Now mind you, the Saints were more or less a default selection. I'm not 100% sure that they will be back at the No.1 spot after this week, let alone two weeks from now. But I can't completely dismiss a team that has four of their six wins against the Buccaneers, Packers, Steelers and 49ers. Those four teams have combined for a record of 18-8 so far this season.
Again, it's not that I discount the Saints' legitimacy as a good team that can make a serious run in the postseason. It's just that I don't trust them. Hey, they did lose to the Lions didn't they? How do I know they won't pull off a flaky loss like that again this year?
Anyway, the poll was shaken up this week, no doubt about it. Virtually all of the teams ranked in the top ten last week still remain, but they are swapping positions up and down the board. See for yourself.
(6-1): This is truly an amazing defense. The secondary is flat out awful, the linebackers are average and the run defense can be exposed. Still, the unit is getting enough pressure and causing enough turnovers each Sunday to give substantial support to the Saints' inexorable offense. Oh, and that offense is inexorable. Just ask New Orleans , San Francisco and Chicago whose defenses have all given up huge leads against the Saints this season. Detroit (5-2): With Oakland reeling to some degree, look for Denver to make their move and take over the division over the second half of the season. Yeah, I know, Denver has the division lead going into Sunday. Still, I don't think they will finish up with a 13-3 record, which is the type of mark they are on pace to earn. Besides, San Diego has already beaten Denver once, which puts a lot of the pressure on the Chargers to at least earn a split in their season series. San Diego (6-1): It is official, Marty ball still rules! Give Schottenheimer a good, big back that can run in between the tackles, a stingy defense and an efficient, yet unspectacular passing attack, and he'll win a lot of games for you. And believe me; you won't see the Super Chargers meltdown at the end of the season this year because they now know how to win and more importantly, how to finish off games. San Diego (6-1): I could really see the Packers going 6-0 in the NFC North pretty easily. I mean, the hardest game for them within the division was against the desperate Bears, in Green Bay , and they crushed Champaign, Illinois . Who's going to beat the Pack the rest of the way? Chicago in the dome? I just don't see it happening, despite the fact that Favre never wins in that stadium. He'll break through his demons and triumph against that horrendous Minnesota D this season. Minnesota (5-2): The bye week comes at an opportune time for Miami . They've been sluggish in their last two games, and they need somewhat of an elixir to refresh themselves back into an elite team. Believe it or not, I think Ray Lucas will be just fine as the Phins' starting QB for the next month or so. Yes, Lucas had a very poor performance against the Bills. However, his post game press conference where he stated that his performance was, "the worst played game in NFL history", was quite admirable. With the addition of Chris Carter and the return of Chris Chambers, Lucas will get himself together. And so will the Dolphins' defense. Miami (4-2): Well, the Iggles certainly stepped up to the challenge against Philadelphia last week. And now, much like Tampa Bay , I can see them sweeping their division with ease. They have to play the Giants twice, which is no easy feat considering how closely the teams have played each other the last couple of seasons. But still, the Eagles have the better overall team and the pass rush on defense to confound the G-men's passing attack. And the Giants will have to pass against the Eagles' secondary, considering they've completely lost whatever rushing attack they once had. Then there are the Cowboys and Redskins, two teams that the Eagles already thrashed once a piece. I don't see either team turning their seasons around enough to hang with Philly the rest of the way. Green Bay (5-2): It wasn't just the fact the Buccaneers lost to the Eagles that prompted me to drop them so far down the poll. It was how Tampa Bay lost to Philly that turned me off so. They were out toughed by the Eagles, out hit, and overall, out played on both sides of the ball. Whenever a team can run on you at will when they have to, you are getting beat down. Now granted, the Buccaneers have too good of a defense to not turn things around, and in a hurry. But when it comes down to standing up to the big boys in the NFC ( Tampa , Philly, New Orleans , etc…), I'm not sold that the Bucs will hold their own too many times. Green Bay (4-2): Losing two straight games against the Rams and Chargers was bad, but losing corner Phillip Buchanan for the next six weeks will hurt the boys from the black hole. He was emerging into an elite cover corner that had the ability to shut down half the field much like Charles Woodson does. Now, the Raiders will have to rely on a rotation of Terrance Shaw and Tory James to pick up the slack. Plus, Woodson is still not all the way back from his shoulder injury, so the Raiders better hope that their pass rush perks up to make things easier on the secondary. Oakland (4-2): Okay, so their loss to San Francisco was clearly a tough one to swallow. If the 9ers would have held onto their big lead against the Saints, they would have been ranked in the top three of this poll, not the bottom three. But hey, one thrashing of the Arizona Cardinals should restore order in the NFC West, and make things all better in San Fran. New Orleans