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KingPriest2
10-13-2004, 12:44 PM
New York, New York
Red-hot Giants and Jets both continure their rise to the top
Posted: Wednesday October 13, 2004 11:31AM; Updated: Wednesday October 13, 2004 12:52PM





You think I'm not gonna get even? Think again. All those teams that got together and decided to hand me a 2-7 record for my picks last weekend are gonna pay and pay dearly. Every five minutes the phone rings. Some guy who just blew his kid's college fund is calling to thank me. Or worse. And what did I hear the week I went 7-0? A noise like an oyster.

You're gonna get hammered in this week's rankings, I promise you, all you double-crossers. Seahawks and Cardinals, blew a combined 33-point lead in the fourth quarter. Texans fought back and then choked in OT. Naturally I had all three overtime losers. Cowboys over the Giants? What ever got into me to make that pick? Jaguars? Well, give 'em credit, at least they made it close. I mean they held San Diego under 50. The Saints hung right in there against the ever-dangerous Bucs. And the Packers? The only consolation is that all four geniuses on ESPN's pre-game show Monday night were unanimous in picking them, but just wait till you see what I have in store for this team.

Anyone want to send me an e-mail that says, "You must not let personal prejudice interfere with your ranking of the teams?" Go ahead, I dare you. See what happens.

NFL Power Rankings
Rank LW Team
1 1 New England Patriots (4-0)
This is what is known as streak-anticlimax. Beating Seattle will tie them for the streak that the NFL officially recognizes, the 17 consecutive regular-season victories. The league does not like to mix regular and postseason. Or vodka and orange juice. Or truth and hype.
2 2 Philadelphia Eagles (4-0)
Wonder how they felt on their bye Sunday, watching all that thrashing madness around the league. OK, it's a dumb statement. With these guys, it's the PlayStation that gets the workout Sunday, not the network games.
3 4 Indianapolis Colts (4-1)
I don't want to get picky, but have you noticed how Marvin Harrison's production has fallen off in the last few weeks? I know, I know, it's an ultimate strength, the idea that you've got so many weapons that there's hardly room to accommodate all of them. But when we see Marvin, are we still looking at one of the top two or three receivers in the league or just a good, functional performer?
4 5 New York Jets (4-0)
Last week, Herman Edwards handed out motivational cards that read, "If you are scared to go 4-0, call the police." Hmmm, seemed like a good idea, so I called the Denville, N.J., P.D. There was a certain amount of confusion involved, and finally the desk sergeant came on. "Do you know how busy we are here?" Gonna have to check to see if the players got similar reactions.
5 12 New York Giants (4-1)
You'll forgive me, please, if I don't tune in to all the sweetness the players are now handing Tom Coughlin and his tough, but oh-so-necessary ways. I don't forget that these are the same people who rolled over, doggo, last year for Jim Fassel, a really nice guy and a gentleman. And whispered this summer, behind their hands, that they were being coached by a maniac. But if they keep winning ... well, then, I'll just be a squeaky little voice lost in all the bluster and bombast of the Big Apple.
6 8 Denver Broncos (4-1)
Come gather round, young critters, and I'll sing you the ballad of Reuben Droughns, born to run back kicks and block but suddenly galloping over the high country. On his work sheet, under "occupation," it said fullback-kick returner. Fullback? At 207? We like 'em upwards of 235. And that's kind of heavy for a kick returner, isn't it? But he's averaging 28.9, which is third best in the league. The guy obviously avoids his share of tackles. Lightbulb! An idea! Quentin Griffin, our prime runner, has gone out of fashion. Why not try Droughns? Cut to a group shot of the coaching staff gathered around the stat sheet after Sunday's game. "Say what? One hundred and ninety three yards rushing for Droughns? Oh my God, are we geniuses or what?" "Does this mean that I lose him off my kick team?" says the special teams coach. Fadeout.
7 9 Minnesota Vikings (3-1)
How serious is this offense? Well, on Sunday it recorded its 33rd straight game of 300 or more yards. Is this a record? Can somebody check it for me, please, because the people at Stats, Inc., are mad at me because once I kibbitzed them in print, and you do not do this to people whose work puts many lives at risk. By gaining 510 yards against Houston, the Vikings are on pace for 7,112 yards for the season. The record is 7,075 by the Greatest Show on Turf Rams in 2000, the year between their two Super Bowls.
8 13 St. Louis Rams (3-2)
They beat the Seahawks fair and square, so they will be ranked above last week's No. 3 Hawks, gabeesh? I charted Ray Rhodes' Seahawk defense, as it was getting swarmed by Mike Martz's Fast & Furious boys. First it involved a conservative four-man rush, then, as things got hairy, Ray started getting more exotic with blitz and zone-blitz schemes. Interesting. Usually coordinators tend to chicken out, as they feel the icy fingers on their throat. But Ray has guts. On the final play, Marc Bulger's 52-yard pass to Shaun McDonald, Ray came with seven rushers. The Rams blocked it with six, the five linemen and RB Stephen Jackson. Once I heard an offensive lineman ask his coach, "How do I block two, when they're both coming through the same gap?" The coach told him, "You make yourself big." The Rams O-line made themselves big, four receivers were sent out, and McDonald, in the slot, got safety coverage. Bulger was never touched, but he didn't give anyone time to touch him. He took the shotgun snap, and taking no step with either foot, threw the ball, flat-footed, and laid it into McDonald's arms perfectly. But here's the killer. The ball was delivered in 1.88 seconds, and that's for a 52-yard hookup. I timed it over and over again. I recorded a low of 1.87 and a high of 1.90. It was a perfect play, in all aspects. This is why I have the Rams ranked so high.
9 3 Seattle Seahawks (3-1)
First Mike Holmgren was ripped for going conservative, with the big halftime lead, and not piling up more points. Then he was ripped for throwing on the last series, instead of killing the clock with running plays. The pass completion on that possession bought him a new set of downs. At that point he could have run the clock down so that St. Louis would have gotten the ball with under 30 seconds left, but he got greedy and through again. Technically, you could criticize it. But being bold on the first snap got him his new set of downs to begin with. Personally, I like boldness, even though statistically it didn't turn out so well.
10 11 Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1)
Is Big Ben (and you'll forgive me please if I keep calling him this, since my fingers freeze up when I'm trying to type the full thing) the best rookie QB in Steeler history? Well, let's look at his competition. In his rookie season of 1970, Terry Bradshaw split the job with Terry Hanratty. Bradshaw threw six TDs, 24 interceptions. Jim Finks was a fine, underrated QB, drafted in the 12th round in 1949, when the Steelers were the only NFL team still playing single-wing. He split the run-pass tailback job with Joe Geri and was OK, nothing special. Kordell Stewart, the second round draft in 1995, was a backup to Neil O'Donnell his rookie year. O'Donnell was pretty decent as a rookie in 1991, but that's about it. So unless someone can find something I'm missing, yeah, Big Ben is the guy.
11 18 Detroit Lions (3-1)
This is what they did to Atlanta. They had the DE's playing wide, to control Michael Vick's rambles. That'll work if you've got massive, talented tackles for quality control inside, and Shaun Rogers and Big Daddy Wilkinson qualify.
12 6 Atlanta Falcons (4-1)
Continuing the thought, that seems to be the book on Vick, make sure you station roadblocks, i.e., linemen, in his way, outside. Arizona showed him some five-man rush, Carolina used a mush rush -- a containing type of thing. The whole idea is to get him to play pocket QB and stay inside, like the other fellas in the NFL do, despite what ESPN's Michael Irvin keeps yammering about letting him run around and play schoolyard football. ("Why do you keep taking shots at ESPN?" the Flaming Redhead asks. Because I hate the phony way they hype the game, that's why. And there's another one coming later on).
13 22 San Diego Chargers (3-2)
Antonio Gates, Drew Brees playing like a dream, Reche Caldwell now making a name for himself as a wideout ... all valuable adjuncts to the Ladainian Tomlinson show...and they're competing at a dizzying pace.
14 7 Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)
Has the bubble burst this quickly? Has Marcus Stroud, who was staking a claim as the league's best DT, already peaked and begun the plummet? I didn't see the Charger game, but against the Colts he was blocked to a fare thee well, and San Diego did run for 176 yards and five a pop. Ah, how we create idols and then destroy them and move on to the next idol. It's a vicious world, I'll tell ya.
15 15 Houston Texans (2-3)
I saw Andre Johnson for the first time this year and I didn't believe what I was seeing. The game he had against the Vikings was about the best WR performance I've seen in two years or so. So I called their PR director, Tony Wylie. Has he been doing this every week? "Well, he's been so impressive that he got a call from Isaac Bruce, telling him he was a credit to south Florida," Tony said. I don't think I'd go that far, unless he was from my old street in Washington Heights, Cabrini Blvd., but wow, what a talent.
16 10 Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Bill Parcells failed on two fourth-down gambles. His logic was severely questioned, journalistically. He said he was trying to "generate momentum," which was something he never had to explain when he was being praised to the sky by the same rippers for his fourth-down boldness, his dash and courage, when he was with the Super Bowl Giants.
17 14 Carolina Panthers (1-3)
With the offense ailing, you'd think that it would be time for the defense to stiffen, wouldn't you? But that really hasn't happened. It better happen soon, or we're looking at a another lower-echelon mediocrity here.
18 20 Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)
Bye week. The Ravens, stirring Sunday night performance and all, still will be below them because of what happened the previous week.
19 21 Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
What I saw against the Redskins was a very unsound offensive show. How many times did Jamal Lewis have to run into the heart of the defense before the Redskins' offense pissed away the game and their defense tired out? Kyle Boller is no world-beater, but how come he gets no help from his receivers? I saw one play in which he was in trouble, and his wideout, No. 80, Randy Hymes, just stood there in front of the DB, making no effort to help his QB. This is not a well-coached offense.
20 23 Tennessee Titans (2-3)
They aren't as good as the Packers made them look. They aren't as bad as they appeared against the Chargers. What they are is lower-middle class, also known as 2-3.
21 16 Oakland Raiders (2-3)
Bring back Rich Gannon, they're yelling, now that Kerry Collins has committed eight turnovers in two games. And before that they were yelling that Collins, not Gannon, was the perfect fit for Norv Turner's offense. Don't critics have memories? "Yeah, but you were saying it, too, weren't you, Z?" says the nasty little voice. OK, OK, already, leave me alone, I'm not in a good mood.
22 17 Cleveland Browns (2-3)
Guess what kicker is riding the NFL's longest no-misses streak? I've given it away by mentioning it in my Browns section, haven't I? Hardly a trick question now. OK, it's Phil Dawson (21 straight) and next time I'll hide it better.
23 32 San Francisco 49ers (1-4)
Here's the kind of thing I love. So many new faces on the defensive line that at a game two weeks ago Bryant Young yelled a guy's number because he didn't know his name. And before the New Orleans contest, LB Jeff Ulbrich didn't even know the name of Otis Leverette, who started at left defensive end. And in January, they won't even know the name of their coach. (Why did I drop that line in? I hate it when people write stuff like this).
24 24 Arizona Cardinals (1-4)
Linebacker Gerald Hayes KO'd 49er cornerback Jimmy Williams on a first-half kickoff. Stretched him. Out cold. He stood over him, crossed his arms, like a referee would do over a boxer who's been KO'd, then he went to the sidelines and flexed his biceps. You like all this? Well, ESPN does, too. They showed it on the "Jacked Up" portion of their Monday night pregame show, amidst much heehawing. And you wonder why I can't stand these guys.
25 19 Green Bay Packers (1-4)
It feels weird, even typing 1-4 next to the name of this once proud team. I should really drop them lower after that miserable, half-hearted performance Monday night, but I am too filled with memories. Did I ever tell you that I played against Vince Lombardi's St. Cecilia Prep when I was in high school? The Saints. Same power sweep, both guards pulling. Oh my God, here they come again. Sorry but I must retreat into nostalgia because the present is so painful.
26 27 Chicago Bears (1-3)
Good time for the bye week. Many wounded to heal. Then send 'em out again. Do I hear a bugle?
27 28 Cincinnati Bengals (1-3)
Their upset victory over Cleveland will herald a new day dawning in my handicapping fortunes, an upturn for sure. I feel almost as certain about this one as I did about Houston, my upset choice over the Vikings last weekend.
28 30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4)
I guess I'm expected to say something clever about Brian Griese, right? I'll say this. Maybe I am alone in my opinion, but I've always liked his style. I liked the courage he showed in beating the Raiders that night after his shoulder was separated. I had that injury once. I don't know how he did it.
29 25 New Orleans Saints (2-3)
Saints fans, no complaints, please. Your team now has lost two straight games to clubs that were 0-and-something going in. And forgive me if I move on to someone more interesting such as ...
30 26 Washington Redskins (1-4)
The Ravens had a complete handle on their offense. Will you concede that, Skins fans? Just what Clinton Portis was complaining about after the Cleveland loss, the fact that the enemy was calling their plays. It was a sentiment echoed by players on both sides. And what was the outcome? Not a brainstorming session ... how can we fix this? It was more like major heat for Portis for being disloyal. It's the corporate way. Criticize the corporation, and there's no attempt to see if it's justified, just to muzzle the critic.
31 29 Buffalo Bills (0-4)
Between quarter Nos. three and four, Mike Mularkey, noting that the offense had punted seven times, gave a spirited speech on the sidelines. Thereupon Drew Bledsoe and the boys went out and scored twice and gave the Bills a lead. Then in the last few minutes Chad Pennington marched his Jets down the field for the winning field goal. The moral of this story is as follows: Coaches must have two speeches ready, one for offense, one for defense. Three speeches if special teams are a major concern.
32 31 Miami Dolphins (0-5)
Jay Fiedler has a cracked rib, A.J. Feeley is recovering from a concussion. Step up to the plate, Sage Rosenfels. It's like the movie, Beau Geste, with Gary Cooper and Robert Preston, when they're defending their fort in the Sahara, and the evil Sgt. Markoff (Brian Donlevy) keeps sending legionnaire after legionnaire up to the tower to get shot. Here's the good news about Rosenfels, a third year veteran. His lifetime rating is 99.3. Here's the bad news. He's thrown only nine

Crush
10-13-2004, 12:47 PM
Time to get back on track.

Boardin Bronco
10-13-2004, 01:54 PM
Denver is currently ranked #6 in 3 separate power rankings:

ESPN, CBS Sportsline and Dr. Z's