1. Cowboys - Dallas wasn't nearly as impressive in their win over New York this week but they still showed us why they should be considered the most balanced team in the league. DeMarco Murray continues his tear of 100+ yard games while Romo shows more poise in the pocket than we've ever seen from him behind this remarkable offensive line. And some how the defense looks more vicious without Shaun Lee or DeMarcus Ware? This team seems to defy logic but it appears the Cowboys have finally shored up their weak spots after years of criticism for their dreadful o-line and inconsistent play calling. The Cowboys aren't far and away the best team in the league but they've certainly separated themselves in the early goings as the most complete team thus far.
2. Broncos - What I thought was going to be the best game of the week, turned into a one sided Peyton Manning love fest. And honestly, the record breaking touchdown didn't even look like a touchdown to me. But then you'd have to retract the huge stadium wide announcement, horse charging onto the field with the 509 flag, etc, etc. He didn't get both feet down but whatever. He would have gotten it later in the game anyways. Denver's offense looks better each coming week and with the emergence of Ronny Hillman in the running game, they may be an even more dangerous team than last year. Especially with that defense holding the 9ers to just 17 points.
3. Colts - Even without a decent running game, the Colts have the league's #1 offense by far. And Andrew Luck didn't let up any hosting the Bengals as Indy dominated Cincinnati 27-0 on Sunday. The shutout couldn't have been possible though without the tenacious play of their defense, who held the Bengals to 0 first downs on their first 8 possessions. Pagano has this defense looking nasty in the past couple of weeks and with Luck putting up gigantic numbers like this, they could be hard to catch in any game.
4. Ravens - Baltimore might be the least talked about 1 loss team in the league right now, which is a bit of a head scratcher as the team's just a year removed from their Superbowl run and Joe Flacco is back to playing like Joe Flacco with steady run support. Forsett has to be the breakout player of the year thus far, giving this team consistency after seemingly being left for dead in the back field without Ray Rice and dismal output from Bernard Pierce. His production has given Flacco a lot more time in the pocket and adding a reliable check down target like Steve Smith to the receiving corps has helped immensely. Don't be surprised if John's the only Harbaugh whose team is pushing for another Superbowl appearance this January.
5. Eagles - On a bye this week, the Eagles are still neck and neck with the Cowboys for first place in the NFC East. And if LeSean McCoy and the battered and bruised offensive line can get healthy in the downtime, they may be the only offense in the NFC on par with Dallas.
6. Chargers - The San Diego offense couldn't pull away from the Chiefs this time as they had only their defense to rely on in the closing seconds of Sunday's loss to Kansas City. And lets just say, the defense is nowhere near as prolific as the offense is. San Diego gave up way too many plays in the middle of the field, where Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles seemed to focus on picking them apart all day long. Rivers is good but when you go up against a defense like Kansas City, your defense has to make a stand at some point. San Diego's doesn't look capable of that.
7. Cardinals - Arizona outlasted the Raiders in Carson Palmer's return to Oakland, the Cardinals took a commanding lead in the NFC West thanks to the Broncos and Rams. Well, beating the winless Raiders didn't hurt either. Andre Ellington continued with his breakout season by putting up 160 total yards, giving this Cardinals team a running game they haven't had in quite some time. Don't write the Cardinals off, this team is for real. Even if they eventual drop out of the top spot in the feisty NFC West, I expect this team to be a playoff contender for sure.
8. 49ers - I was really expecting a much better game between San Fran and Denver but I guess missing Navarro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis might be a bit much for the 9ers to have to make up for, especially against a guy in the midst of breaking the all-time passing touchdown record. But all injuries aside, there's been a sharp decline in performance from Frank Gore this year, who used to be as reliable as any back in the league. His yards per carry are way down this season and his output is sorely missed in the offense, who really can't be carried by Kaepernick alone.
9. Lions - Detroit's a different team this year. And not just because their buffoon of a head coach is gone but defensively they're much more sound. Glover Quinn has stepped up huge in the secondary and with the pass rush of Fairly and Suh, it's nearly impossible to pass on them. And now that Stafford is forced to find other receivers due to Megatron's injury, the offense looks much more consistent as well. Putting together a 13 point comeback the Lions pulled off a win they normally would have quit on. I think the NFC North may be Detroit's to lose at this point. Which was the case last year but I think their #1 ranked defense is better suited to hold off the competition now.
10. Seahawks - Even if Seattle had come up with the ball during the controversial dog-pile fumble at the end of the game, I really don't think the offense could have pushed the ball down field in time to come away with a victory. I just wish the play would have at least been reviewed so there wouldn't be this looming question hanging over one of the best games of the weekend. Seattle's got real problems on both sides of the ball, most noticeable is their abandonment of Marshawn Lynch. He doesn't seem to be getting the touches he deserves and the offense has been struggling as a result, running plays too cute to make it out of the backfield the majority of the time.
11. Packers - Randall Cobb finally broke out of his slump this week, contributing 121 receiving yards in Green Bay's domination of Carolina. Rogers had an unbelievable game against a Panthers secondary that looks nowhere near the shutdown squad they were a year ago. Meanwhile, the Packers' offense is starting to look like they did back in Rogers' MVP campaign, he just doesn't have the defense to make this team a solid Superbowl contender.
12. Chiefs - San Diego's five game winning streak came screeching to a hault this week at home against the Chiefs as Alex Smith exposed the faults in the Chargers' defense seemingly all day long. But getting help from Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles surely doesn't hurt either. His closing drive to set up the game winning field goal looked absolutely perfect and leaves room for a third team once again in the AFC West playoff hunt. The Chiefs look just as viable as last year and if Smith can keep his turnovers down as he has lately, this team may not be done just yet.
13. Patriots - Talk about the ultimate redemption story. Chris Jones, the guy that gave the Jets a second chance at a game winning field goal that initially missed last season, came up huge with his block on another potential game winner Thursday night as the Patriots held off the surprisingly contentious Jets. New England's defense was dreadful holding off what's been a very pedestrian New York offense thus far in the season so this wasn't really a win that the Pats should feel good about. A 2 point win over a 1-5 team isn't anything to gloat about when you're struggling as much as the Patriots are.
14. Steelers - Pittsburgh’s got plenty of explosive players but apparently they’re only going to show up sporadically this season. Like the insane 74 seconds in the second quarter that allowed Pittsburgh to jump out to a big enough lead for the sloppy Houston offense to remain out of reach. With the Browns and Bengals both slowly unraveling, the Steelers’ playoff hopes aren’t dead quite yet. As long as Le’Veon Bell keep active in the play calling.
15. Bengals - Cinci couldn't really feel that good about ending their overtime game with the Panthers last week in a tie but it sure as hell had to feel better than this week. The Bengals were dominated, so much that the 27-0 final score doesn't really even do it justice. If you had any doubts about how crucial A.J. Green is to Andy Dalton's success, look no further than this game for all the evidence you need. And like Carolina, this team's defense seems to have regressed immensely, especially in their pass rush. With all four teams in the AFC North floating around .500, the Bengals need to fix things quick before they sink below the competition.
16. Panthers - Carolina's defense was humiliated this week as the Packers did virtually anything they wanted to against the slumping Panthers' d. Hey but at least we got some more quality time with Derek Anderson! But really though, do we have to let any of the NFC South teams into the playoffs this year, or can we just give an extra spot to the NFC West?
17. Bills - Kyle Orton overcame 4 turnovers to the rebuilt Vikings defense to come out with a last second touchdown pass to rookie standout Sammy Watkins to steal one away from Minnesota this week in Buffalo. The one point victory came at the expense of both CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson, who both left the game due to injuries, leaving Boobie Dixon as their only source for a ground game. However, the Bills defense continued to wreak havoc on Teddy Bridgewater, who's quickly becoming the most sacked quarterback in the league, holding the Peterson-less Vikings to a measlely 16 points. The Bills are still statistically in the AFC playoff race but without Spiller or Jackson, this offense is going to continue to struggle quite a bit. And you'll need more than 17 points to beat most teams outside of the bottom third of the league.
18. Saints - New Orleans stacked up a 13 point lead on the Lions until Detroit came charging back and sealed a comeback win off of a Drew Brees interception that lead to a game winning touchdown pass from Stafford. Brees can't do it all on his own anymore. The Saints should have been able to run this game out, provided they actually had a reliable running attack. Which they haven't since their Superbowl run back when Peyton was still a Colt. This team severely lacks balance and even though Carolina looks far from unbeatable atop the NFC South, New Orleans has to win games like these to remain viable in the hunt for the playoffs.
19. Bears - 7 weeks into the regular season and Chicago still hasn't won a home game. To quote Brandon Marshall, "That's unacceptable". And as much as I stick up for Jay Cutler, he's given me absolutely no reason to do so this year. Without steady production from Matt Forte, he's been a turnover machine. Even with arguably one of the best receiving corps in the league, this team's passing game is awful. And the only thing worse than their offense is the defense, who made Ryan Tannehill look like a superstar this week. I've been reluctant to give up on the Bears, especially when it's the Lions they have to catch in the division race, but I think this is where I jump off Chicago entirely. Losing to the Dolphins at home is ridiculous.
20. Texans - Houston were on track for a seemingly painless Monday night victory until two incredibly costly turnovers gave Pittsburgh the ball within the 10 yard line twice before the half ended in what was a 10 point Texans lead. The defense is good but still not good enough to carry this team on their own. Fitzpatrick is a place filler and until they can get a real starting qb, they’re not returning to the playoffs any time soon.
21. Browns - Just when we were all about to start feeling good about the Browns again, they go out and put up 6 points against the worst team in football, giving the Jaguars their first win of the season. The defense finally played pretty decent, picking off rookie Blake Bortles 3 times but it was their offense that couldn't capitalize. Cleveland's right back to the bottom of the AFC North after one of the most short lived Cinderella stories in recent memory.
22. Rams - St.Louis jumped out to another big early lead against a divisional rival this week. But this time, with a lot of help from their special teams, the Rams were able to hang on and stun the Superbowl champions. A punt return misdirection that defies all logic and a fake punt that went for an 18 yard pass helped St.Louis hang on to a lead Austin Davis helped build with his impressive first half performance, making easy work out of the Legion of Boom. The Rams clearly don't fear anybody, which makes them incredibly dangerous, no matter how sloppy their secondary seems to be playing. But with as much talent as the defensive side of the ball has, all they need is one play maker back there to solidify what should be one of the best defenses in the league.
23. Dolphins - The only thing more surprising than how Miami blew a completely winnable game at home against the Packers last week is how they dominated the Bears in Chicago this week. Tannehill looked like a man reborn out there against this struggling Chicago defense while the defense held a frustrated Jay Cutler to just 190 yards, a fumble and a pick after he torched the Falcons last week for 380. Miami's been momentarily contentious but I still don't look for this team to have any impact long term. Unless you count pushing Brandon Marshall into media meltdown mode with his "unacceptable" press conference and locker room tirade after the game.
24. Giants - New York looked much better this week against Dallas than they did against Philly, but ultimately it was another losing effort from the G-Men. Eli still looks lost without a consistent running game and the defense has completely lost its edge, especially in pass coverage. New York may not be as bad as the preseason or even early games this regular season suggested but they're still not up to par with the playoff contenders in this league.
25. Vikings - Bridgewater threw two incredibly costly interceptions in Minnesota's narrow loss to Buffalo, who they largely dominated for the majority of Sunday's game. Rookie Anthony Barr has been an absolute stud for the defense, leading the team in tackles and finally solidifying the middle of the field for the Vikings. There big problem was capitalizing on the four turnovers their defense forced, as the offense only accounted for a meager 16 points which was easily eclipsed even by a team without their two go-to options on offense. At least Minnesota seems to have found a steady replacement for AP in McKinnon. The same can't really be said for Bridgewater just yet, but I'm not ready to rule him out as a starter until the offensive line quits hanging him out to dry on a weekly basis.
26. Falcons - Atlanta's an absolute train wreck. Mike Smith should have been shown the door at the close of last year's disappointing season but now with a healthy Julio Jones, the guy's got no excuses. The defense is as bad as it's been in his entire run with the team and the running game hasn't been the same since Michael Turner left. And it's been this way in Atlanta for the past three seasons now, so why nothing has changed is beyond me.
27. Jets - Everyone was expecting another Thursday night blowout when the 1 win Jets were lined up to play the Patriots but for some reason, Rex seems to know how to compete with the NFC East super power. Even in a loss, the Jets impressed me much more than the Patriots did. But now that they've acquired a time bomb like Percy Harvin, I feel like the desperation and toxic atmosphere in that locker room might have just increased exponentially with every coming loss.
28. Buccaneers - Tampa's got the week off, which is probably a good thing, as the rest of the NFC South took on some pretty embarrassing losses. The Bucs clearly aren't a playoff caliber team but seeing the rest of their division so stagnant leaves a lot of room for hope for next year but a knee jerk firing of Lovie Smith this spring could undo all of that. Hopefully the Tampa front office has the foresight to keep him around and improve what's really holding this team back - the defense.
29. Redskins - Isn't there some really dated football saying about the backup quarterback being everyone's favorite player or something? Well now that Kirk Cousins isn't that guy in Washington after his atrocious 0-4 starting record for the Redskins, third string quarterback Colt McCoy came in at half time to get the job done against the helpless Titans, throwing a touchdown pass on his first play from scrimmage. But before you go out and trade all your RG3 swag for McCoy jerseys, know this - IT WAS THE TITANS. WE'VE BEEN THROUGH THIS KIND OF OVER-REACTIONARY RESPONSE TO A BACKUP QUARTERBACK BEFORE, REMEMBER? HE JUST GOT BENCHED AT HALFTIME THIS WEEK.
30. Titans - With Charlie Whitehurst and Bobby Sanky leading the hapless Tennessee offense, it's no surprise Colt McCoy came in and outscored the Titans in the second half of what had to be the most boring game of the weekend. At least in Jacksonville/Cleveland you got to see a winless team finally break their losing streak. Without turnover machine Kirk Cousins on the field, the Titans really didn't have anything to gain momentum with in the second half. This team's abysmal.
31. Jaguars - Even though Bortles threw 3 interceptions against the stout Cleveland defense, their defense came up huge holding the Browns to just 6 points and limiting Brian Hoyer to an eye popping 16/41 passing. It seemed all the momentum went with Jacksonville after they stopped the Browns on a head scratching 4th and 1 pass attempt late in the second quarter. Cleveland didn't seem to respect the Jaguars whatsoever and paid the price, giving the winless team their first victory of the season, in a surprisingly one sided game.
32. Raiders - Oakland remains the league's only winless team as their former quarterback came in and blew passed the hopeless Raiders this week. Carr didn't throw any picks to the relentless Cardinals defense, but he didn't throw any touchdowns either. It's sad when that's the most positive thing you can say about a team's performance.