The top two teams remain the same this week with both the Patriots and Falcons taking care of business as usual. The Patriots did have a bit of a scare against the Packers Sunday night, but their defense came up with the big plays when they needed to and came away with the four-point victory. Two key match ups of teams in the top-10 (No. 3 Saints at No. 6 Ravens and No. 5 Eagles at No. 7 Giants) shook the top of the rankings up a bit. The Ravens survived a late surge by the Drew Brees and the Saints and the Giants collapsed in the fourth quarter after leading the Eagles by 21 points with just over seven minutes to go. The Colts overtook the Jaguars at the top of the AFC South after a 34-24 win and should be able to win out and earn yet another playoff berth.
This week’s key match ups include the No. 6 Jets at the No. 9 Bears, the No. 11 Giants at the No. 12 Packers and the game of the week, the No. 5 Saints at the No. 2 Falcons.
1. New England Patriots
The Patriots haven’t turned the ball over in six straight games. As if they weren’t already hard enough to beat.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan gets closer to being an elite quarterback every time he steps on the field. He and the Falcons will try to make it nine wins in a row when they face the Saints this Monday night.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
The comeback against the Giants was unbelievable, starting with Michael Vick’s legs and ending with DeSean Jackson’s. The NFC East is all but theirs.
4. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens avoided blowing their ninth fourth-quarter lead of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
5. New Orleans Saints
The division may be out of reach, but don’t count out the defending champs as a wild card.
6. New York Jets
It’s amazing what happens when Mark Sanchez plays within his means and doesn’t turn the ball over.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
Troy Polamalu, not Big Ben, is the Steelers’ most important player.
8. San Diego Chargers
They have outscored their opponents 65-7 in their past two games. They need to win out on the road against Cincinnati and Denver to have a chance at sneaking in the playoffs.
9. Chicago Bears
I’m still not buying it.
10. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts need to win in Oakland this Sunday to keep pace in the playoff race. That just sounds weird.
11. New York Giants
Matt Dodge still has a job, but Tom Coughlin may not be as lucky if the Giants don’t make the playoffs.
12. Green Bay Packers
I take back what I said last week. The Packers aren’t completely done if Aaron Rodgers is out for any length of time. They just better make sure they don’t need Matt Flynn to administer a game-winning drive.
13. Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Cassel’s toughness may lead the Chiefs right into the playoffs.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags need to win out and hope the Colts trip up against the Raiders or Titans.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you lose to the Lions at home when you’re postseason life depends on it, you don’t deserve to be in the playoffs anyway.
16. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have a chance to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2002.
17. Dallas Cowboys
It will be interesting to see if Jason Garrett’s body of work will be enough to convince Jerry Jones to keep him around next season and beyond.
18. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins haven’t won two games in a row since the first two weeks of the season.
19. St. Louis Rams
If Sam Bradford can lead his troops to wins at home against the 49ers and on the road against the Seahawks, he’ll find himself in the playoffs.
20. Tennessee Titans
The Titans are the only team in the NFL with a losing record and a positive point differential.
21. Buffalo Bills
I find myself rooting for this team more and more every week and I’m not really sure why.
22. Cleveland Browns
How can the Browns beat both the Saints and Patriots by double digits and lose consecutive games to two-win teams?
23. Houston Texans
Since shutting out the Titans back on Nov. 28, the Texans have allowed 99 points in their past three games.
24. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have been beaten by double digits in all eight of their losses this season.
25. San Francisco 49ers
Yes, the 49ers are still mathematically alive to win the NFC West.
26. Detroit Lions
The Lions are now 1-26 in their last 27 road games.
27. Minnesota Vikings
Just give it up already, Brett.
28. Washington Redskins
Who would’ve thought Rex Grossman would throw four touchdown passes and the Redskins would still lose?
29. Cincinnati Bengals
T.O. is reportedly done in Cincinnati after this season. Anyone surprised?
30. Carolina Panthers
Jimmy Clausen got his first win as a starting quarterback last Sunday against the Cardinals. He better enjoy because I’m not sure how many more opportunities he’s going to have.
31. Denver Broncos
Well, at least Tim Tebow is getting some playing time.
32. Arizona Cardinals
How did they get this bad this fast?
Submitted by Steve Giles