I started off this week posing one question; Which team should be considered the top team in the NFL? I gave credit to the teams that seemed to be at the top of the class, but also pointed out some flaws with each of them.

Of course, if you play a series of lower-ranked teams, it’s easier to look impressive. But there still seems to be something different going on here. Has the NFL finally accomplished what no other sport has; a market where all teams have a legitimate chance to be highly successful. In the present and future. In the NBA, you can be the lowest ranked team, and possibly still not be awarded the #1 pick in the Lottery. And we see now that players are more interested in stacking the deck on one team, rather than being the cornerstone for n organization. In Major League Baseball, the rich get richer, and the higher salaries usually rule the day. We are seeing in the NFL the ability of one player to change the status of a team. A coaching or system change can change a team’s destiny.

So, what did we learn this week?

I learned that opportunity knocks in every game. The question is if these teams will step up to the opportunity or shriek away from it? In the moment of truth, will they show up, or disappear?

The truth is, some of these teams are the “REAL DEAL”, some are “CONS”, and others are “STUCK IN THE MIDDLE”.

Here is WHAT I THINK I LEARNED FROM THE NFL THIS WEEK:

REAL DEAL:

ATLANTA FALCONS – They were idle this week, but they have proven they know how to win each and every game.

NEW YORK GIANTS – We now see that same Championship grit we saw last season, and 4 season before.

GREEN BAY PACKERS – They win games off offense alone.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – They are close to falling out of my “REAL DEAL” group. But they still have a strong “D” and fairly good offense.

CHICAGO BEARS – I keep waiting for them to show the flaws of the past, and they keep showing a fluent offense and tough defense.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS – They can run the ball. They can throw the ball. And they can play lock down defense.

HOUSTON TEXANS – They had a minor setback, but this is one team that is solid on both sides of the ball.

BALTIMORE RAVENS – Even though, based on recent injuries, I think we will see a decline from this team. But it’s not from lack of effort.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – They still have the firepower to outscore any team, even though their defense can’t stop any team from scoring.

DENVER BRONCOS – It takes them giving up 21+ points, and a first half full of mistakes, in order for them to lose. When they don’t do that, they can beat any team.

IN THE MIDDLE:

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – They have strong pieces. Their games are still on the line at the end. They have just been on the short end for the last few weeks.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – I know they only have two wins, but if they had a drama-free offseason, and Coach Sean Payton on the sideline, they could easily be undefeated right now.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS – RGIII is the real deal. Alfred Morris is the real deal. They just need additional pieces to get them over that edge.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – You could easily argue that their record is much better than it should be. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.

ARIZONA CARDINALS – They need to figure out their QB problem. And I don’t know if Skelton or Kolb is the correct answer.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – They have a strong defense, and enough offense to keep themselves in every game.

ST. LOUIS RAMS – They have some good things going on on offense. Their young defense has looked very impressive at times. And they are clearly not the “stomping blocks” they were a few seasons ago.

DALLAS COWBOYS – They still have a top rated defense. They have good players at every key position on offense. They just make a lot of mental mistakes.

NEW YORK JETS – As long as they stick with Sanchez, they remain in the middle. Their defense is still strong.

BUFFALO BILLS – Their offense still poses enough threat to put them in the middle of the success meter.

MIAMI DOLPHINS – They are another team that, win or lose, they show up and play hard for each and every game.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Most would have them in the “Real Deal” category, based on coaching, philosophy, and having a Super Bowl winning quarterback. But that’s hyping up a name. Just as we hear the name “Steelers” and still think that defense is the usual “D” that we are accustomed to from them. It’s not.

CINCINNATI BENGALS – Good, young offense. Good, young defense….That hasn’t found a way to put it all together lately.

CONS:

DETROIT LIONS – Their offense has always been their staple. Now that it isn’t working, what are we hoping for?

CAROLINA PANTHERS – Their defense can’t stop anybody. Their offense looks stagnant. And QB Cam Newton is blaming everyone, except himself.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – No comment. Refer to the QB change announced yesterday.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – Their weak division has always made them look better than they really are.

OAKLAND RAIDERS – They only look like a decent football team against other not-so-good football teams.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – They still have some room to grow. I upgraded them after the Packers game, but they haven’t looked as impressive since.

TENNESSEE TITANS – They are almost back to looking like a decent football team. If they can continue to remember that they need a heavy dose of Chris Johnson each game.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – They came very close to beating another pitiful team. Whoopty-doo!

CLEVELAND BROWNS – This team looked to be on the edge of success, and figuring some things out, every week. But they find a way to lose closely each week, which is just not good enough.

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