It’s been a topsy-turvy week in the NFL. The Pats and Seahawks fell from the ranks of the undefeated. Geno Smith lifted the Jets to a winning record. And Josh Freeman got dropped by Tampa before Minnesota picked him back up. Talk about a guy who can’t get away from his winter of discontent…
Think of PFPod’s Rankings as the half-breed love-child of traditional “Power Rankings” and the NFL playoff format: from Best to Worst, we rank the 8 divisional leaders and our two favorite wild card teams from each conference. Our Top 12 rankings give you all the fun of a college poll AND a meaningful outlook on the NFL playoff picture!
Top 4: Bye-week bound Divisional Leaders
1. Denver Broncos. (5-0). Football is a game of matchups, and NFL fans learned on Sunday that Jason Garrett’s offense can match blows with Peyton Manning’s. While Denver likely won’t see Dallas in the Super Bowl, Broncos fans should be worried about a potential matchup with the Saints’ high-flying offense.
2. New Orleans Saints. (5-0). It’s official: the Saints are The Team To Beat in the NFC.
3. Indianapolis Colts. (4-1). Indy’s impressive win over Seattle, coupled with a New England loss, has made Chuck Pagano’s team into a serious contender this year. Let’s see in Week 7 if Andrew Luck can hang with the guy he replaced, when Peyton and the Broncos come to Indianapolis for a very awkward homecoming.
4. Seattle Seahawks. (4-1). The Seahawks have the 2nd best team in the NFC, not only based on record, but also because the NFC looks like a horse turd right. Seattle should be grateful that the NFL moved them out of the AFC West in 2002. Frankly, the Seahawks don’t even good look enough to win the AFC North, South or West.
Best of the Rest: NFL Contender Rankings 5-12
5. Kansas City Chiefs. (5-0). The Chiefs are on a fast track to having the best Wild Card team in the NFL. KC could even take over first place in the AFC West in Week 7, should the Colts can beat the Broncos. But don’t assume that the Chiefs will win their matchup with the reeling Texans two Sundays from now– the Chiefs struggled last week to beat the Titans, who started back-up QB Ryan Fitzpatrick for the first time this season. On a related note, we think Houston should keep T.J. Yates on the bench for at least two more weeks– Matt Schaub is still their best chance to beat the Chiefs in Week 7.
6. New England Patriots. (4-1). A perfectly timed downpour in Cincinnati last Sunday prevented Tom Brady from making a last-minute comeback against the Bengals. Gamblers take note: God does not want the Pats to play in the Super Bowl. Roger Goodell doesn’t want them in either— you don’t have to be a genius to realize that Aaron Hernandez’s Connecticut prison cell will be a short drive for any reporter attending Media Day at MetLife Stadium in February.
7. Cincinnati Bengals. (3-2). After shutting New England’s offense out of the end zone last week, the Bengals have ascended to the top of the AFC North. Yes, Cincinnati lost to Cleveland in Week 4, but a devastating injury to Browns’ QB Brian Hoyer has once again brought Cleveland into crisis. Unless Brandon Weeden can sustain the momentum that Hoyer kick-started in Week 3, the Browns are going to remain a distant third behind defending champs Baltimore in the AFC North.
8. Green Bay Packers. (2-2). A solid home win over the Lions has put the Packers back on track towards the NFC North title. That said, we’re still not convinced Aaron Rodgers has mastered running the West Coast offense without Greg Jennings.
9. Baltimore Ravens. (3-2). The Ravens earned a tough road win at Miami last week. Baltimore fans should still be worried about their offense, however: with a 23-16 lead late in the 4th quarter, Joe Flacco threw an ugly INT returned for a TD. We can’t blame Flacco entirely– Dolphins’ rookie Dion Jordan made a great play when he hit Joe Cool’s arm in the endzone. Also, why was Flacco dropping back deep in the endzone with a 7 point lead late in the 4th quarter? Yup, Jim Caldwell’s second half play-calling was subpar for the second week in a row…
10. Detroit Lions. (3-2). The Lions are the worst team in the NFC North when Calvin Johnson is inactive– yes, even worse than the Vikings when Christian Ponder is under center.
11. Chicago Bears. (3-2). Despite consecutive losses in their last two games, the Bears still have a great chance of winning their division. Chicago’s Week 8 matchup against Green Bay will have a major impact on the NFC playoff picture. BTW, the 49ers almost took this final Wild Card spot in the PFPod Power Rankings, but their spectacularly inconsistent play still worries us. A close home win over Green Bay, coupled with blowout losses to Indy and Seattle, won’t convince us to move San Fran into our Rankings right now. Frankly, we’re not even confident the 49ers will beat Arizona this week. Take note, San Fran fans: the 49ers beat Houston DESPITE Kaepernick’s failure to complete a pass in the 2nd or 3rd quarters. That’s not how you repeat as conference champions (even in the NFC)…
12. Dallas Cowboys. (2-3). Despite an outstanding performance against the Broncos, the Dallas Cowboys still have the worst record of any divisional leader. Technically, the ‘Boys now have a losing record. Tony Romo may have shown the ability to hang with Peyton Manning head-to-head, but would any of us be surprised if Dallas loses against the lowly Redskins this week?