Every Monday morning, the day after my favorite day of the week but still hours before that week's slate of games officially wraps up with "Monday Night Football," I will bring you my weekly premature NFL power rankings.

Why Monday? Because who wants to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday for power rankings?


Why 11 teams? I don't really have a good answer for that one. I've always liked odd numbers.

What am I basing them on? Who my gut tells me are the toughest teams to beat that week.

Why isn't my team on the list!?!?! Take a deep breath and try not to take these too seriously.

1. Houston Texans (last week -- 3): The Texans made a statement with their 43-13 victory over the Ravens --  and it's that they are the best team in the NFL right now. They are balanced on offense, and their defense is suffocating. The road to the Super Bowl likely goes through Houston.

2. New York Giants (2): They can throw the ball, they can run it, and they have a flair for the dramatic. If the Giants defense can get their pass rush really going, they might be unstoppable.

3. Atlanta Falcons (1): What have you done for me lately?  Nothing, because they had a bye week. The Falcons are the NFL's only undefeated team, but last week's game seems like forever ago.

4. San Francisco 49ers (4): The 49ers bounced back from a 23-point loss to the Giants to beat the Seattle Seahawks, but their offense needs a spark. Maybe they need more of Colin Kaepernick?

5. Chicago Bears (6): The Bears, who might have the scariest defense in the NFL because of their ability to turn takeaways into touchdowns, host the desperate Detroit Lions tonight.

6. Green Bay Packers (7): Who needs a running game? Certainly not Green Bay. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 680 yards and nine touchdowns the past two weeks.

7. New England Patriots (9): They didn't earn any style points in Sunday's overtime win over the New York Jets. But they did reclaim the lead in the AFC East, so I'm sure they will take it.

8. Denver Broncos (NR): They had a bye, but they were very impressive while overcoming a 24-0 deficit in San Diego last Monday. Peyton Manning sure looks like the Peyton Manning of old.

9. Baltimore Ravens (5): All of their flaws were exposed in a 30-point loss to arguably the best team in the NFL. The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for John Harbaugh's staff.

10. Seattle Seahawks (8): The Seahawks gave the 49ers a pretty good fight on Thursday night, but despite a strong defense and a running game, they are limited by their rookie quarterback.

11. Minnesota Vikings (11): The Vikings had 43 passing yards in Sunday's 21-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals. That's not a typo. Thank goodness Adrian Peterson is back to being himself.


On the rise: New Orleans Saints. They have rallied to win back-to-back games after an 0-4 start, and they have done it on the arm of Drew Brees, who leads the NFL in passing yards per game.

Free-falling: Arizona Cardinals. I knew it wouldn't last, not with Kevin Kolb under center and no offensive line or running game. The Cardinals have lost three straight games after a 4-0 start.

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