NFL: The Best Team from Each Division After Week 5
The season is well underway as Week 5 has come and gone.
Some teams with a lot of hype at the beginning of the season have struggled, and others who were flying under the radar have suddenly come out of nowhere.
The same goes for certain divisions in the NFL. Analysts and sports broadcasters had their opinions at the beginning of the season on which of the divisions would be the strongest. It hasn't necessarily played out how the professionals had argued, but there is plenty of season still left for teams to figure out what has been going right (or wrong).
In every division so far, there is one team that rises above all others. This is the list of each of those top teams from each and every division after Week 5 of the 2012 season.
AFC East: New England Patriots
New England had a rough start this year. After starting out 1-2, they've started to pick things up as their offense has finally caught some steam.
Tom Brady is the leader of this high-powered offense in which Wes Welker has been slowly becoming as big a factor, as he was last season. The loss of tight end Aaron Hernandez hasn't shown to hurt them, but with his return, the Patriots will get even stronger as they are able to create even more mismatches against defenses.
With the struggling New York Jets, and the hot or cold Miami Dolphins also in this division, the Patriots are well on their way to being top dog once again.
NFC East: New York Giants
It's been a weird season so far for the NFC East. Philadelphia matches New York's record so far at 3-2, but Michael Vick doesn't match up against Eli Manning as far as quarterback play goes. Let's be honest, he doesn't even come close even though the Eagles beat the Giants 19-17 in Week 4.
The defending Super Bowl champions can never be counted out as their offense seems to enjoy scoring a lot of points, especially after starting out games from behind. The Cowboys had the Giants beat in Week 1, but it seems Dallas still has problems they need to sort out if they ever want to win the division.
Washington is up-and-coming, but rookie quarterback RGIII looks to lead them to the promise land, as long as he stops running the ball and getting absolutely blasted.
Eli and the Giants have lost key games within the division already, but there is no counting them out. Look for those exciting rematches later on in the season.
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore is 4-1 up to this point and they've already beaten divisional foes Cincinnati and Cleveland. Joe Flacco has played surprisingly well as they are ranked eighth in the league in passing yards with 281.2 on the year.
With the defense, who is full of veterans, only allowing 17.8 points per game (without Terrell Suggs), the Ravens are looking for vengeance after a heartbreaking loss last year to the Patriots in the AFC championship game.
Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are still contenders in the division as well, where the Browns haven't won a game this season. As of now, that puts Baltimore as the top team in the AFC North, but tough challenges await them later in the season as they take on Houston, Pittsburgh twice and Cincinnati one more time, as well as the Chargers and Broncos.
NFC North: Chicago Bears
Coming into 2012, emphasis was placed on the Green Bay Packers who have last year's MVP Aaron Rodgers. The Detroit Lions were also up on a pedestal, but whether it's the Madden curse or offensive problems, they just can't seem to win ball games.
With Chicago and Minnesota both 4-1, the two teams nobody talked about have risen to the top of the division. I have to place Chicago atop the leader board for this one though, since their offense seems to be picking things up as of late.
The Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall combo has been stretching defenses which allows them to give the rock to Matt Forte. As soon as Alshon Jeffery comes back from hand injury, the threat widens. Their defense has been relentless, holding opposing rushers to 65.8 yards per game while allowing 14.2 points per game, which is ranked 4th in the NFL.
Although the Vikings have been winning as well, they have a rookie quarterback (who will be great to say the least), but their defense can't hold up against Chicago's. Yes Minnesota beat the 49ers, but nobody was expecting that. Of course the Packers always have a fighting chance, but you have to give the Bears the lead in the division after 5 weeks.
AFC South: Houston Texans
The Houston Texans have been strong for quite some time now, but are finally rising to their true potential. Nobody can deny the running game is absolutely ridiculous, where even their backup—Ben Tate—could start for any other NFL team.
Undefeated so far after beating the Jets on Monday night, the Texans are close to the top spot in every category the league has to offer, mainly through their very stout defense.
They are scoring almost 30 points per game and allowing only 14. Keeping teams down by halting them to an average of less than 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards every week, Houston is building confidence as they go.
With the Colts, Jaguars and Titans teams fighting for the top spot, it's clear that the Texans are the overwhelming powerhouse of the AFC South.
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta, led by Matt Ryan, is also undefeated as they have gone 5-0 for the first time in their history. The other three teams in the NFC South, Buccaneers, Panthers, and Saints, only have one win each.
Matty Ice has come into his own this year already passing for 1507 yards and 13 touchdowns. Having athletic receivers such as Roddy White and Julio Jones, as well as perennial all-pro tight end Tony Gonzalez, has helped their offense score major points.
Although opposing teams have stayed in the games with the Falcons this year, it seems they just know how to win. The rest of the season, Atlanta will play only three teams who have winning records up to this point. The Falcons are the most dominating team in this division without question.
AFC West: San Diego Chargers
San Diego is 3-2, losing to the aforementioned Falcons, as well as the formerly winless Saints. Some would say the Denver Broncos who are 2-3 may be the best team, but it's a tough decision at this point.
Don't forget the Chargers had been playing without their starting running back Ryan Mathews, who will keep gaining strength as the season goes on.
It's tough to go against the Broncos, who are led by one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, especially knowing they have lost close games to good teams. But the record keeps them at the top of the division for now.
The Raiders and Chiefs have one win a piece, and the Chargers take on Denver next Monday night at home in what will be a very interesting ball game.
NFC West: San Francisco 49ers
It's evident that the NFC West is no longer the weakest division in football as some critics had placed them in recent years.
San Francisco and Arizona are both at 4-1 for the time being, but it is very clear Arizona has major offensive line problems as seen when the Rams sacked Kevin Kolb nine times in their Thursday night game. That is a problem in the NFL, especially when the 49ers defense has been so strong.
Alex Smith has finally emerged as a true pocket passer with help from coach Jim Harbaugh. They've outscored their opponents 79-3 in their last two games and that defense I mentioned is ranked first in the league allowing only 13.6 points per game.
They are ranked second in total yards given up, and they look to make it back to the NFC championship which many feel they should've won last season.
The 49ers are on top of the NFC West at the moment, but we will see an interesting finish in the most turned around division of the NFL.