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Dr. Z's Week 9 Power Rankings


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http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/writers/dr_z/11/09/ranks.week10.part1/index.html

1 Indianapolis Colts (8-0)

Offensively they had it all together Monday night. Defensively? Well, after the first Patriot series, I thought we were in for a 41-38 shootout and no one would get to bed much before 1:30 a.m. But then the Indy D-line took over. Yes, the defensive line. Until this year it had just been Dwight Freeney and the other guys, but tackle Montae Reagor got one of the Z game balls for his relentless assault on the pocket. Freeney was pretty much enveloped by double-teamers, but he made one play that absolutely took my breath away, flashing in from his RDE spot to mess up a tight end screen on the other side. I didn't like the Colts' secondary, particularly RCB Jason David, who looked as if he could be had.

2 2 Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)

My daughter, Sarah, just e-mailed me that she is pulling hardest for the Steelers, especially Troy Polamalu. It runs in the family. There was no greater fan of the Steel Curtain Steelers than my son, Mike, when he was a youngster. His favorite player was Jack Lambert. See how well I trained my kids? They favor defensive players.

3 3 New York Giants (6-2)

Brandon Jacobs, the 264-pound short-yardage back, started right, cut back sharply and banged it in for a one-yard TD against the 49ers. In the end zone he did his new dance called the World Wide. When he got to the bench Tom Coughlin smiled and said, "Where did that Cabbage Patch stuff come from?" "Wow," Jacobs thought, "he remembers Jerry Rice's old end-zone dance." After the game the writers congratulated the coach on his knowledge of dance history. "Cabbage patch?" the coach said. "I said, 'Where did that cutback come from?' He didn't hear it right." You know something? When I first heard this story, I thought it was hilarious. Now that it's taken up almost half the column ... well, I'm too tired to go back and do a rewrite.

4 4 Denver Broncos (6-2)

No, I won't penalize them for the bye because they couldn't help it, but bear in mind that a lot of people are making moves toward the top five.

5 5 Carolina Panthers (6-2)

Well, I'm glad to see my preseason Super Bowl team starting to look Super Bowlish, but of course, the story I like best, coming out of Carolina, is the one about the two cheerleaders who were busted for fighting in the bar after having sex in a restroom stall, "angering patrons waiting in line," the wire story said. NEXT!

6 7 Seattle Seahawks (6-2)

Shaun Alexander is embarrassing them by vaulting to the top of the NFL rushing stats. For God's sake, pay the guy and make him happy. Who gets the big money on this team, anyway?

7 8 Atlanta Falcons (6-2)

When Alex Gibbs was the offensive line coach at Denver, his guys made it a point of honor not to talk to the press. Following in that tradition, Gibbs' Falcons counterparts are doing the same thing. Jim Mora was approached about this. He mentioned that O-linemen didn't have much to say anyway. He was reminded that Mike Kenn and Jeff Van Note were quite articulate and witty. "How many games did they win?" the coach said. This is a miserable way to treat two of the greatest warriors in the team's history. They rank one (Kenn) and two (Van Note) in longevity, with, respectively, 18 and 17 years of service. Between them they played in 11 Pro Bowls. Mora, basically, is a good guy, and I know this thing just slipped out, but it really bothered a lot of people, myself included.

8 10 Cincinnati Bengals (7-2)

Their victory over Baltimore was a triumph for mathematical logic. Three trips in the red zone, three TDs. Ravens -- four trips in the red zone, three field goals. Each TD being worth four points more than each FG, we arrive at a ... you can figure out the extent of the victory. This has worn me out.

9 9 Dallas Cowboys (5-3)

They are catching the Eagles at just the right time, in Philly, where disarray reigns. And if it's one thing the Eagles don't need at this point, it's a major arena, such as the Monday night circus.

10 13 San Diego Chargers (5-4)

Rookie edge rusher Shawne Merriman underwent surgery to repair a dislocated bone in his left wrist. He is expected to play after the bye week. You bet he'll play, now that he and Shaun Phillips are hitting their stride as one of the most devastating pair, coming from the outside. They'll get that bone relocated in a hurry.

11 11 Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)

I'd like to see a book written about Fred Taylor (sprained ankle at this time), which would consist of nothing but his status on the weekly injury reports. Suggested title -- Upgraded to Questionable, which actually is the story of my own life.

12 6 New England Patriots (4-4)

Sooner or later the talent drain has got to catch up with you. For New England, it's been Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, and you just can't keep fighting a rear guard action. Troy Brown and Randall Gay returned. It didn't help Monday night. The defensive line played without relief and got worn down. The secondary was still patchwork. You can do it with mirrors against teams such as Buffalo and yes, even Atlanta, but you'll get exposed against a machine such as Indianapolis.

13 16 Washington Redskins (5-3)

Quickie quiz: I propose Joe Gibbs' impressive tight end-H Back pair, Mike Sellers (No. 45) and Chris Cooley (No. 47), as the best pair of Number 40-somethings on one team. Can you think of a better one? I know, there's Will Demps (47) and someone else in Baltimore, but I'm looking for a paired entry. Mail your replies to Andrew at "Oh, God, not another one," USA.

14 14 St. Louis Rams (4-4)

They held the fort while the stars were out. Now they'll be coming back for their biggie against Seattle. Did I pick them to win in an upset? Can't remember. Sure hope so.

15 12 Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)

I don't want to scoop myself because I'll be writing about them in tomorrow's column, but I will say one thing. Was Lito Sheppard really a Pro Bowl cornerback or was someone else using his jersey last season?

16 17 Kansas City Chiefs (5-3)

Dick Vermeil is one of the finest people in the NFL, and I'm very happy that he got all that acclaim for the fourth-and-1 gamble, but c'mon now. Did anyone mention Vince Lombardi going for the TD on third and goal, down by three with 13 seconds left, and no timeouts, against Dallas in the Ice Bowl ... the NFL Championship. The stakes were considerably higher then, wouldn't you say?

17 15 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-3)

We're going to have a contest to see who can get madder at poor old Z , Bucs fans, or the adherents of the only other bottom-16 team with a winning record, which would be the ...

18 19 Chicago Bears (5-3)

You want to get out of the second division, play somebody! Get Don King to book you a bout with a contender. It what? It doesn't work that way? Yeah, right, a likely story.

19 18 Oakland Raiders (3-5)

Here's what would have happened if KC would have kicked the field goal to send the game into OT. Whoever won the coin toss would have won the game, because both of them spent the fourth quarter driving the length of the field against weary defenses.

20 20 Buffalo Bills (3-5)

Last Sunday evening I made the Chiefs, with their heavy ground game, a 1 1/2-point favorite in Buffalo. When the opening line came out later that night, Bills minus two, it became a system pick for me. Buffalo to win it, since I was three or more points off, and thus I turned around and went their way. This "wiseguy system," as Sonny Reisner of the Castaways Sports Book in Vegas once called it, is 23-12 this season. But before you line up, with your fives and tens, be mindful of the fact that it was below .500 last year.

21 21 Miami Dolphins (3-5)

Nick Saban is turning to a heavy ground game. But his coordinator, Scott Linehan, has a case of the cutes, calling all sorts of gimmicky stuff against the Falcons, none of which worked. OK, Linehan, what do you have to say for yourself? A noise like an oyster is what he has to say. Saban does not allow the press to speak to his assistants. What I say is that there is a day of reckoning coming, a Dies Irae, for these head coaches, if not in this world, then in the next one. Beware!

22 32 Minnesota Vikings (3-5)

Even after a victory, Antoine Winfield, the tough little cornerback, had some heavy criticism for the scheme. Winfield backs up his words -- his terrific play against the Lions Sunday won him a game ball. And what he said was that things are inconsistent and illogical. They were supposed to double the Panthers' Steve Smith, and then they decided not to and he had a career day. Adjustments during the game are not timely. "It's like we go out there blind," Winfield said. "Nothing happens on the sideline."

23 22 Detroit Lions (3-5)

Scouts say that no position defies draft logic the way wideout does. Here's what the Lions' three first rounders, who were supposed to form an unstoppable blitzkrieg of an offense, have been doing. Charles Rogers -- out four games for abusing the substances and inactive against the Vikings because of a poor week of practice. Mike Williams, four catches, 43 yards, and when he came out early with a bad ankle, Roy Williams, nursing a sore quad, was not inserted in his place because he was leery of going from split end to flanker. So he sat for the rest of the day. The entire wideout corps has two TDs. The team's leading receiver is Scottie Vines, a free agent, cut in September, re-signed at the end of the month.

24 30 Cleveland Browns (3-5)

Reuben Droughns is on pace for nearly 1,300 yards. Why is this significant? Because the Browns have not had a 1,000 yard rusher in 19 years, since Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack both accomplished it in 1985. Well, cheer up, boys. The NFL itself went 14 years without a 1,000-yard rusher, until Beattie Feathers did it in 1934, a record I regard as highly dubious. I think some punt and kick returns were mixed in.

25 23 Tennessee Titans (2-7)

Starting wideouts hurt. Against Cleveland, five dropped passes by what was left. It's McNair, the tight ends and Chris Brown against the world.

26 24 Arizona Cardinals (2-6)

Kurt Warner's flopperoo against the Seahawks leads us to believe that it might be time for ... yes, The Return of Navarre, starring Gilbert Roland and Alfonso Bedoya. Last year John Navarre made his one start in Detroit, threw four picks, and returned to the shadows. This Sunday the Cardinals play in ... you got it, Detroit.

27 25 Baltimore Ravens (2-6)

An inadvertent whistle cost the Ravens a TD in a crucial part of the Bengals game when Will Demps scooped up a fumble and raced 58 yards for the score, only to have it wiped out. "It was an error," referee Jeff Triplette said. "By rule, there's nothing else we can do." And who is Jeff Triplette? Only the ref who nearly blinded Ravens' tackle Orlando Brown in one eye by hitting him in the face with a beanbag. OK, this is a cheap shot. I know there's really no connection, but I just don't like Triplette anyway, and that whiny, old-womanish way he has of working a game.

28 26 New York Jets (2-6)

The run defense last year was ranked fifth, but now they're 30th. No one can figure out why? How about No. 95, who plays nose tackle for the Cowboys, Jason Ferguson? Oh yes, I see where the Sporting News picked DT Dewayne Robertson on its mid-season All-AFC team. These guys watch the games, or just talk to people?

29 27 New Orleans Saints (2-7)

Owner Ton Benson, as reported, did not attend the Bears game in Baton Rouge. What I want to know is, did he at least watch it on TV? My spy reports that he did not. At the time he was watching Bonanza reruns.

30 28 San Francisco 49ers (2-6)

My God, but their injury-ridden troops played hard against the Giants. Tough to make it without offensive tackles, though. Did you ever notice how the bad teams seem to get hit harder by injuries? Or maybe the order should be reversed. Coaches will tell you that when players are trying to cover for others less experienced or talented, they wind up in unfamiliar positions and are more susceptible to getting hurt.

31 29 Houston Texans (1-7)

This is what happens to the unfortunate of this world. Jaguars game tied late. Jags fumble on the Houston 17. It's wiped because of defensive holding. Jacksonville scores on the next play. Goodnight Irene. Jobs hang in the balance, careers, perceptions of success or failure. It's not fair. There should be no winners or losers. Everything should be a tie, in life as well as on the gridiron.

32 31 Green Bay Packers (1-7)

Despite this record, they still can put forth the amazing statistic of having scored more points than they have given up, 168-159. In the advanced mathematics department at MIT they call this the Statistical Variable Syndrome for Reversible Numericals.

13 is pretty fair at this point, though I think were more around the 10 spot.

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Wow... no love for the Bengals, and waaaaay too much for the Giants.

And :wtf: is his problem? Whats with all the nice stuff he's writing. I liked him better when he was a ####... at least he was interesting. now he's not only irrelevant... but boring too.

.....

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I can't stand the media's infatuation with the Giants. Even during our game on Sunday night, everytime they showed a quick clip to promote the upcoming Sportscenter, they showed the same clip of Eli's td to Shockey. The funny thing is, that game was somewhat in question until that 4th & 1 play. I don't think our game against the niner's was in question for a half second.

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And nice insight he has about us and our ranking. He can't think of anything to say about us other than that we have the best 1-2 tandem of players that wear a number in the 40's? That's the type of in-depth reporting that gets you a weekly column in Sports Illustrated?

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I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks the media is way too infatuated with the Giants. They have a very good offense. Explosive with big plays. But sometimes can't sustain drives. Their defense does have some problems. Eventually the ball won't bounce their way all the time, like ours were always bouncing the wrong way. I hope that they believe all the hype, because then they can be surprised and lose a game they should win. They have a really easy schedule. Most of the tougher teams they play at home, and they visit the 49ers. Plus their extra home game this season. Everyone's already picking them to win the division. But I think they have some problems that will get exposed. They will win more than they lose because of the easy schedule.

But I don't think the division is theirs. It's ours. We have the most solid team offensively and defensively. I think the Giants game was an aberration that will be remembered, but not repeated. I have confidence in GW to get the defense back on track like last year. Plus we'll play the Giants next at home and we will win there. Emotion will be on our side after that last game. Our guys will be pumped to show it won't happen again. Plus we play the Cowboys at home, so it should be easier. If we split with the Eagles, that still leaves us at 4-2 in the division. The Giants would have to beat the Eagles twice otherwise they'd finish 3-3, and I don't see that happening unless the Eagles really implode. Remember they've done it without Owens before.

We have some tough road games coming up, and that will decide it for us. We played very well in KC and in Denver. If we can play that well, with maybe a few less turnovers and big plays allowed (remember my faith in GW) in our next few road games, we should be all set. :)

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giants are hella over rated... eli hasnt showed us shiet in the post season.. peyton hasnt even taken it all the way and they give giants 3rd seed..ridiculous....redskins all the way at 13th.. jacksonville, charger and seahawks... if jacksonville and chargers made it to the playoffs... they for sure loose to, someway..they got the colts to deal with in the afc finals..as for nfc.... seahawks already lost to us.. and if we made it to he playoffs, we play the bears? atlanta? seahawks? giants? carolina? maybe tampa?? those teams skins are capable of beating them all....what if brunell changed his last name to manning, maybe we'd be the second seed power ranked..but then, i like being the underdogs so brunell is a cool last name..

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Umm...Guys you DO realize the Giants are 6-2 and killed OUR team just last week, right? I mean I too think the Giants will drop off, but as of RIGHT NOW they are no doubt a top 5 team in the NFL, theyve played EXTREMELY well. I mean seriously guys, we are now considered a contender (i think in alot of peoples eyes) and they thrashed us, hence why they are regarded even higher. Take off the homer glasses for a sec....

*note: yes we are going to beat them in our house

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interesting.

Dallas and seattle both lost to us and we all have the same record(I think), yet they are ranked above the Skins.

Dallas at #9 & us at #13 after we've gone 2-1 in the division. Some things never change with that Quack.

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Umm...Guys you DO realize the Giants are 6-2 and killed OUR team just last week, right? I mean I too think the Giants will drop off, but as of RIGHT NOW they are no doubt a top 5 team in the NFL, theyve played EXTREMELY well. I mean seriously guys, we are now considered a contender (i think in alot of peoples eyes) and they thrashed us, hence why they are regarded even higher. Take off the homer glasses for a sec....

*note: yes we are going to beat them in our house

With all do respect I disagree with you. The Giants were filled with emotion. It was their first game after their owner passed away. It's like a few seasons ago. Chicago beat Green Bay even though at that time the Packers were a far better team. However, the Bears were filled with emotion since Walter Payton had passed away earlier that week.

I'm not saying the Redskins are clearly a better team. But the trhashing the Ginats gave us is no indication they are better. Tehy had the emotion while we didn't show up to play.

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I can't stand the media's infatuation with the Giants. Even during our game on Sunday night, everytime they showed a quick clip to promote the upcoming Sportscenter, they showed the same clip of Eli's td to Shockey. The funny thing is, that game was somewhat in question until that 4th & 1 play. I don't think our game against the niner's was in question for a half second.

THANK YOU....finally somebody else here gets it too.

The national media lovefest for the Giants is enough to turn your stomach.

We crush the Niners...the Niners stink. The Giants beat them and they are headed to the Superbowl.

Sometimes a little too much love here as well.

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The Giants held the 9ers to 138 yards of total offense and put up close to 400. They beat Denver and killed the Skins. Quit being homers and realize the best team in the East right now are the Giants. You don't suppose that a division game for first place would be enough emotion for the Skins to atleast kick a FG do you? The Giants put up 44 against a better Rams team so I suppose when your offense only puts up 20 that will prove the Giants are the better team.

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