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12 Questions: Pulling rank

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Before jumping into the leaner, meaner version of the Internet's most entertaining NFL ranking device – and I write that with the humility of, say, Terrell Owens staring at himself in the mirror – I'd like to ask you a question: You thought it was over, didn't you?

But like the Redskins and Titans, this interminable column has bucked the odds and slipped into the postseason, determined to do as much damage as possible before the powers that be put a stop to it.

In other words: Come early February, if you see a stand-alone headline heralding a special Super Bowl edition of "Two Questions," assume that I spiked the punch at the Y! Sports water cooler.

In the meantime, guess which team tops my rankings? That's right, the same one that was No. 1 at the beginning of the season and stayed there the entire time, largely because the Patriots neglected to lose an actual game. Boring, huh? Yeah, that's how they roll in New England, and man is it impressive.

As for the teams closer to the bottom of this abbreviated trip through our little league, don't despair. Thankfully, their fates will be decided on the field. And for what it's worth, though I'm rating them rather low, I still have high hopes for the Redskins and Titans.

1. New England Patriots: How did Tom Brady manage to throw 50 touchdown passes and figure out a way to spend 14 hours with his family for Christmas in the Bay Area – and does he also floss nightly?

2. Indianapolis Colts: If Marvin Harrison was, in fact, going to come back, don't you think he'd have at least trotted out for a series or two against the Titans?

3. Dallas Cowboys: After Super Bowl XXXIX, does anyone really doubt whether T.O. can fight through that ankle injury and perform at a high level?

4. Green Bay Packers: Is Charles Woodson's foot every bit as important as Owens' ankle in potentially swaying the NFC's balance of power?

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Great job winning that huge game in the Pittsburgh chill, guys. Now, can you do it again?

6. Pittsburgh Steelers: Is Ben Roethlisberger ready to carry this team?

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Will Jeff Garcia sting the Giants in the playoffs for the second consecutive year … and the third time in his career?

8. San Diego Chargers: If Chris Chambers comes up huge in the postseason, am I going to have to give A.J. Smith some begrudging love for making a bold midseason trade?

9. Tennessee Titans: Will Vince Young summon some more of his Southern California big-game magic?

10. Seattle Seahawks: That wasn't really the first-team defense out there in Atlanta, was it?

11. Washington Redskins: Have they already pulled off their miracle, or will the Todd Collins express roll into Dallas full-bore?

12. New York Giants: Was that stirring effort against the Patriots their Super Bowl, and if so, was that such a bad thing?

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