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By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Ball Securer
Take care of the ball, and good things happen. It's a classic old NFL maxim, and it's been exceedingly true in 2010.
The Patriots are first in turnover prevention, losing the ball just nine times all season, and they rank first in our power rankings. The No. 2 Falcons are third in turnovers, with 14.
In fact, 12 of the 13 teams that are best at avoiding turnovers approach the season's final two weeks with playoff hopes still alive. Only Houston isn't, thanks to terrible defense and generally stormy fortunes.
There are some contenders at the bottom of the list as well, though, including the last-place Giants, who have given the ball away a league-high 35 times, the Jaguars (29), the Bears (28) and the Saints (27).
The Patriots in particular haven't always wowed you with their play or their stats. But their absolute refusal to allow opposing defenses to take the ball away has them on top of the NFL world and favored to win it all.
Note to the rest of the league: sleep with a football.
On to the rankings!

1. NEW ENGLAND (12-2)
Last week:
31-27 win vs. Green Bay
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Tom Brady once taught a German Shepherd how to bark in Russian. He is the only person to ever ace a Rorschach Test. His organ donor card also includes his beard. He planted the idea for the movie 'Inception' into Christopher Nolan's mind while he was dreaming. He once visited a Psychic warn her. Tom Brady is ... the most interesting man in the world
2. ATLANTA (12-2)
Last week:
34-18 win at Seattle
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The best stat for the Falcons this week was their 39.5 Defensive Passer Rating against the Seahawks. In Week 14 againts Carolina's QBs, it was a 53.5 DPR, and the week before, they held Tampa to 70.8. Could be the result of weak opposition. But if Atlanta's pass D keeps playing this way, look out.
3. BALTIMORE (10-4)
Last week:
30-24 win vs. New Orleans
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Baltimore fans are getting their money's worth this year. Eleven of the team's 14 games have been decided by a TD or less, and they haven't been beaten by more than five points.
Last week:
38-31 win at N.Y. Giants
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: DeSean Jackson has at least one running, receiving and return TDs in all three of his NFL seasons; only five other players have done it in three seasons over their entire careers.
5. NEW ORLEANS (10-4)
Last week:
30-24 loss at Baltimore
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Saints are in the top 10 in both total defense and scoring defense (ninth in each). They haven't cracked the top 10 in either category since 2000. Even last year's champs ranked 25th in total D and 20th in scoring D. 
6. SAN DIEGO (8-6)
Last week:
34-7 win vs. San Francisco
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Philip Rivers' passer ratings from 2008-10: 105.5, 104.4 and 105.7. He's one of the best quarterbacks in football, folks.
7. N.Y. GIANTS (9-5)
Last week:
38-31 loss vs. Philadelphia
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: No pass-rushing tandem has been more productive than Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, who have combined for 20 sacks (10 each) and 14 forced fumbles. Big Blue's Defensive Hogs are No. 2 overall in forcing Negative Pass Plays (11.58%).
8. PITTSBURGH (10-4)
Last week:
22-17 loss vs. N.Y. Jets
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If the Steelers maintain their top scoring defense (15.7 PPG; tied with Green Bay) until the end of the season, it'd be their second top finish in three years under Mike Tomlin. They fielded the top scoring defense only twice in Chuck Noll's 23 seasons and once in Bill Cowher's 15.
9. CHICAGO (10-4)
Last week:
40-14 win at Minnesota
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Julius Peppers boasts eight sacks, 11 passes defensed and three forced fumbles for a Chicago squad that ranks No. 3 in scoring defense (17.3 PPG), No. 5 on the Defensive Hog Index and No. 6 in run defense (3.76 YPA). Those numbers put Peppers in the mix for Defensive Player of the Year.
10. N.Y. JETS (10-4)
Last week:
22-17 win at Pittsburgh
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: LaDainian Tomlinson has been remarkably consistent over his last nine games ... and that's not a good thing. He's carried the ball 10 to 19 times for 36 to 55 yards, and exactly zero touchdowns in every game.
11. GREEN BAY (8-6)
Last week:
31-27 loss at New England
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Packers haven't been decisively beaten in a game since a 51-29 loss to the Saints in Week 12 of 2008. But they're a remarkably poor 6-14 in games decided by seven points or fewer over that span.
12. KANSAS CITY (9-5)
Last week:
27-13 win at St. Louis
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Jamaal Charles has carried the ball 460 times with an average of 6.04 YPA. The all-time leader among running backs, Jim Brown, averaged 5.22 YPA (2,359 for 12,312 yards). The NFL requires 750 attempts to qualify for "official" records.
13. OAKLAND (7-7)
Last week:
39-23 win vs. Denver
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Raiders topped 500 yards of offense Sunday for the third time in eight weeks. The NFL's other 31 teams have topped 500 yards just nine times all season.
Last week:
34-24 loss at Indianapolis
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Jacksonville's performance on the road Sunday rates a 9.4 on our still-in-development Inevitability Index.
Last week:
34-24 win vs. Jacksonville
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Despite playing almost all of their games in either a dome or good weather, the Colts are the worst in the NFL in dropped passes (39) and in rushes of more than 10 yards (24).
16. TAMPA BAY (8-6)
Last week:
23-20 loss vs. Detroit
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Josh Freeman has thrown interceptions on only 1.4 percent of his pass attempts this year, which would be one of the 26 best seasons ever in terms of avoiding picks. Of the 24 players on the list now, only eight were under 30 years old; Freeman is 22.
17. DALLAS (5-9)
Last week:
33-30 win vs. Washington
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: In the first eight games under Wade Phillips, the Cowboys were minus-9 in turnovers. In six games under Jason Garrett, they're plus-9.
18. MIAMI (7-7)
Last week:
17-14 loss vs. Buffalo
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Dolphins have completely wasted a spectacular run by their defense in the last six games. Miami has surrendered an average of 14.3 points and 267.3 yards over that span. But they went 3-3 and fell out of playoff contention.
19. CLEVELAND (5-9)
Last week:
19-17 loss at Cincinnati
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: No matter the team's final record, the emergence of Colt McCoy makes 2010 a good season. He's produced a 93.0 passer rating on 152 attempts, and if he finishes over 90.0 he'll be the third true rookie quarterback to do it in the NFL, joining Dan Marino and Ben Roethlisberger.
20. ST. LOUIS (6-8)
Last week:
27-13 loss vs. Kansas City
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Rams do have one Quality Win, 20-17 over the Chargers in Week 6. Other than that, their wins are literally over the worst teams in the league. Their other victims in our Power Rankings are No. 27 (Seattle), No. 28 (Washington), No. 30 (Denver), No. 31 (Arizona) and No. 32 (Carolina). If only Cincinnati (No. 29) had been on their schedule, it'd be Super Bowl or bust!

21. BUFFALO (4-10)
Last week:
17-14 win at Miami
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bills are a tidy 4-2 against non-Quality Opponents this year, and can safely be added to the list of teams that would have won the NFC West.
22. HOUSTON (5-9)
Last week:
31-17 loss at Tennessee
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Andre Johnson needs 14 catches in the last two games to hit the century mark for the third straight season.
Last week:
34-7 loss at San Diego
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: We mentioned it earlier in the week, but it bears repeating: The Niners are the first 5-9 team in history to still have playoff life, and hopefully the last. With a win Sunday and a Seattle loss, the 6-9 49ers control their own destiny heading into Week 17.
24. TENNESSEE (6-8)
Last week:
31-17 win vs. Houston
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Seems like the Titans have been terrible all year, but they've scored 40 more points than their opponents. Tennessee, remarkably considering all its problems this year, is still No. 2 in Scoreability, behind only New England's offensive juggernaut.
25. DETROIT (4-10)
Last week:
23-20 win at Tampa Bay
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Lions are 18th in point differential this year (-21); if it holds, it would be their best showing since 2000, their last winning season.
26. MINNESOTA (5-9)
Last week:
40-14 loss vs. Chicago
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: BrettFavre's three most recent "last seasons" ended with him throwing interceptions. This year's "last season" appears to be ending with a sack, a fumble and a concussion. Sorry BrettFavre. That happy ending just isn't coming. For the record, this is seventh "last season" in his career. The NFL and the networks rolled out the red carpet for the original BrettFavre farewell tour way back 2004.
27. SEATTLE (6-8)
Last week:
34-18 loss vs. Atlanta
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Yes, a team that stands at 27th in our Power Rankings through 14 games not only might make the playoffs, but is the favorite in their division to do so.
28. WASHINGTON (5-9)
Last week:
33-30 loss at Dallas
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Is Rex Grossman's solid game vs. Dallas (93.4 rating) something to be excited about? Considering that his previous 11 starts all featured passer ratings under 87.0 and a TD/INT ratio of 8/14, probably not. We're guessing his respectable effort has something to do with the fact that Dallas fields one of the worst pass defenses in football (No. 30 in DPR).
29. CINCINNATI (3-11)
Last week:
19-17 win vs. Cleveland
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If the Bengals can win their last two games for Marvin Lewis, they won't just help him keep his job – he'll be tied with Sam Wyche for the most coaching wins in Bengals history (61).
30. DENVER (3-11)
Last week:
39-23 loss at Oakland
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Broncos were +2 in turnovers and still managed to lose by 16 points. According to the search engine, that combination of results has happened only 12 times since the start of the 2000 season.
31. ARIZONA (4-10)
Last week:
19-12 loss at Carolina
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Jay Feely couldn't add onside-kick recovery to his list of achievements Sunday, and he's not the only one. Onside kicks are up to 42 in 14 games from 35 last year, but with only eight successes.
32. CAROLINA (2-12)
Last week:
19-12 win vs. Arizona
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Panther fans hoping to escape the cellar with a win over Arizona, well, sorry. When you go a whole season (or most of one) without ever cracking 23 points in a game, you're stuck here.