Peyton Manning

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The NFL Season is halfway over and we should know which teams have positioned themselves above—and below—the NFL pack.  And we thought we did. Then today's games happened, and all the teams on our mid-season Top 5 list lost unless they were off, playing another Top 5-team or, in San Francisco's case, escaping with the NFL's first tie since 2008.

Still, after 10 weeks, these five teams have pulled ahead, while another five are falling apart.  Here are our mid-season rankings:

1. Houston (8-1):  The Texans did what champions do last night: In a fearsome November rainstorm in Chicago, they out-toughed the Bears. Houston's vaunted defense, shredded last month by Aaron Rodgers, forced Chicago into four first-half turnovers while Arian Foster and the Houston running game imposed themselves on Chicago's defense all night.  That's enough for our top spot.

Terry Bradshaw apologizes for "bucket of chicken" comment

2. Green Bay (6-3): After some early-season bad luck, the Pack has rolled over its last four opponents, including a 42-24 dismantling of our No. 1 team, Houston. Aaron Rodgers has been phenomenal, with 25 touchdowns, the most in the NFL, versus just five interceptions, which trails only Tom Brady. Troublingly, he's been sacked 29 times to Brady's 15.

3. Atlanta (8-1): Frankly, we can't hold Atlanta's close loss to New Orleans on Sunday against them. Previously unbeaten, the Falcons were due for a hiccup and the Saints, after a miserable first month, had been building toward a break-through win.  Atlanta even took six shots at New Orleans' end zone in the final two minutes.  Still, the Falcons have won by slim margins this year, including by 2, 3 and 6 points against teams with losing records.

4. Denver (6-3): Peyton Manning had four neck surgeries before joining the Broncos, each of which apparently removed a year from his body. At Carolina Sunday, the four-time/working-on-a-fifth NFL MVP tied Dan Marino in second place on the NFL's all-time touchdown passing list. Since losing to Atlanta and Houston early in the year, the Broncos are 5-1 with just two games remaining against teams with winning records.

5. San Francisco (6-2-1): With the league's best defense and rushing game, they'd be higher if they hadn't escaped with a tie yesterday against St. Louis, a game the Rams had won but for a foolish delay of game penalty on a game-winning field goal. The 49ers also lost quarterback Alex Smith to a concussion.

Honorable Mentions: Ravens, Patriots, Giants, Bears.

And now for the Bottom 5...

Chuck Pagano's locker room speech is full of win

Mark Sanchez

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

5. Jets (3-6): It keeps getting worse in New York.  The Jets have been blown out 58-16 in their last two games.  If the Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow drama was its own show, it would be canceled by now.

4. Eagles (3-6): It was probably a sign that this was the week karma would officially quit on the Eagles when a reunion was held for the dogs abused by quarterback Michael Vick's gambling ring. Against Dallas, the Eagles looked haunted. First, Vick left in the second quarter with a concussion. Then came The Last Three Minutes of the Andy Reid Era.  Starting on the last play of the third quarter, Dallas scored three touchdowns in three minutes three different ways: Tony Romo threw a 30 yard touchdown to Dez Bryant, Dwayne Harris returned an Eagles punt a minute later and Brandon Carr returned an interception of Nick Foles, Vick's replacement, for a touchdown just a minute after that.  There were almost 13 minutes to play, but the game was over and so was Philadelphia's season. How much longer Reid has is down to a question of day.

3. Panthers (2-7):  The Panthers fired head coach John Fox in 2010. Soon hired by Denver, Fox lived the sugar rush of Tebowmania and is now guiding Manning and the young Broncos toward the playoffs. The Panthers are 8-17 since and their early-2011 star Cam Newton has stopped improving.

3. Panthers (2-7):  The Panthers fired head coach John Fox in 2010. Soon hired by Denver, Fox lived the sugar rush of Tebowmania and is now guiding Manning and the young Broncos toward the playoffs. The Panthers are 8-17 since and their early-2011 star Cam Newton has stopped improving.

2 . Jacksonville (1-7): Only 355 days until Tim Tebow takes the field in Jacksonville! That's the 2013 Georgia-Florida game. Maybe he'll give a speech or something?

1. See Below.

Two Things You Must Know for Your Monday Night Football Party:

1.  Make sure the guest list is promising, because the Kansas City Chiefs bring nothing to this party. The Chiefs, who are in Pittsburgh, are our No. 1 worst team and might be the worst Monday Night Football team ever.  The NFL's only two winless teams—Detroit in 2008 and Tampa Bay in 1976—didn't appear on MNF, while Kansas City, 1-7, is on its way to historic awfulness. The Chiefs have not held a lead for a single second of regulation in any game this season, an "accomplishment" not seen so late in the season since 1929 (their lone win came in overtime).

2. The real Kansas City drama is next week., a fan site that has taken up the cause of getting the entire Chiefs organization fired and replaced, has called for a stadium-wide blackout by fans next week, a movement that will likely gain steam if the Chiefs get steamrolled by the Steelers tonight.

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