Friday, September 23, 2005

NFL Power Rankings-Week 3

Here are the power rankings for Week 2. After you are finished reading, check out The Inquirer's Eagles podcast on Philly.com.

1. Colts (2005 record: 2-0, Last week: No. 1): The defense was the story in a 10-3 victory over Jacksonville. That is not good news for the rest of the league.

2. Steelers (2-0, No. 3): Ben Roethlesberger has a QB rating of 153.6 after two games. Willie Parker is second in the league in rushing. The defense is No. 5. A formula for success.

3. Eagles (1-1, No. 5): A 42-3 rout over the 49ers restored faith. The defense is No. 2 in the league.

4. Panthers (1-1, No. 6): Beating the Patriots puts Carolina back in the elite.

5. Patriots (1-1, No. 2): They are still the Super Bowl champs. Tough test this week at the Steelers.

6. Chiefs (2-0, No. 7): The defense has shown improvement. They are in Denver on Monday night, which is always a tough test.

7. Falcons (1-1, No. 4): The loss to Seattle is not a surprise. An injured Vick is not a surprise. How will the team react?

8. Giants (2-0, No. 14): Monday night's victory over the Saints will show up in the standings as a road win, but we all know better. In the end, a win is a win is a win.

9. Bengals (2-0, No. 17): A win over Cleveland was expected, a blowout over the Vikings was not. Carson Palmer is on fire with a 107.8 rating.

10. Buccaneers (2-0, No. 16): The top-rated defense in the league. Sound familiar? Remember the Super Bowl.

11. Bills (1-1, No. 8): After a loss to Tampa Bay, they face the Falcons. But it's at home.

12. Jets (1-1, No. 12): A nice rebound game for quarterback Chad Pennington last week.

13. Chargers (0-2, No. 10): Yes, they are 0-2, but they will beat the Giants at home this week. If not, look for a free-fall.

14. Seahawks (1-1, No. 23): A nice win over the Falcons, but it was an easy pick. The Cardinals are next.

15. Saints (1-1, No. 11): Coach Jim Haslett has to quit whining about his home away from home game and go out and beat the Vikings.

16. Jaguars (1-1, No. 13): From a loss to the Colts to facing the Jets. Not an easy task. Byron Leftwich needs to step up.

17. Cowboys (1-1, No. 9): Coach Parcells and 'Boys have to be embarrassed with last week's loss to the Redskins. They better beat the 49ers.

18. Broncos (1-1, No. 21): There's no place like home. Denver beats the Chargers and now gets the hot Chiefs.

19. Rams (1-1, No. 24): Did what they had to against the Cardinals. Should beat the Titans.

20. Bears (1-1, No. 25): Sent the Lions a message. Yet another favorite in the NFC North?

21. Cardinals (0-2, No. 20): Not the start coach Dennis Green had hoped for and now a tough road game in Seattle. It is a must win.

22. Redskins (2-0, No. 28): I am not a believer. Washington takes advantage of a dumb Dallas defense. They get to enjoy their undefeated record with a bye.

23. Ravens (0-2, No. 15): A bye this week will give the Ravens more time to work on the offense, some offense, any offense.

24. Vikings (0-2, No. 19): Another team with a must-win. They play the Saints. Culpepper (0 TD, 8 INT) should find the home end zone this week.

25. Titans (1-1, No. 30): A surprise winner over the Ravens, can they go into St. Louis and steal a game from the Rams? Doubtful.

26. Browns (0-1, No. 30): Romeo Crennel gets his first win against Green Bay. Just for that, he gets the Colts.

27. Lions (1-1, No. 18): It's time to get rid of Joey Harrington at QB. The weapons are a wastin'.

28. Raiders: (0-2, No. 25): New England, Kansas City and Philadelphia. Sounds like 0-3 to me.

29. Dolphins (1-1. No. 27): Can they steal one against a jacked-up Carolina team?

30. Packers (0-2, No. 26): This is as bad as it gets in Green Bay. Need to beat Tampa Bay.

31. Texans (0-2. No. 29): On the bye week they are heading out of town to avoid Hurricane Rita.

32. San Francisco (1-0, No. 31): The Eagles showed the world all of the flaws.

Something old, something new

What do Michael Tucker, Shane Victorino and David Bell have in common?

Answer: They are the latest in the line of unlikely heroes for the Phillies in their quest to win the wild card and make the baseball's post-season.

Sure, Jon Lieber pitched the game of his life against his former team, but when he was done, it was still 0-0 and nothing was decided. That is what teammates are for.

Bell, who has been maligned all season for his lack of offense and untimely errors at third base, made what could be called the defensive play of the year because of it what it meant.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, with a runner on third and two outs, the Phillies move the infield in to protect the 0-0 tie. Rafael Furcal drilled a ball to the left side. Bell made a diving a stop and threw across the diamond for the out. Surely, he saved a run. And you could easily speculate he save the game as well.

In the top of the ninth, it was Tucker, newly acquired from the San Francisco Giants, that came up with the big hit. With two outs and Bobby Abreu on second and Ryan Howard on first, Tucker came in to pinch-hit for Todd Pratt and delivered a single to left to score Abreu.

The Phillies had the 1-0 lead and Billy Wagner poised to go in the bullpen. It was all good. It got even better when Vicorino, a September call-up, hit the first home run of his major-league career, a three-run shot, giving the Phillies all the insurance they would need.

It was another big win and the Phillies finished their important 13-game run against the Braves and Marlins at 9-4, winning every series and picking up fans along the way.

Trailing the wild-card standings by two games, the Cincinnati Reds are next. There is no room for error with nine games remaining. Every game is the post-season and the question remains: how many heroes do the Phillies have.