So many teams are muddled together in the standings nearly halfway into the season (that’s the beauty of the NFL’s entertaining parity), and it’s going to remain that way as the calendar turns into November.
Slowly but surely, however, some teams are beginning to rise to the top, while others are showing that they’re destined to remain in the basement.
It’s all evident in this latest batch of NFL power rankings.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5): 1,000 to 1
The Jacksonville Jaguars entered Week 7 with arguably the worst offense in the NFL.
Take away star running back Maurice Jones-Drew and quarterback Blaine Gabbert (who both left with injuries) and it’s no wonder that Jacksonville’s offense disappeared in the Black Hole.
The Oakland Raiders took advantage, storming back for a 26-23 overtime victory.
31. Cleveland Browns (1-6): 750 to 1
Cleveland Browns rookies Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon have had solid starts to their NFL careers thus far.
But Gordon dropped the ball in Indy, and the Browns dropped yet another game, this time falling 17-13 to the Colts.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5): 250 to 1
The problem is that neither he nor the injured Matt Cassel are any good. In a race of mediocrity, Cassel and Quinn are severely hampering a team that has yet to hold a lead in regulation thus far in 2012.
Forget the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are closer to competing for the top overall draft pick in 2013 right now.
29. Oakland Raiders (2-4): 250 to 1
The Raiders had to mount a furious comeback just to beat the beat-up and meager Jaguars at home. That’s why they’re still the same ol’ Raiders and why they’re nowhere near being a Super Bowl contender.
28. Carolina Panthers (1-5): 250 to 1
Cam Newton is right, it’s beginning to sound like a broken record for the Carolina Panthers.
Another underwhelming performance by a sophomore-slumping quarterback, another loss (this time to the Dallas Cowboys) and another baffling postgame press conference from the depressing Newton afterwards.
Do you think Ryan Kalil is asking for the money back that he spent on that Super Bowl guarantee ad in the Charlotte newspapers?
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4): 250 to 1
The good news for the Tampa Bay Bucs was that quarterback Josh Freeman statistically had the best game of his young career against the Saints.
The bad news is that the Bucs' receivers had trouble staying in bounds and the secondary was awful against Drew Brees.
26. Buffalo Bills (3-4): 200 to 1
Once again the Bills’ defense failed to show up on a Sunday.
The Bills were so bad defensively against the Titans; they let the much-maligned Chris Johnson (195 yards, two touchdowns) break out in a big way.
25. Indianapolis Colts (3-3): 150 to 1
The Indianapolis Colts picked up their third win of the season by beating the Browns at home.
But they scored an even bigger victory on Sunday, when head coach Chuck Pagano was released from the hospital—a big positive step in his fight against leukemia.
Andrew Luck’s team is quickly becoming the league’s feel-good story of 2012.
24. Tennessee Titans (3-4): 150 to 1
With nearly 200 yards on the ground and three touchdowns, struggling Titans running back Chris Johnson broke out in a big way against Buffalo.
Both Johnson and Tennessee are trending upward. Titans fans and CJ2K fantasy owners rejoice!
23. Arizona Cardinals (4-3): 100 to 1
The Cardinals are looking more like frauds by each passing week.
After jumping out to a 4-0 start, the Cardinals have dropped three straight.
Whether it’s Kevin Kolb or John Skelton, it won’t matter who’s under center for Arizona. If their offensive line keeps giving up gobs of sacks, the Cardinals will keep piling up gobs of losses.
22. St. Louis Rams (3-4): 100 to 1
The St. Louis Rams had the unenviable task of going against the red-hot Aaron Rodgers in Week 7 and didn’t fare so well.
It doesn’t get any easier in Week 8 for the Rams.
They have to travel to London for a home game against another elite quarterback (Tom Brady) and a familiar offensive coordinator (Josh McDaniels).
21. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4): 100 to 1
Make that another loss for Cincinnati against one of the better AFC North teams.
Despite being up 14-3 against the Steelers, the Bengals bungled the lead on prime-time television to drop under .500.
It’s looking like a carryover from last year for Marvin Lewis’ squad. Andy Dalton and AJ Green are certainly dynamic, and the defense is good. But there’s not enough of a “wow” factor to propel the Bengals past the middle of the NFL pack.
20. New York Jets (3-4): 90 to 1
Mark Sanchez showed signs that he’s maybe not an impostor posing as a starting NFL quarterback against the New England Patriots.
Sanchez actually threw for nearly 100 more yards than his Pats counterpart, Tom Brady. But doing it against New England’s suspect secondary doesn’t say much on Sanchez’s behalf.
19. Detroit Lions (2-4): 80 to 1
The lack of a solid running game, and subsequent lack of balance, on offense is really hurting the Detroit Lions.
In a nutshell, if quarterback Matthew Stafford isn't on, it's tough for the Lions to win games. Quite frankly, Stafford hasn't been on for the majority of the season.
The Lions got away with it against Philadelphia. They weren't so lucky against the turnover-hungry Bears on Monday night.
18. San Diego Chargers (3-3): 70 to 1
Chargers fans are praying that the team spent its Week 7 bye week cleaning up its suspect pass defense. Maybe that embattled unit could use more of that stickum.
17. New Orleans Saints (2-4): 70 to 1
If the New Orleans Saints are going to dig themselves out of their 0-4 start, it's looking like they’re going to have to win almost every week via a shootout.
Given how unconscious Drew Brees has been the past few weeks, that’s a scenario the Saints may be very comfortable with.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3): 60 to 1
The Eagles spent their bye week firing embattled defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
If quarterback Michael Vick doesn’t stop turning over the football soon, he may be the next Eagle losing his job.
15. Miami Dolphins (3-3): 60 to 1
We’ll see just how good Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and rookie coach Joe Philbin are when they travel to MetLife Stadium for a Week 8 rematch against the Jets.
Either way, it looks like the rebuilding project is ahead of schedule in South Florida.
14. Dallas Cowboys (3-3): 60 to 1
Say what you want about the Dallas Cowboys, but America’s Team certainly never makes it easy on itself.
The Cowboys are back on track—for now—after a nail-biting victory over the Panthers in Charlotte.
Miles Austin (five catches for 97 yards and a touchdown) filled in admirably for the injured Dez Bryant.
13. Seattle Seahawks (4-3): 60 to 1
It’s tough to determine if Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson is overrated or underrated right now.
But two things are for sure: both that Seahawks defense and Marshawn Lynch are very legit.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3): 50 to 1
It appears the Pittsburgh Steelers have righted the ship after picking up their first road win of the season over the Bengals.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looks more and more comfortable under Todd Haley’s scheme with each passing (no pun intended) week. One would have to assume the defense will look more comfortable whenever they get the injured Troy Polamalu back on the field.
11. Minnesota Vikings (5-2): 50 to 1
If there was any doubt that Adrian Peterson has fully recovered from his ACL injury, look no further than what the Vikings running back did against Arizona.
He had over 150 yards rushing and a touchdown, as the surprising Vikings won yet again. One thing that has to be concerning to Vikings fans, though, is that quarterback Christian Ponder is starting to turn over the football.
10. Washington Redskins (3-4): 40 to 1
Robert Griffin III electrified once again, this time going off against the New York Giants.
Unfortunately for Mike Shanahan, RGIII isn’t a two-way player. The ‘Skins could’ve used Griffin III at safety on Victor Cruz’s game-winning touchdown catch.
9. Denver Broncos (3-3): 20 to 1
With each passing week, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is proving he’s as lethal as ever under center (or in the shotgun).
However, it would be in the Broncos’ best interests to not fall behind by 24 points and then have to execute a comeback like they did against the Chargers in Week 6.
8. Chicago Bears (5-1): 13 to 1
Maybe not everyone has realized it, but the Chicago Bears are as good as any team in the NFC, if not the entire league.
Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher continue to make plays for the Bears on defense. Brandon Marshall is back to his dominant ways at receiver.
The Bears need a healthy Jay Cutler under center to compete for the Super Bowl. It looks like they dodged a big bullet, as Cutler appeared to escape major injury against the Lions.
7. New England Patriots (4-3): 10 to 1
After watching the heavily favored Patriots struggle to beat the Jets in overtime, we’re learning more and more about New England.
First, they have trouble putting opponents away when they have the chance.
Second, the pass defense is just as defenseless as it was last year.
And third, Tom Brady can still get the job done in clutch situations.
6. Baltimore Ravens (5-2): 9 to 1
If this is what life is like for the Ravens without Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis, surely head coach John Harbaugh wants no part of it.
The Ravens were overwhelmed on offense and defense in a 43-13 beatdown to Houston. Joe Flacco certainly didn’t take a step forward in his quest to attain “elite quarterback” status against the Texans.
But at least linebacker Terrell Suggs returned from injury and was effective in limited action.
5. Houston Texans (6-1): 8 to 1
Right now, the Houston Texans look like the class of the AFC.
After two straight sluggish games against the Jets and Packers, an angry Texans team took out its frustrations on the Ravens, winning 43-13. And if the Houston Rockets are looking for a shot-blocker at the NBA trade deadline, J.J. Watt might be on the market.
4. Green Bay Packers (4-3): 7 to 1
So much for all that talk about the Green Bay Packers being overrated this season.
The Packers are back in the NFC title picture and will remain there indefinitely. That is, of course, as long as Aaron Rodgers and his favorite receiver (Jordy Nelson) have their say on the matter.
3. Atlanta Falcons (6-0): 5 to 1
The Atlanta Falcons are the NFL’s last unbeaten team at 6-0.
However, the Falcons have been winning by the hairs on their chinny chin chins recently. The good news for Matt Ryan and company is that they may have the NFC South wrapped up by Thanksgiving at this point.
2. San Francisco 49ers (5-2): 5 to 1
Suddenly, the 49ers have an identity crisis on offense.
Well, it’s not so much an identity crisis as it is struggles from quarterback Alex Smith. But as long as Smith goes back to playing mistake-free football and remembers that he has the unguardable Vernon Davis to throw to, the 49ers will get back on track in no time.
1. New York Giants (5-2): 5 to 1
To be the champ, you’ve got to beat the champ.
The Giants are the defending champs and although they’ve been inconsistent thus far in 2012, they’ve also proven they’re very tough to beat when they’re on. The 49ers and Redskins found that out the hard way most recently.
Tom Coughlin must sleep well at night knowing has Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and that gaudy defensive line on his roster.