1. Steelers (11-3): Last week #3. I had the idea to put the Steelers at number one late Sunday night, but because they get to write sports for a living Don Banks and Peter King of SI scooped me. Big Ben was the difference last weekend (controversial call aside). He was the main reason they won and the Ravens lost. He engineered a 92 yard game winning drive and Joe Flacco looked like a rookie, completing less than 50% and throwing two picks.
2. Panthers (11-3): Last week #4. I love their running game. I hate it when teams rely on the run just because the offense has no talent. This rushing attack is down right explosive.
3. Giants (11-3): Last week #1. Two losses in a row. Tisk, tisk. I refuse to believe that Burress' absence is the problem. Jacobs is the straw that stirs the drink as another NYC sports hero said. Run the ball, then you can go down field.
4. Titans (12-2): Last week #2. See what happens when you stop the running attack and make Kerry Collins try to beat you. Houston did it perfectly. I know Collins has made opponents pay at times this season, but I sure wouldn't fear him if I were the Steelers or Ravens (for example). I would be worried most of all by the prospect of Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch being out for two weeks or more. Without their D this team has jack squat.
5. Colts (10-4): Last week #5. Another double digit win season for Peyton and crew. They just keep finding ways to win. Like I said before, no one wants to face them in the playoffs. I wonder how much, if anything, will be on the line in the season finale vs. the Titans.
6. Dolphins (9-5): Last week #8. The teams on the rest of this list all control their own destiny. In other words, they don't need help to get in the tournament. They just need to win. I think it's completely underrated how much of a stabilizing force Chad Pennington has been for this team.
7. Ravens (9-5): Last week #6. They're still very much in the hunt even after the disappointing loss to Pittsburgh. We'll see how the young QB, Flacco, rebounds from the poor outing.
8. Cowboys (9-5): Last week #9. I wouldn't be surprised if this team won out and made it to the Super Bowl or lost their last two and completely imploded.
9. Buccaneers (9-5): Last week #7. They're reeling after two straight losses, and I'd love to put the Falcons here, but I can't. The Bucs are in a better situation with tie breakers.
10. Jets (9-5): Last week unranked. See above only switch Falcons with Patriots.
What the hell is up with...? Fairness. There are a number of teams who, in certain scenarios, could finish 11-5 and miss the playoffs, while the Cardinals could finish as 8-8 division winners and still get in. In my opinion, the divisions are too small. You only have to be better than 3 teams to get into the tournament. This will never happen, but you could keep the division structure to help with scheduling and still allow the 6 best teams from each conference in based completely on record and seed accordingly. The NFL would hate this, but in my system, the top two teams could come from the same division and both get byes. Oh well, a guy can dream.