Here’s a look around the NFL after six weeks. Let us know what you think.
San Francisco 49ers
We called the Niners surprising last week, but we’ll call them legit this week. Jim Harbaugh’s team went into Detroit and took care of the Lions. They’re 5-1 and their victory in week six proved they’re a team to be reckoned with. Harbaugh is putting quarterback Alex Smith in a position to succeed and their defense is scary. This is a playoff team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After getting thrashed by the 49ers in week five we didn’t think much of the Bucs. They pulled a 180 in week six, though, with what was perhaps this team’s signature win — a 26-20 win over New Orleans. Tampa is probably still a year or two away from contention, but they’re moving in the right direction and have a lot of young talent.
New England Patriots
We knew they were good, but we didn’t know they could win playing defense. The Pats, who are last in the NFL in passing defense, held the Cowboys to 16 points on Sunday. Tom Brady had a poor game by his standards, but was there when his team needed him, leading the game-winning drive. These creeps can roll.
1. Green Bay Packers (6-0) — Until they lose, they’re staying in this spot.
2. New England Patriots (5-1) — See above.
3. San Francisco 49ers (5-1) — Surprise! We could deny them before, but we can’t any longer. Knocking the Lions from the ranks of the unbeaten on the road was huge. They’re well coached, can run the ball and their defense is fucking tough.
4. New Orleans Saints (4-2) — Even though they lost in week six, this is still a team to be reckoned with. Drew Brees is their X factor. When he’s on, the Saints can beat anyone.
5. Detroit Lions (5-1) — They came back to earth this week, which was inevitable, but the Lions still have a scary offense and a beastly defensive front. They’re good, but they’re still young and the 49ers exposed some of their flaws.
6. Baltimore Ravens (4-1) — We don’t want to like the Ravens, but can’t argue with the record. They have holes, they’ll probably bow out early in the playoffs, but right now they’re the best team in the AFC North.
7. San Diego Chargers (4-1) — They’re the Baltimore Ravens of the west. Phil Rivers gives them a shot in any game, though.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) — They had a statement win against New Orleans. We still think the Saints are the best in the NFC South, but the Bucs weren’t even on this list last week.
9. Oakland Raiders (4-2) — Just winning, baby. Now they have a real quarterback. The Raiders traded for Carson Palmer to replace the injured Jason Campbell. Would we be surprised if they overtake San Diego and win the AFC West? Nope.
10. Buffalo Bills (4-2) — They suffered a tough loss to the Giants, but this team wouldn’t have even been in that game last year. They have the tools to be successful. The surprising thing is they’re doing it with Chan Gailey at the helm.
1. Aaron Rodgers — 2,037 yards, 17 TDs, 3 INTs, 122.4 rating — We’re calling it. The NFL MVP race is over.
2. Tom Brady — 2,163 yards, 16 TDs, 8 INTs, 104.8 rating — Whatever you think of Brady, you have to admit he’s clutch. Was there really any doubt he wasn’t going to lead his team to a win when he got the ball on the Pats’ final drive last week? He’s throwing more picks than he customarily does, but he’s also leading the league in passing. More importantly, he wins.
3. Jimmy Graham — 39 catches, 629 yards, 3 TDs, 15.9 ypc — Look at the league leaders in receiving and you’ll be surprised. There’s a tight end third on the list. He’s Drew Brees’ favorite target. He’s what Jermichael Finley was supposed to be this season. He’s given notice that he’s one of the best players in the league. Most impressive, he’s averaging almost 16 yards per reception.
4. Darren McFadden — 610 yards, 4 TDs, 5.5 ypc — Darren McFadden is the Raiders. He leads the league in rushing, has a killer yards per carry average and can control a game. The only question is why aren’t there more Bo Jackson comparisons?
5. Jared Allen — 23 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT — Yeah, the Vikings suck and we hate to acknowledge anyone in their organization, but we can’t deny Allen. He’s on pace to break Michael Strahan’s sack record. Too bad he’s being wasted in Minnesota.
1. Rex Grossman — 1,132 yards, 6 TDs, 9 INTs, 66.5 rating — He had a nice start to the season, but you knew Bad Rex would show up eventually. In week six’s loss to Philly, he did, throwing four picks. The Skins will start John Beck this week.
2. Tony Romo — 1,590, 8 TDs, 6 INTs, 91.7 rating — Look, Romo is a decent quarterback. It’s becoming fairly evident he can’t win a big game though. The Cowboys are 2-3 and Romo looks like the anti-Tom Brady.
3. Houston Texans — They should be running away with the AFC South, but they’re 3-3. They’ve lost Mario Williams for the season and Andre Johnson will be out for at least a couple more weeks.