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Ranking the National Football League

Wednesday, October 11, 2006; E09

1. Bears (5-0)

This team isn't 16-0 good, but it is 14-2 good, with the only real tests on the road against the Giants, Patriots and Rams.

2. Colts (5-0)

They're winning, but not particularly convincingly. Opponents are averaging 5.2 yards per rushing attempt and DT Corey Simon is lost for the season.

3. Eagles (4-1)

Donovan McNabb is the MVP of the league so far. On defense, the pass rush is overwhelming. Both NFC East games have been at home, so things get tougher.

4. Patriots (4-1)

They're looking for help at WR, signing Eagles castoff Jabar Gaffney this week.

5. Chargers (3-1)

The Chargers -- not the Bears, Ravens or Broncos -- lead the NFL in total defense.

6. Broncos (3-1)

The play of QB Jake Plummer remains a concern, but the defense has yielded only one TD in four games.

7. Ravens (4-1)

Steve McNair's late-game magic ran out and the Ravens have a short week to prepare for Carolina.

8. Seahawks (3-1)

Injured RB Shaun Alexander could return to the lineup after missing one more game.

9. Bengals (3-1)

Suspended WR Chris Henry may look like a star-in-the-making but can't stay out of trouble.

10. Falcons (3-1)

Sunday's game with the Giants is a good test for QB Michael Vick. The Giants will do all they can to take away the running game.

11. Panthers (3-2)

They're still unbeaten since WR Steve Smith's return but now comes a big test in Baltimore.

12. Saints (4-1)

It's reaching the point where the Saints have to be considered legitimate playoff contenders but the schedule toughens from here.

13. Rams (4-1)

They can show they're for real this weekend, when they host the Seahawks with first place in the NFC West at stake.

14. Jaguars (3-2)

Coach Jack Del Rio and his staff have a bye week to figure out how to reconfigure their defense to replace LB Mike Peterson, who's done for the season.

15. Vikings (3-2)

Players had almost all of the week off but were cautioned not to add to the team's off-field transgressions.

16. Chiefs (2-2)

Damon Huard, filling in for injured QB Trent Green, is the NFL's second-rated passer.

17. Giants (2-2)

The defense had three sacks against the Redskins after managing only two in three games before that.

18. Cowboys (2-2)

Coach Bill Parcells is sticking with Drew Bledsoe but that won't last if he plays like he did in Philly.

19. Redskins (2-3)

Get blown out. Replace the kicker. That wasn't the problem, was it?

20. Steelers (1-3)

QB Ben Roethlisberger is 0-3 with seven interceptions and no TD passes. It's time to stop thinking of the champs as a good team in a rough stretch.

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