1. Green Bay (10-0). Biggest roadblocks to perfection: Thursday at Detroit on a short week, 11 days later at the Giants and their ability to pressure Aaron Rodgers by rushing four men ... and Christmas night (RIGHT HERE ON NBC!!!) against the Bears (and some quarterback) at home.
2. San Francisco (9-1). Last 49er eight-game winning streak: 14 years ago, when the Niners quarterbacks were Steve Young and Jim Druckenmiller. They actually lost their opener, then won 11 in a row in 1997.
3. New Orleans (7-3). Very nice bye for the Saints, who had the entire bye week off. Long week for them, before playing the Giants a week from tonight at home.
4. Baltimore (7-3). Interesting: Jack Harbaugh, father of Raven coach John and Niner coach Jim, said he and his wife won't be in the stadium Thanksgiving night.
5. Pittsburgh (7-3). One more week for Ben Roethlisberger's thumb bone to fuse.
6. New England (6-3). Had a good conversation with Andre Carter the other day, in the wake of his 4.5-sack game against the Jets. If he's not careful, he's going to make me look stupid for bashing Bill Belichick for not drafting pass-rush help last April. Look out tonight, Tyler Palko.
7. Houston (7-3). On his bye Sunday, for the sake of every Texan fan weary of losing, Matt Leinart had better have had his playbook wide open.
8. Chicago (7-3). Five in a row, and all we can think about is how crippling the injury to Jay Cutler might be.
9. Detroit (7-3). Now we'll see if Ford Field, which was the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th man in the Oct. 10 Monday night win over the Bears, can do the same Thursday afternoon against Aaron Rodgers. By the way, I thought the Lions were rusher-less. Nice to see Kevin Smith, long forgotten but saved from the NFL street two weeks ago, get 20 touches for 201 yards in the win over Carolina -- with three touchdowns.
10. Atlanta (6-4). Nice job running all that no-huddle, Mike Mularkey. Seemed to keep the Titans off-balance for three quarters.
11. Dallas (6-4). Tony Romo and the Cowboys have won three in a row and they have the schedule edge over the Giants.
12. New York Giants (6-4). Tom Coughlin seemed apoplectic a half-hour after the 17-10 loss to Philadelphia. He said the running game was pathetic, the blocking embarrassing ... and I think he complained about the Meadowlands coffee while he was it.
13. Oakland (6-4). Superb interception of a 98-mph Christian Ponder fastball by cornerback Stanford Routt in the fourth quarter, helping clinch the win at Minnesota.
14. Cincinnati (6-4). Andy Dalton made a couple of really stupid throws, and had one awful intentional grounding penalty. Otherwise, the way he brought the Bengals back from a 31-14 deficit to have three shots at the end zone in the final minute tells me Cincinnati has its long-term quarterback and could still be heard from, despite losing to the Steelers and Ravens back to back.
15. Miami (3-7). Last five games: lost to 5-5 Denver by three, lost to the 6-4 Giants by three, won three games by a total of 66 points. Wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it for myself. The Dolphins have won their last three by 28, 11 and 27.
Offensive Players of the Week
Philadelphia QB Vince Young. First start since a year ago today, and didn't you miss that little Flipper-style delivery? He didn't win this august award because of his numbers for 60 minutes -- 23 of 36, 258 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions, a 69.0 passer rating -- but rather for his numbers on one drive in the fourth quarter. Young, with the game tied at 10, took the ball at his 20 and kept it for 18 plays and 80 yards, finishing it with an eight-yard touchdown pass to an all-alone Riley Cooper. This was a game of ups and downs, starting with an interception on the fifth pass of the game. Young hung in and won.
Green Bay WR Jordy Nelson. With six catches for 123 yards and two Lambeau Leaps, Nelson was Aaron Rodgers' best friend on a day when the quarterback was very good and not transcendent. "Jordy's a heck of a player,'' said coach Mike McCarthy. "A perfectionist.'' On this day, his hands bailed out the Pack on two throws, including a great sideline catch, and it was his 40-yard catch from Rodgers that finished the scoring in a 35-26 win over Tampa Bay. That touchdown came on a deep nine route, a go, and it's Jordan's strength as a complete receiver that showed up there and throughout the game Sunday. He can run routes and get deep with equal skill and production.
Defensive Players of the Week
Oakland DT Tommy Kelly. One of the late Al Davis' free agent bonus babies had two sacks, two deflected passes, a quarterback knockdown and three tackles in the Raiders' 27-21 win at Minnesota. Kelly's impact helped the Raiders keep their one-game lead in the AFC West.
Denver LB Von Miller. The brute-force sack of Mark Sanchez -- steamrollering right tackle Wayne Hunter in the process -- was one of the most impressive defensive plays of the football weekend. Miller also had a half-sack (giving the rookie from Texas A&M 9.5 on the season), 10 tackles and a key tipped pass that prevented a New York touchdown in the second quarter.
Special Teams Players of the Week
Seattle P Jon Ryan. Punters can't play much better than Ryan did Sunday in St. Louis. Nine punts, a 49.7-yard gross average, with a net average of 44.9 yards. After six of his nine punts, the Rams started from their 20 or worse. The Rams didn't have a drive longer than 42 yards on 15 possessions, and being consistently backed up by Ryan and the Seattle punt team was one very good reason.
Carolina KR/WR Keoloha Pilares, for the accomplishment of a 101-yard kickoff return for touchdown in the second quarter at Detroit ... and also for the timing of it. Detroit had cut a 10-0 Carolina lead to 10-7, and the crowd was back into the game. Pilares took the ensuing kickoff a yard deep on the right side of the end zone, and the kid from Hawaii wove to the left of the field and ran it all the way back for the score.
Denver P Britton Colquitt. Masterful against the Jets Thursday night -- and have you noticed when Colquitt punts inside the 10, he has the more-than-occasional knack of making the ball land sideways so that it rolls parallel to the goal line, allowing his cover men to get on the punt before it hits the end zone? Colquitt's punts Thursday night made the Jets start at their 9, 20, 20, 1, 21, 19, 31 and Denver 47. In a field-position game, which the Denver-New York game was, the starting point for the Jet drives was huge, and Colquitt saw to it the Jets almost always had a long field to travel.
Coach of the Week
Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. I always thought his first name was "Embattled.'' I like a offensive coach who doesn't love where his offense is and looks to to shake things up. On Sunday, in a 23-17 win over Tennessee, Mularkey had Matt Ryan operate from the no-huddle for the first three quarters. Atlanta built a 23-3 lead and hung on, and Ryan operated smoothly and in-control playing the hurry-up.
Goat of the Week
Tennessee RB Chris Johnson. The scene: 5-4 Titans at 5-4 Falcons. Playoff fate on the line. Titans fight through the second half to get to within six, 23-17. This is what Tennessee's jillion-dollar back, Johnson, contributed in the second half while the Titans played for their playoff lives: three carries, one yard ... one reception, five yards.
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