'07 rankings: Three of a kind

Past rankings: Preseason | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Either great minds think alike or NFL writers Jason Cole and Charles Robinson have been working too closely together. Helped in part by the Cowboys' miraculous victory over the Bills Monday night, each writer has the same teams slotted in the top seven spots of their rankings.

For the most part, there wasn't a lot of major movement like last week, but Washington did move into the top 10 of both writers' rankings after an impressive showing against Detroit.

Here are the complete rankings following Week 5 action.

TOP 12

Robinson rankings

New England Patriots

Indianapolis Colts

Dallas Cowboys

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee Titans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Green Bay Packers

Baltimore Ravens

Washington Redskins

New York Giants

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cole: There's an interesting theme among the top three teams. It's not simply that they all have great offenses and quarterbacks that are off to outrageous starts this season. All three have tight ends who are simply dominating this season. Through a combined 15 games, Dallas' Jason Witten, Benjamin Watson of New England and Dallas Clark of Indy have combined for 72 receptions for 901 yards and a stunning 14 touchdowns. While the receptions and yards might not seem so outstanding, consider that each plays with some pretty good receivers, like Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. As for the rankings themselves, it's worth noting that three of the four teams from the AFC South are in the top 12 and Houston isn't too far out of the mix at No. 19. While the AFC North is still fearsome, the South is the best division in football.

Robinson: We'll find out just how far behind the NFC elite is from the AFC when Dallas plays New England this week. And it could be a good thing that the Cowboys had their close call against Buffalo. Pittsburgh is for real at No. 4, but it has a lot of healing to do during this week's bye. The Steelers can't survive long term without Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward. Tennessee and Jacksonville seem a little inflated at No. 5 and No. 6, particularly with quarterbacks that don't seem all that spectacular in the passing game, but all they do is win. Watch out for the Giants sneaking up at No. 10. Plaxico Burress is playing the best football of his life. And while that secondary still leaves a lot to be desired, the defensive line is playing well enough to cover a lot of mistakes.


Robinson rankings

San Diego Chargers

Denver Broncos

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Carolina Panthers

Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns

Cincinnati Bengals

San Francisco 49ers

Cole: If San Francisco had any semblance of an offense, it would be ranked in the top 12, easily. While Mike Nolan has done a terrific job of building the defense for the 49ers, the offense simply has no one outside of running back Frank Gore who strikes fear in the heart of opposing defenses. It's probably going to take another offseason, but the 49ers have to get a wide receiver that is a legitimate threat. Vernon Davis, who is banged up, has a ton of ability, but he's still a tight end and that's not enough to make an offense go. As for the rest, the AFC West is a jumble of mediocrity as all four teams occupy the No. 17 through 23 spots. And yes, Raiders fans, the Silver and Black lead the way. The question is whether San Diego can keep rolling when Oakland visits this Sunday or whether the Chargers' rout of Denver was a fluke.

Robinson: With that 41-3 pounding of Denver, the Chargers didn't just look like last season's squad – they looked better. If the Chargers can get to .500 going into the bye with a win against Oakland this week, San Diego could climb fast. The quartet of Detroit, Houston, Carolina and Arizona is an intriguing bunch. Houston is primed to rise with the eventual return of Andre Johnson and the emergence of Andre Davis. And Arizona's offense should find some consistency with Kurt Warner at the helm. With two embarrassing losses to the NFC East, the Lions might be overrated, even at No. 16. As for Carolina, that defense just can't seem to take the next step and fulfill all the potential.


Cole rankings

Denver Broncos (2-3)

Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)

Carolina Panthers (3-2)

Minnesota Vikings (1-3)

Buffalo Bills (1-3)

New York Jets (1-4)

Atlanta Falcons (1-4)

New Orleans Saints (0-4)

Miami Dolphins (0-5)

St. Louis Rams (0-5)

Robinson rankings

Oakland Raiders

Kansas City Chiefs

Philadelphia Eagles

Minnesota Vikings

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

New York Jets

New Orleans Saints

Miami Dolphins

St. Louis Rams

Cole: Not much change here among the dregs of the league. The Dolphins lost a heart breaker at Houston and may have lost quarterback Trent Green for his career (concussions in back-to-back years is a message for any 37-year-old). Likewise, the Saints were reduced to 0-4 by a late field goal against Carolina. But the really interesting team in all of this is the Jets. New York's defense has simply imploded and the offense is little better. The big question about the Jets is when will coach Eric Mangini pull the plug on quarterback Chad Pennington, who is not playing anything like he did a year ago. If the Jets are going to be bad, they probably should find out if Kellen Clemens can play.

Robinson: What has happened to the Saints' offense? Few units have been so disappointing in the face of huge expectations. Say what you want about the offensive line and wideouts, who can't seem to get open, but Drew Brees has been just plain bad. And enough of the screens and dump passes to Reggie Bush. Speaking of disappointments, Chiefs running back Larry Johnson just doesn't seem to have it this season. He's not getting a lot of room to operate, but he doesn't seem to be running nearly as physically as he did the last two years. Now that they're sitting at 0-5, what do the Dolphins have to lose? They might as well start rookie John Beck and see what they've got for next season (or whether they are going to have to spend their latest top 5 pick on a quarterback).