Here’s how I see it …
1. Chargers: They can do no wrong right now. Unless they beat themselves, they should be hard to stop.
2. Colts: They lost without playing their real team. They should be rested and healthy for the playoffs.
3. Cowboys: Give them full marks for an excellent December. They shoot that knock; now they need a playoff win.
4. Packers: They are very complete on both sides of the ball. This is a dangerous team.
5. Saints: I don’t like the fact they lost three in a row, for sure, but expect them to be good at home in the postseason. Getting their healthy corners back should help recharge the defense.
6. Eagles: That was ugly Sunday, but this should be a heck of a rematch with the Cowboys. The winner will be poised for a run.
7. Patriots: Losing Wes Welker is huge, and Tom Brady is beat up — ribs and finger — but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them.
8. Vikings: Had it going against a dead Giants team, but I’ve been skeptical and remain so.
9. Cardinals: I’m not loving them down the stretch, but they have the ability to exploit any opponent without a stellar secondary. Problem is the Packers’ D is excellent.
10. Bengals: I like the matchup with the Jets, as a legit rematch, and the power run game and stout D makes them tough. But the offense has been just so limited down the stretch. I’m not sure they can score enough to go far.
11. Ravens: There are problems with their secondary, but they have the NFL’s best run D. They gave all the top dogs all they could handle in tough losses. They could cause problems in the playoffs.
12. Jets: Similar formula as the Bengals with D and run-heavy approach. I have a hard time seeing Mark Sanchez thriving in playoffs.
13. Steelers: Had they been able to get in, and get Troy Polamalu back, they could have done some damage.
14. Texans: A 1-5 division record haunted them, again, but they are right on the cusp.
15. Titans: Vince Young‘s redemption and Chris Johnson‘s 2000-yard season bodes very well for the future.
16. Falcons: That was a very strong finish. I love the nucleus on offense. but they need help on D.
17. Panthers: They very easily could be in the playoffs. If they had inserted QB Matt Moore a few weeks earlier, they might be in. Excellent finish.
18. 49ers: All in all, a nice first full season for Mike Singletary. He put some nice pieces together.
19. Bears: Getting a new offensive system that works to Jay Cutler‘s strengths will be a priority. They need a lot of help on defense, too.
20. Dolphins: They lost a lot when Ronnie Brown went down but fought until the end. Chad Henne provides a lot of hope for future.
21. Giants: Embarrassing end to the season, and the biggest disappointment in the league. But they still have plenty to build around and will have a lot of changes on staff.
22. Jaguars: When they had to play the tough part of their schedule late, they wilted.
23. Raiders: Some might think this is too high, but they had big wins over good teams and were a threat, especially when JaMarcus Russell wasn’t at quarterback.
24. Broncos: All the good will from that 6-0 start wasted. Another horrible second-half of the season collapse and the season ends as it began, under the cloak of more Brandon Marshall/Josh McDaniels drama.
25. Browns: Nice finish, but they still need major help on both sides of the ball. I’m expecting major changes everywhere, including head coach.
26. Bills: They are rebuilding and need to find their way at the skill positions. An offensive-minded coach might be way to go.
27. Chiefs: They could have two new coordinators.
28. Seahawks: That was a pretty awful finish to the season. They just were not competitive for the most part.
29. Redskins: About to start over … Again.
30. Buccaneers: They could end up still making major organizational changes.
31. Lions: Getting a road win at some point would be a nice step.
32. Rams: One win. Yikes.