Oliver's NFL rankings
This week | Last week | TEAM (Record) 1 | 1 | INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (12-0): Don't scribe the Colts into undefeated-season territory just yet. Indianapolis still must face the league's best second-place team (Jaguars), the NFC's best team (Seahawks) and a dangerous AFC team that can beat anybody, anywhere (Chargers). That said, the Colts have 11 consecutive weeks at No. 1. 2 | 3 | JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (9-3): The Jaguars became the first team this season to sweep a three-game away trip, and they have the defense (ranked third in the NFL) to carry a club now reliant on a second-string quarterback. 3 | 4 | SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (10-2): An eight-game winning streak and frontrunner status in the NFC for the Seahawks as they play the 49ers for the second time in four weeks this Sunday at Qwest Field in Seattle. 4 | 5 | CINCINNATI BENGALS (9-3): The Bengals have the AFC North locked up and should win the division in a couple of weeks. 5 | 6 | CHICAGO BEARS (9-3): The Bears have only scored more than 20 points in two games this season, but who needs points with that defense? It provides them on its own. 6 | 9 | CAROLINA PANTHERS (9-3): The Panthers are 8-1 in their last nine games. They can take a big step toward the NFC South crown at home against Tampa Bay this week. 7 | 2 | DENVER BRONCOS (9-3): In contrast to the Bears, the Broncos have been held to fewer than 20 points only once - and that was a long time ago in their season opener. 8 | 9 | SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (8-4): The point differential of the Chargers' four losses this season is just minus-12. 9 | 12 | KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (8-4): The Chiefs are 6-2 in their last 8 games and their offense is clicking again with Larry Johnson as the lead back. 10 | 9 | PITTSBURGH STEELERS (7-5): Strange to see a team with three consecutive losses still in the top 10, but it's still too soon to start counting out the Steelers, who have an advantageous remaining schedule. 11 | 13 | NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-5): The Patriots got their biggest rout of the year last Sunday: A 13-point win over the floundering Jets. It was their first win by more than a touchdown in 12 weeks. 12 | 15 | NEW YORK GIANTS (8-4): The Giants' record in regulation is 8-2-2. The Giants already have played eight games at Giants Stadium this year. 13 | 14 | TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (8-4): The Bucs' two losses against 2-10 teams (Jets and 49ers) will ultimately take away a NFC South division crown - and quite possibly a playoff berth. 14 | 8 | DALLAS COWBOYS (7-5): Each of the Cowboys' losses are by a touchdown or less. 15 | 18 | WASHINGTON REDSKINS (6-6): Their 3-0 start looks a lot more impressive now with wins over 10-2 Seattle and 9-3 Chicago. The Redskins still control their own destiny and the schedule favors a strong finish. 16 | 21 | MIAMI DOLPHINS (5-7): In their first three games, the Dolphins had wins against 9-3 Denver and 9-3 Carolina but had a loss to 2-10 NY Jets. If they somehow can get past San Diego on the road this week, their season finale at New England could mean something. 17 | 17 | MINNESOTA VIKINGS (7-5): How in the world is this team back in the hunt? I left them for dead after their 2-5 start. 18 | 11 | ATLANTA FALCONS (7-5): I'm not convinced that the Falcons are legit this year. Their best win this year is against 7-5 Minnesota and they lost to the 2-10 Packers at home. 19 | 24 | ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-8): The only team to win games in two countries this season. The receiving tandem of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald is becoming something special. 20 | 20 | CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-8): The Browns are the last team to defeat the Chicago Bears, but also are the only victim this season of the Houston Texans. 21 | 16 | BUFFALO BILLS (4-8): A 0-6 away record won't get the Bills anywhere - particularly when they give away 20-point fourth-quarter leads. 22 | 27 | BALTIMORE RAVENS (4-8): In one stretch this season, the Ravens played six consecutive games against top 10 competition. They were 1-5 during that stretch, with two losses by four points or fewer. 23 | 19 | PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (5-7): The Eagles are 1-5 in their last 6 games, but they haven't lost to a team with a losing record all season. But Monday's night's thrashing at home by Seattle says where this team is headed. 24 | 22 | OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-8): The Raiders have an opportunity to go win against AFC West competition on Christmas Eve at Denver. They've won only one divisional game since Norv Turner took over as coach last season, but that win came at Denver last year. 25 | 23 | DETROIT LIONS (4-8): The Lions are 1-5 in their last 6 games, and they didn't look any better under Dick Jauron last week than they did with Steve Mariucci at the helm. 26 | 25 | ST. LOUIS RAMS (5-7): The Rams are 3-6 in their last 9 games, and a late playoff run looks highly unlikely. 27 | 26 | TENNESSEE TITANS (3-9): The Titans will get an opportunity to clinch third place in the AFC South next week against the Texans. 28 | 28 | SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (2-10): The 49ers have the inside track to the #1 draft pick. They are the only double-digit loss team that still has to play three away games, beginning this week against Seattle, which has beaten San Francisco five consecutive times. 29 | 29 | GREEN BAY PACKERS (2-10): The Packers' point differential is only minus-3, which is better than the differentials of two 7-5 teams (Patriots and Vikings). 30 | 30 | NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (3-9): The never-ending saga of the Saints will be over in four weeks, much to the relief of everyone involved with that team. 31 | 31 | NEW YORK JETS (2-10): Their current seven-game losing streak is the longest in the NFL. They are 2-0 vs. Florida teams this season and 0-10 against the rest of the league. 32 | 32 | HOUSTON TEXANS (1-11): The Texans have the opportunity to finish the most games ever behind a first-place finisher: 15. Oliver Kimokeo is a freelance writer based in San Jose, Calif.
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