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Top 10 -- NFL Week 4
by Wayne Root - 09/26/2012
1) Houston---There's a new Sheriff in town. And he's from Texas. The Houston Texans, for the first time in the history of this series, are ranked as the best team in the game. It's well deserved as they are playing something referred to as all-around football. If Matt Schaub plays all season like he did in Denver they will be in New Orleans. What can't they do? They're getting it done with defense, fierce pass rush, balanced offense with Arian Foster running the ball. The defensive Man of the Hour in DE J.J. Watts who's been unstoppable and providing all the sparks a team needs.
2) San Francisco---The "72 Dolphins can give a sigh of relief as the Vikings took the wind out of the 49ers sail. I wouldn't be jumping from the San Francisco ship to a Viking ship just yet. This 49er team is still the elite of the NFC. It's a long season, and dropping a tough game in Week 3 shouldn't be cause for panic. Without the ability to get big plays in the passing game, everything has to go perfectly. It didn't in Minnesota. San Francisco needs to make some adjustments and I'm sure talented Coach Jim Harbaugh will do just that. Perhaps that means running the ball earlier to establish a tone and tempo for the game. Let's just say the 49ers weren't the best team in Week Number 3 and leave it at that.
3) Atlanta---The smart money was on the Falcons to win the South this year, but they're doing it in impressive fashion. Already with 2 road wins and a victory at home over Denver puts them in the drivers seat that should carry them a long way. Going on the road to keep the San Diego Chargers offense to three points is impressive. Winning at San Diego on a short week the way they did speaks volumes about the Falcons. Matt Ryan looks so comfortable. The Falcons are winning, and building a ton of momentum in the meantime. Atlanta features an electric offense loaded with play makers and a solid defense that's bolstered with blue-collared workers. The defensive secondary is playing at an extremely high level.
4) Baltimore---The Ravens should feel good about their 2-1 record and getting a win against AFC rival New England Patriots. It's rare indeed that the Pats will ever lose in back to back games. The Ravens are poised for a run to a Super Bowl. That was some comeback in the fourth quarter against the Patriots. But I still have major concerns about that defense. Once Terrell Suggs is healthy the defense will be alittle better. Once Kelechi Osemele and Ramon Harewood gel and mature on the offensive line, the run game will take off. This is one of the elite teams in the AFC that could go all the way!
5) Green Bay---The win-loss column may say 1-2 but all of America knows they really are not 1-2!! But a few things to note: They had an eight sack second quarter. And the prior week, Rodgers didn't find the end-zone until the 4th quarter. So for the past 2 games, the offensive line has caused Aaron Rodgers his own trouble. Finally, I was taught at a very early age to just KNOCK DOWN THE BALL on those "Hail Mary" passes into the end zone. Safety M.D. Jennings should take some of the blame along with the coaching staff for not reminding the players of that basic concept. After-all, they are Pro's making the Big Bucks!
6) New England---After seeing that Arizona has won 10 of their last 12 games, maybe the Patriots need to put that loss behind them and understand that they lost to a decent team. Then there's the loss at Baltimore. Not a "bad" loss except in the W/L Column. Both losses were decided in the closing seconds. The AFC East is wide open and it's only Week 4. This is a team with major strengths on offense and in the defensive front seven. The problem is the play of the secondary. Until the New England cornerbacks can lock down a passing game, the Patriots will be vulnerable on defense. I wouldn't want to be around Bill Belichick this Friday when he opens up his $50,000 lighter paycheck from the Baltimore game.
7) Cincinnati--- Mike Zimmer's defense is good enough to hang with anyone on a weekly basis. This team is loaded and will make the playoffs. In fact, this year they may show up as division champions instead of a wild-card team. Andy Dalton has been on fire the past two weeks. Their offense has playmakers. Plenty of them to compliment their defense makes them good enough to move past Pittsburgh and neck and neck with Baltimore.
8) New York Giants---The offense revolves around Eli Manning, but there is room for unknowns as Manning dishes it out all over the field. And his presence in the 4th quarter will become legendary. The defense is powered each week by a different playmaker, usually someone on the defensive line. They play team football! When they are told they can't, they do. The Giants are so good in that underdog role. The depth is the key to that. They showed everyone that as they completely disarmed Carolina last Thursday Night on the road during a short week. This team seems ahead of last years pace and headed to the land of the playoffs.
9) Arizona---I understand the Cardinals are just one of three undefeated teams thru the first three weeks of the season. I realize that they have won 10 of their last 12 games and you desert rats want them ranked in the Top 3. The last time the Cardinals were 3-0 was 1974 so lets walk before we run. The Cardinals are winning despite having an offensive line that struggles in pass protection, and without an elite (or even solid) quarterback. They are making big plays at big moments and rely on their good defensive teams and the best special team in the NFL. They are legit. That defense is special. Two good offenses slowed in two consecutive weeks is really impressive.
10) Chicago---Win. Lose, Win. Looks like a normal Bears season. But that loss was to the Packers on the road so the jury will be out on their season to season progression in a few more weeks. I think they have it all to give the Packers all they want in the NFC North. If the Bears can play consistently, they'll win 10 games (or more) and take home a wild-card berth. The offense is that good, the defense that dominant.
That defensive front is playing a nasty style of football. They keep that up, and they could be a lot like the "86 Bears. The challenge is getting that consistency, especially on offense.
THESE GUYS DESPERATELY WANT INTO THE TOP 10
11) Dallas---The offense didn't do much against Tampa, but the defense saved the day. The interior part of the line is struggling.
12) Seattle---That defense is special. You have to love watching those huge cornerbacks! They will need to get more out of their offense if they are to make the playoffs.
13) Philadelphia---Maybe they need to sit Michael Vick AND Andy Reid down and figure it out. Wasn't this suppose to be Destiny's Team?
14) San Diego---Week 3,the Chargers returned to normal for this time of the year. Now comes a huge division game at Kansas City.
15) Pittsburgh---Many predicted this as an upset playing at Oakland. Blowing a 10-point 4th quarter lead may be hard to swallow. They are getting old!