Sorry to both of my readers for lagging on this power rankings thing since I returned from vacation. I was really unhealthily consumed with this election, and spent most of my free time studying poll after poll and website after website to gauge the possible outcome. Also upon returning from my trip, I learned the tragic news that my cousin, Rob Panacci, had unexpectedly passed away at the age of twenty-seven. Seeing how Rob was a high school football player and a sports fanatic in general, I'd humbly like to dedicate this column to him. If you are interested in learning more about my cousin, or perhaps would like to make a donation to juvenile diabetes, which he was afflicted with, please visit this site. Thanks.
This rankings racket has not been made easy by the insane parity displayed in the last couple of weeks. Other than the top three and bottom six teams expect to see wild fluctuations in positions between now and the end of the season as the other 19 teams will streak hot then cold then lukewarm from now until the Super Bowl.
Here's le rankings:
1. Tennessee Titans (8-0): In these scattershot times you can always depend on a Kerry Collins lead team to lead you to the...wait...what?
2. New York Giants (7-1): Last year Tiki Barber retires and Jeremy Shockey goes out with a season ending injury. Result: Super Bowl Championship. This year Michael Strahan retires, OsoUmenyiora suffers a season ending injury and Plaxico Burress is suspended and benched. Results thus far: Best record in NFC. Tom Coughlin plans to cut entire team in off-season and bask in an undefeated Super Bowl winning team next year.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2): Pennsylvania really came through for Obama this week, his easier than expected win of the state was preceded the night before with the Steelers keeping the Redskin rule in effect.
4. Carolina Panthers (6-2): After last season's inept offensive production (in fairness due to several injuries), Jake Delhomme is on pace to throw for 3500 yards, and both Steve Smith and Mushin Muhammad should pass 1000 receiving yards.
5. Washington Redskins (6-3): It took 34 quarters before Jason Campbell threw his first interception of the year, in other news, it took one quarter for JT O'Sullivan to throw 34 interceptions.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (5-3): Have won three in a row after a 2-3 start, but two of those wins were against the Seahawks and the 49ers, this week's game against the Giants should reveal if they are playoff caliber or not.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3): Last season's team won the division with a 9-7 record, every other team in the NFC South is currently .500 or above, so they will need to be able to beat teams like the Chiefs without the assistance of a tremendous comeback if they want to repeat as division champs.
8. Chicago Bears (5-3): Illinois state senator Barack Obama won the presidency, the Bears lead their division and have won four out of the last five games, it's good to be a Chicagoian...wait...Rex Grossman may start this week. I take that all back!
9. Arizona Cardinals (5-3): Beating bad teams steadily, still striving for consistency against winning teams, but the good news is a .500 record wins them the NFC West.
10. New England Patriots (5-3): That was the least intriguing Colts-Pats game since 2000, but even with the loss the Patriots are tied for the division lead.
11. Baltimore Ravens (5-3): With a new head coach, starting QB and for the most part, running back, have already equaled their win total from last season.
12. Atlanta Falcons (5-3): Their next seven games, all against teams currently with a .500 or above winning percentage, should chart the true depth of their improvement.
13. New York Jets (5-3): At this point, they are almost winning despite Brett Favre instead of because of him.
14. Buffalo Bills (5-3): Their performance in the two games since extending coach Dick Jauron's contract is case in point as to why you wait until the season's end to negotiate these things.
15. Dallas Cowboys (5-4): How's your thumb Tony Romo, a Texas city turns it's lonely eyes to you. Koo-koo-ka-choo.
16. Indianapolis Colts (4-4): I will start to believe the Colts are regaining their winning ways if they can follow Sunday night's victory over the Pats with a win over the Steelers this week.
17. Green Bay Packers (4-3): Because Aaron Rodgers may be unaware of who preceded him as quarterback for the Packers, let's do some mid-season comparison shopping:
Aaron Rodgers 167 for 262, 1982 yards, 13 TDs, 5 INTs
Brett Favre 180 for 263, 1812 yards, 15 TDs, 12 INTs
So Rodgers has thrown less completions but for more yards, less touchdowns, but also less interceptions. A wash statistically at this point, but with the long term benefits, I think we can once and for all say the Pack made the right decision.
18. Miami Dolphins (4-4): A win over the Seahawks this week will give the Dolphins their first winning record since the final game of the 2005 season.
19. New Orleans Saints (4-4): Offensively averaging 27 points a game, impressive considering that they have not had a single game where their four primary rushing or receiving threats: Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey and Deuce McAllister were all on the field in the same game.
20. Minnesota Vikings (4-4): The Vikings .500 record pretty much predicted Minnesota's state senatorial election between Norm Coleman and Al Franken which at current count is separated by a mere 200 something votes.
21. Denver Broncos (4-4): Looking to regain early season groove when their offense average 38 points in the first three games. Over the last four, the Broncos averaged 15 points per game. They went 1-4 in that span.
22. San Diego Chargers (3-5): More so than the Jaguars, the most disappointing team at the halfway point of the year. The good news, they play in AFC West with the lowly Raiders and Chiefs whilst the Broncos apparently still feel so bad about that Ed Hocculi call that they are fading quickly and allowing the Chargers a chance to win the division.
23. Cleveland Browns (3-5): And the answer to how many games it takes one person to go from unknown to Pro Bowl quarterback of a winning team to disappointment and eventually being benched is 23 games. Enjoy your return to obscurity Mr. Derek Anderson.
24. Houston Texans (3-5): Three game win streak after winless start snapped by the Vikings, who instituted a similar beating to quarterback Matt Schaub who may be out four weeks.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5): Their massively disappointing season will get a lot worse if they follow up their loss to the previously winless Bengals with a loss to this week's opponent, the currently winless Lions.
26. Seattle Seahawks (2-6): With his lingering back injuries and Holmgren's retirement, is it time to wonder if Matt Hasselbeck will return as the quarterback in 2009?
27. St. Louis Rams (2-6): That two game win streak after the coaching change to Jim Haslett seems pretty distant now.
28. San Francisco 49ers (2-6): Apparently talking to Condoleezza Rice about becoming team president after the season, I guess John York found the one institution that has been run worse than the 49ers this decade and said, "I want a piece of that!"
29. Oakland Raiders (2-6): In the four games coached by Lane Kiffin, the point differential between Raiders and their opponents: minus 23, in the four games coached by Tom Cable: minus 71.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (1-8): For most franchises not winning until week 9 is a major disappointment, for the Bengals it's business as usual.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-7): Have been improved the last few weeks, but unable to close the deal. In positive news, making the Royals look good in comparison.
32. Detroit Lions (0-8): Members of the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers await with bated breath to see if the Lions can match their feat and go the whole season without a win. Daunte Culpepper, last seen cut by the Raiders is their latest hope for salvation.