1. Green Bay Packers, 7-0. 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 125.7 after seven games, they appear to be better than last season. Including the playoffs, the Packers have won 13 straight games and don’t appear to be slowing down. This is bad news for the rest of the league, as they are headed toward a monster regular season. The Packers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 33-27, and have a bye this week.
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 head to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in perhaps the weekend’s best matchup.
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 other reason is the stingy 49ers defense, one of only two teams in the league that have not allowed over 100 points (97.) The 49ers host the 3-3 Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
4. New Orleans Saints, 5-2. Led by quarterback Drew Brees, and after a 62-7 thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts, the New Orleans Saints have the highest-scoring offense in the NFL with 239 points. The Saints do leave a lot to be desired defensively, and when their offensive struggles, they are vulnerable. Still, their offense will keep them in any game against any opponent, making them a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Saints will face a winless team for the second-straight week, when they battle the 0-6 St. Louis Rams.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-2. After an embarrassing opening week loss to the Baltimore Ravens 35-7, the Steelers have rebounded to win five of six. 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 almost as many turnovers, 11, as touchdowns, 12. The Steelers host the New England Patriots in perhaps the weekend’s best matchup.
6. Detroit Lions, 5-2. The Detroit Lions have lost two straight after they started the season with five straight wins. They suffered their first loss of the season to the San Francisco 49ers 25-19, and lost to the Atlanta Falcons 23-16. 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 head to Denver to face Tim Tebow and the Broncos.
7. Baltimore Ravens, 4-2. The Baltimore Ravens suffered a disappointing lost to the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars Monday. They 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 83 points in six 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 face a one-win team for the second week in a row when they host the Arizona Cardinals.
8. 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 host the winless Miami Dolphins on Sunday, in what should be an easy win.
9. 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 host the 3-3 Washington Redskins in what is a crucial game for both teams.
10. San Diego Chargers, 4-2. The San Diego Chargers went scoreless in the second half of a loss to the New York Jets in a game that they led 21-10 at halftime. The Chargers have not had the most impressive victories, as the teams they have defeated this season have a combined 6-19 record. A well-balanced offense, lead by quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Ryan Mathews gives opposing defenses fits. The Chargers face off with the 3-3 Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.