1. Green Bay Packers (5-0, 1st last week): The perfect Packers survived against the John Abraham-less Falcons without Chad Clifton protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blind side, and they’ll likely get past St. Louis in Week 6. The real trouble arises in Week 7, when they face the hottest pass rusher in the league, Jared Allen, in Minnesota.
2. New England Patriots (4-1, 2nd last week): Everyone expected them to beat the hell out of teams through the air, but the Patriots are averaging 4.7 yards per carry and 128.6 rush yards per game. Balance!
3. Detroit Lions (5-0, 3rd last week): A home win over San Francisco would get them to 6-0, equaling their best start since their first year in Detroit, 1934. That Green Bay-Detroit Thanksgiving Day game is looking mighty sexy right about now.
4. New Orleans Saints (4-1, 4th last week): Too close for comfort in Carolina, but the Saints dug in. It’s amazing how important Jimmy Graham has become to this team.
5. Baltimore Ravens (3-1, 6th last week): After the bye, they now have the league’s No. 1 scoring defense. But 12 straight games for an old team won’t be easy.
6. San Diego Chargers (4-1, 7th last week): A win’s a win, and San Diego moves up by default. But the Chargers were 1-for-5 in the red zone against the Broncos. They win despite almost always doing the small things wrong, but the schedule will get tougher.
7. Buffalo Bills (4-1, 10th last week): Who knew the defense had the ability to get takeaways like this? The Bills have forced a league-high 16 turnovers in five games.
8. Oakland Raiders (3-2, 9th last week): Huge win. Now? Three straight home games against sub-par teams, with the bye wedged in there. The Raiders won’t be an underdog again until they travel to San Diego on Nov. 10.
9. Houston Texans (3-2, 5th last week): In any division except the AFC South or the NFC West, the Texans would be screwed without Andre Johnson and Mario Williams. Fortunately, they’re in the AFC South, and they’re still the division favorite.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2, 14th last week): Apparently, the Steelers don’t need James Harrison, Aaron Smith, Rashard Mendenhall, Casey Hampton, Chris Kemoeatu or Ben Roethlisberger’s left foot to beat the hell out of good teams. Scary.
11. San Francisco 49ers (4-1, 13th last week): Bay Area teams are now 7-3. I’m not convinced the Niners are a contender, but they’ll win the NFC West anyway.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2, 8th last week): Young teams have disastrous performances like the one Tampa went through in San Francisco, but 48-3? The offense is inconsistent and the defense lacks experience. And now LeGarrette Blount’s hurt. I hope the Bucs don’t let that blowout loss get into their heads.
13. Washington Redskins (3-1, 15th last week): That wild and wacky Rex Grossman playoff prediction is looking a little less wild and wacky each week.
14. Atlanta Falcons (2-3, 11th last week): They’ve already equaled their 2010 loss total with a challenge coming up against spunky Carolina. Watch those injuries to Abraham and Julio Jones.
15. Tennessee Titans (3-2, 12th last week): You’re supposed to lose in Pittsburgh, so Tennessee shouldn’t be shaken up by a tough day against the Steelers. Now, they have two weeks to regroup and try to get the running game going.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2, 25th last week): They have a chance to equal their 2010 win total against the winless Colts in Week 6. With the Steelers dealing with problems and a fairly easy schedule, they might be part of the playoff picture for much of the season.
17. Carolina Panthers (1-4, 21st last week): Yet another moral victory for the best 1-4 team in football. They’re being outscored by just 3.3 points per game.
18. Dallas Cowboys (2-2, 18th last week): Getting healthy and fresh off a bye just in time for a huge matchup with New England. I get the feeling they’ll put up a fight in Foxboro.
19. New York Giants (3-2, 16th last week): Good teams don’t lose to the Seahawks at home. The Giants and Bears — both not good — have each committed that embarrassing feat in back-to-back years. Suddenly, the Giants can’t run at all. Too many injuries this year, but they’ll stay competitive in a wide-open division.
20. Chicago Bears (2-3, 19th last week): Eight false starts in one night? Eight?! That’s more than 25 teams have had all season. Jay Cutler’s a good quarterback and Matt Forte’s a good running back and Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs and Henry Melton are good defenders. But the Bears are not a good team.
21. New York Jets (2-3, 17th last week): Three straight losses and the wheels are falling off. They can’t run and they can’t stop the run. In this year’s AFC East, that’s a problem.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (1-4, 20th last week): By all indications, Howie Roseman was calling the shots during Philadelphia’s free agent assault this summer. So why should Andy Reid pay the price? Reid is doing the best he can with a collection of talented players that were asked to be a “team” on short notice. Roseman threw Reid a suicide pass.
23. Seattle Seahawks (2-3, 26th last week): Probably waved goodbye to Andrew Luck in Week 5.
24. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3, 30th last week): See: Seattle Seahawks.
25. Arizona Cardinals (1-4, 23rd last week): How do you lose to Donovan McNabb and the Vikings by 24 points? The Kevin Kolb experiment is turning into a disaster.
26. Miami Dolphins (0-4, 24th last week): The NBA is officially losing games due to the lockout. The Dolphins could use a tight end or slot receiver to help Matt Moore and the offense. LeBron James, meet Tony Sparano. Tony Sparano, meet LeBron James. #Onlyhalfkidding
27. Cleveland Browns (2-2, 27th last week): Peyton Hillis is dealing with a clear case of Madden Cover Jinx. And now one of the worst run defenses in football has to deal with Darren McFadden. At least they’ve had two weeks to prepare.
28. Indianapolis Colts (0-5, 22nd last week): Don’t blame the quarterback for the worst third-down defense in the NFL.
29. Minnesots Vikings (1-4, 31st last week): Despite a complete lack of support, Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen are playing their best football.
30. Denver Broncos (1-4, 29th last week): I’m thinking it’s 2-to-1 that Brady Quinn starts at least one game this year in Denver.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4, 28th last week): Yup, blame it on the punter. Jack Del Rio isn’t going anywhere. What’s up with Florida-based teams holding on to coaches for far too long?
32. St. Louis Rams (0-4, 32nd last week): What do you say about a bad team coming off a bye? Nothing. See you next week, when the Rams will be 0-5.