Alright, so the deck was kind of stacked against us in that game. It almost looked possible for us to pull off a miracle in New Orleans, but you can’t stop Drew Brees… you can only slow him down. Our team has shown incredible toughness these last few weeks, and I’m hardly ready to count us out. Those undefeated Chiefs are ripe for an upset. They’ve had plenty of close calls in recent weeks, but they’ve continued to win. For that reason, I think they’re cocky. Let’s hope they believe their hype and think that the Bills will be a pushover. I can’t wait for our team to prove them wrong.
As for our rankings, a lot of teams stayed right where they were, though a few made significant shifts. Every one of my top ten ended up winning this week, so I must be getting something right.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (same): They won, but they’re vulnerable. That 8-0 record looks ready to burst in Buffalo.
2. Denver Broncos (same): Peyton Manning has a rough half, and people are falling all over themselves to say they knew he was washed up. Then he closes the game with 38 unanswered points. Denver feels just fine going into the Bye.
3. New Orleans Saints (same): Yeah, yeah. I guess we all expected Drew Brees to tear us to shreds. The real story for the Saints, though, is their defense. Thad barely had time to breathe in the pocket.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (+1): I’m putting the Bengals up a peg for that incredibly convincing win against one of the league’s better defenses. Andy Dalton is proving many naysayers wrong, and showing that he can be a gunslinger too. Next they get to feast on the Dolphins on Thursday night. Keep it going, Bengals!
5. Seattle Seahawks (-1): The Seahawks take a dip because their offense has issues. The Rams defense admittedly has a good pass rush, but their weak secondary should have been picked apart by the mobile Russell Wilson. As it happened, the Seahawks had to rely on their defense to win it on the goal line. A win is a win, but there’s room for improvement.
6. Green Bay Packers (same): The Vikings kept it close, but the Packers did what was expected of them. With all the injured receivers, Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy have really risen to the occasion. Their showdown with the Bears on MNF is an opportunity to get some separation.
7. San Francisco 49ers (same): The Niners put the beatdown on the Jaguars in London. Not really a shocker there. They go into the Bye feeling like they’ve eliminated most of the worries from their early-season issues.
8. New England Patriots (+1): I have to grudgingly give the Patriots credit for continuing to look weak, and yet pulling out wins in the end. That first half was a mess for the Pats. Bill Belichick’s eyes were glowing red, I think. Now they get a softball game against the Steelers.
9. Indianapolis Colts (-1): The Colts spent the Bye watching a lot of other good teams win. Losing Reggie Wayne is likely weighing heavily in that locker room. Their Sunday night battle with the Texans can’t be viewed as an easy game. Even with the Texans looking bad, divisional games are always full of surprises.
10. Detroit Lions (same): Seriously, I think that was the best game of the year so far. Besides the earth-shattering performance that Calvin Johnson had with his gazillion yards receiving, Matt Stafford showed that he’s got balls of tempered steel. They earned that Bye week.
11. San Diego Chargers (same): Fresh off a week’s rest, the Chargers get to show their stuff against the Redskins in DC. The Chargers are well in the AFC Wild Card hunt, and a win would keep them firmly slotted at the 6th seed.
12. Dallas Cowboys (same): Wow. All that effort, and it wasn’t quite enough, was it? Playing the Vikings SHOULD help ease the Cowboys pain, who are still firmly in control of the NFC East, despite their 4-4 record.
13: Baltimore Ravens (same): The Ravens are coming off the Bye to play the division-rival Browns. With the Browns season almost on life-support, the Ravens are looking to kick them out of the playoff race for good.
14. Chicago Bears (same): There are a lot of question marks for this Bears team after a week of rest. What’s Cutler’s status for the season? What happened to the defense? Right now the most important question is: Can they beat the Packers on Monday night?
15. Carolina Panthers (+9): The Panthers are rolling. After a rough start to their season, the Panthers have won three straight. Granted, they haven’t been against incredible teams, but confidence goes a long way. Cam Newton specifically seems greatly affected by his emotions when he plays. Right now he’s flying high, and that’s making him productive.
16. Arizona Cardinals (+3): The Cardinals defense made quick work of the Falcons, and their offense was able to capitalize. The Cards are 4-4 at the middle of the season, which is better than most expected. They should spend the Bye week honing their newly-found running game.
17. Cleveland Browns (-2): The Browns and our Bills share a lot in common. Both our teams seem to play teams tough every week, but the outcome doesn’t always seem to go their way. They wore down the Chiefs pretty well, but it wasn’t enough for the win. Jason Campbell appears to be the right choice for them, though. If he could lead them to a win over the Ravens, he might have himself a job for the rest of the season.
18. Buffalo Bills (-1): Sigh. What could we expect, right? The Saints are an elite team this year on both sides of the ball. Everyone’s calling this game a “measuring stick” game for us, and by that rationale we didn’t measure up well. I don’t think that takes into account a lot of intangibles about this team, though. More than anything, I’m excited to see what this team looks like when E.J. Manuel comes back. For now, though, I believe Thad can get us a win over the Chiefs at home.
19. New York Jets (-3): Records be damned, I had to put the Jets below us after they flailed madly against the Bengals and accomplished almost nothing. Our Bills at least stood toe-to-toe with the Bengals. The Jets appeared to lay down. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face when I heard that Geno Smith was benched. The Jets are having their own difficult schedule to deal with, as they move from the Bengals to the Saints.
20. Houston Texans (same): I’ve made it clear that I think benching Matt Schaub is ridiculous. The Texans fans are starting to prove themselves classless in the way they’ve treated Schaub, and now they’re calling for Coach Kubiak to be fired. The only reason I might agree with them is because he’s given in to pressure by benching the better QB. Now his job probably rests on the performance of Case Keenum.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (-3): It doesn’t get much worse than losing to the Giants this year. With Matt Barkley at the helm, I’m not entirely sure how far the Eagles can go. Let’s give him a chance, though. The Raiders look tough, but they can be beaten.
22. Atlanta Falcons (-1): Really? Check out this stat from the Falcons loss to the Cardinals: The Falcons’ top rusher was Matt Ryan… with 13 yards. That’s with Steven Jackson back in the lineup! If they lose to the Panthers this week, these Falcons may be done.
23. Miami Dolphins (-1): They started so strong, and then fizzled out to nothing. These Dolphins are clearly struggling to close out games, and they’ve lost four straight. The Bengals are looking to make that five.
24. Oakland Raiders (+4): Terrelle Pryor is the only reason the Raiders are a threat this season, and good for him. Kudos to the coaching staff for realizing how much Pryor’s mobility opens up the game for Darren McFadden. Beating the Eagles would put them at .500… which is insane.
25. Tennessee Titans (same): The Titans come off the Bye feeling healthy and licking their chops at the sight of the ailing Rams. If the Titans can keep Jake Locker relatively well-protected, they have a shot at getting their season going again.
26. New York Giants (+3): The Giants enter the Bye on a winning streak! Sure, they’re 2-6, but hey. When you’re in a division where the champion may be 8-8 when all is said and done, you can’t quite count these guys out.
27. St. Louis Rams (same): GREAT defensive performance against Seattle. Too bad it was coupled with a MISERABLE offensive performance. Zac Stacy gets credit for standing out, but Kellen Clemens is clearly not the answer in St. Louis.
28. Washington Redskins (-2): The Redskins continue to fail to put together a complete game. In the early season they were playing terrible in the first half, and then trying to dig their way out of a hole in the 4th quarter. Now they’re playing great early on, and then falling flat for the rest of the game. With RG3 still battling injury and drama on the sidelines, this team needs to fix the problems now or risk fading away.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (-6): And the Steelers fall right back down. They looked like they were going to rise from the dead, but the Raiders showed them that there’s a long way to go. Do the Steelers even have a chance against the Patriots? Gosh, I hope so.
30. Minnesota Vikings (same): Christian Ponder is clearly the best option at QB in Minnesota, but that ain’t saying much. If they play as hard as they did against the Packers this Sunday, they might have a shot at upsetting the Cowboys. It’s a long-shot, though.
31. Tampa Bay Bucanneers (same): At first I thought the Bucs had a Bye this week, and then I realized they had a forgettable loss on Thursday. Their matchup against the Seahawks this week is so lopsided it makes me want to cry.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (same): I’m starting to wonder about the potential fallout if we really do send the Jaguars to London. I can just see a future where President Obama is receiving a briefing on how foreign relations with England have become strained due to a 4 INT game by Blaine Gabbert.