The NFL picture has been as foggy as Sunday night's Falcons-Patriots game, which looked like it was being played in a bowl of soup.
But as we come to the end of October, the usual suspects are starting to flex their muscle and beginning to look like teams that will be a factor come January.
Those teams are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. At points this season, they've all suffered through ugly losses and showed major flaws, but on Sunday they showed that they might be putting that behind and readying to make a strong push for more.
The Steelers dominated the Cincinnati Bengals at home in the second half to get to 5-2 on the season and grab a stronghold in the AFC North. The Seahawks came off their bye in usual fashion, with a dominant win against the Giants on the road. The Patriots handled the Falcons in a Super Bowl rematch at home behind a dominant performance by the defense, a unit that came in ranked 32nd in the league.
Those three teams are moving up this week in the Power Rankings and could be on the verge of being No. 1 in a few weeks.
Good teams cure their ills. These are three teams that have showed their flaws and now might be fixing them.
If they all do, all three will be deep playoff teams. Didn't we expect it, even when they struggled early?
Here they come.
|Carson Wentz has three straight games with at least three touchdown passes. The loss of left tackle Jason Peters with a leg injury will hurt in a big way.||1||9-1-0|
|If the defense plays the way it did against the Falcons, they will be the AFC's best team. But can it stay that way?||1||6-5-0|
|They are getting back to being the team we expected to see. The defense impressed against the Bengals.||2||3-7-0|
|They have major defensive issues that are starting to show up more and more. They really miss safety Eric Berry.||3||8-2-0|
|Do you believe yet? They head to their bye at 5-2 and in first place? They are getting better on defense, too.||5||3-7-0|
|Here come the Seahawks. They came off their bye and easily dominated the Giants. They have a tougher opponent with the Texans traveling to Seattle this week.||3||6-4-0|
|They've ripped off four consecutive victories to take over first place in the division. The defense has taken major steps forward.||4||4-7-0|
|It's all about the defense for the Vikings, but it might be a unit good enough to carry them to a playoff berth. They are the class of the NFC North now.||--||9-2-0|
|They've won three straight games to get to 4-2 and become a factor in the division race. But this week, with Jay Cutler hurt, they will play the Ravens with Matt Moore at quarterback.||4||7-3-0|
|Sean McDermott has done a great job with this team. Remember all that tanking talk? Yeah, right.||6||8-3-0|
|The offense just isn't good right now. It's easy to point the finger at Steve Sarkisian, but it's more than that.||4||5-6-0|
|They dominated the 49ers and the focus will be on the offense from that game, but the defense had five sacks. The pass rush might be starting to round into shape.||5||8-3-0|
|They come off the bye hoping that Deshaun Watson stays as hot as he was before it, but he faces a tough road challenge at Seattle. The big question now is whether the injury-plagued defense can hold up.||5||1-8-1|
|They survived against the Browns to win in overtime, but they haven't played well in a few weeks. There are just too many issues right now.||12||7-3-0|
|They head to the bye with the most-dominant defense in the league. They are on pace to set a league record for sacks in a season.||4||3-7-0|
|They are a much different team without Aaron Rodgers. But they have to let Brett Hundley do more -- or else.||4||4-7-0|
|That was a horrible showing at Chicago. The offensive line is woeful as they head to a survival test at Tampa Bay this week.||13||3-8-0|
|They are basically three games behind the Eagles now heading into another division game with rival Dallas. They weren't good enough on offense against Philly.||12||6-5-0|
|Their offense is offensive. They have to get more out of it or they can forget about the playoffs. They face a pivotal division game with the Chiefs.||5||3-7-0|
|The bye came at a good team for a banged-up team, but now they face a tough home challenge against the Steelers.||5||4-7-0|
|Watch out for the Chargers. They have won three consecutive games to get back in the AFC West race. The defense was suffocating against Denver.||6||5-5-0|
|It's early, but that felt like a season-saving victory last week against the Chiefs. The defense still isn't good enough.||7||3-7-0|
|It's time to give the Chicago defense some props. They dominated the Panthers last week to get to 3-4.||1||3-8-0|
|They compete each week, which is a good sign. But two consecutive losses has them at 3-4. It's still better than being winless, which many expected.||4||6-4-0|
|With Carson Palmer out for possibly the rest of the season with a broken arm, they are done. The question now is whether Palmer could be done for good.||4||4-7-0|
|At 2-4, they need a win in the worst way. They have a must-win against Carolina this week.||3||5-5-0|
|They play the Dolphins Thursday with an offense that is so limited. It's hard to watch at times.||3||7-3-0|
|At 2-4, their chances to win the division are fading fast. The offense didn't do much of anything in the second half against the Steelers.||3||6-4-0|
|This season is going bad quickly. Will we even see Andrew Luck this season? Should we?||1||4-6-1|
|By losing to the Seahawks, the Giants are basically playing for next year. They just don't have enough on offense.||--||7-4-0|
|The move to C.J. Beathard didn't pay off at all. But the defense took a major step back against Dallas.||--||6-4-0|
|All the quarterback shuffling isn't good for this team. They need to settle on somebody. Losing Joe Thomas is a major hit.||--||3-7-0|