It has been an ugly season throughout most of the NFL. The top teams have established themselves, but beyond that it's a muddled mess of teams trading wins and losses. We are now entering the pivotal week 8 midpoint of the season, which teams have positioned themselves to make second half runs?
32. Houston Texans (2-4, Previously #30) - If their offense wasn't already bad enough, star RB Arian Foster is now out for the remainder of the year (at least) after suffering a torn Achilles. Oh yea, and half back-up/half starting QB Ryan Mallet missed the teams charter before the Miami game (not the first event he's missed this season).
31. Tennessee Titans (1-5, Previously #29) - They hung in there with a tough Falcons team, but still only managed to put 7 points on the board. Points scored has been a big issue, as the Titans have only broken the 14 point mark twice this season... that won't win you many games, and it hasn't.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5, Previously #32) - It's really hard to put any stock in winning a horribly ugly game that took place overseas, at 9:30am ET... but still, the Jaguars did find a way to win and their opponent didn't, that still counts for a little.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4, Previously #29) - The Bucs put forth a good effort, but came out on the wrong side of a last minute TD. While their remaining schedule is far from brutal, it's hard to look at any one game and say "oh, that looks like it's a win."
28. Detroit Lions (1-6, Previously #27) - I thought Detroit was going to be a top wildcard contender this year... I was wrong. This team still has a load of talent, especially on offense, but they really haven't been able to get things done. You have to assume Jim Caldwell's seat is almost too hot to sit in, at this point.
27. Chicago Bears (2-4, Previously #26) - The Bears come out of their bye at 2-4, hoping to defend their home turf against Minnesota in week 8.
26. San Francisco 49ers (2-5, Previously #25) - They were blown out by Seattle on Thursday Night Football, and never really got anything going. The more we see of this team, the more that week one win against Minnesota looks shocking. The 49ers are settling nicely near the bottom of the NFL.
25. Baltimore Ravens (1-6, Previously #24) - The Ravens lose, yet again. Starting off 1-6 is not where you want to be, especially with the top team in your division sitting at 6-0. The only good news that I can pull out of the first 7 games is that 5 of them were on the road. The Ravens have one more shot against the Chargers in week 8 to get another win before their much needed bye.
24. Cleveland Browns (2-5, Previously #20) - They went to St. Louis and were crushed. McCown was injured during the game and is considered questionable for the upcoming game against Arizona. Unless you like horror movies, I wouldn't want to see Johnny Manziel be thrown in against that Cardinals defense.
23. Kansas City Chiefs (2-5, Previously #28) - That's why I don't really bet on the NFL, I would've put money on the Steelers all day in that one. Kansas City picked up a nice win against a quality opponent, but they'll need to do it another time or two, if they want to convince me.
22. Washington Potatoes (3-4, Previously #23) - Washington heads into their bye with a W, which is what you want. A comeback home win against the Buccanneers by 1 point isn't something to hang your hat on, but it is a win. A 3-4 record is good enough to be sitting just a game out of first in the NFC East, but I wouldn't expect this team to still be in contention by week 12 or 13.
21. Dallas Cowboys (2-4, Previously #17) - They are now 0-4 without Tony Romo, and if they weren't going to get him back, you'd have read their name much earlier in the rankings. With Romo expected to be out another 3 games, the question becomes "Can the Cowboys even win one, to avoid a deficit too big to overcome?"
20. Indianapolis Colts (3-4, Previously #19) - They made a valiant comeback effort, after finding themselves in a 27-0 hole, early in the third quarter. They came roaring back, but ultimately fell short, dropping the home game 27-20 to the New Orleans Saints. Even at 3-4, the Colts remain atop their division, and (thanks to the other teams that comprise the AFC South) are almost a lock to win it.
19. Miami Dolphins (3-3, Previously #21) Now I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the level of opponent (Tennessee and Houston), but the Dolphins have looked like a completely different team since Dan Campbell took over as head coach. In the two games since, the Dolphins have outscored their opponents 82-36... not too shabby.
18. Buffalo Bills (3-4, Previously #13) - That was an ugly game and a bad loss to a horrible team... but it was also in London, at 9:30am ET. There are too many variables going into this game to put any real stock in it, but even saying that, a good team should be able to beat the Jaguars under most circumstances. The defense has been woefully inconsistent this year, and this past performance was a bad one.
17. New Orleans Saints (3-4, Previously #22) - They went on the road and picked up a nice win. They were up 27-0 early in the 3rd quarter, before giving up a little comeback to the Colts. Overall, the defense looked good and so did the offense. The running backs looked really good, punching in 3 TDs to go along with 187 yards on the ground.
16. Seattle Seahawks (3-4, Previously #18) - Got the win over rival San Francisco, in a game they needed. While they aren't in a horrible position at 3-4, it looks a little less impressive when you consider their wins (Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco).
15. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4, Previously #16) - They lost to the better team in Carolina, no shame in that. They have a couple nice wins, and no real horrible losses (ok, maybe the Dallas one). They have their bye this week, with some winnable games on the other side with their next 4 games coming against Dallas, Miami, Tampa Bay, and Detroit.
14. San Diego Chargers (2-5, Previously #11) - The Chargers have had a brutal schedule so far, and have won the only two "easy" games they've had so far (vs Det, vs Cle). After their last loss, they start to get a little break, schedule wise, facing Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, and Jacksonville over the next 5 weeks (with a bye between Chi and KC). While the season isn't over yet, they'll have to make the best of each of those games to get back in the thick of things.
13. Oakland Raiders (3-3, Previously #15) - Came out of their bye and picked up a big win in San Diego. It's been an up and down season for the Raiders, but you have to like what you've seen so far. Up next, they face a tough New York Jets team, with a chance to prove that they can beat a winning team.
12. New York Giants (4-3, Previously #12) - After a couple close losses had them sitting at 0-2, the Giants have turned things around nicely... while they still have been playing things down to the final whistle, they're been finding ways to come out on top, now. They have been doing this without some nice pieces, too, which should be starting to get back anytime, now.
11. St Louis Rams (3-3, Previously #14) - They've got a few nice wins, having beaten Arizona and Seattle. While they also lost to Pittsburgh (by 6) and in Green Bay, their only really "bad" loss came week 2 against Washington (who has been a little better than I expected). I'm not sure if they'll be able to put it together, consistently, but they have shown the ability to hang in there with (and beat) other good teams.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3, Previously #7) - The Steelers have been an inconsistent team without QB Ben Roethlisberger. They beat the likes of the San Diego Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals, but lost to Kansas City and Baltimore. They still have to feel pretty good, sitting at 2-2 without their main guy, though.
9. Minnesota Vikings (4-2, Previously #10) - If you ignore that week 1 mess against San Fran, this team has been very good. The Vikings completed the two game season sweep of the Detroit Lions and have positioned themselves nicely to compete with the Green Bay Packers for NFC North supremacy.
8. Arizona Cardinals (5-2, Previously #9) - The Cardinals put together a nice bounce back game and picked up the W against the struggling Ravens. Their schedule gets a little tougher during the second half of the season, featuring games against Cincinnati, Minnesota, and Green bay.
7. Atlanta Falcons (6-1, Previously #5) - Well, they got back in the W column, after suffering their first defeat of the year... but barely beating the Titans by a score of 10-7, isn't really telling the world "we're back!"
6. Carolina Panthers (7-0, Previously #8) - The Panthers keep winning, that much can't be denied. They face off against Indy on Monday night, before getting their chance to prove that THEY are the best team in the NFC when the Panthers take on the Packers in week 9.
5. New York Jets (4-2, Previously #6) - They went on the road and played New England better than anyone else, so far, it's hard to knock them for that. Up next, they face the Oakland Raiders in a battle of two teams trying to prove that they've turned the corner.
4. Denver Broncos (6-0, Previously #4) - Denver better have made good use of their bye week; they go up against the cream of the crop Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (6-0, Previously #3) - Cincinnati is sitting pretty coming out of their bye. They'll travel to Pittsburgh for a big showdown, week 8.
2. New England Patriots (6-0, Previously #2) - That was a nice win against a good team and divisional rival in the Jets. This team has been as impressive as any other, as they keep their status in the top tier of the NFL.
1. Green Bay Packers (6-0, Previously #1) - Green Bay remains the best team in the NFC, coming out of their bye.