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Dr. Z's NFL Power Rankings

Week 14

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Posted: Tuesday November 28, 2000 6:13 PM


By Paul Zimmerman

When Trent Dilfer was handed the reins in Baltimore, the Ravens were 5-4 and residing at 16th place in our Rankings. Immediately he said: "I am dedicating my season to moving into's top 10."

Well, I was not taken in by this bravado. I have heard wild boasts such as this before. But he has made good on his prediction, and just look where Baltimore is now. It's the Power Rankings success story of the year. And as I make one friend, the negative side is overbalanced by half a dozen enemies. And here we go:

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CNN/SI Power Rankings
11 Minnesota Vikings 10-2
The Vikes have blown out the puppies, as expected, and now the real stuff begins. Detroit as a warmup Thursday night, then the Rams on the road.
22 Oakland Raiders 10-2
The Raiders can beat everyone but Denver. So why aren't the Broncos higher? It's a matter of styles. It's like a fighter whose style is just right for one opponent, but isn't always correct for the rest of the world.
38 Baltimore Ravens 9-4
Dilfer for Tony Banks was one upgrade, but I think the Ravens have made the big breakthrough because left tackle Jon Ogden has shaken off the ankle injury and is now at full strength, which means All-Pro level. Paired with Edwin Mulitalo, Ogden gives the Ravens a blast-out left side of the line, and with fullback Sam Gash thumping in behind them -- well, Jamal Lewis has gone for 652 yards in his last five games, which gives Dilfer a lovely platform from which to work.
45 Denver Broncos 8-4
Do I think this team is flawed by a defense that gets it in trouble? Yes. Do I think that it makes up for that flaw in courage? Yes again. Which is why Denver retains its lofty spot.
53 Tennessee Titans 9-3
OK, they lost to a Jaguars team that was on a mission. It happens. What they have to ask, though, is: When will their kicker change his grip and straighten out his hook?
69 New York Jets 8-4
A puzzling team. The record says they're playoff bound. Miami would agree. But then again, no one would be shocked if they lose three out of their last four -- against Indy, Oakland, Detroit and Baltimore.
710 Miami Dolphins 9-3
Dolphins, Broncos, these are my kind of teams. They come from behind on the road. They step up the intensity level when they have to. The only reason the Dolphins aren't at No. 6 is that the Jets have their number.
815 New Orleans Saints 8-4
Same type of team, only more so. I'd like to rank the Saints higher, but who do I drop?
94 Buffalo Bills 7-5
I really like the Bills, and I'm sorry they have to take this much of a slide, but all those injuries, whew.
107 St. Louis Rams 8-4
The receivers, who are used to getting the ball in stride, now have to make adjustments under Trent Green, and the dropsies are coming. The linemen, used to short-setting and holding their blocks for very little time, now have to hold them for another count and they're getting overrun. Kurt Warner had better come back soon.
1112 Detroit Lions 8-4
In my old age, I raise an eyebrow at the whole concept of inspiration provided by emotional, hands-on coaches. Beat Minnesota, then I'll be a believer -- well, for a while, anyway.
1213 Philadelphia Eagles 9-4
Honest to God, I have nothing against the Iggles. Hear my song, before you fire off the nasties. If I put them in Detroit's spot, then the Lions have gained nothing from their victory last week. Leaving Philly here means that both teams move up one position, although, granted, the Iggles deserve more of a reward after beating the Skins on the road. As far as moving Philly into the top 10, well, I'm afraid I just like the occupants of those positions better.
136 Washington Redskins 7-5
With LaVar Arrington functional, they might have done a better job of spying Donovan McNabb. With my brain attached to Dan Snyder's body, you'd have an individual no other NFL owner would want to sit next to.
1414 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-5
They lost to Washington so the Skins have to be higher, right? If you answered in the in the affirmative, then tell me how the Bucs can rate five, count 'em, five spots lower than the Bills, whom they beat by two TDs? This is what is known as positional handicapping. This is what is known as placing the teams where I feel their strength dictates, regardless of the outcome of the most recent games. This is what is known as setting myself up for a barrage of letters from Tampa, but bear in mind, please, that I've been pretty kind to the Bucs this year.
1511 Indianapolis Colts 7-5
What's happening here, anyway? When things were going right, the offense was so high-powered that the defense could get by, since opponents were always playing catch-up. Now Peyton and the boys seem just a bit off and the games are turning into slugfests -- and the Colts are not built for that kind of action.
1617 New York Giants 8-4
I can think of 40 NFL backs who are better than Ron Dayne, who tiptoes into the hole and turns it on only when there's a crease and a safetyman or an off-balance linebacker to run over. As far as Jim Fassel's chest-thumping pronouncement? Well, I was going to write something smart-alecky, but Jim's a real nice guy and I'm sure that having to read the same angle every day in half a dozen New York-area papers, about how his job is on the line every week, has made him a bit crazy. I don't see them beating the Redskins. I don't think they have the QB for it. I see them winning two of their last three and making the playoffs and then exiting early, unless they draw the Eagles, whom they can beat. I see the same speculation about Fassel in the offseason, months and months of it. Worst of all, I'm gonna have to read this every day.
1719 Jacksonville Jaguars 5-7
They're a very good team right now. Their big wheels are spinning, and yeah, the O-line still has problems, but the Jags are covering them. Saddest two words in the English language: too late.
1818 Pittsburgh Steelers 6-6
Their run defense can't really be this bad, can it? Maybe people are playing hurt and not telling us. But if the Raiders go for 200 on the ground against them, then the secret will be out, and this is something I never thought I'd be saying about a Steelers team: ssshhh, they're soft.
1925 Carolina Panthers 5-7
Light it up, then screw it up and wait for the other team to screw it up worse. That was the storyline on that depressing contest against the Packers, one of the worst Monday nighters I can remember. Highlight of the game was the fan in the yellow slicker running onto the field and getting cold-cocked. "He looks like an unbalanced individual," said my wife, ever the soul of compassion. He certainly did after he got nailed.
2016 Green Bay Packers 5-7
Why was Brett Favre deliberately leaning backward on his throws? Bad foot, or fundamentals that need an overhaul? Why didn't Dan Fouts, who was once a QB before he became a media personality, notice that?
2121 San Francisco 49ers 4-8
A bye traditionally aids the wounded, but I don't think it'll help the Niners, who were on a hot streak before they shut down for a week.
2220 Kansas City Chiefs 5-7
This is an interesting study. Their season has gone south. I'm curious to see how hard they play, down the stretch, for a coach who's supposed to be an emotional firebrand.
2322 Seattle Seahawks 4-8
They had the bye week to prepare for Denver, then they gave up 538 yards. You certainly can't blame it on tired legs.
2423 Chicago Bears 3-9
Ploop! That was the Shane Matthews bubble bursting against the Jets in the soggy Jersey Meadows. Has any team in the last 40 years ever thought about reverting to the single-wing?
2524 Dallas Cowboys 4-8
Where has Dexter Coakley gone? Last year he was a linebacker at All-Pro level. Now he's just a little guy getting run over. Could it be the people around him?
2626 Cleveland Browns 3-10
I'm ranking the last half-dozen teams based on which city has the nastiest letter writers. Just kidding, folks. The rankings are strictly on past performance, since everyone down here except San Diego lost last weekend.
2727 New England Patriots 3-9
They hung in for a half against Detroit. Then little by little the bad things became magnified, and before you knew it the situation was hopeless. This kind of describes a bad team.
2830 San Diego Chargers 1-11
I caught the end of the K.C. game, when Warren Moon was desperately trying to bring the Chiefs back. Then ... cut to crap. Florida election HQ and Bush's campaign manager down there broke in to give us something we all knew anyway, telling us "yes, we have beaten the enemy, hooray." And this went on and on, neatly obliterating the end of the game, the most dramatic moment of the Chargers' season. Am I alone in begging networks such as CBS to please have some compassion on us footballheads who realize what is meaningful in this world and what is pure blather, to please save their specials for halftime or dead time, or put them on tape and give them to us after the game, or present them on a split screen or something? If you're going to take away our cherished toys, at least replace them with something sensible. All who disagree kindly raise your hands, and I will introduce you to my friends from the Bronx.
2928 Arizona Cardinals 3-9
You're tired of hearing this, I know, but Dave Brown is an extremely decent person who deserves better. He just should find work in another profession.
3029 Atlanta Falcons 3-10
Now we're at the heart of the batting order. Just give 'em one pitch to hit and I guarantee they'll make contact with the ball.
3131 Cincinnati Bengals 2-10
Even in moments of despair they managed to crank out their 209 yards on the ground. Note to Steve Hirdt of the NFL's statistical service -- what's the record for most yards rushing by a 2-14 team?

To send a question or comment to Dr. Z, click here.

Related information
Dr. Z's NFL Power Rankings: Week 13
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