'07 rankings: Opposite directions

'07 rankings: Opposite directions
By Jason Cole and Charles Robinson
November 6, 2007

Past rankings: Preseason | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

As expected, the Patriots hold on to the No. 1 spot after their victory over the Colts on Sunday. Despite its first defeat of the year, Indianapolis stays put at No. 2. While Charles Robinson's top seven from last week remain intact, Jacksonville's drop shakes up Jason Cole's rankings.

In addition, the Saints climb into the "Top 12" on both sides after their lopsided win over the Jaguars, while the Chargers fall back to the "Muddled Middle" following their embarrassing defeat to the Vikings.

Here are the complete rankings following Week 9 action.

TOP 12
Cole rankings
1. LW (1) New England Patriots (9-0)
2. LW (2) Indianapolis Colts (7-1)
3. LW (3) Dallas Cowboys (7-1)
4. LW (5) Green Bay Packers (7-1)
5. LW (6) Tennessee Titans (6-2)
6. LW (7) New York Giants (6-2)
7. LW (8) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)
8. LW (9) Cleveland Browns (5-3)
9. LW (13) Baltimore Ravens (4-4)
10. LW (16) New Orleans Saints (4-4)
11. LW (17) Detroit Lions (6-2)
12. LW (12) Kansas City Chiefs (4-4)
Robinson rankings
1. LW (1) New England Patriots
2. LW (2) Indianapolis Colts
3. LW (3) Green Bay Packers
4. LW (4) Dallas Cowboys
5. LW (5) Pittsburgh Steelers
6. LW (6) New York Giants
7. LW (7) Tennessee Titans
8. LW (10) Cleveland Browns
9. LW (12) Washington Redskins
10. LW (13) Detroit Lions
11. LW (18) New Orleans Saints
12. LW (8) Jacksonville Jaguars
 
Cole: A week ago, I talked about my gut feeling that Jacksonville deserved to be ranked No. 4. So much for that. It's one thing for the Jaguars to lose, but to give up 41 points in the process is just ugly. … New Orleans gets a big bump up and Detroit fans should chill out a little now that the Lions are in the top grouping. … Now, if I can take a little credit, I'll note that I didn't quite buy into San Diego after the Chargers broke into the top group. The Chargers, as I said before, are a really fragile team and the rushing performance they allowed by Adrian Peterson last week was simply embarrassing for a defense that should be a whole lot better. … Big props go to Romeo Crennel and the Browns. There were more than a few observers who thought Crennel would have been fired by now. Instead, he and the Browns are rolling at 5-3 and have a shot at first place in the AFC North. Good stuff. Robinson: New England's game at Buffalo after the bye looks like a classic trap. But if the Patriots don't stumble against the Bills, only one team left on the schedule has the weapons to run with New England: the Steelers. … The Colts lost Sunday, but they walked away knowing they have the tools to beat the Patriots. But that road is going through New England now, and that may be all that matters. … Green Bay's back-to-back road wins at Invesco Field and Arrowhead Stadium might be one of the most underrated feats this season. … Bruce Arians' spread offense in Pittsburgh has vaulted Ben Roethlisberger into an elite quarterback. On pace for 40 touchdown passes this season, he's overtaken Carson Palmer in the argument over the league's best after Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. … Rod Marinelli has done in Detroit what he did in Tampa Bay – turned a defensive line with one elite player (Shaun Rogers) into a unit that makes everything easier for the rest of the defense. … Since starting 0-4, Drew Brees' numbers are through the roof. Over the last four games, he's got a 115.1 quarterback rating, completing over 71 percent of his passes for 1,246 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception.
MUDDLED MIDDLE
Cole rankings
13. LW (4) Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)
14. LW (10) San Diego Chargers (4-4)
15. LW (14) Washington Redskins (5-3)
16. LW (15) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4)
17. LW (11) Seattle Seahawks (4-4)
18. LW (18) Cincinnati Bengals (2-6)
19. LW (19) Carolina Panthers (4-4)
20. LW (20) Chicago Bears (3-5)
21. LW (24) Buffalo Bills (4-4)
22. LW (26) Minnesota Vikings (3-5)
Robinson rankings
13. LW (9) San Diego Chargers
14. LW (11) Baltimore Ravens
15. LW (19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
16. LW (21) Buffalo Bills
17. LW (14) Seattle Seahawks
18. LW (15) Kansas City Chiefs
19. LW (16) Denver Broncos
20. LW (17) Carolina Panthers
21. LW (20) Arizona Cardinals
22. LW (22) Chicago Bears
 
Cole: Maybe Tampa Bay deserves a little more respect than it's getting in this week's rankings, but I'm not impressed with the way it has played the past three weeks. The Bucs are well-coached, but not all that talented and eventually talent matters. … I don't want to get another whining message from Carolina fans. The Panthers are just another mediocre NFL team, and if their defensive line doesn't show up soon, they'll be dropping like a rock. … I was tempted to rank Adrian Peterson as the No. 22 overall team, but that seemed a bit much. Robinson: So much for Norv Turner unlocking the passing game. Only one Chargers wide receiver, Vincent Jackson, has more than seven receptions through eight games. And at what point are the Chargers going to promote Antonio Cromartie to one of the starting cornerback spots? He's got the talent to be the Shawne Merriman of the secondary. … That Baltimore offense is going nowhere under Brian Billick. Either it's time for a head coaching change after this season, or for Billick to hire an upper-tier offensive coordinator and give him the freedom to get the unit straightened out. … Apparently, when former Seattle fullback Mack Strong retired, he took Shaun Alexander's career with him. The former league MVP looks like Eddie George did when he lost Lorenzo Neal. … Mike Shanahan shouldn't be on the outs in Denver just yet. There are too many injuries to give up on him. Things aren't likely to get much better the rest of this season, but the Broncos have the talent to bounce back big in 2008.
BOTTOM OF THE PACK
Cole rankings
23. LW (27) Houston Texans (4-5)
24. LW (21) Oakland Raiders (2-6)
25. LW (30) Atlanta Falcons (2-6)
26. LW (22) San Francisco 49ers (2-6)
27. LW (23) Denver Broncos (3-5)
28. LW (25) Philadelphia Eagles (3-5)
29. LW (28) Arizona Cardinals (3-5)
30. LW (29) New York Jets (1-8)
31. LW (31) Miami Dolphins (0-8)
32. LW (32) St. Louis Rams (0-8)
Robinson rankings
23. LW (23) Houston Texans
24. LW (24) Philadelphia Eagles
25. LW (27) Minnesota Vikings
26. LW (29) Atlanta Falcons
27. LW (27) Cincinnati Bengals
28. LW (26) San Francisco 49ers
29. LW (28) Oakland Raiders
30. LW (30) New York Jets
31. LW (31) St. Louis Rams
32. LW (32) Miami Dolphins
 
Cole: Hmmm, I wonder if Oakland fans are going to start calling me a Raider hater again now that their team has fallen into the bottom of the pack. Fact is, the year is starting to shape up the way a lot of us thought it would. Look for the Raiders to play JaMarcus Russell in a couple of weeks. It's time to start working on the future. … The big surprises in this group are Denver and Philadelphia, two teams so many people were thinking would be in the playoffs. Instead, they lost by a combined 82-24 last week. Yikes! … The Jets teased fans with a lead early in the game, but played to form with an overtime loss. Robinson: Everyone wants to talk about Houston's offensive issues, but where has Mario Williams gone? He's got two sacks in his last eight games. … Another good season from Brian Westbrook is being wasted: 1,036 rushing and receiving yards through seven games and six total touchdowns. And how is it that Bill Belichick gets more flak for running up the score than Andy Reid does for refusing to step aside and tend to his family problems? … If Adrian Peterson isn't the most entertaining player to watch in the NFL today, I don't know who is. But get your fill now, because his shelf life is going to be seven or eight years with that physical running style. … After seeing the Bengals lose to Buffalo, that team might be lucky to win five games this season. … Is it me, or has Eric Mangini already replaced Tom Coughlin as the most hated coach in New York?

Updated on Tuesday, Nov 6, 2007 1:23 pm, EST

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