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Posted: Wednesday November 12, 2008 12:16PM; Updated: Wednesday November 12, 2008 2:35PM
Dr. Z Dr. Z >

NFL Power Rankings, Week 11

Story Highlights

6 Trends: 1. Titans, Giants remain atop rankings; 2. Colts break into top 3

3. Falcons -- finally -- crack the top 10; 4. Packers, Bills continue to slip

5. Idle Cowboys fall out of top 20; 6. Hope for dead-last Lions in Week 12?

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The ranking gods were good to your faithful narrator last weekend because the bottom ranks lost and the toppers, with one or two exceptions, won, which makes this week's struggle a breeze and will keep the e-mail wolves with the long teeth away for at least a week. You have just seen the longest sentence I've ever written for this column. To make up for it I'll balance the rest of it off with short ones. Such as "Come." "Sit." "Fetch." "Good dog."

And as if on command, here they come now. (Send comments to Dr. Z here.)

NFL Power Rankings
1Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 1
So the Bears packed the box and made Kerry Collins throw to beat them. He went for more than 200 yards for the first time this season, wow! What short memories we have. Kerry Collins vs. San Francisco, December, 1996. Went downfield often and long. Particularly effective throwing the fade. Faded poor Tyrone Drakeford, the left corner, right out of the game. Merciless. Ended up with 327 yards and three TDs and the Panthers were on their way to a 12-4 record and the NFC championship game, and Collins played in the Pro Bowl. Not a place where "game managers" need apply. Can't go deep, ha! In Tennessee he plays the kind of game he is instructed to play. At 9-0 you don't argue.
2New York Giants
Last Week: 2
NBC-TV adjusted its red line, and so Eli's heel left a piece of it in the red, which made his pass legal and upheld Tom Coughlin's challenge. And Giants beat Eagles in a crucial division game. They'll be referring to this victory as Red-linegate. One of the more brilliant challenges in red-line history, they're calling it. Came from Eli himself, I guess, or maybe upstairs. Coughlin gets the credit. When they show sideline shots of the coach, he looks, to me anyway, like a guy whose wallet has just been lifted.
3Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 8
Too high a spot for them, I know, but I'm stuck with them. They beat the Steelers. Carolina played a bummer in Oakland. The Eagles lost. I was watching ESPN before the Cards-Niners Monday night. They were defining the resurgence of the Colts. First Steve Young. "Don't say it," I pleaded. "Don't say it." He didn't say it. Then Emmitt Smith. "Don't say it." He said it. "Well, they've got Bob Sanders back now." Aaarrgggh! The most overrated angle in football. He's one player, friend. One player! And he wasn't that much of a factor in the Steelers game, anyway. I figure this angle will be good for about three more weeks, then it might, repeat might, die a natural death. If I don't first.
4Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 3
James Harrison, the outside linebacker, played a blinder of a game. The week before I thought James Farrior, backing up the line on the inside, was the best player on the field. Nobody in football has a group like Farrior, Harrison, Foote, Woodley and Timmons. A combination of four is used in the nickel. Defensive coach Dick LeBeau must feel like a wealthy merchant, counting his stack of gold ducats, every time he lines them up in one of his defenses.
5Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 4
They're all talking about the return of Julius Peppers, who bagged the sack hat trick against the Raiders because he was moved to right end. Well, two of them came against Kwame Harris, so they shouldn't count. The third was when he was lined up at tackle. Still, it's nice to see that he's active and eating regular and enjoying himself.
6New England Patriots
Last Week: 9
Hi-yup! And up ye go, me hearties. Climbing three spots at this level is big thunder. But I want to talk about something else, Randy Moss getting assessed 20 G's for saying some of the calls were "iffy." The fine was later rescinded when cooler heads in the league office prevailed, but I've got a theory about all these stupid, criticism fines. They can be traced back to the Ed Hochili incident, further exascer...uh, exacer...exercas...make that heightened by the attention he called to his own screwup. The typical reaction by mindless officialdom. Strike out blindly in all directions.
7Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 5
The game was close but they never appeared to be in it. They seemed to be a bit behind the Giants in all departments -- smaller, slower, not quite as tough. Still a good team, but not heavyweight championship material.
8Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 6
Headline on Buccaneers Web site: Gruden dismisses rumors that he's going to the U. of Tennessee. Dismiss, dismiss dismiss. We'll meet again at the next recess period. Where have I heard all this before? Just substitute the names and the schools. Nick Saban dismisses Alabama rumors, Bobby Petrino dismisses Arkansas, Al Groh dismisses Virginia, going way back to Ray Perkins dismisses Alabama. What ever happened to the sanctity of a contract? Of the American home? Of girls with glasses?
9Washington Redskins
Last Week: 7
Some teams wouldn't touch DeAngelo Hall because they felt his game had gone south. Others saw a great bargain and were eager to line up. You can guess what group the 'Skins belonged to. Interesting to see how he'll fit in, if at all, with Smoot, Rogers and Springs, all of whom can really play if healthy.
10Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 14
OK, I'm seeing the light -- finally. They deserve to be in the top 10, despite the tons of e-mail to the contrary. Interesting history with the Broncs, whom they meet in Atlanta. In the last 32 years, Denver has visited three times and won all three. But the most famous meeting, of course, was on the sands of South Beach, Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami, Broncos 34, Falcons 19.
11New York Jets
Last Week: 15
In trigue, or out of it, the Ty Law signing is a juicy morsel, with the Patriots coming up in a Thursday night crucial. Spy value? Naah, he already played for the Jets after he was a Patriot. Dynamic star in the firmament? Uh uh. His last few years he was an angles guy, play it safe, cut 'em off at the pass. Mentor to some of the younger DBs? Perhaps, but he's a bit expensive for that, eh? So what is it? Maybe just another big-name veteran to add to the collection ... to be displayed at the London Museum in the offseason.
12Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 17
What's the name of the guy who kicked the 54-yard field goal against the Texans, second-longest in team history?

13Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 13
Well, the game interrupted the debate they were having on ESPN on Monday night, but the point finally was resolved that Kurt Warner, shunned and neglected in disgraceful fashion these last few years, is now back to claim his title as MVP, that'll show 'em! Only Tony K., of all people, pointed out that Warner was in the tank because his game was in the tank. This is what puzzles me. The bulk of his completions come when he stands tall in the pocket and drills it down the middle, short or long, doesn't matter. That happens to be the easiest throw to make. Why don't they pinch off the middle on him and make him go to the perimeters, or give him a little pressure, or reduce his comfort level? Boy, we sure do coach a great game here in front of the TV, don't we?
14Chicago Bears
Last Week: 10
Do they ever blitz? Or throw some exotic coverage scheme into the mix? I'm so tired of watching these guys play hard and go down because they were so predictable.
15New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 11
Jeremy Shockey is proving the old Weeb Ewbank quote about "taking on other people's problems." He and Drew Brees went at it after he missed a blitz pick-up and then the hot-read pass to him. He spent the fourth quarter on the bench. Brees completed 31 passes in the game, but only two to Shockey, for 16 yards. Think the Giants are sorry they made that trade?
16Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 21
There is an air of the Fall of the House of Usher hanging over this team as it waits for the ruling that will either suspend or clear the guys who are accused of using a steroid-masking agent. We're talking about a pair of Pro Bowl D-tackles, the Williamses, plus whomever else the league might have in mind. How would you like to be Brad Childress, working your ass off to keep the team in the playoff hunt, then all of a sudden, poof, the word comes down, sorry, and the heart of your team is gone?
17Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 18
All the TDs Sunday came on decent-sized drives, Chad Pennington in control at all times. I know it's not really fair, but I guess I'm as curious as the next fan to see how Pennington vs. Favre spins out for the rest of the season.
18Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 12
What has happened to this team? Has the bubble finally burst? One out of 11 third down conversions against the Vikes, 10 penalties, 184 yards of offense, two-straight games in which the defense was beaten by final drives. Coming up are Chicago, New Orleans on the road Monday night, then Carolina. It could get worse.
19Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 16
I know you don't belong down here. I'm as sick about it as you are. You're breaking the heart of an old AFL guy, that's what you're doing. Why didn't you challenge the call when Wes Welker stepped on the line and was ruled inbounds? Why didn't you save all your timeouts at the end? You've got to stop doing this to me. I'm old. I can take only so much.
20Denver Broncos
Last Week: 22
What a day this was for the ancient city of Cologne, because under a brilliant sky, with a full military band playing the stirring tunes of a bygone era, the Cologne Centurians of NFL Europe signed Alex Haynes, on the steps of the City Hall on Rastaus Platz, to be their featured running back in 2006. And this he was, running for 238 yards and a 6.4 average, before he returned to the US to begin the up and down career of an NFL taxi squadder. I counted 16 moves that were made involving him, before he finally signed on with Denver Monday to join the Legion of the Damned, which is their corps of running backs. No less than five of them have succumbed to some type of injury or another. Hopefully Alex will survive and bring glory to the city of Cologne and the frauen and herren who once cheered him on with such gusto.
21San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 19
No running game, which seems strange when you mention this team. LaDainian Tomlinson really hasn't been right. The personnel groupings are built for a passing attack. They've been behind in the fourth quarter of seven games and have been forced to play catch up. Had enough? For more excuses, please call during business hours.
22Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 20
Up to date news, courtesy of Dallas Romo Throwing with Zip. Woudn't anyone else play catch with him?
23Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 24
OK, they turned loose the sack machine against Detroit, but do you know how many they had in the eight games previously? Eleven. And that's after they drafted sackers in the first and second rounds.
24Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 23
They ought to line up 10 guys from the Dawg Pound against 10 from Oakland's Black Hole and have a Face-Off. In other words, cut their faces off.
25Houston Texans
Last Week: 25
Have you been taking note of tight end Owen Daniels? Eleven big ones against the Vikings two weeks ago. "Yeah, and only one against Baltimore last week," someone viciously points out. Come on, what do you want? The guy was tired.
26St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 26
The first piece I did as a staffer for Sports Illustrated, back in 1979, was about the Rams and Georgia Rosenbloom. I remember her talking about her little boy, Chip, who was getting into some mischief or other. Just for fun, I looked him up in their current press guide. He's the owner. Had a nice career as a film maker...I mean everyone in that Ram book has had a nice career in something or other. Hmmm, just the thing to set him up for running a major franchise, but what the hell, most owners are in the same club.
27Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 27
They're rallying cry is "Beat the Jinx." For four-straight years, they've come off their bye with a loss. Yeah, but they never went into the bye week winning their only game of the season. Yeah, but they never had back to back byes, because that would be bye bye. I can keep this up as long as you can.
28Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 28
For depressing reading, I took a look at Jerry Brewer's column in the Seattle Times. He pointed out the following:

Guard Mike Wahle had a false start penalty on the two-point conversion.
Koren Robinson dropped the go-ahead pass in the third quarter.
Seneca Wallace missed a wide-open Bobby Engram on the game's next-to-last play.
John Carlson dropped a pass on the last one.

I stopped reading because I was getting an eye ache. Welcome back, Matt Hasselbeck.
29Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 29
Interesting isn't it that with Larry Johnson missing they've taken the last three teams they faced right down to the wire.
30San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 30
Motivation is one thing, but do you know the biggest motivation of all? The knowledge that the guys coaching you know what they're doing. I won't go into the many ways they screwed up what should have been a victory over Arizona, but one thing that saddened me was what's happened to Frank Gore. He seems to have forgotten how to run the ball. Oh, he'll go hard, all right, but he has no feel for the soft spot in the defense. He'll run right into the heart of it. And he'll wind up knocked groggy, as he was Monday night ... and then sent right back in ... and then fall down without being hit on the goal line. It's sad.
31Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 31

This is the story of left tackle Kwame,
Has surname of Harris, rhyme's first one with "aim"
He gave up three sacks, imagine the shame?
To Atlanta's John Abraham ... had quite a game.
Next up was the Panthers' J.Peppers by name
Picked up a trio, only two versus Kwame.
That's five in two contests, now who is to blame?
I say that the coaching appears rather lame,
Give the young man some help, unless you would claim,
A sack allowed record ... that's some kind of fame.
32Detroit Lions
Last Week: 32
Oh my, look who they had to face last week? The Jaguars, infuriated beyond recognition by their loss to Cincinnati. How about this week? Carolina, badgered and berated by their coach for throwing four picks vs. the Raiders. How about the week after that? Tampa Bay at home, and therin, I say, lies a chance for an upset.

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