Quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons are the only undefeated team… (Curtis Compton / Atlanta…)
Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss which team they feel is the best in the NFL. Check back throughout the day for their responses and join the conversation by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
If you are looking for the next 1972 Miami Dolphins, you won’t find it. That type of team does not exist. Not this year, anyway.
Every team has flaws. Every team will have dips, valleys, slumps and losses. But you have to give the Falcons props. Their record says they are the best team in the NFL, and as Bill Parcells famously said, you are what your record says you are.
The Falcons didn’t get lucky six times. They are winning because Matt Ryan is playing as well as any quarterback in the NFL. And because they are averaging 28.5 points per game and allowing only 18.8 per game. They have shown the ability to take an opponent’s best shot, get up and keep coming.
The Falcons aren’t perfect. But they are the NFL’s best team today.
Omar Kelley, South Florida Sun Sentinel
The New York Giants reside on top of the NFL mountain wearing the crown until someone knocks the champions off the thrown.
The 49ers had their opportunity last Sunday and got blown out, 26-3, by Eli Manning’s road warriors.
The Giants (4-2) have nothing but playoff caliber teams left on the schedule, but that arduous road should only make Tom Coughlin’s team more battle-tested.
The Giants have the third-best offense in the NFL, and the defense (14 sacks and 11 interceptions) has the potential to play better when key contributors heal up.
Unlike the other teams in the NFC East, the Giants are resilient, and know how to finish out a season.
If the Giants can take care of business against Washington this Sunday, and Dallas the next weekend, they should be in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot.
[Updated at 1:23 p.m.:
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
At this point, the New York Giants are the best. We already know they play their best football in the second half of the season, but to come across the country and hold the 49ers to three points -- a San Francisco team that had outscored its last two opponents, 79-3 -- is really impressive.
Atlanta is undefeated and a very good team on both sides of the ball, but the Falcons nearly lost at home to a couple of one-win teams, Carolina and Oakland. In the crunch, I'd take Eli Manning over Matt Ryan.
Baltimore and Houston are the two best teams in the AFC, both both have lost key defensive fixtures.
There will be lots of ups and downs between now and December, because no team is far and away better than others, but the Giants are playing the best at the moment. Now, watch them lose to the Redskins.]
[Updated at 1:55 p.m.:
Aaron Wilson, The Baltimore Sun
The Houston Texans took a step backward, falling to the Green Bay Packers.
The Baltimore Ravens are extremely vulnerable on defense, allowing 441 rushing yards over the past two weeks and just lost middle linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb to season-ending injuries.
The best team in the NFL? It's hard to say, but I'm more comfortable going with the Atlanta Falcons, the pride of the NFC.
The Falcons are undefeated and have a complete team.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has engineered several crisp games already.
Roddy White and Julio Jones are a dangerous receiving tandem. Power back Michael Turner is solid except when he's getting arrested.
A stingy defense is led by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
With sharp general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith's leadership, the Falcons are built to succeed.]