Jordy Nelson tears ACL – Out for Season

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Detroit LionsThe Green Bay Packers are heavily favored to win the NFC North title in 2015. However, it will now be a little tougher for them to do so after learning that Jordy Nelson has a torn ACL and will miss the entire season.

The wide receiver made a catch in a preseason game with Pittsburgh, planted, then went to turn, before falling down untouched. The Packers feared the worst, and it appears that their fears are confirmed after the official MRI came back today.

Nelson is coming off a career year in 2014, where he caught 98 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. Three of the past four seasons have seen the former Kansas State product tally 1,263 receiving yards or more, making him a critical part of Green Bay’s offense. Nelson’s production is a big reason why quarterback Aaron Rodgers won the MVP award last season.

Now the big question will be who can fill in for some of Nelson’s lost production. Randall Cobb might see an even bigger uptick in production, if that’s possible. Last year he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 TDs, giving the Packers an incredible 1-2 punch.

Second-year receiver Davante Adams will no doubt have a larger role in the offense. Adams’ role continued to grow throughout last season, and he ended with 38 catches for 446 yards and three touchdowns. He’ll no doubt have an opportunity to expand these numbers in the 2015 NFL season.

Tight end Richard Rodriguez and running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks could have prominent roles in the passing game as well to help offset Nelson’s loss.

jordy-nelsonOne other option would be bringing in a free agent, although general manager Ted Thompson isn’t a big player on the free-agent market. If Thompson does look around for free agents, he might be interested in Reggie Wayne, who most recently visited the New England Patriots.

One thing is for sure, though: at this point, there’s nobody in the league whom Green Bay could just pick up that would make up for losing Nelson. The only saving grace is that they still have Rodgers at quarterback and a very good offensive line.

As for Rodgers, he will attempt to pick up where he left off after throwing for 4,381 yards, 38 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Rodgers added 269 rushing yards and two more scores. Duplicating this feat and winning the MVP award again may prove more difficult, especially the miraculous feat of throwing just 5 INT’s on 520 pass attempts.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 5 (Oct. 2nd, 2014)

andre-ellington-cardinalsThe first bye week of the season saw our top three teams taking breaks. So it’s little surprise that the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals are still firmly planted at the top after their inactivity. But there are plenty of other big changes in our power rankings folllowing a week of upsets. That said, let’s look at who’s moving up and down as we enter Week 5 of the 2014 NFL season.

1. Denver Broncos (2-1); bye week, retains same ranking – Denver faces another tough test this week with the Arizona Cardinals visiting. However, we don’t expect this to be an overly difficult game for the Broncos for two reasons: 1) They’re playing at home, and 2) Arizona QB Carson Palmer seems doubtful to play because of the “misfiring” nerve in his shoulder.

2. Seattle Seahawks (2-1); bye week, retains same ranking – As if Seattle wasn’t already expected to win against the Redskins this week, they get a shaky Kirk Cousins coming off a 4-interception game. The Seahawks defense should feast in this one since they can both put major pressure on opposing QB’s and have excellent corners.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0); bye week, retains same ranking – Are the New England Patriots really as hopeless as they’ve seemed over the past two weeks? The Bengals are hoping so as they visit Foxborough this Sunday while trying to keep their unbeaten record intact. Even if they survive the Patriots, though, they’ll continue the gauntlet by facing the Panthers, Colts and Ravens after that.

4. Arizona Cardinals (3-0); bye week, moves up two spots – Arizona jumps into the upper echelon courtesy of teams above them losing. Along with Cincinnati, the Cardinals are the only undefeated squad left in the NFL. However, it’s difficult to see this remaining the case as they travel to Denver with backup Drew Stanton likely to start again. He fared really well against San Francisco, though, so it’s not inconceivable for Arizona to pull of the road upset.

philip-rivers5. San Diego Chargers (3-1); beat Jacksonville Jaguars 33-14, moves up three spots – We’re not that impressed with a blowout win over the Jaguars. However, San Diego has been very impressive throughout the season – including being the only team to beat Seattle – so they belong in the top 5. The injuries at running back are a definite concern moving forward, but Philip Rivers seems to keep getting it done, and the defense has far exceeded expectations.

6. San Francisco 49ers (2-2); beat Philadelphia Eagles 26-21, moves up three spots – San Francisco got their rushing attack going again, piling up 218 yards – 119 of them coming from Frank Gore. The defense also played well, picking Nick Foles off twice en rout to a second-half comeback. The latter is key because the Niners had been getting dominated in the second half and were finally able to reverse this trend.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1); lost to San Francisco 49ers, drops three spots – The Eagles have been flirting with a loss in every game they’ve played, falling behind early, only to come storming back. But this time, they went up early and faltered in the second half. They should easily win the NFC East, but Nick Foles’ inconsistency will be this team’s Achilles tendon.

8. Indianapolis Colts (2-2); beat Tennessee Titans 41-17, moves up three spots – It’s hard to gauge where Indianapolis is after two blowouts of lower-tier teams. However, they did play both Denver and Philadelphia tough in losses, adding legitimacy to their top-10 ranking. Assuming the Colts can eventually surround Andrew Luck with some real weapons, this team will be contending for the Super Bowl.

9. Detroit Lions (3-1); beat New York Jets 24-17, moves up seven spots – The fact that Calvin Johnson had just 16 receiving yards and this team won on the road shows that the Lions have truly become complete. This is backed up by the fact that Detroit was previously 0-6 when Johnson had 20 or fewer yards. With great players on both sides of the ball, they could continue moving up.

10. Baltimore Ravens (3-1); beat Carolina Panthers 38-10, moves up four spots – As expected, Steve Smith played like a man possessed against his old team – posting 139 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Not bad for a 35-year-old! Our main question here, though, is if Justin Forsett will really be the answer at running back.

aaron-rodgers-bet-211. Green Bay Packers (2-2); beat Chicago Bears 38-17, moves up two spots – One week after putting up a measly 7 points against Detroit, the Packers exploded for 38 points on the strength of Aaron Rodgers’ 302 passing yards and four TD throws. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb also turned in excellent performances with multi-touchdown games.

12. New England Patriots (2-2); lost to Kansas City 41-14, drops seven spots – It’s hard to give up on the New England Patriots four games into the season. But things are looking pretty bad right now – especially with regard to Tom Brady. The 37-year-old QB has one of the league’s worst passer ratings, promoting talk of if he’s washed up.

13. Dallas Cowboys (3-1); beat New Orleans Saints 38-17, moves up seven spots – Nobody has defied preseason expectations quite like the Cowboys have. First off, the defense was SUPPOSED to be dreadful after losing three top players from a unit that gave up the third-most yardage in league history. Secondly, DeMarco Murray has went from an oft-injured tease to an MVP candidate. His latest claim for this title: 149 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

jay-cutler-injury14. Chicago Bears (2-2); lost to Green Bay Packers 38-17, drops seven spots – We’re beginning to see an 8-8 season ahead of the wildly inconsistent Chicago Bears. As Jay Cutler goes, so too does his team. And considering his 7-for-13, two-interception performance in the second half, it’s little surprise that a close game turned into a rout.

15. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2); beat New England Patriots 41-14, moves up three spots – We’re still not sure how seriously to take the Chiefs this season, given that they don’t have the same cupcake schedule as last year. But over the past two games, they’ve looked like future Super Bowl champs with blowouts of Miami and New England.

16. New Orleans Saints (1-3); lost to Dallas Cowboys 38-17, drops eight spots – One stat that’s been thrown out quite often regarding the Saints is that less than 15% of 1-3 teams make the playoffs. If there’s a 1-3 team that has a shot at defying the odds, it’s definitely New Orleans. However, they’ve got to be more than just a team that can throw the ball.

17. Carolina Panthers (2-2); lost to Baltimore Ravens 38-10, drops four spots – Carolina continues their tumble after a second-straight terrible outing. And Cam Newton watched the end of another game from the bench. A huge reason why everything is going wrong for the Panthers is that they haven’t forced a turnover in the past two games. That’s quite a turnaround from the six they forced in their first two contests.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2); lost to Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-24, drops three spots – The Steelers are still in shock after giving this game away in the fourth quarter, where they were outscored 10-0. What’s amazing about the result is that Ben Roethlisberger threw for 314 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions, which is usually a recipe for a win.

ryan-tannehill19. Miami Dolphins (2-2); lost to Kansas City 38-14, moves up two spots – The Raiders’ strategy was to keep bringing pressure against Ryan Tannehill. But this time, the third-year QB responded by going 10-for-15 with 145 yards and a TD on throws where he was pressured. With the way that everybody is playing in the AFC East, the division is still wide open if Miami can take advantage.

20. Buffalo Bills (2-2); lost to Houston Texans 23-17, drops one spot – Moving from one QB who excelled under pressure to one who faltered big time, EJ Manuel was 5-for-18 with 36 yards and two interceptions on throws where he was blitzed. He’s fared badly against pressure ever since taking over as the Bills starter, which is why veteran Kyle Orton will now be under center.

21. Atlanta Falcons (2-2); lost to Minnesota Vikings 41-28, drops four spots – Matt Ryan continues to put up impressive numbers, but he’ll have more trouble doing so after three of his O-linemen went down with injuries. The defense did a pretty poor job of stopping the run after giving up 241 yards on 44 rushes to Minnesota.

22. New York Giants (2-2); beat Washington Redskins 45-14, moves up one spot – After having such a poor running game last year, New York seems better able to balance their attack thanks to Rashad Jennings. Plus, the addition of Larry Donnell at tight end has given Eli Manning a very reliable weapon – just look at his three TD’s last game for evidence of this.

23. Houston Texans (3-1); beat Buffalo Bills 23-17, moves up two spots – We’re hesitant to put much stock into the Texans’ 3-0 start, given who all they’ve played. But now everybody gets to see what they’re truly made of as they travel to Dallas, play the Colts at home, then head out to Pittsburgh.

24. St. Louis (1-2); bye week, retains same ranking – Will Austin Davis be able to continue exceeding expectations? He’d better if St. Louis is to have a chance against the Eagles. This is especially the case when considering that Philadelphia will be hungry for a win after losing to San Francisco.

geno-smith-jets-225. New York Jets (1-3); lost to Detroit Lions 24-17, drops three spots – The outcry for Geno Smith’s benching continues to grow after yet another lackluster performance by the second-year QB. Rex Ryan’s refusal to sit Smith will end up costing him a job as the Jets enter a tough mid-season stretch.

26. Cleveland Browns (1-2); bye week, moves up one spot – Don’t be surprised to see Cleveland be .500 within a month. They play Tennessee, Jacksonville and Oakland in three out of their next four games. Given how tough the Browns have played against better competition, they should have no trouble grabbing a few wins with their schedule lightening up.

27. Minnesota Vikings (2-2); beat Atlanta Falcons 41-28, moves up two spots – Minnesota might be on to something with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and Jerick McKinnon running the ball. The latter rushed for 135 yards on just 18 carries, showing that the rookie is more than capable of taking over starting duties. Going back to Bridgewater, he’s a game-time decision for tonight’s contest against the Packers.

28. Tennessee Titans (1-3); lost to Indianapolis Colts 41-17, drops one spot – It’s a good thing that Jake Locker is expected to play this Sunday against Cleveland because Charlie Whitehurst just won’t get it done. Now we finally get to see second-round pick Bishop Sankey take over the starting running back role – will he pay dividends?

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3); beat Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24, moves up two spots – Mike Glennon made a case for keeping his starting job for good after racking up 302 passing yards and two TD’s. His last completion – a touchdown to Vincent Jackson – gave the Buccaneers their first win.

30. Washington Redskins (1-3); lost to New York Giants 45-14, drops two spots – This loss is easy to sum up when looking at Kirk Cousins’ stats: 19-for-33, 257 passing yards, 1 TD and 4 interceptions. The last number was killer as Washington continually gave the ball up on their home field.

31. Oakland Raiders (0-4); lost to Miami Dolphins 38-14, drops one spot – After playing inspired during a 16-9 loss at New England, Oakland fell completely flat against the Dolphins. They could really use their bye week to come back with a new plan, and to get rookie QB Derek Carr healthy again.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4); lost to San Diego Chargers 33-14, retains same ranking – Jacksonville has finally begun their youth movement, starting Blake Bortles and featuring Denard Robinson as a passing-down back. We doubt the moves will pay off in many wins this season. But at least they’re building towards a better future.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 3 (Sept. 18, 2014)

Denver Broncos v Buffalo BillsAre the Buffalo Bills the NFL’s surprise team this year? Few would have guessed this coming into the season since the Bills haven’t made the playoffs in 14 seasons, and haven’t had a winning record in 9 years. But they are certainly looking the part of a changed team after beating Chicago on the road, and walloping Miami 29-10 last week.

Buffalo faces yet another good opponent in San Diego, and this matchup will reveal more about just how much they’ve improved. The Bills have already improved quite a bit in our power rankings as they represent the biggest jump.

1. Denver Broncos (2-0); beat Kansas City 24-17, moves up one spot – Few expected the Broncos to be challenged at home after the way that Kansas City played in Week 1. This was especially the case since the team was missing Jamaal Charles. Nevertheless, give Denver credit for beating a division rival and maintaining their unblemished mark.

2. Seattle Seahawks (1-1); lost to San Diego 30-21, drops one spot – A bit of a disappointment here as Seattle couldn’t seem to cover Antonio Gates as he caught three touchdown passes. Of course, Percy Harvin’s second-quarter fumble didn’t help matters – this was a huge momentum-shifter. But while the defending Super Bowl champs’ bid for perfection may have ended early, a road loss to San Diego is no reason to get alarmed.

3. New England Patriots (1-1); beat Minnesota 30-7, moves up two spots – With the NFC’s elites looking rather mediocre last weekend, we see another AFC team near the top. New England was great on both sides of the ball – intercepting Matt Cassel four times – en route to a blowout. Stevan Ridley showed that he’s not in Bill Belichick’s doghouse by rushing for 101 yards and a touchdown.

darren-sproles-eagles4. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0); beat Indianapolis 30-27, moves up two spots – Nick Foles had yet another poor first-half performance, only to help the team come roaring back in the second half. The Eagles deserve praise for fighting back in what looked like a Colts victory. Darren Sproles was more than impressive out of the backfield, racking up 152 receiving yards on just seven catches.

5. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0); beat Atlanta Falcons 24-10, moves up two spots – The Falcons are a much-improved team, which is why this is a very good victory for Cincinnati – especially without A.J. Green on the field. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard have quickly made their case for being the league’s top young backfield. And let us not forget how dominant the defense was against Atlanta.

6. San Francisco 49ers (1-1); lost to Chicago Bears 28-20, drops three spots – How San Francisco lost this one is beyond us. They jumped out to a 17-0 lead and were ahead 20-7 going into the fourth quarter. However, five turnovers, 16 penalties and a big drop near the end doomed San Francisco. Oh yeah…and they also let Jay Cutler throw three touchdowns in the last quarter. We pity the Niners at practice this week with Jim Harbaugh.

7. Green Bay Packers (1-1); beat New York Jets 31-24, moves up one spot – The Packers offense couldn’t have started off any slower, and the defense couldn’t have started any worse. Green Bay finally put two and a half quarters of good football together, capped off by Jordy Nelson’s 80-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. His 209 receiving yards were the third most in a game in Packers’ history.

8. Carolina Panthers (2-0); beat Detroit 24-7, moves up two spots – Against the Giants in Week 1, Detroit’s offense looked unstoppable. Against the Panthers, they looked lost, which is only a testament to how dominant Carolina’s front seven is. Greg Hardy going on the exempt list until at least mid-November really hurts. However, this defense isn’t all about Hardy, as just 21 points allowed and 6 forced turnovers through two games indicate.

9. New Orleans Saints (0-2); lost to Cleveland Browns 26-24, drops five spots – The Saints, who as always came into this season with Super Bowl aspirations, couldn’t have envisioned a worse start to the season. The offense was sluggish in the beginning, and the defense failed to make plays when it mattered. Case in point: the Saints’ pass defense on Andrew Hawkins’ big reception at the end that set up a game-winning field goal.

jay-cutler-bears10. Chicago Bears (1-1); beat San Francisco 28-20, moves up two spots – The Bears played one great quarter of football and took advantage of a San Francisco team that was hellbent on beating itself. So we’re not ready to predict a Super Bowl parade in Chicago just yet. Nevertheless, this was a very good victory for this team, especially stepping up when so many of their defenders went down with injuries.

11. Arizona Cardinals (2-0); beat New York Giants 25-14, moves up two spots – Playing a terrible Giants team allowed Arizona to survive both their first game without Carson Palmer and a road contest. This team will be relying much more on Andre Ellington now that Jonathan Dwyer has become the latest NFL player embroiled in a domestic abuse case.

12. Indianapolis Colts (0-2); lost to Philadelphia Eagles 30-27, drops three spots – Bad officiating and poor play-calling cost the Colts what should have been a victory. The decision to run the first two downs on Indianapolis’ last drive was baffling. They should get a victory this week in Jacksonville, however, the Colts are still starting off in an 0-2 hole.

13. San Diego Chargers (1-1); beat Seattle Seahawks, moves up two spots – There weren’t may people who called the win over Seattle. As mentioned in the introduction, Gates had an amazing day, helping Philip Rivers to also finish well with 287 yards and three touchdowns. They’ll now head out to Buffalo with plenty of confidence after beating the defending champs.

14. Buffalo Bills (2-0); beat Miami Dolphins 29-10, moves up 12 spots – Like everybody else, we underrated Buffalo coming into the season and thought that their win in Chicago was a fluke. But then they came out and dismantled our darkhorse favorite for the AFC East crown. C.J. Spiller showed just why he’s so dangerous on a 102-yard kickoff return while Sammy Watkins caught 8 passes for 117 yards and a TD.

bernard-pierce-ravens-201415. Baltimore Ravens (1-1); beat Pittsburgh Steelers 26-16, moves up two spots – So much for Bernard Pierce being benched for ineffectiveness as he rushed 22 times for 96 yards. Justin Forsett added eight carries for 56 yards, completing a backfield that could make fans forget Ray Rice.

16. Miami Dolphins (1-1); lost to Buffalo Bills 29-10, drops two spots – After a huge win over New England, Miami followed this up with a dud against the Bills. Their coverage on Spiller’s kickoff return was poor at best. And now they have to contend with Knowshon Moreno’s elbow injury. Hopefully this doesn’t turn into last year’s situation, where the team can’t string together consistent performances.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1); lost to Baltimore Ravens 26-6, drops six spots – A highly disappointing performance on both sides of the ball for Pittsburgh – especially from their lineman. The three turnovers added to the dismal offensive output while the linebackers and safeties got burned several times in coverage. Is this just another 8-8 Steelers team?

18. Atlanta Falcons (1-1); lost to Cincinnati Bengals 24-10, drops two spots – We expect the Falcons to be a player in the NFC South race. But after putting up little fight against Cincinnati, they haven’t shown too much so far. Matt Ryan was under pressure from a strong Bengals front seven all game, leading to 24-for-44 passing, three interceptions and being sacked three times. With no real running threat, Atlanta is a team that will live and die by the pass.

19. Detroit Lions (1-1); lost to Carolina Panthers 24-7, drops one spot – It seemed that nothing was really working for Detroit last Sunday. Their run game was stuffed and Matt Stafford didn’t get many good looks downfield. Give the nasty Carolina defense some credit here, but also consider the Lions’ three turnovers.

alex-smith-kansas-city20. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2); lost to Denver 24-17, drops two spots – We weren’t expecting big things from the Chiefs this season. But their performance against Denver without Jamaal Charles was commendable. After a disastrous three-interception outing in Week 1, Alex Smith turned in a strong, scrappy effort with 255 passing yards and 42 rushing yards. He’ll have to do far more of this with Charles out.

21. New York Jets (1-1); lost to Green Bay 31-24, drops one spot – Even when Geno Smith led the Jets to an early 21-3 lead over Green Bay, many fans probably had a feeling that the Packers would have the last laugh. And that’s exactly what happened as the Packers stormed back from an 18-point deficit to beat the hapless Jets. To add insult to injury, Jeremy Kerley’s game-tying, 37-yard touchdown catch was wiped out because New York called a timeout from the sidelines.

22. Dallas Cowboys (0-1); beat Tennessee 26-10, moves up six spots – Maybe Dallas isn’t going to be so bad this year. DeMarco Murray powered his way to 167 yards and a TD on just 29 carries. With such a balanced offense, Tony Romo was better able to manage the game and, most importantly, avoid throwing any interceptions.

23. St. Louis (1-1); beat Tampa Bay 19-17, moves up one spot – All bets were off on Austin Davis leading the Rams to a victory on the road. However, in his first-ever start, Davis turned in a decent game by completing 22-of-29 passes for 235 yards. Most importantly, he didn’t throw any interceptions and got the team in position for a TD and four field goals.

24. Houston Texans (2-0); beat Oakland 30-14, moves up one spot – If you’ll remember, the Texas started 2-0 last year, only to lose the next 14 games. Somehow, though, we feel that this year is different. This is especially the case if Arian Foster stays healthy, as he rushed for 138 yards and a score on 28 carries. But there needs to be some victories over teams besides the Skins and Raiders before they move up.

25. Tennessee Titans (1-1); lost to Dallas Cowboys 26-10, drops four spots – Tennessee’s run defense, which held up so well against the Chiefs, was absolutely obliterated by Dallas. The Boys rushed for over 200 yards, with Murray leading the way during his 167-yard effort. Meanwhile, the Titans rushed just 13 times total, which pretty much tells you everything about why Tennessee was dominated at home.

26. Minnesota Vikings (1-1); lost to New England 30-7, drops three spots – Losing Adrian Peterson to a child abuse case comes at a very bad time for the Vikings. Now opposing defenses can virtually ignore the run game, or force Matt Cassel to beat them…it doesn’t really matter.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2); lost to St. Louis 19-17, drops five spots – In most cases, having a rusher like Bobby Rainey go for 144 yards on just 22 carries is a recipe for victory. But that wasn’t the case for Tampa Bay as they found a way to lose this one. It seems like they’re going to find a lot of ways to lose in 2014.

28. Cleveland Browns (1-1); beat New Orleans 26-24, moves up one spot – The defense played very well against the Saints’ dynamic offense, not allowing Drew Brees many opportunities. Plus the rookie backfield of Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell continues to carry the load, as evidenced by their combined 30 carries and 122 yards. We don’t foresee the playoffs this year, however, Cleveland has refused to roll over for superior opponents.

29. Washington Redskins (1-1); beat Jacksonville Jaguars 41-10, moves up two spots – Maybe it’s that they played the Jacksonville Jaguars, maybe it’s Kirk Cousins finally taking over the quarterback reigns (or a lot of both), but Washington looked pretty good in this blowout. Cousins threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns while Alfred Morris rushed for 85 yards and another pair of scores.

30. New York Giants (0-2); lost to Arizona 25-14, drops three spots – It seems like a really long time ago when Eli Manning won those two Super Bowls. The Giants blew a golden opportunity to get their first win at home against Drew Stanton and the Cardinals. Is a Tom Coughlin-led revival in the cards this season, or just another non-playoff year?

31. Oakland Raiders (0-2); lost to Houston Texans 30-14, moves up one spot – More than anything, this year just seems like an opportunity to season Derek Carr, who passed for 263 yards and a TD, and rushed for another 58 yards. Of course, as his two interceptions indicate, the rookie will make plenty of mistakes.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2); lost to Washington Redskins 41-10, drops one spot – This isn’t all Chad Henne’s fault because the O-line is playing terribly (also see Toby Gerhart’s 2.0 YPC). But Jacksonville might as well give the superior Blake Bortles an opportunity soon because this season is already getting out of hand.

NFL Power Rankings for Oct. 25th, 2012

If there’s one glaring aspect that stands out about the NFL hierarchy this season, it’s that the NFC looks poised to win another Super Bowl. The top 10 of our power rankings is mostly comprised of NFC teams, and we don’t expect this to change much over the coming weeks. Of course, there are still some solid AFC teams that are capable of winning the Lombardi Trophy this year such as Houston, New England and Baltimore. Now let’s peg these three teams in order along with some of the other top contenders.

1. Atlanta Falcons (6-0) – It’s hard to put the Falcons anywhere but number one since they’re the NFL’s lone unbeaten. The Atlanta secondary has played very well and QB Matt Ryan is in the running for league MVP. This week Ryan and his teammates visit Michael Vick and the Eagles following a bye week. We don’t look for Atlanta to lose, but perhaps some bye week rust against a solid team will make this a tough contest.

Last Game: 23-20 win over Oakland
Next Game: at Philadelphia Eagles

2. Houston Texas (6-1) – Houston can rest comfortably in their bye week after destroying the Baltimore Ravens and grabbing the AFC’s top overall spot. It’s hard to say where the Texans go from here since they have little experience with being a dominant team. RB Arian Foster and the defense remain strong, but QB Matt Schaub can be a bit inconsistent at times. However, we predict that Houston should still grab the AFC’s top seed regardless.

Last Game: 43-13 win over Baltimore
Next Game: vs. Buffalo Bills (Nov. 4th)

3. San Francisco 49ers (5-2) – QB Alex Smith has looked shaky at times lately, but he doesn’t exactly face easy defenses in the NFC West. Speaking of defense, the 49ers D hasn’t skipped a beat since last year’s NFC Championship game run. Plus the run game has been going strong, which is always nice to have when there are quarterback uncertainties.

Last Game: 13-6 win over Seattle
Next Game: at Arizona

4. Chicago Bears (5-1) – The Bears defense continues to dash the hopes of fantasy football owners who have opposing quarterbacks, running backs and wideouts. As long as QB Jay Cutler can avoid mental blunders, the Chicago D is enough to keep them in any game.

Last Game: 13-7 win over Detroit
Next Game: vs. Carolina Panthers

5. New York Giants (5-2) – Some might argue that the Giants should be higher than this. But it took a last minute 77-yard bomb from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz  to finish off the Redskins last week. Even still, a win is a win and the G-Men will be looking for early season revenge against the Cowboys on Sunday.

Last Game: 27-23 win over Washington
Next Game: at Dallas Cowboys

6. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – Ravaged by defensive injuries, the Ravens took a 43-13 beating at the hands of the Texans. QB Joe Flacco’s play didn’t inspire much confidence in the offense either. Luckily for the Ravens, they still hold a commanding lead in the AFC North and now have a bye week to overcome some injuries.

Last Game: 43-13 loss to Houston
Next Game: at Cleveland Browns (Nov. 4th)

7. Green Bay Packers (4-3) – After a slow start, QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Jordy Nelson have suddenly caught fire over the past couple of games, and we’re hearing less groans coming from Green Bay fans. Plus the defense has been very good at creating turnovers and pressuring the quarterback.

Last Game: 30-20 win over St. Louis
Next Game: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-2) – Minnesota is officially this year’s surprise team after bolting out to 5-2. With this kind of record, you wouldn’t think that the Vikes are in a must-win situation against Tampa Bay this week. But two out of their following three games are road contests against the Seahawks and Bears. However, it’s hard to knock the Vikings because of upcoming games and they’ve definitely earned this spot.

Last Game: 21-14 win over Arizona
Next Game: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

9. New England Patriots (4-3) – Lately the Patriots have been the NFL’s version of a great long distance runner who sprints out to a huge lead, only to barely win at the end of the race. Last week’s overtime win over the Jets was too close for comfort after leading by quite a bit in the second half. And the four-player merry go-round at running back seems to confuse the Pats just as much as it does opponents.

Last Game: 29-26 (OT) over New York Jets
Next Game: at St. Louis Rams

10. Seattle Seahawks (4-3) – QB Russell Wilson came back down to earth after leading Seattle to a lackluster offense performance in San Francisco. However, it wasn’t all his fault since the Seahawks receivers need to hang onto the ball. Luckily the defense has remained stout and the team is eyeing a winnable game in Detroit this week.

Last Week: 13-6 loss against San Francisco
Next Week: at Detroit Lions