1. New England (1) - The undefeated Pats haven't played well in three of their last four victories. But not to worry, New England fans, an undefeated 16–0 regular season (weather permitting) is now a just foregone conclusion.
2. Indianapolis (3) - In case you haven't noticed, the defending Super Bowl champions have won five straight and are again poised to take on all comers when the playoffs begin at the start of the new year.
3. Green Bay (4) - An early Christmas gift to warm the frigid fans in Green Bay, Brett Favre — feeling more like 28 then 38 — is at the top of his game and appears poised to return for his 18th season.
4. Dallas (2) - Let's pay a little more attention to detail, boys, and remember what head coach Wade Phillips knows all to well; a 14–2 season, a first-round bye and home field advantage mean little when the bullets start flying in the playoff rounds.
5. Jacksonville (5) - So much for warm-weather clubs being ill-suited to play effectively in the frigid north late in the season. David Garrard, and not Tony Romo, may be the biggest quarterback surprise of the 2007 season.
6. Cleveland (9) - Would like to have seen last week's match played on a fast track, but the Browns — and my choice for the 2007 NFL Coach of the Year, Romeo Crennel — have a slim chance to capture the AFC North division!
7. Tampa Bay (12) - Defeating a club that was coming off a short week — along with the distractions caused by a coach who quit on his team — might not have been a great feat, but don't overlook the NFC South champions in next month's playoffs.
8. San Diego (10) - Don't look now boys and girls, the 2007 AFC West champions have won four straight and are playing their best football of the season. Like I said five weeks ago, put the ball into LT's hand and good things will happen.
9. Pittsburgh (6) - The Steelers picked the wrong time of the season to drop two straight contests, but with the Rams and Ravens remaining in the '07 season, it appears they will reclaim the AFC North division.
10. Minnesota (11) - Five straight and counting! An exciting offense and a very underrated defense has been the difference. The Redskins and Broncos on the road are not give-me games, but the Vikings are now playing with a whole lot of confidence.
Seahawks wide receiver Deion Branch
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
11. Seattle (7) - Games versus Baltimore and Atlanta should help the Seahawks regain their overall confidence, but it likely isn't going to help this one-dimensional offensive club's running game.
12. NY Giants (8) - Last week's loss to the Redskins makes this Sunday's contest on the road versus a dangerous Bills squad ever so critical — and probably will have a major bearing on the future of Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
13. Washington (14) - They sure were ugly football games, but the Redskins' victories over the Bears and Giants said a lot about the makeup of this football club. The next two games against the Vikings and Cowboys won't be easy, but don't look for the Skins to roll over and die.
14. Tennessee (15) - With the Jets and Colts remaining on the schedule and inconsistency at the QB position, the Titans have just a slim chance of making it to the playoff round. But they have clearly shown that coaching does make a difference in the NFL.
15. Houston (23) - With the Colts and Jaguars looming on the schedule, it is not likely the 7–7 Texans will win again this season. But the club has improved on both sides of the ball and may have the top quarterback combo in the league.
16. New Orleans (19) - The Saints are going to need to take care of business and look for help if they are to advance to the NFC playoff round as a wildcard. Quarterback Drew Brees and running back Aaron Stecker were outstanding in their victory over the Cardinals.
17. Buffalo (13) - The Bills hung in there defensively in near-blizzard conditions, but offensively were unable to mount any type of offensive continuity versus the Browns. The Bills' rookie contingent has proven to be the NFL's best.
18. Denver (16) - Soundly trounced last week by the Texans, and likely to finish 6–10 on the season, I still see light at the end of the tunnel for this young football club led by professional football's best young signal-caller.
19. Philadelphia (18) - Coming off their biggest victory of the season, the Eagles were officially eliminated from playoff consideration on Monday evening and have taken on the role of spoilers. Can't say enough great things about super running back Brian Westbrook.
20. Carolina (22) - Likely to finish 6–10 for the season, I still can't say enough good things about the job the coaching staff has done keeping this ship afloat. Management finding a competent backup quarterback this offseason is a must.
21. Arizona (17) - The Chicago Cubs of the NFL, the Cardinals were once again officially eliminated from the NFL playoff picture. Even worse is the fact that before being injured, franchise quarterback Matt Leinart was a major disappointment.
Sign of the times in Chicago.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
22. Chicago (21) - If the Bears are to return to the top of the NFC North, the work must begin immediately at the conclusion of the season. The good news is that over the past decade, the Bears have assembled one of the league's top personnel staffs.
23. Detroit (20) - After a great start, the Lions' season virtually disintegrated before our very eyes. Please Mr. Ford, put an end to the Matt Millen era; the biggest failure in the Motor City since the 1959 Edsel.
24. Cincinnati (24) - With the exception of quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receivers Johnson and Houshmandzadeh, this 2007 Bengals squad has underachieved in every area of the game. Expect heads to roll this offseason in "The Queen City."
25. Baltimore (25) - The low point in a disastrous 2007 season occurred with last week's overtime loss to the previously winless Dolphins. But any talk of replacing coach Brian Billick are totally without merit or foundation.
26. St. Louis(26) - My heart goes out this week to veteran offensive line coach Paul Boudreau (he should get combat pay) and to franchise quarterback Marc Bulger, who took a frightful beating yet refused to give up the ghost last week versus the Packers.
27. NY Jets (27) - Don't be surprised to see another Schottenheimer patrolling the sidelines next season for the Jets. Insiders report that owner Woody Johnson has not been pleased with the work of second-year coach Eric Mangini.
28. Oakland (29) - The Raiders would be well served to avoid any temptation they might have to give rookie quarterback JaMarcus Russell playing time in either of the two remaining games versus the Jaguars or Chargers.
29. Kansas City (28) - With games versus the Lions and Jets remaining in 2007, it's not inconceivable the Chiefs could end the season on the upswing. That being said, expect numerous changes to be made on both sides of the ball.
31. Atlanta (30) - When coaches address their squads at the start of training camp, the one word that dominates all others is "commitment." Commitment to one's teammates, to the expressed program, and to a united purpose. Thanks, Coach.
32. Miami (32) - Congratulations on the first victory of the season, Mr. Huizinga. But I think it is now time to either sell this one-time proud franchise or do some major housecleaning in South Florida.