The Top 5 Most Impressive NFL Teams After 9 Weeks:
Senior Writer: ANDY FLINT
We’re over the halfway hump of the 2011 NFL campaign. Don’t get sad just yet. There’s plenty of NFL action left. This is the top 5 most impressive NFL teams after 9 weeks of action.
I fully expected Green Bay to be a great team this season. However, any time a team starts off 8-0, including five 30+ point performances and three 40+ games, it comes off as nothing less than impressive. The Pack rank 1st in points per game (34.4), 4th in total yards (416.4) and 3rd in passing yards (312). Add to the list that they’ve played teams like New Orleans, Atlanta and San Diego and the feat seems all that more impressive to me. The Lions may be knocking on the door in the NFC North, but I suspect that Green Bay won’t be giving away the house keys without a fight.
#4: Buffalo Bills
NOBODY CIRCLES THE WAGONS LIKE THE BUFFALO BILLS! Yea, we’ve all heard that chanted since week one of the NFL season. And it mostly seems to ring true. These Bills certainly aren’t the Bills from just one season ago. They finally have a quarterback who doesn’t seem like just another stop-gap. They can also run the ball, and a ground-n-pound attack has clearly been the ticket.
These 2011 Bills rank inside the top 15 in every offensive category. Including 4th in points with 27.8 per game and 7th in rushing with 135 per game on the ground. The 30 year old, Fred Jackson, has 803 yards on the ground and a total of 6 scores for the season. Once a joke in the AFC East, these Bills are on the rise and tied with the New England Patriots and the New York Jets (5-3) for a piece of the division. Who would have thought?
#3: Detroit Lions
From the Buffalo Bills and their stellar rushing game, to the Detroit Lions and their feared passing attack. The Lions are a team who have risen from the cellar of the NFL, and currently looking to challenge the 8-0 Green Bay Packers for the belt in the NFC North. These Lions are much different from the 0-16 Lions from 2008. They have a fired up coach in Jim Schwartz, a skilled passer in Matthew Stafford, and finally a defense you can take home to mom and dad. These Lions are 6-2 and it didn’t happen by accident. Matthew Stafford is finally healthy and he’s proven to be the right draft pick for the Lions just three years ago.
He’s elevated his game and thrown for 2,179 yards with 19 TD’s (only 4 interceptions). On the receiving end of most of those TD’s has been Megatron. Calvin Johnson has already crossed the 800 yard receiving mark and grabbed 11 TD’s in the process. But possibly the most surprising thing to the Lions is, Ndamukong Suh and their intimidating defensive presence. The Lions D has amassed 24 total sacks and nabbed 11 total interceptions (3 for pay-dirt). This is a different team in Detroit!
My, my, my have the Bengals been impressive this season. They currently sit atop the rugged AFC North at 6-2 and have done so with more offensive power than I personally thought was feasible. I know a lot of people will use the weak schedule card, and although I don’t disagree that Cincinnati has played an incredibly weak schedule, I still say to give them their props. I figured that the Bengals would be the soft spot for Denver, Cleveland, Indy, Seattle, Buffalo and Tennessee. Yet, they came away from 5 out of 6 of those matchups with the W. The Bengals have only lost to the Broncos and the 49ers this season.
Now they still have Pittsburgh and Baltimore both twice, they also have the Texans at home, but their other remaining games seem like cake-walks over Cleveland, St Louis and Arizona. The Bengals defense has dominated. Ranking 4th in total points, 4th in total yards, 10th in passing yards and 2nd in rushing yards. The biggest bright spot for me, personally, has been the fierce play of rookie QB, Andy Dalton. This kid has an arm. I’m not even talking about strength. His accuracy and ability to make the correct decisions are what separate him from the ordinary guys in the league. Having a beastly WR like A.J. Green is going to help Dalton as his career progresses. I like what I see in southern Ohio!
What more can I say about the 49ers other than they’re playing excellent football. Old-school defensive football. They hit offenses in the mouth and they love every second of it. They managed big wins over the Bengals, the Eagles, the Lions and the Buccaneers. These newly confident 49ers currently sit atop the NFC West at 7-1. This rabid defense, led by hard-hitting Patrick Willis has been the crutch for their current success. Jim Harbaugh has these guys fired up and they look pretty unstoppable at the moment. Alex Smith, who was formally dubbed as a bust is currently getting it done.
While he’s not performing like an elite QB, he is doing a superb job of managing games and garnering wins for this club. He’s throw 10 TD’s and only 2 interceptions while orchestrating this offense based on its strengths. Frank Gore and the rushing game has been incredible as well, as Gore has rushed for 750+ yards and collected 5 TD’s. Things are certainly looking good in the Bay Area and upcoming battles versus the Cardinals (twice), the Rams (twice) and the Seahawks should only solidify their winning ways.