And now, prepare for some tremendous overreaction....
I've done my best not to knee-jerk on these rankings too badly, but it's difficult to find the middle ground between what I thought going into this week and what really happened. Are the Eagles true Super Bowl contenders or are they a team that barely squeaked by the Browns? How high up should teams like Denver and Dallas, who weren't on the board last week, rise after toppling teams who were ranked like Pittsburgh and New York?
No folks, the Top 12 ain't easy, but somebody's got to do it.
#1 - New England Patriots
The Patriots did nothing to shake my confidence in them during Week 1. In fact, I'm actually feeling even better about them heading into the opener. The defense has been rejuvenated. After years of waiting for a pass rush to develop, the Pats finally have one, and NOBODY is going to be able to run against that defensive front four. (Take note, Baltimore and Houston.) Yes, the Niners win over the Packers was impressive and they've become America's sweethearts, but I have no reason to think that the Patriots wouldn't have won in Lambeau also, given how good they looked on Sunday.
Last Week: 1 Change: 0 Record: 1-0 Next Game: vs. Cardinals
#2 - San Francisco 49ers
I said San Francisco would have to prove they weren't one-year wonders to rise in the rankings, and that's just what they did. There's only one team in the league right now that makes me sweat as a Pats fan, and they're it. Still, I have to think the improvements in the New England defense would give the Patriots and advantage the Packers didn't have. I guess we'll have to wait and see in Week 15.
Last Week: 5 Change: +3 Record: 1-0 Next Game: vs. Lions
#3 - Baltimore Ravens
I thought the Ravens were likely to take a step back this season due to a declining defense. What I didn't take into account was the improvements they have appeared to make on offense. Needless to say, their Week 3 clash with the Pats is shaping up to be epic.
Last Week: 4 Change: +1 Record: 1-0 Next Game: @ Eagles
#4 - Green Bay Packers
I refuse to murder the Packers like most others out there. A lot of rankings had them dropping from #1, all the way down to #5 or #6. Give me a break. It's going to take a lot more than a loss to a powerhouse like San Fran to make me disregard a team that was 15-1 last year. If it weren't for me wanting to show the Ravens some respect, the Pack probably would only have dropped to #3.
Last Week: 2 Change: -2 Record: 0-1 Next Game: vs. Bears
#5 - Houston Texans
The Texans did nothing to deserve a two-spot drop. It's just that in retrospect, I feel that I underestimated the Niners and Ravens. By default, somebody has to go down.
Last Week: 3 Change: -2 Record: 0-0 Next Game: @ Jaguars
#6 - Chicago Bears
The failure of some teams ranked above them, allowed for the Bears' rise to #6 this week. That, and the fact that their offense looked pretty stinking good. If they really want to soar, then they need to take care of business on Thursday Night against what should be a very motivated Packers team.
Last Week: 10 Change: +4 Record: 10-0 Next Game: @ Packers
#7 - Atlanta Falcons
Like the Bears, the Falcons were a team I had some questions about, who pulled off a solid performance in Week 1. Needless to say, dropping Peyton Manning on Monday Night will be a much taller task than dispatching the Chiefs.
Last Week: 11 Change: +4 Record: 1-0 Next Game: @ Broncos
#8 - Dallas Cowboys
This seems a bit high for a team that wasn't ranked last week, but by default, they deserve to be a spot above the Giants. At any rate, nobody below them made a strong case for deserving to be #8, so the spot goes to The Boys.
Last Week: N/A Change: N/A Record: 1-0 Next Game: @ Seahawks
#9 - New York Giants
I don't want to murder the Giants for losing a close game (oh wait, of course I do!), so a three spot drop seems a bit steep. Still, the Falcons and Bears both had strong showings, and I think giving the G-Men the 6-spot last week was a tad generous. So with that in mind, this ranking feels just right.
Last Week: 6 Change: -3 Record: 0-1 Next Game: vs. Buccaneers
#10 - New Orleans Saints
It wasn't pretty for the Saints this week. It might not be so pretty until they stabilize their coaching situation again. This is a big game for the Saints this week, as an 0-2 start would spell big trouble in the Big Easy.
Last Week: 7 Change: -3 Record: 0-1 Next Game: @ Panthers
#11 - Denver Broncos
I still have to go with Brees over Manning at this point, which is why I put the Broncos at #11 this week.. Still, my old enemy looked rather impressive in his first game back. Now it's just a question of how he and his team hold up during the next 15 tough ones.
Last Week: N/A Change: N/A Record: 1-0 Next Game: vs. Falcons
#12 - Detroit Lions
After a lackluster performance against the Rams, the Lions get to hold onto the 12th spot simply because nobody has convinced me that they should have it. They will need to show up this week against San Fran, or they won't be on the board much longer.
Last Week: 12 Change: 0 Record: 0-0 Next Game: @ 49ers