OK, the Atlanta Falcons answered the challenge and the Denver Broncos beat a team of merit. The Falcons are a win away from clinching Dome-field advantage. The Broncos, winners of nine consecutive games, look like the best team in football.
Here's the poll (with Super Bowl odds from betvega.com):
1. Denver (5-to-1): Where does this rank on the comeback scale, this stuff that Peyton Manning's doing with a new set of teammates, a new system and the never fading worries that one awkward hit on his oft-surgically repaired neck will end it all? We're having a hard time coming up with a better one. (Side note: As great as Manning has been and as much as he meant to Indianapolis for the better part of 14 years, want to know how many Colts fans are sad how things worked out now that it's apparent that Andrew Luck is Manning 2.0? Yep, zero.)
2. Atlanta (7-to-1): The 34-0 spanking of the New York Giants somewhat cleansed the memory of last year's playoff 24-2 beatdown the Giants handed the Falcons. Now Atlanta must cleanse its sketchy work in the postseason.
3. Green Bay (15-to-2): As the Packers start to get healthy, they become more and more scary. After clinching the NFC North with a win over Chicago, getting healthy becomes the only goal.
4. New England (19-to-4): Sunday night's roller-coaster loss was puzzling at every step. It was strange to watch a Belichick-Brady team fall behind 31-3; it was a blur when the Patriots tied it at 31; and after it was tied, everyone thought it was theirs to lose. Well, it was and they did. Still, Brady and Belichick are still the Super Bowl favorites.
5. San Francisco (9-2): Nice win at New England. Still, of all the teams on the Super Bowl short list, the Texans and the 49ers are the only two teams that have quarterbacks you don't completely trust.