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Posted: Friday October 17, 2008 11:01AM; Updated: Friday October 17, 2008 2:16PM
Dr. Z Dr. Z >
NFL MAILBAG

Z Mail: Tales of VCRs, wedding proposals and, oh yeah, football

Story Highlights

Dr. Z explains his procedure for watching NFL games

Agitated Cards fans weigh in on being ranked below Cowboys

More thoughts on zone blocking, throwback unis and tuck rule

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Nobody expected Matt Ryan and the Falcons to begin the season with a 4-2 record.
Nobody expected Matt Ryan and the Falcons to begin the season with a 4-2 record.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Dr. Z's Mailbag
Dr. Z will answer select user questions each week in his NFL mailbag.
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The leadoff e-mail started, "Please don't take this the wrong way ..." I immediately fastened my seat belt. Things only could get worse. And they did. Basically I was told, among other things, that given my modus operandi, I was not fit to rank 32 NFL teams. The e-mailer was Andrew from Birmingham, the Alabama one. Which isn't all that far from Atlanta, and that's what he was upset about.

I ranked the Falcons 18th, sight unseen, although as I explained (was it really two weeks in a row that I explained it?) I will soon be highlighting them on my must-see list. You can imagine how this went over with the Big A, which is Andrew.

"I told you not to write that ... I told you that you'd only get in trouble with all that mea culpa stuff," said The Flaming Redhead, who grew up under the shadow of Catholic Guilt.

Right as usual (Isn't it tiresome to be right so often?). I reveal too much. I could never get a job with the CIA, even a menial one. But let me explain one thing. I don't watch pieces of games. I watch them in their entirety, because there are nuances you simply don't get if you hop around from game to game. I usually catch the local, New York area game live, and then comes the long, and I do mean long, TV vigil, after three VCRs have recorded half a dozen games. Sometimes, if a game finishes early, I'll get a piece of another one. Then there's the Sunday nighter, then the Monday nighter, then more tape viewing. Then dinner.

This schedule has gotten me through a breakdown of 30 NFL teams so far, most of them at least twice. I'm sorry that the Falcons are not among them, but they will be soon. This is the way I do things...have been doing them for as long as VCRs have been around. I think you'll find that many of your most prestigious rankers of clubs and selectors of all-star teams undergo a lot less exposure. I'm sorry if I have offended you.

• Might as well get all of this out of the way. From Gregg of Aurora, Ohio -- "Don't defend your rankings by saying, 'Just wait and see. They'll end up where they're supposed to.' It's a cop out. It's like Wimpy from Popeye saying, 'I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.'"

Gee, I never heard Wimpy say that. But be that as it may, I will never say that wait and see thing again. Or write it. Just see if I do.

OK, come on, step up, take your best shots. I can bear it. Just a minute ... let me remove the plate from my head first. There! OK, wotta we got?

• "Plate in the head or plate FOR a head, you dumb ... " No, Michelle from Phoenix didn't really say that, but I'll bet she wanted to. Say, Michelle, you're from Phoenix, and so's my wife, Linda, so maybe the two a yez can get together and water the cacti or something. No? Stop banging your shoe on the desk. I was just kidding.

Team A, Arizona (4-2), beat Team B, Dallas (4-2), and yet A is 10 (ten!) places below the defeated B. "Has Dr. Z fallen asleep and bumped his head?" she writes. ( Have I bumped, uh, bumped, uh bumped, uh...?)

OK, here's the way it is. Before the game, 14 places separated them. The number has been cut to 10. The toughest thing about ranking the teams after the first few weeks of the season is that you lose the integrity of head-to-head. Thus, the Jets, who ran up 56 points on your Cardinals, are ranked below them.

I don't hear any Jets fans complaining, mainly because their blood has not been heated to a boil by a merciless southwestern sun. Arizona is a brutal place in which to play. Everyone knows that. Let the Cardinals win one on the road, say at Carolina after the bye, and you'll see some very kind treatment in the old Z-Rankings. No, wait a minute...I just promised someone that I wasn't going to do the "just wait" number. You see how quickly things slip out of the poor old head, once it gets bumped a few times?

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