It feels so good to be on the right side of a win again! Not only that, but E.J. Manuel really bounced back from last week’s performance. We have players that lead the field on defense in the Pro Bowl, a growing QB, and a bright future. Sure, I’d like to see us beat the odds and make the playoffs this year. Even if we don’t, though, I think we can expect Doug Marrone and Company to push us even further next year. I’m gonna relax and enjoy the Bye week.
1. Denver Broncos (+1): And there you have it. The Broncos reign supreme. That said, the Chiefs-Broncos rematch will be a very different monster when it happens in Arrowhead. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these teams split the series.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (-1): The real difference maker here was the Chiefs defense (or lack thereof). Specifically they just couldn’t get pressure on Peyton Manning (and credit is due to Manning and the Broncos O-Line). This is still one of the top teams in the league. All things considered, limiting the red-hot Denver offense to less than 30 points is an accomplishment.
3. Seattle Seahawks (same): It’s not like we expected the Vikings to give Seattle a hard time. The Seahawks are now looking like the juggernauts that they were last year. They can be confident they are the best of the NFC going into the Bye.
4. New Orleans Saints (+1): Beating the Niners made it clear that the Saints are the real deal. This Thursday’s game is an example of two divisional opponents whose fortunes have reversed. The Saints are flying high after a disappointing 2012, and the Falcons are imploding after being 13-3 last year.
5. Carolina Panthers (+1): Statement made. I’ve expressed my doubts about Cam Newton’s leadership in the past (with his sideline sulking in bad games), but when he’s confident he’s hard to stop. Right now the Panthers have all the confidence in the world. I’m looking forward to them putting the Dolphins in their place.
6. New England Patriots (-2): I can imagine most Pats fans are PISSED about that call at the end of the game. They can keep it to themselves, though, since plenty of calls have gone their way in the past. There’s no question the Patriots are still a threat, but they can be beaten. I would love to see them drop two in a row after facing Denver this week.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (+2): With that, the Bengals are back on track. Watching the rest of their division settle in at 4-6, the Bengals will spend the Bye knowing that they’ll at least come out of it with a two-game lead in the division with 5 games left to play. A.J. Green can’t be limited anymore, though, like he was this week against the Browns.
8. Indianapolis Colts (+2): It’s not that the Colts rose due to their almost-loss against the lowly Titans. They move up, however, due to other teams above them showing weakness. Their record is one of the better ones, though, and their division is firmly in their control. I’m interested to see how they handle the surprising Cardinals.
9. San Francisco 49ers (-1): The Niners have dropped pretty far. They have the WORST passing offense in the league, and they’re currently tied in their division with the Cardinals. That’s not something you would expect to hear going in to Week 12. The Redskins SHOULD prove easy pickings, but these aren’t the same Niners from a year ago.
10. Chicago Bears (+1): Just like that, the Bears are tied for the lead in their division again. I actually give them an edge for having more consistency than the Lions, and they’ll only get better (considering they’re expecting Jay Cutler back soon). The Rams pose an interesting challenge this week.
11. Detroit Lions (-4): After taking control of their division, the Lions dropped a game to the Steelers. As it happens, you need to play more than ONE quarter of a game to win. The Lions had an incredible 2nd Quarter, scoring 27 points. Total for the other three quarters? ZERO. They won’t likely lose to the Bucs, but their consistency is lacking.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (+5): Winners of three straight, the Eagles are now confident that Nick Foles is their guy. They’ve got to be happy entering the Bye with the lead in the NFC East and zero QB controversy.
13: Arizona Cardinals (+3): Consider me impressed. Sure, the 3-game win streak for the Cardinals was against three of the worst teams in the league (Texans, Falcons, Jags), but 6-4 is pretty good in the NFC. Beating the Colts would go a LONG way towards proving their legitimacy.
14. Baltimore Ravens (-1): The Ravens have had their ups and downs this season. They lost to a good Bears team this week, but now they get the Jets in Baltimore. If the Ravens can’t win this one, they might as well call it for the season.
15. Green Bay Packers (-3): Ugh. After a loss to the once-winless Giants, the Packers are reeling. Have they ever lost three in a row in the Aaron Rodgers era? Without him at QB, even the Vikings pose a threat.
16. Dallas Cowboys (+2): The Cowboys come out of the Bye watching a lot of other teams do poorly. Unfortunately for them, those teams didn’t include the Eagles or Giants. The Cowboys are fading fast, but they can reassert their dominance if they can grab a win from the Giants in the Meadowlands.
17. Cleveland Browns (-3): Ok, so Jason Campbell isn’t the Browns’ savior. He performed well, but he can’t carry the team on his shoulders every week. This is still a tough team with a lot to fight for, and Joe Haden is incredible. He caught more passes than A.J. Green this week. That’s insane.
18. New York Giants (+3): I think I’ve seen this movie before. The one where the Giants look like crap for a while, and then they storm back at the end of the season and… well, we shall have to see how it ends. At this stage, they are eager to beat the Cowboys and suddenly be one game out of first in the NFC East. Fun fact: those first 6 losses were all against teams that currently do not have a losing record. That’s a tough start to the season.
19. San Diego Chargers (-4): Man, I really wanted the Chargers to beat the Dolphins. I’m starting to lose faith in this team, though. After some perseverance early in the season, the Chargers have lost three in a row, and they’re now heading to KC to face the Chiefs (who are eager to bounce back from a loss).
20. St. Louis Rams (same): Coming off the Bye, the Rams face the Bears. As explosive as Tavon Austin was a couple weeks ago, it’s hard to believe that the performance can be duplicated.
21. Miami Dolphins (+1): Ok, I think we can give the Dolphins some credit (grudgingly) for overcoming adversity and getting a win against the Chargers. As shiny as their 5-5 record seems at this stage, however, the Panthers pass rush is going to make short work of the depleted Dolphins O-Line. I might shed a tear for Ryan Tannehill.
22. Buffalo Bills (+1): OH THANK GOODNESS. With our first BIG and convincing win of the year, we got our revenge on the Jets and Geno Smith. Not only that, but E.J. Manuel finally started to come out of his shell and take some shots downfield. He is great at protecting the football (for a rookie), but now he just needs to keep that balanced with the ability to take chances when they present themselves. It’s gonna be a good Bye week.
23. New York Jets (-4): The benching of Geno Smith was telling. The Jets managed to keep the circus to a minimum this year, but it may be returning as a small QB controversy has started between Geno and Matt Simms. They’ll probably stick with Geno for now, but I’m gonna hope that he fails to impress against the Ravens.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (+4): After being counted out early in the season, the Steelers have won 4 of their last 6, and they’re beating quality teams like the Lions. If they can handle the Browns, they jump out of last place in their division (and keep their slim playoff hopes alive).
25. Oakland Raiders (+5): Early in the year, we would have called the Raiders beating the Texans an upset. Now it just seems like the inevitable outcome of a bad game. The Raiders’ schedule continues to help them, however, as they face the troubled Titans this week.
26. Tennessee Titans (same): Speaking of which, the Titans have been doing a pretty good job of “almost-winning” this year. Unfortunately, that’s not something to be proud of. If they can’t beat the Raiders, they are pretty much done.
27. Washington Redskins (-3): The Redskins are not in a happy place right now. They have lost 3 of their last 4, while watching the Giants pass right by them. This team can’t seem to get a break either, despite being one of the better offenses in the league. Now they face an angry Niners team that is just dying for a win.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3): WHAT? The Bucs won two in a row? Those Bucs deserve a round of applause for officially climbing out of the league’s basement. They’re still terrible, but now they now there are other teams who are LESS terrible. Upsetting the Lions this week would be unlikely, but it might get Coach Schiano a step closer to keeping his job.
29. Minnesota Vikings (same): They were severely outmatched against the Seahawks, but the Vikings have a real shot against the Packers this week. With no Aaron Rodgers to worry about, Minnesota could get the win and almost yank the Packers out of contention.
30. Atlanta Falcons (-3): Yeah, this team is officially bad. I don’t know what happened. This can’t simply be explained by the loss of Julio Jones. Oh, and Roddy White…. And Steven Jackson for a while. It could always be the curse of the contract: Where a QB gets a big contract and then immediately starts to suck. We might be familiar with that concept as Bills fans.
31. Houston Texans (-6): How did it come to this? One of the most terrifying defenses in football (last year) has been sent to keep company with the Jaguars at the bottom of the league. It’s a crime. Texans fans even swallowed their pride and accepted Matt Schaub as their rightful QB (as he should be), but they still lost. On the bright side, Schaub didn’t throw an INT. They’ve gotta be able to beat the Jags, right?
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (same): And here we are. The Jaguars. They are now alone at the bottom with the league’s worst record. If they manage to beat the Texans, though, they will officially swap places. Of course, this would also endanger their #1 draft pick status. We’ll see how that goes.