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Rating the NFL: What’s Going on so Far?

Which teams are on the rise, which will sink, and which divisions are stable? (poptheology.com)

Something’s not right in the NFL. The Chiefs are winning, the Cowboys aren’t and the Colts and Saints are merely average. So what’s going on, where will it lead, and where do the teams currently stack up against each other? That’s what we all want to know.

While everyone pretty much agrees that the Bills and 49ers are mopping up the cellar, there’s some disagreement elsewhere. NFL Fanhouse and CBS Sports, for example, have the gets as #1, while ESPN and Fox Sports have the Steelers.

In the wake of everyone dumping on the bad teams and overly glorifying the good ones, I would like to humbly present you with the real rankings of where all the teams are. While not all teams are doomed to a top draft pick just yet, plenty had better be careful and climb up the rankings pretty quickly to avoid playoff exclusion, so be sure to check below to see who needs to do so.

#32 Buffalo Bills 0-6 When you’re the only winless team left, you tend to clean out the cobwebs from the cellar. Things don’t get easier in Week 8 in Kansas City.
#31 Dallas Cowboys 1-5 Even with Tony Romo, all they could do was manage one win. Now without him, they’re definitely goners. The Lions might make Dallas good for 2-14, but even that’s doubtful now.
#30 San Francisco 49ers 1-6 I don’t know what happened to them, but the 49ers just can’t seem to hold together a winning performance for very long. This was supposed to be their division, too, but they somehow threw it all away.
#29 Detroit Lions 1-5 Nobody expects the Lions to do well against even a JV team, but Matthew Stafford will need to do something to help the Lions in a surprisingly weak division, but they’re still the Lions.
#28 Carolina Panthers 1-5 Carolina finally managed to do something right against San Fran, but it was still a close game. It’s tough to pull off a dual quarterback situation, but that’s what Carolina will have to do, but it’ll be near impossible for them to knock down Atlanta or Tampa.
#27 Minnesota Vikings 2-4 Brett Favre will play because he wants the spotlight. It will wreck the team. And Favre. Without a healthy Favre, and a Tarvaris Jackson who wasn’t cutting it, Randy Moss means nothing.
#26 Denver Broncos 2-5 Allowing the Raiders to get 59 points is not what the Broncos wanted to do. Plus, they traded for a largely ineffective running back earlier in the season (Laurence Maroney), so they have shown a propensity to make bad decisions.
#25 San Diego Chargers 2-5 Those were some incredibly silly turnovers against New England. San Diego has become much more undisciplined since last season’s 11-win run. They did a good job coming back, but you can’t false start yourself out of a game-tying field goal.
#24 Cincinnati Bengals 2-4 The T-Ocho Show is still intact, but Pacman is out for the season, and despite a killer comeback against Atlanta, Cincinnati couldn’t hold it together. This team had some potential, but with the Steelers and Ravens the way they are, Cincinnati is hard-pressed to do themselves much good.
#23 St. Louis Rams 3-4 Yes, the Rams have three wins already, as compared to six in their previous three years combined. But Bradford is still green, and they were close to beating Tampa, but couldn’t hold it together. When you’re the team that gave Detroit their one win, you aren’t going places.
#22 Jacksonville Jaguars 3-4 Jacksonville hasn’t had much fun in their last two games. It seems that after beating the Colts, they started resting on their laurels a little bit. If it’s any consolation, Jacksonville visits Dallas in Week 8.
#21 Arizona Cardinals 3-3 Max Hall is concussed, and neither he nor Derek Anderson is Kurt Warner. Arizona still has a great shot because of the division they’re in, but losing to Seattle put a huge dent in those hopes.
#20 Cleveland Browns 2-5 Despite their record, Eric Mangini may have saved his job a second time by destroying the Saints. That’s three defending Super Bowl champs in a row to fall to the Browns, and the Browns know they have to do a whole lot of calculated gambling to pull it off.
#19 Oakland Raiders 3-4 59 points is something the Raiders have never done before, including 24-0 after the 1st quarter. They’re only 1.5 games behind the Chiefs, and in that division, if the Raiders keep it up, a playoff spot could very well be theirs, but it definitely won’t be as a Wildcard.
#18 Miami Dolphins 3-3 Miami is 3-0 on the road, but at 0-3 at home, they’re really having trouble. You need to be able to win at home. Only the Bills (obviously) and Cowboys have yet to win at home. To keep up with the Jets and Pats, Brandon Marshall will need to put on the Ironman suit.
#17 Philadelphia Eagles 4-3 Philly still needs to figure out their quarterback situation. Michael Vick is slated to start when the Eagles come back off their bye, but will his injury nag him, as such injuries can do? Kolb wasn’t satisfying against the Titans, and if Vick doesn’t appease Andy Reid, what next?
#16 Chicago Bears 4-3 Chicago is coming off of two tough home losses, albeit by three points each. Jay Cutler did post nearly 300 yards in each, and Chicago does have the tiebreaker victory over Green Bay. And Julius Peppers never hurt, either.
#15 New Orleans Saints 4-3 That loss to the Browns was just embarrassing. Drew Brees threw four picks, of which two were returned for touchdowns. But despite not looking like a Super Bowl caliber team, the Saints are only one game behind the Falcons.
#14 Green Bay Packers 4-3 The injuries hurt, and the Packers don’t seem to be able to play to the level everyone thought they could. But Aaron Rodgers finally knocked off Brett Favre, and he is still the quarterback everyone knows and loves.
#13 Seattle Seahawks 4-2 Seattle may be doing well, but they’re still not in the league of other teams ahead of them. The Seahawks have lost 31-14 in Denver, and 20-3 in St. Louis. Knowing that the Seahawks might do something like that again keeps them from being placed higher.
#12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-2 Tampa only just managed to edge out the Rams, and the week before lost 31-6 to a Saints team that hasn’t always been up to snuff this season. In fact, only one of Tampa’s wins has been by more than three points, and their two losses have each been by 25 points.
#11 Washington Redskins 4-3 Six of Washington’s seven games have been decided by a touchdown or less, and I’m not even including the extra point. Their last three have been decided by a field goal. Sooner or later, the close games will doom Washington, unless they can prove that they can win big.
#10 Kansas City Chiefs 4-2 After doing well against Indy and losing a shootout to Houston, Kansas City treated Jacksonville like Ben Roethlisberger treats women. KC has been pretty dangerous this year, staying in there with some tough teams.
#9 Houston Texans 4-2 In each of Houston’s wins, they’ve scored at least 30. In each of their losses, they’ve scored at most 13. Both losses have been at home, and one was the Cowboys’ only victory. When Houston’s on, they’re on. But when they’re not, it costs them.
#8 New York Giants 5-2 The G-men may have won four in a row, but their most recent was 41-35 over a poor Dallas team (that many points surrendered isn’t good), and before that they beat the Lions 28-20 (never let the Lions that close if you want to be taken seriously). They’ve been a tad shaky lately.
#7 Atlanta Falcons 5-2 Way to hold off Cincy’s charge, but phalling in Philly the week before 31-17 wasn’t their best work. Atlanta has been good much more often than bad, and you can expect to see them in Super Bowl, assuming teams don’t change the rest of the season, but we know that won’t happen. That doesn’t mean Atlanta will get worse, though.
#6 Baltimore Ravens 5-2 Baltimore nearly took down the Patriots in a game they could have won, then last week they knocked off Buffalo in a game they could have (and maybe should have) lost. They were very fortunate that forward progress stoppage wasn’t called in OT, clearing the way for that fumble.
#5 New England Patriots 5-1 Despite San Diego horrendous play, they still could’ve won. One of New England’s major problems is not being able to hold leads to save their lives. If there’s no Tom Brady to put up buffer points, this is a poor team. And going for it on 4th down so much is not good, particularly when you don’t run a better play on 3rd down.
#4 Indianapolis Colts 4-2 Both of Indy’s losses have come within the division. Despite how Kansas City and Washington have improved, you’d think the Colts would still win by bigger margins than ten and three, respectively. If it weren’t for the recent injuries, that wouldn’t be a problem. Still, Indy has the potential (and the Manning) to go far.
#3 Tennessee Titans 5-2 After last season’s disappointing start, the Titans have started this one with a vengeance. Lately, they’ve beaten the Eagles and Jaguars decisively, and the Cowboys by a touchdown. Tennessee is currently leading their division, and they have a weakened San Diego, a bye week, and the home-winless Dolphins to allow Vince Young to heal his leg.
#2 Pittsburgh Steelers 5-1 Even considering the controversy in Miami, Pittsburgh is still doing very well for themselves. Big Ben is still a little rusty, with an interception here, and a fumble there, but with their defense and Ben’s offensive capabilities, Pittsburgh needn’t worry.
#1 New York Jets 5-1 Week 1 was a real wake-up call, and Rex Ryan has every reason to be his cocky self. Except for Buffalo, every one of the Jets’ victories was by single digits, which proves they can win time and again and get the job done when they need to. Plus, unlike some of the other top teams, the Jets actually held the Bills to under 30 points (14, precisely, just like they did to the Patriots).

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