1. NEW ENGLAND (10-2) Last week: 2
What's scary about the Patriots as they hit their stride is that they have allowed just 11.9 points per game during their eight-game winning streak, and they have won their last four games by an average of 22.0 points.
2. MINNESOTA (10-2) Last week: 4
Quietly dominant, the Vikings need just one more win to secure a second division title in three seasons.
3. PHILADELPHIA (10-2) Last week: 1
The Eagles had more yards and first downs per possession than Seattle last Sunday, but uncharacteristically lost the turnover battle. Their first loss since Week 2 should give them no reason to panic and looks like an outlier.
4. PITTSBURGH (10-2) Last week: 3
The Steelers are 6-1 in games decided by seven or fewer points.
- LOS ANGELES RAMS (9-3) Last week: 5 **
The Rams now have their first winning season since ... Kurt Warner was still on their roster ... Shannon Sharpe was still playing for the Broncos ... Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings were the nightly-news anchors at the "big three" networks ... the final "Lord of the Rings" film was in theatres ... Sean McVay was in high school.
6. NEW ORLEANS (9-3) Last week: 6
Drew Brees' completion percentage of 71.5 would be a career high if he maintains it for the rest of the season.
7. JACKSONVILLE (8-4) Last week: 8
Never go against them during an odd-numbered week: they have an average per-game point differential of 22.1 points and a spotless 7-0 record in Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13.
8. SEATTLE (8-4) Last week: 10
Without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, they conceded gobs of yards to the Eagles, but compensated with timely takeaways.
9. CAROLINA (8-4) Last week: 7
Having been swept by the Saints, they effectively trail them by two games in the NFC South race and are likely playing for a wild-card spot now.
- BALTIMORE (7-5) Last week: 11 **
The Ravens' defense is one of two (Jacksonville is the other) that ranks in the league's top three in net points, net yards and first downs allowed per possession.
11. ATLANTA (7-5) Last week: 9
Held without a touchdown by the Vikings after averaging 31.7 points per game in their previous three contest, the Falcons' season likely comes down to two games with the Saints in the next three weeks. Their chances of making the postseason without winning at least one of them are miniscule.
12. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (6-6) Last week: 12
They haven't gone three-and-out in their last two games.
13. TENNESSEE (8-4) Last week: 13
The Titans have won six of their last seven, but those wins came over teams that are a combined 22-50. On the positive side, their next two games are against the Cardinals and 49ers, who are a combined 7-17. But they close with the Rams and Jaguars (combined record: 17-7).
14. GREEN BAY (6-6) Last week: 20
They close with Carolina, Minnesota and Detroit, but they might have Aaron Rodgers for those games. If they take care of business at Cleveland this Sunday, a five-game winning streak to close the regular season is realistic.
- DETROIT (6-6) Last week: 14 **
A Tampa Bay-Chicago-Cincinnati stretch in the next three games gives them a chance to get back into the mix.
16. OAKLAND (6-6) Last week: 19
The Raiders have allowed 15.5 points per game since naming John Pagano defensive coordinator.
17. WASHINGTON (5-7) Last week: 16
Washington's defense has been gashed for 33 or more points in five of its last seven games.
18. N.Y. JETS (5-7) Last week: 22
Josh McCown has a league-leading eight games with a passer rating of 100.0 or better.
19. KANSAS CITY (6-6) Last week: 15
After three consecutive losses in which the Chiefs' offense struggled, it found its form -- in time for the defense to collapse.
- BUFFALO (6-6) Last week: 17 **
Despite the fact that Buffalo hasn't defeated New England at home since 2003, I was temporarily possessed by insanity and picked the Bills to defeat the Patriots last week. This is why Steve Atwater is kicking my tail in our prediction segment on Orange and Blue 760.
21. CINCINNATI (5-7) Last week: 18
In the fourth quarter Monday night, the Bengals were outgained 158 yards to 13, allowed 11 first downs while gaining none of their own, and ran just eight plays to Pittsburgh's 26.
22. DALLAS (6-6) Last week: 25
The Cowboys scored almost as many points in a single quarter last Thursday (21, fourth quarter) as they did in their previous three games (22).
23. TAMPA BAY (4-8) Last week: 21
The Bucs held the Packers to 77 passing yards, but it wasn't enough. According to pro-football-reference.com, the Bucs are a pedestrian 15-21 all-time when holding an opponent to 80 or fewer net passing yards.
- MIAMI (5-7) Last week: 27 **
The Dolphins have won three of their last four home games against the Patriots and draw them without Rob Gronkowski this week, so they have a chance at an upset.
25. ARIZONA (5-7) Last week: 23
Blaine Gabbert came crashing back to earth last week with a 62.1 passer rating and two interceptions.
26. HOUSTON (4-8) Last week: 24
The Texans had 53 pass plays in their loss to Tennessee -- hardly an equation for success.
27. DENVER (3-9) Last week: 26
The Broncos defense ranked fifth in net points allowed, third in net yards allowed and second in first downs allowed on a per-possession basis in Week 13, but it was far from enough.
28. SAN FRANCISCO (2-10) Last week: 31
The 49ers couldn't finish the job on any of their possessions, but they went three-and-out just once against the Bears and showed more offensive consistency than they had since Week 2.
- INDIANAPOLIS (3-9) Last week: 28 **
Jacoby Brissett has done some positive things in some recent starts, but the interception he threw late in the first half on a red-zone attempt to T.Y. Hilton might have been his worst throw and effectively ended any chance of a Colts upset.
30. CHICAGO (3-9) Last week: 29
The Bears' risk-averse offense couldn't even run the ball effectively last week and mustered first downs on just three of seven possessions.
31. N.Y. GIANTS (2-10) Last week: 30
Even without Eli Manning, Evan Engram continued his strong rookie season last Sunday, catching seven passes for 99 yards and a score. He is the bright spot in the Giants' grim campaign.
32. CLEVELAND (0-12) Last week: 32
With the Packers finding their footing the last two weeks they come to Cleveland this weekend and Baltimore and Pittsburgh still on the Browns' docket, it looks like a Week 16 game at Chicago will be their only chance to avoid wearing the anvil of 0-16 for eternity.