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Dr. Z's NFL Power Ratings

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Posted: Wednesday November 25, 1998 07:46 PM

Sports Illustrated NFL writer Paul Zimmerman ranks all 30 teams each week, exclusively for CNN/SI. To send a question or comment to Dr. Z, click here.

Week 13
Rank Team LW Comment
1. Denver Broncos (11-0) 1 You think all sailing is smooth for the NFL's showcase team? Well, after Willie Green caught the five-yard hitch pass that pushed John Elway over the 50,000-yard (or maybe it's mile) mark he tried to cop the ball, which would have brought big bucks on the auction market. But Elway got there first and promptly retired it, which sent the trade into a tizzy. I know how King Solomon would have handled this one: Cut the ball in half.
2. Minnesota Vikings (10-1) 2 OK, I concede, Randy Moss is an incredible weapon. Some day a team will decide to jam him at the line, and I'll be able to retire happy.
3. Atlanta Falcons (9-2) 4 The world holds its breath while Chris Chandler puts his knee and ankle through quick-paced rehab magic. Somewhere down the line Dan Reeves's failure to equip himself with a functional backup QB will haunt this team.
4. San Francisco 49ers (8-3) 7 Before you fire off the letters about how the Niners have won only two games vs. teams with winning records, bear in mind that the same applies to all the other 8-3s.
5. Jacksonvi lle Jaguars (8-3)3 Pittsburgh fans will nail me on this one. The Steelers have beaten the Jags, who have beaten the Dolphins who have beaten the Steelers. So how would YOU sort them out?
6. Dallas Cowboys (8-3)9 Troy Aikman was razor-sharp vs. the Hawks, and I look for him to put up some big numbers against that Vikings zone -- if the rush doesn't screw him up.
7. Green Bay Packers (7-4) 5 Maybe they should be lower, but on a neutral field, such as Gardner Field in Denville, N.J., I'd favor the Pack over any of the other 7-4's.
8. New York Jets (7-4) 11 The victory over Tennessee was a triumph of superior coaching. They're unbeaten against the division's other three contenders.
9. Miami Dolphins (7-4)6 Emotion tells me to place the Patriots above them, after that courageous win Monday night, but logic tells me the teams are 1-1 against each other.
10. Pittsbur gh Steelers (7-4) 13 Don't be upset if they're upset on Turkey Day in Detroit. They're 1-3 on the road, and the Lions seem to rise with a fury against superior clubs -- well, some of them.
11. Buffalo Bills (7-4) 12 The NFL's hottest team, with seven wins in their last eight games -- and four of them came against teams with winning records. Now they face Drew Bledsoe with a busted finger.
12. Oakland Raiders (7-4) 8 The Donald Hollas Cinderella Express got derailed with three final-quarter picks in Denver, and now the Jeff George Watch is on again. Is it my imagination, or do the players seem to like Hollas a little better?
13. New England Patriots (6-5) 15 How do you throw a 25-yard game-winning TD with a fractured index finger? Beats me. I practiced it with my wife out in the backyard and it didn't work so well.
14. Tennessee Oilers (6-5) 10The zone blitz didn't slow down Vinny Testaverde; he picked them to pieces Sunday. When they crowded the line, Curtis Martin got his yards anyway. The offense was nowhere. How could a team that looked so solid against the Steelers go so sour against the Jets?
15. Arizona Cardinals (6-5) 17 After spending half a season throwing five-yard hitches and outs, Jake the Snake has become the NFL's prime gunslinger, with 716 yards in his last two outings. One of two reasons -- or maybe both: change of philosophy, healthy Rob Moore.
16. Seattle Seahawks (5-6) 14 "We've been stagnant on offense; it's not Warren's fault," Dennis Erickson said, right after he benched Warren Moon for Jon Kitna. Which is like saying, I'm 50 pounds overweight, but eating's got nothing to do with it. On second thought, scratch that analogy. Hits too close to home.
17. New Orleans Saints (5-6) 16 The Niners tried to hand them the game, with three turnovers in their first four possessions, but they couldn't hold the lead. And things are getting worse, with Miami, Dallas and Atlanta as the next three on the slate.
18. Detroit Lions (4-7) 23 The last two wins might represent some kind of turnaround, but it comes too late. Just look at the schedule. There isn't a puppy in the bunch.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) 18 Screw up, catch up, fall short, that's the story of the 1998 Bucs.
20. San Diego Chargers (5-6) 21 They've got the two most underrated defensive tackles in the league, John Parrella and Norman Hand, and this is the heart of a consistently good defense.
21. Baltimore Ravens (4-7) 22 Never fails. I watch 'em and they do well. This time it was Priest Holmes doing his Jim Brown imitation. Next week he'll gain 35 yards. So what's the deal, anyway?
22. Kansas City Chiefs (4-7) 19 Watched the tail-end of their Chargers game and it was depressing. They threw big blitzes at Craig Whelihan on the final drive. Great. Prevent defenses are for the birds. He was just flinging the ball, hoping for the interference penalties. And getting them, as the K.C. corners went into brainlock. In the old days, a game like this would end in an enemy turnover. Now it's just another L.
23. New York Giants (4-7) 20 Once upon a time Kent Graham was beaten out by Dave Brown for the QB spot, in what some people, included yours truly, felt was a loaded competition. Then Brown was beaten out by Danny Kanell. Then Kanell was beaten out by Graham. And in the Big Apple, this is what is known as drama.
24. Chicago Bears (3-8) 25 No quarterback gets as fiercely ripped or as loyally defended as Erik Kramer. Too bad he's not playing.
25. Carolina Panthers (2-9) 29 There are still home games vs. Washington and St. Louis left on the schedule, so that elusive dream of four victories could become a reality.
26. St. Louis Rams (3-8) 24 Now Tony Banks is doubtful with a sprained ankle. We've had our doubts about him all year.
27. Indianapoli s Colts (2-9) 26 The defense is allowing 33.6 points per road game. Stats like this mean as much to you as they do to me, but I'm hoping someone will come up with some kind of formula.
28. Washingt on Redskins (2-9) 28 Good news and bad news. The good news is that they scored TDs on six straight second-half possessions vs. the Cardinals. The bad news is that one of the league's worst rushing teams ran for 188 yards on them.
29. Cincinnat i Bengals (2-9) 27 Eight 100-yard-plus rushing performances vs. their defense -- twice by a Priest (Holmes) and once by a rookie (Fred Taylor), an all-world (Terrell Davis), a legend (Barry Sanders), a Buckeye (Eddie George), a QB (Kordell Stewart) and a Napoleon (Kaufman). Now it's the rookie's turn again.
30. Philadelph ia Eagles (2-9) 30 This fewest-points thing is getting interesting. They've drawn a healthy bead on the 16-game record, and their current average of 8.4 per contest is their lowest since 1937.

Got a question or comment for Dr. Z? Click here.  

Related information
Dr. Z on Football
Dr. Z's Forecast
Inside the NFL
Dr Z's NFL Power Rating: Nov. 19
Peter King's Mailbag
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