Well, the NFL Power Rankings for Week 12 don't contain a lot of surprises, but one team in the Top Ten took a significant injury hit that's likely to affect their fortunes. The Chicago Bears are on a five-game winning streak, but Jay Cutler broke the thumb on his throwing hand in Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers. Although the Green Bay Packers have a strangehold on the NFC North, it remains one of the most interesting and competitive divisions in the NFL.
1. Green Bay Packers (10-0): Aaron Rodgers and his band of cheesehead gentlemen had themselves a little scare against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Rodgers threw a touchdown pass with under three minutes to go to keep the undefeated Pack lossless.
2. San Francisco 49ers (9-1): The Niners pushed their win streak to eight with a thumping of the woeful Arizona Cardinals. San Fran was helped immensely by Arizona's five turnovers, because they did actually have a little bit of trouble scoring against the recently stout-ish Cards' D.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3): The Black and Yellow had a bye this week, so there was not a whole lot to detract from their status. However, Big Ben Roethlisberger fractured his right thumb against Cincinnati; it apparently won't limit his playing time, but it might limit his effectiveness going forward.
4. New Orleans Saints (7-3): Drew Brees is leading the NFL in passing yards, despite being in the midst of a potential contract dispute with the Saints. His team has some decent wins and has a fairly easy schedule remaining. The NFC South should be theirs for the gentle prying.
5. Baltimore Ravens (7-3): It's tough to buy into the Ravens completely, since Joe Flacco still can't seem to string together a couple of above average games. However, the team is getting wins and I guess that's all that matters.
6. Chicago Bears (7-3): As mentioned above, the team is on a five-game winning streak, and has won fairly convincingly throughout it. But with Cutler likely out for the season, things are going to get a lot tougher with Caleb Hanie driving the jalopy.
7. Detroit Lions (7-3): Matthew Stafford bounced back nicely from his embarrassing performance against Da Bears. He tossed a whopping five TD passes en route to a win over the Carolina Panthers.
8. Houston Texans (7-3): The Matt Leinart era begins! ... after the Texans' bye week. Cardinals fans will soon know if Matty Matt was really a bust or if Coach Ken Whisenhunt just sucks with quarterbacks.
9. New England Patriots (7-3): With a nice Monday Night Football thumbing of the Tyler Palko-led Kansas CIty Chiefs, the Pats join the cluster eff of teams with a 7-3 record. But they're just not doing things with enough gusto to make it much higher in these rankings.
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-4): Hey, it's the Cowboys! After playing some of their most embarrassing football in a while, the Cowboys have now won three in a row behind a trio of clean games from Tony Romo. When ex-Mr. Jessica Simpson avoids interceptions and fumbles, he can win games.
We won't bother with the teams outside the Top Ten, because well ... they're not that good. In local news, the Arizona Cardinals (and John Skelton) promptly squashed any potential QB controversy. Skelton grabbed himself a lean 10.5 QB rating against the Niners. While Whisenhunt said Skelton will play if Kolb can't, the local fans are feeling "diamond-in-the-rough-oh-wait-no-just-a-dirt-clod" deja vu from last year's Max Hall debacle.