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Power Rankings

You'll notice some big moving and shaking this week, as I finally am able to move past my own stubbornness and drop the Panthers and Jets, while upgrading the Bucs and Dolphins to more deserving territory. Last year, it was the Giants and Chargers I was very slow to warm to. Of course, the Giants went back toiletward anyway, so I should have stuck to my guns there. But still, we're getting to the point in the season where the wins and losses are going to start piling up in one direction or another, and I'd be a fool (ok, a BIGGER fool) to simply ignore that.

Additionally, based on this week's selected questions, there appears to be a very telling game on the horizon in our nation's capital this Sunday. On to the mail…

From a reader named Chris Thomas:
I'm a long-time Seahawks fan and even I wouldn't give them a +9 boost after last week's home win. Remember two things: 1) They tried really hard to give that game back and only Michael Vick's injury prevented it. 2) They still have to play half of their games in somebody else's back yard. They'll likely still win the NFC West, but #14? Doubt it!

Well Chris, you won't be happy this week either to see that I've given the Hawks yet another sizable bump, all the way up to 10. It's a tough balancing act, measuring the quality of the team along with the team's record. On the one hand, if I base these rankings solely on how good I think the teams are and disregard records, I get slammed for not factoring wins and losses - the ultimate gauge of performance. But when I take into account what I've seen on the field (and that is Seattle beating an excellent Atlanta team, Vick injury or not) and give a team a bump based upon a big win, I'm told that the win was hollow. I admit, I didn't like Seattle coming into the season. And sure, they gave up in Week 1 and may have tried to do the same in Week 2. But a team that has now beaten Atlanta, blown out Arizona, and lost a relatively close game to a quality Jaguars team, deserves a reasonably high ranking. At least right now.

From a reader named Seth Hoffman:
It appears that you are reluctant to move a team too far up or down the list even if their play has differed dramatically from your preseason expectations. I just don't understand how the Redskins, who are clearly lost offensively, should be ranked at 11. You would have a difficult time telling me Washington is better than its record after an 11th hour miracle win against Dallas.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't take kindly to wildly flying teams up and down my rankings. I'm extremely conservative in that regard. Reason being, I'd much rather maintain the status quo and be wrong than to overrate a team coming off a fluke win. With Washington, they have indeed played much worse than I expected out of them. That said, in my estimation they went up against two of the league's top defenses in the first two weeks, and came away with victories in each game. That is a testament to the caliber of defense Washington has itself. I expect the Redskins' running game to be vastly improved over 2004, and the defensive excellence to continue. Sure, the offense doesn't look too promising right now, but that's only half the story. This defense is good enough to carry them on a playoff run. Am I overrating the Skins' defense? Perhaps. Do I want to have Washington at #8? Not really. But based on what the teams behind them have done thus far, it'd be tough for me not to.

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 3-0 (1)
    Sure, the offense wasn't there even in the week everyone expected it. Don't forget who the head coach of Cleveland is - yep, the same guy who has been shutting Manning down for years.
  2. New England Patriots 2-1 (2)
    If this team (which has now lost Johnson/Bruschi/Harrison/Law/Crennel JUST on the defensive side of the ball) can make another Super Bowl run, maybe some of the naysayers will finally warm to the possibility that this is the greatest run the NFL has ever seen.
  3. Cincinnati Bengals 3-0 (3)
    Carson Palmer wasn't able to do a THING for nearly two quarters Sunday, and STILL threw for three touchdowns. Keep saying it, Aikman-to-Irvin, Aikman-to-Irvin.
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers 2-1 (4)
    Losing to the Patriots isn't going to cost you any points in my book.
  5. Atlanta Falcons 2-1 (5)
    This week's matchup against Minnesota was, in my opinion, a Super Bowl preview. That's the great thing about August. It makes you say all sorts of crazy things.
  6. Philadelphia Eagles 2-1 (6)
    Hardly a dominant effort, but the Raiders are tougher than a lot of people thought - myself included.
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-1 (10)
    Hey look, Jacksonville is both winning and losing late, close games. What a difference from 2004!
  8. Washington Redskins 2-0 (11)
    It's not pretty, but I'm not going to bet that a Joe Gibbs-coached team with an excellent defense and Clinton Portis will simply fall apart.
  9. Dallas Cowboys 2-1 (12)
    Not quite the dominant effort I had expected, but a win is a win.
  10. Seattle Seahawks 2-1 (14)
    So, the Seahawks won a game they SHOULD have won. In other news, death no longer exists, and the federal government has canceled taxes.
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-0 (19)
    It sure did take me awhile, but I'm warming to this team.
  12. Miami Dolphins 2-1 (27)
    If it looks like a quality team, and smells like a quality team, and beats other quality teams…
  13. Carolina Panthers 1-2 (7)
    Careful, Carolina. You're heading into Seattle territory here.
  14. Minnesota Vikings 1-2 (15)
    That's more like it. Now, just do that against a team that doesn't have a history of failure, and maybe we can get somewhere.
  15. Denver Broncos 2-1 (16)
    Well. Looks like we've got ourselves a real-life football team huh?
  16. Kansas City Chiefs 2-1 (8)
    I was going to save this one, but here goes: The Chiefs defense is the Quentin Griffin of 2005!
  17. San Diego Chargers 1-2 (17)
    The win was great, but was there some sort of contest amongst fans to see who could have the lamest Eli Manning taunt sign?
  18. Saint Louis Rams 2-1 (18)
    How in the hell did the Seahawks, Vikings, and Rams all win on the same week in games they all really needed to have? Can somebody go check outside and make sure it's not raining frogs? Thanks.
  19. New York Jets 1-2 (9)
    Let us all bow our heads and pray for the safety of Brooks Bollinger…
  20. New York Giants 2-1 (13)
    I bet some dude at work that Tomlinson would gain at least 80 yards on the ground against New York. Now why can't those kinds of bets present themselves more frequently?!?
  21. Oakland Raiders 0-3 (23)
    This is one of the best 0-3 teams I've seen in awhile. They might go 6-10, but they can go out and beat any team in the league on any given day.
  22. Buffalo Bills 1-2 (20)
    Every week, I lack something interesting to say about at least one team (some people would argue that it's many more than one). Buffalo, you're up this week.
  23. New Orleans Saints 1-2 (21)
    The further into the season we get, the more the Saints show their true colors.
  24. Tennessee Titans 1-2 (24)
    Chris Brown has "Vinny Testaverde disease". Meaning, no matter what he does on the field, he keeps ending up with a starting gig regardless of how hard he tries to lose it.
  25. Baltimore Ravens 0-2 (25)
    Brooks Bollinger vs. Anthony Wright this week. All together now, NY/Baltimore-area FBG…"GOD BLESS DIRECTV!"
  26. Chicago Bears 1-2 (26)
    Drew Brees threw 7 interceptions last SEASON. Just think about that.
  27. Detroit Lions 1-1 (28)
    I'm telling you, the time to acquire Kevin Jones is sometime over the next three weeks.
  28. Cleveland Browns 1-2 (29)
    A game effort, and I expect more of those. I do not, however, expect many more Ws.
  29. Arizona Cardinals 0-3 (22)
    Not that I had REALLY high hopes for Arizona anyway, but they're just about cooked now.
  30. Green Bay Packers 0-3 (30)
    rock bot-tom (n). - Losing a desperation game at home after an 0-2 start against a team you have historically owned.
  31. San Francisco 49ers 1-2 (31)
    San Francisco 49er fan now = San Diego Charger fan from 1996-2003. Except you guys probably have hope for the future.
  32. Houston Texans 0-2 (32)
    The only reason they're 32nd this week is because there isn't a 33rd.

Super Shufflers Of the Week (+)

  1. Miami Dolphins +15…I hate seeing a plus fifteen this late in the season. It means I was late to the party. That's what I get sometimes for being conservative
  2. Tampa Bay Bucs +8…I'd still like to see them beat a real quality team, or at least beat up on someone. But at 3-0, I can't NOT give them a huge boost.
  3. Seattle Seahawks +4…I tried as hard as I could to find a way to NOT include them in this space, because of that habit they have of always letting you down. But the Seahawks look different lately. A defense, perhaps?

Plungers Of the Week (-)

  1. New York Jets -10…Don't count me amongst those who think the Jets are finished just because of the Pennington injury. This may be the blessing in disguise they needed. Then again, they're now relying on Vinny Testaverde. Dicey.
  2. Kansas City Chiefs -8…Great googily moogily.
  3. Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants (tie) -7…Neither team looked very interested in stopping much of anything defensively Sunday.
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