1. Green Bay Packers, 6-0. The Green Bay Packers are the defending Super Bowl Champions, and with the addition of players who were injured last year, like tight end Jermichael Finley, and the continued improvement of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has a QB Rating of 122.5 after six games, they appear to be better than last season. This is bad news for the rest of the league, as they are headed toward a monster regular season. They travel to face the Minnesota Vikings this week, who benched Donovan McNabb and will start Christian Ponder at quarterback this week. Look for Green Bay to go 7-0.
2. New England Patriots, 5-1. Quarterback Tom Brady has the New England Patriots again contending for a Super Bowl. With 185 points in six games, only the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills have scored more. As has been the case the past couple of seasons, the Patriots are not the defensive team they once were, which limits the amount of mistakes the offense can make. The Patriots deafeated a talented Dallas Cowboys team desperate for a win in the final minutes on Sunday, and have a bye this week.
3. San Francisco 49ers, 5-1. The San Francisco 49ers are another league surprise, led by fiery first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh. Their 25-19 win over the previously undefeated Detroit Lions shows that this team is for real. Playing in perhaps the weakest division in all of football, the NFC West, almost guarantees the 49ers a playoff berth if healthy. Running back Frank Gore is perhaps the biggest reason for their success, as he is averaging 5.0 yards per carry on the season. The 49ers have a bye this week.
4. Detroit Lions, 5-1. The Detroit Lions are one of the biggest surprises in the National Football League thus far, at 5-1. It’s not just the record, it is how they got there. They overcame a 20-0 deficit to the Minnesota Vikings in week three, followed by a 27-3, third quarter deficit in Arlington to the Dallas Cowboys in week four. They suffered their first loss of the season to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday 25-19, but look for them to be in contention the entire season. With quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson leading the offense, and defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley leading the defense, this young team will be making noise for the foreseeable future. The Lions host the 3-3 Atlanta Falcons in one of the best matchups of the weekend.
5. Baltimore Ravens, 4-1. The Baltimore Ravens continue to be one of the more dominant teams in the league on defense, led by the ageless wonder linebacker Ray Lewis. The Ravens are the stingiest defense in the league, allowing only 71 points in five games, and should be near the top the entire season. Their offense, led by quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice, will ultimately decide if they can make a Super Bowl run. The Ravens travel to face the 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football and should advance to 5-1.
6. San Diego Chargers, 4-1. The San Diego Chargers haven’t had the most impressive victories, but they have won every game except for a loss to the New England Patriots. A well-balanced offense, lead by quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Ryan Mathews gives opposing defenses fits. The Chargers head to Met Life Stadium in New Jersey to face the New York Jets this weekend in a crucial AFC battle.
7. New York Giants, 4-2. The New York Giants are one of the more confusing teams to figure out in the NFL. When they are playing their best, they are capable of defeating any team in the league. Unfortunately for the Giants, when they are unfocused, they have the ability to drop a game to any NFL team. Championship pedigree is what keeps the Giants in the Super Bowl hunt, and they will have the ability to make a Super Bowl run if they get into the playoffs. The Giants have a bye this weekend.
8. Buffalo Bills, 4-2. The Buffalo Bills may be the biggest surprise in the American Football Conference thus far this season. A severely overthrown ball by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick that was intercepted by New York Giants defensive back Corey Webster is likely the difference between the Bills being 4-2 and 5-1. A tough schedule will determine if the Bills are a legitimate playoff team. The Bills have a bye this weekend.
9. New Orleans Saints, 4-2. Led by quarterback Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints have the third highest-scoring offense in the NFC. The Saints were defeated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past weekend, and when the offensive isn’t at their best, the team struggles, as the Saints do leave a lot to be desired defensively. Only two teams have allowed more points than the Saints. Still, their offense will keep them in any game against any opponent, making them a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Saints should get an easy win this weekend when they host the 0-6 Indianapolis Colts.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers, 4-2. After an embarrassing opening week loss to the Baltimore Ravens 35-7, the Steelers have rebounded to win four of five. The things that worry Steelers fans? The defense doesn’t appear to be as dominant as it has been in the past, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has more turnovers, 11, than touchdowns, 9. The Steelers should win this weekend when they travel to face the 1-4 Arizona Cardinals.