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CBS:Power Rankings: NFL back off its bye; Pats still the 1


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Power Rankings: NFL back off its bye; Pats still the 1

By Pete Prisco


Did the 2003 season really end, or are we just picking up after six-month bye week?

The calendar says September, but little has changed from the end of last season. Consider:

The Chiefs and Colts still can't stop anybody. Kansas City's defense might be wise to say penance to their Priest: Please bless us for we have sinned. We can't stop anybody.

The Patriots are still finding ways to pull out games they shouldn't win and still playing dominatrix with the Colts. Spank us, please.

The Broncos can still run the ball, even if their franchise back is with another team and their new guy stands eye-to-eye with all 5-feet-6 of me.

Miami's offense is offensive.

So is Baltimore's.

The Saints should be in the state pen for killing themselves.

The Vikings offense is the Purple People (Yardage) Eaters.

Arizona still isn't very good.

T.O. can still go.

If Week 1 is an indicator, we're stuck in a time warp. There were a few wrinkles -- such as the Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers winning -- but, for the most part, this season started out much like the last one ended.

New England's victory over the Colts keeps them atop the SportsLine.com Power Rankings, a perch they have held for a long, long time. But there are teams closing fast, the fastest being the Vikings.

Seeing what Daunte Culpepper and his explosive offense did Sunday to a Dallas defense that finished 2003 ranked No. 1 does not bode well for the defenses that will face him this year.

Playing the Vikings is like competing against the United States 4x100-meter relay team: Deadly if they don't drop the baton.

If Culpepper can hang on to the ball -- turnovers have killed him in the past -- Minnesota is going to be one tough beat and will spend time atop these rankings at some point this season.

For now, it's still the Patriots looking down on the rest of the league. Would we expect anything else since the past six months seemingly have been nothing more than the longest bye week in league history?

The complete Power Rankings after Week 1:


Current Team Previous

1 New England Patriots 1

The Patriots stay in the top spot, but they owe Edgerrin James a little something for helping them do it. That wasn't the Super Bowl defense we saw last week against the Colts.

2 Minnesota Vikings 3

They are one tough offense, but they also struggled some on defense. A big early test next Monday against the Eagles on the road will tell a lot about this team.

3 Philadelphia Eagles 4

Any more doubters as to what Terrell Owens will mean to this team? Just remember, it was only the Giants.

4 Indianapolis Colts 2

They should start hoping like heck they don't have to see the Patriots again. Then again, they did roll up 446 yards of offense against them.

5 Denver Broncos 6

Clinton who? Not quite, but Quentin Griffin is the real deal. They have a tough road game this week at Jacksonville, which has a good run defense.

6 Seattle Seahawks 8

After seeing them live Sunday, they are for real. The improved defense is the difference.

7 Tennessee Titans 10

Dominated defensively against a bad Miami offense, but the Colts will present a test of a far different level this week.

8 Green Bay Packers 12

The fact they pushed around a heck of a defense Monday night is impressive. The attack defense also showed well.

9 Kansas City Chiefs 7

It's the same old story: The Priest does his part, but the defense is still looking for divine intervention.

10 Baltimore Ravens 5

We'll give them a mulligan for that terrible showing at Cleveland. But if the offense doesn't get going, it's going to be a long season for Ray Lewis and his defense.

11 Jacksonville Jaguars 13

They should feel very fortunate today the way they won, but after not winning at all on the road last season, they'll take it any way they can. Big test this week at home against Denver.

12 Carolina Panthers 11

The offensive line stinks, and now they will be without their only deep threat in Steve Smith. The defense also was shredded. Repeat as NFC champ? Not happening.

13 St. Louis Rams 14

They're 1-0, but do they feel good about it? This might be a sliding team, and maybe Marc Bulger isn't as good as thought.

14 Pittsburgh Steelers 15

It's hard to gauge this team on beating the Raiders, who are a bad team. But there were some good things.

15 New York Jets 17

This is a team to watch closely. They just might be better than we all thought, particularly if Curtis Martin runs like he did last week. He won't.

16 Washington Redskins 19

The Joe Gibbs Era II is off to a good start, but temper the enthusiasm because the Bucs are bad. Gregg Williams had that defense flying to the ball.

17 Atlanta Falcons 22

Winning on the road is tough for any team against any opponent, so beating the 49ers in Frisco is a good way to start for Jim Mora.

18 New Orleans Saints 9

So much for those high expectations. They made the same mistakes they did last year in their loss to the Seahawks. That will change, though.

19 Cleveland Browns 29

They pulled off the shocker of the week, beating the Ravens the way they did. The defense looked much improved.

20 Cincinnati Bengals 16

They competed in a tough venue against a pretty good team, plus Carson Palmer had his moments in his first NFL start. We have said it all along, but they are a year away.

21 Dallas Cowboys 18

And they thought the worry was Vinny Testaverde. At least he did his part. That top-ranked defense from 2003 was shredded.

22 Buffalo Bills 20

Ouch. Losing the way they did is a stinger for first-year coach Mike Mularkey and his team. Those types of losses can send a team reeling for the year, which will test Mularkey's coaching skills.

23 Detroit Lions 26

The road woes have ended -- for now. Winning at Chicago is a good first step for this young team, but can they can go 2-0 as they play host to the Texans?

24 Miami Dolphins 21

They're like a fish -- OK, we know it's a mammal -- out of water, flailing to stay alive after one week. Another loss this week and they'll start stinking like washed-up dolphin.

25 Oakland Raiders 23

They fought hard, especially old-guy quarterback Rich Gannon, but without a running threat, it's going to be a long season.

26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24

This season is going to test every coaching fiber in Jon Gruden's body. The talent simply isn't there.

27 San Diego Chargers 31

Surprise, surprise. They aren't the worst team in the league. That was a big road victory for a young team, but enjoy it, because there won't be many more.

28 Houston Texans 25

Losing to San Diego smells. A lot. If they are truly to make a step forward that type of thing can't happen.

29 Chicago Bears 27

The opener wasn't all Lovie-dovie for this team. Losing at home to the Lions doesn't bode well for Smith's first season.

30 San Francisco 49ers 30

We knew it would be a tough year, but losing your top two quarterbacks in the same game for a period of time? Anybody have a number for Joe Montana?

31 Arizona Cardinals 32

They played tough on the road against the Rams, but that's more of an indictment of St. Louis than it is a sign the Cardinals are better.

32 New York Giants 28

It's going to be a long first year for this team no matter who starts at quarterback. What did Tom Coughlin get himself into?

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I find it fair although I do have an issue with some of the teams ahead of us on this one, specifically the Jets and Jags (maybe the Steelers too but the jury is still out on them). I just was not real impressed with Leftwich this last weekend and the Jets were playing at home against a QB getting his first start with a suspect defense.

I think we move up again next week.

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I'm not sure how Jacksonville is ranked above us. They've certainly become the chic pick in the AFC. I really don't see how they're any better than, say, Detroit.

That said, 16 is probably about right for the 'Skins at this time. A blowout over the Gints and we'll move up several spots.

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