- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It doesn’t take a Mangenius to decipher the NFL standings one month into the wildest NFL season in recent memory. The winners and losers certainly have separated themselves.

Shockingly, occupying the higher reaches of the league are the Lions, Bills and 49ers. Buried with the dregs are the Vikings, Colts and much-hyped Eagles.

There are overachievers (Tennessee, Washington, even Cincinnati) and underachievers (Cowboys, Jets, Steelers, Falcons, Cardinals).

A breakdown of the first month of the season, in reverse order of the standings:


There is no other way of describing Minnesota, Miami, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Kansas City and St. Louis. At least the Colts (0-4) have the most valid of excuses: no Peyton Manning, who is making a case for his fifth MVP award by not being available because of neck surgery.

As for those other cities:

_The Vikings have flopped in virtually every area, most notably in the second half of games, when they have been outscored 67-16. They have blown leads of 10, 17 and 20 points after halftime. It seems a matter of days before Donovan McNabb is benched for first-round pick Christian Ponder, but the problems go much deeper.

Minnesota lacks cohesion and confidence. With Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Percy Harvin and Antoine Winfield, this roster has too much talent to be winless.

“Well, 0-3, 0-4, those are humbling moments,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “I don’t know if its humility necessarily, but we have to get this right. It’s not going to happen by talking about it. It’s something we have to do. We are going to identify some things that have to be corrected, and then we have to be the people to get it done.”

_With the countdown begun in Miami for when the Dolphins (0-4) fire coach Tony Sparano, there’s already thought that the team could lose enough games to win the Andrew Luck Draft Derby. Miami is awful on third downs and gives up too many big plays in all areas.

Perhaps Eric Mangini, the former Jets and Browns coach who once led New York to the playoffs, could bring his nickname and his “genius” to South Beach.

_The Eagles have the people to get a lot of things done, but they aren’t meshing. A third straight defeat was the most embarrassing because Philadelphia (1-3) botched a 23-3 second-half margin against San Francisco.

Their secondary, with three standout cornerbacks, including CB Nnamdi Asomugha, the top prize of free agency, has been a sieve. And the offense, aside from Michael Vick, has been inconsistent, with a penchant for big mistakes.

“Our issue right now is we are unable to close out games,” Asomugha said. “You can’t come into that last quarter and not be able to pull it out, especially when you’re winning.”

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