Week 10 rankings: Perfect Patriots possible
By Dennis Dillon - SportingNews
The '72 Dolphins can keep that bubbly on ice. But they shouldn't count on popping the cork this year.
After beating the Colts in the Game of the Century, everyone is wondering if the Patriots can run the table and complete a perfect season. Given their schedule, they can. Of their remaining opponents (Buffalo, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Jets, Miami and Giants), only the Steelers and Giants look like they could give New England a competitive battle.
Even though it didn't produce the offensive fireworks most people expected, Sunday's game in Indianapolis wasn't lacking in big plays or dramatic moments. No matter what team you were rooting for, I'm guessing your blood pressure spiked several times throughout the game.
The Patriots were on the ropes in the fourth quarter, but Tom Brady brought them back. What a surprise. He's on his way to a record-breaking season and we might as well hand him the league MVP award right now. Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte' Stallworth -- receivers acquired in the offseason -- all played important roles in New England's victory.
And let's not overlook the contributions of reserve running back Kevin Faulk and defensive lineman Jarvis Green. Faulk took a pass from Brady and turned it into a 13-yard, game-winning TD as he dove across the goal line. When Green stripped Manning of the ball on the ensuing Colts possession, it popped into the arms of linebacker Rosevelt Colvin. Game over.
Yes, the Colts lost. But they stood toe-to-toe with New England for almost 58 minutes -- and no other team has been able to do that this season. Their defense played well for most of the game, Joseph Addai looked like the second coming of Barry Sanders and Peyton Manning was his usual pillar of consistency until a late fumble. And don't forget: Indy played without wide receiver Marvin Harrison and some other starters.
The Colts have nothing to hang their heads about. They remain the No. 2 team in the league (a lot of their fans still insist they're the best) and there's a good chance they'll meet New England again in the AFC championship game.
But for now, there's no debate. The Patriots are in a class by themselves.
Now, here is this week's power poll.
Rk. Team Record Prev.
1. New England Patriots 9-0 (1)
The road to Super Bowl 42 runs through Foxboro -- but you probably knew that already.
2. Indianapolis Colts 7-1 (2)
There's still a chance they could go 15-1.
3. Dallas Cowboys 7-1 (3)
Give Tony Romo that first paycheck from his new $67 million contract. He earned it.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers 6-2 (4)
Roethlisberger was a towering Big Ben vs. Baltimore.
5. Green Bay Packers 7-1 (5)
Winning at Denver and at Kansas City in a span of six days is remarkable.
6. New York Giants 6-2 (6)
They can make a statement by winning Sunday's rematch against Dallas.
7. Tennessee Titans 6-2 (7)
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz can expect some head coaching interviews after this season.
8. Detroit Lions 6-2 (10)
Who would have predicted it? Other than Jon Kitna, I mean.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars 5-3 (8)
Their vaunted defense took a big hit against New Orleans.
10. Washington Redskins 5-3 (13)
Jason Campbell's next touchdown pass to a wide receiver will be his first of the season.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-4 (14)
The Bucs must run the ball better to contend for the division title.
12. San Diego Chargers 4-4 (9)
Hey, Philip Rivers, how do you like playing football indoors?
13. Cleveland Browns 5-3 (17)
Imagine how good the Browns would be if they had a defense.
14. New Orleans Saints 4-4 (21)
Don't laugh. After starting 0-4, the Saints have a shot at finishing 12-4.
15. Baltimore Ravens 4-4 (12)
There's a reason why Steve McNair looks like a beat-up, 34-year-old quarterback. He is.
16. Seattle Seahawks 4-4 (11)
The best thing the Seahawks have going for them right now is that they're in the weak NFC West.
17. Carolina Panthers 4-4 (15)
Besides winless Miami and St. Louis, the Panthers are the only team which hasn't won a game at home.
18. Kansas City Chiefs 4-4 (16)
If a foot injury keeps Larry Johnson out for long, the Chiefs are going to need a Priest.
19. Buffalo Bills 4-4 (22)
Props to Dick Jauron for keeping the Bills competitive after an 0-3 start and a long list of injuries.
20. Minnesota Vikings 3-5 (25)
What's next for Adrian Peterson? Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record?
21. Arizona Cardinals 3-5 (19)
When Kurt Warner said he was disgusted and embarrassed after the Cardinals' loss to Tampa Bay, do you think he was talking about his two interceptions or his 26.0 passer rating?
22. Houston Texans 4-5 (24)
Enjoy your open week, boys. Your next three games are vs. New Orleans, at Cleveland and at Tennessee.
23. Chicago Bears 3-5 (23)
Does Brian Urlacher have a back injury? Only Jay Glazer knows for sure.
24. Denver Broncos 3-5 (18)
If you throw out the 41 points San Diego scored and the 44 Minnesota scored, the Broncos have played pretty good defense.
25. Philadelphia Eagles 3-5 (20)
The Eagles can't even get a little brotherly love from their own fans.
26. Cincinnati Bengals 2-6 (26)
Marvin Lewis could be on the endangered coaches list.
27. Atlanta Falcons 2-6 (29)
Does the team's first home blackout since 2001 mean the fans are upset Michael Vick isn't showing up or that the Falcons are?
28. Oakland Raiders 2-6 (27)
Time to see what JaMarcus Russell can do. The only thing the Raiders have to lose is eight more games.
29. San Francisco 49ers 2-6 (28)
It's not looking like this 49ers-Alex Smith relationship is working out.
30. New York Jets 1-8 (30)
Leon Washington (three kick returns for TDs) is providing some pizzazz in an otherwise dismal season.
31. Miami Dolphins 0-8 (31)
Wonder if the Dolphins miss Wes Welker.
32. St. Louis Rams 0-8 (32)
Most teams come out of their open week healthier. The Rams lost DE Leonard Little (torn toe ligament) for the season.
Dennis Dillon is a staff writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at [email protected]