On the NFL
7:32 PM EDT, September 25, 2012
1. Cardinals (9 last week): It's hard to believe they are the best in football, but they have beaten more good teams and answered more challenges than any other team.
2. Falcons (3): A quarterback who takes great care of the football and a defense that takes it away is a lethal combination.
3. Texans (6): Isn't it time to start calculating the Texans' magic number to clinch the AFC South?
4. Ravens (5): The offense is looking really good; the defense is looking really disappointing. But somehow, the Ravens still are one of the NFL's best.
5. 49ers (1): Oops. Let's give them a mulligan. Next time we count that drive into the woods.
6. Giants (10): After a rough start, they might be starting to put it together. Sound familiar?
7. Packers (2): Something is missing from the Packers offense, and they might not be the team we thought they were.
8. Eagles (4): If the Eagles could take care of the football better, they might be the NFL's best team, but how much can you like a team that is on pace for 64 turnovers?
9. Patriots (7): Are the Patriots starting to look a little old, or are the replacement refs looking really bad?
10. Bears (12): They won't get to the top of this list unless Jay Cutler starts pulling his weight.
11. Chargers (8): Losing to the Falcons does not mean they still are not the class of the AFC West.
12. Seahawks (19): Could they be the surprise team of 2012? Russell Wilson apparently thinks so.
13. Cowboys (14): If Tony Romo and the offense can keep pace with DeMarcus Ware and the defense, the Cowboys can be special.
14. Steelers (11): The absences of Troy Polamalu and James Harrison really started to show up Sunday.
15. Bengals (17): If you are a fan of points and yards, you should be a fan of the Bengals. They rack them up and give them up.
16. Broncos (13): Peyton Manning still is dangerous, but he can't win playing catch-up all the time.
17. Lions (15): They are digging themselves a hole, and now they might be without Matthew Stafford.
18. Vikings (25): It's starting to look like Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder can be quite an effective combination for the Vikings.
19. Bills (27): Their high scoring offense will be put to the test without C.J. Spiller.
20. Chiefs (26): They are a different team with the Jamaal Charles who showed up Sunday, and they might have turned the corner against the Saints.
21. Jets (21): They won a game Sunday but they lost something more important: cornerback Darrelle Revis is out for the season.
22. Buccaneers (20): They have excelled in various areas but are having a hard time putting it all together.
23. Panthers (16): Are they coming apart at the seams or just going through some early season growing pains?
24. Redskins (18): With an injury-depleted defense, it's a good thing Jim Haslett got that contract extension before the season started.
25. Raiders (29): Al Davis might not recognize his old team — especially with Marcus Allen a part of it.
26. Titans (30): If they can pull off 13 more Music City Miracles, they can go all the way.
27. Rams (22): Applications are being accepted from anyone who can block. Sam Bradford is good, but he can't do it all by himself.
28. Jaguars (31): It looks like Maurice Jones-Drew is back to full speed.
29. Colts (24): They get two weeks to stew about a loss to the Jaguars.
30. Dolphins (28): Losing to the Jets was discouraging, but Ryan Tannehill's pluckiness has been encouraging.
31. Saints (23): When you can't stop the run, a lot of other flaws show up. That has been the case in the Big Easy.
32. Browns (32): Jim Brown gave Trent Richardson a boost. But what he really needs to do to help this team is to come back and play like he did.