The NFL is a results-driven operation. Winning cures almost everything.
Ask the Pittsburgh Steelers, who wake up this morning sore and confused -- a 16-13 overtime win over the worst team in the NFL a small consolation to waiting on the news about Ben Roethlisberger's injured right shoulder.
Ask the Houston Texans, who stood toe-to-toe and out-clubbed the Bears in a Sunday night game that reminded everyone why NFL players are underpaid.
Ask the Dallas Cowboys, who saved their season by scoring in a wide variety of ways and dropped the Philadelphia Eagles into the pit of no return. (Side note: Eagles fans are kindred spirits with UT fans, and it has nothing to do with Darwin Walker. No, each group is longing for news that Jon Gruden is interested in coaching their team.)
To the Power Poll:
1) Houston: The Texans are the league's most complete team. Defensively, Sunday's 13-6 standoff in the driving rain in Chicago was impressive. And that's without leader Brian Cushing, who was lost for the season with a knee injury.
2) Atlanta: The Falcons are a yard away from being 9-0, but that's a long yard. The Falcons couldn't convert from the 1 against the Saints, who have the league's worst rushing defense. That does not bode well for a lengthy postseason run, which is what will define this Falcons team.
3) Chicago: The Bears' loss to Houston also included quarterback Jay Cutler missing most of the game after suffering a concussion. That defense will keep the Bears close, and if Chicago gets home-field advantage, there are not many teams that will have success going into the Windy City in January.
4) San Francisco: Another powerful NFC defense that failed to win Sunday after their quarterback was concussed. The 49ers tied the Rams at 24 after Alex Smith was knocked from the game.
5) Denver: Yes, the Ravens have a better record, but Peyton Manning and the Broncos are starting to hit their stride. And to think a lot of folks wondered if Manning would be able to come back. Speaking of Manning, has there ever been a more publicized, more analyzed and more dramatized breakup than Manning and the Colts that has ended so well for each side? Manning and the Broncos look like a real Super Bowl threat, and his replacement, Andrew Luck, is doing work beyond his years in Indianapolis.