1. Steelers (8-3-0)
While the Steelers may be 3-3 in their last 6, they have yet to lose back to back games this season. It’s a team filled with unheralded stars, and a collection of player who may have not gotten their due in previous season but are really shining. Speaking of shining, Muzammil Rizvi aka Shiny Face has taken his game to the next level this year, and will be in contention for DPOY, Most Improved and possibly putting himself in the conversation for MVP. The Steelers have 3 players on their team that can make a case for MVP as Ali Jessa and Alla Al-Salem have also led the charge for the team at various points in the season. The Steelers are second in points scored (only 2 points away from leading the league), and have been the best defense in the league by a significant margin. Zolfakar Al-Mousawy has also had a solid campaign, and will be in contention for the Rookie of the Year. The Steelers still have some work to do to lock up the #1 seed, but they’re the odds on favourite to win the Regular Season trophy.
2. Giants (5-6-0)
The Giants are the hottest team in the league, and after an abysmal start, they have turned around their fortunes and firmly entrenched themselves in a battle for the top 2 spots in the league. They will have their work cut out for them after losing Imran Ebrahim for the season. The Giants turned around their season relying on their individual talent, and believing that they can match-up with any other team 1-on-1. It has worked out beautifully for them as they are now a formidable opponent. Mujtaba Abidi continues to be threat in the end zone, and all of the other Giants have chipped in offensively, and more importantly, defensively. The Giants will hope that their replacement player integrates well with the team and they can continue their success into the last-third of the season.
3. Bengals (5-4-2)
The Bengals have looked as good as any team in the league at times, however with their QB out for the remainder of the season; this presents a serious challenge. With no natural QB on the roster, the Bengals may have to rely on Danial Ali to lead the charge. This takes away a weapon on offense, but Hisham’s replacement is no slouch (though he did look rusty in Week 1). The Bengals have a vast number of weapons on offense, and their defense stacks up against any of the other teams in the league. However, their Achilles heel may be going against man defense. The Bengals are one of the slowest teams in the league, and they were held in check when the Giants played man defense against them. Even with that, the Bengals remain in second place flip-flopping with the Raiders in recent weeks.
4. Patriots (3-5-3)
There’s good news and bad news for the Patriots. The good news is, they don’t lose many games (tied for third fewest); the bad news is they don’t win many games either (tied for fewest). They’re mastering the art of a tie, with 3 ties so far this season. The Patriots are an interesting team as they`ve gone through a major change with their offense in installing Ali Haroon as a quarterback once again. With Ali Haroon as the starting QB, the Patriots are 2-1-2, with another loss coming when Ali Merali played QB due to injury woes. Make no mistake, this is a championship caliber team – whether they fulfill on that promise, remains to be seen. The key for the Patriots is getting healthy, and shoring up the defense. We have seen glimpses of what it can be when they almost shut-out the Steelers, but since then, they’ve given up 42, 49 & 49 points.
The Raiders haven’t looked great since the injury to their QB, and they haven’t had their full team only once this season. If that wasn’t bad enough, they’ll be missing ROY-candidate Taqi Baig over the next couple of weeks. The Raiders continue to lead the league in scoring, and they may have to rely on out-scoring their opponents to win. That strategy may work in the regular season, but it will not work in the post-season. The Raiders have 4 games to fix their defense, or they’ll be looking at an early exit. The Radiers zone defense is like swiss cheese; lots of holes and not particularly good.
6. Cardinals (3-6-2)
The Cardinals started the season 2-0, and were looking like a team that would challenge the Steelers atop the standings. But with poor attendance, and an injury to Said Samater, Cardinals went on to lose 5 of their next 6 games. They have played a little better of late, but they’re going to have to find their early season magic to move up the Power Rankings. Omar Khamissa is leading the league in flag-grabs once again, and Nadeem Kassam (Most Improved Player candidate) is tied for the league lead in TDs. The Cardinals can surprise a lot of teams, and win the championship, but it won’t happen if their players don’t show up and build a rapport with their QB on the offensive end. Defensively, the Cardinals switched to Man Defense last game, and it’ll be interesting to see if they continue with that method moving forward.