At this point in the NFL season, we have seen enough on teams to actually begin to gather firm opinions on each one.
Fans, the media, and even front offices have started to realize what teams actually have a realistic shot at the playoffs and who’ll be playing for Andrew Luck. Being the best team in the NFL doesn’t matter until you’re at least the best team in your conference, so starting this week I’ll begin to split the NFL Power Rankings into the AFC and the NFC from here on out.
The records are what they are, but I’ve become more comfortable with the teams as a whole instead of a particular teams most recent win or loss and that factors heavily into where they are ranked. Hopefully your team makes the cut and is one of the six listed above the fold.
Projected Playoff Teams
1. Green Bay Packers (7-0) - You want to put a game on Pay Per View that I’ll actually pay for? Packers vs Patriots! Aaron Rodgers attacking the 32nd ranked pass defense in the NFL and Tom Brady coming right back against the 31st ranked pass defense. Defense wins championships my ass.
2. New Orleans Saints (5-2) – As great as the 49ers defense is, I can’t see them shutting down Drew Brees’ offense and outscoring the Saints. All in all I think the Saints are the better team and built for the playoffs.
3. San Francisco 49ers (5-1) - Jim Harbaugh has worked a miracle with a NFC West squad. That was unthinkable back in August. I’m still not comfortable with Alex Smith at the helm. I realize that he’s played better but he isn’t as good as everyone is making out. He’s a game manager and that will cost this team in several games.
4. Dallas Cowboys (3-3) – They have all of the weapons on offense and Rob Ryan will get the defense to play above their heads. It’s a challenge to know who will get it figured it out first, the Cowboys or the Eagles.
5. Atlanta Falcons (4-3) – People seem to judge the Falcons on a steeper curve due to the fact of their expectations for this season. At face value this a good team that’s still finding their identity and a playoff team at that. Watch out for them.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4) – The way they started the season was possibly the best thing for them. The entitlement is gone and the competitive edge is back. They could easily win the division but they’ll definitely make the playoffs. The changes on defenses paid off in the last game and you can expect a completely different look after the bye.
Outside Looking In
7. Detroit Lions (5-2) – This is a playoff caliber team that has taken some costly lumps. Matt Stafford is banged up again and we don’t know how this will play out. Too many issues with the running back situation since camp. Mikel Leshoure, Jerome Harrison, Ronnie Brown, Jahvid Best, and James Davis. Madden has nothing on the Detroit Curse!
8. New York Giants (4-2) – I realize Giants fans are going to have a problem with me having the first place team listed as the third best in their division. I just don’t see anything special about this team and they’ll taper off.
9. Chicago Bears (4-3) – Honestly, I’m not comfortable with this pick. Jay Cutler is playing determined and Matt Forte is going about getting a new contract the right way. The defense still scares me but the Bears haven’t shown any fear in making changes. It’s a team I’ll have to keep an eye on and may adjust.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3) – Regression! That’s what this whole team is about. When they take one step forward they run a marathon backwards. Josh Freeman, Mike Williams, Aqib Talib. They need a veteran to snatch them by the neck and get everyone in line. It’s a college team mentality. Who’s enforcing the law? Chris Cook was suspended from the Vikings for a brutal assault on his girlfriend. Talib shot at someone in an attempt to KILL them. He’ll be on the field for Tampa.
11. Carolina Panthers (2-5) – It’s a fun team to watch and while Cam Newton has been impressive, the offensive line is amazing with their protection of him. It’s a team that can win on any given week but lack the talent to win consistently.
12. Washington Redskins (3-3) – The decline begins. Everyone doubted Rex Grossman and John Beck except Mike Shanahan. His confidence will be his downfall this year and hopefully he will be wise enough to find a quarterback next year…they’re kind of important to your success.
13. Seattle Seahawks (2-4) – WOW! I didn’t think it could get worse than Tarvaris Jackson but Charlie Whitehurst was horrific against the Browns. It’s hard to imagine that it gets much better for the Seahawks.
14. Minnesota Vikings (1-6) – Christian Ponder played better than Donovan McNabb but I don’t understand why everyone is so impressed with his performance against the Packers. They are the second to worse team in pass defense in the NFL. He didn’t look stellar and the team isn’t a ton better for him being the starter.
15. Arizona Cardinals (1-5) – They aren’t getting a lot of press as possibly one of the worst teams because of their one win but that win came against Cam Newton in is very first start as a pro. This team is bad and could contend for the top overall pick.
16. St Louis Rams (0-6) – Arizona’s saving grace has been their divisional foe. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, we got to see AJ Feeley get the start for the Rams. It’s not a pretty sight, kids in the room please look away while the Rams play.