'07 rankings: Mediocrity lives

'07 rankings: Mediocrity lives
By Jason Cole and Charles Robinson
November 13, 2007

Past rankings: Preseason | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

After failing to complete a wild comeback against the Chargers Sunday night, the Colts have dropped from the No. 2 spot on one side of the rankings. Indy had been positioned in the second slot in both writers' rankings behind the Patriots, who are still No. 1, since Week 2.

The weekend of surprising outcomes resulted in several teams taking tremendous leaps and falls this week. Jason Cole moved both the Bucs and Seahawks up five slots into the "Top 12," while dropping the Ravens 11 spots back after their loss to the Bengals. Charles Robinson's rankings reflect a lot more consistency with last week's – the top six teams remain the same –. though the Jaguars and Saints each moved five spots after their surprising results. Perhaps most notable though is that each writer has seven teams with losing records in his "Muddled Middle."

Here are the complete rankings following Week 10 action.

TOP 12
Cole rankings
1. LW (1) New England Patriots (9-0)
2. LW (3) Dallas Cowboys (8-1)
3. LW (4) Green Bay Packers (8-1)
4. LW (2) Indianapolis Colts (7-2)
5. LW (7) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2)
6. LW (8) Cleveland Browns (5-4)
7. LW (13) Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3)
8. LW (5) Tennessee Titans (6-3)
9. LW (14) San Diego Chargers (5-4)
10. LW (6) New York Giants (6-3)
11. LW (16) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4)
12. LW (17) Seattle Seahawks (5-4)
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 (12) Jacksonville Jaguars
8. LW (7) Tennessee Titans
9. LW (8) Cleveland Browns
10. LW (13) San Diego Chargers
11. LW (9) Washington Redskins
12. LW (10) Detroit Lions
 
Cole: To all the readers who ripped me for having the Ravens in the Top 12 last week despite their embarrassing loss to Pittsburgh, it was a major faux pas – plain and simple. Other than that, I apologize for nothing, not even to you Lions fans who think I'm dissing your squad. To be frank, I like the Lions this season, but I still don't take them completely seriously. The loss to Arizona was proof of why I don't quite buy what's happening yet. … Indianapolis dropped a couple of pegs after the first-ever Adam Vinatieri meltdown. The loss to San Diego isn't so troubling as the Chargers have always hung tough with the Colts. The problem is the mounting injuries which have left Peyton Manning with a receiving corps little better than what he had his final season at the University of Tennessee. That doesn't even account for the foot injury to Dwight Freeney, whose loss could be devastating to the defense. Robinson: It's that kind of year for the Patriots. Sitting on the bye, they watched themselves get a stronger foothold as the Colts' health issues got worse. For Indianapolis, nothing is more important than the status of Dwight Freeney's foot. … Packers defensive coordinator Bob Sanders might be one of the most underrated assistant coaches in the NFL. … While Mike McCarthy and Rod Marinelli are getting plenty of love for coach of the year, has anyone handled a volatile player better than Wade Phillips has handled Terrell Owens? … Romeo Crennel's timeout prior to Cleveland's fourth-quarter challenge on Sunday might have been the worst in-game coaching maneuver of the season. But with the way the playoff race is shaping up, he might get a chance to redeem himself against the Steelers in the first round of the AFC playoffs. … San Diego's blitz pressure against Indianapolis looked like a page from last year's playbook.
MUDDLED MIDDLE
Cole rankings
13. LW (21) Buffalo Bills (5-4)
14. LW (11) Detroit Lions (6-3)
15. LW (12) Kansas City Chiefs (4-5)
16. LW (15) Washington Redskins (5-4)
17. LW (10) New Orleans Saints (4-5)
18. LW (18) Cincinnati Bengals (3-6)
19. LW (20) Chicago Bears (4-5)
20. LW (9) Baltimore Ravens (4-5)
21. LW (19) Carolina Panthers (4-5)
22. LW (22) Minnesota Vikings (3-6)
Robinson rankings
13. LW (16) Buffalo Bills
14. LW (17) Seattle Seahawks
15. LW (15) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
16. LW (11) New Orleans Saints
17. LW (14) Baltimore Ravens
18. LW (19) Denver Broncos
19. LW (21) Arizona Cardinals
20. LW (18) Kansas City Chiefs
21. LW (22) Chicago Bears
22. LW (20) Carolina Panthers
 
Cole: Buffalo doesn't get any style points for the win over Miami, but the Bills get some credit for playing very smart in the second half. In short, they showed that they know how to win in less-than-ideal circumstances. Now, if quarterback J.P. Losman can bottle that knowledge, he might actually keep his job for the long term rather than allowing Trent Edwards to push him aside. Will that happen? Doubtful. Losman is self-destructively arrogant. … New Orleans should be better than it is and Kansas City should be worse. For both teams, the answer is all about mindset and focus. Robinson: The second-longest winning streak in the NFL behind the Patriots? It's Buffalo's four straight victories. But this week's game against New England will tell us whether the Bills are a legit playoff contender, or nothing more than a team that has scrapped out five wins against opponents that have a combined winning percentage of .200. … If fans didn't understand the balance a healthy Deuce McAllister brought to the New Orleans backfield before, they should understand it now. Reggie Bush is averaging a combined 4.3 yards per touch rushing and receiving. He's a poor man's Eric Metcalf. … Steve McNair is a turnover waiting to happen. Kyle Boller may not be a better alternative at this point, but at least he's something different. … So Rex Grossman led the Bears to a comeback win. Bank on it: He'll be on the outs again by the first week in December.
BOTTOM OF THE PACK
Cole rankings
23. LW (27) Denver Broncos (4-5)
24. LW (28) Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)
25. LW (29) Arizona Cardinals (4-5)
26. LW (23) Houston Texans (4-5)
27. LW (25) Atlanta Falcons (3-6)
28. LW (26) San Francisco 49ers (2-7)
29. LW (32) St. Louis Rams (1-8)
30. LW (24) Oakland Raiders (2-7)
31. LW (30) New York Jets (1-8)
32. LW (31) Miami Dolphins (0-9)
Robinson rankings
23. LW (24) Philadelphia Eagles
24. LW (23) Houston Texans
25. LW (27) Cincinnati Bengals
26. LW (26) Atlanta Falcons
27. LW (25) Minnesota Vikings
28. LW (28) San Francisco 49ers
29. LW (29) Oakland Raiders
30. LW (31) St. Louis Rams
31. LW (30) New York Jets
32. LW (32) Miami Dolphins
 
Cole: Congrats to good-guy coach Scott Linehan for getting his first win and for getting his offense to play with some consistency. The Rams' offensive line is still a mess because of injuries, but if Linehan can hang in there and keep line coach Paul Boudreau, things figure to get better for the rest of the season and the situation could be fixed long term. … Miami takes over the bottom spot from the Rams with another awful loss. Coach Cam Cameron is a nice man, but he's kind of a knucklehead in the mode of Dave Wannstedt. Here's a clue: He keeps starting quarterback Cleo Lemon when it's obvious Lemon is just a guy and the future of the franchise lies in whether rookie John Beck is any good. If not, the Dolphins need to draft another quarterback in the offseason and owner Wayne Huizenga desperately wants to know the answer. Robinson: Andre Johnson's return is too little too late. With Jacksonville, Tennessee and Cleveland battling for the AFC's two wild-card spots, the Texans are already playing for 2008. … If you watched Cincinnati topple Baltimore on Sunday, you saw why the Bengals have bent over backward dealing with Chris Henry's off-field issues. He's the X-factor that offense has lacked all season. … No matter how badly Brad Childress needs him, Adrian Peterson's knee injury is going to be handled with an overabundance of caution. Why? Because owner Zygi Wilf wants it that way. … The key to the NFC West? It's the Rams, who are going to play the spoiler with their healthy skill position players and a coach who is making the closing argument to keep his job.

Updated on Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 1:32 pm, EST

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