01. San Diego Chargers - For the first time in their history the Chargers have the best team in the NFL. Whether or not they can get to the Super Bowl is a different story. Beating Indy (for real) seems close to impossible this year.
02. Indianapolis Colts - They had their opportunity to be the undeniable best team in the league, not just this year, but ever, and they gave it up for health. An 18-1 with a ring may give them that honor anyway. They have more Hall of Famers than the 85 Bears.
03. New Orleans Saints - Things are looking scary here, but I think it's good for these guys. I still think they'll host the NFC title game. Whether they win it or not is a different story.
04. Philadelphia Eagles - They're getting hot, really hot. McNabb is playing well, but they need a running game to win the NFC. If they can control the clock they may be unbeatable.
The Very Good
05. Arizona Cardinals -They can beat any team in the NFC, and they could probably beat most teams in the AFC, but I'm not sure they can repeat last years miracle run. If they can, then watch out, they may win this time.
06. New England Patriots - They're going to be in the playoffs, and they'll be hot heading in (unless the Texans punch them in the mouth). The question lies in whether or not they beat the Texans to guarantee they get the 3 seed, forcing them to play Baltimore and San Diego, or do they drop the game, take the 4 seed, and force themselves to play the 5 seed and the Colts?
07. Green Bay Packers - I do not believe that this is a contender for the Super Bowl, but in the NFC I wouldn't be shocked. I'm not sure they could beat Indy, San Diego, or New England though.
08. Minnesota Vikings - Brett Favre's team losing down the stretch. Sound familiar? Oh yeah, that's every team he's been on since 2002. And this is coming from a big time Favre apologist.
09. Cincinnati Bengals - No matter who wins the Dallas/Philadelphia game, this will be the worst team with a home game next week. Truth is, they may win that home game, too.
10. Dallas Cowboys - Two wins in December was enough to get them to the playoffs. Up next, win their first playoff game post-Aikman/Emmitt. That's where my questions about Romo really lie. I know he can get a team to the playoffs, I don't know if his FCS upbringing can guide him to a playoff win though (not a slam on the FCS, as you know I respect the FCS tremendously).
11. Baltimore Ravens - How much do they thank Ben Roethlisbergers concussed brain for missing that Sunday Night Football game back around Thanksgiving? They're in the playoffs, they have a shot to beat New England, and Michael Oher deserves rookie of the year.
12. New York Jets - This team is likely headed to the playoffs, and they owe the Colts dearly. What can you give them in return? How about a win over Cinci wild card weekend to send your team back to Indy?
Hanging In There
13. Pittsburgh Steelers - They're going to be the best team on the outside of the 2010 playoffs, and that will make the other 12 teams very, very happy.
14. Denver Broncos - Luckily for them the 2009 New York Giants exist to take the heat off of their collapse (like the Mets in 07 taking the heat off of the Padres). Unluckily for them, the Chargers will still exist in 2010, and the Raiders will be better. Oh, and you play the AFC South in head to head competition.
15. Houston Texans - They can still make the playoffs, but talent wise, this team should have already clinched. There's no denying they're more talented than the Jets and Bengals, but there's no denying who the better teams are. Maybe next year for this team (just like we said in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008).
16. New York Giants - Are they the biggest disappointment of 2010? I'm not sure. The team gave up, not Eli, and to be honest that's a better sign going into the future. Better to have a great QB on a heartless team, then vice-versa.
17. Carolina Panthers - They started to play better towards the end of the season and that's always the sign of a good team the next year. Consequently, they also started to get good when Jake Delhomme got injured. This team has to make a directional decisions; do they stick with Fox and company, or do they begin to rebuild. I say stick with the players, ditch the coach.
18. Miami Dolphins - This was supposed to be their season to take a fall. If this is a fall, imagine them next year. They're going to be good.
19. Tennessee Titans - They started the season as a Super Bowl contender, then faded to arguably the worst team in the NFL, then they crept into the Top 10, but now they're where they belong. Somewhere in between mediocre and bad. The loss to San Diego was awful.
20. Atlanta Falcons - Super Bowl hopes faded with injuries, but this team will be back in 2010. And 2011. And 2012. And so on.
21. Cleveland Browns - This team has gotten it together. I think all of my Mangini praising has finally caught up to the team. They're truly playing decent football.
22. San Francisco 49ers - I never bought this team as a playoff team, but what a disappointment to those who did. If you don't feel bad for Frank Gore you have no heart. He's one of the best running backs of the decade and has nothing to show for it.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars - Remember when they had to tank to miss the playoffs? They tanked. They are what we always knew they would be; a team in the 20's of Funk Football's weekly power rankings. Nothing more, nothing less.
24. Chicago Bears - The win over the Vikings showed heart. Cutler didn't even look awful. This is a team that can be in the playoffs in 2010 with the right offensive coordinator.
25. Oakland Raiders - The loss to Cleveland hurts their momentum, but they'll be respectable in 2010, and that's something they haven't been in a long time.
26. Seattle Seahawks - What a disappointing year. I predicted these guys in the playoffs. One of only two picks I had wrong preseason in the NFC (I also had the Giants as a Wild Card over Green Bay).
27. Washington Redskins - On the bright side, they're going to be an entirely different season next year. With Mike Shanahan?
28. Buffalo Bills - Brian Brohm looked okay. If by okay you mean barely a professional quarterback. I wouldn't give up on him though, he could be valuable in 2010. You have to give him a full year in the system.
29. Kansas City Chiefs - Simply put, they just have not been good in 2010. They made the wrong decisions at QB and GM and Head Coach, but you need to just let it play out the next two years.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Their wins over New Orleans and Green Bay show just how good the NFL is, and how anyone who thinks the best college team can even compete at the professional level is idiotic.
31. Detroit Lions - The 2010 season was just a warm up for 2011 anyway. Next year is a big year for this franchise. They need to get back to six wins or things could get bad. And yes, things in Detroit can get worse.
32. St. Louis Rams - Anyone who thinks this team should draft a QB in round one doesn't understand how to build an NFL team. Round one: Suh. Round two: you may still be able to get Colt McCoy, and I think he'll be really happy to know he'll never have to go head to head with him again.