Kiser Blade (34-26)
George Coztanza (34-26)
Well, we are 4 weeks into the 2005 NFL season....and nobody knows anything about what is going on. It would be cliche to say "parity is at work"...but it seems true.
There are four unbeatens remaining. The Colts, Bengals, Buccaneers and Redskins. However, none of their 15 combined wins have come against a team that currently holds a winning record. The combined records of the teams that those four have beaten is 16-36. Not exactly setting the world on fire, eh? But these teams do have links. Joe Gibbs and Jon Gruden have won Super Bowls already for their teams. Tony Dungy's last job before the Colts was.....the Buccaneers. Marvin Lewis' last job before the Bengals was....the Redskins. This is the best start for both the Bengals and Redskins since they last went to the Super Bowl.
Fifteen teams have 2 wins and/or 2 losses. You have things like the Pats winning in Pittsburgh one week....then getting blown out at home by the Chargers the very next week. Heck, the Dolphins, Bengals, Redskins, Bears and Buccs are first place teams. What?
So here is my full 32 team power rankings as we enter our first quarter of the season.
1-COLTS (4-0). GOOD: The offense hasn't clicked all year [well, until yesterday], but the team is still winning. Their defense has gotten much better and much stronger. They've proven they can win those tug-of-war battles that they've lost in the postseason. BAD: Teams will continue to drop 7 or 8 guys into coverage because it works. Sure, no one has beaten the Colts, but the Jags,Ravens and Browns hung in long enough to have chances.
2-EAGLES (3-1). GOOD: McNabb has been unreal so far this season. Despite a sternum injury and a sports hernia, McNabb has performed as such a high level it is unbelievable. His cronies, Owens and Westbrook, are also having great years. BAD: This team had to score 28 unanswered points to beat KC....one week after getting a kicker with a torn hammy to win it for them. McNabb will be living with this injury all season long...and it will be interesting to see how it affects him and the team.
3-BENGALS (4-0). GOOD: The biggest differences has been their defense and Carson Palmer's improvement. Palmer is becoming a legit NFL QB...and his defense is giving him opportunities to score. Cincy has become a vogue team again, and everyone is having fun. BAD: They haven't played anyone yet. I still think they can be beat by a team that keeps the ball on the ground and are physical defensively. They'll have one heck of a tough stretch on the horizon.
4-PATRIOTS (2-2). GOOD: The Pats are the Pats, and in the surprisingly weakened AFC East, they have the talent and experience to still suceed. BAD: Injuries have killed the defense and they are really struggling to run the ball. And despite what people say, I think the fact that Charlie Weis and Romeo Cronell are gone is a much bigger deal than they are letting on.
5-STEELERS (2-1). GOOD: Well, they can run, pass and play defense. Pretty solid team, I must say. BAD: I just don't think they have that "killer instict" yet where they can bury opponents. Sure, they did bury the Titans and Texans...but those teams suck. New England bit them....so may teams like Cincy.
6-FALCONS (3-1). GOOD: The team is doing what they did last season. Run, run, run, run, run and play physical defense. Michael Vick just wins games. BAD: The passing game is still suspect, so it is a wonder if they can make a comeback on an opponent. Only once this season have they had to...and they didn't.
7-BRONCOS (3-1). GOOD: They've taken out the Chargers and Chiefs in the AFC West...meaning that they look to be the strongest team in that division. Their offense seems to be on fire as the defense is dealing with injuries. And [can you believe it] Jake Plummer is being careful with the ball. BAD: Those defensive injuries could lurk into a problem down the road. Still, they are a very prepared team.
8-CHIEFS (2-2). GOOD: Their rushing attack is stellar and can punish an opponent. The defense, though not perfect, is much improved. BAD: Their passing game has really been MIA. Tony Gonzalez hasn't been a factor at all this season. Also, the Monday night blowout to the Broncos and the meltdown against the Eagles has to play with their psyche.
9-CHARGERS (2-2). GOOD: After starting 0-2, the Bolts have won their last 2 with stellar offense....scoring over 40 points in their two wins. I mean,they just went into Foxboro and embarrassed the Patriots. LaDalinan Tomlinson may be the MVP of the first four weeks. BAD: The defense is still a bit shaky, even though they did well in Foxboro.
10-BUCCANEERS (4-0). GOOD: They've found a great offensive cog in the Cadillac. Brian Griese isn't forcing any issues and making mistakes. The defense is getting some swagger back. BAD: Like the other unbeatens, Tampa hasn't beaten anyone yet. Their opponent's combined record is 3-11...and two of those 3 wins were against teams that are currently winless.
11-PANTHERS (2-2). GOOD: The offense is putting points on the board. Steve Smith and Stephen Davis have made a big splash after missing most of 2004 with injuries. BAD: The defense is pretty good, but they seem to buckle at times. Jake Delhomme also buckles. He's made a ridiculous play in every game this season.
12-REDSKINS (3-0). GOOD: Well, the defense has played great. Aside from the 4th quarter against Seattle...they not bent nor broke during a game. Marky Mark Brunell seems to be more comfortable with the offense. While this team isn't a juggernaut, they are starting to get confidence. BAD: Realistically, they could be 0-3. A miracle finish in Dallas and a Seattle FG that hit the upright as time expired have been bullets dodged by the team.
13-JAGUARS (2-2). GOOD: Their defense has performed well, while Byron Leftwich has emerged as a complete leader for this team. BAD: This is one of those teams you just can't figure out. They have lapses on both sides of the ball and just seem to go into creative funks at times.
14-GIANTS (3-1). GOOD: Eli Manning has joined the Carson Palmer "Train to #1 Success!" Manning has been able to open up this Giatns offense...as Plaxico Burress and Jeremey Shockey have become lethal weapon. BAD: The G-men still have defensive lapse, as that beatdown San Diego gave them proved.
15-COWBOYS (2-2): GOOD: Dallas has been able to scorea despite having a suspect rushing attack. BAD: Every game they've played has come down to the wire.
16-SEAHAWKS (2-2). GOOD: They are an excellent redzone team. Shaun Alexander [when they use him] is still playing at a high level. Darrell Jackson is also having a great season thus far. BAD: Seattle has been known for choking...and they've done it this year. They choked away a win in Washington and nearly choked a win against Atlanta.
17-RAMS (2-2). GOOD: Well, the offense can still score it up. BAD: Well, they've lost to San Fran and barely beat the Cards and Titans. They were lambasted in New York. So, the only real team they've played was the Giants and it wasn't even a contest. Bulger's getting nailed all game and the running game isn't on track. Bottom line, this team isn't reaching its potential.
18-DOLPHINS (2-1). GOOD: Somehow, this team has beaten the Broncos and Panthers...and lost a close game to the Jets. Their defense is back to their strong form, while the offense has suddenly been able to score. And that is with Ronnie Brown still learning and Ricky Williams still waiting to get back in the action. BAD: It will be interesting to see what occurs with this team when Williams does come back. Also, can Gus Frerotte keep this up?
19-SAINTS (2-2). GOOD: They have as much talent as anyone...they just can't seem to bring it together. They said they would be committed to running the ball...and dadgum they have! BAD: The passing game still needs work. Also, this team has had to deal with logistical issues that no other team has had to endure. With San Antonio treating the Saints as they were a hometown team, it seems that N'Awlins has a good home.
20-RAIDERS (1-3). GOOD: The offense has the ability to make big plays and, it seems, an ability to make comebacks. Despite losing 3 games...they've had tough breaks against the Eagles and Chiefs and looked well in New England. BAD: They haven't always used the talent. Their defense isn't good and key offensive players [Moss, Jordan] and trying to fit into their roles.
21-RAVENS (1-2). GOOD: The defense has seemed to stiffen a bit after falling a bit. BAD: The offense is horrible, even with Jamal Lewis healthy and active. And whiletheir defense is getting better, they aren't as great as they were in the past and can't completely cover up the offenses problems.
22-JETS (1-3). GOOD: That defense, while undersized, has speed and will keep them in games. If Curtis Martin can get back on track, that will help as well. BAD: Chad Pennington is probably done for the year and Jay Fiedler is out. Teams won't respect them vertically [unless Vinny gets in there and tears it up] which will cause their running game to suffer too.
23-VIKINGS (1-3). GOOD: Daunte Culpepper can still sling it. And it seems that Mewedle Moore could be their featured back. And playing in the NFC North, the Vikes still have a shot at the playoffs if they come out of their bye hungry. BAD: Bad decisions by Culpepper have hurt this team badly. That defense, which was to be so much improved, has looked like it alwasys have. I mean, it is one thing tohave Vick make you look bad...but Matt Shaub did too. Also, questions over Mike Tice's job will hover over the Metrodome.
24-BROWNS (1-2). GOOD: Trent Dilfer, Ruben Droughns and Braylon Edwards have given the Browns an ability to move the ball and score some points. They aren't pushovers. BAD: Their defense can be pushovers at times. Not to mention the very basic Browns schemes may be figured out by opponents soon.
25-BEARS (1-2). GOOD: They look like the best team in the NFC North. Why? Well, they can run the ball [no one else can] and play stellar defense [no one else can]. BAD: Their passing game has issues with Kyle Orton at the helm. It isn't his fault, I mean, he is a rookie QB without a lot around him. But it will be tough for them to come back from big deficits.
26-LIONS (1-2). GOOD: The defense has played decent. They held down the Packers and were relatively effective against the Buccs. And that Bears scores weren't all the defenses part. They scored, what, 3 non-offensive TDs. BAD: Well, the offense. Joey Harrington looks horrible. Kevin Jones has done nothing. They have 4 very good receivers but can't get the ball to them. This thing could turn on the Lions very quickly.
27-PACKERS (0-4). GOOD: Not much, but the team still can score TDs. Honestly, if it wasn't for Brett Favre, this team would have nothing. BAD: That defense is horrible...and when they do hold someone, they get a penalty. Favre, though moving the ball, hasn't been to crisp either. No Javon Walker has hurt the team. There is absolutely no run game there.
28-TITANS (1-3). GOOD: McNair isn't back to his 2003 form...but he's become very effective again. He won't win any MVP awards this year, but he's showing how valueable he is to this franchise. BAD: And the whole year will go down the tubes if McNair gets hurt again. That defense is just way to young to be too effective.
29-BILLS (1-3). GOOD: The defense can still bring it, though they've suffered some injuries as well. Willis McGahee seems to be starting to hitting his stride. BAD: They have no passing game, and may be looking to bail on JP Losman. It is sad to say, but he is costing the Bills victories...and Kelly Holcomb may not just be a stopgap.
30-CARDINALS (1-3). GOOD: There is talent all over the place. McCown looks to be the guy at QB for Arizona. BAD: But they had to go to Mexico and find that out against the Niners. The offense has, at times, looked clueless. I mean, they had horrible clock management that cost them a game against St. Louis and were totally screwed up against Seattle.
31-NINERS (1-3). GOOD: I've actually been impressed with the Niners this year. Brandon Lloyd has looked pretty good. They beat St. Louis and looked strong against Dallas. BAD: But, those games aren't looking too impressive anymore. Their running game is crap and they have no idea what they are gonna get on defense.
32-TEXANS (0-3). GOOD: Well, um. BAD: This team has fallen apart. The offense is in shambles, as the offensive coordinator has already been canned. David Carr has regressed and Domanick Davis has been a dud. Their defense, which was reliable, isn't.