2. VIKINGS (North)
In many ways Minnesota was the story of the season's first half, with Brett Favre twice taking down his old team Green Bay, Adrian Peterson barreling over and breaking away from tacklers and Jared Allen toppling opposing passers. It isn't unfair to ask, though, whether a 40-year-old quarterback can keep winging passes—strongly and accurately—deep into the postseason.
3. COWBOYS (East)
Dallas has asserted itself as the bully of the deepest division in the league. Quarterback Tony Romo is finally hitting his stride by limiting his mistakes and spreading the football around, and the Cowboys' defense has become especially stout.
4. CARDINALS (West)
Like previous Super Bowl runners-up, Arizona has found the following season to be a grind. Inconsistency and turnovers have dogged quarterback Kurt Warner at times, and the Cardinals' defense has given up too many big plays. In a weakened division, however, Arizona will find a way to the top.
5. FALCONS (Wild card)
Matt Ryan's sophomore season has had a few more valleys than his rookie year (successive QB ratings of 68.4, 66.1 and 46.6 in Weeks 6 through 8), but his poise remains impressive. Better offensive balance will carry Atlanta to its second straight postseason.
6. EAGLES (Wild card)
In DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and tight end Brent Celek, Philadelphia is discovering it has a group of receivers as dynamic as the Terrell Owens--led unit that went to the Super Bowl after the 2004 season. But home losses to the Saints and the Cowboys suggest this year's Eagles will have trouble making it as far.