Welcome to Whim's power rankings and picks following week 9 in the NFL. Each of our sports writers took some time to make their picks and come up with a top ten, which we feel are the most powerful in the league up to this point. So here you have it: Whim's power rankings and picks.
(Following Week 9)
1. Indianapolis Colts (8-0) - Hey, all you haters out there in
haterland who said the Colts hadn't played anyone. It's one thing to
knock Jacksonville, arguably the Colts' best opponent before week 9,
but now that Indianapolis has beaten the two-time defending Super Bowl
Champions, we're hoping the rest of the world will just shut the hell
up and face this fact: the Colts are undefeated. They've done all
asked of them, and more. Houston is next up for the Colts, but after
that comes a more difficult challenge even than playing in Foxboro at
night: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, San Diego and Seattle in
a six-week period. If the Colts are to match the 1998 Denver Broncos
(forget the '72 Dolphins until the Colts' streak ties the longest
streak since then) at 13-0, they'll have just San Diego, Seattle and
the Arizona Cardinals standing in their way.
2. Denver Broncos (6-2) - They're a play away from 7-1. Don't think
that doesn't still bug Mike Shanahan. What keeps him up at night,
though, is that three of his next four games come against drastically
underrated teams. No, we're not talking about the New York Jets. The
Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs all have
something to prove and each will have a chance to prove it against the
team we consider the second-best in the AFC (and, arguably, the NFL).
3. Cincinnati Bengals (7-2) - This team has a bye this week, but we
won't be surprised if they turn up in the RCA Dome this Sunday. Why?
To watch the competition. The Bengals' third big test this year will
be the Colts in week 11. So far, they're 0-2 in big-game situations.
Going 0-3 would not help their playoff chances much, let alone what
it'll do to their status as paper tigers. Still, though, you have to
be a fan of this team; having been mired in putrescence for so many
years, they're finally looking better than the best of college teams.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) - If Big Ben were healthy, next to their
name in the rankings would be a prime number, and we don't mean five.
Ben Roethlisberger, with apologies to Whim fans who'd like us to stop
knocking Charlie Batch and Tommy Maddox, is the man who needs to be
healthy if the Steelers are going anywhere worth going in the
playoffs. Fortunately, their regular-season mark shouldn't be hurt
too much by their second-year QB's absence; excluding a game against
Chicago Bears, who lead the NFC North mostly because nobody else in
the division is worth a hill of beans, the Steelers have only two hard
games left in their schedule, and one is against the Bengals, a team
they've already beaten once quite handily. The other game is against
the Colts, and they'll need Roethlisberger for that one.
5. Carolina Panthers (6-2) - These guys are good. They have just
four difficult games left, and that's assuming the Buccaneers can find
some offensive stability anywhere on offense. (We're not holding our
breath). The return of Steve Smith has meant a return to
respectability for a Panthers team that was in the Super Bowl two
years ago. If the defense, which is giving up fewer than 20 points
per game, can hold up through the rest of the season, these guys could
end up in the Super Bowl.
6. Atlanta Falcons (6-2) - I guess we're not supposed to question
Michael Vick's ability to win a game by throwing the damn ball because
he won a game with his arm. Against Miami. And he had 228 yards in
the air. But the problem is that he had exactly one touchdown, and
this was against Miami. To sum up: 228 passing yards, one touchdown
and 17 total points against Miami. Boy does that ever convince us.
Upcoming games against Carolina (at Carolina week 13, against week 17)
will be more formidable challenges.
7. New York Giants (6-2) - Ok, Whim fans, raise your hands, all of
you who picked the Giants to be in the lead in the NFC East after
eight games. (We're still typing with both hands.) The Giants are
doing enough on defense, and more than enough on offense, to keep
winning games. The bruising part of the schedule continues, though,
with games coming against ... well, NFC teams each of whom could end
up in the playoffs. Four of those six games are against NFC East
opponents, meaning the Giants will secure their own fate if they can
keep on keeping on.
8. Seattle Seahawks (6-2) - With apologies to San Francisco (twice)
and Green Bay, the Seahawks have only three tough games left. That
means they should finish, at worst, 11-5. That should be good enough
for at least a 3-seed, given that the NFC North will be sending a
representative to the playoffs. If Seattle can compensate for the
loss of Ken Hamlin, they should be looking good come playoff time.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3) - Get ready for a possible Wild Card
berth, Jaguar fans. With only one big game left, the Jaguars could go
11-5 (or even 12-4). Considering the lackluster condition of the AFC
East and Kansas City (5-3)'s upcoming punishing schedule, the Jaguars
could roll into week 15 guaranteed at least the opportunity to write
their own playoff story. (Up to the first round, at least.)
10. Washington Redskins (5-3) - We could talk about the distractions
presented to the Eagles by the T.O. situation, but again, folks, a win
is a win is a win. Washington could easily have lost that game. They
didn't. Washington is also tied for first in the NFL for points
allowed (98, which is how many Indianapolis has yielded). Nobody's in
any danger of confusing this team for the Greatest Show on Turf, but
give credit where credit is due.