By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN’s NFL Power Rankings: Week #2
PHILADELPHIA – The first two weeks of the 89th NFL Season titled “Believe In Now” are over and some fans are already to through in the towel. Any going off of bandwagons is entirely premature.
The phrase “On Given Sunday, Any Team Can Beat Another Team” is sometimes over used in analyzing games, but the phrase really rings true after two weeks of the NFL. The league is filled with parity as there are 10 teams at (2-0), 10 teams at (1-1) and 10 teams at (0-2).
All of the teams are still in it at this time including the 0-2 teams, even though realistically the Bengals, Rams, and Chiefs have no shot (sorry). Every team only needs to look at last year’s playoff where eight teams started 1-1 or 0-2 and made it to the playoffs including the 0-2 G-Men who took home the Lombardi trophy.
Starting Quarterbacks number rises to 38 and counting: Every year I am amazed about how many quarterbacks actually get to start an NFL games. This year’s group has already hit 38 and last year’s NFL record for most starting quarterbacks (64) is in jeopardy as the ’08 season is on pace to break the record. The number will increase further as Gus Frerotte (Minnesota) and Tyler Thigpen (Kansas City) will each get their first starts as they try to lead their respective teams to their first victory of the 2008 NFL season. With guys like Thigen, Matt Cassel (New England), Kerry Collins (Tennessee), Damon Huard (also in Kansas City), and Brian Griese (Tampa Bay) under center it makes you wonder if retired quarterback Daunte Culpepper left the game too early after a spiteful email to the league.
More Injuries: In the NFL you better have quality depth, because sooner or later a front-line player is going to be hurt. Injuries to watch in week 3 include: Titans C Kevin Mawae (leg injury afer he was rolled up on a play), Saints CB Aaron Glenn (ankle injury), Bengals CB Johnathan Joseph (undisclosed leg injury), Chiefs QB Damon Huard (head), Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle), Chargers LaDainan Tomlinson (foot – toe), Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder), Colts SS Bob Sanders (out 4 to 6 weeks w/ ankle injury), Shawn Andrews (back), Falcons rookie LT Sam Baker (leg), Bears WR/KR Devin Hester (ribs), and Packers DB Atari Bigby (hamstring).
Now on to the rankings for this week
1. Giants (2-0) – The G-Men were not tested much as they dismantled the hapless Rams. There ride through the bottom section of the NFL continues as they should feast on the Bengals in the Meadowlands. Don’t be mad at the Giants as they can only play who is on their schedule and remember they are still the champs.
2. Cowboys (2-0) – Led by T.O and Romo, the ‘Boys outlasted bitter rival the Philadelphia Eagles in a pinball machine Monday Night Football scoring fest. Another potential playoff battle will test the Hard Knocks poster boys as they travel to Green Bay to face the surprising 2-0 Favre-less Packers.
3. Patriots (2-0) – No one even mentioned “Spygate” as the Pats showed they could win even with backup Matt Cassel making his first NFL start. The demise of the former 3-time Super Bowl champs was greatly exaggerated as an efficient Cassel and a stout defense turned back Brett and the Jets. The Pats return home to face a better than their record Dolphins team in a classic NFL trap game.
4. Colts (1-1) – After sleep walking through almost three quarters, Peyton Manning and the Colts woke-up and took care of business against the field goal happy Vikings. One of my favorite rivalries is renewed as the Jags come to town for another AFC South slugfest.
5. Steelers (2-0) – On NBC Sunday Night Football, the boys from P-Burgh showed they can play in any weather. The field was sloppy and the wind was whipping in Cleveland, but the Steeler prevailed over the Browns again. Next up are the Philadelphia Eagles in a classic Keystone State battle at the Linc in Philly.
6. Packers (2-0) – The magic ride of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers continued as the Pack quickly deflated the Lions tires in Detroit. Now we will see if the Packers are ready for primetime as they host an explosive Cowboys team.
7. Panthers (2-0) – I thought week one for Carolina may have been an abberation, but they proved everyone wrong as they beat a tough physical Bears team. With their emotional leader Steve Smith back from a 2-game suspension for fighting back, the Panthers face a dangerous and hungry Vikings team led by new quarterback Gus Frerotte in Minnesota.
8. Broncos (2-0) – Head Coach Mike Shannahan didn’t take any chances after referee Ed Hochuli gave him help with a bad call by having the guts to go for the win with a two-point conversion and converting it for a big win over a sour-grapes Chargers team. Another great battle is on the horizon as the upstart New Orleans Saints come to town fresh off a disappointing loss to the Redskins.
9. Titans (2-0) – All they do is win and that is why the defensive-minded Titans are in my top ten. Veteran Kerry Collins and their stout defense did just enough to put away the reeling Bengals. In a battle of old vs. new, the Texans come to town ready to fight for the honor of Houston against the former Houston Oilers.
10. Bills (2-0) – No one wanted to believe that the young Bills were for real, but I am sure everyone believes now after they beat the Jaguars in Jacksonville rather easily. Host the bickering Oakland Raiders in Bufffalo in an old-time AFL Battle that I am calling the “Tom Flores Bowl”.
11. Saints (1-1) - Gave the surprisingly tough Redskins all they could handle before losing in an entertaining NFC conference showdown. We will learn if the Saints are a contender or pretender as they travel across the country to face a good, but some would say lucky Broncos team.
12. Eagles (1-1) – The Birds and their fans road a crazy rollercoaster type game in a narrow high-scoring loss to the Cowboys on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.The Eagles will not have long to lick their wounds as the physical Steelers come to town in a Keystone State Classic that I am calling the “Battle for Governor Ed Rendell”.
13. Cardinals (2-0) - Quarterback Kurt Warner looked rejuvenated and receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were spectacular as the Cardinals went to 2-0 for the first time since 1991 in a shellacking of the rebuilding Dolphins. In their first real test, the Cardinals must travel across the country to face an improving Redskins team with many offensive weapons.
14. Chargers (0-2) – Alright I will say it, “Hochuli jobbed the Bolts versus the Broncos”. But it is time for the Chargers to put their two heartbreaking defeats behind them. In a must-win home game and mostly likely without superstar L.T, the Chargers will need to slow down the Jets and Brett Favre.
15. Bears (1-1) - The Panthers showed that they are the NFC’s biggest rebound team of ’08 so far as they handled the Bears in close home win. The hungry defensive Bears will look to get back on track as they host the Bucs in a game against their former starter Brian Griese.
16. Jets (1-1) – Brett “the Jet” Favre could not survive the Sports Illustrated jinx as he and his new mates could not must much offense against a tougher than expected Patriots team. The desperation bowl, the Jets face a stern test in San Diego against a Chargers team that felt cheated from last Sunday’s horrendous officiating.
17. Buccaneers (1-1) – Jon Gruden turned to bullpen starter Brian Griese as the Bucs got back on the winning track by handing the Falcons their first loss of the season. In a old NFC Central battle, the Bucs face the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
18. Vikings (0-2) – Lost to the Colts in a game they easily could have won if they only got a few more touchdowns instead of field goals. In a game the will have a playoff feel, the Vikings put their faith in “Gus” as they take on the a rejuvenated Panthers squad.
19. Jaguars (0-2) – The free-fall of everyone’s darling continued as the Jags were soundly beaten by the young Bills in their own stadium. A very injured Jags team needs to rebound quick or their season could be in jeopardy as they travel to Indy to face AFC South rivals the Colts.
20. Ravens (1-0) – Their momentum from week one could not be carried over into week two as Hurricane Ike issues at Reliant Stadium caused the cancellation of the Ravens-Texans game. After a bye, the Ravens host the Browns in a game where they want to continue on their surprising winning ways while keeping the hated Browns in their current hole.
21. Browns (0-2) – On Sunday Night Football, the Dawgs just cannot get past the Steelers as they fell again to their bitter rivals on a cold sloppy rainy night. In another old vs. new battle, the Browns travel to Baltimore to face a Ravens team that was once known as the Cleveland Browns awhile back. I wonder if former Browns/Ravens owner Art Modell will be watching this game.
22. Texans (0-1) – Due to stadium issues caused by Hurrican Ike, the Texans had a bye as their game with the Ravens was moved to November 9th. After a week filled with emotions way beyond the football field, the Texans will try to lift up their community as they face the Titans in Nashville.
23. Seahawks (0-2) – Everyone thought that the favored Seahawks would roll over the Niners, but everyone had egg on their face. With injuries aplenty, the Seahawks were beaten by an upstart Niners squad.
24. Redskins (1-1) – In one of week two’s surprises, the ‘Skins passed their way past the favored Saints as quarterback Jason Campbell answered his critics with a 300-yard passing outburst. In a surprising early season highly anticipated match-up, the Redskins host a pumped up Cardinals team.
25. 49ers (1-1) – The Niners turned around their week one misfortune, by beating NFC West division rival Seattle in a high-scoring slugfest. Things maybe looking up for head coach and the Niners as the reeling Detroit Lions come to town desperate for a win.
26. Falcons (1-1) – Hotshot rookie Matt Ryan and the Falcons tasted defeat for the first time this season as the Bucs shutdown week one rushing maven Michael Turner in a solid win. In an interesting match-up, the Dirty Birds host a Chiefs team that has lost a franchise record 12 straight games.
27. Raiders (1-1) – Not even the in-fighting of owner Al Davis, head coach Lane Kiffin, and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan could stop the Raiders from taking apart traditional rival Kansas City. They will shuffle off to Buffalo to face a confident Bills team.
28. Lions (0-2) – The Packers made a mockery of one of the NFL’s oldest rivalries as new quarterback Aaron Rodgers went pass happy on the punchless Lions. The desperate Lions may have a chance as they travel to San Francisco to face a Niners team coming off a big win.
29. Dolphins (0-2) – The rebuilding ‘Phins were no match for the Cardinals high-scoring offense in a bad blowout. You have to wonder what Parcells and his head coach Tony Sparano have up their sleeves as they take on an efficient Patriots team in Foxboro.
30 Bengals (0-2) – The team with all the fantasy football numbers in the past continued their free-fall as the Titans beat them up with physicality. It does not get any easer as beleaguered head coach Marvin Lewis leads his team into the Meadowlands to face the Super Bowl champion Giants.
31. Chiefs (0-2) – At least they are not the worst team in Missouri as the Rams hold that post. But the Chiefs were awful in a bad loss to the Oakland Raiders as they went through three passers and had no punch from LJ. Herman Edwards will try to drive his team back from the brink as they travel to Atlanta to face an improving young Falcons team.
32. Rams (0-2)- The Lambs didn’t even seem to have much fight as the G-Men whipped them from pillar to post. The end for head coach Scott Linehan may be near as new owner Chip Rosenbloom said “Changes are needed”. In a battle of somebody’s “Zero Must Go”, the Rams face the Seahawks in a battle of two 0-2 NFC West teams.