1. Green Bay (6-0). Look on the bright side, Rams: You held the Pack to their lowest point total of the year, 24. Green Bay still won by 21.
2. San Francisco (5-1). I believe in the hip-world vernacular the right way to talk about the Niners right now is: These guys are no joke.
3. Baltimore (4-1). Should be 6-1 entering Week 9 showdown at Pittsburgh, with Jacksonville and Arizona on the slate the next two weeks.
4. New England (5-1). Good to know you can call on the two-minute drill when you need it. The Patriots have been laying waste to so many teams they haven't needed to convert a crucial two-minute drive in a while. "We haven't had really a true two-minute situation at the end of the game where we needed a touchdown in a long time,'' Tom Brady said. But he had the 80-yard game-winner in him.
5. Detroit (5-1). Bobby Carpenter has been reborn in Detroit. Notice that? This is the player Bill Parcells made a first-round pick in Dallas five years and two teams ago.
6. San Diego (4-1). On the bye Sunday, Antonio Gates prayed to the god of plantar fascia, "Why have you forsaken me?''
7. Pittsburgh (4-2). I agree with Mike Tomlin, who says of his team, which moves in mysterious ways: "The jury is out on us.''
8. Tampa Bay (4-2). A 45-point loss one week, a division win to take the NFC South lead the next. The race isn't over, but Tampa had lost to the Saints at home for two straight years. Sweet redemption, in many ways.
9. New Orleans (4-2). It's so strange to see Drew Brees make a foolish throw, which he did with the game on the line when he gave Quincy Black a gift in the waning moments.
10. Oakland (4-2). Oakland drops because of the injury to Jason Campbell (broken collarbone). That was a classy halftime celebration of Al Davis' life, highlighted by the football person Davis trusted most, John Madden, lighting an eternal flame that will burn at the Oakland home field. Forever, I assume. What happens if the Raiders move to L.A., I wonder.
11. New York Giants (4-2). Who can figure out the NFC East? Washington beats the Giants by 14. Giants beat Philadelphia by 13. Philadelphia beats Washington by seven. I am clueless what the order is in this division. My choice is New York on top, followed closely by the other three. In some order. I guess. Maybe.
12. Buffalo (4-2). Naaman Roosevelt scored a touchdown for the Bills Sunday, which continues the weird parade of Bills no one's ever head of scoring touchdowns in games meaningful to the AFC playoff race.
13. Philadelphia (2-4). I know it's ridiculous to put a 2-4 team ahead of those with much better records. But I defy anyone who watched the first half of the game at Washington to say the Eagles aren't one of the best teams in football. Of course, NFL games are two halves long.
14. Dallas (2-3). They'll play in a bowl game at the end of the year. The Continually Almost Done It Bowl.
15. Cincinnati (4-2). Andy Dalton (15 of 19 in the first half against the Colts) doesn't know he's not supposed to be a mid-range (15th-best, 18th-best, somewhere in there) quarterback in the NFL right now. But he's playing like he is.
Offensive Player of the Week
New England QB Tom Brady. I knew facing Rob Ryan would be his toughest test of the season, and for 57 minutes, it certainly was. "They make you earn every yard,'' Brady said after the game. "There are no gimmes against them.'' With three minutes left, the Dallas defensive coordinator had held the Patriots to 13 points and Brady to a 19-of-32, 211-yard, one-TD, two-pick day on his home field, where Brady hadn't lost a regular season game since the Truman Administration. But then, down by three and starting from his 20, Brady came out firing, completing 8 of 9 for 78 yards and ending the drive with an eight-yard strike to Aaron Hernandez with :22 left. That's the kind of drive the great ones make.
Defensive Players of the Week
Philadelphia FS Kurt Coleman. And not just for his three important interceptions -- one when FedEx Field was rocking and the Eagles were trying to hand the game back to Washington. But for his two additional passes broken up at critical times when the Redskins were fighting to get back into the game, and his team-high seven tackles. Not bad for a guy who's been in and out of the lineup for inconsistent play.
Baltimore LB Ray Lewis. He is 36. I am convinced he will play this way at 46. The man refuses to admit there is a clock on his career, and maybe there isn't. With 12 tackles and one sack in the 29-14 win over Houston, he became the first player to have 40 sacks and 30 interceptions in the 92-year history of the NFL.
Special Teams Players of the Week
Chicago KR/WR Devin Hester. His 17th career kick or punt return for touchdown -- a 98-yard kickoff return for a score to ensure a rout of the Vikings Sunday night -- was just one example why every fan rooting against the Bears says when a kickoff or punt falls into Hester's hands, "Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!'' Hester is 28. He's two touchdown returns from the NFL record for returns of all kinds (including INTs and fumbles). That record is 19, held by Deion Sanders. I like his chances to get to 20. Maybe even this year.
Oakland P Shane Lechler. He's been in this spot plenty of times for being the best punter of this generation. He makes it today for throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Boss, giving the Raiders their clinching touchdown in a 24-17 victory over Cleveland.
Oakland KR/WR Jacoby Ford. With the game against Cleveland tied at seven in the second quarter, Ford took a kickoff one-yard deep in the end zone and tiptoed most of the way down the right sideline for a touchdown the Raiders desperately needed. On this day, the Raiders scored 14 points on special teams, and I would be remiss in not crediting the Raiders' young special teams coordinator, John Fassel. Yes, the son of Jim.
San Francisco P Andy Lee. In a field-position game, Lee's punts landed at the Detroit 33, 18, the end zone, 11, 9, 28, 9 and 8. A superb day, whether the Niners won or not, and the fact they won made it an easy award to give.
Coaches of the Week
Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. For the fifth time in six games in an offensively explosive NFL this year, the Bengals allowed 20 points or fewer in their 24-17 victory over the Colts. They're among the league leaders in opponents yards per rush (3.3 per carry), and they're holding foes to 58.6 percent completions in a league gone wild with passing.
Immense credit goes to Zimmer for cutting a touchdown a week off the Bengals' defensive totals and for refocusing a no-name group to playing playoff football again. I just hope the owners in position to make coaching hires after the season will do the smart thing and at least interview Zimmer to be a head coach. Long overdue, in my mind.
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh. Forget whatever the league makes of the postgame exuberance with Jim Schwartz. Any coach who can have a team of new players for seven weeks, players he's never coached before, and boast of a 5-1 record in his first NFL coaching job, with win three Eastern Time Zone games in 22 days ... well, that guy can coach for my team any time.
Goat of the Week
Washington QB Rex Grossman. The voters for "The Award Section'' in this column have been unanimous on none of the players/coaches/goats of the week ... until now. Throwing four interceptions in 43 minutes will win the Goat of the Week most weeks. All weeks, quite honestly. The 20-13 Philadelphia victory was a game there to be won for Washington, until Grossman got his hands on the ball.
Think Jimmy Graham's become Drew Brees' go-to guy? He's not only Brees' key receiver now, he's the most-used receiver in recent weeks of the best passing teams in football. Look at the top five passing teams (in yards per game) and where Graham ranks related to the favorite targets on the other four teams in their last three games:
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