Duce Staley
The Top Five

As the 2005 playoffs arrive to put an end to an NFL regular season famous for widespread parity, one dominating question is obvious: How did five of the 32 pro clubs manage to rise so far above the crowd? The best answer is that five unique players have pushed five good teams to the top. They are NFC wide receiver Terrell Owens and four AFC quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. In each instance, a sound, veteran coach was lost until he found the player who has changed his life. Thus at New England, it took Brady to convert the NFL's best coach, Bill Belichick, into a winner. Similarly, Pittsburgh Coach Bill Cowher had built an all-around...