1. Green Bay (5-0). As my Friday night Versus-mate Mike Florio points out, if the top two teams in the NFC North keep winning, the Packers and Lions will get to their Thanksgiving High Noon showdown 10-0.
2. Baltimore (3-1). Everything is coming up roses for the Ravens. The bye week allows key corner Jimmy Smith to come back from injury in time to face Houston's Matt Schaub in six days ... with Andre Johnson sidelined with the hamstring problem.
3. New England (4-1). Wes Welker, five catches for 126 yards. I'm beginning to think we just might discuss him in the Hall of Fame room someday. Might.
4. Detroit (4-0). Lions Hit The Big Time quiz: (No cheating, please) Who was the Lions' starting quarterback in their last Monday night game? Clue: The game was played 10 years ago in Pontiac, and the Leos were wiped off the floor of the Silverdome by the Greatest Show on Turf, the Kurt Warner-led Rams, 35-0. (Answer in Ten Things below.)
5. New Orleans (4-1). Latest team to survive the Cam Newton express. Ask anyone on the Saints, and they'll tell you there won't be any easy games against the Panthers as long as the Auburn wunderkind is starting.
6. Buffalo (4-1). At some point, we've got to stop putting asterisks on the Bills' wins. They forced five turnovers Sunday and scored 31 points. I don't care who they were playing. It was another good day at the office for The Little Team That Could.
7. San Francisco (4-1). Never thought I'd have the Niners seventh in the NFL this year. Never thought I'd have them 17th, frankly. To beat a playoff contender the way they did Sunday -- pummeling Tampa Bay into the ground -- means the Niners aren't just overwhelming favorites in a bad division. They're rounding into a dangerous January team.
8. San Diego (4-1). Another argument for avoiding style points. The Chargers are winning early in the season, which they haven't done much under Norv Turner, and they're winning at vexing places on the road, doing so Sunday in Denver.
9. Washington (3-1). On their bye Sunday, the Redskins had a very good day. They watched the Giants (3-2) and Eagles (1-4) lose, and they're alone in first in the NFC East.
10. Oakland (3-2). They've had wins as big as Sunday's (Week 9 last year over Kansas City to move to 5-4, for one), but I can't imagine, with the emotion and the obstacles involved, that there's been a bigger win for this franchise since the Super Bowl season nine years ago.
11. Houston (3-2). Mario Williams gets MRI'd today. Could be a torn pec. There are a couple of different varieties of torn pecs, but either way he'd miss more than a month with a tear.
12. Pittsburgh (3-2). I may have been hasty in my career dismissal of Troy Polamalu; he was a major force in the win over the Titans.
13. Tennessee (3-2). I need to see more signs of life in Chris Johnson than 2.88 yards per carry.
14. New York Jets (2-3). Can't win on the road. Unless you don't want to count games in Baltimore, Oakland and New England.
15. Cincinnati (3-2). At some point we have to stop calling this a fluke. Cincinnati's D has held foes under 300 yards in four of five games.
Offensive Player of the Week
Kansas City QB Matt Cassel, the embattled one, completed 21 of 29 for 257 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions, and he brought the Chiefs back from a 24-7 deficit at Indianapolis. It's hard to feel more pressure than the Chiefs were feeling at 0-3, with questions about whether the coach AND quarterback would be back next year. Cassel aced this test.
Defensive Players of the Week
Seattle DE Chris Clemons. The 'Hawks were buzzing around Eli Manning all day at the Meadowlands, and Clemons got home to sack Manning twice, once to force a fumble. That's a really interesting Seattle defense, with a bunch of guys we're just getting to know (like Brandon Browner and Kam Chancellor in the secondary). Without a pass rush, that secondary would be hung out to dry, and Clemons is clearly an indispensable piece of the Seattle front.
Buffalo S George Wilson. Lots of heroes for the Bills as they got to 4-1. In the NBC viewing room, we kept seeing Wilson (11 tackles, three passes defensed, one interception, one quarterback hit) in the middle of the action as the Bills helped force five turnovers and other critical errors all game.
Special Teams Player of the Week
Oakland K Sebastian Janikowski. Al would have been proud. Derided for picking a kicker in the first round for the first time in 21 years back in 2000, Davis has been proven right on Janikowski. The latest proof: Sunday in Houston, when Janikowski hit 54- and 55-yard field goals in the first 16 minutes to keep the Raiders close when their offense couldn't do a thing at Reliant Stadium.
Coach of the Week
Oakland's Hue Jackson. He'd get this humbling award simply for keeping his team together after the death of Al Davis Saturday. But Jackson made a clutch call with 11 minutes left in the game, protecting a 22-20 lead. On fourth-and-three from the Oakland 37, he eschewed the punt. Gutsy call. Al Davis would have loved it.
"Every week we go into a game with some things and I keep them in my pocket, so we got the opportunity and I called it. Sure enough, they did a great job and down it goes and it ends up being a huge play in the game. That's what we do. We're always looking for opportunities to make plays."
This one was huge in the outcome. The Raiders' Rock Cartwright ran for 35 yards, setting up Janikowski's fourth field goal of the game and a 25-20 lead. Those final Raider points forced the Texans to go for a touchdown instead of a field goal, and Schaub was intercepted to kill the final drive.
Goats of the Week
Philadelphia C Jason Kelce. Eagles down in Buffalo 14-7, 39 minutes left. I'm not clearing Mike Vick of guilt on his three first-half interceptions. (Though one was tipped, and the other two came when he got creamed just as he was throwing.) But Kelce made such a bizarre error in blitz pickup that it led to the third pick, a 31-yard Nick Barnett interception. I described the ridiculous play above, but let's just say Kelce allowed the blitzer, rookie linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, to come free by picking up a nickelback who was already being blocked. If Kelce picks up the correct man, Vick has time to find an open man and surely wouldn't have thrown the ball right into Barnett's breadbasket. It's one of many reasons the Eagles are 1-4 this morning.
Philadelphia WR Jason Avant. Eagles down 28-14, 20 minutes left. Avant caught a 35-yard ball from Vick to get the Eagles out the shadow of their goal line, and then fumbled. Jairus Byrd recovered for the Bills, who drove for a field goal that made the advantage 17 points at the end of the third quarter. Listen to the Eagles all week in the wake of the Niners' Justin Smith stripping Jeremy Maclin to cost Philly the game against San Francisco, and one theme that continued to shine through was that Philly had to take care of the ball better. They didn't. It's one of many reasons the Eagles are 1-4 this morning.
Philadelphia DE Juqua Parker. Eagles down 31-24, 1:23 left, Bills with a fourth-and-one at the Eagle 49. Everyone in Ralph Wilson Stadium knew Ryan Fitzpatrick would come to the line, use up-and-down cadence to draw someone offside, and if he couldn't, would take a delay penalty. So Parker jumped offside. Eagles never touched it again. Game over. It'd be one thing if Parker was a young player. This was his 137th NFL game. An inexcusable mistake, one of many reasons the Eagles are 1-4 this morning.
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