team, and Big Ben remains one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but there just isn’t enough. They have had cap issues for several seasons, and haven’t been able to restock enough. The biggest surprise is how poorly the defense has looked. Maybe the bye week turns things around, but at 0-4 their season is already over.
30. Tampa Bay (0-4)
They had a bye week to get Mike Glennon more prepared. It won’t be enough. This team has a strong defense, and might be able to steal a couple games, but they don’t look like a good team at all.
31. New York Giants (0-5)
Wow. Just wow. Never would’ve thought this team could get so bad so fast. They have talent, but they lack talent in too many important positions. No star on the offensive line, in the secondary, with the linebackers. And the defensive line has been a letdown. The back surgery has gotten JPP off to a slow start. They might not finish this low at the end of the season, but I doubt they’ll be that much higher. They were completely outclassed at home to a bad Eagles team that lost their starting quarterback. That’s bad.
32. Jacksonville (0-5)
This team could honestly go 0-16 and I wouldn’t be surprised. Yep, nothing has changed.