CLARK JUDGE (CBSSports.com)
1. Atlanta _ Crushing Philadelphia after the Eagles’ bye convinced me: No one is better.
2. Chicago _ Who needs Jay Cutler when you have a defense that scores like this?
3. Houston _ The Texans win their division by the first of December. I haven’t seen a race this easy to call since Secretariat ran the Belmont.
5. San Francisco _ Enough already. It’s time to declare a moratorium on Alex Smith criticism.
6. Green Bay _ As Aaron Rodgers goes, so goes the Pack … and he’s going great now, with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions the last three games, all of them victories.
7. Baltimore _ That image in your rearview mirror is Pittsburgh, and, yes, the Steelers are closer than you might think.
8. Denver _ Look at the schedule: The Broncos only have one opponent left with a winning record, and that’s Baltimore. Look for them to keep moving up.
9. New England _ They run. They pass. They score. And they win. Big. Yep, nothing has changed around the Patriots, not as long as Tom Brady is the guy taking snaps.
12. Miami _ It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is _ Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore _ these guys can’t lose, and imagine what would’ve happened had Dan Carpenter hit one of those field goals the first time they played the Jets.
13. Seattle _ Once I loved the Seattle defense. Now I don’t trust it. It couldn’t protect a fourth-quarter lead in Detroit, and it couldn’t protect it twice.
14. Minnesota _ The more Christian Ponder screws up, the more these guys are in trouble _ and he’s committing way too many mistakes now.
15. Dallas _ Hey, it’s a game of inches, and the Cowboys just found out. Mistakes, penalties, close calls, game management, you name it … these guys seem doomed to be mediocre.
16. Philadelphia _ Now it’s Michael Vick who may sit down? Uh-oh, the seat is getting warm under coach Andy Reid. Make Monday’s game in New Orleans a must-win.
17. Washington _ Memo to Kyle Shanahan: Forget about RG3 as a wide receiver. He can’t survive, and, frankly, neither can you.
18. Cincinnati _ Until they prove they can beat Baltimore or Pittsburgh, the Bengals can’t be taken seriously as playoff contenders.
19. Tampa Bay _ The Bucs looked so good in Minnesota I thought Joe Madden was running the offense.
20. Indianapolis _ Peyton Manning had three wins as a rookie. Andrew Luck has four … after seven games. Just saying.
21. St. Louis _ Now you know why the Rams opted out of returning to London in 2013-14.
22. Arizona _ Just my opinion, but with their first three picks in next year’s draft the Cardinals should choose offensive tackles.
23. Buffalo _ All that money spent on defense, and so little return.
24. Tennessee _ Just when you want to believe in these guys, they lose to Indianapolis … at home, no less.
25. New Orleans _ The more I see of this defense, the more I appreciate Gregg Williams. I don’t care if Jonathan Vilma plays. These guys flat-out stink.
26. San Diego _ No touchdowns in six straight quarters and no nothing in the Bolts’ last three fourth periods. America’s Finest City has one of its most underwhelming football teams.
27. Oakland _ Maybe the Raiders should designate Arrowhead Stadium as their home stadium.
29. Cleveland _ Accepting the award as this week’s MVP is San Diego wide receiver Robert Meachem.
30. Carolina _ I guess that “Win One for Marty” mantra didn’t work. Ron Rivera, listen up: With your GM gone, you’re next.
31. Jacksonville _ Look at it this way, Jags’ fans: It’s never a long season in Jacksonville because you always have golf.
32. Kansas City _ Someone asked me who I thought the quarterback would be next year _ Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn. I go with Matt Barkley.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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