After 9 weeks, every team has played at least 8 games, a couple of teams have played 9… I’ll be breaking down every team through the first 8 games (focusing mainly on the past 4 or 5).
New York Jets (6-2) – New York sputtered coming off of their bye week in an ugly 9-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers, and struggled to beat the Lions in Detroit in overtime; but they still remain atop their division. LT has been playing outstanding football, and Santonio Holmes is becoming a very good target for Mark Sanchez.
New England Patriots (6-2) – What an ugly loss we just saw to the Cleveland Browns… losing Randy Moss but adding Deion Branch back into the mix… Tom Brady is still playing like he wants to win this thing. Defensively, they’ve still got a lot of holes to fill.
Miami Dolphins (4-4) – The Dolphins are coming off of their first road loss… but they’ve been horrid at home. They’ve found a way to keep games close and alive, but there’s nothing about this team that stands out as a possible mark of a champion… they’re looking like they’ll remain a .500 team.
Buffalo Bills (0-8) – This is a team that is playing a lot better than their record looks. They’ve been in it up until the very end in almost every game, at times the defense blowing the lead. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been one of the hottest QB’s in the league over the past couple of weeks… I wouldn’t be surprised if they got a few BIG wins here in the second half of the season.
Baltimore Ravens (6-2) – Still one of the favorites on the season, Baltimore has been playing pretty solid football… and Ed Reed has returned as a monster (as expected) which is helping the front start to put more pressure on opposing QB’s. Still waiting for TJ to assert himself on offense, and Ray Rice to start coming around this year.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) – They’re right in it with the best of ‘em… Mendenhall has gone crazy so far this year, and aside from Ben, may be the best weapon they’ve had in years… and Mike Wallace is finally starting to come around. Defensively, it’s the Steelers. They’re not AS dominant as years past, but they’re still a Dick LeBeau defense.
Cleveland Browns (3-5) – The Browns have had 2 huge wins over the Saints and Patriots… they’ve been playing outstanding defense the past couple weeks. Offensively they’re steamrolling people with Peyton Hillis running the ball and Colt McCoy is starting to establish himself. Still going to struggle, but they’re building in a good direction.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-6) – The Bengals are on a 5 game losing streak, and you wouldn’t know it from the receivers’ stats… but Carson Palmer is playing horrible football anyways. He’s making stupid decisions and not reading the play before the snap. Defensively, this isn’t a Mike Zimmer squad… they’re struggling to stop people left and right, and making little to no effort in tackling.
Indianapolis Colts (5-3) – They just lost to the Eagles… but Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning. No quarterback is better coming off of a loss than Manning. Defensively, they’re pretty banged up as well as on offense… but there’s more depth on the Colts’ depth chart than on any other team in the league.
Tennessee Titans (5-3) – This QB situation is never going to fix itself, especially with all of the injuries going on between Young and Collins. Chris Johnson isn’t on pace to repeat his 2,000 yards… but he’s still balling. The defense is starting to struggle a bit, committing stupid penalties. They just acquired Randy Moss off waivers… so the offense might start to open up a bit.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) – The Jaguars have established themselves a bit here over the last ¼ of the season. Garrard has been playing solid football, and the defense is starting to really hit people. And they’ve still got Maurice Jones-Drew destroying defenses in every way he possibly can.
Houston Texans (4-4) – The Texans are really struggling. This is a team that started off terrific, and have just started to fall apart. Offensively, they still do some really good things, but they do some really stupid things as well. Defensively, they can’t stop breathing if they tried to hold their breath. Kubiak needs to do something quick, because his leash is going to shorten, fast.
Kansas City Chiefs (5-3) – The Chiefs have been playing tremendous football… up until the second half of the Raider game. Their defense is fast and punishing… and on offense, the run game really sets them up to be successful. They still need to polish a few things up, but they’re staking their claim to competitiveness in the AFC West.
Oakland Raiders (5-4) – Oakland has played brilliant football as well of late… they’re coming off of a couple huge wins. Jason Campbell has been playing pretty good football, and this receiving corps (the fastest in the league) is starting to catch and make plays. Darren McFadden has gone off in recent weeks. Defensively, they’re applying pressure left and right. 3-0 in the division.
San Diego Chargers (4-5) – They’ve been horrible in the division… Rivers is still playing at a Pro Bowl level, but his running game hasn’t been anything above average. Defensively, they’re finding ways to lose games, and keep losing. And this special teams unit has to be the worst in the NFL.
Denver Broncos (3-5) – The Broncos still don’t have an identity on either side of the ball. Their best weapon on offense is Brandon Lloyd (either a good thing or real bad considering Lloyd has never really been considered that kind of receiver)… defensively they don’t apply pressure.
New York Giants (6-2) – The Giants are ranked first in both overall offense and defense. Eli Manning has been playing exceptionally well, in huge part because Hakeem Nicks has become an elite WR. It also helps than Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs have started to run better. Their O-Line has been in flux this season, but they still find ways to win. Defensively, they’ve been stingy and punishing.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-3) – The Eagles are coming off of a win over the Colts, so they’ve got to feel confident moving on this season. Mike Vick is playing MVP-style football PASSING the ball… let alone mixing in some of HIS game at times… and the Eagles feel safe knowing Kolb can win them some games if Vick goes down again. Defense is getting very confident as well.
Washington Redskins (4-4) – This is a team that is very confused. They beat the Packers… but struggle to hold onto a lead vs. the Lions. There are still too many players on the roster who aren’t accustomed to putting teams away, and it hurts them. Offense is almost non-existent… but the defense is coming around to this 3-4 they’re playing.
Dallas Cowboys (1-7) – This has to be the worst team in football. They just got their head coach fired… they were expected by everyone to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl in their own home… and they still can’t figure it out. This is a running team, and they’re still passing like they’re the Colts…
Green Bay Packers (6-3) – Aaron Rodgers is starting to make those perfect precision passes and reading defenses… the ground game is actually moving a bit, and defensively, they’re destroying teams. When Clay Matthews is healthy, he’s as good a pass rusher as this league has… and he’s always coming up with the football. Definitely a team that can win in November, December, and even January.
Chicago Bears (5-3) – The Bears struggled against the Redskins, but managed to get a win over the Bills coming back from their bye week. They’re 2-0 in the division with a game coming up against the Vikings, and they're right behind Green Bay… they can’t afford to lose now. Defense is playing physical and the special teams unit is turning back on.
Minnesota Vikings (3-5) – This is a team that is struggling, and they’re starting to point fingers at head coach Brad Childress. One unnamed player was even quoted as saying “I don’t like Brad but I’ll keep playing for him”. They brought in Randy Moss hoping it would cure their Sidney Rice-less struggles, but that didn’t prove to benefit anything. This defense has not been the dominating force they’ve grown accustomed to being…
Detroit Lions (2-6) – They snuck in a win against the Redskins, Stafford has been reinjured though. This offense has found a way to remain competitive in every game, but the defense still doesn’t know how to win ball games.
Atlanta Falcons (6-2) – When Michael Turner is running hard, this team makes things happen. Roddy White is having another Pro Bowl year, and this defensive front 7 is really physical. Still some holes in the secondary, but they cover for their weaknesses by excelling with their strengths.
New Orleans Saints (6-3) – After a very disappointing loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Saints responded with one of the most incredible wins of the year against the Steelers. They hurt without Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush, but they still manage to move the ball. When those two return, the NFL better beware, because a repeat IS possible. Defensively they’re punishing with the return of Darren Sharper.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-3) – This is a surprise team, they’re not as good on paper as they’ve played. Sure, they haven’t really blown anyone out, but they make plays when it counts. Young WR Mike Williams (not to be confused with Seattle’s Mike Williams) has been arguably one of the most impressive players in the league, and ROTY could be his. This team actually has a chance.
Carolina Panthers (1-7) – This is a team that plays a little better than their record as well, but their struggles are well documented. They’re not run-blocking well, the passing game hasn’t had any receivers threatening downfield, and defensively they really do miss Julius Peppers.
Seattle Seahawks (4-4) – There are plenty of struggles, they’ve been blown out a few times, but they’ve managed to win some games with takeaways and an aggressive defensive line. Offensively, young WR Deon Butler competes with Tampa’s Mike Williams… this kid makes plays all over the field. Very good special teams unit as well.
St. Louis Rams (4-4) – Sam Bradford finds ways to keep his team in ballgames up to the very end. His receiving corps has been decimated, but he’s still finding targets and making plays. Defensively they’re playing hard and fast, but still show huge signs of weakness left and right.
Arizona Cardinals (3-5) – It’s crazy to imagine the Cardinals OFFENSE being the unit that struggles in Arizona. The QB play is erratic, whether it be Anderson or Hall… nobody is making it work. The run game can’t open up because of the lack of threat of a passing game. Defensively they’re one of the better units in the league… the secondary has been unleashing Hell on opposing offenses… and Kerry Rhodes proved to be a very valuable pickup.
San Francisco 49ers (2-6) – They’re playing a lot better now than they did the first 6 weeks, in huge part because of Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree. The defense is still trying to figure out who they want to be… they’re inconsistent from quarter to quarter with their intensity and aggressiveness. Could make a push though.