NFC East leads divisions rankings (cont.)
5. AFC West
If you loved those high-scoring shootouts in the old AFC West, this year's AFC West turns every weekend into Throwback Weekend. The Chargers (34.5) and Broncos (33.3) rank 1-2 in the league in points per game, and nobody in the division can stop anyone -- all four teams are giving up at least 24.3 points per game). The Chiefs and Raiders drag down the division's ranking, but Kansas City proved last Sunday that even the last-place team can put a whipping on the first-place team (Denver) in the wild, wild West. If Oakland ever learns how to protect a fourth-quarter lead, things could get really interesting.
* Team on the move: San Diego.
* Best game: Denver 39, San Diego 38, Week 2.
* Best player: Jay Cutler, Denver, quarterback.
* Best rookie: Eddie Royal, Denver, receiver.
6. NFC North
Is there a division with less going for it at quarterback? An injured Aaron Rodgers leads a pack that also includes Jon Kitna, Kyle Orton and Gus Frerotte. No wonder the North is 5-10 overall, with no one above .500 and very little sizzle beyond Adrian Peterson in the open field. The Packers looked as if they'd be the class of the North when they ripped off two division wins to open the season, but losses at home to Dallas and on the road to Tampa Bay (by an average of 10 points) have taken the wind out of their sails. As for the tied-for-first-place Bears, two sloppy fourth quarters are all that stand between them and 4-0.
* Team on the move: Chicago.
* Best game: Tampa Bay 27, Chicago 24 (OT), Week 3.
* Best player: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota, running back.
* Best rookie: Matt Forte, Chicago, running back.
7. AFC North
There are at least two winning teams in the division -- the 3-1 Steelers and the 2-1 Ravens -- but we're marking the AFC North down so far because of how pathetic the Browns (1-3) and Bengals (0-4) have looked. Notice I didn't say "offensive," because that's hardly a term to describe a division in which only one team is scoring at least 20 points per game (Baltimore at 21.7). On the other hand, the North's defenses are getting it done. Last-place Cincinnati is the only club surrendering at least 20 points per game (21.8), and even that qualifies as improvement for the Bengals.
* Team on the move: Baltimore.
* Best game: Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 20 (OT), Week 4.
* Best player: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh, quarterback.
* Best rookie: Joe Flacco, Baltimore, quarterback.
8. NFC West
We could rank the NFC West last solely on the basis of the Rams being the NFL's worst team, and still defend it. But there's plenty more ammo. The division's combined record is 5-10 -- think of it as the dime-store division -- but even that's a bit deceiving because three of those wins were in head-to-head division games. Only Arizona's home win over Miami and San Francisco's home rout of Detroit were exceptions, and both the Dolphins and Lions were winless at the time. When the division's most compelling story line has been the Cardinals' two-game East Coast sleep-over road trip, you know things have been both bland and bad.
* Team on the move: Seattle (by default).
* Best game: San Francisco 33, Seattle 30 (OT), Week 2.
* Best player: Frank Gore, San Francisco, running back.
* Best rookie: John Carlson, Seattle, tight end.