1. PATRIOTS (7-0):
Pats WR's Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth are pretty happy with the team they signed with this year.
If Indy doesn’t beat these guys in two weeks, and I don’t believe they will (if I did Indy would be #1 and NE would be #2), I’m afraid all Patriots haters better prepare themselves for the strong possibility New England will run the table. That is unless some team takes serious exception to their weekly running up the score routine and decides to take it out on Tom Brady ala Charles Martin (Packers) body-slamming Bears QB Jim McMahon back in 1986.
2. COLTS (6-0): The defending champs look terrific and right now it’s clearly a two team league, but the other one (see above) looks darn near invincible.
3. COWBOYS (6-1): Right now the Gap between the first two and everyone else (including the Cowboys) looks as wide as the Grand Canyon.
4. PACKERS (5-1): Is that 5-1 record a fluke? We’ll have a better idea when the Packers travel to Denver this week. Not that the Broncos are anything special, but that would be a fairly impressive road win if the Packers can pull it off.
5. GIANTS (5-2): The Giants have now won five in a row after dropping the first two and this week they get the winless Dolphins minus Ronnie Brown. By the way, their five game win streak is no fluke. Brandon Jacobs is a tough power running back, a load to bring down, DE Osi Umenyiora looks bound for the Pro Bowl as does WR Plaxico Burress, Jeremy Shockey may be a goofball but he’s a talented tight end, the front seven is playing inspired football and Eli Manning is playing well. Having said that, this team got off to a quick start last year then went directly into the tank, so it remains to be seen if they sustain it this year.
6. CHARGERS (3-3): On paper the Chargers are a TOP 3 team and they got even better on paper when they acquired former Dolphins WR Chris Chambers at the trade deadline. If they lacked in any one area it was the need for a legit #1 WR and now they have one of those too. The Chargers have won their last two games and I expect that run to continue, but can they concentrate on football in the midst of such disaster? (My prayers go out to all those affected by the fires.)
7. STEELERS (4-2): Lost a tough road game in Denver last week by a FG at the gun, but there’s no shame in that.
8. TITANS (4-2): This says more about the league (mediocrity) than it does about the Titans.
9. REDSKINS (4-2)… and this confirms it.
10. JAGUARS (4-2): Losing to the Colts is no big deal, but losing your starting Quarterback is, especially when your backup QB (Quinn Gray) is an absolute nobody from Florida A&M.
11. BRONCOS (3-3): After beating Pittsburgh the Broncos can validate this ranking by doing likewise to Green Bay, otherwise I’ll admit this was a mistake (too high) and make the proper correction next week.
12. LIONS (4-2): This team has an outstanding group of wide receivers and offensive coordinator Mike Martz knows how to use them. The defense is suspect, but RB Kevin Jones is healthy again and playing well enough to provide balance on offense, while QB Jon Kitna is playing a nice game of pitch & catch with Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson, Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey.
13. PANTHERS (4-2): Defenses cannot stop WR Steve Smith, but perhaps David Carr or Vinny Testaverde can. That’s the thing about wide-outs, they can’t throw the ball to themselves, they are completely reliant on the Quarterback and while Vinny did an admirable job in his Panthers debut you have to wonder if Smith’s production will decline in the coming weeks, and that would likely spell Carolina’s doom. In my view the Panthers can only go as far as Steve Smith takes them.
14. SEAHAWKS (4-3): You ever get the feeling these guys just don’t play up to the level of their talent? How many teams have a RB like Shaun Alexander? You can do a lot worse than Matt Hasselbeck at QB. They have some nice players on defense. So what’s the problem, why can’t these guys ever seem to put together anything that even resembles a winning streak?
15. BEARS (3-4): The switch to Brian Griese appears to be working as the Bears offense has raised its game. They’re scoring more points, won two out of three on the road (at Green Bay and Philadelphia), but now their defense is struggling which was highlighted two weeks ago when Adrian Peterson gashed them for 224 on the ground as the Vikings won a 34-31 shootout. The problem seems to be at defensive tackle where Tommie Harris is trying to play through an injury (noticeably limping), Tank Johnson is gone and Dusty Devoracek has been lost to an injury as well. In my view getting Tommie Harris healthy can make a big difference.
16. RAVENS (4-3): Let’s call a spade a spade, their offense stinks and their defense is over-rated. If not for some dropped passes a few weeks ago (thank you, Justin McCareins) Kellen Clemens may have beaten them in his first NFL start, in their own building, and last week Buffalo did exactly that with neophyte Trent Edwards at Quarterback. The Ravens have enough talent on defense to be a middle-of-the-pack team as indicated here, but they are nothing special and they don’t scare people anymore. Their reputation on defense is a lot tougher than the actual product.
17. CHIEFS (4-3): So who thought the Chiefs could be 4-3 thru seven games?
18. BUCCANEERS (4-3): I don’t know how these guys are doing it either.
19. BROWNS (3-3): With the way QB Derek Anderson is playing (in case you haven’t noticed, bigfoot has been outstanding), do you think the Browns would like to have back that 2008 first round pick they traded away for Brady Quinn?
20. TEXANS (3-4): QB Matt Schaub is banged up and they’ve been playing without their #1 WR Andre Johnson for quite some time. They still have to fix the offensive line before they get another QB shell-shocked (ala David Carr) and they’ll have to draft a RB high (Ahman Green is breaking down physically), but they can be a contender in 2008 if they adequately address those areas through free agency and the draft. I think they’re getting close.
21. CARDINALS (3-4): Lost their last two, if they make it three at Tampa Bay this week they’re officially heading in the wrong direction.
22. SAINTS (2-4): Won their last two, if they make it three verses San Francisco this week they’re officially heading in the right direction.
23. BILLS (2-4): Two of their losses came by one measly point (Denver and Dallas) and last week they upended the Ravens. This week they “officially” turned the page from JP Losman to Trent Edwards while Kellen Clemens continues to wait for that same opportunity with the 1-6 NY Jets. (Earth to Eric Mangini)
24. BENGALS (2-4): These under-achievers were in dire need of a win and they found the prefect pushovers last week … the NY Jets.
25. VIKINGS (2-4): If I own the Vikings I’m asking Brad Childress to explain how Adrian Peterson only gets 12 carries in a fairly close game verses the Cowboys? After his poor excuse for an explanation, assuming he even tries to justify such an asinine decision, I’m telling him to use Adrian Peterson like a feature back henceforth or pack your bags and hit the bricks, you incompetent boob.
26. EAGLES (2-4): This team has one foot off the cliff and the Vikings can push them over the edge, provided Brad Childress gets his head out of his BLEEP and makes sure his brilliant young running back gets 25+ touches this week.
27. RAIDERS (2-4): The charade is over and the Raiders are still the Raiders (i.e. bottom feeders).
28. 49ERS (2-4): The worst thing that can happen to franchise is to draft a QB at the top of round one who DOES NOT justify that selection. This is where the 49ers are with Alex Smith, whom they drafted #1 overall, and that is a very bad place to be. Nothing sets an organization back like blowing the #1 pick on a QB.
29. NY JETS (1-6): The Jets may have drafted their Quarterback of the future in Kellen Clemens, and you would think at 1-6 it is time to find out, but while Jay Cutler starts in Denver, Vince Young in Tennessee, Tony Romo in Dallas, Derek Anderson in Cleveland, and even rookie Trent Edwards in Buffalo, Eric Mangini continues to treat the switch to Kellen Clemens as if that represents committing a crime against humanity. The Jets (and Jets fans!) will probably pay for this hesitancy in 2008 because most young Quarterbacks endure growing pains before the game slows down and they really hit stride. There’s no telling how many games it will take before Clemens can start to peak, but it’s doubtful it will take less than 10. So now we’re getting into the area where we can start to damage our prospects for success in 2008 following this 2007 debacle. Remember that when Clemens makes some typical neophyte mistakes next year, remember that we had an opportunity to get some of those growing pains out of the way by giving Clemens 10+ Games in 2007 and Mangini chose not too.
30. RAMS (0-7): These guys are just a physical train wreck, decimated by injuries, but they’d have a decent team if everyone was healthy.
31. FALCONS (1-6): This team is a mess. Warrick Dunn is shot, they don’t have a QB on the roster who offers even a glimmer of hope for the future, and the entire organization is thoroughly demoralized following the Michael Vick debacle and exacerbated by the pre-mature trade of Matt Schaub. I’m sure Head Coach Bobby Petrino has his sights set on his former Louisville Quarterback Brian Brohm, and it looks like the Falcons will be in a position to draft him.
32. DOLPHINS (0-7): Chris Chambers must have been doing cartwheels when he learned he was traded to the San Diego Chargers. That is the NFL’s version of a commuted sentence, and somewhere Jason Taylor must have been thinking “what about me, what do I have to do to escape from this stinking hell hole?”
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