1. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia. Seriously. Eagles have outscored foes 80-49 in Vick's 10 quarters of play, he's thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions, and he's still the most dangerous running threat at the position.
2. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis. The hiccup at Houston was more the fault of a defense that got steamrollered by Arian Foster. Manning still makes everyone around him better.
3. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay. Who knows? Another big game for Clay Matthews tonight, and a stifling defensive performance in Chicago tonight, and this spot might one day belong to Matthews.
4. Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh. Might have been higher if not for a pretty quiet game Sunday in Tampa. But to me, Polamalu looks more valuable to the Steelers than does Roethlisberger.
5. Arian Foster, RB, Houston. Averaging league-best 135 rushing yards a game and 5.9 yards per carry. We'll see if he can keep it up. If he can, the Texans are a playoff team. Easy.
1. Pittsburgh (3-0). OK, Charlie Batch. You knocked off the Bucs. Now you get the Ravens at the Ketchup Bottle Sunday. That'll be a bit more of a challenge.
2. Green Bay (2-0). Pack has a great chance to be 6-0 going into the first of two Favre Bowls. On tap: at Chicago, Detroit, at Washington, Miami ... and then Minnesota at home in Week 7.
3. Atlanta (2-1). Beat the Super Bowl champs at the Super Bowl champs. Only loss is an overtime loss to the Steelers. Pretty good recipe for success.
4. New Orleans (2-1). Points this year: Saints 63, Foes 58. Something's just not totally right. This is still a very good team, and we'd overlook it probably if an endangered species of a kicker had made a simple 29-yarder. But look at the Saints' next four -- Carolina, at Arizona, at Tampa Bay, Cleveland -- and you can see how they have a shot to recover.
5. Chicago (2-0). How they handle the Packer rush tonight interests me. And how Jay Cutler gets the ball out.
6. Houston (2-1). That four-week suspension to left tackle Duane Brown is going to hurt, and could have been the factor that tipped the scales all Dallas' way. DeMarcus Ware, playing over left-tackle sub Rashad Butler, had three sacks and two more tackles for loss Sunday.
7. Indianapolis (2-1). You know how you always hear quarterbacks say it takes so long to mesh with new receivers and get good chemistry with them? Not Peyton Manning. He pulls undrafted Michigan State free-agent wideout Blair White up from the practice squad and the kid catches three balls for 27 yards, one for a touchdown, in his first game.
8. New York Jets (2-1). Thanks for shaving, Braylon. That beard was hideous. Two signature wins in a row for Gang Green, with a nice contribution from Dustin Keller and others.
9. Philadelphia (2-1). The Eagles' line and defense probably isn't good enough to go deep into January, but we've learned one thing of late: With Vick, all things are possible.
10. Cincinnati (2-1). I remember the days when the Bengals played ugly all the time. So to win ugly, to Cincinnati, is a thing of beauty.
11. Baltimore (2-1). Anquan Boldin (eight for 142 and three touchdowns) has been an All-Pro receiver through his first month in the AFC.
12. Dallas (1-2). I still have no idea what to make of the Cowboys, but they won all phases of a game they had to have at Houston, a team we all thought was top tier.
13. Miami (2-1). You have to make a play, one play, down at the goal line with the game on the line, Chad Henne.
14. Kansas City (3-0). Chiefs are still not a great team, but they do enter October with a two-game lead in the AFC West -- and a tiebreaker game in hand over the Chargers.
15. New England (2-1). I am shocked to be putting Scott Pioli's new team ahead of his old team. But I've watched the Chiefs and Patriots play defense over the last three weeks, and there's no doubt the defense that's played better -- much better -- is Kansas City's. Points allowed per game: Kansas City 12.7, New England 27.3.
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