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CNNSI: Dr Z Power Rankings


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You are not going to like it :puke:


I got a call from Rush Limbaugh last night. He wanted to know where I was going to rank the Eagles. I told him, "Sorry, I didn't supply advance information, and by the way, where'd you ever get that first name?" Our code of silence is never broken, not even for important dignitaries. On a more sober note, figuring out what to do with the Colts is a problem. And if you want to know how I've managed to solve it, why then you'll simply have to read on.

NFL Power Rankings

Rank LW Team

1 1 Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)

Two games in a row now they were on their heels and little Dante Hall bailed 'em out. My more emotional readers are clamoring for the Colts in this spot, but I'm sorry, the Chiefs beat a good Denver team fair and square, and they don't get lowered for that. I particularly liked the toughness their defense showed, holding off the Broncos twice after Hall's touchdown. Plus, of course, that terrific goal-line stand at the start of the final period. Yes, this is a quality team indeed and I'm proud to retain it as my No.1.

2 6 Indianapolis Colts (5-0)

I will get to that fabulous Bucs game in more detail in my column. Toward the end of regulation time, when it seemed that Indy had a shot at winning, Al Michaels mentioned something about the great number of rankings that will have the Colts in first place this week. And he was looking right at me when he said it. Don't forget, they beat Tampa Bay without Edgerrin James -- a significant loss in a game like this. Despite that weird call on Indy's first field-goal try, the No.1 vision that stays with me is the younger, fresher team outlasting the older one. I haven't done a complete roster check to see if this really holds up... it's just the impression I got.

3 2 Denver Broncos (4-1)

They played my top team dead even ... in fact they even had a bit of an edge in everything but covering that little firefly of a return man. Normally I'd keep 'em at No. 2, but the Colts' performance demands a significant reward.

4 4 Minnesota Vikings (5-0)

Too bad the Vikings don't play Jacksonville this year. Daunte Culpepper could look over at the other sideline and see a clone of himself as a rookie. At 6-foot-5, 241 pounds, Byron Leftwich is built a lot like Daunte, with the same live arm and easy throwing motion. I don't exactly know where I'm going with this. Most likely to No. 5, which is...

5 5 Carolina Panthers (4-0)

For those diehard Carolina fans, believe me, your team's ranking could have been worse. Don't forget, last week I had the Panthers behind Tampa Bay, whom they had beaten. I could have done it again, which would have dropped Carolina one spot after a win. Things will sort themselves this week, though, when the Panthers visit a very tired Colts team. Interesting that two weeks in a row Indy plays one of the top two defensive lines in the league.

6 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)

Just as European military theorists sat on a hillside and studied the more accessible battles of the American Civil War, offensive thinkers around the league will deeply analyze the methods Indy used Monday night to unravel the mysteries of Tampa Bay's double zone. The holes, the weaknesses, the dead spots, etc. Personally, I think it's a bit simpler. Left cornerback BRian Kelly went out, nickelback Tim Wansley took over and then, late in the game, Peyton went to work on him. The Bucs finally got Wansley out of there, but by then the jury was returning from its chambers. Blunt the Tampa Bay pass rush and all sorts of interesting things can happen. As for the ranking, a 2-2 record is nothing to write home about, but look at the teams below and see if you can find a better one. Get ready, Jimmy, this will draw about 500 angry e-mails.

7 7 Miami Dolphins (3-1)

I used to go out with this girl. Her name was Miss Direction. She said she was related to Norv Turner, who coaches Miami's offense. Norv's boys didn't stand up and fight against the Giants, punch 'em in the head with Ricky Williams. Instead they decoyed Ricky to set up fancier things, such as end-arounds, etc. It's like inviting a guy to a gym and then handing him a crossword puzzle to work on. But Norv always had this twisted, quirky tinge to his play calling.

8 12 Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

Too high, you say, after a victory over nebbishes such as the Cardinals? Ah, that's the point. This was a game in which the Cowboys could have lost focus, with the big one coming up against Philly. But they rode through this trap in crushing fashion. I think they'll beat the Eagles Sunday, and solidify their hold on this position, and who knows, perhaps rise even higher.

9 18 Green Bay Packers (3-2)

OK, they melted in the desert a few weeks ago. But just look what they did to the Seahawks, whose defence is supposedly solid, as I have been reading. The Packers punted on their first possession, but then had five long touchdown drives in a row. Forty four plays, 292 yards in that span, and they faced third down only five times. Ahman Green's running was the key, and from that Brett Favre was especially effective on bootleg passes, which the Packers call "keeps." He completed seven of eight of these for 97 yards and a TD. The preceding information comes from our Green Bay correspondent, Bob McGinn, who keeps the kind of statistics that are so beautiful they make me want to cry.

10 9 Seattle Seahawks (3-1)

They were blown out, but I'm only lowering them one spot to make up for the neglect they've been shown in the past. And it doesn't get any more fair than that. Ray Rhodes' defense didn't blitz much on Sunday, or generally show much sign of life. It simply laid back and took it. Hopefully, this is a momentary aberration.

11 11 Baltimore Ravens (2-2)

It's such a good feeling when I don't have to raise or lower a team coming off a bye. Such a great way of limiting the arguments.

12 17 New England Patriots (3-2)

Five spots upward they go, vaulting past the Bills, who humiliated them, and the Redskins, who defeated them fair and square. Eight starters were missing when the Titans came to town last weekend. Then the Patriots' stable of runners was decimated and they had to rely on a K.C. castoff, Mike Cloud, to carry the offense. On the defensive side, Ty Law went out with a sprained ankle, begged to get back in, limped his way to the left corner spot, only to face the maliciousness of Steve McNair. Aha, easy pickings. So the QB aimed one at his fastest receiver, Tyrone Calico, who would surely fly away from Law's coverage, but the result was a 65-yard interception, as Law limped his way down the field on the way to the TD that iced the game. Three book contracts already have been signed, chronicling the start of this miracle season.

13 8 Tennessee Titans (3-2)

They're still a quality team, but losing right cornerback Samari Rolle with a dislocated elbow projects rookie first-rounder Andre Woolfolk to a starting job, and his coverage ability will be seriously tested.

14 13 New York Giants (2-2)

Matt Bryant, the kicker, "felt something go pop" in his kicking leg during the loss to Miami, and now the hunt is on once again to find a vital element of their special teams. Time for Jim Fassel to place a call to Jinxbusters, Inc. Or at least wear some garlic around his neck, or carry some Runic charms ... or something.

15 15 Buffalo Bills (3-2)

Travis Henry took painkiller shots for his torn rib cartilage before the game Sunday. I had that injury once. Every time you turn a certain way it feels like a stab of fire. And it leaves a kind of misshapen lump, which you can point to years later, as a reminder. That's the sacrifice Henry made to fortify a running game that beat the Bengals in the second half. In the first half Drew Bledsoe was 5 for 17, and seven possessions resulted in six three-and-outs. Without Henry, the Bills don't have a running game, unless you count their No.1 draft, Willis McGahee ... oh, pardon me, I forgot. That's for next year.

16 21 Cleveland Browns (2-3)

Oh man, did Tim Couch ever go at the Steelers. And the Browns played some defense, too. Was this really the team against which Jamal Lewis had run for 295 yards? The team that had just been upset by Cincinnati?

17 16 St. Louis Rams (2-2)

Their bye week came just at the right time. It gave Brenda Warner some time to cool off. I have a feeling we haven't heard the last of Brenda & Co., though.

18 19 Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)

Well, I'm beholden to them because they gave me one of my few victories in another disastrous week of handicapping, but honestly, I didn't like what I saw. Maybe it was a residue from the pressure of Rush Week, but Donovan McNabb's passes were doing strange, unintended things. And a defense that I thought was so brilliant ... the way the relentless blitz pressure covered for all those jayvees in the secondary... melted into a soft zone and a three-man rush at the end and almost handed the Redskins the game. As the colonel, played by Robert Coote, said at the beginning of Gunga Din, "I don't like it. I don't like it one bit."

19 10 Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3)

In the offseason Tommy Maddox, last year's Cinderella story, asked for a raise above his embarrassingly low $650,000 salary. The club refused. "Now that decision looks smart," was one rather heartless comment I read this week. But in all honesty, this season it looks like someone's trying to cram a size 12 foot into a size five glass slipper.

20 14 Washington Redskins (3-2)

I've done it again. I've made the Skins the lowest ranked team with a winning record. I'm trying to be fair. They'll upset an exhausted Tampa Bay team this weekend. I'll raise 'em a few spots. Next week they'll win up in Buffalo. They'll be 5-2 and knocking at the door of the top 10. Things'll work out. Have faith. What's that? You just know I didn't mean it when I said they'd defeat the Bucs. Well, yeah, I guess you're right, but someday young Patrick Ramsey will be beating teams like Tampa Bay regularly.

21 22 San Francisco 49ers (2-3)

At the team breakfast, so the story goes, Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens resolved their differences, except for the obvious ones, and then went out and walloped the Lions. Being an investigative reporter I tried to find out what they were served for breakfast. Crow, followed by humble pie, I was informed, but both parties refused to touch them. A call was then placed to Julia Child, but she was unavailable. Martha Stewart said she'd cook up some brownies but the offer was turned down. Next week we'll concentrate on lunches and dinners.

22 23 Houston Texans (2-2)

During their bye week they moved up a spot, just in time to catch a wave from the plummeting Raiders.

23 20 Oakland Raiders (2-3)

Here they are again. I'm looking for one or two telling statistics to document their slide. Here's one: They've been outsacked, 13-7. Here's another. Their third-down conversion rate of 27 percent is second only to Atlanta's for worst in the NFL. Here's another one. They're old.

24 27 Cincinnati Bengals (1-4)

I've decided to shake up my bottom crew. Effort will be rewarded. An upset ... ah, why go on with this? We all know who the bad teams are, and the near-bad, and the ones that are on a downer but are still capable of showing signs of life. Just skim-read these last few, so you can go back to the top and re-read the more meaningful analysis.

25 24 Atlanta Falcons (1-4)

Left tackle Bob Whitfield, a former Pro Bowler, and a player who, at 31, certainly is not ancient, has given up one or more sacks to each of the following players: Simeon Rice, Mike Rucker, Lance Johnstone and Kenny Mixon. And last week, Whitfield held Johnstone in the end zone, which resulted in a safety. He has been the leader of the O-line, but what do you do when your leader is faltering? I guess you wait for a winged-footed quarterback to return so he can sprint you out of trouble.

26 25 New Orleans Saints (1-4)

Every week I seem to run out of coherent thoughts at the same time the Saints arrive. Their statistics always look decent. They have fairly capable players. I've always thought Jim Haslett was one of the better young coaches. Yet they're losers, sad sacks, guys who seem to be on a perpetual downer. And I also think that Emeril's is one of the country's most overrated restaurants.

27 31 Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)

The best quote I've heard about Leftwich came from San Diego DE Marcellus Wiley: "For that guy to do what he did against us at his age is uncivilized." And has anyone noticed that Troy Edwards, a Steelers castoff and a flunkout at the Martz School of Dazzle and Design in St. Louis, is making highlight reel catches for the Jaguars?

28 26 Detroit Lions (1-4)

I hate to say this. It pains me to say it. G'wan, say it anyway. OK. From an old Bill Walsh quote, referring to his one-time QB, Steve DeBerg -- "He plays just well enough to get you beat." I know someday Joey Harrington will be a fine player, but...

29 32 Chicago Bears (1-3)

Remember this name. New rookie starter at cornerback, part of a secondary that held Jerry Rice and Tim Brown to a combined five catches for 90 yards. Ready to remember? OK, it's Peanut Tillman. Now you can forget it. Ha ha, and some day, when this guy plays in his eighth Pro Bowl, someone will pull up this old clipping and say, "Remember, Z, when you told us to forget his name?"

30 28 New York Jets (0-4)

Their bye week cost 'em two spots, mainly because, on reflection, I've seen that after their opener against Washington, they just haven't been very competitive. And even down here, in the House of the Dead, there's some occasional stirring about.

31 29 San Diego Chargers (0-5)

Here's a rather strange quote from Marty Schottenheimer: "The score doesn't even matter. I talked all week ... don't even bother looking at the scoreboard." So his guys followed his advice, and on the way out, after the Jacksonville game, they were asking people, "Anybody know what the score was?"

32 30 Arizona Cardinals (1-4)

They're now at the sorry stage where they're simply getting people hurt. Watching Emmitt Smith against the Cowboys ... well, it was one of the few times that I had to give up watching highlights because it was too painful.

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You could fly a C-17 cargo plane through the hole in his logic of ranking teams. Pretty irrelevant. The top 4 and last 4 are gimmes (though I'm not sold on the Broncos). The rest you can put in a hat and anything goes.

Interesting comments on Ramsey and Harrington, though. I don't know that he necessarily knows what he's talking about when it comes to QBs, however.

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Originally posted by freakofthenorth

This is a positive outlook for our team, unless he's being really sarcastic.

He does think we can handle Buffalo. That's encouraging.

umm if you read it correctly it is obvious that he is being sarcastic... he is just prolly making fun of redskins fans who gave him some feedback on his rankings... he thinks we really suck and we gonna stay where we are in the rankings or go down...

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