New Orleans Saints (9-0, 1st)
Last week: Def. St. Louis 28-23 on the road
Next up: Tampa Bay on the road
We thought: They'd do enough to beat the Rams, as they had been making habit of doing just enough ever since thrashing the Giants.
They are: Squeaking by could be a trend that leads up to the Pats game, where everyone assumes that the Saints are finally going down, only they absolutely unload on New England with everything they've got, win by 2 scores, and the undefeated talk returns.
Atlanta Falcons (5-4, 2nd)
Last week: Lost to Carolina 28-19 on the road
Next up: NY Giants on the road
We thought: Not as good as advertised, particularly because Matty Ice was getting a pass from the critics despite a mediocre-to-subpar year so far (and that was before Sunday).
They are: Fitting that less than a week after people dismiss the Curse of 370 as it applies to Michael Turner, he hurts his ankle. We'll be shocked if Jason Snelling (or Ryan) goes into the Meadowlands and picks apart a pissed off, rested Giants team.
Carolina Panthers (4-5, 3rd)
Last week: Def. Atlanta 28-19 at home
Next up: Miami at home (Thurs)
We thought: John Fox is a good enough coach to get them to play hard the rest of the way, even if the playoffs seem unlikely.
They are: Very much alive, particularly if they take advantage of the Ronnie Brown-less Dolphins. How hard are they kicking themselves for blowing that home game to the Bills a couple weeks ago?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8, 4th)
Last week: Lost to Miami 25-23 on the road
Next up: New Orleans at home
We thought: Curious to see how long it would take before Josh Freeman's Welcome To The NFL moment.
They are: Hasn't really happened in 2+ games, and judging by the postgame quotes, the Dolphins players were impressed with Freeman. And he's still the only 2009 1st Round QB without a 5-pick game.