- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2006

NFL writer David Elfin of The Washington Times ranks the teams. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses)

1. Chargers (2) — Sack-happy D coming after Hasselbeck.

2. Bears (1) — Grossman back on track, but injuries are catching up to the D.

3. Ravens (4) — Boller gave Billick more peace of mind.

4. Saints (3) — If Redskins weren’t big easy at home, visiting desperate Giants won’t be a Brees either.

5. Cowboys (5) — Can win NFC East for first time since 1998 by beating Eagles at home.

6. Colts (7) — That Manning to Harrison combo still works pretty well, doesn’t it?

7. Patriots (8) — Belichick, Brady on verge of fifth AFC East title in six years.

8. Eagles (10) — Wouldn’t it be ironic if Garcia went to Dallas and stole NFC East from T.O.?

9. Bengals (6) — At Indy, at Denver in seven days. That smarts.

10. Jets (11) — Amazing that this bunch will wind up .500 at worst.

11. Jaguars (9) — 4-1 against teams above .500, 4-5 vs. rest of NFL. That bodes well for date with Pats.

BIG RISER 12. Titans (20) —Five straight W’s have them thinking playoffs.

13. Giants (13) — Only pathetic NFC is keeping hope alive.

14. Falcons (14) — At least they get punchless Panthers this week.

15. Bills (16) — Jauron has done a heck of a job since bye week.

16. Seahawks (12) — Staggering to finish in NFC West.

17. Broncos (19) — Can rookie QB Cutler still engineer a wild card?

18. Steelers (21) — If Cowher’s retiring, he’s going down fighting.

19. Dolphins (15) — Playoff dreams were buffaloed by Bills.

20. Chiefs (18) — Why did Johnson get just 19 carries in huge game at San Diego?

21. 49ers (23) — If they beat Cards and Hawks lose to Bolts, unsung Niners will take NFC West race to final week.

22. Redskins (26) — Trashed D deserves major props for spoiling Saints’ division-clinching festivities.

23. Vikings (22) — Childress looking to 2007 by going to rookie QB Jackson.

BIG LOSER 24. Panthers (17) — There simply are no excuses for losing six of last eight, beating only Bucs and Rams.

25. Packers (27) — Did Favre say farewell to Lambeau last night?

26. Rams (30) — Coming off just third shutout in 12 seasons in St. Louis.

27. Bucs (31) — Rattay led gutsy comeback that fell just short in Chicago.

28. Cardinals (25) — Edge has only 988 yards but needs just 83 more for most by a Cardinals RB in 22 years.

29. Texans (24) — Blown out for first time in nine weeks last Sunday and now they get the Colts. Yikes.

30. Raiders (28) — They’ve scored 30 points fewer than L.T.

31. Browns (29) — In cellar three straight years and five of seven since rebirth.

32. Lions (32) — Have to hope Bears will take it easy with homefield sealed.

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