Been a busy time at work, kids, so I've been lax in the old rankings. Here they are, with playoff outlook. Will try to add the computerized rankings if time permits.
1. Tennessee Titans, 12-1 (currently #1 seed in AFC). Titans aren't winning with style points, but who cares? Probably the best D behind Steelers and Ravens. Should have a bye and homefield in the playoffs, which is a big plus. Remaining schedule: @ HOU, PIT, @ INDY. (Predicted wins in bold.) Even if they lose the last two, the Titans finish 13-3 and the #1 seed in the AFC.
2. Carolina Panthers, 10-3 (#2 seed in NFC). Panthers also showing a strong defense, and a superb running game, which is a championship formula in my estimation. Much more consistent this season than seasons past, and an impressive win over the Bucs. Favorable stretch schedule may vault them past reeling Giants in seeding. Remaining schedule: DEN, @NYG, @NO. The Giants game will probably determine who gets the top seed. I suspect the Giants would normally win that matchup at home, but with Jacobs iffy and Plax being Plax, the Panthers may have conditions in their favor. Projecting them at 13-3, #1 seed in the NFC.
3. New York Giants, 11-2 (#1 seed in NFC). Giants fended off retirements and major injuries to start the season on a winning note, but the next three games will be a real test for Coughlin. Still a formidable team, especially in the postseason, but could lose a couple still. Remaining schedule: @DAL, CAR, @MIN. Dallas is a mess, but I get the feeling they get up for the Giants game before missing the playoffs. Projection: 12-4, #2 in NFC.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers, 10-3 (#2 in AFC). If the Steelers had the offensive firepower they showed in 2007, I'd be tempted to put them at #1 overall. The offense shows no signs of life at this point, but the defense is enough to scare any team. Remaining schedule: @ BAL, @TEN, CLE. As much as I am gloom and doom over the Ravens game, I think we can shut down the Titans on the road. And the Browns are, well, roadkill. Projection: 12-4, #2 in AFC.
5. Baltimore Ravens, 9-4 (#6 in AFC). Ravens have shown a little life on offense, but the real threat is their defense, which is 1b to Pittsburgh's 1a. They could wind up 12-4 as well but make it as a wild card based on tiebreakers, but call Dallas winning the next two a hunch. Projection: 11-5, #6 in AFC.
6. Indianapolis Colts, 9-4 (#5 in AFC). Well, it hasn't been pretty, but they're winning again, and could close the year winning their final three games. It remains to be seen if they're back to being the Colts of old, but they should be in the playoffs, and then, who knows. Remaining schedule: DET, @ JAX, TEN. Projection: 12-4, #5 in AFC. Not enough to beat the Titans for the division, the Colts will be a team like the Ravens, excellent record wild card.
7. Philadelphia Eagles, 10-5-1 (still alive at #8 in NFC). Yeah, talk about getting there ugly. This team has severe schizophrenia, but enters a soft stretch of schedule with McNabb and Company looking like they're back on track. The Giants win was very big for this team. Remaining schedule: CLE, @ WAS, DAL. The final wild card could come down to that Dallas game in Philly. Projection: 10-5-1, #6 in NFC.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 9-4 (#5 in NFC). Bucs have a solid D, but the Panthers game really showed which direction both of those teams appear to be headed at this point in the season. A good team, but not a team that really inspires Super Bowl visions. Remaining schedule: @ ATL, SD, OAK. Projection: 11-5, #5 in NFC.
9. Denver Broncos, 8-5 (#3 in AFC). Helped by a dreadful division, the Broncos are in by default. Still, even with running back woes and a defense that's about as sturdy as cat litter, this team can put up points, and has spoiler written all over them. Remaining schedule: @ CAR, BUFF, @SD. Expect a bit of karma in a loss to the Chargers. Projection: 9-7, #4 in AFC.
10. Arizona Cardinals, 8-5 (#4 in NFC). Pretty much the same notes to the Broncos, except the Cards have zilch in playoff experience and falter when they travel east. Remaining schedule: MIN, @NE, SEA. Is the New England win a bit of wishful thinking? Or will Warner pick apart that tattered secondary? Projection: 11-5, #3 in NFC.
11. Minnesota Vikings, 8-5 (#3 in NFC). Vikings have a shaky hold at best in division over Bears, who have a real shot at displacing them here. With Tavaris Jackson back, the Vikings had better hope a steady dose of Peterson and the Williams sisters saves the day. Very shaky. Remaining schedule: @ ARI, ATL, NYG. Projection: 9-7, #4 in NFC.
12. Miami Dolphins, 8-5 (still alive at #7 in AFC). Yep, I'm calling the upset. The Patriots aren't consistent, the Jets aren't consistent, and look who's playing the home stretch with enthusiasm. Oh, and a soft schedule is pretty nice too. Pretty damned good turnaround for the coach and players in Miami. Won't do much in the playoffs, though. Remaining schedule: SF, @ KC, @ NYJ. Jets game for the division title, you think Curly Sue might have revenge on his mind? Sometimes teams like this just catch fire. And then, just as inexplicably, they're done. This is one of those teams. Projection: 11-5, #3 in AFC (!).
MISSED IT BY THAAAAAAAT MUCH
13. New York Jets, 8-5 (#4 in AFC). Weeks ago, the verdict on the Jets was that they were terrible one week, great the next. Well, that crap is still going on, and I guarantee you that it's going to kill the Jets. Playoff bound teams get consistent as the season wears on. Remaining schedule: BUF, @ SEA, MIA. Couple of cupcakes, big wins, and then they drop the season at home. Sound about right? Projection: 10-6, OUT.
14. New England Patriots, 8-5 (still alive at #8 in AFC). You have to give it to these cunts: even without video-cheating, without the Golden Boy, and with a defense that has to call up Junior Seau -- who's practically as old as I am -- these bastards refuse to die. Still, I don't think they have what it takes to finish out with three wins. An explosive offense like the Cards will expose their flaws. Remaining schedule: @ OAK, ARI, @ BUF. Projection: 10-6, OUT.
15. Dallas, 8-5 (#6 in NFC). Looked like the best team in the early weeks, and has shown glimmers of being a decent team. The Steelers loss may be the dagger. I suspect they rebound, but are overmatched by Philly in Philly with the season on the line. They just don't feel like a playoff team. Great season by Ware, though. Remaining schedule: NYG, BAL, @ PHI. Projection: 10-6, OUT.
16. Atlanta Falcons, 8-5 (still alive at #7 in NFC). It's hard not to respect what the Falcons have done this year. Much like the Dolphins, they've turned around their team faster than anyone expected. Coach Mike Smith should be in the running for Coach of the Year, in my opinion; Matt Ryan has been the best rookie gunslinger since some kid Pittsburgh drafted; Michael Turner is having a better year than his ex-teammate Whatsisname; the Falcons still are a legit threat to make it as a wild card, although they would need to win out most likely. But perhaps the best thing about this team is that week in and week out, win or lose, they're fun to watch. Remaining schedule: TB, @ MIN, STL. If they do win their final three and make it as a wild card, they could pull an upset in the early going. Projection: 10-6, OUT.
17. Chicago Bears, 8-6 (still alive at #9 in NFC). Matt Forte has been a superb rookie, breaking the rookie rushing yards record of Gale Sayers and the rookie receptions record set by Ditka. The defense has been sporadic, but at times has looked like the Bears of old. Even Kyle Orton resembles a real live NFL QB. But their margin of error is wafer thin, and some bad coaching decisions by Lovie Smith may have cost them the postseaon. Remaining schedule: GB, @ HOU. Projection: 9-7, OUT.
18. New Orleans Saints, 7-7 (still theoretically alive, #11 in NFC). Last night showed the best and worst of the Saints. The thrilling comebacks. Brees and Bush and Colston leading a top offense, with Rashard Mendenhall's former collegiate teammate Pierre Thomas providing a surprise spark. A defense that is slowly getting some better players... just not enough for this year. Remaining schedule: @ DET, CAR. Projection: 8-8, OUT.
19. Washington Redskins, 7-6 (still theoretically alive, #10 in NFC). You get the feeling that this team has never been right since the Steelers whacked them? Remaining schedule: @ CIN, PHI, @ SF. Projection: 8-8, OUT.
20. San Diego Chargers, 5-8 (almost unbelievably, still theoretically alive, #10 in AFC). One of the great collapses of 2008 (see Jacksonville). With all the talent on this team, how are they 5-8? It's worth noting that Phillip Rivers is quite the douche, however. Remaining schedule: @ KC, @ TB, DEN. Projection: 7-9, OUT.
21. Green Bay Packers, 5-8 (almost unbelievably, still theoretically alive, #12 in NFC). At the beginning of the season, this team looked like they could win the division, and hang with just about anyone. Well, they're hanging all right. Swaying in the breeze. A few weeks ago, they were still ahead of the Bears and Vikings. A horrendous collapse. Remaining schedule: @ JAX, @ CHI, DET. Projection: 7-9, OUT.
22. Buffalo Bills, 6-7 (almost unbelievably, still theoretically alive, #9 in AFC). Collapse? You wanna talk about collapse? These guys are the Einsturzende Neubauten of the NFL: they're not just collapsing, they're doing it with a helluva racket. They scare no one. NO ONE! And seriously, they looked pretty good early on. Remaining schedule: @ NYJ, @ DEN, NE. Projection: 6-10, OUT.
YOUR GOOSE IS COOKED ALREADY, SO YOU DON'T GET THE FANCY PROJECTIONS.
23. Houston Texans, 6-7. No shot for them, but they'll affect others' playoff chances. Maybe next year. Had some moments, but still the same old Texans.
24. San Francisco 49ers, 5-8. Showing some life under Singletary. See notes to Texans. On the bright side, you have as many wins as the Chargers this year.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars, 4-9. Mr. Del Rio, you have won exactly as many games as the Cleveland Browns have. And their starting quarterback this week is Ken Dorsey. Even with all the injuries, other teams haven't sunk this badly. Horrible.
26. Kansas City Chiefs, 2-11. At least they're a young team, and may improve. Maybe. Coach Edwards, do you like your quarterback, Pig Pen?
27. Seattle, 2-11. Their TE, Carlson, looks good. Another collapse that's hard to explain, even with injuries. Buh bye, Fatass Holmgren.
28. Oakland Raiders, 3-10. The irony is that if Al Davis had sat his decrepit ass still with Little Lancie Kiffin, maybe, just MAYBE, the Raiders would have won a couple more games through sheer dint of consistent leadership. Meaning, with 5 or 6 wins they'd still be theoretically alive in the wacky AFC West. This team is a fucking mess, and has been for years, and there's no one to blame but the Meddling Corpse himself. A fucking disgrace to the NFL.
29. St. Louis Rams, 2-11. When you're a worse team than the Raiders, already noted as a fucking disgrace to the NFL, you think I'm going to find a single nice thing to say about you? You're out your fucking mind.
30. Cleveland Browns, 4-9. How's that division title thing going, bitches? Ken Dorsey is your starting quarterback. Your coach is all but fired. You're back to rebuilding. I piss on your grave.
31. Cincinnati Bengals, 1-11-1. OK, at the outset of the season, I predicted the Bengals would go 3-13. No, said the experts, they can contend for the division. No, said my MGS peers, they won't be that bad. Well holy motherfucking sheepshit, I underestimated the sheer depth of their ineptitude. Yeah, whatever, Carson Palmer missed half the season. Bengals sucked when he was in, too, so whatever.
32. Detroit Lions, 0-13. They could... go... all... the... way. Michael Crabtree, your fate is sealed.