Are they for real? We're getting to the portion of the season where that's the most pressing question in the NFL. Unexpected teams have unexpected records. The Cardinals, Bengals and Vikings are a combined 10-2. Which of them are real? Which are going to fold like origami swans?
And which of the unexpectedly bad teams are really that bad? The Saints, Steelers and Lions are a combined 2-9. Which of those teams will pull themselves out of the muck, and which will keep wallowing in it like drunken swine? The power rankings hold the answers.
1. Atlanta Falcons (4-0)
Last week: 3
The Panthers came at the Falcons with their best punch on Sunday. That wasn't the same Panthers team that did everything for the Giants but give them neck massages two Thursday nights ago. They fought like they needed that one, and still the Falcons were better. Checking in with Matt Ryan's MVP campaign, he added 369 yards and three touchdowns to his resume. His QB rating is best in the league, he's second in touchdown passes, tied for sixth in yards and tied for second in completion percentage.
2. Houston Texans (4-0)
Last week: 2
The 11th week of the season is the earliest anyone has ever clinched a division title. It's time to start keeping an eye on that record. If you're not yet a believer in the Texans, you're about to get a double dose of them in prime time: this coming week on Monday night against the Jets, and the next week on Sunday night against Green Bay.
3. Arizona Cardinals (4-0)
Last week: 1
I have to throw some respect Kevin Kolb's way. I wasn't tremendously nice to him last week, but he did hit the Dolphins with 324 yards and three touchdowns this week (two interceptions, too, but they only get a parenthetical because this is supposed to be something nice). Maybe more importantly, he captained a tremendous last-minute touchdown drive and forced overtime with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts that kept the dream of 16-0 alive. I almost typed that with a straight face.
Read More »from NFL power rankings: The Vikings continue their march toward the top 10