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1.BRONCOS7-263826257.gifEarlier in the season, when Denver was way down in the rankings despite just one loss, I counseled angry Denver fans to have patience. If the Broncos really were as good as people thought, eventually their first-week loss to Miami and second-week narrow victory over San Diego would become less important in our formula. Denver got even stronger, clobbering Philadelphia and Oakland to show that the first week was, in fact, a fluke, and now look where we are: Thanks to the wacko Indianapolis schedule effect, Denver sits at numero uno. NEXT: vs. NYJ

2.JAGUARS6-37171311330.gifBeating Baltimore by 27 points doesn't seem like a big deal ... until you notice that Baltimore had lost its three previous games to three teams with winning records (Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati) by a combined total of only 17 points. NEXT: at TEN 3.BENGALS7-222248204.gif In many ways, the Colts and Bengals are mirror images. Each team features a great QB, multiple receiving options and a strong running game. On defense, each team is strong against the pass but vulnerable to a consistent running attack. The main difference is that the Colts have the better pass rush and the Bengals have the better cornerbacks — plus the crowd behind them and the chilly temperatures that come with a late afternoon kickoff outdoors. NEXT: vs. IND RkTeamW-LLast WkFull YearUnadjustedOffense RkDefense RkSp. Tms Rk

4.CHARGERS5-454101211424.gif The Chargers spent the bye week trying to imagine what life would be like with Indy's schedule. NEXT: vs. BUF 5.SEAHAWKS7-23543151826.gif Shaun Alexander runs for 165 yards and THREE TOUCHDOWNS and doesn't make your list of the top five most valuable running backs for Sunday? You are a complete jackass. Signed, Rod.

Dear Rod: Remember that the ratings in the Quick Reads column every Monday, like the power rankings, include an adjustment for the strength of the opponent. The Rams have a bad defense, so Alexander ended up seventh.

6.COLTS9-017*1573211.gifJust to reiterate: Indianapolis had the easiest schedule in the league during the first 10 weeks. They have the hardest schedule in the league during the final seven weeks. More here. NEXT: at CIN

7.STEELERS7-2965932323.gif Charlie Batch broke his hand, Ben Roethlisberger is still hobbled and Tommy Maddox has definitely turned back into a pumpkin. Should the Steelers consider starting Antwaan Randle El at QB this week? They certainly would screw up Baltimore's defensive game plan. NEXT: at BAL

8.GIANTS6-3483129319.gifPlaxico Burress has been the target of 103 passes, more than any other receiver in the league. The Vikings double-covered Burress, and suddenly Manning was helpless. Is it really that easy? NEXT: vs. PHI RkTeamW-LLast WkFull YearUnadjustedOffense RkDefense RkSp. Tms Rk

9.REDSKINS5-4109187111928.gifIt hurts, it hurts. Not only did they lose, they lost a conference game against a team that could end up tied with them for a wild-card berth at the end of the season. By the way, is Joe Gibbs aware that criticizing the officials costs you money? NEXT: vs. OAK 10.PANTHERS7-212116175929.gifIt's hard to imagine that Carolina could go to Seattle and win, and it's even harder to imagine that Seattle could go into Carolina and win. So every conference game takes on added meaning as these two teams fight for that top seed. NEXT: at CHI

11.COWBOYS6-38109184126.gifDespite the dramatic win, play-by-play breakdown shows they were thoroughly outplayed by Philadelphia, so our ratings based on play-by-play breakdown drop the Cowboys three spots. Dallas can't play like that in the future and expect to win. But there's no reason why Cowboys fans should care about that today — a win is a win, and a win in the division is the best win of all. NEXT: vs. DET

12.CHIEFS5-411121510171712.gifThis is what happens when your offensive line gets old. Willie Roaf is still good but can't stay on the field, and Will Shields has lost effectiveness. The line is blocking for the run, but the pass protection has disintegrated, leading to six sacks and three interceptions by Buffalo. Can anything cure these ills? How about these three words: NEXT: at HOU RkTeamW-LLast WkFull YearUnadjustedOffense RkDefense RkSp. Tms Rk13.PATRIOTS5-4151321630817.gifEugene Wilson dropped an interception. Ellis Hobbs dropped an interception. Willie McGinest dropped an interception. The Pats defense may have more drops than the Pats offense has catches. NEXT: vs. NO

14.RAIDERS3-614171411222413.gifDefense isn't so bad at stopping first-down plays (ranked 13th) but then has problems on second down (25th) and third down (23rd). NEXT: at WAS

15.BEARS6-3131411292213.gifBears in orange ... next, instead of helmets, their heads will be stuck in honey pots. NEXT: vs. CAR 16.EAGLES4-518151615143021.gif Who was Donovan McNabb throwing to? According to Andy Reid's postgame press conference, Reggie Brown correctly changed his hitch route to a fly route when he saw Roy Williams switch out of Cover-2. McNabb missed the change, and the season went up in smoke. At what point will they give up on McNabb's battered body so he can go get the surgery he desperately needs? NEXT: at NYG RkTeamW-LLast WkFull YearUnadjustedOffense RkDefense RkSp. Tms Rk

17.DOLPHINS3-61716202710515.gifAccording to Phil Simms, "Two running backs who both want the bulk of the carries ... when they get along, it's good for your football team." Um, I don't think Ricky Williams cares how many times he gets the ball, he just doesn't want to owe the Dolphins all his money. NEXT: at CLE

18.PACKERS2-72120191419289.gifThe average third-down play for Green Bay needs 6.2 yards for another set of downs. That's the second-lowest in the league behind Indianapolis (5.7). (The average third down requires 7.4 yards for another set of downs.) NEXT: vs. MIN

19.FALCONS6-3161913826221.gifFantasy football warning: Atlanta faces the league's hardest schedule of opposing defenses over the last seven weeks. Cleveland is second, Green Bay third. NEXT: vs. TB. Believe it or not, this is the first time all year where Atlanta faces a team that comes into the game with a winning record.

20.BUCS6-320181221132627.gifHow do they stay in the same place after beating Washington? This is an example of one way our power rankings are different; they're actually based on a complex rating system, not just assigning numbers from 1 to 32. Tampa Bay's rating does improve, just not enough to get past the team ranked one spot above them. NEXT: at ATL RkTeamW-LLast WkFull YearUnadjustedOffense RkDefense RkSp. Tms 21.VIKINGS4-526212919231016.gifPrior to the bye week, Minnesota ranked 31st in offensive DVOA. For the five weeks since, they rank sixth, and that includes this week when the offense fell apart against the Giants. If they somehow win at Lambeau, Chicago may start looking over its shoulder. NEXT: at GB

22.RAVENS2-719222828161133.gifChester Taylor is averaging five yards per carry and has yet to fumble. Jamal Lewis is averaging three yards a carry and has fumbled three times. Why is Jamal Lewis still starting? NEXT: vs. PIT 23.RAMS4-525252416281614.gifAccording to the DVOA system, the Rams have the league's most consistent offense: consistently average. The offense under Jamie Martin was exactly the same as the offense under Marc Bulger. Perhaps the return of Bulger and Torry Holt will mean a lot less than most of us expected. NEXT: vs. ARI

24.LIONS4-52726232418298.gifOwner of the league's most inconsistent defense, the Lions gave up huge games to Arizona, Minnesota and Chicago but shut down Green Bay and kept Carolina in check. NEXT: at DAL RkTeamW-LLast WkFull YearUnadjustedOffense RkDefense RkSp. Tms 25.BILLS4-5242317302022.gifThe "Last Week" column is even more deceiving for the Bills than it is for the Bucs: Buffalo's rating goes up but the Bills are passed, just barely, by both St. Louis and Detroit. NEXT: at SD 26.BROWNS3-62224252025155Orpheus Roye has been involved in 12.2 percent of Cleveland's defensive plays, the highest percentage of any defensive lineman in the NFL. NEXT: vs. MIA

27.TITANS2-72327222227710.gifLast year, the Titans were the No. 2 team in the league stopping runs behind left tackle. This year, the Titans are the best team in the league stopping runs behind left tackle. No matter who is playing around him, weakside linebacker Keith Bulluck always makes plays. NEXT: vs. JAC

28.CARDINALS2-72929262629622.gifKurt Warner had a big game and they lost anyway. When he walked off the field, he was still 34 and injury-prone. The Cardinals need to ask themselves what they are trying to accomplish at this point. NEXT: at STL RkTeamW-LLast WkFull YearUnadjustedOffense RkDefense RkSp. Tms Rk

29.SAINTS2-730282723243118.gifSpent their bye week calling real estate brokers in San Antonio. Or Baton Rouge. Or Los Angeles. Heck, maybe all three. NEXT: at NE

30.JETS2-728303031122720.gifThirty-eight QBs have thrown at least 80 passes this season, including three for the Jets. Their rank in value per play, according to DVOA: Chad Pennington 33rd, Vinny Testaverde 34th and Brooks Bollinger 36th. Hmmm, maybe the problems here go beyond the quarterbacks. NEXT: at DEN

31.TEXANS1-83131312532134.gifWell, they've finally figured out how to keep David Carr from getting sacked six times a game. Throw short, then throw short again. 10 of 16 receptions on Sunday went for less than 10 yards. NEXT: vs. KC

32.49ERS2-73232323231425.gifNope, they can't win games playing sideways either. NEXT: vs. SEA

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This is obviously a joke since Indy is so low.

The reason for Indy's dramatic drop is explained as follows:

As explained above, our ratings drop Indianapolis to sixth this week solely based on strength of schedule. And Indy's strength of schedule is the most extreme we've ever measured over half a season.

The fact is, the Colts have only played one good team, Jacksonville, and they barely beat the Jaguars 10-3 at home. What about New England, you ask? Well, that was a huge psychological victory for the Colts, but the time has come to face facts: the Patriots are not a Super Bowl contender. Take away the history between the teams, and you end up with a nice win, but not an earth-shattering one.

Every other team Indianapolis has played this year is ranked 22nd or lower in the above power rankings. And San Francisco and Houston are historically bad.

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It's. all. stat. based.

Every week people flip out over Fox's rankings, without taking the time to realize they're the only ones who actually use a stat-based system (albeit a flawed one) to determine their rankings. It may not jibe with what your opinions are, but it's more consistent than other rankings, which are just the wildly subjective and inconsistent opinions of people like Z and Pasquarelli.

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Ya know its actually pretty accurate if your measuring a team without soley looking at records. This is a pretty good formula. Although the Colts should be higher.. nothing they have done this year says that they should be first.By playing the weekest schedule in the league th colts have done what they are supposed to do. If the colts had our schedule for the first half they wouldnt be undefeated..

#9 I think this is pretty accurate :applause:

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