Jets talk big but they're not No. 1

For Rex Ryan, it's as much of a no-brainer as breaking up a team meeting to go get – and I paraphrase – a gosh-darn snack.

On Monday, a day after the Jets won their fifth consecutive game to enter their bye week with an NFL-best 5-1 record, their ever-loquacious and eternally ravenous coach proclaimed, "It's hard to say we're not the best team in the league."

But is it that obvious? Since each week's list of top-to-bottom queries has to start somewhere, it's a conundrum I was forced to confront, and while it was easy to include the Jets in a quartet of candidates for perceived preeminence, sorting it all out was trickier than I expected:

After losing their opener to the Ravens, the Jets scored an impressive home victory over the Patriots, then beat four teams whose current combined record is 7-14.

The Pats (4-1) entered the conversation Sunday by beating the Ravens in overtime, which followed up an impressive Monday night road blowout of the Dolphins before their bye and victories over a pair of teams with losing records.

The Ravens (4-2) lost road games to the Bengals and Pats, but also beat the Jets and Steelers away from home.

And the Steelers (4-1), before suffering that narrow setback to the Ravens, overpowered three teams with winning records (Falcons, Titans, Bucs) without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger(notes), who on Sunday returned from a season-opening, four-game suspension and helped Pittsburgh to an easy victory over the hapless Browns.

My belief is that Big Ben's return has given the Steelers a big boost and that Ryan's team still has some catching up to do. While you ponder whether the Jets can pull that off, here are some additional inquiries that are sure to get your tummies a rumblin'.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Could someone please remind me about how Steelers fans are done with Roethlisberger – or did that story die when he, you know, started playing football again?

2. Baltimore Ravens: What surprises you more – that Joe Flacco(notes) just became the team's all-time passing leader in only his third season, or that Kyle Boller(notes) was the quarterback he surpassed?

3. New York Jets: Is Dwight Lowery(notes) the Jets' Mariano Rivera, or is he their Brenda Leigh Johnson (and, if the latter, wouldn't that make him just one degree from Kevin Bacon)?

4. New England Patriots: Am I the only one who thinks it's unduly harsh that the NFL just docked Brandon Meriweather(notes) roughly 9 percent of his 2010 base salary?

5. New Orleans Saints: Will Gregg Williams' defense soon be projecting a Sharper image – or will Malcolm Jenkins(notes) remain a starter?

6. Indianapolis Colts: Did Peyton Manning(notes) just lap Father Time?

7. Tennessee Titans: Am I the only one who gets Jeff Fisher's sense of humor – and why does anyone care about what happened in the last two minutes of Monday night's blowout, anyway?

8. Philadelphia Eagles: While watching the Titans pummel David Garrard(notes) on Monday night, do you think it's possible Michael Vick(notes) took a deep breath, winced in agony as his ribcage shifted and texted Andy Reid, "It's cool – roll with Kevin one more week"?

9. Atlanta Falcons: Shouldn't the NFL also consider fining Dunta Robinson's(notes) parents for the way they chose to spell a name pronounced "Dontay"?

10. New York Giants: Is Osi Umenyiora the early frontrunner for comeback player of the year – and how stoked are Giants fans that he didn't follow through on his retirement threat?

11. Washington Redskins: Now that the 'Skins have decided to keep Albert Haynesworth(notes), at least for this season, can't he and Mike Shanahan hug it out – and start kicking butt and taking names?

12. Houston Texans: If you take DeMeco out of Frank Bush's ‘D,' is it headed for D-saster?

13. Miami Dolphins: When Bill Parcells cleaned out his office at Dolphins headquarters, how many people did it take to help him carry the giant bag of Steve Ross' cash to his car?

14. Kansas City Chiefs: Is anyone still questioning why this team signed Thomas Jones(notes)?

15. Seattle Seahawks: Is it fair to assume that if Matt Millen was watching Sunday's Seahawks-Bears game, he slammed his fist into the couch at least 10 times?

16. Minnesota Vikings: Now that Randy Moss(notes) is back in town, will the defensive backs who try to cover Percy Harvin(notes) in the slot be the ones who get the brutal headaches?

17. Chicago Bears: Who's more careless when it comes to protection – King Henry IX or the Bears' offensive line?

18. Green Bay Packers: How painful was it to watch John Kuhn(notes) get stuffed twice from the 1-yard line at the end of regulation Sunday – and how much do you think this guy might have helped in that situation?


Chris Ivory

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If Chris Ivory can gash the Bucs' defense for 158 yards, how fired up is Steven Jackson – and how giddy are his fantasy owners – about Sunday's game?

20. Cincinnati Bengals: Before now, has an NFL team ever had more reality TV hosts (three – Chad Ochocinco(notes), Terrell Owens(notes), Dhani Jones(notes)) than victories (two) at this stage of the season?

21. Denver Broncos: When Brett Favre(notes) heard about the Broncos' "Tebow Package," did he think about suing for copyright infringement?

22. Dallas Cowboys: Does Sam Hurd(notes) realize he cost his team 15 yards for making a gesture supporting a university he didn't attend?

23. Arizona Cardinals: When Deuce Lutui(notes) starts referring to himself in the third person, does offensive line coach Russ Grimm go into convulsions?

24. Detroit Lions: Yo, Cliff Avril(notes)dudewhat the hell were you thinking when you swung your arms at Kareem McKenzie(notes)?

25. St. Louis Rams: Who's more likely to do a back flipDanario Alexander(notes), or Rams fans dreaming of a 5-3 record heading into the bye?

26. San Diego Chargers: Crazy as it may sound, do these Chargers have a chance to be the worst team Norv Turner has ever coached?

27. Jacksonville Jaguars: Anyone want to bet that the Jags play all 16 of their games on Sundays in 2011?

28. San Francisco 49ers: What do Vernon Davis(notes) and the Wicked Witch of the East have in common?

29. Oakland Raiders: If Boller starts against the Broncos and he, too, gets injured, think Al Davis might take a flier on this guy?

30. Cleveland Browns: Yo, Eric Mangini – looking for an eye-catching gift to pass around the locker room come Christmas time?

31. Carolina Panthers: Is "Jimmy Moore" the evil, incompetent twin brother of "Michael Kolb"?

32. Buffalo Bills: Does spending time in the cold tub allow Bills players to approximate the experiences of their fans?