1. Green Bay Packers (10-0)
Putting 35 points on the board is a good day’s work for any team. Any team, that is, save the green bay packers, who looked decidedly half-arsed in their victory over the floundering Buccaneers. They say that every team – even the legendary – has a bad week at some point during the season. We saw the 2007 Patriots go 18 games undefeated before suffering an off day when it really mattered. If a 35-26 win over a 4-6 team (all but out of playoff contention) is the off-day we’ve been waiting for,and co should take it. Perfection is still attainable and they look more and more likely to achieve it as the weeks roll by.
2. San Francisco 49ers (9-1)
Beating the cardinals to remain the NFC’s number 2 seed is no tall order. With a routine 23-7 domination, the San Francisco 49ers – this year’s surprise package – put further distance between themselves and their NFC West rivals. The Seahawks could still, in theory, catch the Niners, but seriously? It isn’t going to happen. Coupled with the remaining division leaders bleeding games here and there, the California faithful look good value for the number 2 spot.
3. New Orleans Saints (7-3)
The Saints hit their BYE week at a good time. Having weathered the longest start to the league with a few noticeable problems on both sides of the ball, escaping with just 3 losses (albeit troubling and, save the Packers’ in the first game of the season, avoidable defeats) and the lead in what was expected to be a hotly contest NFC South race, should be regarded as a success. Drew Brees’ continued health is imperative to this team’s success and as in the case of the Texans with Schaub’s injury and the Bears with Cutler’s recent thumb break, any damage to the star man will see this team plummet in the rankings. For now, though, they remain my number 3 side and occupy the same slot in the NFC.
4. Houston Texans (7-3)
Also on a break this week, the Texans face a nervy 6-game run-in as the playoffs loom. Thankfully they are by far and a way the strongest team in the AFC South with only the Titans, who dropped to 5-5 this week after a 6 point loss to a resurgent Atlanta, anywhere near them. The two-game cushion the Texans are currently lounging on may have some of the stuffing knocked out of it over the next fortnight as they try and adjust to having Matt Leinart under centre while Schaub recovers from his injuries. For all the criticism Leinart has endured over his career, he’s certainly not a bad back-up and should be able to manage the game effectively enough for Houston to continue their winning ways. Driven by a dominant D and a rarefied rushing attack, this team is well-suited to the playoffs and should make it with ease.