The Monday Night Football game just ended 2 hours ago (approximately), so that can only mean one thing: more Power Poll Rankings!!! (Note: last week's rank is in parentheses.)
32. Cleveland Browns 0-2 (27)
The chairman of the Japanese company I work for and the president of Honda (!) visited the plant I work at on Monday, so I got called in at 1:30 on Sunday to go in and help clean up. It was a pain, partially because I had a killer hangover, but mostly because I was going to miss the Browns. When my girlfriend called me to update me on the score of the Browns-Broncos game, it was a relief to know that I only had the hangover to be upset about.
31. St. Louis Rams 0-2 (32)
I still think that on a neutral field, the Browns would beat the Rams. Unfortunately, the Rams scored a (meaningful) touchdown before Cleveland did, so I have to put St. Louis higher.
30. Kansas City Chiefs 0-2 (23)
A week after scoring 24 points despite only 188 total yards of offense in their loss to the Ravens, the Chiefs put up 409 total yards but only 10 points in their loss to the Raiders. Maybe this week against the Eagles the yardage will match the point total (250-13?).
29. Detroit Lions 0-2 (26)
While they haven't looked terrible in losing to the Saints and the Vikings, the Lions haven't looked good, either. Of course, Detroit would have to look pretty damn good to extract any moral victories from their 18th and 19th straight losses.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0-2 (20)
Fantasy owners be aware: "The Statute" Byron Leftwich (572 yards, 4 TD) could be on his way to a Jon Kitna-type good-stats-on-a-bad-team season.
27. Washington Redskins 1-1 (21)
I can't think of the last time an NFL team won a game and actually made its fans feel worse about the rest of the season.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars 0-2 (16)
If you read my AFC South preview, you know I picked the Jags to bounce back this year behind a strong season from David Garrard. I'm willing to admit now that I was completely wrong. Garrard has decent stats (404 yards, 2 TD), but his completion percentage is at a Derek Anderson-esque 52.1, and he's never really put his team in a position to win. Even more troubling has to be Kurt Warner torching the D for a NFL-record (Jammin') 92.3 completion percentage, as well as the fact that a West Coast team notorious for mailing early East Coast games in jumped all over the Jags. It may be time to blow this thing up and move it to LA (did you see that opening day crowd?).
25. Oakland Raiders 1-1 (25)
JaMarcus Russell's day: 7-24, 109 yards, 0 TD, 46.0 rating. Of all the terrible things that have happened to the Browns (and Cleveland sports, in general), at least we didn't trade up for JaMarcus Russell.
24. Carolina Panthers 0-2 (31)
Jake Delhomme, it turns out, is actually an NFL-caliber player (25-41, 308 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), which is great news for the Panthers. The bad news is that if Delhomme didn't self-destruct and undermine any chance his team had for success, then the Falcons simply beat Carolina.
23. Miami Dolphins 0-2 (22)
I didn't see any of the Miami-Indy Monday Night game, so when I read that the Colts only had the ball for 15 minutes and still won, I was flabbergasted. How do you lose a game in which you have the ball for 75 percent of the time? I thought only the Bills lost games of this caliber.
22. Denver Broncos 2-0 (29)
The seven worst 2-0 teams since 2002 (with actual record in parentheses):
2002 Chicago Bears (4-12)
2003 Buffalo Bills (6-10)
2003 Washington Redskins (5-11)
2004 Detroit Lions (6-10)
2006 Minnesota Vikings (6-10)
2007 San Francisco 49ers (5-11)
2009 Denver Broncos (single digit-double digit)
21. Buffalo Bills 1-1 (24)
"If I lived in western New York, I'd be really excited about Trent Edwards. The presence, the poise, the accuracy and the playmaking in the first two games is one of the good stories of the early season."
"MVP of the Quarter: Trent Edwards, QB, Buffalo. My MVP is tied for 12th in touchdown passes with four, 10th in passing yards with 930 and 10th in passer rating at 93.5. But the Bills are 4-0, and the difference is an efficient quarterback who, like all the great ones, plays better when the game's on the line than any other time of the game.
The Bills trailed 16-10 at Jacksonville in the fourth quarter, and Edwards threw a beautiful rainbow to James Hardy in the corner of the end zone to win it. The Bills trailed Oakland by nine with six minutes left, and Edwards led scoring drives to win it. The Bills trailed St. Louis by eight at the half Sunday, and Buffalo put up 25 points in the last 30 minutes to rout the Rams. He's got the steady-handed Brady cool about him, too."
Trent Edwards's 2008 statistics: 65 C%, 2699 yards, 11 TD, 10 INT, 85.4 rating. Buffalo's 2008 record: 7-9. Peter King: idiot.
20. Green Bay Packers 1-1 (13)
After escaping Chicago by the skin of their teeth, the Packers were manhandled by Cedric Benson, Antwan Odom, and the Cincinnati Bengals--in Lambeau. If Brett Favre were alive, he would be one pissed off hombre right now.
19. Seattle Seahawks 1-1 (6)
18. Arizona Cardinals 1-1 (19)
17. San Francisco 49ers 2-0 (18)
The 49ers are in early control of the NFC Worst (see what I did there?), and it may come down to them and the Cardinals if Matt Hasselbeck is out for an extended period of time.
16. Tennessee Titans 0-2 (9)
The eleven best 0-2 teams since 2002 (with actual record in parentheses):
2002 Atlanta Falcons (9-6-1)+
2002 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5-1) +
2003 Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)+
2005 San Diego Chargers (9-7)
2005 Minnesota Vikings (9-7)
2006 Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)+
2007 New York Giants (10-6) &
2008 Miami Dolphins (11-5)+
2008 Minnesota Vikings (10-6)+
2008 San Diego Chargers (8-8)+
2009 Tennessee Titans (number larger-than this number, possible Wild Card berth)
+ denotes playoffs
& denotes Super Bowl winner
15. Cincinnati Bengals 1-1 (28)
14. Houston Texans 1-1 (30)
Both teams bounced back from tough opening weeks to get huge road wins in tough environments. Cincinnati proved their defense might be legit, while the Texans showed that their offense is just fine (just not as good as the Jets defense). Cincinnati should be 2-0, and, unlike Denver, I think the Bengals actually deserve it.
13. Dallas Cowboys 1-1 (12)
Zero sacks in two games for a defense that had 58 a year ago spells more 33-31 games in the Cowboys' future, which, when coupled with the cage dancers, make the new Cowboys Stadium a pretty exciting place to be.
12. Philadelphia Eagles 1-1 (2)
A week after picking off Jake Delhomme 5 times, the Eagles' secondary gets torched for 311 yards by Drew Brees. The actual quality of the Philly DBs probably lies somewhere in the middle, but it won't matter much either way if Donovan McNabb doesn't get back in the lineup soon.
11. New England Patriots 1-1 (8)
10. San Diego Chargers 1-1 (7)
After each of these teams barely beat far inferior opponents in week 1, they followed it up with losses in week 2 to fellow playoff contenders. The Pats got mauled by Rex Ryan and his fightin' Jets, while the Chargers squandered the best game of Philip Rivers's career (25/45, 436 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) against Rex Ryan's former fightin' Ravens. We've seen both teams bounce back enough to expect these week 2 losses to be nothing but speed bumps, but there does have to be some concern that New England may finally be going Danny Glover* and that the stink of Norv Turner has penetrated too deeply into the psyche of San Diego to be overcome.
*They're too old for this shit.
9. Atlanta Falcons 2-0 (14)
Matt Ryan looks amazing, which means I may be wrong about him for the second straight year of his 2-year career.
8. Chicago Bears 1-1 (17)
The Bears out-uglied the ugliest of them all, the Steelers, and Jay Cutler made some throws that were absolutely ridiculous. The Bears got a little lucky, though...
7. Pittsburgh Steelers 1-1 (1)
...because if Jeff Reed doesn't miss two field goals in the 4th quarter, Pittsburgh steals (ZING!) another game. I can only hope and pray that those misses get inside Reed's head, since what good is a play-like-shit-and-then-win-it-by-2-in-the-final-1:30 strategy without a reliable kicker?
6. Minnesota Vikings 2-0 (11)
The Vikings just have a feel like last year's Steelers; they're just going to keep plugging along, winning in uninteresting ways (other than the occasional Adrian Peterson highlight), and the next thing you know, they have a first round bye in the playoffs. Two things, however, are working against Minnesota that weren't issues for the Steelers: Brad Childress (despite his beard, which isn't fooling anyone) is a terrible coach, and Brett Favre can't throw the ball farther than 11 yards. Let's see how good the Vikings are after teams start daring Favre to go long (or after they play a team that isn't Cleveland or Detroit).
5. Baltimore Ravens 2-0 (15)
It looks like the Ravens have finally found an offense (34.5 points per game); unfortunately for Baltimore, the defense (25 points per game) seems to be quietly slipping (despite what Ray Lewis's GREATEST PLAY EVER would have you believe).
4. Indianapolis Colts 2-0 (4)
Peyton Manning throws for 300 yards, and Miami doesn't win by 30, so the correct probability rating (based on fact) of my experiment would be:
Manning throws for 300 1
Miami wins by 30 2
Miami wins by 30 and Manning throws for 300 3
Nobody responded (well, my cousin Kenny did, but unfortunately he was a little late), but the point wasn't to try to predict the outcome of Monday night's game, but to illustrate the difficulties the human brain has in dealing with probabilities. Most people would rate the 3rd option as more likely than the 2nd, but they would be misguided by the combination of a probable event (Manning throwing for 300) with an improbable event (Miami winning by 30). It is much more probable for only one of these events to occur, not both simultaneously, and since Peyton Manning is likely to throw for 300 yards while Miami is unlikely to win by 30, the correct order of probability is as shown above. (For a much better explanation of this idea and more like it, check out The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow.)
3. New York Jets 2-0 (5)
2. New Orleans Saints 2-0 (10)
Drew Brees continues to be ridiculous (25-34, 311 yards, 3 TD), while Mike Bell (86 yards, 1 TD) continues to provide a little pop to the passing game's circumstance (ugh). If the Saints' defense can continue to hold opponents in the mid- to low-twenties, then the Saints could be looking at a first round bye. The Jets, meanwhile, completely shut down two of the best offenses in the league while putting their charismatic rookie quarterback in all kinds of positions to look good (that's what she said). I'm becoming more and more convinced that not only should the Browns have held on to the Mark Sanchez pick, they also should have hired Rex Ryan instead of Eric Mangina (I can't be stopped!).
1. New York Giants 2-0 (3)
Although they barely beat the Cowboys, and Tony Romo and Felix Jones kept giving them the ball, New York's win in the first-ever game at Jerry Jones's new palace is still pretty darn impressive. Eli Manning looked fantastic (25-38, 330 yards, 2 TD), as did Steve Smith and Mario Manningham. The defense did get beat up a bit on the ground, but Justin Tuck was knocked out of the game early on a dirty trip by Flozell Adams, so I'm going to hold off on marking that down as a weakness just yet.