Posted: Monday October 9, 2006 10:08AM; Updated: Monday October 9, 2006 7:38PM
The Fine Fifteen
Bears quarterback Rex Grossman threw a pair of touchdowns and no picks in the Bears' 40-7 win over Buffalo on Sunday.
1. Chicago (5-0). Another tour de force defensive performance, with Rex Grossman looking like Joe Willie Namath. This team is five miles ahead of everyone else in football right now.
2. Indianapolis (5-0). I know, I know. One-point win over Tennessee at home. Ravens and Eagles fans call for my scalp. My rejoinder: A win's a win.
3. Baltimore (4-0). My guess is Ray Lewis was already twitching this morning. He just can't wait for those Broncs tonight.
4. Philadelphia (4-1). I asked Darwin Walker, Mr. Three-Sack-Man, what the key was to the mega-win over Dallas. "Jim Johnson,'' he said, referring to the Eagles' defensive coordinator. "He called an incredible football game. He put us in great position on every play. He called so many great blitzes today.''
5. Atlanta (3-1). The Falcons are sure John Abraham will come back from the bye at somewhere near 95 percent. His aching groin, hurt on opening day, won't be totally right until the offseason, but he should be good enough to chase Eli Manning with abandon next Sunday on the rug of the Georgia Dome.
6. San Diego (3-1). "I've won a few games coaching this way,'' Marty Schottenheimer told me the other day, responding to criticism that he plays conservatively to protect a lead. Well, he let Philip Rivers air it out more against the Steelers than the QB did against the Ravens.
7. Denver (2-1). After tonight, the Broncos should make sure they enjoy playing Oakland and Cleveland on the next two Sundays ... because Indy at home and Pittsburgh at Heinz Field follow those.
8. New England (4-1). "We've got a little chip on our shoulders on defense,'' Asante Samuel said after handling the Dolphins. You're playing like it, fella.
9. Seattle (3-1). 'Hawks needed the bye. They needed time to heal from the facial slap marks they got last week in Chicago.
10. Carolina (3-2). Speaking of tough skeds, how about these next three weeks for the Panthers? At Baltimore, at Cincinnati, Dallas at home.
11. Jacksonville (3-2). Man, are the Jags good when they get up on you and the defense can go after a fairly stationary quarterback.
12. Dallas (2-2). I got this two-word text message from my HBO boss, Brian Hyland, at 7:53 p.m. Sunday: "Romo time.'' He was referring, of course, to the thought that perhaps it's time to replace Drew Bledsoe with backup QB Tony Romo.
13. Cincinnati (3-1). No truth to the rumor that Marvin Lewis spent his bye Sunday having dinner with the warden at the Ohio State Penitentiary, getting advice on how to deal with the inmates.
14. New Orleans (4-1). "We've shown we're a real contender now,'' Reggie Bush said over the phone after his kickoff return for a touchdown helped the Saints win again. Agreed.
15. (tie) New York Giants (2-2). LaVar Arrington said there was a lot of Redskins-Giants trash talk at Giants Stadium on Sunday. I asked him for one snippet that I could repeat on a family Web site. "There are none,'' he said. Do not let that obscure the great job the Giants did defensively Sunday. We throw around "great'' in the media a lot, but it's an apt word to describe holding the resurgent Redskins offense to three points and 164 total yards.
15. (tie) St. Louis (4-1). Scott Linehan has as many wins as Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs combined.