NFL’s top 10 powerhouses

    Things are starting to shake themselves out, it seems. Preseason estimates of the real-deal Dolphins and contending Cardinals have been forgotten. And even though Vince Young got his first start, his Titans, the NFL’s other cellar team, will likely remain there. Here’s a list of the top 10 teams at the end of week four.


10. St. Louis Rams

    Sometimes quiet is the best way to creep to the top. Steven Jackson is crushing linebackers, getting better with every game, and Marc Bulger has been holding up his end of the deal. A potential wild-card team to be feared.


9. Seattle Seahawks

    In their last five quarters, the Seahawks have been outscored 64-6. Sure, you’re thinking, “These statistics are a bit misleading.” Perhaps, but what’s for sure is Shawn Alexander has been out all of those five quarters. Without him, Seattle won’t beat the Rams after their bye and St. Louis takes this spot. I didn’t believe in curses, but now I’m starting to –


8. Philadelphia Eagles

    Donovan McNabb is just killing it. He’s leading his team to a league-leading 426 yards per game and has more touchdowns than any other QB, plus he’s given up only one pick. Until something happens to refute it, the Eagles fourth-quarter meltdown against New York was mostly a fluke. Donovan’s team is back.


7. San Diego Chargers

    San Diego is one of the toughest teams to get a handle on at the moment. They kept it blade-close against the wicked Ravens, but their only other wins came against bottom-of-the-barrel Raiders and Titans. Still, the Chargers claim NFL’s No. 1 defense and No. 9 offense. Either way, facing a rested Pittsburg, one of those stats (or both) has got to go. All will be revealed Sunday.


6. Cincinnati Bengals

    In the end, Sunday’s loss against New England will be a good one for Cincinnati. Before then, the talented yet inexperienced team of eccentrics was flying too high, or maybe driving drunk, acting as if they had already clinched a first-round playoff bye. Expect a more serious and sober band of rascals next Sunday. This team goes far only as long as they remain an underdog.


5. Denver Broncos

    Despite the bye week, credit and status from the Bronco’s two-week-old drubbing of the Patriots in Foxboro is still warranted. Denver proved that all that talk about the Pats being ready to erase last year’s Champ Bailey interception and playoff loss was baloney. Fact is, Jake Plummer is one of the coolest cats in the NFL – after calls for a new QB in Denver, The Snake tops Tom Brady, again. Let’s not let one or two blips let us forget how solid Plummer was last season – one or two fewer interceptions could’ve meant a trip to the Super Bowl.


4. New England Patriots

    Got to give the Patriots credit for coming into Cincinnati and spanking the Bengals like they did. But New England was playing a team with a collective hangover, and Tom Brady and Co. were lucky to catch them when they did. But when things are as shaky as they are in this young NFL season, you go with what you know: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are still tops, and when the Pats’ D is clicking, New England can beat any team in the league (well, at least they have a sporting chance against Chicago-).


3. Baltimore Ravens

    The Ravens earn the three-spot by slipping past the Chargers, but the team’s early games were cake and their rank tenuous. The love probably won’t last long with games coming up against the Broncos and Panthers. McNair has been good, but not that good. Throwing only five TDs alongside three interceptions, he isn’t the co-MVP circa 2003. Baltimore’s defense is solid, but probably not as good as it looks on paper (games against Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Oakland will do that to you).


2. Indianapolis Colts

    The margin of victory is quickly forgotten in the NFL. Avoid the big fat blemish on your record and look towards the future. Keep those eyes on the prize. Sure, maybe the Colts should’ve handled the Giants and the Jets a little easier, but by week 10, no one remembers. So we cue up that old classic: Peyton Manning and the no-huddle carry the insufficient Colts defense through close fourth quarters, squeaking past opponents to the playoffs. Unless stars realign, smart betters bank on Colts until playoff pressure rears its ugly head, and though I don’t see Indy losing anytime soon, the loss of Edgerrin James makes last year’s 14-2 record unlikely.


1. Chicago Bears

    It looked like last Monday night’s game was going to be a good one, didn’t it? The unbeaten Bears against the unbeaten, defending NFC champion Seahawks. Apparently not. No, not even close. After that utter domination, who can even touch the Bears right now? Putting Chicago in the No. 1 spot is as easy as intercepting a Brett Favre bomb or calling for another Kurt Warner ouster. Bears opponents ought to forget winning and just pray their key offensive players escape without serious injury.