Revised Power Rankings
Michael D. Wright
See, I knew I would have to revise my power rankings after last week. Of course, we really do not know anything concrete about any team right now except the Redskins. I say Washington, because they have played the best division’s (NFC East) teams on the road. They won two of three and they’re playing great football right now. I have to move them up. The New York Football Giants (or, as Chris Berman says it with a heavy Jewish accent, the “New YAHK FOOTBAWL Giants”)
Lots of pivotal injuries that just came about as of last night/early today that also shifts things potentially (although Philly was not going anywhere as it were — I had them pegged 6-10 anyway — they’re DEFINITELY not winning more than that if Westbrook misses several games with ribs).
So with that… I’m just going to give my Top 5 RIGHT NOW.
1. New York FOOTBALL Giants. Best offense. Best defense. QB Eli Manning is playing the best of any QB in the NFL. RB Brandon Jacobs is deterring more and more dudes frmo trying to tackle him (15-136-2 on Sunday). The only thing that can prevent the Giants from repeating is a rash of injuries. Not one or two, a RASH, because they are stacked at RB (Jacobs, Ward, Bradshaw), WR (Burress, Toomer, Smith, Hixon, Manningham, Moss) and the secondary is loaded, should anyone get hurt. As long as Eli Manning does not get hurt (and the offensive line, which is ALSO the best in the NFL, doesn’t allow anyone to get near him these days) the Giants are going to be tough to beat. However, we won’t really know for sure what the Giants have until the Steeler and Cowboy games. The Cowboys aren’t good defensively if you take away DE DeMarcus Ware. Their secondary is slow and does not make big plays. Their linebackers are just… there. Their defensive line is the stregnth of the defense, and again, without Ware, they’re average.
2. Washington Redskins. The ‘skins looked dead in the water after the Giants beat them opening night. I gave them a half-season learning curve with Jim Zorn’s version of the West Coast Offense. Is QB Jason Campbell not one of the smartest cats in the NFL or what? He’s in his sixth new offensive system in six seasons (including college). He’s grasped this offense and is making plays. Equally important is the running game, which is spearheaded by RB Clinton Portis, who has had three straight strong games. They look tough. Their defense is only even MORE confident because of the way the offense is playing. Right now, this is the only team that can challenge the Giants seriously.
3. Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are clicking again. They look like the 2003 team, which featured QB Jake Delhomme playing his best football, a two-headed running game (2003: RB Stephen Davis, RB DeShaun Foster — 2008: RB DeAngelo Williams, RB Jonathan Stewart), the return of WR Muhsin Muhammad to compliment/open up the field for WR Steven Smith, and for the first time in that same period, a completely healthy defense. Gone are old stiffs like DE Michael Rucker (retired), overweight and ineffective DT Kris Jenkins (free agent, Jets) and frequently concussed MLB Dan Morgan (released/semi-retired). Mike Linebacker Jon Beason is a BEAST and he makes all the difference being able to make plays all over the field and possessing the range of an elite strong safety, rather than a LB. Thomas Davis and Chris Gamble solidify the rest of the back seven. This team goes to East Rutherford to close out the Giants’ home schedule on Week 16. Could be a NFC Championship game matchup. Could be.
4. Tennessee Titans. The Titans look alot like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, who they beat yesterday. They have a shaky QB (Collins, who will make an INT that can kill a team — trust me, as a Giants fan who watched Collins kill us for about 5 years at times) and another shaky one who is coming back from an injury/being booed in Vince Young. BTW, does he get his Black Card revoked for going to see a therapist AND talking about suicide? C’mon B…
Anyway, that defense is FEROCIOUS. They don’t give up ANYTHING. That, along with the running game (RB LenDale White, RB Chris Johnson), and the Titans are the best team in the AFC.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers. I hesitated putting them here, because I think New England, Dallas, Arizona and depending on who you talk to, Buffalo, can all go here. However, aside from an anomaly of sorts in their loss to Philadelphia, featuring Ben Roethlisberger getting sacked 8 times and the Steelers being unable to do anything whatsoever, they’ve been very solid ever since. Their defense doesn’t budge (even without their stalwart Nose Tackle, Casey Hampton, out with a groin). They started another backup at DE last night vs. Jacksonville and shut the Jags’ running game DOWN. It almost seems like smoke and mirrors, but it isn’t. Roethlisberger threw the ball 41 times last night, which is far more than the Steelers like. But hey, it worked. They used a third stringer (Mewelde Moore) and a practice squad (Gary Freeman) as running backs last night and got over 140 yards on the ground. Moore gained nearly 100 alone. However, if they can’t replicate this against the Giants, I have to move them down. That is why I hesitated putting them here. It doesn’t matter, anyway. After the Top 3 teams, the next 10-15 teams are identical and the bottom feeders all have the same glaring holes. The NFL is as predictable as it is unpredictable — always 2-3 dominant teams, 10-15 average ones, and 13-15 more bad-to-awful ones.
As Cam said about Jay and his swagger jacking (the last time you will hear me use the word “swagger” or any of its variants, as it’s all about AURA, as I’ve been saying for months) — “You Gotta Love It”!