The NFL season is heating up as the best reality show on television plays itself out in front of our eyes. Dak Prescott is still in at QB in Dallas, the Chiefs place Jamal Charles on the IR and Jay Cutler has returned for the Chicago Bears. It’s about this time that the playoff race starts to take shape and the real begins to separate from the fake contenders.

1. New England Patriots (7-1)
The Patriots have won four straight since the “Return of the Great Tom Brady.” This past weekend he threw for 315 yards and four touchdowns against the Buffalo Bills. For their exceptional play, New England gets to take the week off.

2. Dallas Cowboys (6-1)
Dak Prescott struggled early this week but he persevered to gain a 29-23 win in overtime over Philadelphia. Dez Bryant returned to the Cowboys the week to grab four catches, 113 yards and a touchdown. Next, Dallas travels to Cleveland to take on the 0-8 Browns.

3. Denver Broncos (6-2)
The Denver defense looked like it was back in Super Bowl form this past week against San Diego. Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers was hit 17 times, sacked four times and threw three interceptions. The Broncos will travel to Oakland this week to take on the Raiders.

4. Atlanta Falcons (5-3)
Atlanta was in another close battle this week, but this time they were on the winning end. Instead of a late game interception, Matt Ryan threw a game-winning touchdown to Mohammed Sanu. Ryan passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns in the 33-32 win, up next is a Thursday night game in Tampa Bay.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
Kansas City has won three games in a row. Alex Smith was in and out of the game after some blows to the head and running back Spencer Ware missed the second half with concussions. After defeating the Colts 30-14, their next opponent is the Jacksonville Jaguars.

6. Oakland Raiders (6-2)
The Raiders have invaded Florida! After defeating Jacksonville a couple of weeks ago and this past week they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-24 in overtime. David Carr passed for a record 513 yards and four TDs. Oakland’s offensive line will try and keep Carr standing up straight as they welcome the Denver Broncos.

7. Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1)
Seattle took a 20-25 loss in New Orleans after a Russell Wilson attempted game-winning pass landed Jermaine Kearse out of bounds. This is another let down after a 6-6 tie with Arizona last week. The Seahawks will depend on the Buffalo Bills traveling across the country to get a win.

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
Minnesota dropped a game to Chicago on Monday as QB Sam Bradford was sacked five times. The Vikings have suffered back to back losses and will need a win at home versus the Lions to avoid three in a row.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (4-3)
Carson Wentz played well but not well enough to win. The Eagles lost to the Cowboys 23-29 in OT. Philly has lost three of the four games and will have to try to get a win in New York as they take on the Giants.

10. Green Bay Packers (4-3)
Aaron Rogers was single-handedly keeping his team in the game against the Falcons but he came up short. A few of Rogers’ wide receivers got their first NFL touchdown this week. They will need to catch a few more if they are going to outscore the Indianapolis Colts.

In the next few weeks let’s follow a few of the storylines that should take shape, for example, will Denver or Oakland take over the AFC West and who will emerge as the cream of the crop in the NFC?

By Gordon Robinson