At this point in the NFL season, some teams are just plain out of the playoff hunt. But on the other side of the spectrum, there are some powerhouses that appear poised for a strong run heading into the postseason.
I've categorized the NFL teams into three groups, based on how they're playing right now, and what their championship hopes look like.
1. Tennessee Titans: Kerry Collins just has to facilitate: the fierce running game and brutal defense are more than capable of carrying the team.
2. New York Giants: They bounced back in impressive fashion from their Monday night letdown, and finally look comfortable playing at home.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers: If they're trouncing teams with Mewelde Moore as their running back, they'll be even better when Willie Parker returns. They might have the best defense in the league.
4. Buffalo Bills: Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch, and Lee Evans are a terrific trio on offense, and their defense is stout as well.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Regardless of who plays at quarterback, they have an impressive running game and a defense that makes plays.
6. Washington Redskins: Other than a surprising loss to St. Louis, the 'Skins and Clinton Portis have been a good combination of tough defense and strong offense
7. Chicago Bears: Kyle Orton might be the answer at the revolving door that has been the quarterback position for the Bears. However, the defense also gave up 41 points to the Vikings. Have only played two games inside a pretty week division.
8. Carolina Panthers: Perfect at home, and Steve Smith looks like he's found his stride after a late start to his season. Jake Delhomme still not very good (seven:five TD:INT ratio).
9. Green Bay Packers: They aren't as good as last year, but the Rodgers kid can play. So can their ancient secondary.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
10. Arizona Cardinals
11. Denver Broncos: A weak division might save them, but their start looks like a flash in the pan at this point.
12. Baltimore Ravens
13. Jacksonville Jaguars
14. Atlanta Falcons
15. Indianapolis Colts: Peyton and Co. looked terrible against Green Bay.
16. Dallas Cowboys: They got smoked by the Rams. Their season is in trouble.
17. Philadelphia Eagles
18. San Diego Chargers: Will they ever turn it around like they did last season?
19. New England Patriots: Their blowout win over the Broncos looks promising.
20. New Orleans: Their loss against division foe Carolina looks bad for playoff hopefuls
21. New York Jets
22. Minnesota Vikings: Gus Frerotte and his 72.6 rating aren't playoff material.
23. St. Louis Rams: 2-0 against two talented teams in the Jim Haslett era.
24. Miami Dolphins
25. San Francisco 49ers
NO CHANCE AT PLAYOFFS
26. Oakland Raiders
27. Houston Texans: Almost blew a 21-0 first quarter lead to the Lions. At home.
28. Seattle Seahawks: The worst team in the worst division in football.
29. Cleveland Browns: Bring on Brady!!
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Among their problems are legal, injury, and talent issues.
31. Detroit Lions: At least Calvin Johnson is good. His 96-yard reception was sick.
32. Cincinnati Bengals: Bright rookie Keith Rivers had his jaw broken on block from Hines Ward.