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11-23-2004, 03:42 PM
Tuesday, November 23

Power Rankings: Lots to be thankful for


ESPN.com's Power Poll
This week's rankings were determined by a poll of ESPN.com's NFL staff -- writers John Clayton, Len Pasquarelli, Michael Smith and ESPN.com NFL editors Peter Lawrence-Riddell and James C. Black.
Another week and another reminder of how much better the AFC is than the NFC. AFC teams won four of the six games against NFC teams this weekend, raising their record vs. the NFC to 27-17 for the season. Of the top 10 teams in our Power Rankings, seven are from the AFC.
The NFC this season is obviously not something to be thankful for, but with Thanksgiving just a few days away we decided to point out a player, coach or, in some cases, whatever we could find to be thankful for if you're a fan of each team.

On to the rankings. To view last week's rankings, click here. Also, if you think you can do a better job, click here to rank the teams yourself and then later today at 4 p.m. ET stop by the Power Rankings Show on SportsNation to chat with the NFL Power Ranker.

Be thankful for ...

2004 Power Rankings: Week 12
Rk(LW) Team Rec. Comment
1 (1) Steelers 9-1-0 Jerome Bettis. The Bus told anyone who would listen that he had more left in the tank and he was obviously right.
2 (2) Patriots 9-1-0 Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, Mike Vrabel and all the rest of the lunch pail guys who get it done for the Patriots week after week.
3 (3) Eagles 9-1-0 Terrell Owens' play on the field. Some of the other stuff is amusing and some is stupid, but there's no denying his play on the field has made the Eagles a much better team.
4 (4) Colts 7-3-0 Peyton Manning. Don't worry Indy fans, he'll win you the big one some day. Until then, just sit back and enjoy.
5 (5) Falcons 8-2-0 Michael Vick. He obviously still needs some work as a passer, but is just so much fun to watch.
6 (6) Chargers 7-3-0 Antonio Gates. People were predicting good things from Gates this season, but he's been better than anyone could have expected.
7 (7) Broncos 7-3-0 Rod Smith. From undrafted practice squad player out of Division II Missouri Southern to Denver's all-time leader in receiving yards, receptions and receiving TDs, Smith has come a long way.
8 (8) Ravens 7-3-0 Ed Reed. Ray Lewis gets most of the hype (and he deserves it), but Reed is the guy on this defense that we can't wait to watch each week.
9 (10) Packers 6-4-0 Brett Favre. Did you see Favre at the end of Sunday's win over the Texans? The guy just has so much fun playing football.
10 (11) Jets 7-3-0 Herman Edwards. He might not manage the clock, but Edwards is one of the best people in football. If you get a chance, check out the article in ESPN The Magazine about how he's treated Jamie Henderson since his motorcycle accident.
11 (13) Vikings 6-4-0 Daunte Culpepper. Getting to watch a 260-pound tank drop make and rifle a pass and then on the next play run over a defensive back is a lot of fun.
12 (9) Jaguars 6-4-0 Byron Leftwich. A leader already in just his second season, the Jags will be set with Leftwich for a long time.
13 (14) Seahawks 6-4-0 Michael Boulware. A linebacker in college, Boulware has been a huge bright spot in Seattle in his first year as a safety.
14 (12) Rams 5-5-0 Marshall Faulk. A consummate professional, Faulk is one of the good guys in the NFL.
15 (23) Buccaneers 4-6-0 The NFC. An 8-8 team has a decent chance to make the playoffs in the NFC and the Bucs look as good as either of the 5-5 teams and better than any of the other 4-6 ones.
16 (15) Giants 5-5-0 Eli Manning. Yeah, Ben Roethlisberger is 8-0 as a starter, but from what we saw Sunday against the Falcons, Manning is going to be really good for a really long time.
17 (26) Bills 4-6-0 Willis McGahee. Everyone in the NFL is getting to see why the Bills gambled on McGahee in last year's draft even though they knew he'd miss the whole year.
18 (18) Texans 4-6-0 David Carr and Andre Johnson. These guys are going to be hooking up on big plays for a long time.
19 (25) Titans 4-6-0 Steve McNair. Does any player in the NFL improve his team more just by being on the field?
20 (20) Lions 4-6-0 Shaun Rogers. One of the better quotes in the NFL, Rogers has developed into one of the best DTs in the NFL. Although now the Lions have to pay him.
21 (19) Bengals 4-6-0 Willie Anderson. Has been a loyal performer for nine season for a franchise that probably doesn't deserve the loyalty.
22 (16) Bears 4-6-0 Lovie Smith. The Bears aren't a playoff team yet, but Smith will have them there sooner rather than later.
23 (17) Cardinals 4-6-0 Dennis Green. He's a proven winner and brings credibility to a franchise that hasn't had any for a long time.
24 (21) Chiefs 3-7-0 Priest Holmes. From undrafted and cast aside in Baltimore to the NFL's best running back.
25 (22) Saints 4-6-0 Gumbo and beignets. You certainly can't be thankful for the play on the field.
26 (24) Browns 3-7-0 A new coach? The Butch Davis era in Cleveland looks like it's coming to an end with just one winning season and one playoff trip.
27 (28) Redskins 3-7-0 Gregg Williams. Without his defense the Redskins would be even worse.
28 (30) Panthers 3-7-0 Jake Delhomme. It's been a terrible season in Carolina, but Delhomme is the real deal and the Panthers will be back next season.
29 (27) Cowboys 3-7-0 Drew Henson for the rest of the season? Not much to be thankful for in Dallas, but if Henson gets the nod, at least Cowboys fans can get to see if there's something to look forward to in the future.
30 (29) Raiders 3-7-0 Al Davis. Love him or hate him, you can't deny that he's a one-of-a-kind character.
31 (32) Dolphins 1-9-0 Joe's Stone Crab. Well, there really is nothing to be thankful for on the field.
32 (31) 49ers 1-9-0 History. At least 49ers fans have five Super Bowl titles to look back on.