1. Green Bay Packers, 9-0. 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 130.7 after nine games and enjoying one of the greatest seasons ever for a quarterback, they are better than last season. Including the playoffs, the Packers have won 15 straight games and don’t appear to be slowing down. This is bad news for the rest of the league, as they are enjoying a monster regular season. The Packers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday.
2. San Francisco 49ers, 8-1. The San Francisco 49ers are a 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 4.7 yards per carry on the season. The other reason is the stingy 49ers defense, as they have allowed the least points in the NFL (138). The 49ers host the Arizona Cardinals Sunday.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers, 7-3. The Steelers lead the AFC North after they defeated division rival the Cincinnati Bengals and after the Baltimore Ravens lost to the Seattle Seahawks. 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 make them a contender to reach the Super Bowl. The Steelers have a bye this week.
4. New Orleans Saints, 7-3. A win over division rival the Atlanta Falcons has the Saints firmly atop the NFC South. Led by quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints have the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL with 313 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 have a bye this week.
5. Houston Texans, 7-3. ESPN reports that starting Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is out for the season. If true, then Matt Leinart will start for the rest of the season. The 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 over to 1,400 yards in 10 games. The Texans are experiencing their best season in franchise history and appear on pace to win their first-ever division crown. The Texans have a bye this week.
6. New York Giants, 6-3. The New York Giants lost a tough 27-20 game versus the San Francisco 49ers Sunday. The Giants are one of the more talented teams in the NFL, and, 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 Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football.
7. New England Patriots, 6-3. Quarterback Tom Brady has the New England Patriots again contending for a Super Bowl, and a win over the New York Jets Sunday combined with a loss by the Buffalo Bills has them back in sole position of first place in the AFC East. Losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants exposed some of the weaknesses of the Patriots, but an easy schedule should lead them to a division crown. The Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.
8. Chicago Bears, 6-3. After a 2-3 start, the Chicago Bears have won four in a row and are securely entrenched in the NFC Wild Card Race. The Bears own one of the stingiest defenses in the National Football Conference. Running back Matt Forte is third in the NFL in rushing, averaging 5.2 yards per game and nearly 100 yards per game. The Bears host the San Diego Chargers Sunday.
9. Detroit Lions, 6-3. The Detroit Lions are one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season at 6-3. 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 Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in what should be an exciting game this Sunday.
10. Baltimore Ravens, 6-3. The Baltimore Ravens may be the most confusing team in the NFL this season. They have defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers twice to sweep the season series, and the Houston Texans, but have also lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks, who have a combined 6-12 record. 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 152 points in nine 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.