Lobbying for top spot starting to catch on

Last week, Rex Ryan did his best to make my job easier, proclaiming that his Jets were the best team in the NFL.

Suffice it to say that Sexy Rexy started a trend:

On Sunday, after the Buccaneers eked out an 18-17 victory over the Rams to improve to 4-2, second-year head coach Raheem Morris busted out a "Yeah, I said it – we're the best team in the NFC." In the Bucs' locker room, Morris is known as "Rah." I'm going to start calling him "Rah Rah." The thing is, I totally agree with him – if by "best" he means "10th best."

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Not to be outdone, former Bucs coach Tony Dungy, in his role as an analyst for NBC's Football Night In America, later that night called the Seahawks the NFC's best – though he might have merely been paying his respects to an organization that courted him as its prospective team president last January.

In an interview with the Oakland Tribune a day after the Raiders' 59-14 thrashing of the Broncos, cornerback Chris Johnson described the Silver & Black as "probably the most talented team in the National Football League" – which is a backhanded (and likely unintentional) way of saying, "So the reason we're 3-4, despite all that talent, is that Tom Cable and his assistants are doing a really lousy coaching job." (As you'll see below, Sunday's Mile High Massacre drastically impacted my opinion of the losing team.)

On Tuesday, a day after his team's 41-35 victory over the Cowboys, Giants safety Antrel Rolle(notes) declared on WFAN: "I don't think, I know it: We are the best team in the NFC. Hey, we are the best team in the NFL, and that's hands down." I concur with the first part of the statement, at least for this week, but not the second. And if Rolle later claims that the quote in question was fabricated, taken out of context and/or the product of eavesdropping, well, don't say I didn't warn you.

While I appreciate the help from each of these pigskin spin doctors, you'll be thrilled to know that I refused to let any of the lobbying sway me in compiling this week's top-to-bottom trip through the NFL. When it comes to this column, I am very much my own man – at least, I was until Tuesday night, when my sons (ages 11 and 8) peeped the list on my computer and immediately began a pronounced propaganda campaign that resulted in my dropping the defending Super Bowl champs five spots, among other tweaks.


Does that make me the most malleable parent in America, hands down? Here are 32 other conundrums worth pondering:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Did Gene Steratore and Jerry Bergman rule in the Steelers' favor on a pivotal play in Sunday's victory over the Dolphins because they live in Western Pennsylvania? Or simply because they are NFL officials?

2. New York Jets: Did Lovey Howell and the rest of the kooky castaways just get booted off Revis Island?

3. New England Patriots: Wouldn't it be awesome if they passed out Moss Masks to everyone at Gillette Stadium for the receiver's Halloween homecoming?

4. Baltimore Ravens: When cornerback Fabian Washington(notes) vowed "I'll be back" after being benched in Sunday's overtime victory over the lowly Bills, was that a promise or a threat?


5. Tennessee Titans: When Jeff Fisher showed up at the Karma Lounge late Friday night to investigate a bar fight involving Kenny Britt(notes), how many people confused him with this guy?

6. Indianapolis Colts: If Pat McAfee's(notes) police report is even half true, don't you get the feeling the arresting officers laughed so hard they had to call for backup?

7. New York Giants: When these guys return from their bye week to face the Seahawks at Qwest Field, will Matt Hasselbeck(notes) show up wearing a jersey with a bull's-eye on the front?

8. Philadelphia Eagles: What do Philly's defensive backs and Harold Pointer – allegedly – have in common?


9. Atlanta Falcons: Should the Georgia Dome be renamed the Georgia White House?

10. Houston Texans: When Brian Cushing(notes) offered to move to middle linebacker, did anyone have the guts to tell him that his first game at his new position will come against Peyton Manning(notes)?

11. Washington Redskins: If DeAngelo Hall(notes) goes to the Pro Bowl, will he bring Jay Cutler(notes) to Hawaii as his valet?

12. Miami Dolphins: The next time linebacker Ikaika Alama-Francis(notes) recovers a fumble in the end zone, do you think he'll clear up any possible ambiguity by stuffing it down his pants?

13. Green Bay Packers: How much better is Aaron Rodgers'(notes) life when Chad Clifton(notes) is healthy?


14. Kansas City Chiefs: If I told you that only two of their remaining 10 games are against teams which have winning records, would you advise them to start printing playoff tickets?

15. New Orleans Saints: Is it too late for Steelers fans to convince Drew and Brittany Brees to rename their newborn son "Polamalu"?

16. Seattle Seahawks: If Cameron Morrah(notes) had gotten a third consecutive holding penalty in the third quarter of last Sunday's victory over the Cardinals, would Olindo Mare(notes) have aimed a 61-yard field-goal attempt at the tight end's rear end?

17. Minnesota Vikings: If Percy Harvin's(notes) right foot had come down inbounds in the final minute of Sunday night's game, how effusively would Brad Childress have praised Brett Favre(notes) in his postgame press conference?


18. Chicago Bears: Given his dubious record on replay challenges, don't you get the feeling that Lovie Smith can't figure out how to work the DVR at home, either?

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: After the release of tight end Jerramy Stevens(notes), how dull will those Saturday-night film sessions be at the team hotel – and how much will his ex-teammates save by not ordering really, really cheesy room-service nachos?

20. Cincinnati Bengals: How inspiring was that third-quarter comeback in Atlanta? And how depressing was the aftermath?

21. Detroit Lions: Can Matthew Stafford's(notes) return provide a second-half spark – and, if so, could this team possibly sneak its way into the playoff picture?

Wells fights off a Saints defender in Week 5.
(Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire)


22. Arizona Cardinals: If Beanie Wells(notes) were nearly as good as the Cardinals thought he was when they drafted him last year, how long ago would Tim Hightower(notes) have been demoted?

23. St. Louis Rams: Are these guys eating valium-drenched orange slices at halftime? Or are their coaches failing to make adjustments?

24. Oakland Raiders: WTF?

25. Cleveland Browns: When Eric Mangini says "anything is possible," shouldn't he add, "except me coaching the Browns in 2011"?

26. Dallas Cowboys: Is it fair to say that this preseason scouting report was pretty damned accurate?

27. San Diego Chargers: When your general manager is averse to signing free agents, and only four of the 14 players he has drafted since 2009 were active for the team's most recent game, is it a sign that the system may be a bit flawed?


28. Jacksonville Jaguars: After another embarrassing performance, does Wayne Weaver have a certain Ray Charles tune on the brain?

29. Carolina Panthers: If running backs DeAngelo Williams(notes) and Jonathan Stewart(notes) are looking to rebrand, how about The Invisible Men as a new nickname?

30. San Francisco 49ers: Should 49ers fans have been chanting "We Want Troy" all along? And did David Carr(notes) just get run over by Mike Singletary or what?

31. Denver Broncos: When I heard about Josh McDaniels' apology following last Sunday's debacle, why did this scene keep flashing through my brain?

32. Buffalo Bills: What's crazier – that Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) nearly led the Bills to a shocking upset of the Ravens, or that he broke a streak of 59 games by a Bills quarterback without a 300-yard passing effort?