#4: The NFC’s most impressive, dangerous team?
1. New York Jets (2) – Rex Ryan’s troops have beaten New England, Miami, and Minnesota. Three quality victories. The defense hasn’t allowed a first-quarter point. The offense hasn’t given the ball away yet, tying an NFL record with its four-game turnover-free streak. Greene has awaken, Santonio has returned. The offensive line dominated the Vikings, actually, both lines did. Things couldn’t be any better in the Big Apple.
2. Baltimore Ravens (3) – Ray Rice is back to his old tricks, his usual form, his play-making self. You only need Anquan to catch one pass, and you still put up 31 points. Could there be an Ed Reed sighting soon?
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (5) – Defense is better than the past two Super Bowl winning units. Remember how good Mike Wallace was last season with Big Ben slinging him the rock? Bombs away. Roethlisberger returns to an enhanced running game -can you say upgrade? I’m hard-pressed to find any glaring weaknesses. Scary good, AFC’s in trouble.
4. New York Giants (16) – Sign of things to come: Front line is intimdating again, Hakeem is unstoppable, and Eli is making smart decisions. Even Brandon Jacobs is contributing now. People tend to forget how talented this secondary is. Recent dominance is just the tip of the iceberg. Super Bowl contenders?
5. Tennessee Titans (15) – Vince is limiting mistakes, Chris Johnson came alive during the 4th quarter in Dallas, and I can not say enough about this defensive line/pass rush which leads the NFL in sacks with an astounding 22. Kenny Britt is starting to show up. Alarming how good this team has been since 0-6 start last year. 11-4, and I believe this team is a serious player in the AFC.
6. Indianapolis Colts (6) – Despite a putrid performance on offense, a usually dismal defense elevated its play to the next level against Kansas City. Game on the road in Washington Sunday night should tell us a lot about Peyton’s club. Mike Hart provides the team with another valid option at RB. Can they win a grind it out battle away from home against a grind it out team that loves to battle like the Redskins?
7. Washington Redskins (14) – Donovan looks like a Pro Bowl QB. LaRon Landry is playing like he did on Saturdays in Baton Rouge. Brian Orakpo played like a man on a mission during crunch time. I like how they won a game they weren’t supposed to win -clutch. Huge home victory could lead to bigger and better things.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (20) – With this ranking in mind, a forecast of a potential triumph over Atlanta? LeSean McCoy is possibly playing like the top back in the NFC. Vick or Kolb, offense is under control. Prefer #7. As for the defense, Brandon Graham now following fellow rookie Nate Allen’s footsteps of success. Clearly, talent abounds. We should get a real indication whether or not this squad is a true contender to make some noise come January.
9. New England Patriots (12) – Interested to see how the team responds coming off of a Bye week. Revenge factor comes into play against Baltimore in Foxborough this Sunday. Aaron Hernadez and Brandon Tate figure to be the main benefactors and go-to targets next to Wes Welker with the trade of Randy Moss. BenJarvus Green-Ellis the past two games: 32 carries, 174 rushing yards, and two touchdowns, with a 5.5 yards per carry average.
10. Chicago Bears (18) – Matt Forte is playing like an MVP candidate. Julius Peppers is a difference-maker. Defense is back to forcing turnovers, Jay Cutler is expected to start against Seattle, and the “Windy City Flyer” Devin Hester is playing less offense; which means more of an emphasis on returns, which means better field position at the very minimum. Undoubtedly an impact.
11. Atlanta Falcons (11) – Balance is showing itself. Roddy White can make a case as the NFC’s best receiver. Matt Ryan is a winner. Team has scored an astonishing 36 points off turnovers. In the past 21 occurrences, they are 20-1 with a lead heading into the 4th quarter.
12. Green Bay Packers (9) – Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. Team should rest Rodgers against Miami like Chicago did with Cutler. Pass rush, Brandon Jackson stood out to me in Washington.
13. Minnesota Vikings (4) – Percy Harvin looked sensationally sharp Monday night in New York. Adrian has to get the ball more period. There’s a reason his nickname is “All Day”. Make him show you why Vikings. 8-1 is the record when Adrian runs the ball 19 or more times and Brett throws the ball less than 34 times in the same game. Team has a brutal schedule ahead.
14. New Orleans Saints (8) – The offense uncharacteristically yielded two defensive touchdowns. Reggie and Pierre are both showing their worth to the team in lieu of their absences. Each running back’s value is validated more and more when Brees’ bunch struggles on offense. You cannot underestimate their importance to this club. With that said, can one of the receivers step up in Tampa this Sunday? Will this team overcome a stunning defeat in Arizona and rebound with a victory against the division rival Bucs? Defense isn’t forcing turnovers as much as they did during the first two games. On the brink of losing control. Super Bowl champs are on the verge of missing the Playoffs. Can they live up to the hype. Ok, I’ve gone a bit too far.
15. Kansas City Chiefs (15) – Can Cassel receive some help from his receivers? Just a little somethin’, somethin’ could go a long way. McCluster isn’t ready yet to be an every down pass catcher, nor is he near prepared to take over as his #1 go-to option. However, Tony Moeaki is developing into a fine target for Matt. Nonetheless, expect Jamaal Charles to be the featured guy offensively, and touch the ball more like he did last week in Indy, compared to the first three weeks of the season. Defensively, the secondary played out of its mind, shutting down world-beater Peyton. Tamba Hali is a disruptive menace on the defensive line. Reaches the QB with such relative ease.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (25) – Couldn’t stop Cedric Benson from getting 144 yards and couldn’t defend Terrell Owens, yet they still found a way to win in a hostile environment. A young team like Tampa went into the “Jungle” to upend Cincy, and performed so well, you may not even consider it an upset. Josh Freeman to Mike Williams is money. Straight up cash. As for the defense, secondary elevated its game by producing some big plays. Unsung heroes made the difference. Who said Raheem Morris was on the hot seat?
17. Dallas Cowboys (7) – Felix Jones recorded his first 100-yard game on the ground in the regular season. Roy Williams registered another touchdown. What’s wrong with this team? The offensive line, which yielded just one sack heading into the game with Tennessee last week, surrendered six sacks. Prior to the game, they were the #1 ranked team in sacks allowed. They met its match -the NFL’s #1 ranked pass rushing attack. Romo also c0mpleted three costly, momentum-altering passes to the Titans. Three tough losses by a combined 20 points. At least they have been good, quality losses, to good quality opponents. Still not good enough for Jerry.
18. Houston Texans (10) – Andre Johnson’s injury has really hurt this team, especially his QB, Matt Schaub, who has looked relatively shaky since his impressive come-from-behind triumph in Washington. Really uncommon for Schaub. Also, Arian Foster had his first bad game, another uncommon occurrence for Houston. The team’s defensive backfield looked out of place against the Giants. Understandably, the Texans are falling back down to earth.
19. Cincinnati Bengals (13) – Bye week should help immensely. Marvin Lewis’ boys are under a tremendous amount of pressure. Still many games left, mainly, four games within the division. AFC North is still winnable. Turnaround is definitely reachable considering the run game is back on track.
20. San Diego Chargers (17) – Big-time disappointment, namely, the special teams unit. However, you know this squad always starts off slow. AFC West is wide open. Good to see Rivers and the offense put up an abundance of yards, points. Now, if only the defense can follow their lead. Seems like this team is always trailing early in games. It’s hard to recover from that Sunday after Sunday.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (24) – David Garrard is undervalued and it’s not even fair. Marcedes Lewis: about time former UCLA Bruin.
22. Denver Broncos (19) – Hurry back quickly Knowshon -love, Kyle & Josh.
23. Detroit Lions (26) – Stafford is returning after the Bye week. Defense showed some life. Time for some changes. This team is going to get back on track, like I expected.
24. Oakland Raiders (28) – First win over San Diego in 13 opportunities. Michael Bush is a bruiser. He can do it all. QB play is improving. They finally found a way to win a game they weren’t originally supposed to win.
25. Miami Dolphins (23) – Ripe to execute an upset in Lambeau. More running, less passing will aid Henne.
26. Arizona Cardinals (30) – Congratulations Max Hall. Defense came up huge against defending champions. Secondary has a slew of play makers.
27. St. Louis Rams (21) – Danario Alexander is going to be a stud for Bradford. This kid is a physical specimen.
28. Seattle Seahawks (29) – Still can’t figure these guys out. Will Marshawn help? I still like Forsett more.
29. San Francisco 49ers (22) – So close, huh? Singletary/Smith duo have to stick it out. I sense a complete 360 coming soon to a theatre near you. Alex, just throw the ball up to your weapons, Vernon and Crabtree. More two-minute no-huddle offense please.
30. Cleveland Browns (31) – Colt McCoy against the Steel Curtain? Plan for disaster.
31. Carolina Panthers (27) – I guess that near-upset at the Superdome means next to nothing now after that miserable showing at home to Chicago. They forgot how to run I guess. DeAngelo Williams? Can we see him on display once before the season ends?
32. Buffalo Bills (32) – Had the lead for a second. More C.J. Spiller; that’s all fans from Orchard Park ask for.