The NFL's Best Teams
1. New Orleans Saints --- The Saints are one of two teams remaining with a perfect record at 9 wins without a defeat. Offensively, we know New Orleans can put up gaudy numbers, but my goodness nearly 37 points a game and roughly 426 yards of offense is absurd even by today's standards. Drew Brees is throwing the ball around the yard although his decision making has been somewhat spotty although with 19 touchdowns to 9 interceptions and a 104.6 passer rating, that seems nearly impossible. Brees did throw 3 picks versus Miami in a 46-34 win and threw 2 more in a 28-23 squeaker over the lowly St. Louis Rams. The running game is still very strong with Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, and Reggie Bush all contributing heavily. The Saints are averaging 151 yards per contest, good for 5th league wide.
The defense isn't as stingy as it was earlier in the season as opponents are moving the ball much more freely in recent weeks. If the Saints are to remain the dominant team in the NFC, the defense must step up to earlier performances.
2. Indianapolis Colts --- The Peyton Manning led Colts are the other 9 and 0 team and have a great offense, albeit one dimensional. The 3rd best yards per game average at 401 yards and the best passing game with roughly 315 a game, the Colts would like to improve on a dismal 86 yards rushing a game, ranking a measly 29th across the league. Mr. Manning does what Mr. Manning does best...completing 70% of his throws, 20 TD's to 7 INT's and a passer rating of 104.2...simply not slowing down yet.
The defense is known as a bend and break type allowing much yardage against while giving up the league's fewest points although the New England Patriots torched them for 34 this past Sunday night. This team has a chance at 16-0 before it's all said and done with.
3. Minnesota Vikings --- At 8 and 1, this is probably the team in NFC that could give the Saints fits should these two meet in the playoffs. Wonderfully balanced offensively, the Vikings average 30 points a game while running and passing are a good balance. When you have Adrian Peterson toting the rock behind a humongous offensive line, it's quite easy to control the ball. Then there's Brett Favre...I've already covered him 2 weeks ago, so I will say no more.
Minnesota on defense is stingy against the run, therefore teams tend to throw more often than desired. The pass defense should improve once cornerback Antoine Winfield returns from a foot injury. I think a very deep run in the playoffs is possible.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
Cincinnati Bengals --- The Bengals don't wow anyone offensively, although the running game is solid averaging 122 yards per game with reclamation project Cedric Benson carrying the load, although he was injured against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a hip flexor. Quarterback Carson Palmer hasn't been tearing up the league, but he has been a savvy leader and just having him behind center provides Cincinnati with the confidence knowing turnovers will be minimal.
It's the defense that has been the talk of the NFL. Allowing 16.3 points a game (2nd stingiest) and allowing only 83.4 yards on the ground (2nd), Cincinnati has gone from outhouse to penthouse in the AFC North Division. At 7 and 2, these Cats have beaten the World Champion Steelers twice by being physically dominant defensively without leading sacker Antoine Odom (IR, torn Achilles), safety Roy Williams (IR, forearm) and linebacker Keith Rivers (calf). In short, the Bengals are for real!
The Biggest Disappointment
The New York Giants --- How the mighty Giants have fallen! Losers of 4 consecutive games, These G-Men still move the ball well, but in the red zone it's bogged down. Much of that has to do with the the caliber of teams the Giants feasted on early ( Raiders, Chiefs, Redskins, and Tampa Bay) as opposed to recent opponents ( New Orleans, Arizona, Philadelphia, and San Diego).
On defense, the Giants have totally wilted, although injuries haven't helped. Currently missing are safety Kenny Phillips ( IR, knee), cornerback Aaron Ross (soon to return), and both Justin Tuck (shoulder) and Osi Umenyiora( not 100% from knee surgery) are playing hurt. We'll see how the Giants come out of their bye week versus Atlanta at home.
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