Through six weeks of the 2010 NFL season, only one thing is completely clear. There are as many teams as ever with a legitimate shot at making the playoffs through six weeks of the season. To this point there are sixteen teams within a half game of their division lead as NFL parody is on full display.
In the NFC East all four teams claim to be playoff bound, being New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Dallas. In the NFC North everyone but the Detroit Lions is still in contention. The NFC South race is between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints but a surprising Tampa Bay team is looking to play spoiler. In the NFC West, the ineptitude is wide spread so don't count anybody out yet, even one win San Francisco.
The AFC East looks to be a slugfest between the Patriots and Jets but watch out for those pesky Dolphins if either heavyweight slips up. The AFC North is on of the clearest division pictures but even so Pittsburgh and Baltimore are left battling it out for the top spot.
The AFC South may be the most surprisingly competitive team, but with Houston, Tennessee, and Indianapolis all showing both flashes of greatness and glaring weaknesses, expect this one to come down to the wire. Finally the AFC West which has been the Chargers personal punching bag has relegated those same Chargers to last place and have them looking at an uphill climb.
All of this parody means style points and strength of schedule do count when ranking the NFL's elite, so let's try to sort out the leagues ten best.
With the picture so muddled through the first six weeks, narrowing down the league's elite to ten teams in no easy task and certain teams and divisions are going to feel left out.
11. Houston Texans: Yes, the Texans sit atop the AFC South, but this team has lacked consistency. Aside from their victory over the Colts the Texans have struggled mightily at times this season. They are sitting at the top of the AFC South but they have a negative point differential. Top ten NFL teams do not win close and lose big.
12. Kansas City Chiefs: One of the most surprising teams to this point this season, the Chiefs could be playoff bound with San Diego struggling in a lackluster AFC West. However, their two game losing streak and some signs of inconsistency and struggles at quarterback keep them out of the top ten.
13. Green Bay Packers: The Packers were a popular super bowl pick before the season but with a .500 record, there is no way they can be in the top ten after week six.
14. Washington Redskins: Donovan McNabb has led an impressive turnaround in Washington, but as with the Packers, a .500 record just isn't good enough.
15. Miami Dolphins: Unfortunately for Chad Henne and the Dolphins they play in the loaded AFC East. In any other division they would be a serious playoff threat. After all they are undefeated when not playing New England or New York.
The Bears have been a pleasant surprise to their fans through six weeks. They are currently sitting atop the division ahead of the high powered Packers and Vikings. With a victory in hand over second place Green Bay, the Bears are in a good position to hold on to the division crown.
This team has had some serious issues with the offensive line which could at any moment end both Jay Cutler and the team's season. Look for their ability to address this weakness to be the determinant of future success.
The Bears also have an increasingly difficult schedule on the horizon with the Jets, Patriots, Eagles and Redskins all on the docket before finishing the season at Green Bay. How the Bears meet these challenges will determine whether they will keep falling or start rising through these rankings.
Having the Colts ranked above a Texans teams that dispatched them in week one of the season is likely to irk quite a few Texas residents. While this Colts team is not displaying the dominance to which we are accustomed from them, Peyton Manning is still lining up under center.
Manning is enough to keep any team in the league's ten best and with tough victories over the Giants, Redskins and Chiefs all under their belts this Colts team is moving up. While the Colts have some major defensive deficiencies they are still ranked second overall in passing yards per game.
This Colts teams is beginning to resemble those from the beginning of the decade which relied on a high powered aerial attack to win shootout after shootout. Manning is still in town and has enough talent in his receiving corps so look for this trend to continue.
Those Colts teams always made the playoffs and were Super Bowl contenders, so look for a victory over Houston next week and a continued march up the rankings.
The Falcons were definitively week six's biggest losers. They looked absolutely outgunned by Philadelphia and lacked the late game magic that had been saving them as of late. While a four game winning streak is always impressive the Falcons escaped against New Orleans and San Francisco and have dropped games to quality Philadelphia and Pittsburgh teams.
While they are still undefeated outside of the state of Pennsylvania, the Falcons will not be able to rely on luck to keep winning games. Also, since they only play Cleveland once this year, don't look for the Falcons to raise through the rankings anytime soon.
Make no mistake, this is a top ten team, but with the Saints beginning to rediscover their Super Bowl mojo the NFC South battle is going to be fought tooth and nail until season's end.
With the Falcons, who beat the Saints, ranked in at number eight there is no way that the Saints can be placed much higher up on the board. However, the Saints style points and realization of potential in week six did help them leap frog a team that has already recorded a victory against them this season.
While three of the Saints victories have come in close games, they still won those three games. Both losses, against Arizona and Atlanta, involved fluke plays and weaknesses which the Saints appear to have corrected in practice.
The loss to Arizona was especially strange as the Cardinals managed to rack up 30 points without scoring a passing touchdown or a rushing touchdown. The name of the game was turnovers and the Saints sure did have a lot of them. Add in a luck play where a Cardinals fumble turned into a Cardinals touchdown and a five win team is now a four win team.
The Saints came out on fire in week six and look to be regaining super bowl form. With a clash with Pittsburgh coming up in two weeks, look for the Saints to be big movers in the weeks to come.
The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the most enviable quarterback situations in the league. They simply have too much talent under center. When Kevin Kolb went down with an injury, Michael Vick came in and was the an early favorite in the MVP race.
Then when Vick was injured against the Redskins, Kolb regained his starting spot and has since won a tough game against San Francisco and blown out a Falcons team that had won four straight contests. In a league starved for premier quarterback talent, the Eagles are sitting pretty.
Vick looked like one of the game's most dangerous weapons before getting hurt so look for him to regain the starting role once healthy. With McCoy at running back and Jackson running down field, the Eagles have one of the league's most explosive offenses and have to been seen as a potential Super Bowl contender.
While the Ravens did experience a slight hiccup in week six, losing to the Patriots in overtime, they still have impressive wins over the Jets and Steelers on their resume. In fact the Ravens are the only reason that both of the aforementioned teams are not undefeated at the moment.
The defense has been as stingy as ever and will be as invaluable a weapon as always in the playoffs. The running game has looked solid and comes in at fifteenth in the league in rushing yards per game. The Ravens are as well situated as anybody to win those hard fought defensive ball games that so often decided the fate of a team's season.
The loss to the Patriots did expose a potential flaw against high powered passing attacks but even so, the game was decided by a field goal, in overtime, and on the road. The Ravens own passing game has been much improved and the longer quarterback Joe Flacco has to mesh with new receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Anquan Boldin, the more prolific this unit will become.
After some serious hiccups to begin the season, the New York Giants are back on track and the top dog in the NFC. The Giants running attack has been on fire in their three consecutive wins and their defense among the league's elite.
Yes the Bears' offensive line is absolutely abysmal but the Giants still recorded nine sacks in that game and injured quarterback Jay Cutler. This dominating pass rush can keep them in any game and with enough offensive contributions lead them to the super bowl. Hey, it happened before.
Coming back from a ten point deficit against the staunch Ravens' defense was as bold a statement as the Patriots could have made in week six. With many analysts doubting how the team would survive without Randy Moss, the Patriots turned around and put up the most points scored against Baltimore all season.
This Patriots team now resembles their Super Bowl teams more than it does the prolific offensive unit that went undefeated all the way until the Super Bowl. They run a balanced attack that utilizes one of the league's deepest and smallest wide receiving corps.
The addition of Deion Branch is already paying dividends and Belichick's defense appears to be developing at record speed. For the first time since their first Super Bowl season in 2001, the Patriots are underrated and they are loving it.
The Steelers were able to accomplish the amazing feat of staying atop their division for four weeks without their starting quarterback. The only reason they do not come in at number one is a lack of style points as well as having lost their toughest contest of the season against division rival Baltimore.
The Steelers defensive dominance continues this season as they have yet to allow more than 17 points in a game this season. Roethlisberger looked solid in his first game against Cleveland and look for him to continue adjusting to the team as the season goes on.
The Steelers are a tough matchup for anyone but are not the number one team mainly due to some deficiencies in their pass defense. They are currently giving up 233 yards per game which is good for a ranking of 24th through six weeks.
With matchups against Brees and Brady coming up, look for the Steelers true place in the league to be determined soon.
After dropping their first game by one point to an excellent Ravens team, the Jets have been the class of the league. Impressive victories over all three of their divisional opponents combined with wins over Minnesota and Denver have the Jets on a five game winning streak.
The Jets have used a high powered running attack to control the pace and flow of the game while relying on a stingy defense to make big plays and keep them in the game. While the passing attack is still developing the running game is completely capable of carrying the load at the moment as it is averaging the second most yards per contest in the league.
The Jets have survived a few key injuries and with a star studded secondary still molding around Darrelle Revis, the pass defense will only get better. Winning five games in a row has the Jets indisputably perched atop the rankings and with a bye week on the horizon look for them to stay for at least one more week.