Smile Politely

The Polite Power Rankings: Week 8

Veteran sportswriter Roger Kahn has given us this gem: “Football is violence and cold weather and sex and college rye.” Well, I don’t feel comfortable besmirching the pages of Smile Politely with talk of violence or sex or, um, college rye, so let’s just stick with the weather. It’s getting cold now, which makes all true football fans happy. After all, it’s when the cold weather comes that the NFL’s competition heats up. This coming weekend will not disappoint.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (1)

One of the keys to Pittsburgh’s success is an offensive line that can keep the opposing defense away from Ben Roethlisberger — and they did a perfect job of this on Sunday, allowing zero sacks. Another key: The Steelers defense racks up some sacks of their own. Sunday? They had seven. Now the four-game test begins, starting with the Super Bowl champs from New York.

2. Tennessee Titans (2)

What’s amazing is that the Titans tallied 34 points against the Chiefs on Sunday, yet Tennessee QB Kerry Collins didn’t throw a single TD. But LenDale White carried three over the goal line and the defense kept Kansas City off balance all day long. This Sunday the Titans will have the chance to get over the Indianapolis hurdle — no small feat, psychologically at least.

3. New York Giants (3)

The Giants have won four at home and the infamous Eli Manning moping has gone away again. This is a team that’s stacked on both sides of the ball, and there’s no doubt that they’re looking to prove their gridiron supremacy but knocking off the Steelers this Sunday. But they have to go into Heinz Stadium to do it — and Heinz is no easy place to rope a victory.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4)

One of the first things you notice when you look at the Sunday’s box score for the Bucs game against the Seahawks is that the Bucs defense only had 40 tackles while the Seahawks had 87. Not surprising, of course, given that the Bucs had the ball for 41+ minutes compared to the Seahawks’ 18+. This is proof enough that the wise and talented Jeff Garcia is getting back to form.

5. Buffalo Bills (9)

Trent Edwards is showing the world that he’s ready to play with the best of ’em. Only one TD on Sunday, sure, but he went 25/30 and didn’t throw a single pick, leading the Bills to a victory against a disappointing but nonetheless talented San Diego team. And what makes the Bills so strong is that the rest of the team is stepping up around him.

6. Washington Redskins (5)

7. Philadelphia Eagles (6)

8. Carolina Panthers (13)

When you manage to walk all over a division foe that many considered a Super Bowl contender coming into the season (as the Panthers did Sunday against the Saints), lifting your record to 5–2, you earn respect. A few more decisive wins, and you actually get a seat at the Table of Top Dogs.

9. Arizona Cardinals (12)

10. Chicago Bears (11)

I know, I know—even in this Bears-happy corner of the world, football fans are wary to give the Bears too heavy a pat on the back. No, they’re not the most consistent team on earth, but when Kyle Orton tosses two TDs and throws for almost 300 yards to lead your team to a 48–41 win against a familiar enemy, you have to feel like something’s working right in Chicago.

11. Dallas Cowboys (5)

12. Green Bay Packers (17)

13. New England Patriots (22)

Look, I’m not saying the Pats of old are back. But did you watch that game on Monday night? As strange it sounds, though, they’d better watch out for the suddenly hungry Rams who are coming to Foxboro this weekend.

14. Atlanta Falcons (17)

15. Indianapolis Colts (10)

16. New York Jets (12)

17. Baltimore Ravens (26)

18. Jacksonville Jaguars (19)

19. San Diego Chargers (16)

20. Minnesota Vikings (20)

21. New Orleans Saints (15)

What’s with teams that should be good playing erratically and, often, just plain badly? (Chargers, this question is directed at you, too.)

22. Houston Texans (24)

23. Denver Broncos (18)

24. St. Louis Rams (28)

25. Cleveland Browns (23)

26. Miami Dolphins (21)

27. San Francisco 49ers (25)

28. Seattle Seahawks (27)

29. Oakland Raiders (32)

30. Kansas City Chiefs (29)

31. Detroit Lions (31)

32. Cincinnati Bengals (32)

Welcome to trough, gentlemen. And thank you for imparting an important lesson to all the kids out there: Too many hoodlums in one place does not a good football team make.

Related Articles