What am I supposed to do with these rankings after the complete debacle that was Week 3 of the NFL? Do I take into account which team won or which team should have won? I have no idea. The best thing I can do is take a cue from the replacement ref - throw a yellow flag, make a completely arbitrary judgement call, and hope that I screw over each team evenly so it all sorts out in the end.
#1 - Atlanta Falcons
The top two spots could go either way right now. In my heart, I think that Houston is probably the better team. However, based on what we've actuall seen, I think the Falcons convincing victories over KC, Denver, and San Diego hold a little more weight than Houston's victories over Miami, Jacksonville, and Denver.
Last Week: 4 Change: +3 Record: 3-0 Next Game: vs. Panthers
#2 - Houston Texans
The Texans have had a fairly easy road thus far, and guess what? It's not getting that much harder. The Pats are going to have to run off a serious streak of wins, including their Week 10 match-up with the Texans if they plan on winning the AFC's top seed.
Last Week: 3 Change: +1 Record: 3-0 Next Game: vs. Titans
#3 - New England Patriots
Call me a homer if you must. I don't care if they are 1-2. The Patriots don't deserve to be. It took a series of bad breaks (a tipped interception, a blocked punt, a missed field goal), an atrocious holding call, a major injury to Aaron Hernandez, and some sub-par play for the Pats to fall to the Cardinals. It took an entire game of piss-poor officiating for them to lose to Baltimore. The lost both games by a combined three points. Give me this team on a neutral field, with real refs, against any team, and I'd pick them to win every day of the week. They might not win every day of the week, but I'd like their chances to.
Last Week: 6 Change: +3 Record: 1-2 Next Game: @ Bills
#4 - San Francisco 49ers
I try to avoid killing teams in the rankings for bad days, but Sunday was a really, really bad day. Losing a tight game to an inferior opponent happens. Getting the smack down laid on you is gonna drop you a good amount.
Last Week: 1 Change: -3 Record: 2-1 Next Game: @ Jets
#5 - Baltimore Ravens
I have all the respect in the world for the Ravens. They always play the Pats tough and the games are as entertaining as they come. I almost wish they were in the AFC East so that we'd be guaranteed for another rematch this season. That being said, they were outplayed on Sunday Night, plain and simple. And even if you want to take the refs out of the equation, with their tremendous home-field advantage, if they were truly better than New England, they should've won by more than a point.
Last Week: 5 Change: 0 Record: 2-1 Next Game: vs. Browns
#6 - Green Bay Packers
I feel like I'm creating a huge double standard here by raising the Patriots multiple spots after getting screwed, while dropping the Packers by a relatively large amount after theirs. Here's my logic... First, the difference right now between #1 and #6 is razor-thin in my book. I probably wouldn't rank Green Bay #1 or the Falcons or Texans #6, but they're all still pretty close. Secondly, I was intentionally harsh to the Pats last week, and actually a bit nice to the Packers. So you can probably adjust last week's ranking by 1-2 points, which makes the change less dramatic. Thirdly, there's a difference between playing down to the level of an inferior opponent where one bad call by the ref can ruin the game for you, and getting killed all night long by awful calls that swung the game 20+ points out of your favor.
Last Week: 2 Change: -4 Record: 1-2 Next Game: vs. Saints
#7 - Arizona Cardinals
The Cards are for real! The defense is solid, and the offense is getting it done. I still don't know if I'd want Kevin Kolb as my QB in a playoff game, but this team is knocking on the door and asking to be let into the upper eschelon.
Last Week: 12 Change: +5 Record: 3-0 Next Game: vs. Dolphins
#8 - New York Giants
The G-Men had their first good-looking win of the season against the Panthers. If they can string another one together, they will begin to convince me that they belong in the top half of these rankings..
Last Week: 11 Change: +3 Record: 2-1 Next Game: @ Eagles
#9 - Chicago Bears
The Bears did what they needed to do against St. Louis. They may be 2-1, but victories against the Colts and Rams will only get you so far. Monday Night in Dallas will be their true test to move up the board.
Last Week: 9 Change: 0 Record: 2-1 Next Game: @ Cowboys
#10 - San Diego Chargers
I can't kill the Bolts for losing to the #1 team on the board. I question whether the Chargers are actually better than the two teams below them. However, based on the evidence they have displayed so far, I will have to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Last Week: N/A Change: N/A Record: 2-1 Next Game: @ Chiefs
#11 - Seattle Seahawks
Surprise, surprise! The Hawks were not a team that I was expecting to crack the Top 12 this season. However, considering they thrashed the #12 team, almost beat the #7 team, and were close enough to the #6 team that the refs were able to turn the game with a single call, I'd say #11 is a reasonable spot for them.
Last Week: N/A Change: N/A Record: 2-1 Next Game: @ Rams
#12 - Dallas Cowboys
For me, this one came down to the Cowboys or the Eagles. I opted to go with the team who didn't turn the ball over thirty-seven gabillion times in three games.
Last Week: N/A Change: N/A Record: 2-1 Next Game: vs. Bears