Well, not complete parity. While some huge upsets shifted the balance of power in our weekly rankings, one thing remains certain: the Green Bay Packers are a juggernaut. And, as much as we want to, the San Francisco 49ers just can’t be ignored. Anyway, here we go with the new poll:
1. Green Bay Packers (7-0): Aaron Rodgers’ “Discount Double Check” ad for State Farm played more often (and better) than most of the teams in last week’s top 5.
2. San Francisco 49ers (6-1): OK, admit it, the Niners are officially legit. Looking at their schedule (go ahead, look), they might only lose three more games all season.
3. Baltimore Ravens (5-2): They were primed for second consecutive upset [down by three scores vs. Arizona], but rode Ray Rice to victory. Still ranked this high because they beat Pittsburgh.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2): These aren’t your daddy’s Steelers. With a speedy group of game-changing wideouts — and Big Ben playing at an MVP level — watch out.
5. New England Patriots (5-2): Their secondary is so bad right now that Bill Belichick chose to onsides kick with three timeouts and 2:35 left, instead of kicking away and trusting his defense.
6. Houston Texans (5-3): The best eight-game start in franchise history is only going to get better this week with the return of All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson.
7. New Orleans Saints (5-3): As bad as it was — and it was bad — every team gets one throwaway game. Drew Brees is lucky to still be standing.
8. New York Giants (6-2): Big Blue did everything they could to lose to Miami and still walked away with the W. Are they real or frauds? We’ll find out this week, when they travel to New England.
9. Detroit Lions (6-2): Snapping a two-game skid was huge for the franchise’s psyche. Mocking Tim Tebow is worth a three-spot jump in the polls.
10. Buffalo Bills (5-2): Ryan Fitzpatrick, the NFL equivalent of Zach Galifianakis, rewarded the Bills’ front office for his shiny new contract with a 23-0 shutout win.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2): If Cam Newton wasn’t playing at such a ridiculous level, then Andy Dalton would be the NFL’s Rookie of the Year.
12. New York Jets (4-3): It sure was a boring week with Rex Ryan on a bye, wasn’t it? Matchup of this week: Darrelle Revis vs. Stevie Johnson.
13. San Diego Chargers (4-3): What’s wrong with Philip Rivers? The Chargers can blame injuries all they want, but until that question gets answered, the Bolts are the AFC’s Cowboys.
14. Atlanta Falcons (4-3): The bye week came at the perfect time for Matt Ryan, who had an extra week to rest his injured ankle. Dirty Birds going for three straight wins.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4): That Dallas beatdown was as impressive as any recent win of the Mike Vick era. But can’t take foot off the gas — or off LeSean McCoy.
16. Chicago Bears (4-3): Jay Cutler has developed into a good teammate. And Matt Forte has developed into one of the most electrifying weapons in football.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3): LeGarrette Blount’s return should bolster a struggling offense, which ranks 24th in points per game (18.7) and 23rd in rushing yards (100.1).
18. Tennessee Titans (4-3): Even with Chris Johnson struggling — he’s averaging just 43 yards per game — the Titans keep reeling off wins. Thanks, Javon Ringer.
19. Dallas Cowboys (3-4): They need to stop trying to harness Tony Romo and just let him play his — yes, often erratic — brand of football.
20. Oakland Raiders (4-3): Was Carson Palmer worth all they gave up? We’re about to find out with Darren McFadden nursing a foot sprain.
21. Kansas City Chiefs (4-3): That’s four straight wins for a team left for dead three weeks ago. Dexter McCluster could be their Darren Sproles.
22. Minnesota Vikings (2-6): Christian Ponder out-dueled Cam Newton and has lit a fire under this once-sinking Viking ship.
23. Carolina Panthers (2-6): Newton is electric but still prone to mistakes, including two costly first-half fumbles last week.
24. Washington Redskins (3-4): Mike Shanahan is officially on the hot seat after getting goose-egged by Buffalo.
25. Cleveland Browns (3-4): The backfield is so muddled that old friend Tom Heckert might want to call Brian Westbrook.
26. Seattle Seahawks (2-5): Uh-oh. Reports of a rift between Seattle’s defense and offense.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6): Too bad they couldn’t build off that big Monday night win over Baltimore.
28. St. Louis Rams (1-6): Sam Bradford is out of a protective boot. Ride that La Russa magic.
29. Arizona Cardinals (1-6): Blowing a three-touchdown lead is never good. Losing your starting quarterback is even worse.
30. Denver Broncos (2-5): Good thing we didn’t erect that Tim Tebow statue. Brady Quinn is next man up.
31. Indianapolis Colts (0-8): The team is still trying to bring Peyton Manning back. Worst. Decision. Ever.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-7): Even Tony Sparano wants Bill Cowher to take his job at this point.