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NFL - Week 14 Power Rankings

By Brad Oremland
Wednesday, December 11th, 2002
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Five Quick Hits

* My previous top six all played each other this week. Don't expect to see Atlanta, San Diego, or Denver drop too far for their losses to other good teams.

* Al Michaels tried to pass it off as a joke, but John Madden was dead on when he said Chicago needed a creative mind. Injuries are what killed the Bears this season, but offensive coordinator John Shoop has to go.

* In the mid-late-'80s, the Bears were the scariest team in the NFL, even when they weren't the best. On Monday night they were pathetic, just waiting to lose.

* Darren Sharper's attempt to run back an interception for a touchdown at the end of the Packers/Vikings game showed absolutely no class, or game smarts. Mike Sherman must have been almost as furious as the Vikings.

* A reader complained last week when I called Jerome Bettis "perhaps the most overrated running back in NFL history." What it comes down to is that Bettis can't catch, doesn't score touchdowns, and has a mediocre average per carry. He flops in big games. Barring unforeseen future achievements, no way should Bettis go to the Hall of Fame. His achievements are good, not great.

Now for the Power Rankings. As usual, the number in parenthesis shows previous rank.

1) Oakland Raiders (1) -- Oakland's wide receiver trio of Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Jerry Porter is among the best the game has ever seen. Rice and Brown are past their primes, but they're still great receivers, and Porter is the deep threat that makes the whole operation work. This isn't the '98 Vikings, '91 Redskins, or '82 Chargers, but it's close.

2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5) -- I can't understand why they don't give the ball to Mike Alstott more often. He's a big guy, but I doubt he gets tired after two or three carries. It's like Ron Dayne Syndrome in New York, like, "Oh, we're tired of giving it to the good player, let's bring in the guy who sucks." In this case, that's Michael Pittman.

3) Atlanta Falcons (2) -- The MVP chatter surrounding Mike Vick got a little out of hand this week, and I hope the Falcons' miserable performance against Tampa will quiet it down a bit. CNNSI.com writer Don Banks called it "runaway hype." I like that. Priest Holmes is league MVP, folks. And if you insist on taking a quarterback, Rich Gannon is your man.

4) Philadelphia Eagles (9) -- Not that a seven-point victory over Seattle is very impressive, but it's time for me to admit that I overestimated the McNabb factor. I dropped them a ton when he got hurt and I've been moving them back up slowly. I was wrong; they've barely missed a beat.

5) New York Jets (6) -- If the Jets had played anywhere but Oakland last week, they would currently be on a six-game winning streak, including four against teams with winning records. You could make a legitimate argument for ranking this team second.

6) New Orleans Saints (10) -- Two impressive games after an ugly four-week slump.

7) San Diego Chargers (3) -- The way this team is put together, Drew Brees cannot throw three interceptions in a game.

8) Green Bay Packers (8) -- Not the same team that looked unstoppable a month ago.

9) Denver Broncos (4) -- Three straight losses. One more and they slide a ton.

10) Kansas City Chiefs (13) -- Outscored last two opponents by an average of 49-5. No one wants to play the Chiefs right now.

11) Tennessee Titans (14) -- Steve McNair went 19-of-23 against the No. 1 pass defense in the AFC.

12) Indianapolis Colts (7) -- Loss killed momentum and gave Titans the tiebreaker in AFC South.

13) Miami Dolphins (16) -- After incredible performances in consecutive games, Ricky Williams is sure to be the latest MVP fad, but he isn't even the league's best player at his position.

14) San Francisco 49ers (11) -- Divison title is clinched, but if they play like this in the postseason, they won't make it out of the first round.

15) New England Patriots (15) -- Bill Belichick sure knows how to beat Drew Bledsoe.

16) Pittsburgh Steelers (12) -- It's easy to look back and say Tommy Maddox should have rested another week, but I say you never bench the hot hand.

17) New York Giants (17) -- Jeremy Shockey tore up Washington again, but he needs to solidify his run-blocking to play tight end. Right now, he's just a big wide receiver.

18) Buffalo Bills (18) -- They're done for 2002, but with some defensive help and another quality offensive lineman, this team could be scary next season.

19) Minnesota Vikings (20) -- Outplayed against Green Bay, but they should have won.

20) Baltimore Ravens (19) -- I'm adding my voice to the chorus praising Ravens egomaniac/head coach Brian Billick. The Ravens have terrible personnel, but they're only a game under .500.

21) Cleveland Browns (21) -- Lots of teams have seen the "Cardiac" moniker attached to them this year, but none merits it quite like the Browns.

22) Dallas Cowboys (25) -- Emmitt Smith is enjoying a mini-renaissance, but let's not pretend he's the same runner he was in 1995.

23) Jacksonville Jaguars (24) -- Only one of their eight losses was by more than seven points.

24) Seattle Seahawks (23) -- Shoddy defense against Philly. Which is nothing new, really.

25) Houston Texans (29) -- Great year for an expansion team.

26) Washington Redskins (26) -- Stephen Davis was only averaging 5.83 yards per carry against the Giants, so Steve Spurrier decided to throw 46 times.

27) St. Louis Rams (22) -- This team is in shambles.

28) Carolina Panthers (30) -- On a two-game winning streak, but the five teams they have beaten have a combined record of 20-45.

29) Chicago Bears (27) -- The defense was subpar on Monday night. The offense was a triple bogey.

30) Detroit Lions (28) -- Forget the final score -- I think they're better than the Cardinals.

31) Arizona Cardinals (32) -- The five teams they have beaten have a combined record of 24-41.

32) Cincinnati Bengals (31) -- Should have a big fund raiser with a Mike Brown dunk tank. Proceeds could go towards helping the Bengals sign some good players.

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