LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

1. Denver Broncos (6-1): After trouncing the Chargers, Peyton Manning and the Broncos clearly look like the best team in the NFL. The win gave them a little breathing room in the AFC West; another showdown looms this week against the Patriots. Last week: 1

2. Arizona Cardinals (6-1): Following a 24-20 win over the Eagles, they're 4-0 at home and flying high. But a tough stretch, with games at Dallas and Seattle and against the Lions will show whether they're contenders. Last week: 6

3. Detroit Lions (6-2): The Lions, this high? A second straight improbable comeback provides a boost, cruising into the bye week and leading the NFC North. If Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush and their tight ends can come back healthy, they could bolster a second-half run. Last week: 7

4. New England Patriots (6-2): After dominating the Bears, 51-23, they are looking like the Pats of old, especially Tom Brady, who passed for 354 yards and five touchdowns. The matchup against Denver will be telling. Last week: 11

5. Philadelphia Eagles (5-2): The loss to the Cardinals was tough, after giving up a 75-yard touchdown for the lead. They had a chance to pull ahead of the Cowboys but got good games from Nick Foles (411 yards) and Jeremy Maclin (187 yards, 2 TD). Last week: 3

6. Dallas Cowboys (6-2): DeMarco Murray continued his record streak with 141 rushing yards but the loss to Washington in overtime is startling, especially since the defense had started to play so well. Tony Romo's injury is a concern as well. Last week: 2

7. San Diego Chargers (5-3): There's no shame in losing at Denver, but Philip Rivers' two interceptions hurt. Without a running game, they're not quite as potent on offense and will need to rely on the pass until Ryan Mathews is ready to return. Last week: 8

8. Indianapolis Colts (5-3): Allowing 51 points to the Steelers is alarming, but the defensive backfield has no answer for Ben Roethlisberger. The five-game win streak is over, with a winnable game at the Giants on Monday night. Last week: 4

9. San Francisco 49ers (4-3): Coming off the bye, they'll have a tough game against the Rams this week. They'll also hope that some of the reported locker room discord has cooled down as well. Last week: 9

10. Seattle Seahawks (4-3): A late touchdown was the only thing that stood between them and a third straight loss to fall below .500. Getting the winless Raiders at home this week will provide another boost before they face the Giants. Last week: 12

11. Green Bay Packers (5-3): With a four-game win streak, they were due for a dud game — and delivered, in a 44-23 loss at New Orleans. After a string without throwing an interception, Aaron Rodgers had two and they fell behind the Lions. Last week: 5

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3): Ben Roethlisberger got loose for 522 yards and six touchdowns, giving them a surprising 51-34 win over the Colts. They've won three of the last four and are keeping pace in the AFC North. Last week: 14

13. Cincinnati Bengals: (4-2-1): They got a critical win over the Ravens and stayed atop the division. Andy Dalton scored the winning touchdown — his second rushing score — in the final minute, ending their 0-2-1 skid. Last week: 15

14. Buffalo Bills (5-3): After they led the hapless Jets by just seven at halftime, they cruised to a 43-23 victory, staying squarely in position for a playoff spot. Without their top two rushers, they struggled to run, but Sammy Watkins had 157 receiving yards. Last week: 13

15. Baltimore Ravens (5-3): A touchdown in the final minute gave them a 27-24 loss to Cincinnati, where it's tough to go and get a win. Joe Flacco passed for 195 yards and two interceptions and they totaled only 107 yards rushing. Last week: 10

16. Miami Dolphins (4-3): Beating the Jaguars was expected, but the next stretch is daunting: Chargers, Lions, Bills and Broncos. They'll be lucky to come out of it 2-2, but if they do, watch out. Last week: 16

17. New Orleans Saints (3-4): After the disappointing finish against the Lions, they acquitted themselves well, thumping the Packers. They're not out of the division race because the NFC South is so mediocre. Last week: 22

18. Kansas City Chiefs (4-3): They easily handled the Rams, 34-7, after giving up an early touchdown. Jamaal Charles' two rushing touchdowns were a plus and the defense did the rest, helping them get above .500. Last week: 17

19. Cleveland Browns (4-3): They bounced back from a bad loss with a nice win over the Raiders, keeping pace with the rest of the division. A winnable game against the Bucs could yield a 5-3 first half, with a daunting second half to come. Last week: 20

20. Houston Texans (4-4): They ended their three-game skid with a win at Tennessee and Arian Foster led the way with 151 yards and two touchdowns. But they have have a bigger test this week with the Eagles before their bye week. Last week: 23

21. Carolina Panthers (3-4-1): Somehow, they're still leading the NFC South, despite having the 27th-ranked running attack. They're 1-4-1 in their last six games but their next two (vs. New Orleans and at Philadelphia) could be a crusher if they lose both. Last week: 19

22. Washington (3-5): With a dramatic overtime win over the Cowboys, they showed that Colt McCoy still can play in the NFL. They have a lot of ground to make up to catch Dallas and Philadelphia, but it's a start. Last week: 25

23. Minnesota Vikings (3-5): After giving up a 10-0 lead, they had to come back with a tying field goal as time expired in regulation and a fluky touchdown in overtime to beat the Bucs. Last week: 27

24. New York Giants (3-4): Coming off the bye week, they have their work cut out for them in the next four: Colts, Seahawks, 49ers and Cowboys. Yeah, good luck with that schedule. The rest of the schedule is a little more forgiving. Last week: 21

25. Chicago Bears (3-5): They've lost four of five and are on the verge of imploding after a 2-1 start. The bye this week is well timed, but they'll be at Green Bay after that, with the Lions awaiting two weeks later. They'll need a huge rally to try to contend. Last week: 24

26. St. Louis Rams (2-5): Well, maybe that win over the Seahawks was just a fluke. They didn't put up much of a fight after an opening touchdown against the Chiefs, managing only 84 rushing yards and no receiver had more than three catches. Last week: 18

27. Atlanta Falcons (2-6): After taking a 21-0 lead in the first half, the Falcons found a way to give the game away to the Lions, 22-21. Even in a bad division, they have a chance to rebound, but this loss could prove critical. Last week: 26

28. Tennessee Titans (2-6): Zach Mettenberger at quarterback? Why not? He didn't look terrible, with 299 yards and two touchdown passes. But the running game is non-existent and they're struggling to find a rhythm. Last week: 28

29. New York Jets (1-7): It doesn't matter whether it's Geno Smith or Michael Vick at quarterback — the Jets have major issues. Adding Percy Harvin might not be enough to perk up the offense, which desperately needs receiving help. Last week: 29

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7): If there's a silver lining anywhere, it might be discovering Denard Robinson as a backfield weapon. He had his second straight 100-yard game and is helping them have something resembling an offense. Last week: 30

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6): Of all the ways the Bucs have lost this season, giving up a tying field goal at the end of regulation, then having a fumble returned for a touchdown in overtime has to rank among the worst. Last week: 31

32. Oakland Raiders (0-7): They hung around until halftime before falling to Cleveland, 23-13. The only remaining question is whether they can complete the winless season, with their feeble running game and porous defense. Last week: 32

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter.com/detnewsRodBeard

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE