1. Pittsburgh Steelers: "With QB Ben Roethlisberger returning, Pittsburgh has a shot to be the NFL's only dominant team." (Walker)
2. Baltimore Ravens: "RB Ray Rice (133 yards, two touchdowns in Week 5) makes everyone else's job much easier." (Walker)
3. New York Jets: "The addition of Santonio Holmes has loaded up the offensive options for Mark Sanchez." (Clayton)
6. New England Patriots: "Deion Branch is a nice peace offering to Tom Brady after the Randy Moss trade." (Clayton)
My take: I don't necessarily disagree with these rankings, but to call the Steelers the only dominant team is crazy talk. It seems that people forget we beat both the Steelers and Jets this season, especially when it comes time to rank the Ravens.
1. Baltimore Ravens: "Once the Ravens get starting FS Ed Reed back from his hip injury, their defense will be pretty close to complete. The offense is capable of putting up much bigger numbers on a weekly basis, and once they do, this team will be even tougher to beat."
2. Pittsburgh Steelers: "The Steelers get Roethlisberger back this week from his four-game suspension. If the Browns come within 20 points of Pittsburgh I'd be surprised. This could be the NFL's most complete team from both sides of the ball."
3. New York Jets: "Another impressive victory on Monday night against the visiting Vikings. Even when starting QB Mark Sanchez doesn't play well, the Jets can rely on their outstanding running game, which is averaging a league-leading 165.2 yards per game."
11. New England Patriots: "It's hard to see how the loss of starting WR Randy Moss will make this team better, but it will be interesting to see how the addition of veteran WR Deion Branch will help going forward."
My take: This is more like it. I don't know about the Patriots being ranked 11th though. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are too good at what they do to let this team fall off too much. I like them where ESPN had them at number six.
1. Baltimore Ravens: "The Ravens and Jets are 1 and 1a right now -- it's hard to really decipher between the two. Great defenses, really solid run games and QBs that are just good enough to keep winning. We'll know even more about Baltimore after this Sunday's trip to Foxborough to take on the Patriots."
2. New York Jets: "It's nitpicking, sure, but the Jets' struggles in opposing territory Monday night and inability to close the Vikings out combine to drop them out of the top spot. Looking at the schedule ahead, it'd be downright shocking if 4-1 didn't become at least 11-5."
3. Pittsburgh Steelers: "Big Ben gets to ease back into the lineup against Cleveland before a three-game road trip (Miami, New Orleans, Cincinnati) with two nationally-televised games. Pittsburgh will surely take its 3-1 record in Roethlisberger's absence, but the four-game punishment did cost the Steelers a home loss to Baltimore, which could loom large as we go along."
4. New England Patriots: "Put the Patriots here with a bullet. With Randy Moss, they looked like an elite AFC team. We'll have to see how they fare with Deion Branch in the lineup instead. Upcoming games against Baltimore, San Diego and Minnesota provide a nice litmus test."
1. Pittsburgh Steelers: "If we didn't bump the Steelers out of our top spot last week after their narrow loss at home to Baltimore, it's indefensible to demote them coming off their bye week. Everyone's worried about the rust factor in regards to Ben Roethlisberger's game, but if rookie QB Colt McCoy starts for Cleveland this week in Pittsburgh, the Browns will be just the oil can needed to get the Steelers and Big Ben back to their winning ways."
2. Baltimore Ravens:"The Ravens have won three in a row and that constitutes a near-dynasty in this season's NFL. After January's debacle in the first round of the playoffs, the Patriots have had this week's visit from Baltimore circled on the calendar since April. If the Ravens can get to 5-1, they'll be through the toughest stretch of their schedule in great shape. Four of their next six are at home, and none are against 2009 playoff teams."
3. New York Jets:"It takes a lot to knock the Jets out of the spotlight, but didn't Rex Ryan's team feel like an afterthought during its conquest of Minnesota on Monday night? New York is winning because it's taking care of the football. The Jets haven't had a turnover since their Week 1 loss to Baltimore, and the four straight games without one ties for the best stretch in the league on that front since 1960."
5. New England Patriots:"The Patriots getting rid of Randy Moss and turning back to Deion Branch is a little like the guy who realizes he's dating someone out of his league and decides to get back together with his old girlfriend. She may not be the hottie of all time, but she's not a weekly headache either. Sometimes it's just not worth the trouble to upgrade."
My Take: Seems like all the experts can agree on the top three, but are all over the place with New England. I like them ranked sixth because they are still a really good football team, but there are definitely six teams having better seasons in my opinion. If they take down the Ravens this week, then where do they fall? I guess well have to wait until next week.
How do you feel about these rankings?
Where do you think the Ravens should be?