'07 rankings: Texans have liftoff

'07 rankings: Texans have liftoff
By Jason Cole and Charles Robinson
December 11, 2007

Past rankings: Preseason | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13

After knocking off the "mouthy" Steelers, the Patriots remain No. 1 in the rankings – a position they appear poised to hold for at least the next two weeks with games coming up against the lowly Jets and Dolphins. The rest of the top 6 is parallel as the Cowboys, Colts and Packers remain in slots Nos. 2-4, respectively, and the Jaguars (No. 5) and Steelers (No. 6) swapping spots for the second straight week.

Elsewhere around the league, the Texans made gigantic leaps – 14 spots in Jason Cole's rankings; 6 in Charles Robinson's – up to No. 15 after upsetting Tampa Bay with backup Sage Rosenfels playing for injured quarterback Matt Schaub. The Vikings, winners of four straight games, moved into Cole's Top 12

Here are the complete rankings following Week 14 action.

TOP 12
Cole rankings
1. LW (1) New England Patriots (13-0)
2. LW (2) Dallas Cowboys (12-1)
3. LW (3) Indianapolis Colts (11-2)
4. LW (4) Green Bay Packers (11-2)
5. LW (6) Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)
6. LW (5) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-4)
7. LW (8) Seattle Seahawks (9-4)
8. LW (9) San Diego Chargers (8-5)
9. LW (10) New York Giants (9-4)
10. LW (12) Cleveland Browns (8-5)
11. LW (14) Minnesota Vikings (7-6)
12. LW (7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)
Robinson rankings
1. LW (1) New England Patriots
2. LW (2) Dallas Cowboys
3. LW (3) Indianapolis Colts
4. LW (4) Green Bay Packers
5. LW (6) Jacksonville Jaguars
6. LW (5) Pittsburgh Steelers
7. LW (9) Cleveland Browns
8. LW (8) San Diego Chargers
9. LW (12) Seattle Seahawks
10. LW (10) New York Giants
11. LW (7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12. LW (11) Tennessee Titans
 
Cole: So much for the talk about the Patriots showing their vulnerable side. New England dispatched the Steelers. Now, it has two practice games (the Jets and Dolphins at home) before finishing the season on the road against the Giants. … I nearly moved Indianapolis ahead of Dallas for the No. 2 spot, but I still have some doubts about Indy as the second-best team in the league. Eventually, the injury to Dwight Freeney is going to prove costly. … Seattle had one of its most impressive wins of the season, but the Seahawks still have only one win over a team with a winning record this season. … The Vikings' meteoric rise has taken place at the expense of a weak series of opponents, but tip your cap to any team that can rebound so quickly from a 3-6 record. Robinson: The Patriots are 5-0 against opponents ranked in this week's top 8. Even more impressive: Those five wins have come by an average of 17.4 points. … Folks, look beyond Tom Brady. With 37 total touchdowns and three games left to play this season, Tony Romo is on the verge of one of the greatest seasons ever by a quarterback, too. … On the subject of great quarterbacks, Peyton Manning is turning the juice on with 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions in his last three games. … Since becoming a starter seven games ago, Ryan Grant has 717 yards and five rushing touchdowns. How about some props to Ted Thompson on that one? … How is it possible that Fred Taylor has rushed for 10,457 yards in his career and never made a single Pro Bowl? … Considering what Plaxico Burress has done this year with knee and ankle injuries, there may not have been a more valiant effort in the NFL this season.
MUDDLED MIDDLE
Cole rankings
13. LW (13) Buffalo Bills (7-6)
14. LW (11) Tennessee Titans (7-6)
15. LW (29) Houston Texans (6-7)
16. LW (18) Washington Redskins (6-7)
17. LW (15) New Orleans Saints (6-7)
18. LW (25) Denver Broncos (6-7)
19. LW (20) Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)
20. LW (17) Arizona Cardinals (6-7)
21. LW (19) Detroit Lions (6-7)
22. LW (16) Kansas City Chiefs (4-9)
Robinson rankings
13. LW (13) Minnesota Vikings
14. LW (14) Buffalo Bills
15. LW (21) Houston Texans
16. LW (15) Arizona Cardinals
17. LW (16) Detroit Lions
18. LW (18) Denver Broncos
19. LW (19) Washington Redskins
20. LW (20) New Orleans Saints
21. LW (17) Philadelphia Eagles
22. LW (22) Chicago Bears
 
Cole: Houston and Denver duel this week in a battle of desperate-yet-mediocre teams. It's also a pretty fair fight between coach Mike Shanahan and former assistant Gary Kubiak. … I was tempted to move Kansas City completely out of this group, but no other team really impressed me that much to move up over the Chiefs. … I haven't heard from a lot of Lions fans lately. You know who you are, the ones who ripped me so hard for being so "stupid" about not ranking the Lions higher when they were 6-2. What happened to you guys? Oh yeah, you disappeared under the avalanche of five consecutive losses. Robinson: Next to Brett Favre, Tarvaris Jackson has been the NFC North's best quarterback over the last month: Four straight wins, a 73.5 completion percentage and 102.8 quarterback rating. … Don't get too excited over those seven wins, Bills fans. Outside of Washington, all of them have come against teams in the bottom rung of this week's rankings. The seven wins have come against teams with a combined record of 21-70 (that's a winning percentage of 23 percent). … Reggie Bush is done for the season and Mario Williams has 9½ sacks and counting. … Five straight losses going into a road game in San Diego? So much for Matt Millen finally turning the Lions in the right direction. … All those fans begging for Kyle Orton in Chicago will finally get their wish this week. Prepare for another disappointment.
BOTTOM OF THE PACK
Cole rankings
23. LW (21) Chicago Bears (5-8)
24. LW (22) Oakland Raiders (4-9)
25. LW (24) St. Louis Rams (3-10)
26. LW (26) Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)
27. LW (27) New York Jets (3-10)
28. LW (28) Carolina Panthers (5-8)
29. LW (23) Baltimore Ravens (4-9)
30. LW (31) Atlanta Falcons (3-10)
31. LW (30) San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
32. LW (32) Miami Dolphins (0-13)
Robinson rankings
23. LW (23) Carolina Panthers
24. LW (24) Cincinnati Bengals
25. LW (25) Kansas City Chiefs
26. LW (26) Baltimore Ravens
27. LW (27) St. Louis Rams
28. LW (28) Oakland Raiders
29. LW (29) Atlanta Falcons
30. LW (30) San Francisco 49ers
31. LW (31) New York Jets
32. LW (32) Miami Dolphins
 
Cole: It's official: The Dolphins want to get Cam Cameron fired. That's the only way to explain their performance and that's the whisper out of the team's locker room. In only one season, the Dolphins have shown as much contempt for Cameron as they did for Dave Wannstedt – though with Wannstedt, that disdain took more time to develop. Then again, Wannstedt managed to get the Dolphins to the playoffs for two years with Jimmy Johnson's players. Then he helped set the table for what the Dolphins are doing now with four absolutely awful drafts. Yes, it takes a lot of work over a long period of time to be this bad, but the Dolphins have managed it. Robinson: David Carr has fallen to No. 3 on Carolina's depth chart and Joey Harrington has likely lost his job to Chris Redman in Atlanta. So much for the two superstar quarterbacks of the 2002 NFL draft. … Larry Johnson's foot apparently felt good enough for him to make it to New York City for his birthday bash. What is it with running backs going into the tank – Johnson, Shaun Alexander, Frank Gore, etc. – once they land their big contracts? … The Ravens should start Troy Smith the rest of the season. There is absolutely nothing to lose at this point. … If Lane Kiffin is so dedicated to only putting JaMarcus Russell in situations where he will succeed, why is he trotting him out next week against the Colts' league-leading pass defense? … Even with his horrible situation at quarterback and all the injuries, Cam Cameron can't possibly return to Miami if he goes 0-16.

Updated on Tuesday, Dec 11, 2007 12:46 pm, EST

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