1. Steelers (6-2) (2): Stillers go into Cincinnati and handle a desperate Bengals team that rallies furiously from 27-7 deficit but can’t finish the deal.
2. Giants (6-2) (3): That’s five straight for the Jints, who pound the miserable Seahawks behind Eli Manning’s three TD passes and more relentless defense that gets the best of Charlie Whitehurst in his first career start.
3. Falcons (6-2) (4): Matt Ryan & Co. hold off improved Bucs to retain a slim lead in the ultra competitive NFC South, where only one game separates first from third.
4. Patriots (6-2) (1): Go figure. Pats hottest team in the league heading into the weekend, but they’re stopped cold by Browns, who run roughshod over Bill Belichick’s defense behind Peyton Hillis.
5. Ravens (6-2) (6): Ravens come off the bye and have their way with Miami, which finally loses on the road after four straight wins.
6. Packers (6-3) (8): Packers doing an excellent job at dealing with myriad injuries. After gritty win over Jets last week, they blow out hapless Cowboys at home and get a bye week to rest up.
7. Jets (6-2) (5): Jets get away with one in Detroit, as Mark Sanchez rallies from a miserable effort early on with 10 points late in the fourth quarter and the game-winning drive in OT.
8. Saints (6-3) (9): Looks like the Saints have found their groove again.
9. Eagles (5-3) (11): Michael Vick returns in dramatic style with exceptional effort in comeback win over Colts at home.
10. Titans (5-3) (10): Looks like Vince Young (ankle) will be ready to go as the Titans embark on what should be interesting second half of the season with such a close race in the AFC South.
11. Colts (5-3) (7): Peyton Manning’s offense riddled with injuries, and it shows in road loss to Philly. Let’s hope WR Austin Collie, who was knocked out on a ferocious hit, is ok.
12. Raiders (5-4) (16): Gotta say it’s refreshing to see the Raiders playing so well of late. This team has been so bad for so long it’s nice to see them relevant again.
13. Chiefs (5-3) (12): Terrific effort against Raiders, but Chiefs can’t contain rookie WR Jacoby Ford and see their AFC West lead chipped away.
14. Buccaneers (5-3) (15): So much for second-year coach Raheem Morris’ claim that the Bucs are the best team in the NFC, as Tampa falls short against Falcons.
15. Chargers (4-5) (21): Here we go again, Part I: Chargers play miserably to start the season, and then find their stride. That’s two in a row for Norv and the Bolts.
16. Dolphins (4-4) (14): Dolphins out-classed in Baltimore.
17. Redskins (4-4) (17): Redskins spend bye week ruminating whether Donovan McNabb is the answer at quarterback.
18. Bears (5-3) (19): Bears do just enough to win in Toronto against winless Bills. Nothing to write home about, but at least they’re in it halfway through the season.
19. Rams (4-4) (20): Rams enjoy bye week as they celebrate winning more games this season than in the last two combined. Rookie QB Sam Bradford looks like the real deal.
20. Texans (4-4) (13): Here we go again, Part II: Texans on their way to an 8-8 season once more.
21. Browns (3-5) (25): Brownies knock off red hot Pats at home, as Eric Mangini gets the best of mentor Bill Belichick. Up next: Mangini’s old team – the Jets – in Cleveland.
22. Vikings (3-5) (24): Brett Favre engineers are remarkable fourth-quarter comeback – where have we heard that one before? – as Vikings and coach Brad Childress barely hanging on in NFC North with OT win over Cards.
23. Jaguars (4-4) (22): With Colts not running away with the division this year, and with Texans slumping at mid-season, Jags still have a chance. But only if they play more consistently the second half of the season.
24. Cardinals (3-5) (23): Quarterback’s a problem, sure. But so is the defense, which melted down in the final minutes and lost a heartbreaker in Minny.
25. Seahawks (4-4) (18): So much for the 12th Man. Seahawks get waxed by Giants at home in advance of critical NFC West game in Arizona.
26. Bengals (2-6) (27): Terrell Owens lights it up against Stillers, but not enough of his teammates do the same. Turn out the lights on Cincy’s playoff chances.
27. Lions (2-6) (26): Oh, to be a Lions fan. Up by 10 late in the fourth quarter, your quarterback gets hurt – again – and your coach blows it with his play-calling down the stretch. Sigh.
28. 49ers (2-6) (28): Ridiculous as it sounds with such a poor record, the 49ers are still not out of it in the awful NFC West. They’re only two games off the divisional lead.
29. Broncos (2-6) (29): Since starting 6-0 last year, Josh McDaniels is a miserable 4-14 ever since.
30. Cowboys (1-7) (30): Exit stage left: Wade Phillips. Enter stage right: Jason Garrett.
31. Panthers (1-7) (31): John Fox is playing out the string. So’s his team.
32. Bills (0-8) (32): Say this much for the Bills: Even with no wins, they’re still playing hard for head coach Chan Gailey. Small consolation.