It was that time of the week where our analysts gather around their virtual table and lay out their cards.
For Neil, Ben and Nathan that meant reading a lot into how the San Francisco 49ers handled the Jets and Bills. For Sam and my good self, it meant taking a safer approach and having an undefeated team top our rankings.
In any case we disagreed on more than just who was at the top, and you get to see that, along with the overall scores, below.
Rank Khaled Neil Sam Ben Nathan
1 HST SF HST SF SF
2 NE HST ATL HST HST
3 SF NE SF BLT NE
4 ATL ATL BLT ATL ATL
5 NYG DEN NYG NE BLT
6 CHI NYG CHI CHI CHI
7 BLT BLT NE NYG DEN
8 PHI GB ARZ PIT MIN
9 MIN CHI PHI GB GB
10 PIT PHI MIN PHI PIT
11 ARZ PIT PIT DEN PHI
12 GB DAL SEA MIN NYG
13 DEN SD WAS ARZ DAL
14 SD ARZ SD DAL ARZ
15 SEA MIN CIN SEA SEA
16 DAL WAS DAL SD CIN
17 CIN NO GB CIN TB
18 NO SEA DEN WAS SD
19 WAS DET MIA NO MIA
20 DET TB SL SL WAS
21 SL SL DET NYJ BUF
22 MIA MIA NO BUF NO
23 IND CIN CAR MIA IND
24 NYJ IND IND CAR SL
25 CAR CAR NYJ IND KC
26 BUF NYJ TB DET DET
27 TB BUF BUF TB NYJ
28 KC KC TEN KC CAR
29 TEN TEN OAK TEN TEN
30 OAK JAX KC JAX OAK
31 JAX OAK JAX OAK JAX
32 CLV CLV CLV CLV CLV
And now for the overall rankings (with last week’s rankings in parentheses)
1. Houston Texans (1st)
They didn’t put the Jets to the sword as many had predicted, but it was another win on their march to a seemingly inevitable AFC South crown.
2. San Francisco 49ers (2nd)
That’s two AFC East beatdowns in consecutive weeks. Think that defeat to the Vikings woke them up a little? The scary thing about the 49ers is just how well the offense is playing. Did anyone see that coming?
3. Atlanta Falcons (2nd)
At times they’ve made 5-0 look pretty ugly, only to pull it out at the last. This week they took full advantage of RG3 getting concussed, but the schedule is going to get tougher and they’ll need to execute better.
4. New England Patriots (4th)
They almost let the Broncos back into the game, but it’s pretty clear after a sluggish start to the year the Patriots are finding their feet. Just think, they get Aaron Hernandez back soon.
5. Baltimore Ravens (4th)
The most important thing about every game is to pick up the win, but when you struggle to score a touchdown against a Chiefs defense that has been torched at points this year, something isn’t right.
6. Chicago Bears (9th)
Without ever really hitting top form they dispatched an overmatched Jaguars team. The most encouraging things for the team are that the defense is playing as well as expected and Brandon Marshall is delivering from the get go.
7. New York Giants (7th)
They spotted the Browns a healthy lead before their running game found itself and Eli Manning did what Eli Manning does. The worry is still that their three victories have come against teams with two combined wins.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (6th)
Another game, another series of turnovers from Michael Vick. The Eagles continue to be a team that shoot themselves in the foot, and until they can consistently stop doing so, can they challenge?
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (13th)
A big win for a team that most are sleeping on. If Ben Roethlisberger can continue playing as well as he is then people won’t be for much longer.
10. Denver Broncos (9th) and Minnesota Vikings (16th)
Another tough defeat means Denver have now lost to our top three ranked teams. That makes them a tough team to get a read on, with them looking convincing in wins over Pittsburgh and Oakland. You could say the same thing for a Vikings team who have really stepped it up this year. Can they keep it up? We’re intrigued to find out.
12. Green Bay Packers (8th)
Losses against San Francisco and Seattle could be explained somewhat, but the big loss to Indianapolis has us all concerned about the Packers this year. Can they snap out of their funk, or have they given their NFC North rivals too much of a head start?
13. Arizona Cardinals (11th)
They came crashing down to earth with a defeat to the Rams where their offensive line was exposed. The defense looked sharp nonetheless, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them bounce back quickly.
14. Dallas Cowboys (13th)
It’s safe to say the Cowboys welcomed the bye week after Chicago taught them a lesson on Monday Night Football. Can they come back and play up to their talent-level consistently? We wait anxiously.
15. San Diego Chargers (12th) and Seattle Seahawks (18th)
It could have been so different for the Chargers who looked in control in New Orleans before a roughing the passer call wiped a score off the board and saw a potential three score game move down to three points. Seattle jump back up in that incredible way of theirs. You start to believe, they lose. You start to doubt, they win.
17. Washington Redskins (17th)
They ran the 5-0 Falcons very close, but ultimately lost out as the style of RG3 finally caught up with him. They’re a better team than their record indicates.
18. Cincinnati Bengals (15th)
They’ve beaten up on losing teams, but even with some generous officiating couldn’t overcome the Dolphins. That has to be a concern for a team that just doesn’t beat opponents with a winning record all that much.
19. New Orleans Saints (22nd)
Is this where the Saints start to play like we’re accustomed to seeing them play? Make no mistake about it, they needed that win. But make no mistake about this either, Drew Brees isn’t playing nearly as well as he did last year.
20. Miami Dolphins (27th)
After a number of close defeats, the Dolphins showed a lot of character to move to 2-3. It continues to amaze how much the rookie project Ryan Tannehill keeps impressing.
21. St Louis Rams (25th)
So the Rams got themselves a winning record? It’s a crazy year in the NFL. Their defense earned them the win but with Danny Amendola gone, can their offense move the ball well enough to keep them above .500?
22. Detroit Lions (20th)
There was plenty of work for the Lions to do on their bye week, the question is what team turns up when they return to the field?
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24th)
Close defeats are defeats nonetheless. There’s been a lot of encouraging things about these Bucs, but it seems like 2012 is a year too soon.
24. Indianapolis Colts (29th)
It wasn’t the most electrifying start to life as an NFL quarterback for Andrew Luck, but that all changed with a huge comeback win against the Packers. Will this kick start their season?
25. Buffalo Bills (19th) and New York Jets (23rd)
Two teams who share a mutual fear of the San Francisco 49ers prop up the rear of the AFC East. The Bills looked hopeless this week, even with Mario Williams starting to find his form. The Jets put in a spirited effort against the Texans, but it shows how far they’ve fallen that those kinds of defeats are occurring.
27. Carolina Panthers (21st)
We all get that Cam Newton is a special athlete, but it seems like his skill set has led to the Panthers creating an offense that fails to get the best out of some of their best (and most expensive) players. That never ends well.
28. Kansas City Chiefs (26th)
They looked better with a strong defensive performance, but until they can pass the ball effectively they’re going to continue to languish. A shame when you look at the talent they have on the roster.
29. Tennessee Titans (28th)
If ever a team needed an offensive overhaul it was the Titans. Their running game is out of gas, and that problem stems from so much more than Chris Johnson. Season 2013 already seems on the horizon.
30. Oakland Raiders (31st)
Amazing to think one week they could beat the Steelers and the next be so thoroughly outplayed by the Broncos. They’ve had a lot of time to think about that on their bye week.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (30th)
They channeled their 2011 selves on offense after a decent enough first half. The line isn’t getting much push and the quarterback teases you with the good before ultimately disappointing. The rebuild in Jacksonville could take a while.
32. Cleveland Browns (32nd)
In Trent Richardson they look like they’ve drafted a stud for years to come. Brandon Weeden? Well, it’s very early days. As is always the case with the Browns they lost, but they didn’t look terrible in doing so. They’ll appreciate getting Joe Haden back.