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Battle of the best

Pats, Colts both make strong claim for top spot

Posted: Wednesday September 19, 2007 12:08PM; Updated: Wednesday September 19, 2007 2:12PM
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Once, not so long ago I swore that if Team A beat Team B at the beginning of the season, I would not rank Team A below Team B, no matter how much better we knew Team B was. Fair's fair was my intellectual approach. So how do I handle Cleveland-Cincinnati, a yardage freak show of a game? The Bengals beat Baltimore in the first week while Cleveland got blown out by the Steelers, in Cleveland yet. What's the verdict? Will I be granted a release from my pledge, assuming things are going to change pretty soon anyway?

"No," says Andrew.

"No," says Paul Forrester.

"No," says Jimmy ... remember him? He's handling full contact darts now.

Gentlemen, I appreciate unanimous choices, so I dropped the Bengals nine places to No. 18 and raised the Browns seven full spots to 25th. And that should make you happy, as well as all my readers and e-mailers and other disturbed types. You're right, I crossed up everybody, and I've really wasted enough time on this nonsense. Bigger fish to fry coming up. (Send comments to Dr. Z at siwriters@simail.com)

NFL Power Rankings
Rank LW Team
1 2 The Flaming Redhead reminds me of another pledge I once made. The defending champ stays at No. 1 until it loses. New England is not the defending champ, thus in a very small period, two pledges have been violated. But honestly, have you seen anything more impressive than the way New England, supposedly distracted to the point of mumbling incoherence by the uh, troubles, handled the Chargers on Sunday night? No, me neither. They're the best team. Let's not kid ourselves.
2 1 Peyton standing tall against a rough Titans' defense was a given. But the toughness the defense showed, playing without both starting outside linebackers, against an offense you knew was going to keep running at them, was also impressive. Hey, Patriots vs. Colts in the Dome in Week 9. Closest thing we'll have to a pre-February Super Bowl -- until they meet again in January.
3 7 When something's funny, then it's funny, I'll admit it, even though it cost the team 15 yards. T.O., after catching his 34-yard touchdown with 4:08 left against the Dolphins, put the football up against the goalpost and pretended to be videotaping. The penalty was for using the goalpost as a prop. C'mon, NFL, a full 15 yards is a devastating enough punishment. Don't hit him with a fine, too.
4 8 Rookie TE, 6-7 Matt Spaeth, has two TD catches in two games. Last year Steeler tight ends caught six. "He's a fantasy league all-star," says Mike Tomlin, the coach. I don't know what this means because I don't know how it works, don't want to know, never will want to know. Why'd you have to bring it up, anyway?
5 11 Mike McCarthy, the coach, said he wanted Brett Favre to show more consistency, which means a higher completion percentage, this year. Against the Giants he completed 76.3 percent (29-for-38) , aided largely by 14 straight at the start of the second half. He's normally not a high percentage thrower. The last time he topped Sunday's mark was in Game 6 against Minnesota in 2005 (28 for 36 for 77.8), 28 contests ago. See that, you tell the kid to do something and he does it. Who says he's not coachable?
6 6 I hollered in outrage because it looked as if Mike Shanahan waited to call time out until the ball was snapped and Sebastian Janikowski was into his field goal motion. So I called Supervisor of Officials Mike Pereira to find out what the deal was. He said that Shanahan notified the line judge that he wanted a timeout before the snap, which is the way a coach is supposed to do it. So why did the Raiders go through with the play anyway? "Because they didn't hear the whistle," the Supe of O's said. "Why not have them call it well in advance?" I asked. "What if a team sees that it only has 10 men on the field and needs a timeout at the last second?" he said. OK, it's all very legit, but I still didn't like it.
7 14 You're all waiting to see where I put the 2-0 Texans, aren't you? Admit it, you are, aren't you? They'll have to wait their turn. The way the Skins beat the Eagles in the Monday nighter in Philly, using that press coverage and letting their corners play some football was impressive. Most impressive indeed.
8 3 Stop howling. I know the Texans are unbeaten. Life's not fair, as my ex-wife used to tell our kids, much to my disgust. The Chargers beat the Bears and lost to the best team in football. Stay cool.
9 4 Battled the Colts down to the wire, beat the Jags in Jacksonville. A good team, unheralded. Well, I'll herald them. How do you do it again?
10 10 Late interception that gave the Chiefs life was offset by Bears' endzone interception of their own. "Thank God I've got a great defense to bail me out" Rex Grossman said. OK, I don't like it, ether, but let's be honest. If Chicago played Houston and the line was pick-em, who would you bet on?