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Posted: Wednesday September 3, 2008 11:42AM; Updated: Wednesday September 3, 2008 5:02PM
Dr. Z Dr. Z >
NFL POWER RANKINGS
"I'm in a dark corner, fighting out..."
--Mark Stevens, in the film, The Dark Corner, 20th Century Fox, 1946.

That's me, fighting out of a dark corner, trapped in the eternal darkness of ignorance. Think I know who the great teams are, before they've played a game, a half, a quarter? Ha and ha.

"I don't know nodding!"
--Sig Rumann, Stalag 17, Paramount, 1953.

Now you know what to expect. No, not more movies, just a different corner of the dream factory, and this one is called The Power Rankings:

NFL Power Rankings, Week 1
1New England Patriots
Last Week: --
Tom Brady's Foot. Not quite as devastating as Mrs. O'Leary's Cow, which lit up Chicago, but serious enough to occupy most of the Patriots' press conference Monday. Here's an excerpt from the transcript of Tom boy's Q&A session, smuggled to me under cover of darkness by Casey The Transcript Thief of Foxboro, and in case you're wondering, yes, it's real, the real thing.

Q: Everyone keeps asking you about your health. How big of a distraction is it?

A: It is as big of a distraction as anyone wants to let it become, which I don't think anyone will let it become a distraction.

And there you have it, folks. Breaking news from Foxboro, the foot capital of New England, and yes, I am making the Patriots my top dog right now, until some more significant feet, uh feat, displaces them.
 
2San Diego Chargers
Last Week: --
I've died and gone to heaven. My first day there, I drop over to the stadium to watch a contest between Sid Gillman's True West Coast Offense and Tom Landry's Doomsday Defense. Keith Lincoln against Lee Roy Jordan, Lance Alworth vs. Cliff Harris, San Diego-Dallas for the ages.
 
3Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: --
Attention Cowboys! You're the custodian of a Hall of Fame career, kindly don't screw it up and get the guy hurt. I'm talking about Zach Thomas, who follows in a long line of great southwestern linebackers.
 
4Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: --
Yeah, you're right, in June I picked them as my Super Bowl winner. I've got a copout available. They told me Tarvaris Jackson was their man. Twenty minutes later they made a big move toward Brett Favre. Cross me up, will ya?
 
5Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: --
All I'm reading about is Peyton's bursa sac. Is that when they blitz all three linebackers?
 
6Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: --
Everybody's excited because they needed a pass rush so they devoted their first two picks to edge rushers. Then the top pick, Derrick Harvey, became the last first rounder to sign, so deep into the preseason that he might need a ticket for the Tennessee game. Note to Jaguars: Got to have it both ways. First you draft 'em, then you sign 'em. One won't work without the other.
 
7Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: --
Yeah, I know, I picked them for the Super Bowl. But not right away. They'll get better during the season. Since I didn't get to see everyone preseason, I asked some of the PR men I know pretty well who has been their best player so far. "Gotta be No. 5," said Philly's Derek Boyko. Sharp, happy, more confident within himself. Man, that's what I like to hear about my Super Bowl picks and especially Donovan McNabb, No. 5.
 
8Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: --
Carrying through on this lame crutch of an angle, the name I hear here is Lawrence Timmons, an inside LB who couldn't crack the starting lineup as a No. 1 draft choice last year. If he's the real thing, this should wrap up the best LB corps in the league.
 
9New York Giants
Last Week: --
The defending champs could surprise us. And Justin Tuck could emerge as one of the truly great linemen this season, but with both starting DE's gone, the temptation might be to keep Tuck on the field longer than what makes sense, and then the whole equation goes kaboom!
 
10Green Bay Packers
Last Week: --
For the first time in memory, the Pack faces a hostile fan base. I think Aaron Rodgers will do all right, not great right away, but hardly a disaster.
 
11Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: --
Julie Barber, Media Services Coordinator. Who's been the light of your camp life? "The consensus," she said, "is our nice little linebacker, Leroy Hill." Well yeah, of course. Always liked him. Now if he could only carry the ball.
 
12Tennessee Titans
Last Week: --
There's a new element here, something seldom seen in this part of the world. A blur of a running back named Chris Johnson, who covers the 40 in the high 4.2s. Remember the way Maurice Jones-Drew broke in at Jacksonville two years ago? That's what they're expecting from this guy.
 
13Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: --
I don't know what's keeping them up there. Jeff Garcia's 39, Joey Galloway's 37. The defense can play, but I'm not wild about their offensive line. "So why are they up here?" asks The Flaming Redhead. "Because the Super Bowl's in Tampa." "Of all the lame, stupid..." OK, OK already. I told you, this whole thing's a reach.
 
14Cleveland Browns
Last Week: --
Everyone loves them, including the guys who set the preseason Super Bowl odds. Me? I say beat Pittsburgh, then I'll get interested. They've lost to the Steelers nine-straight times.
 
15New York Jets
Last Week: --
They've gotten older and firmer. They're putting together something that looks like, well, at least a playoff run. So what makes me nervous about this team? Maybe it's the volume of money spent, the memory about the hollow way the Redskins tried to buy championships. Maybe I'm tired of being poor. ("Oh, gimme a break," I hear sotto voce, nearby. Poetic license, sweetie. Cheaper than a dog license).
 
16Buffalo Bills
Last Week: --
No, it ain't gonna work without LT Jason Peters, and I'm sick of writing it and saying it and thinking it. And I'm sure the Bills are, too. That's the theme this year. Sickness.
 
17New Orleans Saints
Last Week: --
Deja vu. Practicing in Indy, returning to play in N'Awlins. My Super Bowl team last year. Burned once, not twice.
 
18Carolina Panthers
Last Week: --
The season was pretty well shot after Jake Delhomme went down with an elbow injury in game three last year. A big season from him could get them into the playoffs. I don't want to jinx him, but ... no, strike the "but." I'm not going to jinx him, nor the Panthers who play with spirit and verve.
 
19Denver Broncos
Last Week: --
I was complaining the other day to their PR director, Jim Saccomano, an old friend. "I've got to inject some life into this thing, Sacco," I said. "I need a snapper." "Mike Leach," he said. Mike Leach, No. 83, Long Snapper. Very good, Sacco. Thanks for the help.
 
20Washington Redskins
Last Week: --
Fred Taylor made it last year, so that leaves the question: Who's the best current NFL player who never made the Pro Bowl? Does MLB London Fletcher make sense to you? He's had a bang-up preseason.
 
21Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: --
Latest from Chad Johnson is that he has legally changed his name to Chad Javon Ocho Cinco in Broward County, where strange things happen. I don't know where Javon comes from. I still don't know why it's an 8-5 instead of an 85. I don't know lots of things, such as why Sarah Palin isn't happy unless she's shooting some animal 10 times bigger than she is.
 
22Detroit Lions
Last Week: --
Enough fooling around. It's time for some serious analysis as to exactly why I've picked a team to occupy this very spot in the order. And the problem I find with the Lions is they're fully capable of losing to any team on their schedule.
 
23Houston Texans
Last Week: --
The thing you should remember about highly drafted defensive linemen is often it takes them longer to come around than guys at other positions. Thus, after two years, Mario Williams is ready to make his move. Pro Bowl, All Pro, Nobel Prize, it's all waiting for him this year, they say.
 
24Chicago Bears
Last Week: --
QB, O-line, D-line, lots of areas I'm not wild about. Stick 'em here, just on memory, and let us move on, shall we?
 
25Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: --
Why is it every time I hear the name, Joe Flacco, I think of the movie, Guys and Dolls? I think in the updated version I'll have him played by Sean Penn.
 
26Miami Dolphins
Last Week: --
The most interesting game on their schedule is the opener against Chad Pennington's old Jets. Tomorrow I do a handicapping piece. Boy, am I tempted to take the Fish, straight up, in this one.
 
27Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: --
I liked them as a team on the rise. Then Matt Leinart crashed. Not supposed to happen. Not in the script. Unless you see 2008 as another chapter in the inspirational drama of Kurt Warner.
 
28San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: --
Quarterback unsettlements. Too many offensive coordinators coming and going. I am an old Niner fan yearning for the old days ... no not Walsh and Montana, I'm talking about the REAL old days of Bruno Banducci and Visco Grgich and Wally Yonamine.
 
29St. Louis Rams
Last Week: --
"How could you?" the Redhead says. At the league meetings we had a drink with Scott Linehan, the coach. Nice guy. Nice wife. I am ashamed of myself. Just win your opener, fellas, and the elevator going up in the rankings will make you dizzy.
 
30Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: --
Losing Jared Allen has been combated by a showpiece draft that has fooled people, but I look at that offensive line and I see sackers around the league paying to line up against it.
 
31Oakland Raiders
Last Week: --
They still are loved. Vegas put up longer Super Bowl odds on eight other teams.
 
32Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: --
Not this one. It's the longest shot on the board at 200-1 to win the Super Bowl and 75-1 to reach it. Have I ever seen anyone actually cash a bet like this? Sort of. My friend, Ben the Gambler, liked the scoring potential of the '99 Rams. Even when Warner showed he could light it up, the opening odds of 35-1 didn't come down. So he laid the bet. And collected ... hold your breath on this one ... let's see, 35 times a dollar and a half is $52.50. No, just kidding, Benny Boy. Don't get on the phone. He made a big enough play to buy a boat, which is a little weird, since he lives in Phoenix.
 

Email comments to siwriters@simail.com. Also, see how your Week 1 picks stack up against Peter King's.

 
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