- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Perfect sense: Houston's Arian Foster is the NFL’s leading rusher and Maurice Jones-Drew was rolling during the Jacksonville Jaguars' stretch run. The Texans campaigned for fullback Vonta Leach, who’s been a big part of Foster’s breakout. Houston's Andre Johnson and Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne can easily stake a claim as the top receivers in the conference. Johnson played much of the season on a bad ankle, and Wayne leads the conference with 102 receptions despite more attention from defenses because the Colts’ other threats have been hurt.
The Colts' Dwight Freeney (9 sacks) and Robert Mathis (11) appear fresh and effective heading into the regular-season finale while the resurgent Jason Babin (12.5 sacks) has been productive in his first season with Tennessee. Marc Mariani single-handedly solved a major issue for the Titans. Montell Owens is a diligent worker on Jacksonville’s special teams. Jacksonville's Marcedes Lewis has evolved into a well-rounded tight end who deserve his spot.
Made it on rep: You can make a case for Peyton Manning on the roster with Tom Brady and Philip Rivers, but you can make a case against him too. He has done wonders with a revolving lineup of targets because of injuries. But he had a three-game stretch during which he threw 11 interceptions -- more than twice as many as Kansas City’s Matt Cassel has thrown all season. No, Cassel has not thrown nearly as much as Manning and Manning doesn’t have the Chiefs’ run game. Manning doesn’t have 10 wins and a clinched division crown yet either.
Got robbed: Jacksonville's Terrance Knighton has been great, but it’s hard to displace Haloti Ngata, Vince Wilfork or Richard Seymour at defensive tackle. Nick Mangold and Maurkice Pouncey are the centers with Jeff Saturday left off. The resurgence of the Colts' run game over the last few weeks came too late to change the minds of voters.
Jamaal Charles ahead of the Titans' Chris Johnson is hardly unreasonable, as Charles is averaging nearly two yards a carry more for Kansas City. Johnson might have had a bigger case against Jones-Drew, but Jones-Drew played big during a push for the playoffs while the Titans lost seven of their past eight.
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