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The Raiders and 49ers hold top-five positions
Posted: Tuesday October 30, 2001 5:42 PM
I know this isn't the place for it, but I'm going to answer the question now to save all you mailbaggers the trouble of ripping me to shreds.
How could you have picked Tennessee to upset the Steelers when you knew the Titans were all banged up?
Because the spread was too low.
What? What the ...?
Vegas puts out trap lines, see. When a number is way off what you'd make it, you turn around and go their way, to avoid falling into the trap they've set.
This is absolute nonsense.
Maybe, but sometimes it works. It accounts for the reason the consensus of handicappers on those newspaper panels is always below .500.
Why don't you stop getting so cute and just pick who you feel will win the game?
I will. In the future I will. This I swear. The Monday night game convinced me.
I guess this is somehow connected to my rankings, since I have the mighty Steelers at No. 2 and breathing heavily on the heels of the Raiders.
| Dr. Z's Power Rankings |
Oakland Raiders (5-1)
They pounded the worn-down Eagles with no less than three running backs, and Tyrone Wheatley wasn't one of them. So is this the way they go from now on? No, because that isn't Jon Gruden's mindset. But it's nice to have in the bank, for use against weary teams.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1)
Sorry, Rams, not yet. You'll have to wait your turn. You lost Sunday, remember? The Steelers now look like the NFL's superhuman team, after what they did to the Titans, but a) they were beating up on the wounded, and b) I couldn't fail to reward Oakland after a win and stir up all the Bay Area e-mailers.
St. Louis Rams (6-1)
I found Jim Haslett's recount of his halftime talk very interesting. He told his players that the Rams were scoring on "bullcrap," and therefore, they could be beaten. In other words, it's a man's world out there and cutesy football will take you only so far. Well, cute teams have won the Super Bowl, too. Who? you ask. How about the Rams two years ago?
Chicago Bears (5-1)
They're playing a good team, the 49ers. They're down 28-9 and their starting quarterback is gone. They tie it the hard way -- three long drives -- and win it the easy way, with a fumble return, officially ruled a pick. It was a mighty impressive effort.
San Francisco 49ers (4-2)
If Kurt Warner stumbles a few more times, and Jeff Garcia continues to play the way he did against Chicago, I could see Garcia as this year's All-Pro QB.
Green Bay Packers (4-2)
The bye came at a good time. They'll need to be rested if Tampa Bay comes out pounding the way they did Sunday.
New Orleans Saints (4-2)
Too drastic a move, lifting them to the Rams' spot right now. Then what would I do with the Giants and Falcons, both of whom beat the Saints? Hey Jim, the Giants are hardly a finesse team, are they?
Miami Dolphins (4-2)
I'd feel better about their defense if Zach Thomas weren't already showing signs of being worn down. It's only October (granted, not for long) and why aren't those big tackles keeping folks off him?
Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)
Their defense showed amazing courage and resilience, coming back from that bad first half against the Giants. But it took its toll. And then they were on the field all day against the Raiders. And now they face Arizona's gigantic slob thing called an offensive line. Doesn't get any easier, does it?
Cleveland Browns (4-2)
I think Browns-Bears is one of the more interesting games on the board Sunday, and if you would have told me that in August, I'd have laughed in your face.
Baltimore Ravens (4-3)
Randall Cunningham looked thoroughly professional in directing the two fourth-quarter scoring drives, including the winner. I think he's better than Elvis Grbac. I think he's better than Trent Dilfer was last year. Would Brian Billick have the courage to actually start him over Grbac, when Elvis' ribs heal? It would be about a 5-to-1 shot.
San Diego Chargers (5-2)
One of the few instances in which the game lived up to the hype. I'm talking about Buffalo-San Diego. I mean that Flutie scramble for the winning TD ... can you believe that was a 39-year-old out there doing that? When I was 39, I couldn't even run to the supermarket when they were having a one-hour special on live lobsters. I'll tell you something about Flutie that not many people know. His birthday falls on the same day as mine.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3)
Here's what I'm curious about. Will Mike Alstott now become a serious part of their offense, or only a temporary stopgap while Warrick Dunn gets healthy? Hey, that's redundant, isn't it? Make that -- only a stopgap.
Denver Broncos (4-3)
The Broncos are forcing the league to take a serious look at the crippling chop block. I have to gather my thoughts on this one because I tend to wax incoherent when we're talking about the league's phony concern about player safety. This will be the subject of Wednesday's column, and by then I'll have calmed down. I hope.
Seattle Seahawks (3-3)
I wasn't at Mike Holmgren's press conference, so I didn't hear his reasoning about why he went for a field goal when he was down by four with 1:56 left. Maybe he'd taken onside kick lessons from Mike Martz. Maybe he knew that Miami coach Dave Wannstedt would run into the line three times and punt, and Mike could keep stopping the clock and get the ball back again. Maybe Wannstedt would have crossed him up by actually trying to get a first down, thereby ending the game, slam dunk. I'll discuss all this with them next spring at the league meetings, in relaxed surroundings.
Minnesota Vikings (3-4)
Tigers against the Packers, lambs against the Buccaneers. I'm not so sure which would scare me more, a pirate or a meat packer. I guess it depends on what kind of meat.
New York Giants (3-4)
It was not so long after this date last year when Jim Fassel made his famous ... "I'm raising the stakes ... shoving my chips to the middle of the table" guarantee for victory, and the Giants went on a rampage. Well, what does he do this year? The poker analogy is gone. How about blackjack? "I'm doubling down!" Or the slots? "Get ready, here come three lemons!" Uh, better forget that one.
New England Patriots (3-4)
Overwhelmed by his own boldness, Tom Brady threw four picks in the fourth quarter and blew a hard-earned lead. I know a method of settling him down. It's called Drew Bledsoe.
Indianapolis Colts (4-3)
Very shaky start against the Chiefs, if anyone can remember back to Thursday night. Very shaky indeed, with receivers dropping balls and Peyton not too certain about things. But K.C. has a way of bringing you around.
Cincinnati Bengals (4-3)
I think this is where the bulk of this week's e-mail hatemail will center. They beat the Ravens, beat the Patriots, beat the Browns, all of whom are ranked higher, beat the Lombardi Packers, the George Halas Bears, the Chuck Noll Steelers. And they're at 20? What's going on here? Patience, folks. Bear with me a while longer. I have a long-range plan worked out. It'll all fall into place.
New York Jets (4-3)
Vince Testaverde changed the play, threw a pick, blew a chance for a field goal, which used to be called a "fielder," in football's ancient days. Now this is all the talk of the New York tabloids. They act as if a QB isn't allowed to change out of a play. But in this fragile, highly visible community, everything goes under the microscope.
Atlanta Falcons (3-3)
Another team that could use a higher slot. Gimme a W, gimme an I, gimme an N, over New England Sunday, and they'll have it.
Tennessee Titans (2-4)
This is sad. Their all-stars are mere memories. Safetyman Blaine Bishop had to drag himself off the field Monday night. Eddie George ran like Jim Thorpe making a comeback at age 50 or something. Samari Rolle, trying to play cornerback in that tight neck brace, looked like Erich von Stroheim out there. Jevon Kearse was invisible. Bruce Matthews looked tired. Can everybody get well all at once, or will the Titans just fill out the schedule from here on in?
Buffalo Bills (1-5)
Don't ever knock Rob Johnson's courage. Hurt his ankle, knocked woozy, I mean the guy was out on his feet, and still drove his team down the field twice at the end. There's a downside to all this, though. I don't see him ever really going through a season without some sort of physical mishap.
Washington Redskins (2-5)
Well, well, well. I mean well, well, getting well, maybe. Tony Banks had what I might call a career game against the Giants, except that way back, early in his career, before he became a football gypsy, he might have had similar days. Anyway, the defense got Marco Coleman and Bruce Smith back, and I think that, ssshhh, they're gonna upset Seattle Sunday
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4)
Against the Ravens, they played just well enough to get beaten. This is not an original line. I first heard Bill Walsh say it about his quarterback, Steve DeBerg.
Dallas Cowboys (2-4)
I'll join the herd of yappers and question Dave Campo's leaving Emmitt in to get hurt late in a game that was already won. Was it his decision, or did the bossman so rule, and if so, then shame, shame on you, Mr. Jones.
Arizona Cardinals (2-4)
Somebody somewhere said that the Cards had a gigantic offensive line. Let's clear this thing up right now. The average is high, with three guys, Shelton, Davis and Clement, in the 335 to 370 range, but two shrimps, center Mike Gruttadauria at 284 and left guard Pete Kendall, 294, screw things up. Nothing in this world is perfect, but maybe somewhere in college there's some eager young 400-pounder just dying to crack that Arizona lineup and help produce a record that won't be broken for at least one season.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-6)
They're down to the Colts, 7-0, and they have the ball on their own 41 with all their timeouts and 43 seconds left in the first half, and Trent Green completes a 10-yard checkdown to Priest Holmes and the clock is running. Green signals to the bench. Spike the ball? Call timeout? What? They signal for him to run a play. Tick, tick, tick goes the clock. They wind up on the 30 with nine seconds left, throw once for the end zone and kick a field goal. They take all three timeouts with them into the locker room. A classic clock butchery. Then when the players come back to practice they hear ... if we can play with emotion, cut down on mistakes, stay focused ... and all that blah blah. Uh uh. Doesn't work. Nothing will kill a team's spirit deader than the feeling that the coaching staff doesn't know what it's doing.
Carolina Panthers (1-6)
They lost the Jets game on a missed extra point. Which proves the old maxim: Bad teams find exotic ways to lose.
Detroit Lions (0-6)
They've been hurt by injuries, they've played some teams tough, some teams not so tough. If I were more talented, I'd set this one to music, and somehow tie it in to what's happening in the auto industry. (What is happening, by the way?)
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