Crème’ de la Crème:
1) Atlanta Falcons 6-0 (-)
The best team in the NFL had the opportunity to re-energise for the rest of the season as they were on their bye this week. It is well timed for them as they had their poorest game of the season going into it.
2) Houston Texans 6-1 (-)
The Texans’ credibility was a bit under question given the previous teams they had beaten this year and the big loss to Green Bay. After beating the Ravens 43-13 there is no doubt, this team is the real deal.
3) New York Giants 5-2 (+3 places)
The Giants started the year with a poor performance against the Cowboys. Since then however their showings have demanded the respect. Back to back wins against two very good teams have ensured that the Giants have been elevated to this position.
4) San Francisco 49ers 5-2 (-1 place)
Jim Harbaugh’s teams don’t lose badly twice in a row. So following their defeat to the Giants, Harbaugh must have been pleased to see Pete Carroll’s Seahawks as the team next on the schedule. The extra spice of the two head coach’s rivalry (which dates back to their time coaching college football) only increased his desire to bounce back with victory and his team subsequently delivered on his wish.
5) Chicago Bears 5-1 (-1 place)
The Bears staunch defence helped them defeat the Lions, thus extending their dominance over their division. As a result their stranglehold on the NFC North does not look to be easing up any time soon.
6) Baltimore Ravens 5-2 (-1 place)
This game was always going to be a struggle for the Ravens given they were playing their first game without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. However, they are now on their bye week and have the opportunity to prepare not only for a season without those two, but they also have the task of getting Terrell Suggs up to speed for their next game. It is going to be a crucial fortnight if the Ravens want to remain competitive this season.
7) Minnesota Vikings 5-2 (+1 place)
The Vikings D must have been thrilled to hear they were playing the Cardinals. They knew they were coming up against a team that simply refuse to protect the quarterback and the review of statistics post game demonstrated as much. They managed to get 7 sacks, which helped them win 21-14, allowing them to stay within touching distance of the Bears at the top of their division.
8) New England Patriots 4-3 (+1 place)
Despite their win against the Jets, there seems to be something that is not quite fluent about the Patriots at the moment. Controversy was caused in relation to how the clock was managed by the officials, but ultimately they were able to beat the Jets to move into first place of the AFC East.
9) Seattle Seahawks 4-3 (-2 places)
Thursday night football served up a treat as two of the most feared defences went head to head. While their match versus the 49ers didn’t light up the scoreboard, it was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that both teams were two of the best teams in the league. So while they may have been beaten, they have made the rest of the league notice that this is not a team to underestimate.
10) Green Bay Packers 4-3 (+2 places)
The real Packers are back in business and their performances over the past two games should make the Bears and Vikings look over their shoulders, as the Packers are out to get them. They are looking very fluid even in the absence of Greg Jennings and should be able to notch another victory in the coming week.
11) Denver Broncos 3-3 (-)
The Broncos were on a bye this week and it has come at a crucial time as their next match is against the New Orleans Saints, which will be a battle of two of the best QBs in NFL history.
12) Washington Redskins 3-4 (+1 place)
The Redskins have been very impressive season but they have not been able to close out enough games. RG3’s play has been impressive and if they can find that winning edge then the Redskins could be a genuine threat to the NFC East title.
Those that must improve:
13) San Diego Chargers 3-3 (+1 place)
The Chargers were on a bye this week and have their dream return with a match against the bye. Some would even consider it two bye weeks in a row given that Trent Richardson is injured and hence a doubt for the game.
14) Dallas Cowboys 3-3 (+5 places)
The Cowboys had a few moments of nervousness against the Panthers but were ultimately able to get through the game with little fuss. Unfortunately, they lost Sean Lee, who has become one of their leaders on defence and as a result their playoff chances took a dive with it.
15) Arizona Cardinals 4-3 (-5 places)
Since going 4-0 the Cardinals have shown that they are not as good as their record was. Their failure to protect the quarterback is bordering on the insane as it gives their offense little chance to achieve any success and they have subsequently been reliant upon their defence to carry them through. This will not be sufficient to keep the Cardinals above .500 and as such, urgent attention/signings are required to bolster their offensive line.
16) Pittsburgh Steelers 3-3 (+9 places)
No matter how bad the Steelers are they always seem to have an edge over the Bengals. They utilised their running game to overwhelm the Bengals this time around and if anything they have demonstrated their strength in depth on that front. With the injuries to several key players on the Ravens, this is exactly the kind of morale boost the Steelers would be looking for in their push for the AFC North title.
image: © emeryjl