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Power Rankings

My apologies for the lack of a thought process to create an intro this week. After having to endure Sunday night football commentator Sterling Sharpe, my vocabulary now consists of just one adjective - "special". As in, "special players make special plays when the situation calls for them to be special". He later went on to add, "This special player is so special that his special talents could especially be put to special use in the Special Olympics!" OK, he didn't say THAT one…but he may as well have.

Before we really begin: Since the rankings are now into a second week, I included a section to show who has gained or lost the most since the previous week. Those moving up will be called 'Super Shufflers Of the Week' in honor of the greatest song and dance this country has ever known. Those dropping the most each week earn the distinction of Plungers Of the Week because - well, they're in the toilet. As promised, this space is yours to rant/vent/call me a moron, whatever. Your questions and comments are in italics, with my responses following. This week's e-mails were topnotch; keep em coming! On to the letters…

From a reader named Matt G:
You must be sniffing glue over there to think the Vikings are a number 4. I will state the obvious: Without Moss, they're worse off offensively. Burleson simply can't handle the load, and it's obvious. As for the running game that you think 'will come around'? Well, I think Daunte out-rushed Bennett and Williams combined. I don't think Darren Sharper is enough to save their pitiful defense. So why so much respect? It must have been a joke.

No, sadly I was serious. At this point, there is no doubt I way overrated the Vikings. I expected the loss of Moss would impact the quality of the receiving game, but I still felt they had enough firepower there (plus a solid run game) to at least move the ball relatively well. After all, they were one of the top offenses in the league last year, so I figured losing Moss might drop them to the 5-10 range offensively. As it stands, just about everyone underestimated the loss of Moss, and it appears I was mistaken on my projections. I did like their changes on defense, though, and expected that the defensive upgrades would outweigh the loss of Moss offensively. Thus, I figured they would be a challenger for at least a championship game berth. At this point, they may still win the division because I can't trust any of the other three teams to have a quality season, but it is clear that right now, the Vikings are a mess.

From a reader named Dana Cornibe:
4. Minnesota Vikings 0-1 (-)
5. Cincinnati Bengals 1-0 (-)
I noticed in your bio you've never been drunk. Are you sure? I think you're a little off here. Both of these teams really need to prove it on the field before such high rankings.

Having already discussed the Vikings in the previous question, I'll focus instead on the Bengals here. I stick to my assertion that they are one of the league's best teams, and definitely on the rise. Defensively, they have improved, and offensively I love them just about as much as any team in the league (see my preseason rankings for both Palmer and Chad Johnson for confirmation). Will they finish the year at #5? Perhaps not. But I expect them to be an elite team, so I'd rather not take the weak way out and start them off low, only to slowly move them up game-by-game. I'd rather be either right about them, or wrong about them, immediately.

From a reader named Chach Master:
Power rankings are based on the now, not the could. Your rankings make no sense at all. How can the Chiefs win and still be behind the Vikings and the Chargers, who have losses? How can the Bucs be 26 when then knock off your #4, the 0-1 Vikings?!? Jets at 11, after looking horrible, are ahead of Buffalo who actually has a win. Footballguys rules but CBS does a much better power ranking.

I have to respectfully disagree about the methods for rankings teams. While I do take into account what teams have done, I also have to weigh my expectations for each team - especially early in the season. More specifically, take the Panthers, for example. Based on your logic, I should have had them no better than 17th coming into this week, because there were sixteen teams that had a win, and Carolina did not. So I couldn't possibly have them higher than someone who actually won. But what did Carolina do? They went out and whipped the defending Super Bowl Champs. This is the very reason I rank based on my own interpretation of the teams and don't get bogged down by a team's record, especially in Week two. The problem with ranking teams based solely on records is what to do when a team like New England loses in Week 2. Should I drop them below, say, the Giants or Bucs just because those teams are 2-0? I don't think anyone would say either team is better than the Giants, and I can't put them ahead just because they have a better record right now. I don't know how CBS does their rankings, but I base mine a whole lot more on quality of team than simply record. If I were basing it simply on the teams' records, I could simply list the teams from 1-32 based on record each week and be done with it. Not much room for personal interpretation in that.

Any other comments/questions/complaints/death threats should be e-mailed to me at the following address: If selected, your e-mail will appear in this space next week.

Rk - Team Name - Record (Last week)

  1. Indianapolis Colts 2-0 (2)
    Just keep on rolling, with Manning and the offense doing very little. Scary proposition for the rest of the AFC.
  2. New England Patriots 1-1 (1)
    That wasn't enough to make me think much less of them, but I can't keep them in the top spot with a loss. (And yes, I realize this contradicts my response above but when you're talking about the top spot, a 2-0 team that has dominated deserves the spot more than a team that looked awful the previous week).
  3. Cincinnati Bengals 2-0 (5)
    Yeah, those Aikman-to-Irvin comparisons don't seem so far-fetched now, do they?
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers 2-0 (6)
    Absolutely rolled against two of the worst the league has to offer. I'll refrain from a big jump until they beat a quality team.
  5. Atlanta Falcons 1-1 (3)
    Vick had better be healthy - soon. He means more to the Falcons than Jennifer Lopez's butt means to her career.
  6. Philadelphia Eagles 1-1 (7)
    Now THAT is how you respond to a tough loss.
  7. Carolina Panthers 1-1 (12)
    And that was WITHOUT Kris Jenkins! Man, what a defense.
  8. Kansas City Chiefs 2-0 (10)
    I'm man enough to admit it - I was wrong about this defense. It's pretty decent already.
  9. New York Jets 1-1 (11)
    Chad Pennington's new nickname? AFLAC. Figure it out - it's not difficult.
  10. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-1 (13)
    I'm not saying the Leftwich play where he twisted his knee looked like fun, but it didn't look like the worst thing I ever saw, either. No, that honor goes to either Joe Thiesman, Bryant Young, Willis McGahee, Ed McCaffrey, or Napoleon McCallum. Perhaps one day we'll have a contest.
  11. Washington Redskins 2-0 (17)
    Mark Brunell had one amazing game Monday night. He spent the first 55 minutes making the worst passes I've ever seen, and then made the two best throws of the season in a span of 5 minutes. Of course, "proving" Joe Gibbs is a genius in the process. (riiiiight)
  12. Dallas Cowboys 1-1 (8)
    Hey Roy Williams…Santana Moss just called, and he said he has your wallet, too.
  13. New York Giants 2-0 (18)
    Why do I get the feeling that this won't last?
  14. Seattle Seahawks 1-1 (23)
    Just when I thought I was out…
  15. Minnesota Vikings 0-2 (4)
    Sadly, who else could possibly win that division?
  16. Denver Broncos 1-1 (16)
    If Ron Dayne becomes a 1,000-yard rusher, I think it will then officially be time to declare this situation 'wacky'.
  17. San Diego Chargers 0-2 (9)
    Losing two winnable games, with the upcoming schedule they've got, could spell doom.
  18. Saint Louis Rams 1-1 (20)
    Want to hear a funny joke I was told in the preseason? OK, here it is: Marshall Faulk is going to cut into Steven Jackson's playing time…
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-0 (26)
    To do what Cadillac Williams did, against the defense he did it against…well, count me impressed.
  20. Buffalo Bills 1-1 (15)
    Alright, so the defense didn't look QUITE as good this week. Perhaps I overrated them a bit.
  21. New Orleans Saints 1-1 (21)
    Instead of complaining about the game having to be played on the road, why not play a little defense?
  22. Arizona Cardinals 0-2 (19)
    That one hurt - a lot. When the division winner is going to win 8, 9 games tops, you've got to be able to pull out divisional games like that at home.
  23. Oakland Raiders 0-2 (22)
    Watching their last game, do you also get the feeling that Randy is well within reach of a 2,000/20 season? Me too. Too bad the defense couldn't stop a girl scout.
  24. Tennessee Titans 1-1 (30)
    Fisher's mustache is still intact, therefore, so are the Titans' chances.
  25. Baltimore Ravens 0-2 (14)
    I know I used this last year, but I really think Jamal Lewis needs to check and see if the Space Jam monsters stole his talent.
  26. Chicago Bears 1-1 (31)
    It's a shame that their offense isn't better, because you know what? This defense is terrific.
  27. Miami Dolphins 1-1 (28)
    Wow, I wonder which was the REAL Gus Frerotte - Week 1 or Week 2? Hmmm.
  28. Detroit Lions 1-1 (24)
    Do NOT bail on Kevin Jones. Repeat - do NOT bail. 96 yards in Week 1, a very tough Bears D in Week 2, and no Cory Schlesinger yet. If you can afford to be just a little patient, he will pay off. Now, the team on the other hand…
  29. Cleveland Browns 1-1 (32)
    Outside of Braylon Edwards, would ANY of their offensive skill players start for ANY other team in the entire league???
  30. Green Bay Packers 0-2 (25)
    I like how people are expecting them to turn it around simply because they have Favre. It needs to be said: Favre is part of the problem. I love the guy as much as anyone, but c'mon…facts are facts.
  31. San Francisco 49ers 1-1 (29)
    The game was 28-0 at halftime, and Alex Smith only gets to throw one pass?!?
  32. Houston Texans 0-2 (27)
    Andre Johnson owners, together now…breathe…exhale…breathe. Alright, you may wanna count to ten.

Super Shufflers Of the Week (+)

1. Seattle Seahawks +9…Beat the team that I think is going to the Super Bowl, and you, too, can move up nine spots!

2. Tampa Bay Bucs +7…Not quite a believer yet, but 2-0 is 2-0. At least this proves they aren't completely awful.

3. Washington Redskins and Tennessee Titans (tie) +6…These seem flawed, because they are. If not for two miracle passes, Washington moves down and not way up. And the Titans moved up basically because everyone around them in the rankings stinks.

Plungers Of the Week (-)

1. Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens (tie) -11…Well, this is what 0-2 gets you. Not JUST 0-2, mind you…but an ATROCIOUS 0-2.

3. San Diego Chargers -8…Their precipitous fall was as much a product of their high initial ranking. There's room to climb, but it'll be really, really tough.

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