Seahawks hold on to top spot with Game of the Year on deck
1. Seahawks (10-1): Bye week drama in Seattle, as cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmound are both facing season-ending suspensions due to PEDs. Thurmound should be back for the playoffs, Browner could be done for the year. Huge loss there, but the Seahawks are on a mission. We still like them, just take the over.
2. Saints (9-2): Is New Orleans developing a legit running game? Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram are finding holes, albeit against some bad defenses. Monday night’s showdown in Seattle (see above) is the Game of the Year in the NFC.
3. Panthers (8-3): OK, start giving Cam Newton some MVP votes. The men in teal are never out of a game when No. 1 puts the cape on, and he’s been doing it a lot lately.
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4. Broncos (9-2): Just when you thought you could trust Peyton Manning in a big game, he ran into Bill Belichick. Sure, his teammates made some bone-headed plays, but the great ones find ways to close out games.
5. Patriots (8-3): Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski are emerging for the Pats, just like Deion Branch and Troy Brown back in the day. Plug and play, Pats.
6. 49ers (7-4): Aldon Smith is back — two sacks vs. Washington — and the 49ers’ defense makes them a perennial contender, even when Colin Kaepernick is struggling.
7. Chiefs (9-2): Andy Reid better head back to the BBQ pit and find some answers – especially if Justin Houston and Tamba Hali – their two best pass-rushers — miss any extended period of time.
8. Colts (7-4): We are anxious to see if Indy got bested by a former coach that knew them very well, or if this lack of a run game is too much to overcome.
9. Bengals (7-4): New Orleans-Seattle is this week’s main event, but Cincy-San Diego is a very nice undercard. These two teams can make noise when they want to.
10. Cardinals (7-4): Carson Palmer appears to have found the Fountain of Youth (or Bruce Arians) and Arizona keeps rising up the charts, like a Lady Gaga club banger.
11. Eagles (6-5): This should be the toughest test Nick Foles gets the rest of the season. If he looks good in this one, the Birds have their guy.
12. Lions (6-5): Does anyone want to win the NFC North?It certainly doesn’t look that way. Matthew Stafford needs to cut down his interceptions (12).
13. Chargers (5-6): Philip Rivers loves the spotlight. Four of San Diego’s five wins have come against potential playoff teams (Eagles, Cowboys, Chiefs, Colts).
14. Cowboys (6-5): Tony Romo is clutch. No, really, Tony Romo is clutch. His 102.9 passer rating in the fourth quarter is the highest of all-time. All-time.
15. Bears (6-5): Josh McCown had been playing great football, but you’re just not going to win many games in the NFL when he drops back to throw 47 times.
16. Ravens (5-6): Ray Rice fell back down to Earth. Still, Baltimore’s defense turned in an old school Ray Lewis style performance — thanks Geno Smith — and got the win.
17. Titans (5-6): Twelve weeks in and we still can’t tell if it’s all smoke and mirrors with Tennessee. We do know this: The Titans are very much alive and well in the AFC.
18. Steelers (5-6): Who’s washed up now? Ben Roethlisberger has six touchdowns and no picks — and a crucial pooch punt — in the last two games. Here come the Steelers.
19. Rams (5-6): Break up the Rams. They have 80 points in their past two games, both wins. Can we just send the entire NFC West division to the postseason?
20. Packers (5-5-1): Somehow the Pack is hanging in. If they can eke out a win in Detroit on Thanksgiving and get Aaron Rodgers back next week, we might take them off life support.
21. Dolphins (5-6): Joe Philbin’s team is consistently streaky. A prime example has been rookie defensive end Dion Jordan, who keeps letting quarterbacks escape.
22. Jets (5-6): We honestly felt bad for Geno Smith. The way Dan Dierdorf was ripping him, justifiably so, you may have thought he was a first-round pick.
23. Giants (4-7): It was fun while it lasted Big Blue. The winning streak is over, and so is the soft part of their schedule. Coincidence? I think not.
24. Raiders (4-7): All we could think about while watching the end of the Raiders-Titans game was how great Tim Brown looked in that uniform. Wonder what he’s up to these days?
25. Bills (4-7): As long as C.J. Spiller is on the roster, the Bills are at least mildly entertaining to watch.
Best of the worst: 26. Browns (4-7); 27. Buccaneers (3-8); 28. Redskins (3-8); 29. Vikings (2-8-1); 30. Jaguars (2-9); 31.Texans (2-9); 32. Falcons (2-9).