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Turnover at the top

Colts catapult to No. 1, Patriots rise after Bears lose

Posted: Wednesday November 8, 2006 11:54AM; Updated: Wednesday November 8, 2006 4:33PM
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It's like this. I'm gonna get in real quickly with these rankings and get out the same way. I'm not in a good mood, see. Yesterday was my day in the studio, taping She Says, Z Says, which was valuable for me because it marked the first time this week I was told how terrible my picks have been. Usually I hear that in the cigar store when I get my morning paper, but lately I've been going in there in disguise. My favorite line in the studio came from some guy who asked me, "Can you really be this stupid?"

Oh yes, I can, I really can. Make that I am. I look at it as entertainment. But I'll tell you what I WON'T do. I won't pick that midseason garbage ... all-pro, partial-pro, November all-stars, new choice of Super Bowl teams (what, you're giving up on Miami already?), with another new choice to follow in a few weeks. I found some sleepers because the magazine asked me for them.

But I have to give you a list of something, so in keeping with my sour mood, I'm going to give you my Sinker All-Stars, guys who have been screwing up, aging, minimizing their potential, if they indeed have any left. This will run tomorrow. You're just going to have to remain calm until then. Here come the rankings, and I warned you, they're going to come at you real fast and disappear just as fast. No long narratives. Nothing from the Flaming Redhead, whom I've mentioned is in Venice with her sister, drinking la belle Amarone.

NFL Power Rankings
Rank LW Team
1 2 Well, naturally I picked the Patriots game wrong, along with everyone else. And it wasn't because I thought New England would run the ball to a fare thee well. I learned that lesson covering one of the most interesting games I'd ever been to -- unbeaten 1972 Miami Dolphins against the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Playoffs. Miami had one of the all-time great rushing teams. The Browns finished 24th against the run. Oh, man, close it down early. This will be over at halftime. In my paper I think I picked the Fish to win by three touchdowns. Well, the Dolphins got their yards, but what I didn't handicap was the courage the Browns showed. When things got really tough they just killed themselves, flying to the ball, even though they were outmanned. The Browns led by a point, deep into the fourth quarter, then Miami won it with a final drive, interestingly keyed by two important passes. Yeah, the Colts gave up yards on the ground Sunday night. But they got a lot of courage from their defense, too.
2 3 You know what I like about this team and Tom Brady? After the game they always give the other team credit for playing well. How many times have you heard that old refrain, "Oh we just kept turning the ball over," or "We made too many mistakes?" I mean was there another team on the field? That's why John Brodie, the old 49er QB, used to hate the Cowboys. "Never any credit to anyone else," he'd say. "It was always, 'Those weren't the real Cowboys out there.' I used to ask them, 'How many guys you keep on your roster, anyway?'"
3 1 Damn double-crossers. I was going to call up Gary Fencik, the all-pro safetyman on the '85 Bears and do a player by player comparison, those against these. Then I was going to back it up even farther and compare the current team to the 1940 Monsters of the Midway. Still back ... the Sneakers Game, Nagurski and Grange and Beattie Feathers ... way, way back, the Decatur Staleys and Halas and the great battles with the Nesser Brothers. It was going to be an all-time orgy of comparing, one of the great memory lane pieces this Web site has ever seen. The Dolphins ruined all that.
4 4 The game I felt best about last weekend, was Pittsburgh giving them two points. Tough, hardnosed football against flashy stuff. So Denver won with a 72-yard end around and a lot of long catches by the same guy. C'mon Broncos! Play like men!
5 5 One story I saw about the Bengals game lauded the Ravens' play calling, pointing out the remarkable fact that Steve McNair distributed passes (these will get you in the main gate) to seven different receivers, wow! The only problem was that of the 27 other teams in action last weekend, 15 of them did the same thing -- or better. Four had eight.
6 7 Here's what I love about the NFL. Shawne Merriman can't go near the team's facility, can't practice, can't do anything around the club while he serves his suspension. But that sure doesn't stop the league from using him as an interview subject on its own network.
7 6 Yeah, I picked them to beat the Bears. It all depends on what kind of pressure they can generate -- without three defensive ends, including Michael Strahan. Seems hopeless, doesn't it? Bear in mind, please, that poor old Detroit beat Atlanta by 16 points with three defensive starters out, including the great Shaun Rogers.
8 8 Playoffs ahead? I know coaches hate this kind of long-range talk, but you folks ain't coaches. If they split the rest of the games 4-4, they're in. They're probably also in if they go 3-5, that's how flighty the conference is. There will be more on this topic when we arrive at the Rams. Can you wait?
9 10 I mean is DE Jared Allen special or what? Good, sturdy run-stopper. Up there among the sack leaders with five. Makes me wish I could go back on my vow of not picking all-anythings at this stage of the season.
10 12 I really wish I could have gotten a picture of how they accumulated all those sacks on Monday night. ESPN might show you a replay of one or two, but they usually get off the play in a hurry and run to one of their guests in the booth or some other nonsense, while the sacker is still obscured. I know, I have it on tape and I'll spend a big chunk of time running everything back and I'll try to follow each player's progress, but honestly, wouldn't it just be so much easier if the network were interested in showing you a game?