1. Atlanta Falcons 6-0 (Last week, 1): The Falcons had their bye this past week, so they remain in the No. 1 spot. They’ll travel to Philadelphia this Sunday to face the Eagles.
2. New York Giants 5-2 (Last week, 2): Eli Manning fueled yet another fourth quarter comeback victory, but this defense needs to figure itself out if the Giants are going to make another deep playoff run. But even with the two interceptions Sunday, Manning is an elite quarterback.
3. San Francisco 49ers 5-2 (Last week, 3): San Francisco’s defense turned in a solid performance against the Seahawks this week after getting embarrassed at home by the Giants. Even with all the offensive weapons, Alex Smith is more of a game manager for his defense than a threat offensively.
4. Minnesota Vikings 5-2 (Last week, 10): Maybe I am starting to buy into the Vikings. Adrian Peterson is exhibiting his old form, while Christian Ponder seems to be the only second-year quarterback avoiding the sophomore slump. They’ll have a chance to further improve this week by taking on the Buccaneers.
5. Chicago Bears 5-1 (Last week, 4):The Bears’ defense got plenty of help from Detroit’s three red zone turnovers. Chicago has had a very easy schedule thus far, so let’s see how they fare in the rest of their divisional play.
6. Green Bay Packers 4-3 (Last week, 5): The Packers’ defense still has some issues, but like the Giants with Manning, Aaron Rodgers can singlehandedly dictate a game.
7. Washington Redskins 3-4 (Last week, 7): Robert Griffin III is really something special, and Alfred Morris is a power running back. The record may not be there just yet, but this team can play. The defense must improve though for the Redskins to be considered legitimate.
8. Seattle Seahawks 4-3 (Last week, 8): Seattle’s defense put up an effort worthy of a win in San Francisco, but the team fell just short. There seems to be some potential here though with Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch.
9. Arizona Cardinals 4-3 (Last week, 6): John Skelton’s stat line may look good, but he was ultimately ineffective, leading to the Cardinals’ loss to the Vikings. The team’s 4-0 start seems long forgotten after losing three straight.
10. Philadelphia Eagles 3-3 (Last week, 9): Let’s see if new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will have this defense playing better after the bye week. But this team’s real problem is limiting Michael Vick’s turnovers.
11. Dallas Cowboys 3-3 (Last week, 11): The Cowboys barely scraped by with a win over the Panthers. But Tony Romo had a solid performance, throwing zero interceptions for the first time in a game all season and not getting sacked.
12. New Orleans Saints 2-4 (Last week, 14): The Saints’ powerful offense might lead them right back into the hunt for a wild card spot. That’s of course if their defense can do its job of not letting the game get out of hand.
13. St. Louis Rams 3-4 (Last week, 12): The Rams’ receivers didn’t help Sam Bradford much in Sunday’s loss to the Packers. The building blocks appear there for St. Louis, but the playoffs are a long shot this season.
14. Detroit Lions 2-4 (Last week, 13):Three red zone turnovers against one of the league’s best defenses is a recipe for disaster. After making the playoffs last season, it appears the same old Lions have returned.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-4 (Last week, 15): Josh Freeman orchestrated a late game comeback, only to see the Buccaneers lose on an illegal touching call on Mike Williams. That’s just the way this season has gone for new head coach Greg Schiano.
16. Carolina Panthers 1-5 (Last week, 15): Cam Newton expressed his frustration with how his team was playing after Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. The team fired general manager Marty Hurney, who had been with the team since 2002. But seriously, it’s not the GM’s fault that the team has underperformed expectations.