NFL Week 10 Power Rankings

Five Quick Hits

* If the Indianapolis defense continues to play the way it did this weekend, the Colts are a Super Bowl contender. If it doesn't, Indy might not even make the playoffs.

* Three 17-17 games went into overtime this week, and one ended on a safety. Truth is stranger than fiction.

* If you watch football, you've seen that new Apple commercial. Remember when U2 was great? Or even when it didn't utterly suck?

* I change the channel every time I see a yellow flag in a commercial. I can't stand those.

* The Sharpie was funny. The Ray Lewis dance was funny. The stuff on the sideline with Donovan McNabb on MNF this week was great. The Dallas star wasn't cool. Ripping down fans' signs is not okay. Comparing a fine from the NFL to impeachment of the president is over the line. Terrell Owens fails to set limits for himself. In his quest to appear on television as often as possible, he ignores everything else, including good taste and good sense.

Nothing in the NFL is more unreasonably hyped up than players doing things unusual for their positions. When a running back throws a touchdown pass, the bulk of the credit should go to the coaches who designed the play, not the guy who caught the defense by surprise. When a linebacker lines up at tight end and catches a pass, he shows some nice versatility, but he didn't have a better game than the regular tight end who did the same thing.

There are exceptions to this rule. Dolphins rookie Wes Welker took over Miami's placekicking duties on the day of a game and managed a decent game. Kordell Stewart became Slash again this Sunday, filling in ably as a punter for the Ravens. Troy Brown intercepted a Drew Bledsoe pass while playing defense for New England. The interception is kind of fluky, like a running back pass, but playing a third of the defensive snaps gets my attention.

The point is this: one neat play does not a great game make. Chris Berman is endlessly fascinated by these "out of position" plays, but they're mostly gadgets, not grounds for Hall of Fame induction.

Getting along to the power rankings, brackets note previous rank.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers [1] -- Within the next few weeks, someone is going to give the Steelers a surprisingly tough game. Ben Roethlisberger is very much the real deal, but teams are challenging him in entirely the wrong way. Instead of letting Big Ben be a game manager, defenses are going to start forcing him to be a game winner. Roethlisberger's a stud, and I think he'll be able to step up for the most part. But when teams stop letting Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis run for 100 yards every game, it will be on Ben to generate the offense. That's the way to pressure a young, good QB. Put the game entirely in his hands.

2. New England Patriots [2] -- I was kind of joking last week when I suggested Corey Dillon for team MVP, but he may be just as valuable to the Patriots as Terrell Owens is to Philadelphia. Dillon gives New England's offense a dimension it lacked last year, and his presence could be the difference between their recent loss to Pittsburgh and a playoff win.

3. Philadelphia Eagles [3] -- One of the best plays in recent history began with 3:09 left in the first half. McNabb to Freddie Mitchell, and I know I wasn't the only one reminded of Fran Tarkenton's famous scramble that led to a deflected TD pass. Even though Philadelphia dominated the game, I worry about a defense that struggled to stop the anemic Dallas offense. After allowing an average of 12.6 points per game, and no more than 17, in their first five contests, the Eagles have given up at least three TDs in three of the last four games, with an average of 22.3 points against.

4. Indianapolis Colts [4] -- Peyton Manning may break Dan Marino's single-season touchdown record -- he probably has about a 50% chance -- but he won't knock down Marino's yardage record, too. It also bears consideration that Manning plays with a much better supporting cast than Marino had in 1984. Even when the records fall, it is unlikely that any quarterback will ever have a better season than Marino's.

5. San Diego Chargers [5] -- The Bolts have won five of their last six games, with a point differential of +98. That's 16.3 points per game more than their opponents. It just goes to show the value of having the top pick in the NFL draft.

6. Baltimore Ravens [8] -- Losing by five at Philadelphia is no cause for shame, and that's the only defeat in Baltimore's last five games. Their other losses were a fluke against Cleveland in Week 1, and a three-point loss against Kansas City when the Chiefs were playing well. A head-to-head tiebreaker over the Jets could be all the Ravens need to make the playoffs.

7. New York Jets [6] -- It's fashionable to be down on the Jets right now, and it's easy because they've lost three of their last four games. All three, though, were by less than a touchdown, two were on the road, and two were to teams ranked higher than this. For now, I still like the Jets.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars [9] -- Last week, I bemoaned the lack of attention paid to special teams league-wide. This week special teams failures nearly cost Jacksonville a game it utterly dominated on both offense and defense. At the professional level, there is no excuse for anything less than total preparation in all phases of the game.

9. Green Bay Packers [14] -- Four wins in a row, and at least four TDs in all of them. The running game is working, Brett Favre is playing well, and the defense is playing better. The Packers' remaining schedule is awfully tough, but if they keep playing like this, they'll make the playoffs.

10. Atlanta Falcons [12] -- Criticizing Michael Vick has become popular recently, and he's now widely regarded as the most overrated player in the NFL. The irony is that you have to be pretty good in the first place to generate enough hype to become overrated. When Vick was sensational in 2002, he might have fit the bill. This year, everyone recognizes that Vick's potential hasn't fully developed yet; the hype is no longer wildly disproportionate to his level of play. Right now, Ray Lewis is probably the league's most overrated player.

That said, Vick was not the reason Atlanta held off Tampa Bay on Sunday. He completed only half his passes and produced a modest 210 yards of total offense. The defense, led by Rod Coleman, tallied six sacks and held the Bucs to three yards per carry. With this year's weak NFC, the Atlanta defense should be well-represented in Hawaii.

11. Denver Broncos [13] -- Right now, Denver holds the tiebreaker in the AFC West by virtue of a Week 3 win against the Chargers. With Kansas City fading away, it looks like a two-team race for the division title. If the Broncos can complete a season sweep at San Diego in Week 13, they'll have a good shot at a home playoff game.

12. Minnesota Vikings [7] -- 51 pass plays. 16 handoffs. It's the same thing every week. Minnesota has given up over 30 points in four of its last five games.

13. Houston Texans [11] -- When you lose 49-14 and the game was not as close as the score makes it appear, you had a really bad week. Defense wasn't the only culprit when they got pasted by the Colts, though: David Carr had four turnovers. Houston's offense got off to a fast start this year, but the team hasn't scored more than 20 points in a game since Week 5. I hate keeping the Texans this high, but when you see the teams between here and 20th, you'll understand why it had to happen.

14. Buffalo Bills [16] -- We finally saw J.P. Losman on Sunday night. He had a rough time. So did everyone else on his team. The Pats looked great, and I'm not giving up on Buffalo.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers [15] -- Tampa had a rough day with the officials. It seemed like every call went Atlanta's way.

16. St. Louis Rams [20] -- Mike Martz can't win. If his motivational ploy carried the Rams to victory, doesn't that mean he's been coaching poorly until this point? And if they would have won anyway, why is he getting the credit? Regardless, Martz should not be a head coach at this level.

17. Kansas City Chiefs [10] -- There comes a point at which you have to stop pointing fingers at the defense and blame the whole team. That point is when the defense starts playing well.

18. Cincinnati Bengals [22] -- Massacred Washington's offense, and Marvin Lewis will probably come up with something to slow down the Steelers, too, but the upset talk is just that: talk. Cincinnati simply doesn't have enough weapons on offense to put points up against Pittsburgh.

19. Arizona Cardinals [26] -- With three wins in the four games they've played since the bye, Arizona is suddenly in contention for the NFC West title. Dennis Green deserves Coach of the Year consideration. Bertrand Berry, with four sacks against the Giants, deserves NFC Defensive Player of the Week consideration.

20. Cleveland Browns [18] -- Despite Joey Porter's absence, the Browns couldn't get anything done on offense. On defense, they allowed 180 rushing yards and couldn't get off the field, losing the time of possession battle by 50%.

21. Seattle Seahawks [21] -- What has happened to Matt Hasselbeck this season? He's been wretched.

22. New Orleans Saints [27] -- Deuce McAllister and Joe Horn had their best games of the season. Mike McKenzie, who hadn't been heard from much since his trade to New Orleans, contributed a key interception on KC's first drive of the second half.

23. Detroit Lions [19] -- They've lost three in a row and four of the last five. After going 5-3 at home last season, Detroit is 1-3 in the Motor City so far this year.

24. New York Giants [17] -- One Manning is having an MVP-caliber year, so why not throw the other one in there, too? I'm not a Kurt Warner believer, but I feel like starting Little Manning is giving up on the year while they're still in playoff contention.

25. Chicago Bears [28] -- Craig Krenzel is 3-0 as a starter, despite a 49.4 passer rating. Roethlisberger looks like gold. Krenzel is more like bronze, or maybe tin.

26. Washington Redskins [25] -- Benching Mark Brunell will help.

27. Tennessee Titans [24] -- Outplayed the Bears but lost on special teams and turnovers. Jeff Fisher is one of the best coaches in the league, but he's having an off year.

28. Dallas Cowboys [23] -- Line of the week goes to John Madden, talking about backup Dallas QB Drew Henson: "If he could come in and play cornerback for 'em, maybe that would help them."

29. Oakland Raiders [29] -- Few people expected the Raiders to make a serious playoff run this year, but coming into the season, there was real reason to think they'd rebound from last year's Super Bowl hangover. If anything, this year's team seems to be worse.

30. Carolina Panthers [31] -- Jake Delhomme and Muhsin Muhammad exploded for huge games. Carolina doesn't have a running game, so those guys will need to do the same thing every week for the rest of the season.

31. San Francisco 49ers [30] -- Last week, I mistakenly claimed that Tim Rattay wasn't part of the problem. This week, he threw four interceptions.

32. Miami Dolphins [32] -- Assuming Jim Bates never gets another head coaching job after his interim stint with the Dolphins, his winning percentage in the NFL's head coaching annals is going to be awfully ugly.

Comments and Conversation

November 16, 2004


You have no idea what you are talking about!
Im the only one who probably reads this page anyways. What does that say about me? Well the only reason Im here is because I did a search on google for power rankings.Only to find that this guy has no idea about football or the strengths of a team.

November 17, 2004

Kevin Beane:

Looks like you’re wrong, Ric.

Hey Brad, you took the words out of my mouth regarding U2. In defense of Chris Berman: At the end of the day, Prime Time is still, at its heart, a highlight show. And every trick play makes the highlight reel, and every highlight narrator overhypes said highlights.

November 17, 2004

Jeff Boswell:

I think you’re right about the Steelers. That tough game could be this week in Cincy. The game is quite similar to last year’s Chiefs @ Bengals, when Cincy knocked off undefeated KC. Has Chad Johnson made the guarantee yet?

I’d be very interested to see this guy Ric’s rankings.

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