Posted: Monday October 31, 2011 8:33AM ; Updated: Monday October 31, 2011 10:26AM
Peter King

MMQB (cont.)

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Fine Fifteen

Steelers prove they're best in AFC
Source:SI's Andrew Perloff discusses the three best teams in the AFC and explains why the Pittsburgh Steelers top that list.

1. Green Bay (7-0). On his bye weekend, wideout Greg Jennings went to see The Mountaintop on Broadway. Who's better at his job, Greg? Samuel L. Jackson playing Martin Luther King Jr.? Or Aaron Rodgers playing Johnny Unitas?

2. San Francisco (6-1). Week after week, Frank Gore is keeping this team rolling. Thirty-one carries, 134 yards to beat Cleveland. That's some workhorse.

3. Pittsburgh (6-2). Antonio Brown, I'm a believer.

4. New England (5-2). These things happen, allowing 365 passing yards, when you lose two of your four best corners in the two days before playing a passing team.

5. Detroit (6-2). Lord. A 100-yard interception return for touchdown by Chris Houston. A 24-yard fumble return for touchdown by Cliff Avril. Of course it was against a weak offense in Denver, but Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham are building the kind of defense they aimed to when they arrived in Detroit three seasons ago.

6. Baltimore (5-2). Can you imagine seven worse days for any contender than the Ravens losing to previously 1-5 Jacksonville on Monday and previously 1-5 Arizona the following Sunday? They didn't, thanks to three guys named Flacco, Boldin and Rice in a great second-half rebound against Arizona.

7. Buffalo (5-2). If you saw that game in Toronto -- I doubt many of you did, seeing that it was not competitive -- you saw a defense that totally dismantled Washington, shredding a bad offensive line and holding the visitors to 178 yards.

8. Philadelphia (3-4). I believe Arlen Specter will begin an investigation this morning into how on God's green earth the Eagles could ever have lost four games in a row.

9. Houston (5-3). No Andre Johnson against the hottest defense in the league? No problem. The Texans rolled to a 358-yard day, helped -- again -- by Arian Foster, who, by the way, is absolutely, certainly, definitely not a one-year wonder.

10. Cincinnati (5-2). The Bengals are 3-1 on the road. Andy Dalton is 5-2 as an NFL quarterback. Those are two of the most surprising things about the first half of the season. Misleading stat of the week, by the way: The Bengals win at Seattle by 22 and get outgained by 159 yards.

11. New York Jets (4-3). Darrelle Revis allowed as many completions on his bye weekend as he allows in every other week. Almost.

12. San Diego (4-2). Doesn't it seem like San Diego should be better than a plus-five point differential?

13. New Orleans (5-3). Saints hadn't been shut out in the first half of a game for nearly 50 months until Sunday, at St. Louis. If you watched it, it wasn't a fluke. The Rams manhandled the Saints' offensive line.

14. Atlanta (4-3). Before you Bucs fans write in with pitchforks at the ready, I do understand that Tampa Bay beat both the Saints and Falcons. What can I say? Other than I saw the San Francisco and Chicago games.

15. (tie) New York Giants (5-2). All who had the Giants as a bottom-10 rushing team in terms of efficiency (3.2 per rush) and had Victor Cruz as the team's big deep-threat receiver halfway through the season, raise your hands ... Neither did I.

15. (tie) Chicago (4-3). Thank you, all 1,469 of you who wrote, tweeted, emailed, Pony-Expressed, Facebooked that I forgot the Bears in my Fine Fifteen last week -- which happened. My bad. I love having virtual watchdogs.

The Award Section

Offensive Players of the Week

Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger, and not just for his 36-of-50, 365-yard passing performance over the Patriots, which helped break Tom Brady's four-game win streak over the Steelers. But Roethlisberger controlled the clock as well as the line of scrimmage. Pittsburgh has morphed from a running team into a passing one -- the Steeler ratio is 59-41 pass-run -- and Roethlisberger has handled the transition well. In this game, his scoring drives all were clock-eaters, of 11, 16, 10, 14 and 11 plays, and as a result, the Patriots had the ball for only 21 minutes.

St. Louis RB Steven Jackson. You want a guy on your team who burns to win, and who gets ticked off by a lousy performance. That was Jackson coming off the Rams' embarrassing loss at Dallas eight days ago. His 25-carry, 159-yard performance bled the clock all day and limited Drew Brees' chances with the ball, and the winless Rams pulled off the upset of the day.

Defensive Players of the Week

St. Louis DE Chris Long. Three sacks, a career high, in a great rush day as Long came from different spots on the St. Louis front to stop Drew Brees and the Saints. This is the kind of day the Rams were hoping for when they drafted Long second overall in the 2008 draft, with Long's speed around end showing up all afternoon.

Pittsburgh CB Ike Taylor. "What an incredible job by Ike Taylor,'' Ryan Clark said of his teammate after the 25-17 win over the Patriots. "He got Wes Welker so frazzled out there.'' Taylor, playing the NFL's leading receiver all over the field, held Welker to six catches for a paltry 39 yards. Taylor was on the second tier of free-agent cornerbacks this season and signed with Pittsburgh when there wasn't widespread interest for him.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Arizona CB/PR Patrick Peterson

Midway through the second quarter in Baltimore, Peterson took a punt at his 18-yard-line and began zig-zagging, first right, then straight and then left, breaking four tackles and getting hit by two other Ravens on the most electrifying run of the day in the league. His 82-yard touchdown showed why he was such a high pick last April. It was his second punt return for touchdown in seven NFL games.

Coach of the Week

Philadelphia offensive line coach Howard Mudd. On crutches on the sidelines after hip-replacement surgery 13 days earlier, Mudd did a pregame chest-bump with running back LeSean McCoy, then did what he does best. He got after his troops and coached them to open holes and keep Mike Vick clean. The Eagles, playing the best team in the league against the run coming into the game, rushed for 235 yards and gained 495 in a 34-7 rout of the Cowboys.

Goat of the Week

Carolina K Olindo Mare. With Minnesota up 24-21 and 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter in Charlotte, Mare lined up for a piece-of-cake 31-yard field goal. It was about 31 inches wide left. Not exactly why the Panthers gave Mare a $4 million signing bonus ... and a four-year, $12 million contract before the season.
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