Only two elite teams this week and deservedly so. The rest of the league is a mess, but it's starting to sort out.
01. Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers is quietly having an MVP season while the Green Bay Packers are quietly off to the best start in the NFL. They have the Lions breathing down their neck but something tells me that this team is going to be at number one all year. They just have that feel.
02. New Orleans Saints - The Saints are a team that look like they're improving with each week. Their offensive fire power is scary and this past weeks win against Houston is the sort of win that will only make you stronger as the season progresses.
The Very Good
03. Detroit Lions - I've said it since the preseason; The Lions can win the Super Bowl. If somehow the Lions win their division they'll probably have a first round bye, which would mean the Lions entire road to the Super Bowl would be indoors. This team has a solid defense, a potent offense, an emerging quarterback, and one of the best defensive players in the league. They'll be tested these next three weeks @ Dallas, vs Chicago, and vs San Francisco, but this team is for real and they're scary.
04. Buffalo Bills - Justice given to the last remaining unbeaten in the AFC. This week will tell us whether or not the Bills have turned that corner. If they beat the Bengals then they're ready to be taken seriously, and if they lose then they're a 7-9 team that will probably take a step back next year. That's just the way things go in Buffalo. They can score on anybody.
05. New England Patriots - The Pats lost a tough one to Buffalo in a game where they simply got outplayed. Tom Brady has never been a high volume interception quarterback so it goes without saying that if Brady throws four interceptions in a given game, chances are the Pats are going to lose. I don't think Brady will have another game that bad this year.
06. San Diego Chargers - The Chargers squeaked by the Chiefs this week and you're starting to get that feeling that this what the 2011 Chargers are all about; fighting off injuries, playing close games, and winning the ones where they minimize mistakes. It should be noted that Antonio Gates, the second most important player on the Chargers, has not been healthy.
07. Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens are 2-1 and looking to solidify themselves as contenders this week as they face the Jets. It's a huge regular season game for John Harbaugh and a win could erase some of the stigma that he can't win the big regular season game.
08. New York Jets - Will Rex Ryan stop being an idiot and stop deferring the ball every time he wins a coin toss? Did he not stand on the sidelines for the 2010 AFC title game, week one SNF, and this past week? Three of the teams last four games have started with the opponent getting a touchdown on an opening drive after Ryan deferred. Also, some of the blame has to go on Sanchez who struggled on third down (and fourth) all game long.
09. Houston Texans - The Texans hung in there with the Saints in New Orleans and now they get the chance to play a beatable Pittsburgh team in Houston. This is the game that will define where the 2011 Houston Texans' season goes. A win and the Texans may be a 13-3 first round bye team. A loss and the Texans could end up 10-6 and one and done to a team like Pittsburgh in the first round.
10. New York Giants - It seems like every year the Giants find themselves in the top ten this time of year, I'll wait until December before I start proclaiming this team to be for real. Eli Manning only has two interceptions through three games and all jokes aside, that's how this team is going to win. If they minimize mistakes they'll be a playoff team.
11. Dallas Cowboys - Tony Romo has silenced some of his doubter the past two weeks and has rebounded nicely. This is a team that could easily be 3-0 right now as they prepare to face the intimidating 3-0 Lions. A word of advice for the Cowboys; prevent Mr. Suh from ending Mr. Romo's 2011.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Bucs did what they had to do on Sunday and beat the Falcons. There isn't much to say about this team besides that they're never going to be an easy win, but they probably aren't good enough to take over the NFC South just yet.
13. Oakland Raiders - The Raiders had a huge win this week beating the Jets, but the schedule just gets tougher this week with New England. A win here and the Raiders become legit contenders.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers could barely squeak by the Colts this week, and this is truly a team that we have no clue how to define. We'll know a lot more after this week in Houston.
15. Washington Redskins - The Redskins lost a tough one this week and we may look back on Monday night later in the season and ask "what could have been?" For now the Redskins are 2-1 and still control their own destiny. A win this week at St. Louis would get them feeling good heading into their bye week.
Hanging In There
16. San Francisco 49ers - Jim Harbaugh has his team at 2-1 right now as they head to Philadelphia to play a battered Eagles team. I think the 49ers can and should win their division, but you never know. Alex Smith has been adequate but can still get better.
17. Tennessee Titans - After week one a Jake Locker countdown began. These past two weeks Matt Hasselbeck has done everything possible to hit the snooze button a few times. A win this week, and visions of a division championship may run free in Volunteer State.
18. Chicago Bears - The Bears are 1-2 by way of the most difficult three week schedule in the NFL. This week things should get a little easier as the Bears defense gets a shot at rookie QB Cam Newton. A win here and the Bears can get right back in it, though a repeat as division champions is likely out of reach.
19. Philadelphia Eagles - Michael Vick continues to prove how valuable he is, but this is a team that is endanger of falling apart. A win this week home against San Francisco could get the season moving in the right direction, but if Vick is out for three to four weeks as initially reported than it will be up to "Mr. Dream Team" Vince Young to right the ship in Philly.
20. Atlanta Falcons - I know it's early in the season, and I know people refuse to believe it because ESPN told them otherwise, but the Falcons are probably not that good. They're a 9-7 team at best, maybe 8-8. This is deserving of it's own article but I honestly don't believe that Matt Ryan will ever be "elite" either.
21. Cleveland Browns - They may be the worst 2-1 team in the league, but at least they're 2-1. Colt McCoy has looked like an improving quarterback in the first three weeks of this season as he's lead the Browns on game winning drives two straight weeks. This is a team that wished it could have week one against the Bengals back, but a win this week at Tennessee would make up for that. If they get it then they may have a chance this year.
22. Arizona Cardinals - Because they play in such a putrid division the Cardinals still have a shot to go to the playoffs, but jeez, they're really not that good. They need to make a statement this week against the Giants if they want to be considered the contenders a lot of people were claiming they were in the preseason. Kevin Kolb looks to be adequate and that's a positive.
23. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton got the "first-win-monkey" off of his back this week despite having the most underwhelming performance of his young pro career. The schedule heats up and he probably won't get another one for a couple of weeks, but this is a team that the entire league are taking seriously, which means Cam Newton has done what Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, Blaine Gabbert, and Andy Dalton have not.
24. Seattle Seahawks - The Seahawks got an impressive win against the Cardinals this week that put Pete Carroll's squad right back in the thick of things in the worst division in sports. Still, this is a team that isn't very good, with a quarterback situation that just screams for Landry Jones or Matt Barkley.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jaguars have already committed the rest of this season to Blaine Gabbert and if Sunday was any indication it's going to be a rough 2011 for this franchise. You feel bad for Maurice Jones Drew who is starting to learn what it's like to be Steven Jackson and be a good back with his playoff years behind him. It could be worse, you could be Frank Gore.
26. St. Louis Rams - I know they've been plagued with injuries but you have to really try to play in the NFC West and simultaneously be legit contenders in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Somehow the Rams are pulling that off this year. They would never draft Andrew Luck, but this isn't the season they were supposed to be having. The schedule (vs Wash, bye, @GB, @Dal, vs NO) doesn't get any easier and this team could easily be 0-7 before they start division play the first week of November.
27. Indianapolis Colts - The Colts showed a lot of heart this week, and again proved Peyton Manning's value. With Manning the Colts put that game away in the first quarter, without Manning things on offense look disgusting. Time fore the Colts to seriously consider bringing in a QB. Just out of respect for Freeney, Mathis, Wayne, Saturday, and Addai who are playing their hearts out.
28. Denver Broncos - Is it Tebow time yet? If Orton's performance on Sunday doesn't get us closer then nothing will. Until that time does arrive this team is unwatchable. Maybe John Elway, a Stanford guy, wants Andrew Luck to be his heir.
29. Cincinatti Bengals - Week one is starting to look more like a fluke. Not much else to say about this team besides that they're bad and their fans know it. The only question to ask is if Marvin Lewis is still their coach in 2012?
30. Minnesota Vikings - Three games, three losses, three blown leads in the second half. The Schedule softens up and they could be 4-4 entering their bye, but that's a best case scenario. This is a team that is not going to the playoffs this year.
31. Miami Dolphins - How do Dolphin fans feel when they see the Bills pass them by? Their next three weeks consist of @San Diego, bye, @ New York Jets. Ouch. This is a team that needs Andrew Luck and may actually get him.
32. Kansas City Chiefs - To the Chiefs credit they did play hard against a better San Diego Charger team. Their next two games are against winless Minnesota and at winless Kansas City. If they lose those two than this team may not win a game in 2011.