- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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It's time for the Week 8 edition of the Playbook NFL Power Rankings. We are at the halfway point of the NFL season. Consider this the intermission. Please tip the bathroom attendant after you are done reading.
1. Things that can’t be unseen (Last week: NR)
Yeah, those 1934 Pittsburgh Steelers throwback uniforms. Wow. Fun Fact(s): The 1934 Steelers were 2-10. Warren Heller was their quarterback. He had a 27.7 completion percentage and threw two touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The team scored 51 points all season, an average of 4.25 per game. I could go on, but my point is made: The uniforms were perhaps the most attractive part of the 1934 Steelers.
2. Trade deadline (Last week: NR)
Oh, right! This is that week every year when we remember the NFL has a trade deadline. It’s also the week when we remember that the NFL doesn’t really do trades. Still, though: I heard Tebow is getting traded to your favorite team. For reals!
3. Andy Reid’s farewell tour (Last week: 1)
That Juan Castillo firing didn’t work out too well, but don’t worry, Eagles fans -- Reid could go to Nick Foles any week now! The third-round pick who quarterbacked the Arizona Wildcats to a 4-8 season last year will surely restore the Eagles' dynasty.
4. Putting the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl (Last week: 4)
Atlanta’s final nine opponents have a combined record of 27-38, and they play only one team with a winning record from here on out –- the New York Giants at home in Week 15. With a four-game lead in the woeful NFC South, it might be time to start resting starters.
5. Norv Turner’s inevitable dismissal (Last week: 3)
Norval is fixing what ails the Chargers. Unlike on "Monday Night Football" two games ago against the Broncos, San Diego did not blow a huge lead against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Progress. Four! More! Years! Four! More! Years! Four! More! Years!
6. The rolling calamity that is the Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 1)
Asked by reporters after Sunday’s loss to the Raiders why Jamaal Charles didn’t get more than five carries, Romeo Crennel said: “Now, that I’m not exactly sure.” Hmm. Does Crennel know he is the head coach of a real team and not just some guy running an awful fantasy team? He can actually control how many times his players touch the ball. It’s pretty great. He should totally try it.
7. TV ratings (Last week: 11)
The Giants-Tigers World Series had record-low TV ratings. You know Roger Goodell will bring that up to Bud Selig the next time the four sports’ commissioners get together for a terrible idea brainstorming session.
8. Bye weeks (Last week: 9)
Bad: The bye weeks have limited the number of games we get to watch. Good: But they also allowed almost the entire nation to schadenfreude its way through the Cowboys' blowout/comeback/crushing defeat.
9. Putting the New York Giants in the Super Bowl (Last week: 13)
Two of the last four champions in the major sports have been named Giants. That percentage could go up even higher because hockey doesn’t exist.
10. Freaking out about the Cowboys (Last week: 18)
Andy Reid and Norv Turner are always mentioned as the NFL’s foremost perpetual hot-seat-sitters, but at least they’ve had a few years of success and job security. (To younger readers: Really, this is true. Look it up.) Jason Garrett, however, has been on the cusp of losing his job from Day 1 thanks to his underachieving team. Yet there he still stands. Have to respect that?
11. Reading about RG3 becoming the new NFL quarterback prototype (Last week: 5)
RG3 this week in The Charlotte Observer, on comparisons between him and Cam Newton: “We're just two totally different people. Our bodies are different. The way we play the game is totally different." What the? Is this true? And is Griffin implying that player comparisons shouldn’t be done solely on the basis of race? I ... I don’t know. This could shake the foundation of football player evaluation. I’m not sure we’re ready for a world in which, for example, all white receivers aren’t classified as either a Stokley- or Welker-type player. Comparing players is going to take way more thought now. Ugh. Exhausting.
12. Forgetting Andrew Luck exists (Last week: 7)
Go away, guy. No one is impressed by your consistent progress or boring, wild-card contending 4-3 record. You’ll never be half as exciting as RG3. Scram!
13. Reading negative stories about Cam Newton (Last week: 6)
This week saw the backlash to the backlash. While that was happening, the Panthers lost again. Don’t expect to see any backlash to general Panthers criticism. That all is completely warranted.
14. Peyton Manning (Last week: 21)
Ol’ Frankeneck suddenly has the Broncos at 4-3 and is leading the NFL in passer rating. He feels so secure in Denver, he’s even signed on as the owner of 21 Papa John’s franchises in the area. Chances are, now that the bottom line affects him, he’s regretting that two million free pizzas offer. If he’d like to take the commercial off the air, that would be fine. No one would miss it.
15. Scoring (Last week: 12)
You may have noticed that scoring was down this week. Especially if you are a Chargers fan.
16. Rams kicking things (Last week: 10)
In a brilliant bit of scheduling, the NFL sent off to London the Rams -- the NFL’s most soccer-like team -- and the Patriots, featuring Tom Brady, the NFL’s most soccer superstar-like player. Everyone did their part. The Rams punted a lot and Tom Brady put on fancy clothes and stayed married to a model.
17. Packers celebrations (Last week: 8 )
There wasn’t much to celebrate in slipping past the Jaguars at home, but Donald Driver is wisely taking advantage of his final years in the NFL.
18. Freaking out about the Jets (Last week: 19)
The Sanchise threw 54 times on Sunday. Tebow ran the ball one time. There’s probably a happy medium in there somewhere.
19. Putting the Houston Texans in the Super Bowl (Last week: 14)
They had a bye week, and now they have the Bills. We’ll catch back up with them in a few weeks when they start playing an NFL schedule again.
20. Putting the 49ers in the Super Bowl (Last week: 22)
Word is Alex Smith had a huge game on "Monday Night Football." But much of the national media didn’t see that game because they were without power due to Sandy. If the East Coast doesn’t see it, it basically didn’t happen! Ha-ha, Smith! STILL NOT ELITE.
21. “Madden” curse (Last week: 21)
Wait. People really believe in that? Oh, to have a receiver with Calvin Johnson’s “struggles.” He’s on pace to finish the season with 93 catches and 1,458 yards. Worst best receiver EVER.
22. Injuries (Last week: 15)
Not many NFL injuries this week. But, hey, Shanahans: maybe don’t send your supposedly fragile quarterback out as a receiver into the NFL’s most head-hunting defense. If Roger Goodell is going to fine defense players who use their heads, he should also fine coaches who don’t.
23. Jay Cutler being Jay Cutler (Last week: 23)
This guy had better start losing on game-ending pick-sixes and scowling at teammates or he’s going to find himself falling out of the power rankings. Winning and lack of drama is not your narrative, sir. Knock it off.
24. Chris Johnson being the worst player ever (Last week: 16)
He’s had a 91-yard game followed by a 195-yard game followed by a 99-yard game. His inconsistency is much more palatable when he puts up 90 yards in a bad game instead of nine.
25. Putting the Patriots in the Super Bowl (Last week: 26)
Why did the NFL make them fly all the way to England to beat the Rams? That’s wasting tens of thousands of dollars on jet fuel to fly across the ocean to step on a bug. Not very green.
26. Naughty language (Last week: 17)
Jim Harbaugh, of all people, is responsible for naughty language plummeting in the power rankings this week. Here is what he said on those who say Alex Smith has a fragile psyche: “I think it's just a lot of gobble, gobble, turkey. Just gobble, gobble, funk-jive turkey gobblers.” Gobble, gobble turkey? It’s like he used up all of his profanity on referees and was tragically left with a 3-year-old’s curse vocabulary.
27. Roger Goodell (Last week: 31)
The ongoing NHL lockout, David Stern’s announced retirement and Bud Selig’s charismatic trophy-presenting took the commissionering spotlight off of Goodell for a week. So even though it’s likely he still made some awful decisions, we’ll bump him up a few spots.
28. Defense (Last week: 20)
When the NFL’s most dominant defensive player is in pictures like this, defense is dead.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) October 31, 2012
29. Jonathan Dwyer’s fantasy stock (Last week: NR)
The Steelers running back has been called “the next Jerome Bettis.” He has also been called “big-boned.” Some have said he has “a nice personality.” The point is this: Saying someone is fat is rude. Don’t do it.
30. Saying Joe Flacco is ELITE (Last week: 32)
Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson said this week that Michael Vick is “still elite,” so who’s to say that Flacco isn’t ELITE? The word obviously has lost all meaning. He’s ELITE, you’re ELITE, I’m ELITE, EVERYONE IS ELITE!
31. Brandon Weeden jokes (Last week: 30)
Brandon Weeden has two 300-yard passing games this season. The NFL record for a rookie quarterback is four by Peyton Manning in 1998. Brandon Weeden could set an NFL rookie record for something other than jokes about his age. Stunning. I am stunned. No joke.
32. Tim Tebow (Last week: 24)
Whoever thought it would come to this? Tim Tebow, America’s most overpublicized athlete, barely having enough buzz to hold on to the final spot in the Playbook NFL Power Rankings. Being associated with and forgotten by the Jets has so dimmed Tebow’s star that he didn’t even have the wherewithal to walk shirtless out into Sandy’s rains.
Dropping out: Despicable fan behavior, Paul Tagliabue, Putting the Ravens in the Super Bowl.