1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: By a LOT. Save yourself the embarrassment of arguing. Have some dignity. C’mon, man, you’re better than that.
2. ATLANTA FALCONS: 11-2 and straight-up balanced. They execute more consistently in all three phases than any team in the league.
3. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: They’re back, and they’re dangerous. Those turnovers and big plays that the defense created last year were the difference between the Saints and everybody else, and they’re coming in bunches all of a sudden.
4. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Their winning culture pulls them through more often than not. But the offense right now leaves much to be desired.
5. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: When they put it all together, they’re unstoppable, but the injuries are piling up on defense.
6. NEW YORK GIANTS: Yes, Eli turns it over too much. But Brandon Jacobs’ resurgence and the defense have them looking like a team built for January.
7. BALTIMORE RAVENS: In immortal the words of John Kreese: “FINISH HIM!” Here’s a question: Question: What do you have when you have zero 300-yard passing games and one 150-yard rushing game as an offensive unit? Answer: nothing special.
8. NEW YORK JETS: That Miami team is really good at times, but there can be no ignoring the Jets’ self-inflicted wounds. Still, as bad as the offense was, they win that game if Santonio Holmes simply catches a pass at which my three year old would have a fighting chance. But you better show me something against the Steelers this week.
9. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: That was the Charger team that beats most teams in the league more often than not. It would be nice if they showed up every week.
10. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Losing Matt Cassel was the biggest problem, but far from the only one.
11. GREEN BAY PACKERS: With the parade of injuries, nobody has had more of a roller coaster season in 2010, and if Aaron Rodgers isn’t in the game they’re more like 21 than 11.
12. CHICAGO BEARS: Uh-huh.
13. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: I’m not sure they deserved that win, but they got it, and that’s what counts.
14. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Maurice Jones-Drew is an easy top 5 MVP candidate.
15. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: It’s no gimme against the Jags this week, but it’d be a surprise if #18 and friends didn’t get it done.
16. HOUSTON TEXANS: Far too many of their games are like Chargers seasons played in 60 minutes. They dig a giant hole at the outset and spend the remainder of it digging out.
17. OAKLAND RAIDERS: Offensive explosion and defensive implosion in Jacksonville. When they put it together, they’re tough.
18. MIAMI DOLPHINS: The defense can be stifling. But so can the offense.
19. DALLAS COWBOYS: They’re playing much better ball. Kudos to Jason Garret.
20. ST. LOUIS RAMS: Overmatched in New Orleans. Nothing to be ashamed of for a team that has already long since exceeded expectations.
21. CLEVELAND BROWNS: A frequent lack of offensive imagination or adaptation is the strongest argument against a continuation of the Mangini Era in 2011.
22. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: The division title is in reach. That’s all I got.
23. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: In the words of Porky Pig: That’s All, Folks.
24. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Somehow, they are still in the division title race. This bothers me. Immensely.
25. TENNESSEE TITANS: Finnegan vs. Johnson Redux this weekend!
26. BUFFALO BILLS: They beat the Browns but didn’t look any better than the Browns in doing it.
27. DETROIT LIONS: I think that game said more about the current state of the Packers than anything else.
28. ARIZONA CARDINALS: The John Skelton Era begins. Whatever that means.
29. WASHINGTON REDSKINS: I’ll just repeat last week’s comment: Circus. Three rings.
30. CINCINNATI BENGALS: 81 & 85 finally blew their mutual gasket this week on their TV show, just in time for the Battle of Ohio.
31. CAROLINA PANTHERS: At least Panthers fans saw this coming.
32. DENVER BRONCOS: Really? I mean…REALLY? If only for the novelty of it. Pretty please. It’s Tebow Time.