It's becoming increasingly hard to place teams at the top of this list on a weekly basis, because the NFL truly does lack a clear top team this year. Last week's No.1, Houston, nearly lost Sunday to last week's No. 32, Jacksonville…at home. Atlanta barely survived against Arizona, and the Packers, Ravens and Bears weren't impressive. So I guess by default it's time to hand the crown back to the 49ers, who have a tie but no losses since Oct. 14.
1. San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1, 3rd last week): Wouldn't be surprised, though, if the Saints knocked them out of this spot at the Superdome Sunday.
2. Houston Texans (9-1, 1st last week): And it wouldn't shock me to see these guys slip up in Detroit. They're due.
3. Atlanta Falcons (9-1, 2nd last week): Ditto for them in Tampa.
4. Green Bay Packers (7-3, 4th last week): And them in New York, facing the Giants coming off their bye.
5. Baltimore Ravens (8-2, 7th last week): Back to San Diego, which was a huge crime scene last year for the Ravens. No one in the top five is safe this week.
6. Denver Broncos (7-3, 8th last week): Flying under the radar, suddenly Von Miller's pushing J.J. Watt hard for the defensive player of the year award.
7. New England Patriots (7-3, 7th last week): Feels weird not moving them up after a 35-point victory but the Rob Gronkowski injury affects their power.
8. Chicago Bears (7-3, 6th last week): Seventy-four points in Weeks 8 and 9 and only 13 in Weeks 10 and 11. And now the schedule gets tough. Will they fade away again this year?
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4, 9th last week): They haven't beaten a really good team on this four-game winning streak and barely survived the Panthers. Not sure what to expect against Atlanta.
10. New York Giants (6-4, 10th last week): I get the feeling they're pissed off coming out of the bye, ready to send a message. Don't doubt Tom Coughlin.
11. Seattle Seahawks (6-4, 11th last week): Looking at the schedule, this should be an 11-win team. They could even win out. Andrew Luck won't be the only rookie quarterback in the playoffs.
12. New Orleans Saints (5-5, 18th last week): Watch out, NFC wild-card teams. The Saints have moved up 16 spots in two weeks.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4, 13th last week): Not sure Plaxico Burress will fix this. They could lose the division in two weeks.
14. Minnesota Vikings (6-4, 14th last week): Don't trust a Christian Ponder-quarterbacked team in that crowded race.
15. Dallas Cowboys (5-5, 15th last week): Saving their season one ugly win at a time. Weak enough sked to keep it going.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5, 16th last week): Still have a weird feeling about these guys. Just love this team, but no consistency. There's an opening.
17. Indianapolis Colts (6-4, 12th last week): OK so they probably aren't heavy hitters just yet.
18. Detroit Lions (4-6, 19th last week): Matthew Stafford really let his team down against Green Bay, which was unusual. Not sure the Lions can fight back from this.
19. Washington Redskins (4-6, 25th last week): Oh, and maybe we'll get a third rookie pivot in the playoffs. Robert Griffin III just doesn't feel like a rookie, but his team's alive.
20. St. Louis Rams (3-6-1, 17th last week): Really thought they'd put forward a better performance against the joke that is the Jets.
21. Carolina Panthers (2-8, 21st last week): Jon Gruden has to be crafty Monday night calling Eagles-Panthers. Good chance he'll be up for at least one of those impending openings.
22. Cleveland Browns (2-8, 22nd last week): Keep an eye on this no-name defense in 2013.
23. Tennessee Titans (4-6, 23rd last week): I dunno, what do you want me to say about a bad team coming off a bye?
24. Arizona Cardinals 4-6, 24th last week): Promising bounce-back effort in Atlanta, but this is far from a playoff team. I've never seen two starting offensive tackles play this poorly together.
25. Miami Dolphins (4-6, 20th last week): Three straight wins followed by three straight losses, and now the schedule gets tough. Turns out they are who we thought they were in August.
26. San Diego Chargers (4-6, 27th last week): Same old, same old from the Chargers. Why did we expect different?
27. New York Jets (4-6, 30th last week): That came out of nowhere, but now the question is who'll quarterback this team next season? And who'll coach them?
28. Buffalo Bills (4-6, 30th last week): They look like they're finally going to start utilizing C.J. Spiller.
29. Oakland Raiders (3-6, 26th last week): So I guess the whole Carson Palmer experiment is officially a failure.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9, 32nd last week): Chad Henne era ready to commence?
31. Philadelphia Eagles (3-7, 28th last week): I don't believe there's a team in football the Eagles would have beaten Sunday, except…
32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-9, 31st last week): OK, maybe the Chiefs. The Chiefs are depressingly bad. How was this a playoff team a year and a half ago?