1. New England Patriots (Last week: 1)
The score line from last week’s game with Indy is not indicative of how in control of this game New England was. The Colts finally made God (I mean Brady) bleed though as they picked him off early and returned it for a touchdown. A big test against the division rival Jets this weekend could just about put the division out of reach for everyone else if the Patriots win.
2. Cincinnati Bengals (Last week: 3)
While it doesn’t guarantee playoff success, the Bengals have been one of the best teams in the NFL so far this year. Andy Dalton has been nothing short of dominant and the defense has held it together. Cincy looks like a really tough team to beat going forward.
3. Green Bay Packers (Last week: 2)
Two straight weeks of less than stellar play from the Packers has to be a little worrying. They still won both games but Aaron Rodgers looked mortal against the Rams and now the running game seems to have vanished. Eddie Lacy is averaging fewer than four yards per carry and has only scored one touchdown.
4. Denver Broncos (Last week: 4)
Seriously, this is starting to get really concerning. What happened to Peyton Manning? Even the beat up version of the future Hall of Famer we saw last year wasn’t this bad. Leading the league in interceptions and owning a completion percentage only slight better than Jay Cutler is what you would expect of Eli, not Peyton.
5. New York Jets (Last week: 7)
The first half wasn’t pretty. Actually it was really ugly. I had a chance to watch the Jets game from MetLife this weekend and the team that showed up in the first half was horrendous. And yet, New York was only down three at halftime. If the same Jets that played in the second half show up again this week, don’t be surprised if they give New England a run for their money.
6. Carolina Panthers (Last week: 8)
A stunning comeback in Seattle means that the Panthers stay perfect for another week. With the Falcons falling last week too, Carolina now has the outright lead in the NFC South. The Panthers are quickly closing in on their win total from 2014.
7. Atlanta Falcons (Last week: 5)
The Falcons came back down to Earth this past week with a pretty big thud. Atlanta laid an egg against the Saints on Thursday night and now sit behind the unblemished Panthers in the division. The good news? Atlanta has two cracks at Carolina left on their schedule.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 9)
No Ben Roethlisberger? No Michael Vick? No problem for Pittsburgh. The Steelers got a big win over the Cardinals this weekend with Landry Jones playing some critical minutes late in the game. LeVeon Bell continues to carry this team who, despite all the injuries, sit at 4-2.
9. Arizona Cardinals (Last week: 6)
Alright I can’t seem to figure this out. Arizona started hotter than anyone else in the league. Since then, they have been a roller coaster. The ride hit a new low this week as the Cardinals were soundly beaten by a combination of Michael Vick and Landry Jones. They still lead the division but this would be a good time for the Cards to develop a cushion for themselves.
10. Indianapolis Colts (Last week: 10)
It was a loss but that was the best game Andrew Luck played all season. He avoided turning the ball over and the Colts were in this matchup with the Pats until that bizarre fake punt call. They might be only 3-3 and but this team is slowly trending up.
11. Buffalo Bills (Last week: 11)
The Bills looked very outmatched against the Bengals this weekend. Without Tyrod Taylor the offense was not quite as dynamic. Now with Taylor, Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin all looking like they will be out against Jacksonville, the Bills are in trouble.
12. Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 13)
It was far from their best game of the season but Minnesota still hung on for the win. They might not be a Super Bowl contender but this team has the talent to make it to the playoffs as a wildcard team.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 20)
Two weeks ago, the Eagles looked down and out having lost to Washington in disappointing fashion. Now, Philly is back on top of the division looks to be the team to beat in NFC East, for right now. When the Cowboys get healthy, that could be a different story.
14. Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 12)
For the second straight week, the Seahawks had a commanding fourth quarter lead and it quickly evaporated. Seattle looks like a team trying to find its way on both sides of the ball. At 2-4, the only chance the Seahawks realistically have of making the playoffs is by winning the division.
15. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 13)
Somehow, the Cowboys are only one game out of the division lead despite not winning in almost a month. A huge game with Giants could vault Dallas back to the top. They already have two division wins this season, including one against New York. Dez Bryant could be back as well, which should aid Matt Cassell immensely.
16. New York Giants (Last week: 14)
After looking like the Giants’ had found their stride and were destined to run away with the NFC East, they fell flat on their faces in Philadelphia. Now New York finds themselves sitting at .500 tied with the Eagles for the division lead. Once everyone is healthy, this team could make a push but with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant coming back in the next few weeks, they must have a lead in order to weather the storm.
17. San Diego Chargers (Last week: 16)
Can someone please give Phillip Rivers some help??? He threw the ball 61 times for 503 yards this week and the Chargers still lost to the Packers. Obviously, Green Bay is a very good team but when Rivers plays that well and San Diego still loses, something needs to change.
18. Oakland Raiders (Last week: 17)
This week could make or break the Raiders season. A divisional game against San Diego will determine if Oakland claws back to .500 or if they drop into the bottom half of the AFC again.
19. St. Louis Rams (Last week: 18)
A week off hopefully gave Jeff Fisher some time to figure out how to fix this offense in St. Louis. Nick Foles ranks 29th out of 34 qualified quarterbacks in completion percentage. Overall, it seems like handing the ball to Todd Gurley and Tre Mason should be a big part of Rams’ gameplan going forward.
20. Miami Dolphins (Last week: 21)
Dan Campbell is already wildly more popular in Miami than Joe Philbin after a huge win over Tennessee. The Dolphins still have a ways to go to climb into playoff contention again but they are headed in the right direction so far under their new head coach.
21. Washington (Last week: 20)
Washington led in their game against New York this weekend at halftime, then they proceeded to score seven points in the second half, all of them coming from a blocked punt recovered in the endzone. Washington fell apart in the third quarter and never recovered.
22. Houston Texans (Last week: 27)
Houston got a huge win over the Jaguars this weekend. Despite a very slow start to the season, the Texans are only one game out of first place in the AFC South. With Arian Foster back and healthy with DeAndre Hopkins terrorizing secondaries, Houston might just be a part of the 2015 playoff hunt after all.
23. New Orleans Saints (Last week: 32)
I dropped them into the cellar and the Saints responded in a big way with a major win over the Falcons. New Orleans is still a couple of wins away from being a competitor in the NFC but this was a huge step in the right direction.
24. Chicago Bears (Last week: 23)
Losing to the winless Lions probably doesn’t do much to boost morale but the offense looked very good in the process. Unfortunately, the defense failed to hold up on its end of the bargain. Chicago needs to decide soon if it is going to hang on to its aging core or hit the reset button.
25. Cleveland Browns (Last week: 24)
Cleveland came so close to pulling off what would have been the upset of the season. A second straight overtime game for the Browns went the other way this week. The Browns ground game is among one of the worst in the league. For them to have any shot of challenging this season, they need to take the pressure off Josh McCown.
26. Tennessee Titans (Last week: 26)
After playing a very close game against Buffalo just the week before, the Titans were blown out by Miami. Marcus Mariota turned the ball over four times and exited the game with a knee injury in the second half. Easily the worst game of his short professional career.
27. San Francisco 49ers (Last week: 29)
San Francisco got a solid win over the struggling Ravens. It was a hallow victory, but with Seattle and Arizona losing this week, San Francisco is very much in the conversation for the NFC West crown. In order for that to happen though, the 49ers need to find some offense.
28. Detroit Lions (Last week: 30)
Winless no more means that the Lions will not repeat their 2008 fate. The defense has been awful thus far and was again even in the win. Detroit has allowed the fourth most points per game this season. With that kind of output, are you surprised that the Lions only have one win?
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last week: 31)
Tampa took its bye week to hopefully get healthy. That mainly applies to second year wideout Mike Evans, who has been hampered with injuries. That has contributed to a very quiet start to this season. With a quarterback as raw and inexperienced as Jameis Winston, having all the help he can get is key.
30. Baltimore Ravens (Last week: 25)
I was pretty sure Baltimore was in for a down year, but even I didn’t predict this. The Ravens are 1-5 and sit at the bottom of the AFC North. There is just about no hope for them to turn this season around with the Bengals five games ahead of them.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 22)
Well the defense put up a valiant effort this weekend against Minnesota but got no help from the offense. Managing only a meager 10 points, Kansas City put up its worse scoring total all season. It seems like life without Jamaal Charles will not be pleasant.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week: 31)
Gus Bradley’s seat has to be getting warmer as the weeks go by. That win over the Dolphins seems like it happened a long time ago and now Jacksonville has four straight losses. The Jaguars have allowed 31-plus points in three of their last four games. That is probably the root of the problem.