This week, the rankings will be centered on those teams which are still alive in the playoff chase.
RAVENS: As evidenced by their win over Pittsburgh, the Ravens are still playing for the first week bye in the playoffs. Woe be to Buffalo this week (or any week during the Winter season).
CHARGERS: As if the Chargers don't have enough offensive weapons already, wide receiver Vincent Jackson is starting to come on during the last month of this season. With 5 catches for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Seahawks, Jackson had a statement game. If he can stay healthy, Jackson will become one of the premier receivers in the NFL over the next few years.
PATRIOTS: You have to admire the Patriots for not falling into the Jacksonville trap. They played the Jags tough. The Pats look playoff-ready.
BEARS: Brian Griese finally got to play...in a meaningless game.
SAINTS: The Saints are still the most dangerous team in the NFC. They are still young, but they play with a lot of heart. My gut feeling is they will do well in the playoffs.
TITANS: Six wins in a row? Their last loss came to Baltimore? If the Titans make it to the playoffs, call them "Cinderella".
EAGLES: How good are the Eagles? In the last three games, they have beaten all three of their divisional opponents. On the road. In December. Can you say "clutch"?
COWBOYS: What the heck was that? If the Cowboys beat the Eagles, they clinch the division. The Cowboys are pretenders.
BRONCOS: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! I love games in Denver in December, don't you?
COLTS: I like it when I make the prediction of Tony Dungy being fired after this season, only to see the Colts come out and stink up the place against the Texans. Keep up the good work Tony. You're making me look like a genius.
BENGALS: Does the name "Brad St. Louis" mean anything to you? He might end up with his namesake after he botched the long snap that cost the Bengals the game against Denver.
CHIEFS: You have to love the K.C.-Jacksonville game this weekend. Lose, and they are out of the playoffs. Win, and they have to wait and see what happens in other games. One of the few week 17 games with some drama.
JAGUARS: I know the Jacksonville fans are down on David Gerrard after he fumbled away the game against New England. But the Jags are really a more dangerous team with Gerrard. If not for him, we wouldn't even be talking about a close game with New England.
GIANTS: The Giants coaching staff has pulled off a maneuver worthy of "The Three Stooges": Tom Coughlin has replaced offensive coordinator John Hufnagel as offensive play caller with QB coach Kevin Gilbride. Much like replacing Curly with Shemp, expect the hilarity to continue. As I have pointed out in two previous posts about Hufnagel and Gilbride, neither of these clowns should be allowed anywhere near an offense.
PANTHERS: Only 10 points against Atlanta? That is NOT playoff-calibre.
JETS: If the playoffs started today, the Jets would either be in Indianapolis or New England. Can you say "one and done"?
FALCONS: They need to beat or tie the Eagles in Philly in order to have a chance to make it to the playoffs. Jim Mora, I hope you have your desk cleaned out.
SEAHAWKS: Here is a hypothetical scenario for you: If Seattle loses to Tampa Bay this week, they will be 8-8. While they have already clinched the NFC West, they would NOT EVEN be a wild card team in the AFC.
RAMS: It is scary to think this team is still in the playoff hunt. The Rams are the proverbial equivalent of the ugly girl in the corner at the school dance. She is hoping some of the pretty girls will drop dead or get sick or just leave, so some of the cute boys will ask her to dance. Sadly for Ram fans, the dance would be called off if the NFL were that desperate.