Now, the official NFL season begins, as it usually does when Thanksgiving week rolls around. Teams battle for division titles, playoff byes and home-field advantage.
Super Bowl prediction after Week 12? Ha. I'm getting nervous about the Chiefs, but I may have to wait a couple of weeks to get off them. So, I'll stick with the Chiefs and Rams.
Here are my Top-Five Lists for Week 12 ... and happy Thanksgiving!
Best Games (2x5=10)
1. Ravens 44, Seahawks 41 (OT) -- Yeah, it was going to be a three-point game, but not this way.
2. Dolphins 24, Redskins 23 -- On a night when it looked like Redskins reserve QB Tim Hasselbeck was touched by an angel, Jay Fiedler came off the Miami bench trailing 23-10 and sparked the Dolphins.
3. Cowboys 24, Panthers 20 -- If a game can bring coach Bill Parcells close to tears, then it was a good one.
4. Chiefs 27, Raiders 24 -- QB Trent Green's great fourth-down throw set up Morten Andersen's 35-yard FG in fairly extreme conditions against the surprising Raiders.
5. Colts 17, Bills 14 -- Down 14-3, the Colts showed poise and RB Edgerrin James showed clout again.
6. Patriots 23, Texans 20 (OT) -- Plenty of twists and turns and heartbreaks as QB Tom Brady goes to 7-0 in overtime.
7. Rams 30, Cardinals 27 (OT) -- Just when you wondered again about QB Marc Bulger, he throws the perfect pass to WR Torry Holt to set up Jeff Wilkins' winning FG.
8. Jets 13, Jaguars 10 -- Down 10-6, QB Chad Pennington had no timeouts and the ball on his own 5 with three-plus minutes left against a pretty good Jags' defense -- and won with 26 seconds left.
9. Bears 19, Broncos 10 -- QB Kordell Stewart's leaping sneak on fourth down broke the Broncos in a fourth-quarter goal-line stand to lock the day's most stunning result.
10. Steelers 13, Browns 6 -- Not a thing of beauty, but it was a beast of drama as Steelers believe -- rightfully so -- that they're still in the AFC North race.
Most Impressive in Victory
1. Ravens 44, Seahawks 41 (OT) -- Now this may have been the Seahawks' spot, save for an officiating error, but give the Ravens the nod for overcoming a 41-24 deficit on a day when the offense -- yes, offense -- had all the answers.
2. Cowboys 24, Panthers 20 -- Dallas' defense shut down RB Stephen Davis, and only three pass-interference penalties kept this from being more impressive. Oh, QB Quincy Carter was sharp on offense.
3. Packers 20, 49ers 10 -- No team is knocking 'em down like the Pack, who win a crucial game against a hot 49ers team.
4. Eagles 33, Saints 20 -- They're starting to look like a well-oiled machine.
5. Bears 19, Broncos 10 -- The Bears earned this victory on the road, in hostile territory, against a Denver team supposedly on a mission.
Best Performance: Quarterback
1. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks -- Against the best defense in football, Hasselbeck posted 41 points, five TDs and zero interceptions.
2. Anthony Wright, Ravens -- His team never led until the end, and Wright made it possible with four touchdown passes.
3. Jon Kitna, Bengals -- Four more TD passes. Just keep on laughing. Kitna is.
4. Trent Green, Chiefs -- He did what winning QBs do -- terrific throws when it counted.
5a. Jay Fiedler, Dolphins -- Never before have I picked a QB who was 5-for-9 for 54 yards, but Fiedler inspired his team for 16 minutes in a relief role for a dramatic win.
5b. Tim Hasselbeck, Redskins -- Dolphins' fans may have been frustrated by their defense, but Hasselbeck's passing was so uncanny and unexpected that you wondered whether he had been touched by an angel.
5c. Chad Pennington, Jets -- Sometimes, one drive can build a legend.
5d. Rick Mirer, Raiders -- If you can bury the guy with criticism most of his career, you better acknowledge that he has seldom played better than he did Sunday in a near-upset of the Chiefs.
Best Performance: Receiver
1. Marcus Robinson, Ravens -- I don't believe in reincarnation, but Robinson's emergence on a four-TD game was out of this world.
2. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals -- He's no fluke: six catches for 123 yards and two TDs nearly stunned Rams. Now has 999 yards for the season, one yard short of tying rookie record for fastest to 1,000.
3. Chad Johnson, Bengals -- He caught three TDs as Bengals' receiving corps appears very unstoppable.
4. Darrell Jackson, Seahawks -- Maligned for some serious drops this year, Jackson dropped 146 yards and two TDs on the Ravens.
5a. Torry Holt, Rams -- This year, he's the best receiver in football and he made all the clutch catches when the Rams needed them Sunday.
5b. David Boston, Chargers -- When he shows up like Sunday (9-for-139, 2 TDs), he's a force.
Best Performance: Running Back
1. Deuce McAllister, Saints -- He may be the best RB in football that few people are talking about. He left the Eagles impressed with 184 yards on 19 carries and two TDs.
2. Ahman Green, Packers -- True, nobody's getting better blocking, but Green is running with power, patience and speed: 154 yards on 27 carries.
3. Priest Holmes, Chiefs -- Typical Sunday for Priest: 27 touches for 191 yards rushing and receiving.
4. Clinton Portis, Broncos -- He was unstoppable (14 carries for 165 yards) until the Bears KO'd him.
5a. Eddie George, Titans -- Yes, he almost looked young again with 115 yards and one TD to lead Titans in comeback over Falcons.
5b. Edgerrin James, Colts -- The whispers have been there: He isn't the same. Sunday, he was good enough with some serious tackle-breaking runs for two TDs and 108 yards.
Coaching Honors: Week 12
1. Bill Parcells, Cowboys -- It was a moment-of-truth game for Tuna's gang against Panthers.
2. Brian Billick, Ravens -- In the day's most improbable drama, his Ravens left us asking, "Really?"
3. Dick Jauron, Bears -- Chicago fans don't want to hear this, but this guy has done a heckuva job since a season-opening loss to the 49ers. Beating the Broncos in Denver was one of the year's most unforeseen results.
4. Dave Wannstedt, Dolphins -- When I spoke to Wannstedt on Friday, he absolutely detailed the possible scenario in which he tapped Jay Fiedler on the shoulder to overcome the Redskins.
5a. Tony Dungy, Colts -- His never-panic demeanor paid off as the Colts overcame a 14-3 deficit in the fourth quarter to stun Buffalo.
5b. Marvin Lewis, Bengals -- Buy it or not, the Bengals' road win in San Diego was as big or bigger than their previous home win over the Chiefs.
5c. Jeff Fisher, Titans -- It's one thing to overcome a huge road deficit with Steve McNair at quarterback, it's another thing when you finish it with Billy Volek.
5d. Mike Holmgren, Seahawks -- All I know is that his offense scored 41 points on the Ravens.
Dishonorable Mention (Just One)
1. Tom White, referee -- The rules and mechanics of a game were in his hand, and he might have cost the Seahawks a victory and, who knows, a playoff berth by failing to restart the clock. No excuse for this one, although Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren gracefully admitted, "There were about 10 things we could have done to end the game."
1. "You can't call them losers anymore." -- Cowboys coach Bill Parcells after his team won their eighth game, officially ending a three-year losing drought.
2. "Imagine if we had all our players." -- Colts RB Edgerrin James after winning again with major injuries. Now he knows how the Patriots feel -- they can chat about it Sunday when the two teams meet.
3. "No wonder I'm sore." -- Packers C Mike Flanagan, one of the Pro Bowl-worthy Green Bay linemen, on the team's 48-carry, 243-yard performance vs. 49ers.
4. "Everyone's going to say, 'It's Detroit,' but a win in this league is a win." -- Vikings coach Mike Tice on beating the Lions. And he's right. Just check the scores every week.
5. "We just seem to block better for Hasselbeck." -- Redskins coach Steve Spurrier in a backhanded slap to injured QB Patrick Ramsey.
Best Games: Week 13
1. Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers -- We're getting into the home-field advantage stretch, and none is bigger than this contest between two of the NFC's four 8-3 teams (the other two: Cowboys and Rams).
2. New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts -- The Colts face their biggest two weeks with this game and then a Dec. 7 showdown at Tennessee.
3. Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams -- Battle of the uncomfortable first-place dome teams.
4. Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys -- Turkey Day showdown with both teams needing a victory; Cowboys can clinch their first winning season in five years.
5. Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions -- This matchup is the best Thanksgiving tradition, and the Lions always make it interesting, no matter the record. A Packers' win sets the table for a possible NFC North title.