1. New Orleans Saints – THE GOOD A legitimately improved defense and running game to compliment one of the best passing attacks in the NFL makes the Saints look like the most complete team as of now. THE BAD The defense still needs to prove it each week, though.
2. Baltimore Ravens – THE GOOD Even with this week’s loss, the Ravens don’t really have too many holes and honestly looked like a better team than the Patriots. Some very bad calls in the Pats favor definitely effected the outcome. Sorry Pats fans, but it’s true. THE BAD The only weaknesses so far are an aging WR corps and a questionable to this point in this season secondary.
3. New York Giants – Giants look tough across the board and can play smashmouth football which makes them a rare breed in today’s NFL and should give them staying power as the season goes on. THE BAD They would be 3-1 if not for Tony Romo completely choking in Dallas a couple weeks ago. If you can shut down the Giants running game and make them one dimensional, Eli generally becomes an average NFL QB.
4. Indianapolis Colts – THE GOOD – Peyton Manning is having a fantastic season, the WR corps are making some great catches, the defense at times looks tough and tenacious. THE BAD – The defense at times looks very weak against the run (see Miami Dolphins game). This team could easily be 2-2 instead of 4-0 with close wins against the Jags (14-12) and Miami 27-23. Running game is non-existent and team might rely on Manning a little too much.
5. Minnesota Vikings – THE GOOD They can run the ball as well as just about anyone and they might have the best pass rushing D-line in the NFL, Favre has become a good game manager. O-line is great. THE BAD Vikes would be 3-1 if not for a last second miracle TD pass against the 49ers. Does anyone honesty think Favre will play as well as he did on Monday night for the rest of the season? Especially late in the season? The Vikings D-line won’t be playing the Packers O-line every game this season.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers – THE GOOD – If this team played as aggressively against Chicago and Cincinnati as they did against San Diego, the Steelers would easily be 4-0. That’s the good and bad news for Steeler fans in a nutshell, if this team plays aggressively on offense and defense for all 4 quarters they can and probably will beat anyone in the league, but the question is will they? Big Ben is quietly having his best season as a QB, he’s on pace for over 4,000 yards passing, O-line is playing great, offense has a lot of weapons, defense has been really good in the 1st 3 quarters of games, but… THE BAD – Defense tends to go into a prevent style D in the 4th quarter, allowing teams to get back into the game. LB’s James Harrison and Lamar Woodley, the Steelers sack duo from last season has been largely absent in that department thus far this year. The running game has been suspect thus far.
7. New England Patriots – THE GOOD – Belichick is still a great coach, the refs seem to be on their side, Tom Brady is still the QB and is having a good start so far. The offense can put up points when needed. Defense seems to be improving THE BAD – Defense still looks weak a lot of the time, the O-line still looks very shaky. Run game is non-existent.
8. New York Jets – THE GOOD – Mark Sanchez is having a solid year so far for a rookie QB and the players seem to have responded well to new head coach Rex Ryan. The defense is much improved from last year. O-line is looking good. THE BAD – Sanchez is still a rookie QB and has already started to struggle at times, which may be a bad sign of things to come.
9. Denver Broncos – THE GOOD – The defense looks mightily improved from last year, Kyle Orton is having a solid season so far and seems to be a good fit for Josh McDaniel’s new offensive system. THE BAD – The offense doesn’t scare anyone and hasn’t been that impressive thus far. Is the defense the real deal? The Broncos will be tested in the coming weeks with a tougher schedule.
10. San Francisco 49ers – THE GOOD – Defense looks like the real deal, giving up only 13 points a game so far, almost shades of the ’85 Bears but let’s not get crazy. Shaun Hill has been decent at QB. Team should be 4-0 if not for a miracle TD pass by Favre in the Vikings game. THE BAD – The offense doesn’t look too good, with the recent signing of Michael Crabtree things could improve. Division is weak, which puts doubts into how well they will ultimately stack up with the rest of the NFC teams. All 3 wins are against divisional rivals in what has to be the worst division in football.
The Glorious Bottom 5
5. Carolina Panthers – THE GOOD – Panthers have some good players on this team, but where are they and what are they doing? Jake Delhomme is off to a horrible start. THE BAD – Bad QB play, struggling defense, players already look like they’ve quit on head coach John Fox.
4. Kansas City Chiefs – THE GOOD – Not much to be honest, there are some young potentially good players on the team. Even with a winless record, the team’s fundamentals seem to be better than when Herm Edwards was head coach. THE BAD – Defense looks real bad at times. Offense is not much better.
3. Cleveland Browns – THE GOOD – Derrick Anderson looks like an improvement at QB over Brady Quinn. Team almost got a win against the Bengals. Team unloaded Braylon Edwards, ie, taking out the trash. THE BAD – Team looks like it already has quit on new coach Eric Mangini, Defense is stinky.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – THE GOOD – The youth movement on defense only means they’ll get better. Run blocking looks good, running game is solid. THE BAD – Defense is giving up way too many points, too mistake-prone on both sides of the ball.
1. St. Louis Rams – THE GOOD – Very little, very few brightspots. O-line is full of early round draft picks and should get better, LB corps is decent. Steven Jackson is a great running back. THE BAD – QB’s are running for their lives, RB Steven Jackson faces 8 and 9 man fronts on virtually every down which might reduce the length of his career if that continues. Unknown WR’s, no depth, pretty bad defense.