1.) Indianapolis (14-0) [+1]
By virtue of their win at Jacksonville and the Saints' loss on Saturday, Indianapolis takes the #1 spot this week. They had been in #2 for a while now, mostly because the Saints hadn't tripped up and I don't like moving a team down when they win. Also, I think the MVP chatter can subside for a little bit, at least until the Colts lose one (assuming they actually do). The only other guy with a claim on the trophy at the moment is Philip Rivers; Brees and Favre both fell off the wagon, and Chris Johnson plays for a .500 team. It remains to be seen how the Colts play it down the stretch regarding rest vs. going undefeated. Personally, I'd want to play every snap as long as I was healthy. Heck, even if I was a little banged up I'd probably want to play just for the historical value of going 16-0 and maybe 19-0.
2.) New Orleans (13-1) [-1]
New Orleans finally took a tumble, losing at home to the Cowboys, a team many predicted had no chance of winning. Drew Brees looked decidedly un-MVP like in his performance. Of course, any QB getting pressured like that is bound to make a few mistakes. It doesn't mean Brees isn't great, it just means he probably cost himself the MVP since Peyton Manning has given his opponents no margin for error. I think we could see the Saints bounce back the next two weeks, motivated by their lack of perfection. And no, I have no good reason for keeping them ahead of San Diego, other than 13-1 > 11-3.
3.) San Diego (11-3) [no change]
Rivers + Turner in December = gold. Who knew? Certainly not me, or the hoards of people criticizing Turner's hiring a couple years back. Even without LaDainian Tomlinson at his MVP form, the Chargers are a legitimately great team. I won't go overboard with predicting playoff success for them, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Chargers go far.
4.) Philadelphia (10-4) [+2]
Philly made some questionable decisions in their game against San Francisco, yet it didn't stop them from laying a beatdown on Sunday. Donovan McNabb is playing very well, and it doesn't hurt that DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy are two of the best weapons the Eagles have gotten for him. Even without Brian Westbrook and Jeremy Maclin (for the last couple games, at least), McNabb and the offense are firing on all cylinders. This team will be a tough out in the playoffs.
5.) Dallas (9-5)
Why is Dallas in the fifth spot, you might ask? Because they beat the Saints. Does this mean anything for the next two weeks? Nope, not a chance. But the Cowboys did get the biggest win of the season (maybe the past two or three seasons, even), and that's worth a lot this week. They have a favorable schedule, at Washington next week and home against Philly in the final week; they already beat Philly in Philly, so that's not a terrible matchup (though I'm not betting the house on the Cowboys just yet).
6.) Minnesota (11-3) [-2]
The Vikings lost again, so down they go. They lost to a terrible team in Carolina, but this is likely a temporary (as in one week) move since they're playing Chicago next week and Dallas isn't likely to keep on winning (as much I think they will). They're still the second seed in the AFC, and I fully expect them to advance to the title game.
7.) New England (9-5) [+1]
An up-and-down season for New England continues, though they've now won two in a row. They're looking a lot better in the AFC East thanks to some timely tripping up by Miami and the NY Jets. Of course, I never thought either of those teams had enough to pass the Patriots anyway, even with the Pats playing like stink is the new black. Brady-to-Moss was a working combo again, and even though Wes Welker didn't contribute his usual mammoth's share, the Pats won decisively. I still don't see how they go out in the first round of the playoffs, since the AFC wild card teams are likely to be pretty weak.
8.) Arizona (9-5) [+2]
Nice bounce back for Kurt Warner and the Cardinals; he fumbled another ball and threw a 100-yard INT returned for a touchdown. Despite those gaffes, the Cardinals won. They also won their division after San Francisco's loss in Philadelphia. So they're in the playoffs, and now they're fighting for position. It might not be unlikely that Warner sits in the 2nd half of the next couple of games, to try and rest for the playoffs. I'm not predicting it, exactly, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Matt Leinart get some more playing time in the next two weeks.
9.) Green Bay (9-5) [-4]
The Packers take a dive after losing late to Pittsburgh. It'll be hard for them to not get a wild card, though. Green Bay could be a dangerous team in the playoffs, especially if Aaron Rodgers is shooting straight to the right guys (meaning Greg Jennings and Donald Driver).
10.) Cincinnati (9-5) [-3]
The Bengals drop after a tough loss in San Diego. One good sign was Carson Palmer's "revival" of sorts, as he threw for 300 yards for the first time in a while. They played about as well as could be expected, and the only reason they lost is because San Diego is just a better team at this point. Cincy should be in the playoffs, though, and they should be hosting a game. That gives them a good shot at advancing.