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13. Indianapolis _ This is a fact that shouldn’t be taken lightly _ the Colts (4-3) are legitimately the second-best team in the AFC South after last Sunday’s overtime win at Tennessee.

14. Seattle _ Now 1-4 on the road following last Sunday’s loss to Detroit, the Seahawks must find a way to recapture some magic away from Qwest Field down the stretch.

15. Cincinnati _ The Bengals must hope the bye week brings schematic improvement to their 16th-ranked pass defense with red-hot Denver quarterback Peyton Manning coming to town.

16. Philadelphia _ Vick (Michael). Nick (Foles). Whatever. If the Eagles don’t start scoring more points, it won’t matter who’s playing quarterback as the heat increases on head coach Andy Reid.

17. Dallas _ The latest unorthodox way to lose: Having three receivers with 100-yard games for the first time since 1963 _ including a ridiculous 18-catch effort from tight end Jason Witten _ and still falling short, 29-24, against the New York Giants.

18. Washington _ Note to Mike and Kyle Shanahan: Never ever leave Robert Griffin III exposed again as a wide receiver like in last Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh.

19. San Diego _ Is the besieged Norv Turner coaching for his livelihood in Thursday night’s game against Kansas City?

20. Detroit _ As evidenced by last Sunday’s win against Seattle, the Lions are living dangerously. Detroit has scored almost 59 percent of its points in the fourth quarter.

21. Oakland _ More frequent play-action rollouts show how much more comfortable quarterback Carson Palmer is becoming in Greg Knapp’s offense. With 11 tackles in last Sunday’s win over Kansas City, outside linebacker Phillip Wheeler continues to prove himself as the team’s best offseason acquisition.

22. Tennessee _ The defense has rapidly improved from a disastrous start but the offense couldn’t fully capitalize on scoring opportunities in last Sunday’s 19-13 overtime loss to Indianapolis.

23. Tampa Bay _ The Bucs finally learned how to finish _ and then some. After losing four games by seven points or less, the Bucs made sure it never got close late during last Thursday’s 36-17 mugging of Minnesota.

24. Arizona _ The Cardinals are wasting a playoff-caliber defense with offensive dreck.

25. New York Jets _ Nothing is working right for the Jets in their latest two-game losing streak.

26. St. Louis _ A 45-7 loss to New England served as a sobering reminder of just how far the Rams still must come before providing a legitimate challenge to the NFL’s best teams.

27. New Orleans _ Returning interim head coach Joe Vitt was right. He isn’t a “miracle worker” as evidenced by the Saints’ putrid performance against Denver in his first game back from a six-game NFL suspension.

Story Continues →