1. Houston Texans
Last Game: W at New York Jets
Next Game: 10/14 vs Green Bay 8:20 on NBC
A lackluster win against the lowly Jets does little to take the shine on what is undoubtedly the best and most balanced team in the NFL. Behind the legs of Arian Foster, the arm of Matt Schaub, and the hands of Andre Johnson the offense is perhaps the most explosive in the league. Their defense is dominant and ready to jump on any mistake by the oppositions offense. Will the Monday night injury to Brian Cushing hurt the Texans or will their depth keep them on track?
2. Atlanta Falcons
Last Game: 24-27 W at Washington Redskins
Next Game: 10/14 vs Oakland 1:00 on CBS*
It's pretty simple: The only thing holding this team back is reputation. After five weeks they've shown themselves to be one of the elite teams in the league yet people still are not sure of what to make of the Atlanta Falcons. A history of late season failure by Matt Ryan and a lack of known names on the defensive front lead many to wonder of the staying power of the Dirty Birds but for now they're undefeated and look good in being so.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Last Game: 45-3 W vs Buffalo Bills
Next Game: 10/14 vs. New York Giants 4:25 on FOX*
How odd is it that when the record books are looked into Steve Young and Joe Montana aren't mentioned in several records? Improbable bust-to-boom Alex Smith continues to manage the game and the offense. The threat of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham have opened up the oppositions defense and given Frank Gore new life. Always strong and physical defense leaves little concern when Smith and Co. don't have the ball.
4. Chicago Bears
Last Game: 41-3 W at Jacksonville Jaguars
Next Game: 10/22 vs. Detroit Lions 8:30 on ESPN
Defense is the constant. Chicago has always had a solid defense. Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, Isreal Idonije, "Peanut" Tillman all provided sturdy depth and dependability even during the injured years and fall off of mainstay Brian Urlacher. The thing that held these teams back from being consistently good to great is the offense. A new offensive coordinator and new weapons in Alshon Jeffrey and old teammate Brandon Marshall have Jay Cutler slowly going back into the quarterback he can be which opens up room for Michael Bush and Matt Forte. Any consistency by Cutler and this is a dangerous, dangerous team.
5. Minnesota Vikings
Last Game: 30-7 W vs Tennessee Titans
Next Game: 10/14 at Washington Redskins 4:25 on FOX*
The improbable recovery of Adrian Peterson from a torn ACL gives the Vikings their theme for the 2012 season: Ahead of Schedule. A team that looked to be into full on rebuilding mode has seen Christian Ponder become a good compliment to Peterson. The versatile Percy Harvin is not only their leading receiver but an extremely dangerous kick returner. The defense has turned back the clock and resembles the defense that went to the 2009 season's NFC Championship Game.
Outsiders: Five on the Cusp
*Check local listings