Wednesday, September 18th, 2002
Five Quick Hits
* The Ricky Williams trade was a good deal for both teams.
* Tennessee's defensive line was supposed to be the strength of the
unit, but it's in shambles now. And Samari Rolle, regarded by many
as the best player in their secondary, was torched by the Cowboys
on Sunday. The defense is officially broken.
* Other than Marshall Faulk, a healthy Fred Taylor is as good
as any running back in the league.
* Pittsburgh should start Kordell Stewart on the road and sit
him at home. I bet he cries himself to sleep after games in Pittsburgh.
* After my preseason rankings went up, a reader complained that I had the
Patriots too high and the Jets too low. I think we're on the
same page now.
Number in parenthesis indicates previous rank.
1) New England Patriots (1) -- I would move them up even further if
I could. They've now decisively beaten the Steelers and Jets; can anyone
keep up with this team? Tom Brady has proven he's the real deal, but I think
New England could have trouble when teams force them to run the ball.
2) Oakland Raiders (4) -- Followed up their demolition of the Seahawks
with a pass-happy bonanza against Pittsburgh. If there's a weakness to be
exploited, I'd say it's that the Raiders looked vulnerable when the Steelers
rushed more than four guys. And how about Charlie Garner as their secret
3) Denver Broncos (7) -- They've now beaten two of my three Super
Bowl favorites, and looked much more consistent against San Francisco than
they did against St. Louis. This is a team with impact players on offense,
defense, and special teams, plus excellent coaching. They have two games
against Oakland in the second half of the season that could have huge playoff
4) Miami Dolphins (5) -- A fabulous game against the Colts, but they
have a bad tendency to let teams back into the game. Remember the MNF fiasco
against the Jets? That said, the defense finally has an offense that can
matchup to it. Jay Fiedler is silencing his doubters and Ricky Williams is
off to a great start.
5) Philadelphia Eagles (11) -- There's a huge gap between fourth and
fifth here, but no one else is stepping up to fill it. The Eagles completely
dominated Washington, but they could use an elite running back, and that
is why this team will not represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
6) Chicago Bears (9) -- Either Dick Jauron practices voodoo or fate
is being guided by a Bears fan.
7) San Francisco 49ers (3) -- If I had any kind of guts, I would put
the Saints in this spot.
8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14) -- Back on track with dominant offensive
and defensive performances against Baltimore.
9) Pittsburgh Steelers (6) -- They'll be fine against weaker teams.
10) New Orleans Saints (18) -- I didn't think Aaron Brooks would get
a new contract or that the team would keep its act together. Wrong on both
11) Green Bay Packers (8) -- Their return to earth has been forgotten
in the flurry about the downfall of the Rams and Steelers.
12) St. Louis Rams (2) -- This team has lost its last seven games.
13) Tennessee Titans (10) -- Everything fell apart after Steve McNair's
14) Indianapolis Colts (12) -- It's nice to see Edgerrin James healthy
and having a big game.
15) Cleveland Browns (16) -- Where have the Browns been hiding Kelly
16) New York Jets (13) -- Call me crazy, but I think they need Curtis
17) San Diego Chargers (19) -- They started this way last season,
18) New York Giants (23) -- Ron Dayne was a wasted draft pick.
19) Washington Redskins (15) -- Philadelphia's Toto pulled aside the
curtain on Steve Spurrier and Marvin Lewis's Wizard of Oz.
20) Atlanta Falcons (21) -- Two close games against good teams won't
get you moved down in the rankings, but they've got to start actually winning.
21) Kansas City Chiefs (17) -- Arrowhead doesn't scare people the
way it used to.
22) Dallas Cowboys (25) -- That's the best they can play. A dominant
defensive day after McNair's injury.
23) Buffalo Bills (24) -- The offense has come together nicely, but
you'd like to see more from the defense and special teams.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars (26) -- May not be their glory days, but
they'll play with anyone.
25) Seattle Seahawks (20) -- Now that the streak is over, what will
announcers say about Trent Dilfer?
26) Arizona Cardinals (28) -- Was that really Thomas Jones wearing
#26 on Sunday?
27) Carolina Panthers (31) -- I don't think there's a single person
who would have told you a month ago that Rodney Peete was the answer to their
28) Minnesota Vikings (27) -- They're better than 28th suggests, but
I've run out of room above them.
29) Cincinnati Bengals (22) -- I can't believe I had them 18th in
30) Houston Texans (29) -- Can the David Carr hype go away for a little
31) Baltimore Ravens (30) -- When you think it can't get any worse,
32) Detroit Lions (32) -- And that's why the Lions are here.