With most playoff spots still undecided, there’s still only one semi-plausible way to draw lines among and between the league’s 32 teams.
Besides, we’ve been doing this for 14 weeks.
We can’t stop now.
1. New England Patriots (No. 1; 12-2): A close win against a team starting an untested backup may have been the best way for coach Bill Belichick to get the Patriots to stop believing what everyone is saying about them.
2. Atlanta Falcons (No. 2; 12-2): Stomachs in Georgia already are full of butterflies in anticipation of the possibility that Mike Vick will be returning for the playoffs.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (No. 6; 10-4): Could the first season after the McNabb era be the season when the Eagles finally win a Super Bowl?
4. Baltimore Ravens (No. 5; 10-4): The team most likely to upend the Pats in the postseason took a big step toward earning a bye.
5. New Orleans Saints (No. 3; 10-4): Whether or not the Saints had beaten the Ravens, the defending champs will most likely have to do it the hard way this year by playing postseason games away from the Superdome.
6. New York Jets (No. 15; 10-4): The Jets actually seem to play better when ensnared in a controversy.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 4; 10-4): Once again, Troy Polamalu proves his value through his absence.
8. Chicago Bears (No. 11; 10-4): In the end, the Bears have worn their desperation well; coach Lovie Smith has saved his job.
9. New York Giants (No. 7; 9-5): Even the worst lip reader knew that coach Tom Coughlin was reminding punter Matt Dodge of the mandate to kick it out of bounds. The question is whether the intended audience was Dodge or the rest of the lip-reading world.
10. San Diego Chargers (No. 12; 8-6): The most dangerous team in the AFC may not have a chance to lose in the playoffs.
11. Indianapolis Colts (No. 13; 8-6): Nothing cures a case of Bitter Beer Face like a couple of division victories.
12. Kansas City Chiefs (No. 16; 9-5): For a change, the Governor’s Cup was full of something other than satisfaction.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 8; 8-6): After weeks of winning the games they should win and losing the games they should lose, the Bucs lost a game they should have won.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 9; 8-6): Well, at least they’re still selling out their home games.
15. Oakland Raiders (No. 17; 7-7): The future may not be bright, but it’s suddenly not quite as dim.
16. Green Bay Packers (No. 14; 8-6): The playoffs start on Sunday, for a team that was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender.
17. Miami Dolphins (No. 10; 7-7): For Tony Sparano, his career in Miami could end with the abruptness of a needle lifting off a Journey record.
18. St. Louis Rams (No. 18; 6-8): Though the Rams have a long way to go to become the Greatest Show on Turf again, they’re much better than last year, when they were the Greatest Turds on Show.
19. Dallas Cowboys (No. 22; 5-9): Unfortunately, they don’t give trophies to the best team with a losing record.
20. Detroit Lions (No. 25; 4-10): Slowly but surely, the Millen stink is wearing off.
21. Buffalo Bills (No. 26; 4-10): The Bills have now won as many games this year in Miami as the Dolphins.
22. Cleveland Browns (No. 19; 5-9): The Battle of Ohio isn’t truly over until someone beats the Buckeyes.
23. San Francisco 49ers (No. 20; 5-9): The 2010 Niners are harder to kill than an Alien.
24. Minnesota Vikings (No. 21; 5-9): It’s pretty safe to say that, if the Vikings get a new stadium in Minnesota, it will have a roof. And a really big furnace.
25. Tennessee Titans (No. 29; 6-8): After an impressive win featuring more than 30 points scored by the Titans, even “Woody” won’t have much to complain about this week.
26. Houston Texans (No. 23; 5-9): Nine seasons plus no playoffs equals a very disappointing return by the NFL to Houston.
27. Seattle Seahawks (No. 24; 6-8): It’s fitting that, in his first year after leaving a level of football that prevents a team with a losing record from going to a bowl game, Pete Carroll could be playing in the postseason after losing more games than he won.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (No. 31; 3-11): In Cincinnati, Santa will be bringing the kids on the nice list two tickets to the December 26 game against the Chargers. The kids on the naughty list get four.
29. Washington Redskins (No. 28; 5-9): Mike Shanahan will eventually find out that Daniel Snyder isn’t nearly as patient as Pat Bowlen.
30. Arizona Cardinals (No. 27; 4-10): “Hey, what’s the problem? We’re only two games out of first place.”
31. Carolina Panthers (No. 32; 2-12): Only the Panthers could potentially screw up their otherwise clear shot at the first overall pick in the draft.
32. Denver Broncos (No. 30; 3-11): The Broncos are still searching for their sixth win since starting the 2009 season at 6-0.