2. PACKERS (North)
Green Bay entered the season with weighty expectations, and in the first eight games the Pack at times played as if the burden was too heavy. But even with a raft of injuries and a choppy start, Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews & Co. are too good not to find their groove in the second half.
3. FALCONS (South)
Matt Ryan and Roddy White might be the conference's most dynamic—and underappreciated—QB-WR combination, but the fate of Atlanta's season will rest on the other side of the ball. If the defense can make enough plays, the Falcons could be this year's Saints.
4. SEAHAWKS (West)
The division is a mess, but Seattle's best is better than anything Arizona, St. Louis and San Francisco can muster. After throwing an interception in his first attempt this year, Matt Hasselbeck is limiting his turnovers, and Pete Carroll has his team playing defense. A once-rudderless franchise has direction.
5. EAGLES (wild card)
They have two viable quarterbacks in Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb, but their defense looked spotty in a Week 7 loss to the Titans. Biggest question of the second half: Will DeSean Jackson be the same game-breaking receiver he was before the infamous helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked him out in Week 6?
6. SAINTS (wild card)
After an emotional run to a Super Bowl title, the Saints have been a step slow in 2010. Drew Brees's protection has been spotty, and the running game is injury-ravaged. But a gritty win over the Steelers on Sunday night was a season saver. New Orleans will ride the momentum to a postseason berth but fall short of a Super Bowl repeat.