by Robert Ferringo - 09/15/2005
My Power Rankings are based somewhat on performance thus far, but still factors in overall potential and how I think they'll do this season. I want to avoid wild swings in where I have teams ranked, but it may be inevitable. Here is one man's view of Week 2:
New England (-3) at Carolina, 1 p.m. on Sunday
This will be a tight fight - and is the marquee game of the weekend. I wonder how Sports Illustrated feels about its Super Bowl pick starting 0-2? But after last season's 1-7 start by the Panthers I don't think they'll be too worried about an 0-fer in their first two contests.
This is a rematch of Super Bowl 38 (the Roman numerals are just too cumbersome) and many of the principles are still in place for both organizations. You have to love the home dogs in the NFL, and I do think that the odds of a team with as much promise as the Panthers dropping two straight in front of their own fans, but the Pats are really tough to go against. I would feel a lot better about this game if I were a Carolina fan if A) Kris Jenkins had waited until next week to have a season-ending injury, B) Bill Belichick didn't have those three extra days to game plan, C) Corey Dillon was still on the Bengals, and D) Hurricane Ophelia hit at about 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Buffalo at Tampa Bay (-3), 1 p.m. on Sunday
If this game were in Buffalo in December, everyone would be talking about warm weather teams traveling to cold climates. Why doesn't anyone make a similar distinction between cold weather teams traveling down to muggy, sweltering Florida in September (see: Denver vs. Miami last weekend)? I want to see the stat on Green Bay or Buffalo's record when the temperature at the opening kickoff is above 85 degrees. Quick, somebody get on that. And for the record, it's supposed to be 94 on Sunday with isolated thunderstorms.
Hey, I'll admit that I was really shocked by the Bucs win over Minnesota last Sunday. I'm not ready to jump on the bandwagon just yet, but no one ever said that there wasn't talent on that club. Also, this is J.P. Losman's first road test. He looked great against Houston at home, but if Buffalo is down 4 with five minutes to play this weekend we'll see what the kid is made of.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-9.5), 1 p.m. on Sunday
This is definitely the "Wow" line of the week. Yeah, I know that it will be Indy's home opener, that on any given Sunday they can put up 70, and that they handled a very talented Baltimore squad in Week 1. But I still wasn't expecting nearly a double-digit line. In their two games against the Colts last season, the Jags lost 24-17 in Week 3 but then rolled into the RCA Dome and beat Indy 27-24 in Week 6.
Manning and Co. had little trouble with the Ravens defense last week, but I think Jacksonville will be able to generate more pressure with its front four. The trade-off is that the Jags secondary isn't nearly as talented as the Ravens, which Manning will most likely exploit. It's almost a shame that a game this big for these teams is happening this early when neither club is at its best.
Kansas City at Oakland (-1), 8 p.m. on Sunday
The Chiefs just absolutely dominated the Jets last weekend. But it was a win at a price. Willie Roaf (hamstring), Ryan Sims (foot), Tony Richardson (knee/ankle), and Patrick Surtain (mild concussion) are each questionable this weekend for the Chiefs, who have beaten the Raiders four consecutive times.
The Raiders offense is so hit-or-miss (could be three-and-out, could be a touchdown in 80 seconds) that the defense won't have much time to rest this season. Just about the time that Warren Sapp and Ed Jasper have let their weight settle on the bench, Kerry Collins has fumbled again and it's back out on the field. Oakland wore down in the fourth quarter against New England. If the same thing happens against KC, the Raiders are in trouble.
FREE PICK: I like Baltimore (-3.5) on the road against Tennessee. This line is low because of the Kyle Boller injury, but it doesn't accurately reflect the talent deficit here. People are assuming Boller actually meant something to the team. The Titans aren't a terrible team, but they did get manhandled by Pittsburgh (161 rushing yards) last weekend. Baltimore is nearly as physical as the Steelers and should be able to pound the Titans on the ground with Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor. I'm going to ignore the fact that the Ravens are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games, or that Anthony Wright is just 6-7 as a starter (with his last loss coming against Tennessee in the 2003 playoffs), or that there's a possibility of a Kordell Stewart sighting. The numbers may be hazy on this pick, but just ask yourself one simple question - which one of these teams is more likely to start off 0-2?
Week 2 NFL Power Rankings1) New England Patriots (1-0) - The Patriots are quickly becoming the Duke Blue Devils of the NFL. They're constantly praised for their selflessness and always described as underrated. Yet, I can't think of any other team whose slot receiver and right guard I've seen in commercials in the last 12 months.
2) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) - They remain ahead of the Colts because they are more physical. They don't miss Plexico on offense. Yet.
3) Indianapolis Colts (1-0) - If the usually reliable Matt Stover hadn't shanked three field goals, and the final score was 24-16, would everyone still be enamored with Indy's defense?
4) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) - It will be tough to go into the RCA Dome and keep up with the Colts. However, that's exactly what they did last year when they beat them 27-24.
5) Atlanta Falcons (1-0) - They need to be careful of a letdown against Seattle this week. Also, Jim Mora Jr. is one hell of a coach and will be around a long, long time.
6) Philadelphia Eagles (0-1) - Don't think for a second that playing without Trotter didn't make a difference on Monday. Regardless, I've said it before and I'll say it again, this team is wobbling.
7) Dallas Cowboys (1-0) - Let's not get too excited about Drew Bledsoe just yet. He's still got plenty of turnovers left in that arm.
8) Buffalo Bills (1-0) - Buffalo is now 10-3 in it's last 13 games.
9) Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) - Just when you think that Larry Johnson has turned the corner in his career, he gets arrested for beating up his ex-girlfriend. Scumbag.
10) New Orleans Saints (1-0) - It's tragic that it may have taken something like a natural disaster to get this collection of talent to play focused, purposeful football. But so be it.
11) Carolina Panthers (0-1) - Loss of Kris Jenkins will hurt. Hopefully it won't be a harbinger of things to come. Stephen Davis' line last Sunday (13 carries, 81 yards, TD) was very promising.
12) Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) - Took care of business against weak Browns team in Cleveland. If they're going to make the playoffs they need to win games like this week's against Minnesota. They are also 5-2 ATS in their last seven games.
13) Baltimore Ravens (0-1) - What ever happened to Brian Billick, offensive genius?
14) San Diego Chargers (0-1) - The Million Dollar Question: do you trade Philip Rivers before the trading deadline, or do you wait until next April?
15) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) - How would you feel about Cadillac Williams if he had only run for 77 yards on 26 carries (3.0 avg.)? Because those were his numbers before his game-clinching 71-yard run.
16) Detroit Lions (1-0) - Not too early in the year to have a big game. If they can beat the Bears, and if the Vikings lose at Cincinnati, the Lions will have built an early two-game cushion over their only real competition. Kicker Jason Hanson's leg injury has him questionable for this weekend, and could play a huge factor.
17) Oakland Raiders (0-1) - Love this home dog this weekend against banged-up Kansas City. However, I will stick by my declaration that this team is untrustworthy when it comes to me laying money on them.
18) Minnesota Vikings (0-1) - Minnesota is now 2-4 without Randy Moss over the last 12 months. Dante Culpepper is averaging 232 yards passing in those games with 9 TD's to 7 INT's (and that includes a 340-yard, 4 TD game vs. Green Bay).
19) Washington Redskins (1-0) - Skins have lost 12 in a row to the Cowboys. Jon Jansen will play this week with two broken thumbs. Insert "Meet the Parents" joke here.
20) Seattle Seahawks (0-1) - I think it's fair to speculate that Matt Hasselbeck's 2003 season may have just been a fluke.
21) New York Giants (1-0) - Eli Manning's numbers last week (62.2 QB rating) are still unimpressive, and his presence is uninspiring. Shockey's ankle is fine.
22) St. Louis Rams (0-1) - They controlled the ball for 40 minutes, and put up over 400 yards of offense last week. And still lost to the friggin' 49ers. Unbelievable.
23) New York Jets (0-1) - Lots of pressure this weekend against the Fins. In that division, and in that conference, if they lose this game they're in trouble.
24) Miami Dolphins (1-0) - Defended the home turf with a win over Denver. Now they have a shot against a limping Jets team. Interesting.
25) Denver Broncos (0-1) - Jake Plummer has thrown 133 touchdowns in his career. He has also thrown 143 interceptions. Oh, and don't think someone in the front office doesn't have Maurice Clarett's cell phone number.
26) Chicago Bears (0-1) - Except for those two pesky second-half turnovers (not like those matter in a two-point game or anything) Kyle Orton looked good. It was the rest of the offense that sucked.
27) Houston Texans (0-1) - "I'm embarrassed," Andre Johnson said after their 22-7 beating in Buffalo. "I don't know what to say. We didn't do anything. We got our butts kicked."
28) Green Bay Packers (0-1) - Javon Walker blew out his knee and is done for the year. I wonder what Brett Favre has to say about Walker's contract situation now? This team is a wreck.
29) San Francisco 49ers (1-0) - Moron of the Week: Derek Smith. Linebacker is feeling so superior after their "big win" over the Rams, that he decides to start talking smack about Terrell Owens before they role into Philly. Yeah, smart. Poke the wounded animal with a stick.
30) Tennessee Titans (0-1) - Might not be a bad idea to pick up Billy Volek on your fantasy team.
31) Arizona Cardinals (0-1) - I understand that people are entitled to their opinions, but anyone who actually picked Arizona to win the NFC West is an idiot.
32) Cleveland Browns (0-1) - "Matt Leinhart, this is Big Dawg, ruler of the Dawg Pound. Big Dawg, this is Matt Leinhart, former Heisman winner and our future."
Questions or comments for Robert? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.