You stay on top until someone knocks you down. Through six weeks, no one — although it’s come down to the wire a few times — has been able to dethrone Atlanta. They are a perfect 6-0 and enjoying a bye week party. Meanwhile, those hard-luck Browns crept out of the basement after winning the Battle for Ohio. Kansas City, come on down …
1. Falcons (6-0): Where are all the haters now? After six weeks, Atlanta is the only undefeated team in football. They are sound in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams, including one of the most clutch kickers (Matt Bryant) around. They’ve been our No. 1 all season, not changing.
2. Texans (5-1): The rest of the league should be sending Green Bay gift baskets after laying out the blueprint for beating Houston. Held to 90 yards rushing, defense limited to two sacks.
3. Ravens (5-1): Move up a spot after gutting out tough win. Bigger picture isn’t so cheery, not at all, after losing defensive studs Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the season.
4. NY Giants (4-2): That was as dominating a win as you can get in the National Football League. Rookie RB David Wilson gaining more trust, could be new weapon.
5. 49ers (4-2): For the first time in a long time Alex Smith made too many mistakes. Credit New York’s game plan or blame Smith. Either way, Niners finally have some doubters.
6. Bears (4-1): Jump up on their bye week because, well, the teams ahead of them all lost. And kudos to Brian Urlacher for telling everyone to back off Jay Cutler. Someone does like him.
7. Seahawks (4-2): If they can get quarterback play like that from Russell Wilson every week, watch out. Already own NFL’s top-rated defense — and starting to really, really believe.
8. Vikings (4-2): They aren’t going to win many games when Christian Ponder drops back to throw 52 times. Not a knock on him, that’s just the way it is.
9. Packers (3-3): This was the Aaron Rodgers, the reigning MVP version, that we all expected to see in 2012. Question is, will he poke his head out again next week?
10. Patriots (3-3): Even Tom Brady is human — as shocking as that is to say and write. That’s three losses by two points or fewer this season from the NFL’s best offense.
11. Cardinals (4-2): The QB carousel is back. Kevin Kolb is hurt (ribs, chest) and John Skelton is in. No mater, no excuse for losing to Buffalo at home.
12. Eagles (3-3): The Todd Bowles era begins after two straight fourth-quarter collapses and very questionable play-calling on both sides of the ball. These next 10 games will decide Andy Reid’s future. No, really, they will.
13. Broncos (3-3): Their dramatic win — from 24 back, the fourth-largest comeback in regular-season history is the ‘Oh Shit’ moment we’ve been waiting for. Peyton Manning senses blood in the water.
14. Redskins (3-3): One small “Landover Leap” for man, one giant “Landover Leap” for Washington-kind. RG3 may be bigger than Obama in a few weeks.
15. NY Jets (3-3): Maybe Rex Ryan can “ground-and-pound” his way to the playoffs after all — in spite of the Sanchez-Tebow circus, despite not having Revis Island.
16. Bengals (3-3): Disturbing trend, losing second straight vs. team they should have demolished. It’s good Bengals vs. bad Bengals rest of the way.
17. Chargers (3-3): We should drop them lower, but we’ll trust Philip Rivers to clean up this mess. If not, Norv Turner might not last the season.
18. Dolphins (3-3): Been on this bandwagon all along, keep rising up. When Ryan Tannehill doesn’t turn it over — and he’s improving — Miami can play with almost anyone.
19. Rams (3-3): Haven’t lost back-to-back games all year, but tough stretch ahead (vs. Green Bay, then vs. New England, vs. San Francisco).
20. Steelers (2-3): Different team without Troy Polamalu in there and he’s been ruled out again for must-win AFC North battle in Cincy.
21. Cowboys (2-3): Best showing of season resulted in loss. Now, some are saying that someone besides Jason Garrett should be dialing up the plays.
22. Bills (3-3): Did you know Buffalo has the fifth-best rushing attack in football? Averaging 147.7 yards per game behind CJ Spiller.
23. Lions (2-3): Won a game they had no business winning. Not going anywhere until they clean up all the bad penalties.
24. Colts (2-3): Andrew Luck on pace to throw for 4,762 yards, which would shatter the mark set by Cam Newton in 2011 (4,051).
25. Saints (1-4): Jonathan Vilma is trying his hardest (bounties and Goodell be damned) to get on the field Sunday. Would provide emotional edge to team on the brink.
26. Buccaneers (2-3): We’re not going to put too much stock in a crushing victory over hapless Kansas City. Ronde Barber is an ageless wonder, though.
27. Titans (2-4): Keep feeding Chris Johnson. As frustrating as he’s been these past two seasons, he’s your only choice.
28. Jaguars (1-4): Still think Jags are a train wreck. However, we won’t drop them coming off a bye. Maybe their receivers got healthy.
29. Panthers (1-4): Cam Newton is pressing (when he’s awake). Hope he had a nice vacation.
30. Raiders (1-4): Clean up the penalties. It’s not too late, with games against Jacksonville, Kansas City, Tampa Bay looming.
31. Browns (1-4): First road win since opening weekend 2011 deserves a climb out of the cellar.
32. Chiefs (1-5): The fans wanted Brady Quinn. Be careful what you wish for.