I'm not a drinking man much anymore, but if was this would be the time for whiskey. How in the blue hell do you rank an NFL where one division has a whopping 2 teams over .500 and the other has 10 legit playoff contenders.
I thought I had a pretty good handle on things last week, then my theory of '3 dominant teams' was shot to hell. Atlanta is the least inspiring 6-0 team in a long time. Baltimore may have taken a mortal wound to an already ailing defense. There's just no one that I can say "There! That's the favorite!"
I'm throwing records completely out of the window for this one. These rankings are based 100% on who I think would win the majority of games in a 100 meetings on a neutral field
Sticking to my Guns
1. San Francisco 49ers
I still love what this team does, but there is certainly a blueprint to beat them. Best thing that could happen to them at this point would be a 4th quarter comeback.
2. Houston Texans
Sometimes when you come across the best player in the NFL he just decides he's going to steamroll you. Houston probably isn't as good as I thought they were a week ago, but I still think they're more well rounded than any other team in the league.
3. New England Patriots
What the heck is wrong with this team? They're as good offensively as the 2007 team, but they're missing that - just - whatever can't be quantified in stats. Still, losing in Seattle is nothing to be ashamed of, and that offense is still as potent as ever. They'll need it though with P.I. McCourty back there. They've got a chance to on a 6 game run now though, and then we'll really see where they're at. (Hou. and SF in weeks 14 and 15)
The Other Contenders
4. Atlanta Falcons
At this point, even I feel like I'm slighting the Falcons, but, man they just aren't impressing me. First of all, they've had quite a few soft games (but they've got plenty more of those). Secondly, I don't see either their offensive or defensive squads as being real killers. They're perfectly aligned to be the 1st seed though, and then who knows!
5. Chicago Bears
Moved up on a bye.
6. New York Giants
Great, great, win by the Giants, and it leapfrogs them over the Packers, but I really want to see them beat up on some lesser teams - not let them hang around. They'll be here in January though.
7. Green Bay Packers
That's how a team re-establishes themselves. They need to put the Rams away early this week and remind the league just how good they can be.
8. Denver Broncos
That win by the Broncos is going to totally change the narrative of this team. After the bye they have 6 easily winnable games - and I don't expect Manning to blow those types of games. 3-3 after that brutal start to the season is probably best-case for the Broncos, and now it's off to the races.
9. Seattle Seahawks
They got their 1 road win. They won their hardest home game. They've got a fairly easy home slate from here on out. 9-7 here they come! (One more road win to the playoffs.)
The 'Uh oh' teams
10. Baltimore Ravens
I've been on the decline of their defense for the past few weeks, and the loss of Webb is a serious problem. His tackling ability allowed Baltimore to play the nickle and still play the run. They've got no one to fill that role. They're going to struggle defensively for the rest of the year, and I don't think they're used to throwing up for 35 each week. They might win the North by default, but they're going to have a hard time hanging with more advanced offenses in the NFL.
11. Detroit Lions
Nice, important, win by Detroit last week. They're still alive, but they're still going to have continue to improve to make the playoffs in a brutal NFC North. (They're games against Minnesota are going to be huge.)
12. Philadelphia Eagles
Man, they're so so talented, and so so dysfunctional. Basically weeks 7 to 12 are must win games for them.
The Other Playoff Contenders
13. Miami Dolphins
I know, I know, seemed impossible, but they're playing extremely well - Tannehill continues to impress me, and man, that schedule - 9 or 10 wins at the end of the year are legitimately in play here. (And in the AFC 10 wins is a playoff lock almost.)
14. Minnesota Vikings
Tough loss for them there. The holes in their defense have started to show. Two more wins before they get in over their head.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Every team hits a point where they're at 1 injury too many, 1 year too old. For Pittsburgh, I think this is the year. Who is their trainer, and why hasn't he been fired? Every damn year it's the same thing with this offensive line.
16. Dallas Cowboys
Bye week. No Major Changes.
17. San Diego Chargers
HAHA. I laugh in your general direction. (As a Broncos fan, I was confident we'd pull that monday nighter out no matter what the score was at halftime. Rivers just can't handle a pass rush.)
The Best of the Rest
18. Washington Redskins
They're not going to be easy to play, and they're going to be a ton of fun to watch this year. The defense is still way too 'meh' to go anywhere serious though.
19. Saint Louis Rams
Another well coached team with a definite plan, just missing some of the talent needed to pull it off.
20. Cincinnati Bengals
Continue to be the kings of average. If they could add a rushing component to their offense they could have something going for them, but I don't see them finding that anywhere on their roster, so baring a trade their offense will continue to be a 21 point squad. (And so will their defense.)
21. Buffalo Bills
That win against Arizona was too easy to pick. Buffalo is an average team - I think their defense could really improve the second half of the year - just too much talent for them not to, but the offense has no deep threat as it is. I think they'll need to go quarterback shopping at the end of the year.
22. New Orleans Saints
Totally unique position. They're better than their record, but the hard part of their schedule coming up. No idea where this goes for them.
23. Arizona Cardinals
Prediction: They'll be at 32 at one point this year. Their defense is good, but they're a Fitzgerald injury away from being the worst offense in the league.
The Bad Teams
24. New York Jets
Basically the Arizona Cardinals minus the elite receiver to bail them out. RELEASE THE TEBOW ALREADY.
25. Tampa Bay Bucs
Nice win against a dead corpse. Continues to be a learning year for them.
26. Tennessee Titans
Also a nice win. They certainly have the talent to do that more.
27. Cleveland Browns
Signs of life! Can't wait for a new regime come in, have success in 2013 and take all the credit.
28. Indianapolis Colts
I'm not shocked they lost last week, but giving up more than 30s against the Jets is really inexcusable.
29. Carolina Panthers
For having 'Superman' on their team, boy they are boring to watch.
30. Oakland Raiders
Pretty indicative of what the Raiders are last week - even with 2 weeks to prep and the benefit of early turnovers, couldn't close the deal. The Raiders try hard, but are on step 2 of 50 towards a rebuild.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
Did they play last week? Did they have a bye? I don't even know.
32. Kansas City Cheifs
They've never had a lead this year. Not once. That's really impressive. I'm not even mad!