We took a stab at ranking the 16 teams in the AFC after the first week. Certainly plenty has happened since then. With most of the teams in the league already having had their BYE week, let's take another crack. As always, let me know what you might disagree with. These rankings are mostly resume based, with a tinge of subjective evaluation thrown in. Man, what a muddled mess the AFC has become.
1) Tennessee Titans - Talk about an impressive defense. Wow. As I mentioned earlier though, TN has avoided the injury bug in a major way. Let's see what happens if their injury situation regresses somewhere towards the mean of what's normal in this league.
2) Pittsburgh Steelers - The case certainly could be made for Buffalo here, and if we were going purely on resume alone, they probably would deserve the nod after their impressive victory over San Diego. Something tells me though that we could beat the Bills if both teams were at or near full-strength.
3) Buffalo Bills - Great defense, tremendously efficient QB play from Trent Edwards, and sound coaching all helped Buffalo take down San Diego this past Sunday. The Patriots reemerged this evening as threats, so perhaps Buffalo will have some competition for the AFC East title after all. It's certainly not coming from Miami or the Jets.
4) New England Patriots - Matt Cassel turns in his finest performance of the season in a 44-7 rout of the Broncos. I'm neither ready to be scared of this NE team, nor ready to write them off entirely as a non-factor in this muddled conference.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars - This may be another team that peaks late. They've had plenty of injurys to deal with early, yet Garrard seems to be rounding into form. Another tough one to figure out.
6) Indianapolis Colts - Just last week, I thought they might be the team to beat eventually. After getting stepped all over in Green Bay, I now look dumb. Still, Tony Dungy + Peyton Manning = not dead yet. That said, I don't care how good Manning is if he's only getting 70 yards a game from his running game.
7) San Diego Chargers - I guess some team from the AFC West has to make the playoffs, right? I know LT is tired of hearing about it, but there's just something wrong with him. Rivers is doing his best job to keep the team's head above water, but this Chargers offense is certainly not used to being only the 26th best team rushing the football.
8) Denver Broncos - Denver and San Diego will get to duke it out for AFC West supremacy, but again we were reminded tonight of why nobody should truly like the Broncos' prospects: their D is just too porous.
9) Baltimore Ravens - This isn't a great team by any means, but their defense is good enough to help them win some games. That was the case this past Sunday against Miami, where a pick-6 helped the Ravens emerge victorious.
10) Houston Texans - The Texans are likely going to look back at their late meltdown against the Colts earlier in the year as a golden opportunity they missed out on. At 2-4, they're not dead yet, but 3-3 sure would be sweeter for them considering the tough slate of games they still have ahead of them. A great example of just how slim a margin teams have in this league. Houston's close to being real competitive. Instead they're in last place as of now.
11) Cleveland Browns - Poor Cleveland. They fought valiantly at Washington but came up short when Phil Dawson's 56 yard FG attempt at the gun sailed wide right. Derek Anderson struggled again following his solid showing against the Giants a week earlier.
12) New York Jets - Meh. Losing to Oakland? I don't care if it's on the road. That's unimpressive.
13) Miami Dolphins - Chad Pennington's good enough to keep Miami competitive. But he's not good enough to avoid the kinds of mistakes that he yet again made against the Ravens. 7 wins isn't out of the question though for a team that struggled to get just one last year.
14) Oakland Raiders - Hooray. The first win of the Tom Cable era in Oakland. JaMarcus Russel is making some strides in his second year, but this is just a 5-6 win football team at best in 2008. A likely coaching change will again take place this offseason and the Raiders will again find themselves starting from scratch. Sad.
15) Cincinnati Bengals - Yes they're winless, but I think they're better than KC - if Carson Palmer's playing.