1. New England Patriots â€“ If you’re a reader of Pardon the Pulse, you’ll know my love for all things Jets this year. Well, I may still end up being right about the Jets, but that would also mean that this Patriots team is an absolute beast. Tom Brady has real receivers to throw to now. Watch out. This could get scary.
2. Indianapolis Colts â€“ The offensive show put on by the Colts last Thursday was expected. What wasn’t expected was that defense making last year’s #1 offense look like Oakland’s. They’re super fast on that side of the ball, but also very small. They may be able to keep this up for the first half of the season. After that, the offense is going to have to start carrying things again. Not that they can’t. But they’ll lose two or three shootout games near the end of the season.
3. San Diego Chargers â€“ The win over Chicago was ugly. But it was a good ugly. It proved that they don’t need a million yards to win. The defense was strong and looks like it hasn’t lost a step. Unfortunately, the test this week is a little tougher against the Patriots. Tom Brady is the anti-Grossman and Moss and Welker are 10 times the receivers than Berrian and Moose. This week will show how well the young Chargers belong in the AFC elite.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers â€“ Ben looks to be more comfortable this year under the new offensive scheme. Yeah, it was against the Browns, but it was still impressive. The defense looked strong and capable of shutting down teams enough to allow the offense to do as little as possible to get wins.
5. Dallas Cowboys â€“ The offense showed Sunday night that they are capable of winning a shootout. Unfortunately, unless the defense starts showing up, they’ll be in a lot of them. Fortunately, they play in the NFC East and they just beat the best offense outside of theirs in the division.
6. Denver Broncos â€“ They only scored 15 points in Buffalo, but they racked up some good yardage. They won’t stay away from the end zone very long.
7. Carolina Panthers â€“ The team looked good on Sunday. They looked even better once Pace went down. With or without Pace out there though, the fact that the Panther’s defense contained that high powered Rams offense is encouraging. The offense even looked good. Other receivers besides Steve Smith stepped up. It looks like they finally have a good tight end option in King. And even the running game worked. Though, I’ll believe that if they keep it up considering that Foster always has 100 games against the Rams.
8. Cincinnati Bengals â€“ The offense looked great against the Ravens’ defense The defense even looked decent. Albeit against the Baltimore offense. They only warrant a #8 ranking though because there was no penalty on that pass to Todd Heap in the back of the end zone. Yes. I penalize them because the refs are stupid. My rankings. My prerogatives
9. Buffalo Bills â€“ They gave the Broncos a damn good scare. They still apparently need a real quarterback since Losman just is NOT getting the job done. But Lynch definitely looks like the real deal.
10. Chicago Bears â€“ Or more specifically, the Chicago Bears defense. The game against San Diego could have easily been a 3-3 tie had the offense not been so inept. The Bears’ best chance this year is that the defense can cause enough turnovers in the opponent’s territory that Robbie Gould can kick 4-5 field goals a game.
11. Seattle Seahawks â€“ They overmatched a pathetic Tampa team. Which is what good teams should do. If this weekend’s games are an indication of the season, I was wrong in my preseason picks and the NFC west is Seattle’s to win again.
12. Houston Texans â€“ We’ll see how long they get to stay up here. They looked really sharp against the Chiefs. Hell, even my boy Mario Williams finally looked like a star. I’m really looking forward to the match-up with Carolina this week to see how that O-line and Schaub stand up to a real pass rush.
13. Tennessee Titans â€“ They held the mighty Jaguar running game in check which bodes well for the season. But they can only rely on their own running game for so long. Vince Young HAS to get some chemistry with his young receiving corps if this team is going to make the playoffs.
14. Detroit Lions â€“ Another team that will likely fall during the season. The offense looked crisp and sharp against an over-rated Oakland defense. And they stayed strong instead of folding when the Raiders made their run to take the lead. This may well be a totally different Lions team this year who may come close to Kitna’s 10 win promise if they can take care of the pansies that come with having the second worst record in football last year.
15. New York Jets â€“ They got trounced by New England. How they bounce back this week will be very telling for this team. They’re better than they showed. Though the fans need some work.
16. Baltimore Ravens â€“ They hung tight with the Bengals though I would have liked to have seen a little more from that defense. You have to wonder what they were thinking when they passed on Leftwich to give Boller an extension that he obviously didn’t deserve.
17. New York Giants â€“ They got beaten up by the Cowboys. They get this ranking on the assumption that Eli will miss 1 week at the most with his shoulder injury. If they have to rely on the Fire Roasted Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, then their season is in big trouble.
18. Minnesota Vikings â€“ Adrian Peterson showed he’s the real deal. The defense showed they could handle a lesser foe. But they still have Tavaris Jackson running the show and no one for him to throw to.
19. New Orleans Saints â€“ I know they’ll work their way up the rankings. They have to. They’re too good to stay this low. But they showed absolutely nothing against the Colts Thursday night. Worst of all, they showed no heart. They need to find that heart soon or else they WILL be labeled Katrina Emotion Wonders.
20. Green Bay Packers â€“ They held the Eagles in check. Which is a good thing. They won only because of the luck of two muffed punts, one of which happened to roll into the end zone. Which is bad.
21. Washington Redskins â€“ Much like the Packers. They didn’t win their game so much as it just kinda landed in their lap. Portis showed he still has the goods. But this team just doesn’t seem to have that hunger that they’re gonna need to win a lot of games.
22. St Louis Rams â€“ They stay this high based on their offense. But their run defense is going to kill them this year. If they let DeShaun Foster run for 100 on them, I can only imagine what Gore, Alexander, and James will do to them. And losing Orlando Pace for the year leaves a gaping hole that they obviously can’t fill on the left side of the line. Bulger may be running for his life quite a bit.
23. Philadelphia Eagles â€“ They need to address the special teams problems. Hopefully they still have Jeremy Bloom on speed dial.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars â€“ Hopefully the demise of the running game against the Titans was just an abomination and they’ll be able to kick it back into high gear. Garrard is a good QB, but he needs that help from the running game.
25. San Francisco 49ers â€“ Good gracious were they ugly on Monday night. Ugly ugly ugly. But not as ugly asâ€¦
26. Arizona Cardinals â€“ I bet Levi Brown never imagined that on his first official snap as an NFL player he’d have to make a touchdown saving tackle.
27. Miami Dolphins â€“ The QB situation is still ugly and the running game isn’t much better. What happened to you, Ronnie Brown?
28. Oakland Raiders â€“ They’ve got Russell signed now, but will he see the field before next season? They started moving the ball pretty well at the end of the game, but they’ve got to be able to do it all the time. And that #3 defense from last season? Kinda misleading when they can be run so well against that no one even bothered to test the pass defense.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers â€“ So, Garcia’s not the savior? You don’t say. The defense is old. The offense is inept. They’re lucky to be this high.
30. Kansas City Chiefs â€“ I bet their kicking themselves for not going after Culpepper. Why aren’t they talking to Leftwich? Do they REALLY think they’re set at QB? Or do they think they’ll be bad enough to land Brohm next year?
31. Atlanta Falcons â€“ Not if these guys have anything to say about it. I guess Joey Harrington IS just that damn bad.
32.Cleveland Browns â€“ New season. Same ol Browns. The fans chanted for the Courageous Quinn. Why? If they REALLY think Quinn is the savior of this team, WHY would they want him to go into that game to get pounded? It won’t matter though. It’s the Browns.