1. Green Bay Packers, 8-0. 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 129.1 after eight games and enjoying one of the greatest seasons ever, they appear to be better than last season. Including the playoffs, the Packers have won 14 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 host the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football.
2. San Francisco 49ers, 7-1. The San Francisco 49ers are another league surprise, led by fiery first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh. 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 4.9 yards per carry on the season. The other reason is the stingy 49ers defense, as they have allowed the least points in the NFL (118). The 49ers host the New York Giants in one of the best match ups of the weekend.
3. Baltimore Ravens, 6-2. The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers to sweep the season series Sunday. 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 AFC, allowing only 130 points in eight 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, and Flacco gave Ravens fans a lot of confidence Sunday. The Ravens travel to face the Seattle Seahawks Sunday in a game they should win.
4. New York Giants, 6-2. The New York Giants are one of the more talented teams in the NFL, and their road victory over the New England Patriots Sunday proved it. 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 travel to face the 7-1 San Francisco 49ers in one of the best match ups of the weekend.
5. Detroit Lions, 6-2. The Detroit Lions are one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season at 6-2. 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 will travel to play the Chicago Bears in a key NFC North match up Sunday.
6. Cincinnati Bengals, 6-2. The Cincinnati Bengals have surprised a lot of NFL fans this season with their 6-2 record, but have yet to play either of their top division foes, the 6-2 Baltimore Ravens or the 6-3 Pittsburgh Steelers. That will change Sunday, as they host the Steelers. Cincinnati has the second-stingiest defense in the AFC, and, led by rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, their future appears bright.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers, 6-3. After their second loss of the season to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers may have trouble winning the AFC North. Still, in an AFC that appears to be wide open, the Steelers, led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and defensive back Troy Polamalu, have the ability to perform in the clutch that will make them a tough out in the playoffs. The Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.
8. New Orleans Saints, 6-3. Led by quarterback Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints have the highest-scoring offense in the NFL with 287 points. The Saints do leave a lot to be desired defensively, and when their offense 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 the Atlanta Falcons Sunday in a game that will decide who will be on top of the NFC South.
9. Houston Texans, 6-3. The Houston Texans have the highest-scoring offense in the AFC, led by two NFL top-10 running backs, Arian Foster and Ben Tate, who have combined for close to 1,300 yards in nine games. The Texans are experiencing their best season in franchise history and appear on pace to win their first-ever division crown. The Texans travel to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday.
10. New England Patriots, 5-3. Quarterback Tom Brady has the New England Patriots again contending for a Super Bowl, but two straight losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants have them in a three-way tie with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills for the division lead. The Patriots face the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in a critical division AFC East division match up.