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Texans hanging on to top spot in NFL power poll

October 9, 2012 - Andy Heintz
The National Football League changes direction every single week, which is one of the reasons it has become the most popular sport in the business today.

One week, the Falcons look dominant and then for two straight games, they could have and maybe should have lost to teams with a combined three wins. The Texans survived this week. Sometimes that's what it's about. Those two teams -- the Falcons and Texans -- find their way to the top of my rankings this week. Here are my top 10 teams in the NFL as well as my bottom five squads.

1. Houston Texans, 5-0

The Texans survived on the road against a struggling New York Jets team that was desperate for something good to happen. Houston has a plus-76 point differential so far this season but haven't really played any elite teams yet. That changes in the next few weeks with challenges on the horizon from Green Bay and Baltimore before Houston's bye week.

2. Atlanta Falcons, 5-0

I really considered moving Atlanta out of this spot this week, but will keep them here for now. They probably should have lost to Carolina. And certainly could have lost to Washington this weekend. Both of those teams have a combined three wins. Those are teams that great teams should beat and the Falcons did, but they were less than impressive doing it. I think teams have found holes with Atlanta. Expect those holes to be exposed by much better teams in the future.

3. San Francisco 49ers, 4-1

Since losing to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3, the Niners have outscored their last two opponents 79-3. The defense is playing lights out, and the offense put up a franchise-record 621 yards against Buffalo on Sunday. And the Vikings loss on the road has turned out to be not as bad with the Vikings starting the season 4-1. San Francisco has the highest scoring differential of any other team in the league as it is outscoring opponents by 81 points.

4. Baltimore Ravens, 4-1

The Ravens grinded out a win against Cleveland this past Thursday. You can say they got lucky. You can say they didn't look impressive. And maybe both are true. But it was a short week against a division rival on the road. That is why I think they struggled a bit. Baltimore is still an elite team with an elite coaching staff.

5. Chicago Bears, 4-1

The NFC West boasts some of the best defenses in the league all in one division, but the Bears' defense is playing the best in the league right now outside of San Francisco. Five touchdowns in three games is impressive, but it has come against Dallas and Jacksonville, which have both proven to be subpar offenses. Still, I like what the Bears are doing and if they can get any kind of consistency from Jay Cutler, they may become a favorite in the NFC.

6. Minnesota Vikings, 4-1

The Vikings have only played one really good team and that came in a home win over San Francisco. Still, no one expected them to be 4-1 at this point. The one loss was a narrow defeat to Indianapolis and they also just beat a bad Jacksonville team by three points. The schedule gets harder in the second half so we'll see if this holds up. For now, they have played well enough to be put in this spot.

7. Arizona Cardinals, 4-1

I think this may be the last time we see the Cardinals in the top 10. Nothing about this offense scares me and with another running back doing down it is going to be that much tougher for Kevin Kolb or John Skelton to be successful. Opposing defenses are not going to respect the run and will load up to defend the passing game. The Cardinals defense will keep them in games but you have to score to win.

8. New England Patriots, 3-2

The Patriots' two losses are by a combined three points. And since the two losses, New England has put up 83 points and those were tallied in the last two games. Tom Brady is proving that his offense is not just about his arm as the Patriots are using a strong running game to win games, too. If they can figure out how to win close games when they are in them, they will be right back in the mix as a favorite in the AFC.

9. New York Giants, 3-2

The Giants will play the 49ers this weekend in one of the marquee games of the week. They look great one week and then fall backwards another week. You can argue that Philadelphia should be in this spot because of the head-to-head win but the point differential for the Giants is plus-41, while the Eagles are still on the negative side.

10. Philadelphia Eagles. 3-2

The Eagles lost a tough, hard-nosed football game to Pittsburgh this weekend in the battle of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia's offense can beat anyone's when it is not beating itself. Michael Vick has got to take care of the ball if he wants to take this team to the postseason. The defense is much improved though.

Bottom Five: 5. Kansas City Chiefs, 4. Oakland Raiders, 3. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2. Tennessee Titans, 1. Cleveland Browns.


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