#1. New York Giants: 4-0
Obviously, the Giants play in the toughest division in the NFL (NFC East) and haven’t lost a single game… not to mention, they are the defending Super Bowl champs. It’s fair to say that very few people expected the Giants to be so dominant this year. Most figured they’d have to scratch and claw their way up to the top like they did last year but that hasn’t been the case. The Giants’ defense is top notch and is really what makes this team so dominant. Even with the losses of future Hall of Famer, Michael Strahan, and Pro Bowler, Osi Umenyiora, on the defensive line, they’ve still managed to keep QBs scrambling in the backfield. On top of that, Eli and Peyton have virtually flip-flopped positions this season. Eli looks like a top-ranked QB and Peyton has been struggling. Yes, it’s safe to say that the returning Super Bowl champions are the team to beat.
#2. Tennessee Titans: 5-0
The Titans are all defense and are currently the cream of the crop in the AFC. Defensive linemen like Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch are forces to be reckoned with that keep QBs’ heads on a swivel. Although he’s not even the most talented QB on his own team, Kerry Collins has managed to run the Titans offense efficiently and effectively. However, it’s the running game that has really put the Titans on top. The one-two punch of LenDale White and Chris Johnson gives them the “lightning and thunder” combo every team is looking for. The unsung heros of this team are the O-linemen. They seem to have no problem clearing running room and have allowed Kerry Collins to take his time under center.
#3. Washington Redskins: 4-1
The Skins are a tough team, as evidenced by their wins over tough division rivals like Dallas and Philly. QB Jason Campbell has really come into his own and has plenty of weapons to help him out. RB Clinton Portis is running well and even though WR Santana Moss was shutdown in their last contest, he still is one of the top WRs in fantasy this year. TE Chris Cooley has been getting in on the action too. Again, like #1 and #2, the Redskins also have a rock solid defense.
#4. Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-1
QB Ben Roethlisberger has been dealing with shoulder problems but has still led his team to a 4-1 record. Likewise, Pittsburgh’s running game is seriously banged up. In week 5 they had to start 3rd stringer, Mewelde Moore, due to injuries suffered by the top two backs, Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall will be out for the season but Parker should be back by week 6 or 7. Even though the offense has been efficient, it’s the defense that has stolen the show in the Steel City. Linebackers like LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison have been giving opposing offenses fits and it appears as if strong safety, Troy Polamalu, is healthy again and back to his old, elite self. Look out for the Steelers because as Big Ben gets healthier, so will this team’s chances at winning another Super Bowl under his leadership.
#5. Dallas Cowboys: 4-1
Could I have ranked the Cowboys higher? No. After dropping an important game at home to a division rival (Redskins), the Boys have to take their place somewhere behind them. Sure, I could’ve ranked Dallas ahead of Pittsburgh but the difference is the defense. Dallas is supposed to have a great defense. They’ve got elite players like DeMarcus Ware and Adam Jones out there trying to stop the opposing offenses but have yet to impress. Head coach Wade Phillips is supposedly a defensive mastermind but has yet to demonstrate it (at least in DAL). Of course, most people are pointing to TO’s whining as the reason why this team is down but I don’t buy that. The offense is not the problem. If the Cowboys want to become a truly elite team, they are going to have to start stopping someone.
#6. Buffalo Bills: 4-1
The Bills are a well-rounded team. QB Trent Edwards has really come into his own and improved the passing game. Add RB Marshawn Lynch and a tough defense to that equation and you’ve got the makings of a team on the rise.
#7. Carolina Panthers: 4-1
Can Carolina win their division? If Delhomme can stay healthy, yes they can. The NFC South is always up for grabs and it seems like a new team wins it every year. This team is very well-rounded (i.e. good running game, passing game and defense) and have been there before. Delhomme’s health is a big question mark but if he can stay in the saddle, this team is legit.
#8. Denver Broncos: 4-1
I was going to rank Denver ahead of Buffalo and Carolina but just couldn’t do it. This team is completely dependent on the arm of Jay Cutler. Granted, Cutler has been one of the top QBs in football this season but it’s difficult to lay everything on him. The team has no defense whatsoever and a only a small semblance of a running game. They do play in a weak division so they could still make the playoffs, despite all of their shortcomings.
#9. Chicago Bears: 3-2
This team can win on defense alone and now their offense (under Kyle Orton) is starting to look formidable. Look out NFC Central!
#10. Indianapolis Colts: 2-2
Even though the Colts are #10 in the power rankings, they were expected to rank in the top 3 in the beginning of the season. They’ve been a big disappointment so far this year and just can’t seem to get it together. Peyton Manning has looked average (for Peyton Manning) and Joseph Addai hasn’t been able to find any running room at all. The team has suffered a few injuries on the offensive line so hopefully once those guys return, their fortunes should improve.
#11. New England Patriots: 3-1
No Brady? No matter, they are still winning. Granted, I don’t expect them even remotely resemble last year’s undefeated team (during the regular season that is) but when Bill Bellichick is your coach, you’ve got a shot… plus, defense matters.
#12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-2
Big defense is doing it for the Bucs… but if they want to overcome the Panthers, Brian Griese is going to have to stop turning the ball over so much. Personally, if I were Jon Gruden, I’d be playing Jeff Garcia over Griese. That may actually happen this week due to an injury to Griese and if he plays well, he should hold on to the job for the rest of the season.
#13. Arizona Cardinals: 3-2
The Cardinals have been an offensive powerhouse with little to no defense to speak of. Kurt Warner has been one of the best QBs in the league to this point and the WR duo of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin is unparalleled.
#14. Philadelphia Eagles: 2-3
They are much better than their record but injuries could do them in.
#15. San Diego Chargers: 2-3
disappointment. The offense has improved (Phillip Rivers specifically) but the defense is dreadful.
disappointment. The offense has improved (Phillip Rivers specifically) but the defense is dreadful.
#16. New York Jets: 2-2
After Favre’s 6 touchdown game before the bye-week, this team appears to be gelling and could be a force to be reckoned with (especially since the Pats are Bradyless).
#17. Baltimore Ravens: 2-2
Tough defense but a rookie QB hurts their chances of finishing on top… but the future is bright in Baltimore.
#18. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-3
David Garrard is starting to play like the QB we saw last year and could bring this team back to dominance.
#19. Atlanta Falcons: 3-2
This team has been all Matt Ryan and Michael Turner. It’s fairly safe to say that no one expected Ryan to progress so quickly and Turner to be the top ranked back in the league (in terms of fantasy points).
#20. Minnesota Vikings: 2-3
The defense here is incredibly strong but when your QB is a 55 year old, Gus Frerotte, it’s going to be an uphill battle. Plus, Adrian Peterson has yet to show what he can really do.
#21. Green Bay Packers: 2-3
Aaron Rodgers has played well under the all the pressure but this team has still managed to drop 3 games. Their defense is better than they’ve played and if Ryan Grant can ever find some running room, this is a team that could make a comeback and challenge the Bears for the division title.
#22. New Orleans Saints: 2-3
Until the Saints can stop someone, they’ll have a hard time living up to all of the hype. There’s no question that their offense can get the job done but it’s by way of passing yards. Reggie Bush has picked up his game by catching passes out of the backfield, punt returns and lining up as a WR but is still unable to run the ball up the middle effectively, which does not bode well for clock control.
#23. Miami Dolphins: 2-2
Pennington and Parcells seems to be a winning combo. This team has already doubled it’s win total from last season. Of course, the playoffs are still wildly out of reach but this team is undoubtedly headed in the right direction.
#24. San Francisco 49ers: 2-3
JT O’Sullivan has looked great under the tutelage of offensive wizard, Mike Martz. Frank Gore has been a dominating presence in the running game but the defense has not been living up to their end of the bargain. Considering the lack of strength of their division, the 9ers still have a chance.
#25. Seattle Seahawks: 1-3
The Seahawks may very well be the most disappointing team in football this season. It’s not all Matt Hasselbeck’s fault… he’s had absolutely no one to throw to (due to injuries) and the defense has been coughing up way too many points. Heading into this season, many analysts thought that the Hawks were a legitimate top 5 defense… so much for that assessment.
#26. Cleveland Browns: 1-3
Clevelanders had high hopes for their team this year. Last season they came out of nowhere to challenge for a playoff birth. QB Derek Anderson looked like a pro-bowler in the making and RB Jamal Lewis looked to be back to his old, run-you-over, self. WR Braylon Edwards was heralded as possibly the best WR in the NFL (next to Owens and Moss) and Romeo Crennel’s defense looked like they were starting to get the hang of it. So much for that. Anderson has bombed, Lewis can’t find any running room (or bowl anyone over), Edwards looks like he’s lost out there and Romeo Crennel’s defense has been porous (to put it lightly).
#27. Oakland Raiders: 1-3
I actually thought the Raiders were making progress this season… but now they’ve got a new coach which means new play preference (if not a new playbook entirely) and a brand new approach and philosophy to the game. The bottom line is the Raiders need some consistency in their leadership if they want to turn around their losing ways.
#28. Houston Texans: 0-4
Sage Rosenfels looked good, until he blew that game against the Colts… back to Schaub this week… and more losing. At least Rosenfels could find Andre Johnson. On the bright side, Steve Slaton has been a pleasant surprise.
#29. Kansas City Chiefs: 1-4
I honestly thought this team had a better chance to win under Tyler Thigpen than they did with Damon Huard. Huard has been a disaster and it looks like Brodie Croyle should return from injury after the bye-week. It’s not a good sign when you’re waiting on Brodie Croyle to save the day.
#30. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-5
Totally hopeless… back to the drawing board. I never thought Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson could look this bad.
#31. Detroit Lions: 0-4
At least the Lions are on the track to redemption… GM Matt Millen was finally canned after running the team into the ground. However, it’s going to take some time to bring this team back from the dead.
#32. St. Louis Rams: 0-4
Why they even show up for their games, I don’t know.