As the NFL heads into Week 7, the gap between the #1 team in the NFL and pretty much everyone else seems to be widening by the week. The Packers have clearly separated from the rest of the league and, barring an injury to Aaron Rodgers, don’t appear to be coming back to the “pack” anytime soon. With the season more than 1/3rd of the way complete, let’s take a look at where all 32 NFL teams stack up as evaluated by the isportsweb NFL writers:
1. Green Bay Packers – Thanks to the latest retirement of Brett Favre, this week’s visit to Minnesota has about 1% of the attention that the last couple of trips Green Bay made into Minneapolis. The Packers look more and more like the 2007 Patriots with each passing week, minus the obnoxious hoodie, of course.
2. New England Patriots – Speaking of the obnoxious hoodie, the Patriots head into their bye week last in the NFL in total defense and pass defense, yet are 14th in points allowed per game. Clearly Belichick knows something that the rest of the world doesn’t. Anyone hear who Tom Brady is married to? A clue:
3. Baltimore Ravens – With games against Jacksonville and Arizona up the next two weeks, the Ravens look to be in good shape to be 6-1 heading into Pittsburgh for a rematch of their opening weekend beatdown of the Steelers. No word if the Ravens are still confused as to why they have to play the Super Bowl again in Week 8.
4. San Francisco 49’ers – Overshadowed by handshakegate, the 49’ers pulled off a gutty win in Detroit (yeah, I never thought I’d write that phrase either) to put themselves in great position to be the #2 seed in the NFC come playoff time. Seriously…they have 5 games left against the Rams, Cardinals, and Seahawks, plus games against the Browns and Redskins. Could happen. Really.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers appear to have ascended to this position almost by default, as their second half performance against Jacksonville on Sunday was somewhere between “a complete trainwreck” and “an embarrassment.” The Steelers head west to take on the Arizona Cardinals for the first time since Super Bowl XLIII before heading home to play the Patriots and Ravens in consecutive weeks. Trap?
6. Detroit Lions – The Lions have a tricky game with Atlanta upcoming as they seek to rebound from their first loss of the season. The Lions don’t run it well, nor do they stop the run, so they clearly are modeling themselves after the Patriots. The addition of Ronnie Brown could be a nice, low cost pickup that helps a putrid running game and pisses off all Jahvid Best owners.
7. New York Giants - Team Sybil rebounded from losing to the Seahawks by beating the Bills. If one assumes the inevitable collapse of the Redskins has begun, the Giants’ entire season may boil down to November 20 when they host Philadelphia. A sweep of the Eagles, combined with the current 2-game lead they possess, should win the division. Just kick away from Desean Jackson this time.
8. New Orleans Saints – They really just can’t quite seem to turn the corner and get on a roll, leading me to suspect that the Saints really aren’t what we keep thinking that they are. Then again, they did go 2-1 during 3 consecutive road games and their next two games are against the Colts and Rams, so the Saints still figure to be formidable come playoff time.
9. Oakland Raiders – For anyone who actually believed the news that Al Davis had died, deal a #1 in 2012 and a #1/#2 in 2013 for a 32-year-old QB that was 14th, 16th, and 19th in passer rating and 14th, 19th, and 22nd in yards per attempt in the last 3 seasons in which he played significant minutes is Exhibit “A” as to why you should know better. But Carson looks nice in bright orange, don’t you think?
1o. San Diego Chargers – They’ve beaten 4 teams that are a combined 4-18 by a total of 25 points and are largely flying under the radar despite being 4-1 to start the season. This will henceforth be known as The Norv Turner Effect.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Thanks to Josh Freeman for finally breaking out the week after I gave up on him and benched him in my fantasy football league. Tampa Bay endeavors to continue its perfect string of never having lost a game played on another continent this Sunday.
12. Buffalo Bills – The Bills are on a bye this week. Sharps in Vegas are pounding the over.
13. Cincinnati Bengals – The top 3 defenses in football reside in the AFC North (Pitt #1, Cincy #2, and Balt #3). All of you that predicted the Bengals would head into their bye at 4-2 AND would actually be the team that ripped off another in a trade, raise your hands. All of you with your hands up, you’re full of it.
14. Washington Redskins – Rex Grossman was pulled from Sunday’s game, as the Redskins have sputtered to an average of 15 points a game over the past 3 weeks. That’s the equivalent of being shut out 3 straight games in 1990.
15. Chicago Bears – The Bears head to London to play Tampa Bay this weekend after demolishing the Vikings in a laughably awful Sunday night game last week. Wonder if Kristin Calliveri will go in order to keep Jay Cuter away from:
End of gratuitous Pippa Middleton photos.
16. Houston Texans – The rest of the AFC would like to thank Houston for beginning its annual death spiral early in 2011. The Texans are still the best team in a very bad division, but it looks more and more like this will be the 23rd straight season that Houston fails to turn the corner.
17. Philadelphia Eagles – A concussion test in Philadelphia: “Hey Mike, how many fingers am I holding up?” “Huh?” “Ok, get back in there. That Young guy freaking sucks.”
18. Tennessee Titans – All of y’all that predicted Cincinnati would be 4-2 also predicted that Chris Johnson’s team would be last in the NFL in rushing too, didn’t you? Of course you did.
19. Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys could very easily be 5-0 right now. They could also very easily be 0-5 right now. If this week’s game against the Rams is as close as their first 5 have been, Jerrah will not be pleased…but Cowboys’ fans everywhere will still tell you that Tony Romo is just swell!
20. New York Jets – I’d like to thank Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, and the J-E-T-S’es for participating in 2 of the biggest trainwrecks in primetime NFL history over the past few weeks. It’s all kinds of awesome that Sanchez plays in 5 primetime games in the first 10 weeks of the season.
21. Atlanta Falcons – Atlanta is 3 games into a 7-game stretch that will be played entirely indoors. Could be 8 if Houston closes its roof on December 4. I clearly have little to add about the Falcons.
22. Seattle Seahawks – If there are really 10 NFL teams worse than Seattle right now, Alabama would go no worse than 7-9 in the NFC this year.
23. Cleveland Browns – The Browns possess wins over the Dolphins and Colts, who are a combined 0-11 thus far this year. They also possess Peyton Hillis, the only guy dumb enough to admit that he sat out a game because his agent told him to. Somehow all of this seems very, very appropriate for Cleveland.
24. Kansas City Chiefs - The best way to sum up Matt Cassel’s feelings about Todd Haley:
25. Carolina Panthers – The Panthers get three straight winnable home games surrounding their bye week, and the team is obviously vastly improved over the 2010 version. More importantly to anyone who doesn’t live in the Carolinas, Cam Newton has been the 2nd best fantasy QB this year. Priorities, people.
26. Denver Broncos – Tim Tebow gets the start for Denver this weekend. At halftime he plans to walk on water, cure cancer, and solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. #relaxitwasajoke
27. Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals play the Steelers on Sunday for the first time since the epic Super Bowl that made James Harrison and Santonio Holmes household names. The Cardinals are 17-22 since that game, and Ken Whisenhunt would love nothing more than to beat his former team to get back on track in the desert.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars – The newest rumor floating around is that Bill Cowher bought a house in Jacksonville, obviously suggesting that he’ll take over Jacksonville when Jack Del Rio is fired after the season. I can’t see Cowher walking into a situation that is several years away from being competitive, but hey, Jags fans need something to inspire them.
29. Minnesota Vikings – Wow have the wheels fallen off in Minnesota. The Twins have fallen apart, the T-Wolves are permanently awful, the Wild can’t turn the corner, and now the Vikings are a mess. But hey, at least they have mild winters up there.
30. Indianapolis Colts – So, do they draft Luck and trade Manning? Do they do a Favre/Rodgers thing for a few years? Do they trade the pick for other picks? The interesting thing is that, other than Miami, all of the bottom 8 teams in the NFL either have an established QB (Manning), just traded for a QB that they threw huge money at (Kolb and Cassel), or just drafted a QB #1 in the last 2 years (Ponder, Bradford, Gabbert, Tebow, Newton).
31. Miami Dolphins – Did any0ne who watched the abomination against the Jets come away with the impression the Dolphins were (a) point shaving, (b) tanking to get Andrew Luck, or (c) both?
32. St. Louis Rams – The Rams dearly need to get Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson some other weapons. Brandon Lloyd doesn’t count.
See you next week.