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By Joe Benigno
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1. Atlanta Falcons (1) 8-0
Atlanta is still undefeated, but I’m not totally buying into them. It’s all about the playoffs with this group.
Next: @ Saints
2. Chicago Bears (4) 7-1
Chicago’s defense continues to score more TDs than most team’s offenses. If their O-line can keep Jay Cutler upright then this is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. We’ll find out a lot in the next two weeks with the Texans and Niners on the schedule.
Next: vs. Texans
3. Houston Texans (3) 7-1
Houston continues to roll along with an easy win over the struggling Bills. Who knew the Colts would be their biggest competition in the AFC South?
Next: @ Bears
4. San Francisco 49ers (5) 6-2
Niners enjoyed their bye after a blowout of the fading Cardinals in Arizona. What looked to be the league’s best division is now turning into what we thought all along — a Niner runaway, with the Seahawks the only legitimate threat.
Next: vs. Rams
5. Green Bay Packers (6) 6-3
Pack back on track, winning their fourth in a row Sunday versus the Cards at Lambeau. Randall Cobb is quickly becoming Green Bay’s best offensive weapon.
6. New York Giants (2) 6-3
G-Men played horribly in New York’s home loss to the Steelers. Was it Superstorm Sandy or just the start of the Giants’ annual second-half slide?
Next: @ Bengals
7. New England Patriots (7) 5-3
Pats enjoyed the bye week after a blowout win in London over Rams. Look for Belichick’s boys to run away with AFC East in second half as usual.
Next: vs. Bills
8. Denver Broncos (9) 5-3
Nice comeback by Peyton & Co. after falling behind in the second-half in Cincy. Is there any doubt that these guys will win the AFC West?
Next: @ Panthers
9. Baltimore Ravens (8) 6-2
Baltimore knocked off those horrible Browns for the tenth straight time in Cleveland. If the Brownies could only have scored touchdowns instead of field goals, it might have been different. Ravens look a little shaky in spite of their record.
Next: vs. Raiders
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (unranked) 5-3
Don’t look now Baltimore, but here comes Pittsburgh. Men of steel have rediscovered their running game, as Isaac Redman torched the defending champs Sunday in Jersey. The division will be decided as Pittsburgh still has their two games with Ravens coming up.
Next: vs. Chiefs
And as we’re now past the midway point, here are Joe’s awards for the 2012 first half:
MVP: Matt Ryan (Falcons)
Defensive MVP: J.J. Watt (Texans)
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Andrew Luck (Colts)
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Morris Claiborne (Cowboys)
Coach of the Year: Mike Smith (Falcons)
How would you rank ‘em? Be heard in the comments below…