By Jonathan Danielson
After a four week wait, we’ve seen enough, heard enough, and read enough to reassess each team, and where they stand in the NFL pecking order.
Here’s round two.
(Oh, and in case you didn’t read round one, you can check it out here)
32) Kansas City Chiefs (1-6), Previously Ranked (P): #24
Who ever thought Matt Cassell and Brady Quinn would make Chiefs fans pine away for Kyle Orton? Or for that matter, former coach (and current Pittsburgh Steeler offensive coordinator) Todd Haley?
This team is simply awful, and Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe are killing my fantasy team. Sigh.
31) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6), P: #29
Speaking of awful, Blaine Gabbert is the quarterback for the Jags. Okay, he threw for over 300 yards against Green Bay, but the Seahawks offense also looked good against the Pack, and that was before the replacement ref handed them the game. My point is, don’t read too much into it. We are, of course, still waiting for Tim Tebow to be playing in Jacksonville by tomorrow.
30) Cleveland Browns (2-6), P: #32
Last time we looked at the Browns, they hadn’t won a game. Since then, they’ve won two. While this is an improvement, Cleveland shouldn’t hold their breath for a parade just yet. Or for a .500 season.
29) Tennessee Titans (3-5), P: #26
Well, Matt Hasselbeck is still under center in Tennessee. Remember how I said not to expect too much from the Titans? Keep doing that.
28) Buffalo Bills (3-4), P: #17
What was the best thing that happened to the Bills last week? If you answered, “they had a bye, so they couldn’t lose,” you are correct. The Bills have had some gutsy wins, but they’ve also played two of the worst games in the history of the NFL (A 52-28 loss to the Pats, and a 45-3 loss against the 49ers).
Don’t quote me on that history line. I did just make it up. Regardless, those losses were bad, and so are the Bills.
27) New Orleans Saints (2-5), P: #25
Just counting down the days until Sean Peyton comes back from suspension.
26) Carolina Panthers (1-6), P: #22
Yes, I have ranked the Panthers higher than the Saints. No, that isn’t a typo. Yes, I know the Panthers have only won one game. No, I understand Jonathan Vilma returned to the Saints.
25) New York Jets (3-5), P: #31
Last rankings, the Jets were picked as the second worst team in the league. Because they’ve won three games, they get to move up in the world, but only slightly. Their best players are still injured, and they still have a backup quarterback who’s getting all the attention while not making any plays. Oh, and they have Tebow too.
See what I did just there?
24) San Diego Chargers (3-4), P: #15
A few things we know for certain: Phillip Rivers doesn’t have any talent around him, and at the end of the year, Norv Turner will be fired. While on paper they are only a game behind Denver for a shot at the division, no one, not even probably the San Diego Chargers themselves, actually believe they have a legitimate chance at winning anything, besides maybe this week’s game against Kansas City.
The Chargers mostly likely will end up with a high draft pick. While I would recommend trading their best assets for more picks, their only asset right now is Rivers. Still, it’s time this team goes for broke, sells the farm, and tries to pickup as many first round slots as possible. If trading Rivers is the only way to do that, so be it.
23) Oakland Raiders (3-4), P: #30
The Raiders have had some surprising success lately, but with games against the Bucs, Ravens and Broncos coming up, that success most likely won’t last. Then again, they also still have to play the Bengals, Browns, Chiefs, Panthers and Chargers, so who really knows? If they can win the majority of those games, they might be giving Denver a run at the division.
22) Cincinnati Bengals (3-4), P: #7
The Bengals showed flashes of brilliance in the early part of the season. As the season progressed though, the team’s inexperience started to shine. I still think the Bengals will be great with Andy Dalton throwing to AJ Green, it just won’t be now.
21) St. Louis Rams (3-5), P: #20
The Rams are doing what everyone else in the NFC West is doing right now: building a surprisingly bone crushing defense (led by Howie Long’s kid, Chris Long) that keeps them in the majority of their games.
This young and talented Jeff Fischer coached team is quickly laying the foundation for the NFC West to become one of the best divisions in football.
20) Detroit Lions (3-4), P: #27
Fortunately, fans in Detroit will be so depressed about their Tigers getting swept in the World Series that it’ll be a while before they realize the Lions are not living up to any of the potential and praise they were given the last few years. In a division with the Packers, Bears, and the sudden reemergence of the Vikings, the Lions are going nowhere fast.
19) Philadelphia Eagles (3-4), P: #6
What a disaster. Their star studded defense actually got worse by firing a defensive coordinator who hadn’t held the position since he used to call schemes for a high school team, and now Nick Foles is on pace to replace Michael Vick sometime very, very soon.
This will, and should be, the year Andy Reid finally gets fired.
18) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4), P: #21
This team is young and extremely talented, and their only losses have come from RGII, a shootout with the Saints, and a one touchdown loss to the defending Super Bowl champs. While it’s taken a while for them to come around, you’re looking at the future of the NFC South right here.
17) Dallas Cowboys (3-4), P: #18
Like the last six years, the Cowboys haven’t been able to get it done with Tony Romo as their quarterback. Fortunately, their stadium has a really big TV in it. If Jerry Jones would just put something else on during games, fans might actually have something to watch.
Okay, you’re right, their defense is also good. But when your offense isn’t getting the job done, a defense can only go so far.
16) Arizona Cardinals (4-4), P: #3
Speaking of a team with a good defense and no offense, the Arizona Cardinals are on a four game losing streak, after starting the season with a four game winning streak. That’s why I’ve placed them right in the middle of the rankings. Their season is sort of like kissing your sister, whatever that means.
What can you really expect though, when your quarterback is out with an injury? And two starting offensive linemen are out? And so is your starting tight end? And your starting running back? And your second running back? And…
15) Washington Redskins (3-5), P: #14
While Andrew Luck has been quietly consistent for the Colts, Robert Griffin III has seemingly been the main attraction in the NFL. In his first eight games, he’s already become a cultural icon, and you have to wonder, even though the Colts are playing better, how many people in Indianapolis are wondering, “what if,” as in, what if RGIII was wearing a horseshoe instead of a racist depiction of a Native American?
14) Seattle Seahawks (4-4), P: #16
Sure, they have one more notch on their belt than they deserve, and their defense totally fell apart against Detroit, but the facts still remain in Seattle: overall they have a very good defense, and overall Russell Wilson is blossoming as a very good third round pick.
13) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3), P: #19
Earlier in the season, the Steelers suffered from a stagnant offensive, an injured defense, and suspect play calling.
Since then, the defense has shown signs of its former life, and Jonathan Dwyer has rushed for two consecutive 100-yard games. If Pittsburgh can keep up this type of playing, they will be the Steeler team everyone thought the would be.
12) Miami Dolphins (4-3), P: #23
The Dolphins are most certainly not who we thought they were. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill hasn’t sucked like everyone expected, and if they hadn’t lost that overtime thriller in Arizona, they would be 5-2 right now.
11) Indianapolis Colts (4-3), P: #28
Andrew Luck is like Andrew Luck which is why the Colts drafted him, and the team is making an improbable run at a playoff spot. How long did it take Peyton to get to the playoffs for the first time?
10) New England Patriots (5-3), P: #9
Tom Brady is doing what he does best, and his team is lighting it up on the offensive side of the field. Problem is, they’ve also lost twice, at home, to NFC West teams (who have very good defenses). This isn’t to discredit either the Seahawks or Cardinals, it’s just a statement that a good defense (so far) is better than the Pats offense, and because of that, the Pats are very beatable.
9) Minnesota Vikings (5-3), P: #13
I don’t even know where to begin.
8) Green Bay Packers (5-3), P: #8
Technically, as we all know, this team should be 6-2, not 5-3. But here’s the thing, the Packers haven’t looked remarkably great in their victories, and during their losses they’ve looked remarkably mediocre. Are they a team that’s just simmering throughout the season, only to boil over once it really matters, or are they just a good, but not great, NFC North team?
7) Baltimore Ravens (5-2), P: #5
The year started out rough when Terrell Suggs went down with an injury before the season even started. Just as things were looking up, Ray Lewis suffered a season (and maybe career) ending injury. But then Terrell Suggs came back. Don’t count them out yet.
6) Denver Broncos (4-3), P: #12
Where they’re great, they are phenomenal, and that’s due to Peyton Manning. When they’re bad, they are horrible, and that’s also sometimes due to Peyton Manning. Looking at the schedule, this team could hypothetically win every game left in the season. They also just as easily could lose every game (except the two games against the Chiefs).
5) Chicago Bears (6-1), P: #10
Perhaps they should be ranked higher, but they are da Bears, and have disappointed time and time again. If they can carry on their success and dominance over the next few weeks, da Bears will potentially be looking at a Top-Three placing. And a deep playoff run.
4) New York Giants (6-2), P: #11
Technically, da Bears should be in this spot (and maybe even the #3 spot) but this is part of the perks of winning a Super Bowl. That, and watching Eli use his Super Bowl rings to flash the sun into Peyton’s face as Archie drives the family to a Disney World vacation.
“Cut it out Eli!”
3) San Francisco 49ers (6-2), P: #4
Granted, like the NFC Championship game last season, the Giants humiliated the Niners in week six (okay, maybe Kyle Williams humiliated the Niners is the Championship game, but you get my point). So why then is San Francisco ranked higher than the defending Super Bowl champs?
Because of that old cliché, “Defense wins Super Bowls.” And nobody has a better defense than San Francisco. Even if they did lose 26-to-3 against the Giants. Like I said last rankings, good teams have bad weeks. Expect to see the 49ers play late into the season.
2) Houston Texans (6-1), P: #1
With only one loss to their name, the Texans are still the most complete team in the AFC. Considering the lopsided disparity of talented teams between the NFC and AFC, that might not really being saying much, but the Texans are good regardless.
Oh, and their offense still has Andre Johnson and Arian Foster.
So far, they are the overwhelming pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
1) Atlanta Falcons (7-0), P: #2
Overachieving? Sure. Surprise to everyone? Absolutely. But do they have the talent to back it all up? To finally receive the credit they deserve?