1. New England Patriots (Last week: 1)
New England keeps on rolling. Miami was hot coming in but cooled off very quickly. The Patriots offensive line buckled a little but the defense shutdown the Dolphins ground attack. Hosting Washington should be a bit of a gimme for the king of the hill.
2. Cincinnati Bengals (Last week: 2)
That was really rough. The Bengals were lucky to escape Pittsburgh with a win. All day long, the defense held the Steeler offense in check, only surrendering 10 points. However, Andy Dalton had a week to forget. In the past, that used to cost the Bengals the game. They have taken a huge step forward by winning ugly.
3. Denver Broncos (Last week: 4)
It was only one week, but Peyton Manning finally showed up. He didn’t throw any touchdowns but he didn’t have to. The Denver running game got going and punched in three touchdowns. That defense continues to smother even the best offenses in the league. If the Broncos continue to play like this, they will be true contenders.
4. Carolina Panthers (Last week: 5)
Carolina seemed like they were in cruise control Monday night against Indy. Then they let the Colts crawl back into the game and force overtime. The Panthers still managed to pull of a big victory showing that they can win through adversity. They need to clean up the drops and the fumbles but the fact that they keep winning without playing at the top of their game.
5. Green Bay Packers (Last week: 3)
What on Earth just happened? The Packers had an awful outing in Denver. Aaron Rodgers had only 77 yards passing and the ground game sputtered. That is the worst performance we have ever seen out of Green Bay offensively with Rodgers taking all of the snaps. This week isn’t any easier with a trip to Carolina on the line. Green Bay needs to get back on track quickly.
6. Arizona Cardinals (Last week: 7)
An early scare for the Cardinals saw them go down 20-7 to the Browns. Arizona turned things around in the second half and dominated Cleveland en route to a second half shutout. Carson Palmer continues to be an MVP candidate as he is tied with Tom Brady for the most touchdowns in the league.
7. Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 10)
That was not pretty. Actually, it was downright terrifying. Minnesota went down 20-13 at Chicago with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter. They then scored 10 points in the final minute and 49 seconds to pull off a stunning comeback win. The Vikings were fortunate to win, but they still won.
8. Atlanta Falcons (Last week: 8)
The Falcons looked like they had completely left last year behind them during their 5-0 start. Now, it seems like their 2014 form returned though over the last three weeks, losing two out of three to the Saints, Bucs and Titans. Atlanta is falling well behind the rival Panthers and looking at a wildcard spot as the only possibility for the postseason.
9. Oakland Raiders (Last week: 12)
Oakland has gone from a team that no one thought could make the playoffs to the fifth seed in the AFC field in just two weeks. Beating the Jets, and beating them convincingly, is a big step in the right direction for this young Raider team.
10. New York Jets (Last week: 6)
The hangover from the loss to the Pats continued with a rough loss to the Raiders. Todd Bowles will be pressing this team to have a better response this week after he counted 21 missed tackles on film from this past game. For a team who’s defense is supposed to be its strong point, they need to turn themselves around after allowing 30 plus points in consecutive weeks.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 9)
The Steelers have not been able to stay healthy this season. Big Ben finally returned this week just in time for LeVeon Bell to suffer a season-ending injury. Pittsburgh is not completely out of it with DeAngelo Williams ready to take over but it is certainly a blow to this high-octane offense.
12. St. Louis Rams (Last week: 15)
The offense is middling outside of Todd Gurley but boy is that Gurley kid good! Gurley has the most yards per game this season among all running backs. That defense looks like it is the real deal as well with the fourth best scoring defense to this point. If they can hold up then St. Louis might be able to snag a wildcard spot.
13. Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 13)
Richard Sherman shutdown Dez Bryant this week, but Dez was coming off a serious foot injury. The fact is, the Seahawks were very fortunate to win this game. Seattle’s offense has looked average at best this season and their record shows it.
14. New Orleans Saints (Last week: 19)
Don’t look now, but the Saints are back to .500 and very much in the wildcard picture. There is still some work to be done as they are behind Minnesota by a game and a half and the rival Falcons by two games but with only two games left on the schedule against teams that currently have winning records, New Orleans has to feel good about its chances.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 14)
A week off for the Eagles hopefully did them well as they prepared for their rematch with the Cowboys. DeMarco Murray will have a chance to play in front of the fans who cheered him on last season. Philly needs to win this one if they have any hope of challenging for the division title.
16. New York Giants (Last week: 11)
Talk about a shootout! Eli Manning threw six touchdown passes against the Saints this weekend. The only problem was that Drew Brees threw seven. Very tough loss for the Giants and the offense looked stellar all game. Steve Spagnolo needs to sit down with his defense and figure out who is willing to actual cover guys this week in Tampa.
17. Indianapolis Colts (Last week: 16)
This is just brutal. Indy lost again as Luck threw two picks and got beat up most of the night. The Colts seemed to find themselves late in the fourth quarter and even forced overtime but another costly mistake by the offense sent them home empty-handed. Yet, Indy still leads the AFC South with just three wins.
18. Buffalo Bills (Last week: 17)
The Bills took a break this week after their trip across the pond. With the Dolphins and Jets losing this week, Buffalo has to feel like they are still in a good place, only one game out of a playoff spot. They have to start winning though. Their next three games are all in the division which gives them a chance to make up that ground.
19. Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 23)
The Chiefs might request to play every game in London soon. They blew out the Lions, which most teams do, and it was probably the best the Kansas City offense has looked all season. Charcandrick West is showing people that he too knows how to pound the rock behind that KC offensive front.
20. Washington (Last week: 20)
Coming off a bye, Washington has to be delighted that it is only a half game back of the division lead. They would lose the tiebreaker to the Giants and this week they play the Patriots but there is still some optimism.
21. Miami Dolphins (Last week: 18)
Well, Miami came back down to Earth. Fast. The Patriots demonstrated once again that they are still the bully in the AFC East and the Dolphins cannot contend with them yet. It was a blowout in every sense of the word. One that makes you wonder if those two straight wins were just a fluke.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last week: 31)
Tampa Bay is fresh off a shocking upset of the Falcons. The Bucs are still a couple of years away from being a playoff team but this is a good sign. The defense played very well, flustering Matt Ryan early and often. Now they have a big game with the hapless Giants defense. Mike Evans might be in good shape for a huge week.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week: 25)
Jacksonville has two wins on the season and is only one game behind the Colts for first place. That is simply unbelievable, especially given how poorly the Jaguars have played. If the offense centered around Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and T.J. Yeldon can play consistently, the Jags have as much of a shot at this as anyone else.
24. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 22)
Right now, Cowboys fans are praying for forgiveness for the number of times they made fun of Tony Romo. It is pretty clear now that Romo makes or breaks this squad, who has lost five straight games since his injury.
25. Chicago Bears (Last week: 24)
It looked like the Bears would upset the Vikings. Then it looked like they were headed for overtime. Then the Bears lost. It was almost inexplicable really, yet Chicago made it happen. Now Matt Forte is expected to miss a couple of weeks with a knee injury. Things are really at a low point in the Windy City.
26. San Diego Chargers (Last week: 21)
The Chargers rank number one in the league for passing yards per game. They also rank number 29 for rushing yards per game. Giving Phillip Rivers some help on the ground is key going forward for San Diego, especially with leading receiver Keenan Allen now done for the year.
27. Houston Texans (Last week: 32)
It seems that every team I drop into the cellar wins the following week. The Texans continued that trend with a solid win over Tennessee. Houston is actually tied with the Colts for the AFC South lead but without Arian Foster, I don’t see the Texans making a playoff push.
28. Cleveland Browns (Last week: 26)
For a little while there, it looked as though Cleveland would shock the Cardinals as they lead 20-7. Then they stopped scoring, for the rest of the game. Now the Browns gear up for a divisional battle with the undefeated Bengals with Johnny Manziel at the helm. This could get really ugly, really fast.
29. Baltimore Ravens (Last week: 29)
Well it looks like that break for the Ravens hasn’t come yet. Steve Smith tore his Achilles and will not return this season. Now, the leading receiver for Baltimore is Kamar Aiken. That definitely spells trouble.
30. San Francisco 49ers (Last week: 28)
The 49ers needed to make a change. I don’t know if benching Colin Kaepernick was it. Kaepernick hasn’t been great but he doesn’t have much to work with. The defense has been miserable as well. This team seems struggle no matter what situation they are in.
31. Tennessee Titans (Last week: 27)
Turns out that moral victories weren’t enough to save Ken Wisenhunt’s job. Tennessee has lost six straight since its impressive opener. Marcus Mariota hasn’t been healthy but that is far from the only issue. Finding a running game is the next step for these rebuilding Titans.
32. Detroit Lions (Last week: 30)
A new era is underway in Detroit. The Lions fired their team president and general manager this morning. Already this year, Detroit dismissed their offensive coordinator. It is going to be a long rebuild where no one is safe. Definitely not Matt Stafford.