1. The Cincinnati Bengals.
Hooray for Cincy! Not only did they finally win a game to end their 0-8 season-opening Sucktour 2K8, but they're on a bye this week, which means that they will get to go TWO WHOLE WEEKENDS (!) without a loss (before getting shredded like so much lettuce in a taco bar by the Philly pass rush in Week 11, that is). That's enough to bump these Bengals to the actual #1 spot on these power rankings, rather than continuing to drift around at -27 or i
or whatever absurd-yet-appropriate ranking I'd previously assigned them. Congratulations, Bengals. Your ineptitude can now be quantified within the plane of reality. Progress!2. The Oakland Raiders.
Meanwhile, as the Bengals take tottering baby steps towards relevance, the Raiders continue to drift ever downwards in the ranks of the AFC... or, in this case, drift upwards. Kind of like a dead goldfish. In a Token Move Designed to Show Something Other Than Soul-Crushing Apathy Without Actually Doing Anything Constructive For The Team, Oakland waived egomaniacal cornerback DeAngelo Hall this week just months after signing him to a $70 million contract. Enjoy catching 5 touchdown passes this weekend, Steve Smith. Oh, and enjoy your new status as Worst Offense in the League (13.4 points per game), Oakland. Party hats all around!3. The Kansas City Chiefs.
It's sad that every time I think of the Kansas City Chiefs, my mind immediately jumps to that Dane Cook sketch where the guy calls him "chief"
. (No, I will not embed, because fuck Dane Cook.) It's even sadder that, as soon as I make the mental connection, I think to myself, "Yep, I'd rather sit through a Dane Cook standup special than watch a Chiefs game."4. The Jacksonville Jaguars.
As I've said repeatedly in the past, I do think that the 2008 Jaguars are one of those ferociously, dedicatedly mediocre teams that will finish the season at an even 8-8 after toying with their fans' emotions all season. Given this categorization, it may seem odd that I'm remorselessly relegating the Jaguars to the uppermost quadrant of the Ranks of Suck. There's a pretty simple reason for that, though: The Jaguars have now lost to both the Browns and the Bengals. That's like getting beaten up by Rod and Todd Flanders.
Sorry, JAX: that's just plain inexcusable. 8-8 is looking more and more like an unattainable dream and less like merely a benchmark for borderline competence with every passing weekend.5. The Houston Texans.
Houston's offense remains pretty awesome, with the 5th-ranked passing game and the 4th overall yards gained in the league. However, they're still letting opponents outscore them 26.6-24.5 on average each week. With Matt Schaub out for at least two weeks thanks to a torn MCL, I'd say the Texans' brief flirtation with relevance is on its way out the door. Sure, they'll send it a drunk text message or two before the season's done, but really: it's over.6. The San Diego Chargers.
In Week 6, the Chargers mowed down the struggling Patriots for a dominant 30-10 victory and a 3-3 record. Two losses and a bye week later, the Chargers now sit at 3-5 and have the league's worst pass defense. Moreover, NFL.com is tagging them with headlines like "Chargers say 'good' to bye
." Oh, the humanity! Honestly, I think the Chargers are due for a few more wins soon, especially if Antonio Cromartie can get healthy: they've managed a 3rd-in-the-league 28.0 points per game while allowing 24.9 per game, after all.
Still, for now the Chargers have done nothing of note other than "be worse than the Broncos." Sucks for them.7. The Denver Broncos.
The Denver Broncos, this year's chic pick for AFC Juggernaut after about 4 weeks of play, have virtually the same statistics as the Houston Texans (this year's chic pick for Team Whose Jerseys I Wouldn't Blow My Nose With) after 9 weeks of play. And that, my friends, is all you need to know -- apart from the fact that Denver is still leading the AFC West, which is depressing in ways I can't even begin to describe.8. The Cleveland Browns.
Hot damn! The Browns have actually managed to slip to the midway point between Irredeemably Awful and Temporarily Competent on these fine rankings. Not only have they (somehow) managed to attain the same record as the Chargers and the Jaguars, two teams most considered surefire playoffs contenders coming into the season, but they've finally showed signs of actually giving a shit by benching Derek Anderson and his 68.9 passer rating in favor of studly former Irish QB Brady Quinn, who's yet to make a start for Cleveland since being drafted over a year ago.
Will this be enough to turn the Browns around? Not clear (probably not), but at least it'll shake things up a bit as the Browns take the field tonight... yes, TONIGHT. Why? Because it's FLEX SCHEDULING TIME BABY WOO!
Flex scheduling is great, because it means we'll no longer be subject to national broadcasts of shitfests like Seattle/San Francisco on Sunday nights while coverage of the division-leading Cardinals vs. the mega-awesome Panthers is limited to old people in Phoenix and the 3 people in South Carolina that can afford cable. The arrival of flex scheduling is also great because it means that Thursday Night Football has also begun. This, in turn, means that you can now spend your Thursday nights driving around until you find a bar that has the NFL Network, since like 25 people actually get the NFL Network. (I'm one of them. Suckers.) Hooray for programming gimmicks! Anyway, be sure and tune in tonight for a spectacular battle between two AFC teams that are almost certainly going to end the season under .500 as the Browns take on the Denver Broncos. Too bad flex scheduling only applies to the Sunday games. Yeesh.9. The Miami Dolphins.
Two wins in a row, including a surprising divisional win over Buffalo, were enough to give these Dolphins a 4-4 record, which, sadly, still makes them the odd man out in the 5-3 party that is the AFC East. Chad Pennington is playing his best season since his first season as a starter for the Jets in 2002 with a 95.2 overall passer rating and nearly a touchdown per game, but the bottom line is that these Dolphins are going to need significantly more than a couple of trick offensive formations up their sleeves if they're going do anything of note in this division.10. The Indianapolis Colts.
A reading from the book of Johnny Unitas. Ahem.nd the Lord looked down from the heavens and spake thusly: "Be it known, my people, that I am a just God who smiles down on my prophet Peyton Manning, and shall deliver him from the ignominy of a losing record. However, know ye also that no team who cannot stop the run shall triumph in a division that containeth Chris Johnson. My Will be done."11. The New York Jets.
Whatever.12. The New England Patriots.
"ZOMG HOW CAN YOU RANK THE PATRIOTS BETTER THAN THE COLTS THEY JUST LOST TO THE COLTS!" Because it's my goddamn blog, that's how. Shut up. We just signed Jason Webster! It's going to be great!13. The Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens are on a 3-game win streak with a 5-3 record, one of the league's most impenetrable defenses, and a running game that's starting to look pretty impressive. I mean.14. The Buffalo Bills.
Back-to-back losses against division rivals Miami and New York served to pretty handily pop the Trent Edwards bubble (rugged, square-jawed, effortlessly handsome bubble that it was). Still, the Bills are 5-3 and Lee Evans and Marshawn Lynch continue to be threats on offense. It's not clear how much longer these Bills will be The Team To Beat in the AFC East, but for now, here they are. Wooo.15. The Pittsburgh Steelers.
A show of hands, now: Who'd have thought that Byron Leftwich would be the solution to the Steelers' offensive woes? [scans room for hands] Right. Umm, can you come with me next time I buy lottery tickets? Great. I'll pick you up at 8. Oh, and your Steelers are now 6-2.16. The Tennessee Titans.
24.9 points scored per game really isn't much in the way of "dominant" or "earth-shattering" or even "really good." When you're only allowing 12.9 per game, though? You can pretty much do whatever the hell you want. Enjoy being undefeated, Titans. Speaking from experience: it's an amazing ride while it lasts. Sigh.
Labels: AFC, I don't know whose baby that is in the tiger costume but I am going to find it and kidnap it, Powerless rankings