1. RAMS (12-4)
The Ravens smacked their offense in the mouth on Sunday, but the defense held things together. Marshall Faulk doesn't look anything like his old self, but a favorable schedule gives St. Louis the edge in the West.
2. PANTHERS (12-4)
They had been winning with defense and the running game, but Stephen Davis missed the game against the South-rival Bucs, and Jake Delhomme had to win it with his arm. This team has moved to a new level.
3. VIKINGS (11-5)
Everyone was enraptured by their newfound defense, then they gave up 1,359 yards in losses to the Giants, Packers and Chargers. Now an asset has turned into a liability, and winning the North isn't a lock anymore.
4. EAGLES (10-6)
I think Donovan McNabb's early struggles were health-related, and as he gets stronger, so does Philly. I see the Eagles winning the East because they get the Giants and the Cowboys at home.
5. PACKERS (10-6)
They're keyed by one of the best and most underrated offensive lines in football. The running attack is formidable, and Brett Favre has lost nothing off his fastball while playing with a cracked thumb. The only thing holding Green Bay back is a subpar defense.
6. COWBOYS (10-6)
It's fashionable to dismiss their early success because of the teams they've beaten. We'll get a better reading over the next month. Dallas's next four games are against teams with winning records.