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NFL Power Rankings, Week 2

As much as you might dislike my rankings, you'll have to admit that at least they're better than those collegiate polls, so infiltrated by old boy cronyism. I remember some years ago, actually many years ago, when Sam Bam Cunningham was USC's fullback and Sam and the boys positively crushed Bear Bryant's Alabama squad early in the season. Well, at the end of the year it came down to Alabama vs. USC for the No.1 vote, and wouldn't you know that Bear's boys swung the election.

"They beat them! They killed them!" I screamed, and then the collegiate voters went into this tapdance about how the teams were different later on, or maybe it was the phases of the moon, and I swore that I would try to keep the integrity of head to head as long as I possibly could in doing my own rankings. Which brings us to Week Two of a season in which all the AFC powers except for New England and Pittsburgh started off with an L next to their name.

So I'm warning you. Throw out what you read in this column last week, or better yet, recycle it. It's all different. Everything has changed. The big boys who got upset have been socked hard, a real flogulation, even though they might quickly regain their status. A few poor devils who never again will be in the top 16 again, this season, have been so honored. Fourteen of the top half of the board spots belong to last weekend's winners (sorry, but I just couldn't fit Arizona or Atlanta in there). So look out, here it comes. (Send comments to siwriters@simail.com.)

NFL Power Rankings, Week 2
1Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 3
Yes, they displaced the Patriots. Fair's fair, and Dallas' methodical dismantling of the Browns was most impressive. I started putting a stopwatch on the time Tony Romo was given to pass. Many clockings of 3.0 or better, and a couple of 4's. Most impressive.
 
2New England Patriots
Last Week: 1
Well, after all, they did win. At a terrible price. How did losing Tom Brady affect the Vegas odds on winning the Super Bowl? "There never has been an injury that's had such a dramatic effect on the odds," said Bodog's Sportsbook manager, Richard Gardner. Bodog, one of the major price setters, dropped the price on the Patriots from 5-2, the shortest on the board, to 20-1, which ranked 12th.
 
3Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 7
Big news here is Donovan looks hot. Philly insiders say his downer last year was what really held the team back, but now it's full speed ahead.
 
4Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 8
While AFC giants were tumbling all around them, the men of steel ho-hummed their way through a routine crushing of the poor Texans. Sunday night it'll be madness by Lake Erie as they test the Browns in what should be the most interesting contest on the board. Well, one of the most interesting...Jets-Patriots still is fascinating on many levels.
 
5New York Giants
Last Week: 9
Yeah, I'll be kind to my local organization, but would ya do me a favor please? Get off that silly angle, that bulletin board mantra about how "nobody respects us, even though we won the Super Bowl," blah blah. And that's supposed to inspire them to "show those people..." etc. That angle is as stale as the one about Samson losing his grip because his hair was cut off, when we all know it was bedroom hanky panky that done him in.
 
6Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 10
So tell me this. How come Aaron Rodgers sits on the bench for three years and then comes out and plays like a dream, while guys like Kyle Boller and Rex Grossman never seem to get the hang of it? Could it have something to do with coaching, hmmm?
 
7Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 12
The AP had this postgame non sequitur: "Vince Young was on crutches after injuring his left knee against Jacksonville...Titans coach Jeff Fisher didn't think the injury was serious." Just backs up my longtime contention that coaches have a remarkably high threshold for other people's pain.
 
8Chicago Bears
Last Week: 24
Yes, I was impressed watching them tear Indy apart, until I heard this one-liner from one of the ESPN geniuses: "They're just asking Kyle Orton to hold the fort and not screw things up." I hate that almost as much as, "They're trying to establish a running game," or "Have a nice day." Keep working on not screwing things up and you'll have a nice, peaceful 9-7 record. Or maybe 8-8 if the ball bounces the wrong way a couple of times.
 
9Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 16
I can hear it now. Rewarding winners is one thing, but putting the Bills in the top ten? Come on, now. I quote from the movie, Gunga Din, and for that e-mailer who complained that I only quote from movies 50 years old, this one is 69 years and counting: "Great generals, my friends, are not made of jeweled swords and mustache wax. They are made of what is here (pointing to his head) and what is there (his heart)."
 
10Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 18
You're right, I didn't have much of a line on Dante Rosario, either, until he got between two defenders and made the catch that sunk the Chargers at the buzzer. I thereupon did a research number on him and turned up an amazing athlete. He's 6-foot-3, 250, drafted in the fifth round out of Oregon last year. OK, ho hum so far, but catch this high school resume. Ran for 1,238 yards as a senior at Dayton, Ore., High. Had 144 tackles and three sacks as safety and middle linebacker. Scored 27 offensive TDs. Intercepted five balls and ran three in for TDs. Two punt returns for TDs. Star for two-time state basketball champ. Majored in political science. Went up to Alaska and served as a bouncer in governor Sarah Palin's State House. No, just kidding about that last one but not about the incredible resume that preceded it.
 
11New York Jets
Last Week: 16
Brett Favre fired one out of a cannon for one score and got lucky on another, throwing one up for grabs and having a guy pulling it in for six. I also saw a very unusual thing at the end of this game, involving this future Hall of Famer. The Jets had a third and seven on their own 21, right before the two-minute warning. Miami had one timeout left. Why not go for the first down and if you don't end the game straightaway, at least you'll put the Dolphins in a near impossible situation? I mean, that's Brett Favre back there, right? The greatest arm since the one the Venus de Milo lost. But they ran the ball, punted and set up a Miami drive that carried down to the Jets' 19 and ended with an end zone interception. Hmmm, mighty strange.
 
12New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 17
Say, what did you have them doing last year? Super Bowl. Didn't quite make it, did they? No. And where'd you have them this year? Third in the division at 8-8. Looked a little better than that against the Bucs Sunday, didn't they? Sure did, yep, you got that one right, yesiree. OK e-mailers, I've done your work for you. So put a lid on it later in the week.
 
13Denver Broncos
Last Week: 19
ESPN had a hard time believing that us slobs on the East Coast were not mobbing the TV set to see the Broncs squash the Raiders in Game Two of the Monday night twinner. And as the three Mikes droned on late into the a.m. hours, your faithful narrator felt the arms of Morpheus gently encircling him, until...Holy Hell! I've missed two...three...how many plays on the chart? Oh my God! And then the magic words, "I got them for you. I didn't want to wake you up." Sure enough, charted in Linda's nice, clear, legible hand. Anyone still wondering why I married this lovely Redhead?
 
14Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 25
Check your box score but don't linger too long on Baltimore's offensive totals. Note, however, that the Bengals, once upon a time a feared offensive team, could manage only 154 yards, or uno, cinco, quatro, as the former Chad Johnson would say. Low number on the board last weekend, folks. Looks like the Ravens defenders are turning it up again, for John Harbaugh.
 
15San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 2
I've done it. Put a loser in the top half. Let me plead my case. Do you really think the Cardinals or Falcons are better?
 
16Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 5
The announcers focused on Peyton's struggles. They should have taken it a step deeper. Missing from the O-line were departed free agent Jake Scott, Jeff Saturday, Ryan Diem and a former all-pro of mine, Ryan Lilja. What was left got overrun by angry Bears. Haven't seen that happen to a Colts unit for a long time.
 
17Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 14
I've got nothing against these guys, but watching them getting whipped by the Cowboys, I kept thinking, Do it first, then boast about it. OK, that's unfair. It's the other people who are doing the boasting about this great renaissance by the lake. Start off by putting some pressure on the passer and I'll believe it.
 
18Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 4
I never should have fallen for that stuff I read a few months ago about how they were going to the Super Bowl and all that. They can tell me all they want about Tarvaris Jackson's miraculous improvement, but, to me, he still has that deer in the headlights look.
 
19Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 13
The first time I ever met Jeff Garcia he reminded me of that kid in the neighborhood whose mother puts him in a chair in front of the house, with a blanket across his knees, because she feels the sun is good for him. I wondered how the hell he'd ever hold up in the NFL. Well, he has, for many years. Now it seems that it's catching up to him. Calf, finger, ankle...he's missed practice time, camp time, too much time. The offense sputtered against the Saints. They're talking about replacing him with Brian Griese, whose role in life seems to be a human disaster replacement. It's sad. Jeff is a tough, courageous competitor. Would one of you kids move his chair over to that sunny area, please?
 
20Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 6
They went to work on a high note. Going into Tennessee a three-point favorite, one of the winter book choices to go deep into the playoffs, hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go, backed by an idiot named Z who said they can't lose because they should be underdogs and they're not and therefore it's a setup for them. Come on, folks, let's hear some good old New Jersey booing for the offensive show they offered against the Titans. Two picks for Garrard, rushing game averaged 1.9. Enough already, I've got to cheer up.
 
21Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 11
This was the way my system was supposed to work. Bills killed them, which was totally unexpected, pregame -- except by my Super Power, Glory of the Mind, Master Game System, which said that since the Bills were a mystifying favorite, they should take it.
 
22Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 26
Well, they took the Jets to the wire, and that despite a terrible start. And being a natural pessimist, it's that start that concerns me. Chad lacked what is known as pocket presence. I mean the tap tap tap of the foot, oh oh. He settled down, thank God, the team came on late, one play the likes of Carolina's at San Diego and they'd be celebrating with stone crabs and cold bubbly. Ah, well.
 
23Washington Redskins
Last Week: 20
I got it all of my chest Thursday night. When you're down by nine with six minutes left, you should play with some urgency. Jim Zorn should know this. Even Danny Boy might be able to figure it out. No, check that. I'm asking too much of him.
 
24Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 32
Perfection, I calls it. They should be higher, scream my loyal e-mailers south of the border. Sorry, but I've got to see this with my own hands before I'll believe it.
 
25Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 27
And thus I've become a target for the second set of nasty e-mailers. Yes, I am fully aware of the fact that they beat the Niners. But are you aware of the fact that The Flaming Redhead is a Phoenix girl? Thought not. I've now got some nasty brothers of hers to face, and certain elements of the family happen to be employed in law enforcement.
 
26Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 30
The thot plickens. We know what they're like against Matt Cassel, but we have no way of knowing how they'll do against...you know, this is such a lame observation that I'm ashamed. This is one of the games I have on tape. I promise you, I will analyze the hell out of it and have the definitive word on this team, after one game, before many suns set on our own Great Bay here in Mountain Lakes.
 
27Houston Texans
Last Week: 23
I don't want to give away my Thursday column, but do yourself a favor. Look at what the Texies did last week. Now look at their next opponent, the Ravens, who did the defensive number on Cincy. Now tell me who should be favored. To be continued.
 
28Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 21
Is Carson Palmer ready to fall apart, due to the continued madness around him? Is this the end of Rico? (oops, it's from a 1930 film, a year after the talkies). Lets hope he has better luck than Eddie G. did in that classic, the name of which was..come on now, everybody knows that. Little Caesar.
 
29Detroit Lions
Last Week: 22
Here's one for your memory book. They held the Falcons to 474 yards, and the last time Atlanta had a day like that was Dec. 23, 2001, when Chris Chandler set the alltime club passing record. And the Falcons gained 489. Here's the funny thing. I heard a talk show in which the guy said, "Detroit never should have let Shawn Rogers go." That was right after I heard another of those geniuses say, "Well, Rogers sure was no help to the Browns Sunday." Poor Shawn. He makes everyone schizophrenic.
 
30San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 28
This is my old team that I used to root for, and I just can't bear this, do you hear? OK, the Walsh era was gaudy, and even the old Niner fans, such as me, were a little stunned by all the riches, but all I'm asking is to stay competitive with the good teams, and beat the bad ones. Is this too much? Tell me if it is and I'll ask for less.
 
31St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 29
We're in the dark caverns now, where not even moss grows, and eyes peer at you from the darkness. You hear names from the past -- Bulger, Jackson, Holt. You get pangs of nostalgia. Linda, is that hot milk ready yet?
 
32Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 31
Believe it or not, there are some defensive players on this team, guys whom I monitor for my all-pro. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Picked him two years ago. The Broncs stayed away from him. MLB Kirk Morrison. Where's his game gone? Saw him chasing Tony Scheffler 70 yards downfield, and the rest of the time he was practically invisible. And then we come to the left corner DeAngelo Hall. Killed by a rookie, Eddie Royal. Two bad boy penalties. A grim prediction -- he'll be on some kind of suspension or reserve by the end of the season.
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