Tuesday, October 4, 2011
NFL Power Rankings: Giants top 10?
By Dan Graziano
It's Power Rankings day here at ESPN.com, and the new rankings are hot and fresh and ready to be picked apart. A look at where our four teams fit in:
10. New York Giants (last week: 12): All right. Many of you say I'm too skeptical of the Giants. And you may be right. But I think our Power Rankings voters have taken it too far in the opposite direction. Because if the Giants are one of the 10 best teams in the NFL, then I'm a pineapple. I mean, seriously? The Giants? The team that had to fake an injury to beat the Rams? The team that needed a lucky break on an official's call to beat the Cardinals? Good for them for being 3-1, but I see a team that has gotten a few nice breaks, taken advantage of some opportunities and limited its own mistakes. The underlying, fundamental stuff doesn't scream "sustainable" to me. They don't run the ball well. They don't stop the run at all. Their success seems totally tied into Eli Manning's ability to stay away from mistakes, and do we really think he's not going to throw another interception all year? Add in a tough second-half schedule and the Giants' recent history of gagging in December, and I'd be a little more skeptical if I were voting on this. To me, this ranking means teams like the Jets, Steelers, Bears, Cowboys, Falcons and obviously Eagles should be at least as ashamed of their poor starts as the Giants are proud of their hot one.
12. Washington Redskins (16). Another nice jump for the Redskins as they head into their bye. Washington's rankings so far this year have been 28, 19, 15, 16 and now 12. So they and the ninth-ranked Buffalo Bills are the cool surprise teams of the league so far this year. I think 12 seems a little bit high for the Redskins, and I don't think in the long run they turn out to be better than the teams ranked right behind them, which are the Steelers and the Jets. And I can't write that Manning is a good bet to throw more interceptions the rest of the way and then ignore Rex Grossman, who's already started. But the Redskins seem to have a running game/defense formula that should keep them around this middle of the pack the rest of the year, even if they do slip a little bit once they're done playing NFC West teams.
17. Dallas Cowboys (11). Dallas suffered the second-biggest drop of the week (after the Jets' seven-spot drop), which is amazing. Consider that they had a 24-point second-half lead on the team ranked fourth in this poll. Had they held that lead, the Cowboys could conceivably have moved up as high as fourth or fifth in the poll this week. Instead, 17 with a 2-2 record at the bye and fresh questions about the reliability of Week 2 and Week 3 hero Tony Romo. The Cowboys are the roller-coaster (or Romo-Coaster) team of the league this year, and I don't expect this to be the last wild swing they make before it's over.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (17). This team was the third-ranked team in the poll just three weeks ago. And in the three weeks since, they've held fourth-quarter leads in each of their games only to lose them. The league's most disappointing team isn't going to get any breaks from voters, and it shouldn't. They're clearly more talented, player-by-player, than quite of few of the team ranked ahead of them. But they don't actually play football very well -- especially not when and where it counts the most -- and so the results say 1-3 and closer to the bottom of the pack than the top. Starting to get a bit of a 2010 Cowboys vibe about this team, and I don't know if you remember back that far, but that wasn't good.