After watching every game this week, I have decided this is the best NFL season I have ever seen to date. The parity this year is unbelievable and nearly every team still has a shot to make the playoffs and contend for a Super Bowl. So, without further ado, here are my rankings.
32. Carolina (0-5) - There isn't much hope for the Panthers this year. The so called great running game doesn't mean anything when you are trailing every game. Jimmy Clausen needs a healthy offensive line to protect him and give him time to throw the ball...and to stay alive.
31. Buffalo (0-5) - At least the offense is scoring points. Looks like that "spark" the Bills needed was Ryan Fitzpatrick replacing Trent Edwards. Too bad the defense is every other teams best offense. Welcome back Lee Evans, we haven't seen you in a few years.
30. San Francisco (0-5) - Even being winless, the 49ers still have a chance to make the playoffs. That is if they take the play calling duties away from Alex Smith. David Carr is not the answer either, even though the fans think so. Look behind the #1 draft picks and find Troy Smith. Not a stat-filled QB but gives the team the best chance to win. Poor guy got sick in Baltimore, replaced by Joe Flacco, and never had another shot.
29. Cincinnati (2-3) - I know what you are thinking, why is a two win team this low on the list? The Bengals are playing with zero heart and it shows. I never thought I would see Carson Palmer play this bad just like I thought I would never see T.O. play this well. It amazes me that this team beat Baltimore in Week 2. On the bright side Cedric Benson looked solid against a good Tampa defense. \
28. Detroit (1-4) - The Lions move up the rankings when they get Matthew Stafford back. Shaun Hill is filling in nicely, but just doesn't seem to have the mojo the Lions need. Ndomukong Suh is quickly becoming a leader and having fun while doing it. The Lions are getting better each week and being competitive as well. Teams are seeing Detroit as a game now and not another win. Great job by Jim Schwartz in his short tenure already.
27. Cleveland (1-4) - The Browns need a QB. Bad. Jake Delhomme may have played the last game of his career against the Falcons on Sunday. Cleveland needs to bring in someone if the ankle of Seneca Wallace is as bad as it looked. Just like Detroit, the Browns are in every single game so far and looked like they would have beat a good Falcons team...if Delhomme wouldn't have stepped foot on the field. T.J. Ward is the front runner with Suh for Defensive Rookie of the Year and is quickly becoming the face of a solid young defense. Big props to Rob Ryan on a big turnaround from last year.
26. Seattle (2-2) - Seattle got a much needed bye week this week to try and learn how to play on the road. The Seahawks could be a top 10 team if they played every game at home, but we know that will never happen. I am looking forward to seeing what the addition of Marshawn Lynch will do to spark the running game. I do like the energy Pete Carroll brings to the table though, and it seems to be rubbing off the right way.
25. St. Louis (2-3) - The Rams took a step back this weekend after being blown out by the Lions. The loss of Mark Clayton to a knee injury is devastating. Sam Bradford's favorite target now shifts to Danny Amendola. I wasn't too high on the idea of starting the game off with an onside-kick...especially playing the Lions. I think there is something going on in the NFC West and not being able to play on the road.
24. Dallas (1-3) - Being named the "most talented" team in the NFL doesn't get you the W's you need on Sunday. The crippling play of the game was the excessive celebration penalty after tying the score up in the 4th quarter. That 15-yard penalty assessed on the kickoff proved deadly when the return for the Titans ended up inside the 20. Nice job Witten and Colombo. I am just curious if Wade Phillips is going to be able to sit down this week with his seat being so hot. I feel bad for Tony Romo as well because the INT's he threw were because the receivers cant catch the ball and are tipped up in the air. Their schedule doesn't get any easier for a few more weeks. Sorry "America's Team".
23. Denver (2-3) - Kyle Orton is having his best statistical year in his career. I like how the offense has opened up for the Broncos thus far and when Knowshon Moreno comes back, the wins will be there. The best news I can tell Denver fans right now is that they play in the AFC West and they aren't far from the top of the division.
22. Oakland (2-3) - The Raiders got a HUGE win this weekend. For the first time in 13 games, they beat the San Diego Chargers. It was the flat out hustle from the defense at the end of the game that won them this ballgame. I really like the Raiders running attack this year averaging just over 134 yards per game. When Darren McFadden went down, they did not miss a beat with Michael Bush filling in.
21. Minnesota (1-2) - The Vikings acquired Randy Moss this week and Brett Favre can't seem to keep it in his pants. I am not too sure if they realize you have to play football on Sunday's (or Monday this week) anymore rather than worrying about being in the news every week for some reason. Sidney Rice says he is coming back by the end of this month and they need him to. Desperate or not, the Vikings need a win on the big stage Monday.
20. Jacksonville (3-2) - The Jaguars are winning without MJD producing. I think they are good with that for now but don't look for him to stay this quiet too much longer. Mike Sims-Walker showed up this week so look for him to be catchless the next two. Their record doesn't speak for itself, the Jags are one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. You have to give credit where it is due I guess and they had a great comeback against Buffalo on Sunday. I didn't see that one coming. You get too keep your job for another week Mr. Del Rio, congrats.
19. Miami (2-2) - Too bad the Dolphins can't play all their games early on Sunday. Apparently they aren't good enough to perform on the big stage. It might have to do with Chad Henne as your starter and the lacking special teams. A bye week couldn't have come at a better time.
18. San Diego (2-3) - Phillip Rivers looks to be the best passing QB this year, but that means you must be coming from behind a lot. A bad loss to the Raiders makes the division look that much more wide open. Ryan Mathews doesn't look 100% and they need him back to make any type of run towards February football. Oh yeah, and Vincent Jackson too.
17. Tampa Bay (3-1) - I have a hard time placing Tampa any farther up when the biggest win they have is at Cincinnati. They look good yes, but wins against the Bengals, Browns, and Panthers only mean that they win the games they are supposed to win. Josh Freeman showed poise in driving the offense down the field late in the game to come away with the win. Kudos to you Josh.
16. Houston (3-2) - I am not sure where the running game was this week, but in order for the Texans to make a run to the playoffs it can't disappear like that again. Andre Johnson looks healthier and Brian Cushing is back, but losing at home is never a good thing. Matt Schaub looked awful as well but I guess you are allowed to one time a year...the difference is when a Peyton Manning does it, his team wins. Almost there Matt, almost there.
15. Tennessee (3-2) - Great win on the road in Dallas. The inconsistency of the offense and Vince Young needs to be figured out or they will find themselves falling too far behind. Rob Bironas might be the best kicker in the NFL as of late. It seems that he has ice in his veins and will not miss a field goal the rest of the year. I apologize for jinxing you Rob. Chris Johnson is Chris Johnson and he says that he is back on pace to get 2,500 yards this year. Good luck.
14. New Orleans (3-2) - The defending Super Bowl champs miss Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas. It showed Sunday when the Arizona Cardinals made Drew Brees be the reason the Saints would win or lose the game. They lost. I think Brees might not be full strength and after the beating he took from Darnell Dockett, the bye week can't come soon enough.
13. Washington (3-2) - No Albert Haynesworth? No problem. The D is solid regardless shutting down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. One TD in the first quarter and that is it. I have to give it to Mike Shanahan, I can tell you that I didn't think it would make a difference because Daniel Snyder is the owner. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, that Donovan McNabb guy is pretty good too. Nothing sparks that team like his big, sometimes questionable, throws deep to the end zone.
12. Kansas City (3-1) - The last team to lose in the NFL this year isn't even in the top 10. Sorry Chiefs fans but you do not have a quarterback. I think if you were to put a guy like Jason Campbell in KC then it is a different story. I guess it would also help if you had wide receivers that could catch (Dwayne Bowe) passes after it hits you right in the hands. It was a game changer for the worse and KC couldn't get in the end zone again. I did on the other hand like this onside-kick attempt to start the game, because you are an 8-point underdog.
11. Green Bay (3-2) - This does not look like the team everyone thought they were going to see at the beginning of the year. Injuries are becoming a major role in the season and it's a shame to see that. Aaron Rodgers seems to have a problem with his best receiver Greg Jennings, because he doesn't throw his way nearly as much anymore. Brandon Jackson had a decent game, getting most of his yards on one run, and just over 50 the rest of the game. You will be fine Packer fans, I promise.
10. Arizona (3-2) - The Cardinals turned to Max Hall, and he led them to the W. Well took the snaps to get the W because the offense didn't put up any points, it was all defense and special teams. Not to worry Cards fans, he is NOT Derek Anderson. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie might be the best shut down cornerback that nobody is talking about. He single handily won the game for Arizona. All of the stats lead everyone to think they aren't better than 25th, but every week there is a stat not on paper...and that is coaching. Whisenhunt is a whiz and should be for a long time with the Cardinals.
9. Chicago (4-1) - The record is great for the Bears after four games and not even Lovie Smith thought it would be this good, but they are the Bears and Jay Cutler is the quarterback. I will be able to tell if this season is for real or not about Week 10 when they play Minnesota. The schedule is easy for them so their ranking will only get better. Todd Collins on the other hand, needs to retire. He has the Jake Delhomme disease of interceptions, or at least has taken it from Cutler...for now.
8. New England (3-1) - The Patriots traded Randy Moss. With that being said, they didn't do the whole addition by subtraction for this year, but set themselves up for the draft. That does nothing for their ranking or chance to win a Super Bowl. I think Belichick might have screwed this one up, and I don't believe any rumors that Brady and Moss were feuding, Brady loves him. Add miss him to that list too. The bye week couldn't have come at a better time.
7. Indianapolis (3-2) - Peyton Manning looked shaky against the Chiefs on Sunday, and I am not sure if it was just a bad game, or the D was just that good. Either way it resulted in a W and that's all that matters. Injuries to Joseph Addai and Donald Brown opens the door for Mike Hart. He played with a lot of heart scoring the only touchdown of the game and might be the best option when everyone is healthy. Dallas Clark needs to get back into the flow of the offense and Pierre Garcon might have been hanging out with Dwayne Bowe a little too much when injured and learned how to not catch the ball. The Colts will be fine.
6. NY Jets (3-1) - The most amazing stat I have seen all year is that the Jets have only ONE offensive turnover this year. Yes, Mark Sanchez is their quarterback, I don't get it either. Maybe he is growing up so fast that we aren't seeing it. The other thing I can't believe is the play of LT. Shonn Greene who? LT has earned the starting job, but Rex Ryan doesn't think so yet. Revis Island might be owned by Randy Moss after tonight's game too...I'm just saying.
5. NY Giants (3-2) - Just when you think a change is going to happen in New York, they go off and win two games easily and look like the best team in the NFL. That is the key, we never know which team is going to show up, and that's why Tom Coughlin's seat is still hot. The defense is playing like the defense did when they won the Super Bowl. I know you can't live in the past, but I think that is a good past to want to imitate. Welcome back Osi.
4. Philadelphia (3-2) - Michael Vick or Kevin Kolb? Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick? It doesn't matter the Eagles are just that good. Brent Celek is turning into a Dallas Clark and nobody expands a field better than Desean Jackson. He defines explosive. Jeremy Maclin isn't far behind. The Eagles are fun to watch again and LeSean McCoy might be up there with Peyton Hillis as the two toughest guys in the league, McCoy playing with cracked ribs and all running all over the SF defense.
3. Pittsburgh (3-1) - I am not going to lie, I thought the Steelers would be in shambles by the time Ben Roethlisberger came back from suspension. We will see what kind of leader he really is when he comes back and no better opponent to do that to like the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers defense looks to be in form once again and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I think Steeler fans might nominate Mike Tomlin for President at this rate.
2. Atlanta (4-1) - The only loss on their resume is at Pittsburgh in OT. Matt Ryan has turned into the quarterback that everyone thought he would be, and it shows in the record. Michael Turner finally got on the 100-yard board on Sunday and they need him to be consistent like that to make a deep run in the playoffs. Roddy White is filthy. He is slowly becoming one of the best receivers in the game and doing it under the radar. This team is scary good folks...scary good.
1. Baltimore (4-1) - Welcome to the regular season Ray Rice. Too bad you finally showed up the week I play you in Fantasy Football. With two TD's and 133 yards rushing, Rice showed everyone that last year doesn't look to be a fluke. Joe Flacco managed a great game by not throwing any interceptions and not trying to do too much. The only thing that is shaky right now is the pass defense, but maybe its just that Kyle Orton is that good. Ed Reed will be back ready to go in Week 7 so I am sure he will take care of all those issues.
I am a freelance write from Chandler, AZ. You can contact me via Twitter @tbuxonsports.