- 1. New England Patriots (7-2): No team in the NFL was or is beating that Patriots team that played late Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner give the Pats, arguably, the best pass defense in the pass-happy NFL and Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the most dangerous quarterback-tight end combo in the league since 2011 Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
- 2. Arizona Cardinals (7-1): Reasons why they’re behind the Pats: 1. Their lone loss this season came to the Broncos, the team the Pats blew out on Sunday. 2. The most important parts of a football team are quarterback and coach. Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians are having nice seasons, but in no world are they Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
- 3. Denver Broncos (6-2): The best part of every regular season for Peyton Manning since the turn of the century has been the game after he had to deal with a Belichick defense. Any doubt an embarrassed Manning throws for around 500 yards and four touchdowns in Oakland this coming Sunday?
- 4. Philadelphia Eagles (6-2): Losing your starting quarterback in the first quarter and winning a road game against a quality opponent falls into the category of “dealing well with adversity.” LeSean McCoy is slowly but surely heating up at the right time as he has averaged 116.3 yards rushing over his last three games.
- 5. Detroit Lions (6-2): Ask an average sports fan on the street what the Lions record is right now and nine times out of 10 you’ll get “4-4.” In no way does this feel like the fifth best team in football, but the fact is they’ve had just one real stinker this season (a 24-7 loss in Carolina to the Panthers). Whichever team loses in the Lions-Dolphins matchup in Detroit this Sunday, becomes an instant fraud.
- 6. Seattle Seahawks (5-3): The Seahawks were on the verge of blowing out the winless Raiders on Sunday, leading 24-3 at the half. They wound up winning the game by six points. This team is bored with a capital “B.” Is there at least an off-field drama with them this week to keep their and our attention?
- 7. Indianapolis Colts (6-3): We now know that the Steelers are at least a solid football team, so the Colts’ blowout loss to them in Week 8 wasn’t as bad as it seemed for Indy. Andrew Luck rebounded by throwing four touchdown passes to four different receivers Monday night against the Giants.
- 8. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3): Before we go nuts with the Steelers love, let’s remember that their three-game win streak is due, in part, to the fact that they were home for all three games. Let’s also remember that it was a just a month ago that they were struggling with the Buccaneers and Jaguars.
- 9. Green Bay Packers (5-3): Heading into the season, people were speculating that running back Eddie Lacy could very well lead the league in fantasy points. So far in 2014, he has just one 100-plus yard rushing day – or seven fewer than DeMarco Murray.
- 10. Dallas Cowboys (6-3): Jerry Jones wants Tony Romo to play in London so badly this Sunday against the Jaguars that he “jokingly” offered up his wife’s first class seat on the team plane to the quarterback. Can’t imagine a coach seat on a Dallas Cowboys private plane is uncomfortable to begin with, but whatevs.
- 11. Kansas City Chiefs (5-3): Alex Smith’s line in the Chiefs’ 24-10 victory over the Jets last Sunday was perfectly Alex Smith. He connected on 21-of-31 of his passes for 199 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. We’ll find out a lot about Kansas City these next two weeks as it will be at Buffalo on Sunday and will host Seattle on Nov. 16.
- 12. Miami Dolphins (5-3): The Dolphins scored 27 points in a loss to Green Bay on Oct. 12. They scored 27 points in a win at Chicago on Oct. 19. They scored 27 points in a win at Jacksonville on Oct. 26. They broke the “27” trend this past Sunday, by putting 37 on the board against San Diego. The offense is improving. The defense has been tremendous all year.
- 13. Buffalo Bills (5-3): Only the Patriots have scored over 23 points against the Bills this season. Coming off a bye, Buffalo can get an early lead in the AFC wild card race as it hosts the Chiefs on Sunday and is at the Dolphins in Week 11.
- 14. San Diego Chargers (5-4): Wow, was that shutout loss to the Dolphins alarming. The Chargers are doing the opposite of what was once their hallmark as they're currently peaking too soon instead of too late. And remember way back when Keenan Allen was considered an elite receiver? What happened?
- 15. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2-1): They’re slowly re-building their reputation after starting off the month of October in pathetic fashion (a blowout loss to the Pats, a tie vs. the Panthers, a shutout loss to the Colts). Give them some credit for getting through injuries to A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard, however.
- 16. Cleveland Browns (5-3): After beating the Steelers on Oct. 12, the Browns were looking at three games in a row against the Jags, Raiders and Bucs. They went 2-1 in those games but averaged just 17.0 points. They’ll have to step up their game against the Bengals on Thursday night.
- 17. Baltimore Ravens (5-4): The AFC wild card race is going to be fascinating as there are just so many perfectly average teams. Seriously, is there any difference at all between the Ravens, Bengals, Steelers, Chiefs, Browns, Bills, Dolphins, Chargers and Texans? We should really ask Ian Eagle which of these teams is the best of the bunch since he calls the “average game” on CBS each and every week.
- 18. New Orleans Saints (4-4): The Saints won a road game! That’s cause for some celebration. As we pointed out last week they now have three straight games coming up in, as Hulk Hogan would say, the “New Orleans SilverDome.” They could be 7-4 and cruising by Thanksgiving.
- 19. San Francisco 49ers (4-4): The Niners haven’t exactly lit it up at Bad Idea Jeans Stadium, as they have already lost to the Bears and Rams in Santa Clara this season. We don’t care if you’re facing the 2013 Seahawks, scoring 10 points at home coming off a bye is a rough showing.
- 20. Houston Texans (4-5): Such a blah team. So let’s talk about their playing field. It sucks! LeSean McCoy called it “probably the worst field I ever played on” on ProFootballTalk Live this week. Sadly, this has been going on for years as Wes Welker shredded his ACL and MCL back in 2009 and Bill Belichick blamed the injury solely on the Reliant (NGR) Stadium turf.
- 21. Minnesota Vikings (4-5): The Vikings have won two games in a row and Adrian Peterson will not be heading to prison anytime soon. Is a playoff push coming up for the Vikes? Not quite. Their two recent wins were over the Bucs and Redskins (not exactly world-beaters) and it would be just horrible PR for the NFL to re-instate Peterson this season.
- 22. St. Louis Rams (3-5): Jeff Fisher is the king of false hustle (i.e. keeping his job). He wins just enough games when there are zero expectations to make you think he’s an elite coach. Then, when he has the horses, he always comes up short.
- 23. Carolina Panthers (3-5-1): Cam Newton hasn’t had a QB rating over 100 since his first game of the season on Sept. 14.
- 24. Chicago Bears (3-5): The Bears were off last weekend, and no one noticed. They come back with a nationally-televised Sunday nighter in Green Bay against the Packers this weekend. Could be ugly.
- 25. New York Giants (3-5): We’re still marks for Odell Beckham’s touchdown celebration. The problem is he likely won’t get much of a chance to use it the rest of the season.
- 26. Atlanta Falcons (2-6): The Falcons were considered sleepers at the start of the season. They’re now considered comatose.
- 27. Washington Redskins (3-6): Robert Griffin III says he still believes he’s a franchise quarterback. It’s unlikely that Jay Gruden agrees.
- 28. Tennessee Titans (2-6): The Titans could still finish with a halfway decent record as they have games against the Giants, Jets and Jags remaining. This is assuming they, ya know, actually want to win those games.
- 29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8): Blake Bortles showed improvement against the Bengals, throwing for more touchdowns than interceptions in a single game for the first time in his NFL career
- 30. New York Jets (1-8): CBS’ “A-team” of Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson called the Week 1 game of the Jets and Raiders. Just thought you should know.
- 31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7): The Bucs put up a fight against the Browns.
- 32. Oakland Raiders (0-8): If there’s a comedy God, Derek Carr will demand a trade this off-season, will get his wish, and the Raiders will turn around and draft Jameis Winston.
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