1. New England Patriots. The Patriots remain #1 after a rather lackluster home victory over the Green Bay Packers, who played a spirited game without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, 31-27. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the MVP of the National Football League through 14 games, and if he continues to play this well (no interception in his last 6 games, 17 touchdowns) they will be difficult to defeat. The Patriots own quality victories over the Bears, Colts, Jets, Packers, Ravens, and Steelers. The Patriots travel to Buffalo to play the Bills Sunday.
2. Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons defeated the Seattle Seahawks 34-18, to remain tops in the NFC. The Falcons have several quality victories this season over the Saints, Ravens, Packers and twice over the Buccaneers. Third-year quarterback Matt Ryan and Michael Turner are having another good year, and the veteran leadership of Tony Gonzalez has the Falcons possibly making a deep playoff run, one that could lead to the Super Bowl. The Falcons host the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers lost a tough game in which they had a chance to win on the final possession to the New York Jets, 22-17. The injury to Troy Polamalu should have Steelers fans worried, as the defense just isn’t the same without him against the run or against the pass. The Steelers have given up the fewest points in the National Football League, with 220. The Steelers host the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, a team with two wins.
4.Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens defeated the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints 30-24, to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for first place in the division. Joe Flacco has the offense looking at a deep playoff run and possibly a Super Bowl appearance. The Baltimore defense remains among the best in the AFC, ranking second in points allowed. The Ravens travel to Cleveland to play the Browns on Sunday.
5. Chicago Bears. The Bears not only destroyed the Minnesota Vikings in the first outdoor game in Minnesota in 24 years, 40-14, they also knocked future Hall of Famer Brett Favre out of the game. They own the second-stingiest defensive in the National Football Conference and, with the cold weather in that area, home-field advantage will be crucial in making a Super Bowl run. Chicago has sole possession of first place in the NFC North. The Bears host the New York Jets in a battle of inter-Conference powerhouses Sunday.
6. The Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles pulled off a historic comeback against the New York Giants on the road after being down 31-10 with under 8 minutes to play. They would explode for 28 unanswered points, including 94 rushing yards for Michael Vick and a punt return by DeSean Jackson. If Michael Vick stays healthy, the Eagles will have a legitimate run at a Super Bowl appearance with their explosive offensive and underrated defense. The Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football.
7.New York Jets. The Jets ended their two-game losing streak with an impressive road victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 22-17. (https://razzandjazzsports.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/jets-hold-on-to-defeat-steelers-22-17-by-derrel-jazz-johnson/.) The running game appeared to get back on track, and Sanchez played a near flawless game. The Jets, 6-1 on the road, face the Chicago Bears Sunday in one of the week’s top games.
8. New Orleans Saints. The Saints had a tough road loss to the Baltimore Ravens, 30-24, to end their six-game winning streak. Reggie Bush still does not look like he is 100%, but when he is acclimated more with the offensive, it will again be one of the most explosive in the league. The Saints travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons in a matchup of two of the National Football Conference’s best.
9.The New York Giants. The Giants lost a heartbreaking game to their division rival Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth quarter after giving up 28 points. The Giants continue to be a hard team to figure out, one of the team’s elite when playing at their best, but a team that commits far too many turnovers when playing their worst. The Giants and Green Bay Packers battle at Lambeau Field in a game that may determine playoff positioning.
10. Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs defeated the St. Louis Rams 27-13 in St. Louis Sunday. The Chiefs are 6-0 at home, which favors them in the last two weeks, as they host the Tennessee Titans Sunday. Matt Cassel , who was 15-29 with 184 yards, returned from injury Sunday. With a veteran coaching staff, this will be a difficult team to face in the playoffs.