The Fine Fifteen
1. New Orleans (13-0). When the Saints needed big plays, it wasn't only Drew Brees who provided them. Reggie Bush did, with two TDs -- and doesn't he look angry out there when he scores? -- and Jonathan Vilma did, with a pick and a stoning tackle to end the game. It's a deep team.
2. Indianapolis (13-0). Entering a short week, the Colts are going to disappoint fans who flip on the TV Thursday night. Around 8:50 p.m., it ought to be the Curtis Painter show at Jacksonville, when Manning and Jeff Saturday and the vets who need time off start to get it.
3. Minnesota (11-2). Stat I like about the Vikes' passing game: Through 13 games, Minnesota has six players between 36 and 67 catches. Last year, through 16 weeks, the Vikes had four players with 36 catches or more.
4. San Diego (10-3). Chargers are 5-0 on the road during their eight-game winning streak. In another year, they'd be first or second in the Fine Fifteen right now.
5. Arizona (8-4). The running game has actually become competent. Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower, combined, are averaging a quite respectable 4.4 yards a carry entering the game that could clinch the NFC West title for the Cards tonight.
6. Philadelphia (9-4). Thirty points in 30 first-half minutes against the Giants in game one this year in November, and 30 points in 30 first-half minutes at the Meadowlands Sunday night. Good to see the Eagles finally getting some mileage out of Michael Vick.
7. Green Bay (9-4). I'll be stunned if the Packers don't cop the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs.
8. Cincinnati (9-4). Bengals got what they deserved at the Metrodome, playing without the inside push of defensive tackle Domata Peko. But it's not a disastrous loss, more a predictable one.
9. Denver (8-5). The game at Indy looked to be over 25 minutes in, but the Broncos hung in there and took something good out of the day at the dome.
10. Dallas (8-5). I know it's not fashionable to say anything nice about the Cowboys in December, but I don't believe their season's over yet. Sorry.
11. Baltimore (7-6). Slaughtering Detroit ... meh. But Ray Rice is emerging as a top-10 back. His 219 yards on 17 touches for an average of 12.9 yards per touch -- that's great stuff against any foe.
12. New England (8-5). "This is the flattest game I've ever done,'' Tony Siragusa said from the field on the FOX telecast of Panthers-Pats. Another failed fourth-down call, Randy Moss looking like he wished he was anywhere but there, no tight end getting open, Steve Smith whipping corners ... I know there are no ugly wins, but this win was exceedingly unattractive. I'll say this: It's a good thing the Patriots have Tom Brady -- even in a season where he's been mortal half the time -- or their season would be over this morning.
13. Miami (7-6). Sunday in Nashville will be a playoff game for the Fins.
14. Tennessee (6-7). The hammy injury to Vince Young marred the uncompetitive win over the Rams.
15. New York Jets (7-6). Strangest, streakiest season in a long time. Won three, lost three, won one, lost three, won three. Here's something for you statniks: Has a team ever made the playoffs with two separate three-game losing streaks?
Quote of the Week I
"I would turn in all three Super Bowl rings and my Hall of Fame bust for one undefeated season.''
My one question for you, Mike: Have you lost your mind?
Quote of the Week II
"I'm not worried. His useless banter really doesn't amount to much at all.''
Quote of the Week III
"I don't see the big deal about it. The president cheated on his wife. We're all human. Human beings are the only ones that have just one partner. You watch National Geographic and the lions, they have like five or six partners. The human race is the only being that is monogamous with partners.''
Tweet of the Week
"I'd throw it to Nicks again. He's due.''
Two minutes after this post, Manning threw deep again to Nicks, and he caught it, and sprinted in for a touchdown, leading to this post by Politi at 9:18: "Just to be clear, I cannot use my power for personal gain.''
NFL Truth & Rumors