Bayern have a four-point advantage over Freiburg in second, while Borussia Dortmund are down in sixth after some poor results before the World Cup break.
Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leizpig both started the season slowly, yet each found their groove prior to the hiatus with Leverkusen winning three straight matches.
Schalke are rooted to the foot of the Bundesliga table with nine points from 15 matches.
It is tight in the bottom half of the table other than that, however, with only six points separating Mainz in 10th from Bochum in 17th.
Without Bayern Munich: RB Leipzig
Since Domenico Todesco was replaced by Marco Rose, no team has accumulated more points than RB Leipzig.
Die Roten Bullen won their last four games before the break, including impressive victories over Bayer Leverkusen and Freiburg.
Christopher Nkunku’s injury is a concern, but Leipzig are more than a one-man team under Rose.
For the season, their +0.74 expected goal difference per 90 is considerably better than any team other than Bayern.
Top Four: Eintracht Frankfurt
Eintracht Frankfurt finished 11th last season.
This term, they are up in fourth, and only Bayern Munich have scored more Bundesliga goals. Just Bayern and Leipzig can boast a better expected goal difference.
Die Adler have not finished in the top four since 2004-05, but this is a great opportunity to end that streak. Their defence has done a good job at preventing opponent chances, and their attack has been clinical.
With Dortmund struggling and Union Berlin quickly dropping down the table, there is an opening for Eintracht if they can maintain their standards in the second half of the season.
Very few of their players were in action in Qatar, which could be advantage, too.
Top Six: Bayer Leverkusen
Replacing Gerardo Seoane with Xabi Alonso appears to have worked for Bayer Leverkusen.
It hasn’t been a perfect start for Alonso, but there were signs of an upwards trajectory with a 5-0 win over Union Berlin being followed by victories against Koln and Stuttgart.
Leverkusen are only mid-table in the expected goals standings, which aligns with their 18 points from 15 matches.
This squad, however, is not much different from the group which finished third last season. If anything, there is room for growth under Alonso with such a young squad, including summer addition Callum Hudson-Odoi from Chelsea.
Injuries have been a problem.
Patrik Schick has made only 10 league starts and scored just twice. If they can keep their key players fit, though, Leverkusen are talented enough to force their way up the table. They are only seven points off sixth.
Bochum punched above their weight last season. They came crashing down to earth in 2022-23, with seven points from their first 13 league matches.
Consecutive wins before the World Cup were a boost, but they still have by far the worst expected goal difference per 90 at -1.13. The next worst is -0.71.
There was considerable turnover in the offseason, including the departure of Armel Bella-Kotchap to Southampton.
Thomas Letsch has improved results, but it is still a big ask for Bochum to avoid the drop with this squad.
Top Goalscorer: Marcus Thuram
The race to win the Torjägerkanone is the most open it has been in years thanks to Robert Lewandowski departing for Barcelona.
Christopher Nkunku leads the way with 12 goals, but the Frenchman could be set for a prolonged spell on the sidelines after injuring his knee with France.
Marcus Thuram is joint-second with World Cup cult hero Niclas Füllkrug. Thuram also has the league lead in expected goals, with his 9.4 putting him 1.7 clear of Füllkrug.
Borussia Monchengladbach are better going forward than they are defensively.
This is already a joint-career high for Thuram in league goals, but he’s still a serious contender to finish as top goalscorer. Prior to Lewandowski’s prolific scoring, getting to around 20 was enough to be in the mix in most seasons.
If Thuram matches his productivity from before the World Cup in the second phase of the season, he has a real chance.
Top Goalscorer: Serge Gnabry
With eight goals thus far, Serge Gnabry is four behind Nkunku and trails Thuram by two.
Gnabry is already eighth in shots per match and ninth in total expected goals, and there is potential for the Germany international to climb those categories if Sadio Mane misses an extended period.
Bayern are bound to have several more emphatic victories.
They have already scored 17 more goals than anyone else. Rotation from Julian Nagelsmann if Bayern build a comfortable lead at the top is the biggest threat to Gnabry’s candidacy.
All odds are subject to change