No chit-chat this week, just the rankings.
1. New York Giants (10-1) (2): As if a dominant defense and a punishing running attack complimented by a solid passing game wasn’t enough, Domenik Hixson reminds you they’re not too shabby special teams wise either. Clearly the most complete team in the league, and that’s even when they are lacking significant roster persona.
2. Tennessee Titans (10-1) (1): While I don’t imagine many people thought they would go undefeated, the Jets dismantling of them on both sides of the ball was surprising. Was it just a one game fluke? Should be able to pound out issues Thursday against Detroit.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) (-): If Steelers get a high seeding in the playoffs, they will have deserved it. Check out the games that bookend their victory over the Bengals; Before: New York Giants, @ Washington, Indianapolis, and San Diego; after: @ New England, Dallas, @ Baltimore, @ Tennessee.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) (5): I would not recommend Tampa spotting this week’s opponent (the Saints) a 17 point lead to start the game.
5. New York Jets (8-3) (6): Hey who knows, maybe Brett Favre will end his career with a Super Bowl victory after all.
6. New England Patriots (7-4) (7): Why was Matt Cassel stuck on the bench for so long?
7. Indianapolis Colts (7-4) (10): Next four games are all against sub .500 teams before a season ending rematch against the Titans who could possibly be resting their starters after clinching the top seed in the AFC. It’s possible that the Colts can take the momentum of a nine game winning streak into the playoffs.
8. Washington Redskins (7-4) (9): While it wasn’t as impressive of a win you’d expect them to have against a 2-8 club, their victory over the Seahawks in Seattle snapped a losing streak and avenged last season’s playoff loss.
9. Atlanta Falcons (7-4) (11): The off-season acquisitions of quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner and coach Michael Smith have paid much more immediate results than anyone in Atlanta could have fathomed.
10. Arizona Cardinals (7-4) (8): Proved they are capable of playing well against the top tier teams in the league, now need to prove they can beat the top tier teams.
11. Baltimore Ravens (7-4) (12): Winners of five of their last six. Their defense is getting back their swagger. Quarterbacks of the NFL quiver.
12. Dallas Cowboys (7-4) (13): As I feared, the rumors of their decline were wildly exaggerated.
13. Carolina Panthers (8-3) (3): Steepest drop of the week, their loss against the Falcons proved something I long suspected, namely they are the quintessential paper champions.
14. Miami Dolphins (6-5) (-): Some advice for Miami, the next time you play the Patriots you might want to cover that Moss guy.
15. Minnesota Vikings (6-5) (18): I contemplated just having the top three NFC North teams tied here since they are all within one game of another and they fluxuate wins and losses each week. But the Vikings are the hottest of the three teams, currently riding a 5-2 record in their last seven games and have a dominate defense and running back, the cornerstone of any good NFC North team
16. New Orleans Saints (6-5) (20): Anyone else rooting for a Saints-Cardinals wild-card match up. The over/under will be 150 points.
17. Chicago Bears (6-5) (-): Rookie Matt Forte is providing the type of output at running back that the Bears thought 2005 first round draft pick Cedric Benson would.
18. Green Bay Packers (5-6) (16): I know there is a world of difference between the Bears and Saints offenses, but how do you go from allowing 3 points one week to 51 the next?
19. Denver Broncos (6-5) (15): Ladies and gentlemen, hot off a 31-10 loss to the Raiders, here is your AFC West leader! Say what you will about the NFC West, at least they have one good team.
20. Buffalo Bills (6-5) (23): Was lopsided victory over Chiefs proof of their reemergence or just making themselves feel better by beating up a not so great team? Probably the latter.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5-1) (19): Between not knowing about ties and being benched after a half, this has not been a good week for Donovan McNabb. On a positive note: did not throw up on camera!
22. San Diego Chargers (4-7) (21): Hard luck losers, none of their seven defeats were by a margin greater than 10 points. Among those are losses of 2,1 (the Ed Hocculi game), 5,1 and this week: 3.
23. Houston Texans (4-7) (25): I’m guessing ESPN thought Monday night’s match up between the Texans and Jags would have playoff implications.
24. Cleveland Browns (4-7) (22): I am not as shocked by Brady Quinn being benched for ineffectiveness as I am as to why a young quarterback who’s probably the future of the franchise playing a meaningless game against the Texans when he has a broken finger?
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) (24): Last week’s start against the Vikings: two turnovers deep in their own territory that lead to two early Vikings touchdowns, pretty much encapsulated their season’s quick descent from Super Bowl contender to top ten drafters.
26. San Francisco 49ers (3-8) (-): Need to work on red-zone offense (even if there was a totally obvious holding penalty not called that would have led to a first and goal from the 1 situation) and play complete games, but are definitely better now than they were with Mike Nolan, although that in and of itself is not saying much.
27. Seattle Seahawks (2-9) (-): Have already clinched only the third losing record of Mike Holmgren’s 17 year coaching career. Still, I wouldn’t put it past them to upset one or two playoff hopefuls in the last five weeks.
28. Oakland Raiders (3-8) (31): Where did that effort come from?
29. Cincinnati Bengals (1-9-1) (28): Ryan Fitzspatrick is a combined 1-8-1 as a NFL starter; you don’t need to be a Harvard graduate to realize that record blows.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10) (29): In their last twenty games, their record is 1-19.
31. St. Louis Rams (1-10) (30): Is Marc Bulger the most overpaid player in football? Has lead the Rams to only one winning season in the seven since becoming their quarterback.
32. Detroit Lions (0-11) (-): Doing their part to make the Detroit auto industry look good comparatively.