With the Saints and Colts appearing to be coming back to the pack, the door is slowly swinging open for a few other contenders.
1. New Orleans Saints (8-0)
The unbeaten Saints face St. Louis and Tampa before their showdown with New England.
2. Indianapolis Colts (8-0)
We'll see what Indy is really made of this Sunday night against the aforementioned Patriots.
3. Minnesota Vikings (7-1)
The Vikes essentially have two consecutive bye weeks, as they face the lowly Lions this Sunday.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)
After a slow start, the defending champs have won five straight, and are officially once again Super Bowl contenders.
5. New England Patriots (6-2)
The Pats will certainly be tested in order to remain on top of the AFC East.
Their next five games are against Indianapolis, New York Jets, New Orleans, Miami, and Carolina.
6. Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
The overtime victory over the Chiefs has served as a springboard for the rejuvenated Cowboys, winners of four straight, including Sunday night's revenge game at Philly.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2)
Just when we think they're finally going to fade, Cedric Benson and company just keep on winning games.
8. Denver Broncos (6-2)
Two straight lopsided losses to AFC North teams has Denver looking quite pedestrian after their 6-0 start.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (5-3)
Big play threats DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin were non-factors against Dallas, combining for just five catches and 73 yards.
10. Arizona Cardinals (5-3)
The defending NFC champs rebounded from an awful showing against Carolina with a dominating 41-21 victory over Chicago behind five TD passes from Kurt Warner.
11. Atlanta Falcons (5-3)
An easy victory over the hapless Redskins was just what the doctor ordered after tough losses to the Cowboys and Saints.
12. Houston Texans (5-3)
A blown call by the officials on the Ryan Moats fumble and countless defensive penalties cost the Texans the game at Indianapolis Sunday.
13. San Diego Chargers (5-3)
Suddenly, the Chargers are looking like a major threat once again, and the Broncos lead in the division is anything but safe.
14. Baltimore Ravens (4-4)
After their second loss to the Bengals, the Ravens should have their sights set on nabbing one of the Wild Card spots.
15. New York Giants (5-4)
What happened to the complete team that started this season 5-0?
16. Carolina Panthers (3-5)
Despite a close loss at New Orleans, it's safe to say the Panthers have turned things around since their 0-3 start.
17. New York Jets (4-4)
Following the bye week, can the Jets stay consistent enough to remain in the playoff race down the stretch?
18. Chicago Bears (4-4)
Somehow, nine weeks in, the Bears still have two games left against division-rival Minnesota.
This doesn't bode well.
19. Green Bay Packers (4-4)
When you can't keep Aaron Rodgers clean against the Bucs, you know you have issues on the front line.
20. San Francisco 49ers (3-5)
The Niners have lost five of six games following their 2-1 start, including three straight against AFC South opponents.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4)
Just 45,516 showed up to watch the Jags beat the a sorry Chiefs team 24-21.
22. Miami Dolphins (3-5)
It's been tough going for Ronnie Brown following the bye.
In three games since the off week, Brown has rushed for just 48, 27, and 48 yards, respectively.
23. Tennessee Titans (2-6)
With a 2-0 record since Vince Young replaced Kerry Collins, it's too bad Jeff Fisher didn't make the switch sooner.
24. Seattle Seahawks (3-5)
After falling into a terrible 14-0 hole at home against Detroit, Seattle rebounded for a 32-20 victory, led by replacement linebacker David Hawthorne's two interceptions.
25. Buffalo Bills (3-5)
Future destination for Michael Vick?
Tony Dungy says it's a possibility.
26. Washington Redskins (2-6)
They aren't this bad on paper, are they?
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7)
Rookie Josh Freeman looked like he knew what he was doing Sunday against Green Bay, throwing for three TDs in the Bucs' first win of '09.
28. Oakland Raiders (2-6)
The Raiders face the Chiefs this Sunday.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (1-7)
The Chiefs' rally against Jacksonville fell just short Sunday.
30. St. Louis Rams (1-7)
Hopefully, they enjoyed their bye week, as they'll come out of it and face the Saints.
31. Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford's five-interception effort against Seattle was certainly not his finest hour.
32. Cleveland Browns (1-7)
Brady Quinn was pulled after just 10 quarters of football this season, after games against Minnesota and Denver, and one half against Baltimore.
He wasn't nearly as bad in those games (against good teams) as Derek Anderson has been (against lesser teams).
Read this and more of Taylor's work at NFLSoup.com
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