1. New Orleans Saints – THE GOOD – Another week, another win. This team simply finds a way to win. Brees continues to play great, defense continues to create huge turnovers. THE BAD – Defense still gives up yards and points, when a defense turns the tide in a game with a big turnover like the Saints do it’s great but it’s not really the best way to play defense every week because eventually the opposing team will not turn the ball over. Still question marks about playing in bad weather stadiums, although it won’t matter if the Saints get the #1 seed in the NFC. CONTENDER? Yes.
2. Indianapolis Colts – THE GOOD – Manning continues to play at a very high level. Offense moves the ball when it needs to. Dwight Freeney and the Colts D-line can get pressure on the opposing QB. THE BAD – Against the Texans the Colts had to rely on a fumble at the goalline and a missed FG at the end of regulation to insure a win at home. Secondary is in rough shape with 2 starters out of the lineup, including FS Bob Sanders who is out of the year. Running game is still sputtering, ranked 29th in the league. CONTENDER? Yep.
3. Minnesota Vikings – THE GOOD – With a bye, the Vikings stay put at #3. Impressive road games against the Steelers and Packers, the Vikes are looking great right now. Favre continues to look really good out there. Running game is still great. O-line is playing very well. Defense seems to be actually playing better as the season progresses, the secondary is blanketing WR’s. THE BAD – Will Favre’s play hold up throughout the season or will it dip like last year? Playing home games in a dome could help. Defense has given up a lot of yards so far this year, but has gotten better. CONTENDER? Yep.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers – THE GOOD – With an impressive 28-10 road win against the Broncos the Steelers are flying high. The Steelers no-huddle offense can be lethal. RB Rashard Mendenhall is averaging about 5 yards a carry right now and had over 150 yards against the #1 ranked Broncos defense. O-line is playing great. Defense is playing great. THE BAD – When the Steelers offense isn’t running the no-huddle it can be inconsistent under OC Bruce Arians. Pass defense tends to give QB’s a lot of easy short passes. CONTENDER? Yep.
5. New England Patriots – THE GOOD – Tom Brady is still Tom Brady. Wes Welker and Randy Moss are producing at WR. Defense is playing well. Secondary is tough. THE BAD – Is this defense good enough to get the Pats into the Super Bowl? Still too early too tell. Same goes for the run game and O-line. Randy Moss put up big numbers against the Dolphins but he seems to be slowing down at the WR position. CONTENDER? Looks like it, but again, let’s wait until they play some better competition. Next week in Indy is a good start.
6. Cincinnati Bengals – THE GOOD – The Bengals top their win last week against Chicago with an even bigger win against rivals the Ravens. Offense is more balanced than it’s been in a long time. They’re moving the ball. Defense is playing better than the numbers would indicate. Secondary is playing better as the season progresses, they had their best game of the year against the Ravens. THE BAD – Offense doesn’t score a lot of points, still question marks about how good the defense really is, especially against the pass. CONTENDER? I keep writing this team off and honestly I’m still not convinced they’re contenders. Depending on how well they play next week against the Steelers, which has become the biggest game in years for the Bengals, they might get in there.
7. Dallas Cowboys – THE GOOD – Tony Romo has put together a string of really good performances. Offense is balanced and productive with the run and pass. Cowboys defense continues to improve and live up to their potential. Terrence Newman and the secondary has looked like great in recent weeks. THE BAD – Defense still gives up chunks of yards, although they’re improving. Tony Romo is still a question mark in terms of consistency. Wade Philips is still the head coach. CONTENDER? With this team of under achievers they’ll have to put up a few more impressive wins against quality opponents before they can be labeled a contender.
8. Denver Broncos – THE GOOD – The defense is still playing well, despite giving up 21 points to the Steelers in the 2nd half of Monday’s game. O-line is very solid. Secondary is full of veteran Pro Bowlers who are playing well. Coaching and gameplanning has been good for the most part. THE BAD – Is this a complete team? Sure doesn’t look like it, offense doesn’t score a lot of points or instill much fear in opposing defenses. Kyle Orton is a pure game manager who had a horrible 2nd half against the Steelers. Opposing defenses don’t have to honor the deep pass much. Coaching and gamplanning can be questionable at times. After a good gameplan in the 1st half against the Steelers, the opposite was true in the 2nd half. CONTENDER? Doesn’t look like it unless the offense can improve.
9. Philadelphia Eagles – THE GOOD – McNabb is playing solid. LeSean McCoy looks great so far. Defense is solid across the board. THE BAD – The same as last week, offense is very inconsistent. Andy Reid seems to make questionable coaching decisions at times. Defense may not be as good as it used to be, although injuries have something to do with that. Does McNabb have that “IT” factor? Honestly, it seems like he doesn’t care out there sometimes, but that’s just a personal observation. CONTENDER? Not convinced, but with a schedule that includes road games against San Diego, Dallas, Chicago, Giants, Atlanta and home games against the 49ers and Denver, the Eagles can definitely prove they are!
10. Arizona Cardinals – THE GOOD – When Kurt Warner is on, he’s really on. He had 5 TD passes against the Bears. Larry Fitzgerald is really coming on right now. Defense can look good at times and isn’t giving up a ton of points. THE BAD – The defense, outside of the Giants game, generally does not look very good and is ranked accordingly (21st). Run game is pretty bad (31st). CONTENDER? Who the hell knows, I don’t even think the Cardinals know. It’s hard picturing them getting past the Saints or Vikes to get to the Super Bowl, though.