The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

THE BELTWAY BANDIT POWER POLL: WEEK 9 -- Two of the top three teams in the world's most prestigious power poll were enjoying a well-deserved rest during their bye week, but we still see the shifting strength of the NFL reflected in our latest edition. Two things are clear: the AFC is the class of the league and the class of the league includes four teams right now.

01. Kansas City Chiefs [8-0]: Even on a bye week, clearly the best in the NFL. [No change]

02. Indianapolis Colts [7-1]: Peyton Manning is having his best year and leading Indy to unfamiliar territory: Dominance. [No change]

03. Tennessee Titans [6-2]: A bye week to help the Titans rest and get healthy is just what they needed. McNair is poised to lead them into the second half of the season and a fierce battle with the Colts for the championship of the AFC South.

04. New England Patriots [7-2]: Like him or not, Bill Belichick is the best head coach in the NFL right now. [+2]

05. Seattle Seahawks [6-2]: The dropoff from the top teams in the league begins here. While the Seahawks are clearly better than they were last year, the fact that they're the best team in the NFC right now illustrates not the strength of the Seahawks, but the embarrassing weakness of the senior football conference. [+5]

06. Carolina Panthers [6-2]: Stephen Davis rushes for more than 150 yards, the defense gives up only two touchdowns, and the Panthers still manage to lose? That's a warning sign if I ever saw one. QB Jake Delhomme needs to stop holding the rest of the team back. [-2]

07. Minnesota Vikings [6-2]: All year long I've been baffled at how opponents failed to exploit Minnesota's glaring defensive weaknesses. The last two weeks have seen the Giants and the Packers do just that--and win. [-2]

08. Baltimore Ravens [5-3]: Brian Billick is running the AFC version of the Panthers: run well and defend everything. It works. [+3]

09. Miami Dolphins [5-3]: Just learned the hard way that the 2003 version of Peyton Manning is an upgrade. [-2]

10. Tampa Bay Buccanneers [4-4]: Only rated this high because the rest of the league is awful. If Tampa ever gets serious about defending their title, they'll win. Right now, they're not serious at all and Warren Sapp is spending more time attacking the NFL than he is opposing offenses. [-1]

11. Dallas Cowboys [6-2]: Parcells needed just half a season to exceed last year's win total. Now they're playing badly and still winning. In a bad division, the playoffs loom ahead. [+2]

12. Philadelphia Eagles [5-3]: They still don't look good, but have passed New York and the moribund Redskins as the primary challenger to Dallas in the NFC East. [No change]

13. St. Louis Rams [5-3]: Being dominated by San Francisco and new QB Tim Rattay is a troubling sign for the Rams. [-5]

14. New York Giants [4-4]: Just barely survived the lowly Jets in overtime. [No change]

15. Green Bay Packers [4-4]: A very potent offensive team when TB Ahman Green is producing, but the defense will not take them far. [+2]

16. San Francisco 49ers [4-5]: No matter what management says, I think the Tim Rattay era has begun in San Francisco. WR Terrell Owens and QB Jeff Garcia will be playing elsewhere next year. [+3]

17. New Orleans Saints [4-5]: They can still beat Tampa, even if you can't count on them to beat anyone else. [+3]

18. Buffalo Bills [4-4]: Spent bye week daydreaming about what TB Willis McGahee can do for them once he gets on the field. [No change]

19. Denver Broncos [5-4]: You need your players to compete and the Broncos just don't have them right now. [-4]

20. Cincinnati Bengals [3-5]: Losing to the Cardinals reminds Marvin Lewis that rebuilding the Bengals will be the toughest job he's ever had. [-4]

21. Houston Texans [3-5]: Tony Banks leads expansion team to come-from-behind victory over a division leader? Tony Banks? Next week: Hell freezes over. [+4]

22. Cleveland Browns [3-5]: Spent bye week still trying to figure out who should be their starting QB: Tim Couch or Kelly Holcombe? Answer: Neither. [No change]

23. New York Jets [2-6]: Playing hard, but coming up just short against an NFC East opponent two weeks in a row. They're getting better, but it is too late now. [No change]

24. Washington Redskins [3-5]: In complete disarray. Jack Kent Cooke is rolling over in his grave at what has been done to his most prized possession. [-3]

25. Pittsburgh Steelers [2-6]: Needs a lot of new talent to compete again. A new QB, new TB, new defensive backs would all help. [-1]

26. Arizona Cardinals [3-5]: Defeat of Cincinnati proves that there is still some fight left in the desert. Too bad none of their "fans" are around to see it. [+1]

27. Chicago Bears [3-5]: Last Sunday, Head Coach Dick Jauron saw across the sideline what ever head coach in the league wants to see: Marty Schottenheimer. Result: Bears get a rare victory. [+1]

28. Detroit Lions [2-6]: I don't know where the Lions got the ability to beat even a team like the Raiders, but I'm sure Steve Mariucci hopes they find it more often. Not bloody likely, though. [+4]

29. Oakland Raiders [2-6]: Losing to Detroit now? What the hell is WR Jerry Rice doing on this team? [-3]

30. Atlanta Falcons [1-7]: Michael Vick is doing the right thing by staying out until he is completely healthy. The season is over and saving Dan Reeves' job is not motivation enough for anyone--especially for someone who actually has to play for Dan Reeves. [-1]

31. Jacksonville Jaguars [1-7]: The agony continues and no one outside of north Florida even cares. [-1]

32. San Diego Chargers [1-7]: Unlike 2001, when Marty also started off 0-5, there will be no five game winning streaks to salvage some respectability. [-1]

BACK FROM VERMONT -- By the way, I returned last night from a mini-vacation in Stowe, Vermont. I recommend it highly to all who have the means to go and stay there.

RIGHT-WING MEDIA KILLS MINISERIES -- I wouldn't have watched the CBS miniseries about the Reagans, but no decent American can be pleased to see that it has been pulled from the air due to criticisms from right-wingers that it does not credit President Reagan with enough greatness. And the right-wingers still have the nerve to complain that they have no say in the national media.

OPPOSITION TO BUSH BUILDS -- A new USA Today poll has good news for the human race: More Americans are definitely planning to vote against Mr Bush than for him in the 2004 elections. That's quite a turnaround from Mr Bush's postwar high earlier this year.
The survey by Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion found that 44% of the voters questioned said they planned to definitely vote against the Republican president while 38% said they would support his re-election.

An April survey from the Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based pollsters had found that 40% of voters nationwide planned to vote for Bush while 30% said they would vote against him.

The latest poll also found a drop in Bush's approval rating, which has been reflected in other recent nationwide polls. The Marist poll had the president's approval rating at 53%, down from 70% in its April poll.
The Democrats are edging closer to Mr Bush, as it becomes clearer to most Americans that offending almost the entire world to launch an unnecessary invasion of Iraq under false pretenses was a very bad idea.