The Patriots' perfect regular season is in the book, punctuating a 16-week run as the No. 1 team in the rankings. Despite the loss to Tennessee, Indianapolis remains No. 2 on both sides. However, Dallas dropped a notch after its season-ending blowout at the hands of the Redskins.
Cleveland, eliminated from the playoff picture with Tennessee's victory, maintains its No. 8 spot on one side. But the Vikings, NFC wild-card contenders until the Redskins beat Dallas, dropped a combined six spots from their No. 14 slot.
Here are the complete final rankings of the 2007 season.
New England Patriots
Green Bay Packers
San Diego Chargers
New York Giants
Cole: The only changes at the top from last week were flip-flopping Dallas and Green Bay at Nos. 4-5. Many Cowboys fans or just a lot of folks in general who think I’m an idiot (that includes you, mom), will undoubtedly send letters ridiculing me for dropping Dallas behind a team it soundly beat only a month ago. That all makes perfect sense, but the Cowboys aren’t playing well right now and the loss to Washington by such a lopsided margin was disturbing, even when you discount the value of the game and the fact that three Cowboys starters were out. Bottom line: I believe Green Bay is the better team at the moment. … The tight rankings of the bottom four could make for an interesting first round in the NFC.
Robinson: Strangely, a lot of the pressure is off the Patriots now that the regular season is over. But what about Indianapolis? Has a Super Bowl champ ever had less pressure going into the playoffs? … Yeah, it was without a gaggle of starters, but those losses by Dallas and Jacksonville have to be a concern. Both lost a lot of momentum. … Meanwhile, Green Bay seems stronger than ever after its backups took care of business against Detroit. … How far below the radar is San Diego? This team is insanely talented, and yet, a bigger afterthought than maybe anyone in the AFC playoffs. … Cleveland is the best team to miss the playoffs. Now the Browns are playing with fire by dangling Derek Anderson as trade bait. … Vince Young is banged up again. Anyone notice a trend with that quad injury of his?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints
Cole: Cleveland’s 10-win season went to waste on Sunday with Indianapolis' loss against Tennessee, vaulting the Titans into the playoffs. It’s really too bad because the Browns would have been fun in the playoffs. … Minnesota tumbled four spots with the overtime loss to Denver. That’s probably a bit far for the 8-8 Vikings, but the difference between the teams from 15 to 18 is so small that you’d need a serious microscope to figure it out any better than I have it ranked here.
Robinson: Houston had a very solid second half of the season. Health permitting, this is going to be a tough team in the AFC South next season. … The Eagles have a lot of talent to work with next season. This might be the weakest team in the NFC East next season, but that says more about the conference than it does about the franchise. … Memo to Minnesota: Don’t give up on Tarvaris Jackson yet. He’s got the tools to be a good starter in the NFC. … Arizona may have missed the playoffs, but on the bright side, Antrel Rolle salvaged what started out as a horrible season. This franchise feels like it has turned in the right direction heading into the offseason. … Back to the drawing board on defense for the Saints. Try not to get worse on that side of the ball this offseason, OK? … Chicago feels like it is just teetering on that edge. This team could go 5-11 next year or 11-5 and neither would be a surprise. … Jay Cutler took a very, very respectable step forward this season. Vince Young may have gotten all the publicity, but Cutler still looks like the best quarterback from the '06 NFL draft.
BOTTOM OF THE PACK
San Francisco 49ers
New York Jets
Kansas City Chiefs
St. Louis Rams
Cole: As of Monday afternoon, two of these teams (Baltimore and Atlanta) were without coaches. Expect Miami to join the group soon. Perhaps San Francisco will be in there as well, but that’s probably about it for the NFL this season. The biggest reason for so little change is a dearth of obvious candidates. When Marty Schottenheimer is already in play for a job before the second opening showed up, you know it’s a mediocre year for candidates. That said, it’s going to be really interesting to see what flamboyant owners Steve Bisciotti of Baltimore and Arthur Blank of Atlanta come up with in their respective situations.
Robinson: Jon Kitna looks like he’s coming to the end of the road as a quarterback. If the Lions could pry Derek Anderson loose from Cleveland with a first-round pick, they should do it. … Mike Nolan has made plenty of mistakes, but he deserves one more shot in San Francisco. … The Ravens did the only thing they could after Baltimore fell apart down the stretch. The team’s No. 1 problem over the years, quarterback, was a damning reflection on Brian Billick. … Warren Sapp may finally be retiring. Hopefully he’ll be recognized for what he was: One of the top five defensive tackles in NFL history. … When you look at Kansas City’s roster, it looks like a team that could bounce back big in 2008. But it’s all going to depend on the maturation of Brodie Croyle. … At the very least, Bill Parcells will find a GM who will get the right talent on the field for the Dolphins. But there is plenty of dead weight to sweep out the door, starting with Joey Porter.