1. New England (6-1). Adrian Peterson found out Sunday it might not be so easy to try to make a season-saving yard against the Patriots defensive front, which looked absolutely impenetrable for stretches against the Vikes.
2. Pittsburgh (5-2). Very uncharacteristic late mistakes led to a loss that, ultimately, is understandable because it happened in New Orleans on Halloween night, and the Saints played defense the way they played it down the stretch of their Super Bowl season. I doubt this loss will linger with the Steelers.
3. Baltimore (5-2). The bye made the Ravens look a lot better in the AFC, didn't it? With the Jets and Titans losing, and the Chiefs looking shaky in holding off the Bills in overtime, Baltimore's back in the top-of-the-AFC mix.
4. New York Jets (5-2). An inexcusable performance coming off the bye. Scariest thing is how the offense couldn't make a play, either in the running or passing game.
5. Indianapolis (4-2). The Colts probably couldn't have asked for a better time to have 15 days between games. They've had some good rehab time. Reggie Wayne's back to near full health.
6. New York Giants (5-2). "In my mind, the Giants are the best team in the NFC,'' Sean Payton said Friday.
7. Tennessee (5-3). No shame in losing to San Diego at Qualcomm. But the Titans have to get off the Vince Young-Kerry Collins merry-go-round; it's difficult for Young, obviously, with his problematic left ankle getting hurt again.
8. Miami (4-3). I like how Tony Sparano laid down the gauntlet to his team after the game, telling them to put a stop to the inconsistencies of their season. Tough road the next two weeks -- at Baltimore, home to Tennessee. And I think I've beaten this one into the ground pretty well, but it's November, and the Dolphins haven't won at home and haven't lost on the road.
9. Green Bay (5-3). Nice eight days. Getting the Vikings off their back, then shutting out the Jets, coming off a bye, and doing it on the road.
10. Atlanta (5-2). See number 4 above for locker-room motivation this week, Mike Smith.
11. New Orleans (5-3). The first sniff I've had in weeks that things might get back to some semblance of Super Bowl normalcy sometime this year.
12. Kansas City (5-2). On the one hand, it's good to overcome an off day and play good enough to come out with a win. Yet to need 74 minutes, at home, to beat the Buffalo Bills ... that shows the Chiefs aren't in the Premiership yet.
13. Oakland (4-4). A big jump into the Fine Fifteen, and it's well-deserved. Raiders have scored 91 points the past two weeks and absolutely pummeled Denver and Seattle. Neither are good teams, but if you've seen any more than the highlights, you've seen how unleashed and vicious the defense is playing right now.
14. San Diego (3-5). See how quick I am to let the Chargers off the mat? Even with another special-teams gaffe (the fourth blocked Mike Scifres punt in eight games, incredibly), San Diego's still too formidable on offense, and too capable on defense, to forget.
15. (tie) Houston (4-2). Arian Foster has really had a remarkable season -- 815 yards from scrimmage in six games. He'll need at least an average game tonight in Indianapolis.
15. (tie) Tampa Bay (5-2). Big game this week. Bucs at Falcons, with Atlanta coming off its bye. That's a gutsy way, Tampa Bay, to come back and win a game that looked like it should been lost Sunday in the desert.
"After we just had this big disappointment here today, I wouldn't have red blood in my veins if I wasn't thinking about a lot of different things.''
-- Dallas owner Jerry Jones, in the wake of the Cowboys losing, embarrassingly, to Jacksonville to fall to 1-6. This is the first time Jones has seemed to indicate he would make an in-season coaching change for a team that obviously isn't playing hard for Wade Phillips.
"I just want to be able to tell the guys [on the Patriots] I miss the hell out of them ... Man, I miss them guys man, I miss the team ... I love you guys, I miss you, I'm out.''
-- Minnesota receiver Randy Moss, in a typically weird (for him) news conference after the Vikings lost to New England. It was a five-minute monologue, with no questions taken. He said he will be conducting his own interviews for the rest of the year, asking himself the questions and answering them.
Whatever you say, boss. (Walking very lightly around the extreme weirdness.)
"To mentally understand the game the way he does is just remarkable.''
-- Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, after Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck completed 19 of 26 with a touchdown and no interceptions Saturday night in Seattle in a 41-0 rout of Washington. The ballyhooed matchup of Luck versus Washington quarterback Jake Locker (7 of 14, 64 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions) was a dud.
Locker is a senior. Luck is a third-year sophomore. It's now looking like Luck, should he decide to enter the draft, likely will be the highest-rated player in it, with Locker floating somewhere around the middle of the first round.
"For five seconds now, I just thought in my head, 'Why do I play football in the first place?' ''
-- Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, being videotaped by his wife, Tashia, minutes before his Sept. 29 surgery in New Jersey to repair a torn ACL -- the third ACL surgery in his career. His candid reflections were shared with Greg Bishop for a story in the New York Times.
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