Updated Sept. 26
Doing the CBS SportsLine.com Power Rankings always leads to plenty of hate mail.
Here's some advice for your playa-haters: Go right to my picks, for which I deserve loads of hate mail.
|Mike Karney (left) and Ernie Conwell feel the emotion Monday night as the Saints go to 3-0. (AP)|
These Power Rankings are a walk in the park compared to that. The reason this is easy is that after three weeks we're already seeing the league's demarcation point taking shape.
Just three weeks in, teams from 26 down have no chance of making a playoff run. Think about that? Three weeks in, and your season is done.
Instead of the demarcation line, we’ll call it the season over line.
The surprise in that group is Tampa Bay, the NFC South champion from 2005. The Bucs are 0-3, look terrible on offense, and now must play without Chris Simms, who suffered a ruptured spleen Sunday in the team's loss to Carolina. Good luck.
The Lions are down at the bottom with them in the No. 28 spot, which might surprise those media members who thought they would be the sleeper team this season. The reality is you can't put a good football team together when the guy at the top keeps making bad football decisions.
Matt Millen belongs back in the broadcast booth.
But the real surprise so far has been the New Orleans Saints, for the good. After seeing the Saints work during the preseason in Jackson, Miss., I thought it would be a shock if they won six games. They're halfway there after three weeks.
Maybe Monday's night's victory over the Atlanta Falcons was a game played on emotion, fueled by football returning to the Superdome, but you have to admit the Saints looked damned good.
Coach Sean Payton has that team playing well. And they're doing it with a lot of young players, guys like Reggie Bush, Marques Colston and Roman Harper. During my camp visit to the Saints in Jackson, Payton told me to watch two other rookies besides Bush, who was an obvious.
One was Colston, a seventh-round pick now starting at receiver, and the other was Harper, a second-round pick who is the starting free safety and a playmaker. At the time, neither was working with the first team.
If the Saints can keep it up -- and that's still a big if -- they might be the story of the season. Most picked the Saints to finish last in the strong NFC South, which, of course, I did.
After three weeks, they're the team looking down on the other three in the division, heading into Sunday's suddenly big division game with the Carolina Panthers.
The Saints are one of only seven undefeated teams left after three weeks. The others are the Colts, Seahawks, Bengals, Chargers, Bears and Ravens. The Bears play the Seahawks this week, while the Chargers play at the Ravens.
So, barring the miracle tie, at most we'll be left with five undefeated teams just four weeks into the season.
That's the reason why picking the NFL is so tough. Anybody can beat anybody on any day.
The power teams are no more. They're all vulnerable. The separation between the good and the bad isn't that wide.
OK, so I'm rolling out the clichés as excuses for my picking so horribly. Let's be brutally honest: I've sucked so far.
But that will change. Like I tell the guys I pick against each week in the experts picks: When the leaves turn brown, I'll be wearing the picking crown.
Somebody has to believe in me, right?
The rankings for Sept. 26: