- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Here’s a quick way to get dizzy: Look for the defending division champions in the current NFL standings.

Instant vertigo.

Not one division winner from 2009 is alone on top this season. The Patriots (6-2) and Colts (5-3) are tied for first place in their sectors, and the others are either playing catch-up or are also-rans.

How teams got where they are halfway through the schedule, and where they might be headed:

NFC SOUTH

Let’s start with the place where the Super Bowl champions reside. The Saints (6-3) trail Atlanta by a half-game.

New Orleans has begun to gets it offense on track, but needs running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush to get healthy. The defense has allowed the fewest points in the division.

The Falcons (6-2) have ridden the big plays of Matt Ryan throwing to Roddy White, the power running of a healthy Michael Turner, and a solid run defense to the best record in the NFC. They already have a win at New Orleans.

The Buccaneers (5-3) are on the rise, with a penchant for comeback victories behind rapidly developing QB Josh Freeman and rookie wideout Mike Williams. Their run defense is suspect, and they are raw.

Carolina is a mess under lame-duck coach John Fox.

Projected Winner: Saints.

NFC NORTH

Yes, the Bears (5-3) are in the mix, but their inability to protect QB Jay Cutler and get sacks figures to hurt down the stretch. Four wins came against last-place teams.

Green Bay (6-3) can really use this week off; no NFC team has more key injuries. If the Packers get healthy, they are Super Bowl contenders, particularly if they find a running game to complement Aaron Rodgers and his receivers.

Story Continues →