The elite continue to thrive while the rest of the league continues to look incredibly mediocre. It won't be that way come January though. This is a weird season but eventually everything will sort itself out.
01. Green Bay Packers - I won't say this again for a few weeks, but this team could go 19-0. I'm just saying. No team has made it look this easy since that team that went 18-0 a few years ago, and this team is younger and has a better defense. Beware.
02. New Orleans Saints - The Saints got another win this week on the road against a division rival that is way better than their record. A win this week and they could easily be 8-1 heading into Atlanta in mid November.
03. Detroit Lions - The Lions had another huge victory on Sunday and the playoffs are all but a sure thing for Detroit right now. If they can get the defense to step up and become the top unit of the playoff teams (which they may already be), the Lions could shock the world and bring home the Lombardi Trophy.
04. New England Patriots - The Pats got the win they needed on Sunday and barring any major injuries or catastrophes the Pats should be smooth sailing towards a first round bye. This is the year the Pats need to get back to the Super Bowl because with a down trodden Steelers team and no Peyton Manning, The road back may never be this easy.
The Very Good
05. San Diego Chargers - They don't have a trademark win yet, but they're 4-1 and they're playing without their difference maker in Antonio Gates. This is a team that is in perfect position for a bye, and if they can somehow finish with the best record in the AFC will have a real shot to go to the Super Bowl.
06. San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers are 4-1 and the division seems like all but locked up. They've had a statement win, a comeback win, and Alex Smith is playing pretty well. I still think that they'll be one and done come January.
07. Baltimore Ravens - The bye week didn't do the Ravens any favors, but they're still sitting on that week one win against the Steelers and for now that's enough to keep them atop the AFC North. Their schedule even gives them a shot at the one seed.
08. Buffalo Bills - The Bills really wish they could have that Bengals game back, but still, they're 4-1 and if you're Buffalo you have to take that. Their next four games are really tough, but if they can get through them with a .500 record, 10-6 and the playoffs are a possibility. This may even be a year that a 9-7 takes a wild card.
09. Oakland Raiders - Don't look now but the Raiders are a quarterback away from being total favorites to win the AFC West. I'm still not sold that this is a playoff team, but they're going to be playing with a lot of emotion.
10. Washington Redskins - If the bye week didn't help the Ravens much, it sure helped the nearby Redskins a ton. The Giants lose at home to the Seahawks and the Eagles continue to melt. No one is a believe in this team yet, but a win this week against the Eagles would make the NFC East a three team race with the Redskins out in front. A loss and they'll likely fall off sometime in the near future.
11. Houston Texans - There is some sort of hex on the Houston Texans franchise. Just as things start to really look good after a win over the Steelers, Mario Williams gets injured for the duration of the 2011 season. This was Houstons year. They could have had a first round bye, and their defensive scheme mixed with their offensive fire power was enough to give the Patriots, Ravens, or Chargers are a close game. Not anymore.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers got the major win that they needed this week that they desperately need, even if that major win was against Tennessee. They have Jacksonville and at Arizona as their next two games, which should be enough to make this team 5-2 before the schedule toughens up with New England and Baltimore, but after that there is maybe one loss remaining on the schedule. Meaning that despite being incredibly mediocre, the 2011 Steelers should be in the playoffs. Then again you still have to play the games, and the 2011 Steelers look like a team that can lose a lot of games.
13. New York Giants - The Giants blew a golden opportunity to become 4-1 and take control of their own destiny. Instead they lost at home to a Seahawks team that many feel is still the worst in the NFL. Blown Opportunities: The Story of the Post-Super Bowl 42 NY Giants.
14. Dallas Cowboys - Dallas return from their bye week and enter a gigantic game against the Patriots. A win and a 3-2 record and they will likely have enough momentum to be the team to beat in the East. A loss, and Dallas will having a losing record and will be stuck looking for answers.
Hanging In There
15. Tennessee Titans - The Titans fell back down to Earth on Sunday and is it just me or do you expect this team to fall a little further? The good news is that falling further in the AFC South with a beat up Texans team and no Peyton Manning could still lead to a home playoff game.
16. Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals are 3-2 and they look like the may be on to something moving forward. Somehow, some way, Marvin Lewis continues to preserve a job that he should have lost by 2008.
17. Seattle Seahawks - Let's get one thing straight; the Seahawks are not the 17th best team in the league, but that's not the point of power rankings. Power rankings tell us who has the best chance to win the Super Bowl, and in order to win the Super Bowl you need to get to the playoffs and the Seahawks are the only team in the NFC West not named the 49ers with any chance of making the playoffs. From there it will still take a miracle to make it to the Super Bowl, let alone win it.
18. Cleveland Browns - The Browns are still at .500 thanks to the bye week but we're soon going to find out what this team is made of. They're at Oakland this week, then home for Seattle next week. If they're 4-2 then we need to start taking them seriously. If they're 2-4 then we need to start evaluating their draft needs. And if they're 3-3, well then I guess we just continue to wait a few more weeks before we start evaluating their draft needs.
19. New York Jets - The positive if you're a Jets fan is that they lost to three teams in the top 10. The negative if you're a Jets fan is that they lost to three teams in the top 10. I've already discussed why Rex is likely a problem, maybe it's time to discuss whether or not Pete Carroll was right when he said that Sanchez needed another year in college to work on his skills. Carroll also evaluated Sanchez as a second round pick "at best." The Jets selected him fifth overall.
20. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons had an opportunity to give a boost to their 2011, but now they'll spend the rest of the season trying to play catch up with a Saints team that is simply just much better than Atlanta. That's been the story of the Atlanta Falcons franchise. One step forward, another step back.
21. Chicago Bears - Remember my rules about teams falling off and not making the playoffs the next year. Something like at most 3 repeat teams in the NFC and at most 4 in the AFC. The Bears have pretty much assured that they will be one of the three teams to fall out in the NFC (along with the Eagles, Seahawks, and maybe even the Falcons). The defense is average, but the offense is bad.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - A week after barely beating the Colts on Monday Night, the Bucs got destroyed by the 49ers. The only thing you can really say is that this team is close, but still really far away. Contending teams don't have losses like that. Not to the 49ers.
23. Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs got another win on Sunday and successfully took themselves out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. The Chiefs are also now in danger of losing out on Landry Jones. As I said earlier in the season, if any team needs to take a shot at a franchise QB it's the Chiefs, who haven't had a franchise QB in their prime since Len Dawson.
24. Carolina Panthers - At what point do we start getting on this team for not being able to close out these close games against elite teams? Not until 2012 the earliest. This defense is awful and Cam is pretty much a one man show making this offense top five in the NFL.
25. Philadelphia Eagles - I was never big on the 2011 Eagles because I knew the history of teams lead by Michael Vick. Thus far, the 2011 disaster hasn't been totally Vick's fault, although his injuries have played a large part. But the offense in Philly is great when Vick is healthy, it's the defense that looks atrocious. Can Steve Smith, Vince Young, or Ronnie Brown play defense? Because they're not doing much of anything on offense.
26. Minnesota Vikings - The Vikings finally got in the win column on Sunday and their entire 2011 will likely go down as a "what could have been" based on how the first four weeks went for them. Jared Allen has been a bright spot for this team.
27. Denver Broncos - It was announced today that the Tebow era in Denver has officially begun. I always thought that Tebow would have success in the NFL, but I never believed that success would come in Denver, so I really see no hope for this team.
28. Arizona Cardinals - A lot of people thought this team would be contenders, how silly that seems now. The Seahawks are better coached, the 49ers have the better roster, and the Rams have a glimmer of hope that Bradford could become really good. The Cardinals? They'll likely fall into mid 2000's form. The question now becomes do they draft Matt Barkley and bring in Brad Childress? That was a Leinart and Denny reference. Anyone? A chuckle at least? Does anyone even read this blog?
29. Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jack Del Rio era in Jacksonville is all but over and this is a team wondering if they should of just drafted Tim friggin Tebow. Gabbert is no bum, but there is no excitement in one of the markets that needs it the most.
30. St. Louis Rams - The Rams need to start winning games, but they're so beat up. This is a team that I really thought would take a big step forward, but they're really not making any progress. What a shame. I hate to say it but they probably should have drafted Suh over Bradford and mortgaged their future on a top flight defense and one of the 2011 QB's. Who knows, they may have even been able to get Newton in 2011.
31. Miami Dolphins - Chad Henne is out for season, and the Dolphins best shot at a future is to either get the number one pick, or try to trade with Indy by swapping #1 for #2 so that the Colts can draft Kalil out of USC. Anything other than Luck is a disaster for this franchise.
32. Indianapolis Colts - No excuses this week at the Colts blew a sizable lead to the Chiefs who I honestly thought were the worst team in the league. If they don't beat the Bengals this week, which is easier said than done, then this team will probably have Andrew Luck next year, and the Colts will likely enter a rebuilding phase, bidding farewell to names like Wayne, Mathis, and Saturday.