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Ranking the Contenders

It is amazing considering all the talk over the past 2 years about Brett Favre being ready to retire and that he isn’t the same player he once was. Over the past 4 weeks he has thrown just 12 TD passes and is on pace to throw 38 TD passes, which would put this season right up there with the those of his  best years when he threw 112 from 95-97 (37 per year). Even more amazing is that he could add another 30 TD season to the 8 he already has. That would be 9 30 TD seasons in his 14 years as a starter. To put that in perspective Peyton Manning has only two such seasons in his 7 years and doesn’t look like he’ll be doing it this year. Next on the all-time list is Dan Marino, the all time TD passing leader with 4 and no other QB in history has more than two seasons with 30 or more. We can only hope that Brett Favre can somehow keep this up despite the lack of talent around him and take advantage of a very weak NFC North and make one more memorable playoff drive, because with Favre, anything can happen.


On the undefeated team from, once there were four, there stands one. At that leaves the defensive minded Indianapolis Colts. What would they be like if they had a good QB? Obviously Peyton Manning can play better than this, and it doesn’t matter as long as they are winning. But we did learn from the 3 former undefeated teams that record doesn’t mean everything, part of it is who you beat.


The Bengals hit a speed bump against a good Jacksonville squad. Tampa got derailed without their Caddy and Washington played well but couldn’t overcome a few big plays they gave up. On the other end, teams that have struggled in past weeks like the Patriots, Jets and Dallas came up big for wins over quality opponents. And even the 0-4 Green Bay Packers found themselves on the good side of a 52-3 drubbing.


What does all this tell us? For one, it is way too early to put any team’s name on the Lombardi trophy just yet. It is also too early to count out any team that is struggling. What happens in September and October does not guarantee success in December of January for that matter. And those teams those are battered with injuries and under performing may finally start heating up when the weather gets cold. It’s been a good five weeks, but there is still a long way to go. But as of now here is how they all stand.


1.      Indianapolis Colts 5-0 (1):.The only unbeaten team left and the defenses faces its toughest challenge when St Louis comes to town. They will likely win, but will it be the defense or Manning that leads them……or probably both.


2.      Pittsburgh Steelers 3-1 (4): An impressive win on the road that was a battle of defenses. But in the end Roethlisberger and the Bus lead the drive for a gaming winning field goal. But the win may not come without a cost a Big Ben went down with an apparent knee injury with just a minute to go.



3.      Denver Broncos 4-1 (9):  They got outplayed Sunday, but found a star RB and a way to win. But getting shredded by Mark Brunell and Jake Plummer doing little in the passing game is concerning with New England coming to town.


4.       New England Patriots 3-2 (10): An impressive performance by Brady Sunday assured that they wouldn’t lose two in a row, but with the poor play from the defense can they finally win 2 in a row.


5.      Cincinnati Bengals 4-1 (3): Jacksonville was a tough loss on the road, but not a bad one. They can afford to lose games like that, what they can’t lose is the chemistry between Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson because of fighting about getting the ball.


6.      Atlanta Falcons 3-2 (5):  Believe it or not, they probably benefited from Vick not playing because he surely wasn’t going to come close to matching Brady pass for pass like Schaub did. But they still are a very good and dangerous team regardless of who is at the helm.


7.      Washington Redskins 3-1 (11): The Skins won every battle against Denver except the final score, unfortunately that is what counts. Brunell’s resurgence and a very good defense make them a legitimate contender.


8.      Jacksonville Jaguars 3-2 (14): Getting Fred Taylor going is huge for them. Their secondary is playing well and after what has been a tough schedule, after a few more tough weeks they have a fairly easy 2nd half.


9.      San Diego Chargers 2-3 (6): They came back despite Ladanian Tomlinson getting shut down in the running game for most of the game. But for the 3rd time this season they lost a 4th quarter lead.  They need to find a way to win those games because they have a tough schedule ahead.


10.  NY Giants 3-1 (8): Did anyone else miss the Eli Manning show, I did. I am actually intrigued by this team and can’t wait to see what they can do in Dallas.


11.  Seattle Seahawks 3-2 (15):  It’s a strange trend, get Alexander the ball 25 times and they win. But give props to Hasselbeck and the depleted WR core for getting it done through the air.


12.  Dallas Cowboys 3-2 (16):  They absolutely pummeled Philadelphia in every aspect of the game. Bledsoe is proving again not to count him out.


13.  Philadelphia Eagles 3-2 (2): I apologize for dropping the Eagles this far, but they got killed Sunday and if injuries have finally taken a toll on Donovan, Philly fans may have to get used to it. He is irreplaceable to that offense.


14.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-1 (7): Cadillac Williams is the difference between them being undefeated and at 4-1. The Jets are still a competitive and the Bucs D showed up as usual. But I’m still waiting for rumblings of a QB controversy.


15.  Carolina Panthers 3-2 (13):  You have to love the competitiveness of Jake Delhomme, because he is keeping this team winning. Arizona is a bad team, but flying cross country on a preparing for a game on a short week is a battle in itself.


16.  Kansas City Chiefs 2-2 (17): If you are a Chief fan, you can only hope they found a way to get Tony Gonzalez the ball and improve a D that gave up 67 points the last 2 games it played.


17.  Miami Dolphins 2-2 (12): As bad as the offense was Sunday, it still was better than what they had last year. Is their anyone really excited to see Ricky Williams come back?


18.  Cleveland Browns 2-2 (23): Can we finally get rid of the stigma attached to Dilfer that he was just a game manager in Baltimore; he’s clearly showing he can play.


19.  St Louis Rams 2-3 (19):  Best wishes to Mike Martz, but is him taking time off necessarily a bad thing for this team?


20.   Buffalo Bills 2-3 (27):  Going with Holcomb is the right move because with McGahee and a solid defense that has created 12 turnovers; they are very much alive in the AFC East and the playoff race.


21.  Oakland Raiders 1-3 (20): The key to the Raiders success or lack off from here on out will be LaMont Jordan running the ball. Teams are keeping Moss from scoring despite his absurd 24.5 ypc, and Jordan running well will allow them to sustain drives and open up other scoring opportunities.


22.  NY Jets 2-3 (22):  The Jets have a very good defense when the offense isn’t turning the ball over 3 times a game like they did in both losses. And Vinny did enough to keep them from losing the game, and that’s all they can ask for.


23.  Tennessee Titans 2-3 (24):  The defense has issues but it’s tough to count out any team with Steve McNair.


24.  Green Bay Packers 1-4 (32): With Green hurt and Davenport gone for the year, Brett Favre will have to do it himself, because he won’t get this much help from the defense each week. But even at 1-4, they may be the best in the NFC North because of him.


25.  Detroit Lions 2-2 (30): The defense isn’t as bad as it looked against Chicago, but unfortunately Joey Harrington is.


26.  Baltimore Ravens 1-3 (21):  Jamal Lewis and the rest of the running game got back on track, but the D giving up 169 yards on the ground to Detroit is worrisome especially when they will not get much from their own passing game.


27.  New Orleans Saints 2-3 (18): After a spirited win in week one, the Saints offense is much like the rest of New Orleans a disaster. But for all that team has gone through because of Katrina and what has happened to their home town, they deserve a pass this season.


28.  Minnesota Vikings 1-3 (26): Viking fans can only hope that Culpepper can be healthy enough and somewhat resemble the player he was a year ago. And after an extra week off, it may be their best chance to get back on track.


29.  Chicago Bears 1-3 (25): Chicago needs Thomas Jones to keep running the ball well and not disappear as he has done for most of his career. And unfortunately for them there seems to be no sign of help at QB.


30.  Arizona Cardinals 1-4 (28): McCown is putting up big numbers and getting the Cards in the end zone, something Warner wasn’t doing. But the defense and the running game have to improve quickly for them to be anywhere near competitive.


31.  San Francisco 49ers 1-4 (29): I didn’t think we’d see a QB performance anywhere close to as bad as Kyle Orton’s a few weeks ago, but Alex Smith came close in his 1st start. But at least it was against the Colts D, which is playing better than any team right now so things can only get better….right?


32.  Houston Texans 0-4 (31):   Carr is on pace to get sacked 108 times this year which is more than Peyton Manning has been sacked in the past 5 seasons (96 times since 2001 season). He is not playing well but he is not all to blame.



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