Although the Saints and Colts both remain undefeated after 11 games led by their MVP caliber quarterbacks, they are doing it in very different fashions. New Orleans faced what many thought to be their stiffest challenge on Monday night when they hosted the New England Patriots, but quickly dismantled them, rolling up an impressive 38-17 win. Meanwhile, Indianapolis invoked the same formula they have using for several weeks, appearing poised to be defeated before being rescued by Peyton Manning in the fourth quarter.
While all eyes watch anxiously to see if these teams can craft unbeaten seasons, another team lurks behind them that may have better overall talent. The Vikings have no discernible weakness and keep on rolling along with a mid-season loss in Pittsburgh being their only blemish. Brett Favre appears to have found cryogenics or been living with the De Leon family in his extended offseason as he assembles the best season of his career at the advanced football age of 40. The Vikings already had the best running back in football, a strong offensive line and an excellent defense, but in addition to Favre, they have developed a talented set of receivers and the best special teams unit.
These three teams are clearly the class of the league right now, although San Diego keeps on charging upward. With the Patriots defense looking very vulnerable, the Chargers appear to be the Colts most legitimate challenger in the AFC, but no one should discount Bill Belichick's and Tom Brady's ability to make a run. The Bengals also find themselves standing at 8-3 like the Chargers, but do not possess the same air of confidence. And, the other 8-3 team, the Dallas Cowboys, continue to win, although doubt still remains due to their offensive inconsistency.
Their NFC East rival Eagles are keeping pace one game behind them by finding ways to win while the team is depleted. Donovan McNabb has led two consecutive come from behind wins. The Eagles hope to stay within striking distance until they can get some of their injured players back on the field and playing at full strength. If they do, they are the third best team in the NFC and the fourth best team in the NFL.
The Green Bay Packers have jumped ahead of them and a few other teams in the current rankings by virtue of a potent offense and a promising defense. Aaron Rodgers is playing like a Pro Bowler while Charles Woodson is performing like the "Defensive Player of the Year." Last year's NFC champs continue a pattern of inconsistency, but are a scary team on any given week when led by Kurt Warner. Despite his absence due to a concussion last week, it took a Tennessee Titans touchdown at the final gun to knock off the Cardinals.
Speaking of the Titans, their 0-6 start had teams forgetting about them, but they are quickly emerging as a team to remember. Vince Young has taken over at the helm by order of the owner, and has them on a 5-game winning streak. Although they still have a losing record, they are now a formidable team that will challenge the Colts unbeaten string this week. The Broncos have had an almost polar opposite season, starting out 6-0, before losing four straight and finally righting themselves with a win over the Giants.
The Steelers, Giants and Ravens have all been impacted by injuries, but are also the three most disappointing teams in the NFL. At this point, none of them would seem poised to get things together and become a serious contender. With Eli Manning potentially on the verge of being shut down for the season, Brandon Jacobs playing soft and the defense in disarray, the Giants could find themselves packing in their hopes for the season shortly.
- Saints (11-0)-Brees has what it takes to win Super Bowl
- Vikings (10-1)-Keep on rolling up easy wins led by Favre
- Colts (11-0)- Same old formula- fall behind and then win again
- Chargers (8-3)- Keep getting better, Colts only AFC challenger?
- Bengals (8-3)- Offensive line leads rebound from bad loss
- Cowboys(8-3)-Hope to build on solid win to convince doubters
- Packers (7-4)-Looking look like a very solid playoff team
- Eagles (7-4)-McNabb leading depleted team to gut check wins
- Patriots (7-4)-Holes in secondary proving to be achilles heal
- Cardinals (7-4)-Heart breaking loss without Warner
- Titans (5-6)-Rolling behind Young after terrible start
- Steelers (6-5)-Loss to KC has many questioning prospects
- Broncos (7-4)-Finally open the parachute after long free fall
- Giants (6-5)-Lost all confidence, but still have talent to rebound
- Ravens (6-5)-Defense gives them a chance every week