Oct 13, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; St. Louis Rams outside linebacker Alec Ogletree (52) returns an interception for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
16. Tennessee Titans (3-3) ▼6
That was a valiant effort that came up just short against the Seahawks. The Titans were starting to build something with Jake Locker, and now they need him back in a big way. Ryan Fitzpatrick is trying to tread water, but he’s only Ryan Fitzpatrick. Still, this team has a solid young defense to build around.
15. Dallas Cowboys (3-3) ▲2
Well, they’re back to an even record, and the race for the NFC East lead doesn’t look quite as pathetic now with a pair of .500 teams in the running. The key to winning seems to be not putting Tony Romo in the position to have to deliver it. He played a solid game, but didn’t light up the stat sheet. He and the Cowboys will take that every week if it means a win.
14. San Diego Chargers (3-3) ▲6
That was a convincing way to pull to 3-3, with a big primetime win over the Colts. Perhaps more than any other team, it’s difficult to get a bead on the Chargers. They seem to be a different team every time out. They started the season winning games with offense, then got lit up by the Raiders, and follow that performance by locking down the Colts on defense, holding them to just three field goals.
13. Baltimore Ravens (3-3) ▼2
There’s usually no shame in losing to the Packers, but these are the defending Super Bowl champs. Do we have a bead on whether or not this team is actually any good or not? We know they’re handicapped by overpaying a quarterback who isn’t worth it, but at .500 now, doesn’t it seem equally likely that this team could go 11-5 or 5-11?
12. Miami Dolphins (3-2) ▲4
They take their bye week after back-to-back losses, and should be able to take the time to fix some of their issues. They’re solid on both sides of the ball, and have an important game against the Bills to keep their winning record intact. They move up in the bye out of pure circumstance.
11. Chicago Bears (4-2) ▲2
They certainly beat the Giants, but it was probably not the performance you might have expected between a winless team and a playoff contender. Getting off the short losing streak was certainly important, but they’ll need to play an awful lot better than they did against New York if they’re to earn wins against teams that have wins.
10. Detroit Lions (4-2) ▲2
Normally beating the Browns doesn’t carry a great deal of prestige, but the Lions and Browns came in both sporting 3-2 records. The Lions dominated the second half and seem to have found a way to run their offense without Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush both operating optimally. That’s a good sign for them now, and even better for when the offense gets healthy again.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) ▼2
The Bills have been scaring teams all season, and it took a good bounce-back game from Andy Dalton (sans one really ugly interception) to pull them through. Now they get a tough test against the Lions, in which both quarterbacks are likely to do a lot of flushing out. Whoever wins that matchup is going to start pulling a lot of playoff talk.