1. New York Giants (12-7). There's something about getting hot at the right time. The Giants have played five straight elimination games and won them all, which sounds a lot like the last time they played the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
2. New England (15-3). The Patriots are going to their fifth Super Bowl in the last 11 seasons. If they win, they're immortal. If they lose, Eli Manning has their number.
3. San Francisco (14-4). Niners will be in the dumps about this one for a while, because their backup punt returner cost them the NFC Championship. But going from 6-10 to 14-4 in one season? How can they have any real sorrow about what was a great start to an era of contending? "Right now we're just in disbelief,'' said Patrick Willis. Tomorrow, they'll realize what a great base they've laid for the future.
4. Baltimore (13-5). Lee Evans didn't sleep much last night, I bet.
5. Green Bay (15-2). All of a sudden, Mike McCarthy has a raided coaching staff to worry about -- though Joe Philbin told me Saturday he hadn't yet discussed who, if anyone, from the Packer staff he'd be allowed to take with him. And it could get worse if Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie takes one of the Pack's defensive coaches.
6. New Orleans (14-4). Just an educated hunch, but I don't think Gregg Williams could have stayed as defensive coordinator had he wanted to.
7. Houston (11-7). Now the question for this franchise is whether they fight to keep free agent outside linebacker/defensive end Mario Williams away from the market. The way this team played defensively at Baltimore, and as many talented young defensive players as the Texans have, and as many guys as they have to think about paying with a flat cap in the next two offseasons, I bet they're seriously considering letting Williams walk.
8. Pittsburgh (12-5). Mike Tomlin (secondary) and Jim Caldwell (quarterbacks) coached together at Tampa Bay under Tony Dungy in Dungy's last season with the Bucs, 2001, if you're looking for a clue on the next offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh.
9. Detroit (10-7). End of the season shows Lions need to be in play for Jim Schwartz's old buddy Cortland Finnegan in free agency.
10. Atlanta (10-7). Mike Nolan, who prefers the 3-4 but has run the 4-3, takes over the defense. That's good news for Kroy Biermann, a big man who should be able to rush the passer better than he did under Brian Van Gorder.
11. Denver (9-9). John Elway owes Tim Tebow nothing more than the starting job entering training camp. If he loses it, that's on Tebow.
12. Philadelphia (8-8). Someone Who Knows told me a major roadblock to Steve Spagnuolo taking the defensive coordinator job in Philadelphia was the presence of very strong personality Jim Washburn on the defensive line.
13. Arizona (8-8). Got a long way to go to catch the Niners.
14. San Diego (8-8). Not such a long way to go to catch the Broncos.
15. Miami (6-10). I like the Dolphins a little better today now that they're the leaders in the clubhouse for Matt Flynn.
Offensive Player of the Week
Baltimore QB Joe Flacco. No player entered the weekend with more pressure on him, and Flacco, in a championship game on the road, played better than the best quarterback still standing, Tom Brady: 22 of 36 for 306 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. He led scoring drives of 67, 80 and 78 yards, and should have led the game-tying field goal drive for 65 yards ... except that Cundiff missed it wide left. A great performance by a player under legit fire.
Defensive Players of the Week
New England DL Vince Wilfork. He'll look back someday and think this might be the best game he ever played: six tackles (a lot for an interior defensive lineman), one sack, three tackles for loss, three quarterback pressures. He was brilliant, as was the New England defensive front for about 80 percent of this title game.
New York DL Justin Tuck. As usual, you could name two or three guys from the Giants' defensive front to this august honor. Tuck's 1.5 sacks and three pressures helped keep the Niners out of scoring position for 11 of their last 13 drives.
Special Teams Player of the Week
New York LB Jacquian Williams. In overtime of the NFC title game, Williams stripped punt returner Kyle Williams at the Niners' 24-yard line. Devin Thomas recovered, and the Giants kicked the winning field goal five plays later.
Coach of the Week
New York head coach Tom Coughlin. For a guy who's been fired at least 65 times in the last five years, Coughlin sure can organize, plan, motivate and game-day-coach exceedingly well. That showed with a poised team that understood the basics of how to win this game: Don't turn it over ... punting is fine ... you'll be in position to win at the end. And the Giants were.
Goats of the Week
San Francisco PR Kyle Williams. In the last 20 minutes of the biggest football game he's played in, Williams let one punt bounce off his knee, leading to a Giants touchdown, and then had the ball stripped from him on another punt return, leading to a Giants field goal. With a defense on fire the way San Francisco's was, it has to be particularly heartbreaking to know if you simply held onto the ball, your team would be going to the Super Bowl.
Baltimore K Billy Cundiff. Some misses haunt kickers. For as long as Cundiff kicks, shanking a 32-yarder wide left with 11 seconds left that would have sent the Ravens into overtime of the AFC Championship Game ... that's about as low as it gets for a kicker.